Bali is known for its tropical beaches, Hindu culture, and volcanic landscapes. It is a destination that promises a combination of daring adventures and relaxing retreats.
And while Bali’s beaches tend to get all of the international attention, there are dozens of marvels scattered across its idyllic landscapes and surrounding seas. So let me be your guide as we explore the best day trips from Bali’s shores.
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The 12 Best Day Trips from Bali in 2023
Most visitors to Bali tend to focus their visit around the Kuta Beach region. And while this area is beautiful, it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the region’s breathtaking natural wonders.
Beyond these coastal hot spots, Bali is surrounded by remarkable volcanic landscapes, perfectly preserved island paradises, and over 10,000 historic Hindu temples waiting to be explored.
What’s even better is that most of these attractions are all within a few hours of the island’s top tourist centers, making them fantastic options for escaping the tourist traps along a day trip. And while each site can easily be sampled within a single day, the experiences they provide will have you returning for an extended stay.
1. Mount Batur Sunrise Trek
Feel the thrill of exploration by hiking Bali’s most picturesque active volcano.
Travel time by car: 2 Hours from Kuta
Located near the island’s center, Mount Batur makes for a fantastic day trip from wherever you stay in Bali. And while the hike to the top of this active volcano can be undertaken at any time of the day, the best way to enjoy the marvel of the region is by planning your trek to match your summit with the sunrise.
This often means you must begin your ascent very early in the morning. So, if you are staying somewhere far from the mountain, it may be worth booking a room closer to the starting point for the night before.
The hike takes about two hours to complete and features a steady incline of 700 meters. The relatively demanding journey requires a local guide to undertake but often includes a half-day of activities, with many of the best tour operators even providing a lunch of hard-boiled eggs cooked using the volcano’s natural geothermal processes.
2. Nusa Penida
Escape to the fantasized island experience on the pristine beaches of Nusa Penida.
Travel Time by Boat: 45 Minutes from Sanur Beach
One of the most popular day trips for visitors to make when in Bali is to hop over to the nearby island of Nusa Penida. Located just east of the Bukit Peninsula, Nusa Penida is home to some of the region’s most pristine island landscapes, untouched natural environments, and even a traditional Balinese village.
Popular activities on the island include hiking to several scenic vistas, snorkeling through the vibrant coral reefs surrounding the white-sand beaches, and renting a bike for an adventurous tour of all of Nusa Penida’s wondrous corners.
Boats connecting Sanur to Nusa Penida make the journey between the two islands several times daily. The island is small enough for visitors to see all its highlights within a single-day trip. However, to ensure you experience everything there is to offer, engaging a local guide or biking tour is best. For those more adventurous, you can book a snorkeling tour of the area as well.
3. Gili Islands
Swim with sea turtles at the tropical Gili Islands.
Travel Time by Boat: 1 Hour 15 Minutes from Serangan
Like Nusa Penida, the Gili Islands are located just off Bali’s eastern coast and are comprised of three separate islands — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air.
All three offer surreal island paradises surrounded by turquoise waters and covered in white sands and coconut palms. Moreover, the Gili Islands are entirely free from automobiles, making these destinations some of the best day trips from Bali without a car.
Affectionately known as Gili T, Gili Trawangan is the largest of the islands at only 3.4 square kilometers. This island is a favorite among backpackers and young people thanks to its reputation as a nightlife hot spot and is famous for its beach bars and moonlight parties.
Alternatively, those seeking the slower island vibes of the Gili’s should instead plan their day trip for Gili Meno or Gili Air, both offering quiet escapes for enjoying beach restaurants and snorkeling with sea turtles.
4. Nusa Lembongan
Live your Robinson Crusoe castaway fantasies on Nusa Lembongan.
Travel Time by Boat: 45 Minutes from Sanur Beach
Another fantastic island day trip from Bali is to the idyllically beautiful Nusa Lembongan. Located next to Nusa Penida in the Indian Ocean, Nusa Lembongan boasts much of the same pristine coastal landscapes of the larger island but confines it all within its 8-square-kilometer area for a more accessible excursion.
Promising thinner crowds and some truly spectacular vistas and sunset settings, Nusa Lembongan encompasses the region’s traditional island charms and promises a romantic day trip from Bali.
And while Nusa Penida often gets the most international acclaim amongst tourists, Nusa Lembongan often makes for the better day trip as it can easily be explored within a single day.
5. Menjangan Island
Explore the hidden-away temples, beaches, and aquatic life of Menjangan Island.
Travel Time by Boat: 30 Minutes from Labuhan Lalang
One of Bali’s best-kept secrets, Menjangan Island is tucked far away from the tourist eye of Kuta, located in the far northwest corner of the island. Few travelers visit the island thanks to its remote nature, yet its surrounding waters offer some of the most pristine aquatic environments for snorkeling or scuba diving.
Whether exploring the local sea life, the beautifully preserved Pura Segara Gili Dharma Kencana Temple, or soaking in the sun at the serenely quiet Menjangan Beach, Menjangan Island can easily be paired with a visit to West Bali National Park for a truly spectacular day trip from anywhere on Bali.
As part of the national park, tourists must be accompanied by a professional guide to visit the island. Luckily, it isn’t too difficult to find tour operators offering this service, with the most accessible community being Labuhan Lalang along Bali’s northern coast.
6. Tanah Lot Temple
Combining an accessible location with one of the most picturesque temples, Tanah Lot is the best religious site to explore in Bali.
Travel Time by Car: 30 Minutes from Kuta
Believed to be constructed in the 16th century, the Tanah Lot Temple is an important religious monument and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bali thanks to its idyllic location along Bali’s southern coast near the popular tourist centers of Kuta, Seminyak, and Canggu.
Built on a rock just off the coast, Tanah Lot Temple is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and is only accessible during periods of low tide. However, even when the tides connect the beach to the monument, visitors are confined to exploring the site’s base, with the main temples being preserved only for Hindu priests.
Still, the coast surrounding the temple is filled with things to do, including local markets, luwak coffee shops, and several beautiful coast-side restaurants. Combined with breathtaking views of the temple, Tanah Lot makes for a fantastic and easily accessible day trip from most tourist centers in Bali.
7. Sacred Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Spanning over 30 acres, the Sacred Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary is fantastic for exploring the island’s local flora and fauna species.
Travel Time by Car: 1 Hour from Kuta
Located near the center of Bali, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary makes for a fantastic day trip from anywhere on the island. However, it is particularly accessible for those staying in Ubud. Only a short five-minute drive from the island’s cultural hub, the sanctuary takes about an hour to reach for those staying in the Kuta tourist center.
Still, despite its relative proximity to the developed area of Ubud, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary offers lush natural environments to explore, complete with the over 1200 Balinese long-tailed macaques that call the sanctuary home.
Along with offering access to the island’s flora and fauna, visitors to the sanctuary will delve across majestic waterfalls, rushing rivers, and even a 14th-century temple along the park’s scenic walking tour.
Travel back to before Bali’s commercialization at the nearby island of Lombok.
Travel Time by Boat: 2 Hours from Serangan
Much like how Bali was before mass tourism took over its idyllic shores, Lombok is perfect for those looking to escape Bali’s heavy crowds while enjoying adventurous volcanic landscapes and long stretches of pristine white sands.
While most visitors to the island opt to spend multiple days exploring everything the destination offers, Lombok offers several fantastic day trips from Bali, including adventurous volcanic treks, hidden waterfall hikes, and even world-class surf hotspots.
Lombok takes about two hours to reach from Bali via boat, but those looking to get the most out of their day trip to the island can shed some of this time off by flying, which takes about 40 minutes.
9. Mount Ijen
Observe Earth’s only known blue lava within the crater of Mount Ijen.
Travel Time: 2 Hours by Bus and Car from Gilimanuk
Home to the only known occurrence of blue lava on Earth, the Mount Ijen volcano is one of the most unique day trips from Bali and is well worth the extended journey over to Java to reach. From Kuta, travelers first need to journey for three to four hours by bus to Gilimanuk, where they can catch a ferry to Java and jump into a shuttle to the volcano’s entrance.
From the entrance, visitors hike their way up to the top of the volcano, where they can then begin their descent into the crater itself. Along the way, trekkers enjoy surreal views of surrounding volcanoes and can even visit the biggest acid lake in the world.
