INDONESIA – Bali day trip: 7 must see places if you have just a day

Indonesia is a huge country consisting of various islands and Bali is one where you must at least do a day trip. It has UNESCO World Heritage sites, nature, the most amazing rice terraces in the world and awesome nightlife! The nightlife I enjoyed while staying at the Hard Rock Hotel Bali and the nature from the Chedi Club Ubud Hotel. I even did a two-day side trip to Java to hike the Ijen Volcano where I almost died (read that story!). Now, let me show you the must-see places for a Bali day trip if you have just a day. They are: The Batur Volcano & Lake, Supreme Water Temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur, Cantik Agriculture Luwak Coffee, Tirta Empul Temple, Gunung Kawi Temple, Tegallalang rice terraces, Elephant Cave Goa Gajah. Make sure to see them in this order to get the most out of your time!

Bali day trip stop #1: Batur Volcano & Lake

The first stop of this Bali day trip is at the Batur Volcano & Lake which is one of the most impressive volcanic landscapes I have seen. You can make a few stops (there are various places with terraces offering amazing views) along the rim of the crater until the next stop of this Bali day trip. When you look down you’ll see three things: the old huge Batur Caldera, Batur Lake, and the “new” Batur Volcano.

The huge caldera measuring over 10×13 kilometers wide was formed over 25.000 years ago when the Batur Volcano exploded. This happens when magna cannot escape and pressure gets higher and higher until it bursts. When the explosion finishes the volcano will collapse on itself forming a crater or caldera. About 10.000 years later within the crater a second explosion formed the Batur Lake which is a holy place for the local people today. The current 700 meter tall Batur Volcano you’ll see inside the huge crater is still active today!

Bali day trip stop #2: Supreme Water Temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur

The Supreme Water Temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur is located on the rim of the Batur Volcano and one of the holiest Hindu temples of Bali. This temple is a must-see if you have just a day on Bali as the other famous temples are more far away and you won’t be able to see as much as you’ll do on this Bali day trip. Both the temple as the volcano are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Bali Subak System.

The current location of the Supreme Water Temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur on the rim was choosen after the destruction of it about 100 years ago. It used to be located on the edge of the Batur Volcano down in the caldera. The original temple was built in the 17th century in honor of the lake goddess Dewi Danu. It’s an important Hindu temple for the locals as the goddess is said to be responsible for the source of water on Bali. When the Batur Volcano destroyed the temple only the holiest shrine survived which was moved up to the rim of the caldera. Is that luck or a sign of higher powers? Who knowns.  

The Supreme Water Temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur consists of 9 small separate smaller temples. They are all set in a lovely setting with lots of flowers and plants. Every corner you’ll turn you have another beautiful view towards the various pagoda’s. Do make sure to dress appropriate when visiting the temple and if you’re not, rent clothing to respect the Hinduist believers. The visit will take over an hour after which it’s time to see some local agriculture. No rice yet, first coffee!

Bali day trip stop #3: Cantik Agriculture Luwak Coffee

Do you know coffee? Do you know the Asian Palm Civet (a cat like animal)? If you know both you know Luwak coffee! The next stop of the Bali day trip was at Cantik Agriculture Luwak Coffee. Luwak coffee is made by feeding the Civet coffee beans from which it will pick out the best ones and consume them. These beans don’t digest, only the shell, and after a day or so they get pooped out by the Civet. They get a special taste this way and only the best beans get harvested this way; no it’s not bad or unhealthy don’t worry! The beans get processed the normal way by drying, roasting, grinding and then filtering the coffee. It was very interesting to see how coffee is processed on Bali after I had visited a coffee plantation near Sao Paulo in Brazil.

There are several plantations but I recommend going to Cantik Agriculture Luwak Coffee. You’ll get a tour which is free of charge and a tasting of the various coffee’s and teas they make. They also do cacao and various fruits. The Luwak coffee you’ll have to pay for but tasting isn’t expensive. On their grounds, they have also Durian fruit which is interesting to taste if you never had it. Try it and you’ll know why it’s interesting. I spend about an hour at Cantik Agriculture Luwak Coffee before I went to the next temple of this Bali day trip.

