Think you’ve seen the best sights in Bali? Think again! Off the beaten track, you will find unique things to do in Bali just waiting to be discovered. If you are a thrill seeker at heart who loves a good adventure, we have compiled some of the most fascinating and sometimes mysterious “hidden” attractions in Bali:
The “Ghost Town” of Taman Festival Bali
In 1997, a construction for an amusement park began just outside Sanur. The Taman Festival Bali was an ambitious project developed by the combined efforts of an Indonesian executive and the local Bali government. Eventually, the project fell apart and the amusement park was left unfinished. The property has since then been transferred to the government and there is no news of it being reopened.
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What remains of the amusement park are eerie, dilapidated structures with collapsed roofs, broken windows, and old statues. Nature has reclaimed most of the property, giving the amusement part a post-apocalyptic feel. There were rumors that crocs were living in the park but so far, there’s no evidence of this.
Trunyan is a village of native Balinese, the Bali Aga people. The village is located on the eastern side of Lake Batur and may be reached only by taking a boat from the other side. The boat ride can be very expensive, so don’t be shocked if boatmen ask for Rp1 million for the ride before bargaining. Thanks to its remoteness, the Bali Aga’s culture has remained intact, including their rather unusual way of honoring the dead.
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Instead of burying or cremating dead bodies, the deceased are wrapped in special cloths and laid to rest on the ground around giant trees. These trees are called “taru menyan.” The bodies are surrounded by a wooden cage to keep scavenging animals away. What’s fascinating about the ritual is while the bodies do emit an unpleasant odor, the trees they are laid next to emit a strong scent similar so myrrh, masking the smell of decomposing bodies. The people of the Trunyan village believe the bodies are cleansed when placed around these trees.
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The ‘Bat Cave’ Temple of Goa Lawah
The Temple of Goa Lawah or the Bat Cave is one of the holiest of all Hindu temples in the island. The temple was built in the 11th century, right at the heart of a cave where hordes of nectar bats live. If you love temple tours, the Temple of Goa Lawah offers a unique look at one of Bali’s most ancient temples.
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The best time to visit Goa Lawah is during dusk when the bats go out in search of food. You can also visit the temple during the piodalan temple anniversary. During this special event, pilgrims visit the temple carrying colorful parasols, banners, and flags.
Pemuteran’s Hidden Underwater Temple
Off the coastal village of Pemuteran, located in the northwestern part of Bali, lies an underwater temple. The temple is not ancient at all. In fact, it was built in 2005 by an Aussie as part of an environmental conservation project.
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Since it was built, the underwater temple has become home to thousands of marine animals. The temple features massive statues, 10 stone statues resting on stone plinths and a four-meter-tall temple gateway. The project is considered an engineering feat because of the sheer size of the structures. In 2006, a second stage of the temple was constructed at a depth of 15 meters, allowing less experienced divers to reach the temple.
The Tulamben Shipwreck
Tulamben is a popular dive spot located on the northeastern coast of Bali. This is the spot where the remains of the USAT Liberty sank after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during World War II.
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Because the ship sank in shallow water and rests just 30 meters down, the wreck is suitable for divers of all certification levels. Since it sank, the ship has become a home to a huge array of marine wildlife. If you love to dive, don’t miss the hauntingly beautiful Tulamben shipwreck.
The Lost Planes of Bali
Driving around Bali, you might suddenly come across an airplane or two when you least expect it. In Jimbaran, along Bypass Ngurah Rai towards Nusa Dua, is an abandoned Boeing 737. According to rumors, the plane was supposed to be converted into a themed restaurant but plans fell through and the plane has been left abandoned in a yard where it attracts curious onlookers.
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On Bukit, there is another lost plane located up the hilly limestone area of the southern Bukit Peninsula. The plane sits on a privately owned property. According to locals, the plane was supposed to be converted into a restaurant and bar but again, the project fell through. You can get in and on both airplanes for a bit of photo fun!
Goa Gala-Gala or The Underground House
The Underground House or Goa Gala-Gala is a limestone labyrinthine structure that features multiple interconnected chambers. The house was inspired by an episode from the Mahabharata epic, in which the Pandawa heroes fled persecution by hiding in a cave.
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The passion project was built by Made Byasa and it took 10 years to complete the structure. The underground house features a kitchen, a living area, and sleeping quarters 7 meters underground. A trip to Goa Gala-Gala is definitely not for the claustrophobic, but is an amazingly unique stop if you’re on Nusa Lembongan.
The Haunted Hotel of Bedugul
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On central highland in Bali sits an abandoned mountain resort called P.I. Taman Rekreasi Hotel & Resort. The resort was a project in the early 90s but it was never completed. According to rumors, the property is haunted and locals do not dare enter the resort. Two decades later, the resort looks even eerier now that shrubs and climbing vines have overtaken the property.
The Stalactite Cave Temple of Goa Gong
Tucked away behind Jimbaran’s modern resorts and restos is a unique cave temple called Goa Gong temple. The pathway that leads to the shrine features a pair of giant cat statues in bright, chequered cloths. Under an ancient Banyan tree are gargoyles that guard the cave opening. Although visitors can check out the temple, access is only given when the temple’s supervisor and keeper, priest Mangku Gurun Simpen, is onsite.
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Inside the mysterious temple are stone shrines and mesmerizing stalactites. Just behind the shrines hang a massive stalactite. The stalactite is used as a stone gong, which is struck during temple anniversaries and special ceremonies.
Get Off the Beaten Path with These Unique Things to Do in Bali
Bali isn’t all beaches, resorts and shopping malls, there are tons of things to do if you want to get a little adventurous. Get out and see another side of the island with these Unique Things to Do in Bali.