Tired of all the popular attractions in Bali? Want to explore somewhere different?
Bali is full of surprises, even for frequent visitors – there’s always new places to explore and new adventures to seek.
So if you love off-the-beaten tracks, local secrets, or just want to do something new on the island, we’ve found some exciting hidden gems for you.
1) Make a wish in the woods: Giant Banyan Tree
Can you imagine walking through a gigantic tree, among its huge roots?
Bali has many banyan trees – these sturdy trees not only add drama to the local landscape, but locals also believe that spirits inhabit them.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you must visit the giant banyan tree in the village of Gesing, in northern Bali.
This tree is believed to be 700 years old, and it’s humongous – 85 metres tall.
Its giant root system resembles a maze that you can walk through and explore.
The tree also boasts of a legend deeply rooted in history – locals hid inside the tree from the Dutch during the occupation.
And as the story goes, the spirits living in the tree protected the locals by making them invisible to the Dutch.
Another reason to visit this giant banyan tree?
They say your wishes will come true.2) Sugar, cacao and everything nice: Bamboo Chocolate Farms
Want to visit a chocolate-making factory built in a bamboo house?
Located just 25 minutes from Ubud, the Big Tree Farm manufactures organic products from chocolate to coconut sugar.
You can also sign up for a tour in their bamboo cathedral – the largest bamboo structure in the world.
As an organic farm, using sustainable building materials is a must, and bamboo is the best choice.
Not only does the bamboo cathedral has an outstanding architecture, it also houses the commercial kitchen, office, chocolate factory and many other facilities.
At the chocolate factory, you can sample the cold-pressed cacao and learn about how organic chocolate are produced.
Image credit: life-in-travels.ru
With so much chocolatey goodness, beware of sugar overdose!
3) Temple with strange ornaments: Dalem Jagaraga
Yes, this is a temple.
But you probably haven’t checked it out yet.
You may have heard all about the famous temples in the island such as the Tanah Lot Temple, but Dalem Jagaraga is actually an often-unseen temple despite its interesting reliefs.
Located in a village, this temple is adorned with ornaments and reliefs that are significant during the Dutch resistance, together with motifs of Balinese mythology.
Curious? You can actually ask the local guides if you want to understand the meaning behind those queer temple ornaments – such as the reliefs of an aircraft crashing into the sea and a car with its driver.
4. Visit the mysterious sacred hideout: Goa Maya Cave
Near Petanu River, 15 kilometres north of Ubud, lies a mythical and restful place – the Goa Maya Cave.
Literally translated to mean “sacred cave” or “hidden cave”, this beautiful hideout is located near the Bali Eco Vacation Resort, and was actually rediscovered by the present owner of the property.
When you enter, the cave is at the centre, surrounded by tunnels, which were originally irrigation canals.
Legend has it that it’s a meditation spot for the Hindu god Bhatara Siwa after his triumph over the evil spirit Raja Mayadenawa.
During war-torn periods, the Dutch-resistance soldiers and the Japanese used it as a hideout, turning it into a feared place, though it’s now usually visited by tourists and pilgrims alike.
Locals still give offerings here, and it’s also a venue for full-moon ceremonies.
5. Ancient secrets: Gunung Kawi
Travel back in time to Gunung Kawi, a lesser-known temple found in the northeast of Ubud.
Gunung Kawi traces back to the 11th century, so this sacred place is one of the oldest in Bali.
It’s also a complex with distinctive carved shrines called candi.
The candi, a total of 10 are funeral monuments for a local king, his queen, sons, and even concubines.
Each of this candi is carved out from the rock in a niche – so it ends up as an unusual and artistic sight in Bali.
This temple complex is also located at the bottom of a valley. Isn’t it such a picturesque and dramatic picture?
But be warned – to reach the complex, you have to conquer 270 steps.
Anyone up for a morning exercise challenge?
Have you ever heard of Bengkala, also known as the Village of the Deaf?
If you travel there with an open mind, trust us, you’ll get a humbling experience.
The deaf villagers (known as kolok) use a unique sign language, the Kata Kolok or “deaf talk” to communicate, and Bengkala’s Kata Kolok is distinct from Balinese language and any other sign languages in the world.
Contrary to the name of the village, the place is not a village full of deaf people. In fact, there are only less than 50 deaf in a village of 2,000 people.
But what makes this trip insightful is how the whole village prioritises the sense of belonging of the deaf through language – an integral part in culture. The deaf villagers are given proper education, and are even empowered to join in dances with their unique dance form.