10 Places in Bali for the Artsy Traveler
From art markets to a museum.
(SPOT.ph) You might associate Bali with scenic beaches and the movie Eat, Pray, Love. But there is more to Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, particularly if you’re the type of traveler looking for Instagram-worthy shots, interesting craft classes and workshops, spiritual experiences, or simply a place to relax, unwind, and channel your creativity.
Here are 10 must-visit places in Bali, Indonesia, for the artsy traveler:
Ubud Art Market
Bali is Indonesia’s artsiest island and Ubud is its artsiest town. So why not drop by Ubud’s traditional art market? Best experienced on foot, Ubud Art Market has the best Balinese craftsmanship, so there are many items you won’t find anywhere else. They also sell a selection of crafts from other regions. Tip: They know you’ll haggle, so be prepared to haggle hard. The shopkeepers will mark prices high because you’re a tourist. You’ll also get better prices if you’re there early, particularly if you’re the first sale of the day; the tourist rush begins at 10 a.m.
Ubud Art Market also hosts a variety of classes and workshops, from traditional Balinese cooking to yoga to woodcarving. You won’t want for new things to learn!
Ubud Art Market is in Ubud, Gianyar Regency, Bali, Indonesia. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Legian Road (Jalan Legian)
Legian Road connects the two towns of Kuta and Seminyak. But don’t just hurry past what is known locally as “Downtown Legian”—there are various galleries and street shops with paintings of animals and landscapes. If this isn’t your thing, you can haggle your way into getting a tattoo, a dreamcatcher, silver jewelry, lace, or some other quirky local ornament. Just bring your self-control; hardly any of the goods are tagged and the friendly people on this street can persuade you to buy just about anything.
Jalan Legian is in Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia.
Mertan Adi Art Market
Whether handicrafts make you weak in the knees or you’re rushing to buy mementos of Bali for your loved ones back home, Mertan Adi Art Market has you covered. One of Bali’s biggest complexes of art shops, you can get tie-dyed sarongs and shirts, handwoven bags, beer shirts, and cheap sunglasses here.
Mertan Adi Art Market is in Jalan Legian, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Ubud Monkey Forest (Mandala Suci Wenara Wana)
Are you a nature photographer or animal photographer at heart? Then you’ll love Ubud Monkey Forest. Apart from the mischievous simians, the forest is also the site of clusters of moss-covered, 12th-century Hindu temples—home to plenty of crab-eating macaques. Depending on the season, you might see many new mother macaques and their clingy offspring. Just remember to secure any loose belongings, including cameras, water bottles, sunglasses, and any purchases; the monkeys will take anything that piques their interest. They’ll even climb over you if you strike their fancy!
Ubud Monkey Forest is in Ubud, Gianyar Regency, Bali, Indonesia. It is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance is at 80,000 Indonesian rupiah.
Ubud Royal Palace (Puri Saren Agung)
If you’re looking for more majestic sights for your eyes to feast on, the 200-year-old Puri Saren Agung, Ubud’s own royal palace and a well-preserved example of traditional Balinese architecture, may be just the thing for you. This palace has been known to host international events, including the yearly Ubud Writers & Readers Festival’s opening ceremonies, but it’s best known for being a hub for Balinese dance and music, including a daily showcase of gamelan—Indonesia’s traditional percussion instruments.
Ubud Royal Palace is along Jalan Raya Ubud, Ubud, Gianyar Regency, Bali, Indonesia. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Goa Gajah’s Elephant Cave Temple
Serious students and admirers of Balinese-Hindu history and architecture may want to stop by. The Elephant Cave dates back to the 11th century, although no one knows what it was really built for; much of it remains unexcavated.
Before the cave lies two square bathing pools lined with six statues of women with jars spouting water (there used to be a seventh, but an earthquake destroyed it). Its water is deemed to be holy and you can bathe in it; just make sure to bathe after entering the temple itself, as wet clothes are not allowed inside.
The first thing you’ll see upon entry is what looks like a hundred demons carved into the hillside, all converging around a demonic face with a giant mouth—which serves as the cave entrance. The cave itself stops short at an intersection; the left corridor leads to a statue of Ganesh, the elephant deity of Hinduism. The right route leads to some lingam and yoni statues, which are sacred symbols of masculinity and femininity.
Note that the Elephant Cave is still an active worship site, so be respectful of the worshippers and the site itself. Don’t take photos of them while they pay their respects, either. Lastly, when entering, one’s knees must be covered; sarongs can be borrowed at the site.
The Elephant Cave is in Bedulu, Ubud, Gianyar Regency, Bali, Indonesia. It is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Entrance is at 15,000 Indonesian rupiah.
Goa Gala Gala Underground House
Definitely not for the claustrophobic (or the asthmatic), this underground maze of tunnels took 15 years to build starting in the 1960s. It was hand-carved into the limestone by a local farmer-priest-puppet master who was inspired by a passage from the Indian epic Mahabharata. One of the walls features carvings of numbers and symbolic animals.
The subterranean house features a sacred meditation room, kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and bedroom. Some parts are low enough that you might need to crouch.
Goa Gala Gala is at Jalan Raya Lembongan-Jungut Batu, Nusa Lembongan, Klungkung Regency, Bali, Indonesia. Entrance is at 50,000 Indonesian rupiah.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
This natural wonder in Bali is similar to our own Banaue Rice Terraces, but smaller and with ziplines and jungle swings. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces are best photographed at sunrise or sunset. Be sure to wear a hat, as it can get pretty hot during the day.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces is in Tegallalang, Gianyar Regency, Bali, Indonesia.
Agung Rai Museum of Art
This top-notch museum is itself a work of art, featuring a traditional Balinese architectural facade and modernized Balinese interiors. It also happens to be a resort and center for the visual and performing arts. Apart from the exhibits featuring prominent Indonesian artists, the museum also offers cultural workshops and walking tours in silversmithing, Balinese history and dance, gamelan making and playing, Hindu astrology and numerology, egg and leaf scroll painting, and so much more.
Agung Rai Museum of Art is in Pengosekan Village, Gianyar Regency, Bali, Indonesia. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance is at 80,000 Indonesian rupiah.
The beachside town of Canggu also happens to have a thriving hipster scene, and you know what that means—cute, quirky cafés and lots of opportunities to take good food photos. Whether you’re vegan, hankering for smoothie bowls, mad for avocado, interested in international cuisine with a Balinese spin, or simply want to eat in a hole-in-the-wall, you’re spoiled for choice at the bohemian neighborhood of Canggu. It’s the perfect place to crash after a dip in the waves or a surfing lesson.
Canggu is in North Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia.