One of the world’s most beautiful and spiritual islands, a Bali backpacking trip is always enlightening. Many people seem to stop at Kuta and Seminyak and think the island is just about designer shops and bars. It’s so much more than that. There are many places to visit for natural wonders and magical experiences. Here are just five activities that will make you fall in love with this special island.

Have an Eat, Pray, Love experience in Ubud

Bali backpacking

Ubud is a very special place and my first destination when I arrived from the airport by taxi. It’s the location of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat Pray Love, while she’s in Bali. When you arrive, you can see many ornate family temples and shops selling handmade ware. Around Ubud are vivid green rice fields and you can hire a bike to explore this gorgeous area. In the town is a world class yoga studio called Yogabarn, where you can take classes and meet like-minded people. Vegetarians and vegans are well-served here, as there are plenty of restaurants serving healthy veggie food. The Royal Palace is also located in Ubud. Here you can watch one of Bali’s traditional theatre performances, full of fire, demons and magic.

Indulge in Balinese massage – and learn how to do it

Bali backpacking

One of the most indulgent things to do in Bali is visit a spa. Here you can enjoy a full body massage or other treatments, using the fragrant local herbs and flowers, for a fraction of the price you’d pay at home. It really is so dreamy and relaxing! In Sanur, there is a spa school where you can learn how to give these massages. They offer a one week beginners’ course. Every day the class start’s with a short yoga session, before you learn the theoretical and practical elements of the art of Balinese massage. By the beach at Sanur, there is also the peaceful Power of Now Oasis yoga studio – perfect for yoga fans like me.

Embark on an exciting off-road adventure

Bali backpacking

You may decide that a little off-road adventure could be fun on your Bali backpacking trip. If this sounds like you, don’t miss the small town of Munduk close to the centre of the island. It is incredibly beautiful and you can explore the green rice fields and hike to the local waterfalls. In Munduk you can also join a small company that will take you on a high-octane tour. You can explore the local area by four-wheel drive buggy and by bicycle. As well as seeing the scenery go past, the tour guides will show you the local area and how the local spices and coffee is grown and processed. It finishes up in a wonderful spa where you can relax, followed by a tasty dinner. Perfect!

Explore an underwater shipwreck

Bali backpacking

To the east of Bali lies a set of charming villages, known as Amed. Here you can watch the sun rise over the black sand beaches, meet the locals and get to know the Balinese festivals and culture. The black sand comes from the nearby Mount Agung volcano, which you can climb. Or, like me, climb the smaller and more manageable Mount Batur to watch the sun rise from the sky. Magical. Another activity in Amed is to take scuba diving lessons and explore the USS Liberty shipwreck. It’s near the coast so you don’t need to go very deep, but it is simply incredible to swim around and explore. From Amed you can also catch a fast boat to the gorgeous Gili islands for more blissful beaches, snorkelling and diving. In fact, a Bali road trip is perfect for intrepid scuba divers as there are many sites to find underwater life, including Permuteran. On the other side of the island, it is also home to the West Bali National Park.

See thousands of tiny baby crabs at the beach

Bali backpacking

One of the most awe-inspiring experiences I had in Bali was at the chilled and beautiful Balian beach, a short drive south of Permuteran. It might sound a bit scary but here we saw thousands of tiny embryonic crabs making a pilgrimage from the land to the sea. It was incredible! We could even pick them up – they were so tiny they couldn’t hurt anyone. It’s also fun to walk along the coastline and clamber across the rocks. Further south, another laid-back beach is Canggu, a popular surfing area. This is a convenient location to conclude your Bali backpacking trip, as it’s just a short drive from Denpasar international airport.

Next up, read my must-know tips for a magnificent Malaysia holiday.

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