Bali is a haven for culture enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Because great parties you can find everywhere – the culture of Bali is one of a kind. Nestled amidst lush landscapes and surrounded by crystal-clear waters, Bali offers a treasure trove of cultural activities that beckon travelers from all corners of the globe. So don’t miss out on these Balinese Cultural activities!
For a traveler the question how to dive into the culture of Bali might be a bit overwhelming. That is why I wrote this article. Here are 14 great Balinese Cultural activities that help you find out more about balinese cultures. Combine them to make incredible cultural tours in Bali, that you will never forget.
1. Visit Temples
Ok, the first one is obvious. Bali’s temples are not just architectural marvels but also repositories of rich history and spiritual significance. And there are plenty of amazing temples in Bali. Uluwatu Temple for example, perched on a dramatic cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean, is one of Bali’s most famous sea temples. It dates back to the 10th century and is dedicated to the sea gods.
Tanah Lot, another iconic temple, stands on a rocky islet and is believed to be guarded by sea snakes. Besakih Temple, known as the “Mother Temple,” is Bali’s largest and holiest temple complex, nestled on the slopes of Mount Agung. Temples like these serve as social and spiritual centers for Balinese communities, hosting colorful ceremonies and festivals throughout the year.
Visit Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu): To experience the mystique of this ancient sea temple, visit during the late afternoon to witness the spectacular sunset views over the Indian Ocean. Uluwatu Temple is perched on a clifftop, offering stunning vistas. Don’t forget to catch a traditional Kecak dance performance held within the temple complex during the evenings.
2. Watch a Traditional Barong Dance Performance
Balinese traditional dances are a captivating blend of art, culture, and spirituality. The Kecak Dance, performed at Uluwatu Temple, tells the story of the Ramayana epic and features a chorus of men chanting “cak cak cak” in unison, creating a mesmerizing soundscape. The Barong Dance narrates the eternal battle between good and evil, with the Barong representing good and Rangda representing evil. The intricate Legong Dance, often performed by young girls, showcases the island’s grace and beauty. These dances not only entertain but also serve as important cultural expressions and are often accompanied by traditional music played on the gamelan orchestra. Audience participation is encouraged, making it an interactive and memorable experience.
Check it out the Show every night at the Ubud Palace!
3. Experience Local Art in the Villages
Bali’s art villages are hubs of creativity and craftsmanship, deeply rooted in the island’s cultural heritage. Ubud, in particular, has long been a center for traditional Balinese painting. The history of Balinese art can be traced back to the 14th century, and today, you can witness artists creating intricate paintings inspired by nature and mythology. In the Celuk village, skilled silversmiths and goldsmiths craft exquisite jewelry pieces. The art villages also offer a glimpse into the daily lives of artists and craftsmen, allowing visitors to gain a deeper appreciation for Balinese artistry.
While exploring these villages, you can learn about the meticulous techniques used to create these artworks, making it a culturally enriching experience.
Explore Ubud’s Art Market: Ubud’s Art Market is bustling in the morning and early afternoon. To find the best deals and avoid crowds, visit during these hours. It’s located centrally in Ubud and is open daily.
4. Balinese Cooking Class – Workshop
Balinese cooking classes provide an insightful journey into the island’s culinary traditions, offering participants the opportunity to learn the art of preparing authentic Balinese dishes. Balinese cuisine is a vibrant reflection of the island’s rich cultural history, influenced by Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, and Dutch flavors.
These classes typically begin with a visit to a local market, where you can handpick fresh ingredients while gaining an understanding of the island’s agricultural practices. Back in the kitchen, you’ll discover the secrets behind popular balinese and indonesian dishes like nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), and rendang (spicy meat stew). Sharing a meal is a social and communal affair in Bali, and by mastering these recipes, you’ll not only savor the flavors but also gain a deeper appreciation for the role of food in Balinese society and family life.
Try Traditional Balinese Cooking: Many Balinese restaurants and cooking schools offer cooking classes. Learn to prepare authentic Balinese dishes using fresh ingredients. Look for classes in Ubud and Seminyak. Get in touch for booking a balinese cooking class and other workshops.
5. Balinese Cultural activities: Visit the world famous Rice Terraces
Bali’s iconic rice terraces, such as the Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud, are more than just breathtaking landscapes; they represent the intricate subak irrigation system, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape. These terraces have been cultivated for over a thousand years and hold a deep cultural and spiritual significance for the Balinese people. The subak system embodies the island’s cooperative spirit, as farmers collectively manage water distribution. Visitors can learn about the importance of sustainable agriculture and how these terraces contribute to Bali’s rich cultural heritage while enjoying their stunning beauty. To experience Bali’s iconic rice terraces, head to Ubud. The Tegallalang Rice Terraces are a must-visit. You can explore these stunning landscapes on foot, and there are various guided tours available that provide insights into the history and significance of these terraces. The best time to visit is during the growing season, which typically falls between November and April.
6. Batik Making – Balinese Cultural activities
Batik is an ancient textile art form in Bali, with intricate patterns created through a wax-resist dyeing technique. Balinese batik often features designs inspired by nature, mythology, and everyday life on the island. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, batik holds social and cultural significance, as it’s used in traditional clothing for ceremonies and special occasions. Learning how to make batik provides insights into the island’s artistic heritage, and it’s fascinating to understand how each pattern carries specific meanings and stories, making it more than just a fabric but a cultural narrative.
Where? Ubud and Batubulan are great places to learn Batik making. Look for workshops or art studios that offer hands-on Batik-making experiences.