While the journey can be made throughout the day, the best time to view the blue lava resulting from a sulphuric fire is the morning hours before sunrise. For this reason, many visitors opt to spend the night before their hike in the nearby Banyuwangi.
10. Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Tour Bali’s most iconic paddy fields at the Tegalalang Rice Terraces.
Travel Time by Car: 30 Minutes
A UNESCO-recognized irrigation system, Bali’s rice terraces are both monumental and historic and are some of the most iconic vistas on the island. And while these paddy fields can be explored all over the island, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces are known to be some of the most picturesque in Bali.
Luckily, thanks to its convenient location near the island’s center, these rice terraces make for a convenient day trip from anywhere in Bali and are included in numerous tour packages combined with several other stops in the Ubud area.
Whether visiting with a guide or independently, travelers can spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half walking the numerous hiking trails through the ten-tiered paddies fields. Afterward, you can complete the day trip at a nearby restaurant or market.
11. Goa Gajah Temple
Goa Gajah’s carved demonic entrance is one of Bali’s most recognized temple entrances.
Travel Time by Car: 10 Minutes from Ubud
Also located just outside of Ubud near the center of Bali, Goa Gajah Temple provides a fantastic day trip regardless of where you are basing your trip to the island. Known as Elephant Cave, Goa Gajah is a unique temple believed to be constructed in the 11th century.
Easily recognizable by its demonic stone entrance, the complex includes several stone shrines, historical relics, and even ancient bathing pools where they offer ritual soaks.
While the entire complex can be toured in under one hour, Goa Gajah can easily be paired with a trip to the Ubud Monkey Forest, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, or the Tegenungan Waterfall for a fun day trip to explore Ubud’s top attractions.
12. Tumpak Sewu Waterfall
Marvel at Indonesia’s most surreal waterfall at Tumpak Sewu.
Travel Time: 3 Hours by Air and Taxi
Referred to as the Niagara Falls of Indonesia, Tumpak Sewu Waterfall is one of the most beautiful water features in the world. Surrounded by lush natural beauty, Tumpak Sewu Waterfall consists of hundreds of cascades, with Tumpak Sewu roughly translating to “a thousand waterfalls.”
Located 257 km from Bali, Tumpak Sewu Waterfall can be slightly more difficult to reach but can be done as a day trip by flying from Denpasar to Surabaya and taking a taxi the rest of the way to the site.
While this is the only way to visit the site in a single day, the journey to the waterfall can also be done over land and is one of the best day trips by train, ferry, and car for exploring the varied geographical landscapes of both Bali and east Java.
Be warned, though. Traveling over land can take about 10 hours from Kuta, so be prepared to stretch the journey over a few days.
FAQs About Transportation in Bali
How is public transportation in Bali?
While taxis and scooters are popular methods for getting around the island, Bali’s public transportation options make for an easy way to explore the island on a budget. Bali’s public bus network connects the island’s main tourist centers and attractions, while its ferry system provides access to numerous surrounding islands.
Which side of the road do they drive on in Bali?
Like the rest of Indonesia, cars drive on the left side of the road in Bali. This can often be confusing for visitors who it is their first time driving on this side of the road.
What are road conditions like in Bali?
While the roads of Bali are generally well-maintained, the traffic on the roads can often be very chaotic. Heavy crowding can occur in popular tourist areas, with numerous scooters weaving in and out of traffic. Moreover, road rules are often ignored for generally accepted practices, making for dangerous conditions for inexperienced drivers.
What are some popular ways of getting around in Bali?
The most popular way of getting around in Bali for tourists is to rent a scooter. However, public buses and ferries are also popular for those uncomfortable driving on Bali’s busy streets. Other popular methods of getting around in Bali include private taxis and ride-planning applications such as Grab and Gojek.
Where should I stay for the best day trips from Bali?
Thanks to its convenient location near the island’s center, Ubud is a fantastic setting for basing numerous day trips from Bali. Depending on where you plan on going, Sanur is also a great spot to base for visiting the islands around Nusa Penida. Meanwhile, staying in Bali’s easter regions is the best spot if you’re venturing over to Java.
Before you go…
Thank you for reading my guide to day trips in Bali. This list is just the beginning of what makes Bali such an incredible island to visit. Looking for more ideas? Check out my list of things to do in Bali to ensure you experience all the best bits the island has to offer.