Bali is a unique gem of an island, where you can find nightclubs several stories tall amidst ancient Buddhist temples, and rainforests surrounded by white-sand beaches. The island is a particularly popular vacation spot among Australians given the close distance between the two countries, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the trip if you're coming from a bit farther away. Indeed, everyone with an interest in island travel should have Bali near the top of his or her priority list. And when you finally do book your ticket, we have some recommendations for things you won't want to miss once you're there.
1. Take a Ferry to the Gili Islands
Both of the two popular Gili Islands, Air ("Gili A") and Trawangan ("Gili T"), are located just a short ferry ride away from mainland Bali. The islands have distinct reputations (nearly opposite of one another), so it's important for us to explain them. If you want to have a relaxing, quiet getaway, Gili A is where you'll want to go. You can still enjoy activities - like yoga or diving classes - but the crowds will be more tame and conducive to a peaceful holiday. On the other hand, Gili T is known among young backpackers as a major party spot, filled with nightclubs and adrenaline-inducing watersports. Of course, you can certainly visit both islands in the same trip, if you like - just be sure to bring both a clubbing outfit and your yoga pants!
2. Spend a Night Out in Kuta Beach
Kuta Beach is the best-known party district on the mainland. The most popular club among visitors is probably Sky Dome Super Club, which boasts several floors of dancing in addition to a rooftop bar. World-famous DJs like to perform there on occasion, and the drinks are incredibly cheap, so it's really a spot you shouldn't miss out on, and represents the best of the island's evening scene. One thing you should not expect on the nightlife front is a casino venue, which is something a lot of people expect to see in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Lots of countries in the area do have casino resorts, and still others have online access to casino games from slots to roulette, meaning a lot of travelers expect this sort of recreation. Bali, however, does not have this sort of gambling scene, which is why clubs and bars are typically the late-night priorities.
3. Make a New Friend in the Ubud Monkey Forest
The Ubud Monkey Forest is unlike any other animal tourism attraction (think swimming with dolphins, riding camels through the desert, etc.) you'll have encountered. At this forest, you not only get to see the monkeys in their preserved natural habitat, but you will also have the opportunity to get closer to them than maybe you ever planned for. Upon entering the Monkey Forest, and at several other points along the main trail, you will be able to buy a few bananas - which, of course, aren't just handy snacks for you to enjoy! As soon as you open a banana, the animals will flock to you, and they won't be afraid to jump onto your head or shoulders to get a bite of their favorite food. Be sure to keep any valuables out of your pockets, and wear clothes you don't mind little monkey footprints on!
4. Spend an Afternoon Relaxing at a Beach (or Rainforest!) Club
Just like most other island hot spots, Bali is filled with "private" clubs situated amidst some of the island's most stunning scenery. The nice thing about these clubs, however, is that they are really open to everyone - they just cost a small fee. And not only are there the typical beach clubs, but there are also analogous spots sitting as the only buildings within stretches of rainforest. As far as being on the water goes, Potato Head will be your best bet. (If you've traveled through Southeast Asia before, you may have seen versions of the same club in cities like Hong Kong and Singapore.) For a more unusual setting, we'd recommend the Jungle Fish club. Located not too far from the Ubud city center, Jungle Fish holds true to its name by being a pool club located in the rain forest. The facilities include an infinity pool overlooking the tree tops, a gourmet restaurant, cabanas with drink service, and more.