Bali day trip stop #4: Tirta Empul Temple

The Tirta Empul Temple is a famous Hindu water temple on Bali where Hindus go in the water for ritual purification. Its bathing pond or pertirtaan is fed by a holy spring from which the temple gets its name. Tirta Empul means holy spring in Balinese which then translates to the Holy Spring Temple. The spring at the temple is also the source of the Pakerisan river and therefore also part of the Bali Subak System UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The temple dates to the 10th century and consists of three parts; the front, the secondary and inner part. You’ll enter the complex through gardens and the temple gate after which the bathing pond is located. Behind the pond are several halls and Hindu statues around the spring itself. There are various other ponds in which you can see the water coming from the ground. I really enjoyed walking around this temple as it has much decoration and halls to explore.

In case you want to bath under the streams make sure to ask the exact procedure as you should use only 11 out of the 13 streams. The last 2 are used in funerals only. I didn’t bath because I’m not a Hindu and I think it’s not respectful do go through the ritual purification if you don’t believe. I do however love to learn about cultures and thus also visiting temples to see the actual rituals. I continued my Bali day trip to the nearby Gunung Kawi Temple after I had a small snack from one of the many sellers just outside the temple.

Bali day trip stop #5: Gunung Kawi Temple

The Gunung Kawi Temple is quite a unique place as it has 10 large shrines carved in a rock cliff. It’s located just a kilometer down the road from the previous stop of this Bali day trip but does involve a half hour hike downhill (and up again). You’ll walk through beautiful rice terraces which alone make the hike worth it. When I arrived at the temple I was lucky to witness a small ceremony; I don’t know exactly what was going on but it was interesting to see.

It’s said that the temple is dedicated to King Anak Wungsu and the 5 shrines on the left are for him, the queen, and sons. The others are said to be for his concubines. I have seen many temples around the world and Gunung Kawi Temple surely is one you must visit, certainly on a Bali day trip. If you’re lucky you’ll see a ceremony but the hike through the rice fields and the amazing shrines are worth it alone. Due to the ceremony and the fact it started to drizzle a bit I had to hurry to the next two places.

Bali day trip stop #6: Tegallalang rice terraces

The Tegallalang Rice Terraces located just 20 minutes north of Ubud are amongst the most beautiful rice fields in the world. They are a must on any Bali day trip and for sure if you have just a day. I visited them on the way back to my hotel the Chedi Club Ubud. As it started to rain I didn’t feel like walking through them so I just stopped to make a few photos. The Tegalalang Rice Terraces are best viewed from the road anyway. Make sure to take a close look at the irrigation system called Subak which is a system used and setup by many farmers together. Just before arriving the road went through several rice fields too and I was lucky to see the harvesting of the rice. In the gallery below you can see some photos of the local farmers. I continued to the next stop of this Bali day trip and arrived just before it would close.

Bali day trip stop #7: Elephant Cave Goa Gajah

The last stop of my Bali day trip was at the Elephant Cave Goa Gajah just a kilometer from my hotel. It’s an ancient site dating to the 9th century where bathing rituals were carried out. There aren’t many elephants but inside the cave there is an elephant statue related to Hinduism. The huge bathing pool was excavated just 50 years ago and has some very nice sculptures from which water used to poor. Two rivers confluence near the temple which was why the place was chosen to build the temple as it’s considered holy. Have a look at the sculptures around the cave entrance. These, a bit weird looking, creatures are said to keep the evil spirits out. It’s a small place to explore and 45 minutes should do but it’s the end of the Bali day trip so take your time until it closes.

This Bali day trip is a must-do if you’re on Bali and in my opinion, covers the most variety of places you can visit. There are of course more important temples, but as they are in different directions you won’t be able to get the diversity if you just have a day. I had just a day to explore Bali as my focus of this Indonesia trip was on Java plus a few days on Phuket (Thailand) and 2 days in Kuala Lumpur. I will return one day to Bali as it’s also a major hub to arrive to Indonesia and will explore more of the island then.

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Did you visit Bali too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

Gallery Bali day trip

Check the gallery for more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.

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