7. Traditional Gamelan Music
Gamelan music is an integral part of Balinese culture with a rich history dating back centuries. It consists of a variety of percussive instruments, including metallophones, gongs, and drums, all played in harmony. Gamelan music often accompanies traditional dances and rituals, connecting it deeply to Balinese spirituality and social gatherings. It is one of the Balinese Cultural activities that differs it most from western societies, as the music is so different. The intricate rhythms and melodies are more than just music; they serve as a means of storytelling and expression, reflecting the island’s cultural heritage. Each gamelan ensemble is considered sacred and typically associated with a specific temple or community.
When you experience a Gamelan performance, you’re not only listening to music but also immersing yourself in the island’s vibrant history and spirituality. You can experience traditional Gamelan music at various temples, cultural centers, and performances throughout Bali. Ubud, Denpasar, and Gianyar are excellent places to witness Gamelan performances. Check local event listings or ask at your accommodation for scheduled performances.
8. Wood Carving Workshops
Wood carving has a long-standing tradition in Bali, with artisans passing down their skills through generations. Balinese wood carving is not only visually striking but also deeply meaningful, often depicting Hindu deities, mythological scenes, and natural elements. These carvings adorn temples, shrines, and even ordinary homes, serving both decorative and spiritual purposes.
Where? Many wood carving workshops are scattered across Bali, especially in Ubud and the Gianyar region.
9. Offering-Making in Bali
Balinese offerings, or “canang sari,” are an essential part of daily life in Bali. These small, intricately crafted baskets are filled with flowers, rice, and incense and are offered to gods and spirits as a gesture of gratitude and respect. Taking part in a Balinese offering-making workshop allows you to understand the significance of these offerings in Balinese Hinduism. It’s a glimpse into the island’s spiritual depth and how daily rituals are intertwined with a sense of harmony and gratitude towards nature and the divine.
Where? Ubud and other cultural centers in Bali often host Balinese offering-making workshops for tourists, to experience these Balinese Cultural activities.
10. Coffee tasting / Bali Agrotourism
Bali’s coffee plantations and agrotourism sites offer a unique opportunity to explore the island’s agricultural traditions and culinary culture. The history of coffee in Bali dates back to Dutch colonial times, and today, you can sample various coffee and tea varieties, including the renowned luwak coffee. Bali’s coffee plantations are nestled in picturesque landscapes, providing a serene setting to learn about the cultivation and processing of coffee beans. Luwak coffee, made from beans digested and excreted by civet cats, adds an intriguing twist to the experience. This agricultural journey not only highlights Bali’s history but also showcases its vibrant and diverse flavors, all while offering a chance to appreciate the lush natural beauty of the island.
Where? Bali’s coffee plantations and agrotourism sites can be found in various parts of the island, including Kintamani, Ubud, and Jatiluwih. Visit these plantations to learn about coffee and tea production, taste various brews, and explore the lush landscapes.
11. Traditional Village Tours – Balinese Cultural activities
Bali’s traditional villages, such as Penglipuran and Trunyan, offer a unique window into the island’s rich cultural heritage. These villages have preserved their customs and architecture for centuries. Penglipuran, for instance, is often referred to as Bali’s “cleanest village” and is known for its well-maintained traditional houses and picturesque bamboo forests. Trunyan, located on the shores of Lake Batur, is famous for its unique burial tradition where bodies are placed under a sacred tree instead of being cremated or buried. These tours provide valuable insights into the local way of life and showcase the enduring spirit of Balinese culture.
Join guided tours to traditional villages like Penglipuran and Trunyan to experience the preserved Balinese customs and architecture. These tours often depart from popular tourist areas and provide insights into local life.
12. Discover Balinese Batuan Paintings
Balinese Batuan painting is a traditional art form that flourished in the village of Batuan. These paintings are characterized by intricate details, elaborate storytelling, and vibrant colors. Rooted in Hindu-Balinese mythology and folklore, Batuan paintings often depict scenes from epic stories like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. While the village of Batuan was historically a hub for these artists, the art form has spread to other parts of Bali. These paintings are not only a source of artistic expression but also a way for artists to connect with their spiritual and cultural heritage.
Where? To explore Balinese Batuan painting, visit the village of Batuan itself. You can find galleries and studios showcasing these intricate paintings. Many artists are happy to explain the stories behind their artwork.
13. Meat a Spiritual Healer (Balian)
Ancient healing practices, for both body and mind, still lay an important role in the balinese culture. And even amongst many international travelers the Balian are frequently consulted, with many people describing this experiences profound, if not life changing. Meeting a Balian can be a very interesting way to learn more about traditional Balinese way of life. fond out more about Balian, Bali Spiritual Healers, in our guide.
14. Try Mepantigan – Ancient Martial Arts from Bali
Few people know, that Bali also has a martial arts tradition. It dates back centuries and is deeply rooted in the island’s cultural and spiritual tapestry. Distinct from other martial arts, Mepantigan not only encompasses physical combat but also integrates elements of drama, music, and even spirituality. Often practiced in wet rice fields or muddy grounds, competitors engage in a tactile dance, grappling and attempting to unbalance their opponents in the mud, making the contest as much a spectacle of skill as it is of endurance and strategy. Accompanied by the rhythmic beats of Balinese gamelan music and sometimes intertwined with spiritual ceremonies, Mepantigan is more than just a sport; it’s a testament to Bali’s rich history and its people’s connection to nature and the divine.
Conclusion – Balinese Cultural activities:
As we conclude our journey through Bali’s cultural activities, one thing becomes abundantly clear: this enchanting island is a realm where history, spirituality, and artistic expression converge to create an immersive and unforgettable experience.
So, pack your curiosity, your sense of wonder, and your adventurous spirit, and let Bali’s cultural treasures captivate your heart and soul!