With a diverse culture and stunning landscapes, Bali has been a popular destination amongst backpackers, honeymooners, and gay travelers for decades. Here, dense and lush jungle gives way to some of the most stunning beaches on the planet. Bali is a treasure trove of culture, ancient history, and breath-taking natural landscapes.
The small scale of Bali means that instead of one major city, the tourist hotspots here are spread throughout a number of towns, villages and remote settlements, each with their own unique vibes and atmospheres. Luckily, Bali is compact enough that it’s easy to experience all that is on offer during your trip, from the tourist haven of busy Seminyak to the tranquil ruggedness of Nusa Penida.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Tegalalang is otherworldly. Nestled in a vast swathe of untamed jungle, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces cast a dramatic silhouette, steep valley sides with cutaway steps that are overflowing with luscious greenery. It’s here that for centuries ancient irrigation techniques have been used to farm and produce rice, originally for local consumption and now for export across the entire world. The combination of natural and landscaped beauty makes the terraces a truly unique location and has earned the area designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tegalalang is one of Bali’s top tourist destinations.
Tegalalang is vast and at times confusing, but there’s no need to plan a route as visitors are able to freely wander amongst the terraces, exploring every inch of this tranquil environment. Whilst it is free to enter and explore, there are several stations where local people will ask for donations or attempt to charge a fee to pass, but it’s usually acceptable to offer a small amount of change. One of Bali’s most Instagrammed locations, there are countless opportunities for photos at Tegalalang, with hanging tree chairs, rope swings, and zip lines all dotted around the peaceful rice terraces.
Seminyak is not only the epicenter of entertainment and tourism in Bali, it’s also here that you’ll find the bulk of the island’s gay nightlife, the majority of which is located along one street in the town. Jalan Camplung Tanduk Arcade is a busy and loud main avenue in downtown Seminyak, coming alive after the sun sets, the most popular gay bars and clubs can be found here. The gay nightlife scene mainly revolves around a few bars – all of which can be found on Jalan Camplung Tanduk Arcade.
The best gay clubbing experience in Bali can undoubtedly be found at Mixwell Bar. The bar is a major hub of gay community and is one of the island’s most established LGBT+ venues, drawing in a diverse mix of travelers and locals. Most gay-travelers will end up at Mixwell at some point during their trip and the bar is perhaps best known for its great nightly drag performances and cabaret. Read More: Bali Gay Bar Scene.
Whilst the Gilli Islands are not technically part of Bali, most travelers will visit them during their trip. A two and a half-hour boat ride from Bali, the Gilli Archipeligo consists of three islands, each with their own unique vibe and attractions. Gilli Trawangan, commonly known as Gilli T, is the party island. Here, beach clubs and lively bars spill onto the hot white sand, making the islands a popular destination with backpackers and travelers – many of the clubs here also offer great drink deals and endless happy hours. The vibrant and jovial atmosphere on Gilli T makes the island a popular spot amongst many gay travelers.
If drinking games and house music isn’t your thing, consider making the trip to Gilli Air, the quietest of the three islands, and a popular destination for travelers seeking restful relaxation. Gilli Air is far smaller and quieter than Gilli T, known for its excellent culinary offerings and myriad of upmarket venues. The beaches on Gilli Air are particularly scenic, with pristine white sand, dotted with a tropical selection of trees and plants. However, traveling couples are most likely to enjoy Gilli Meno- the honeymoon haven of the Gilli Islands. Here, high-end resorts line the beaches and private cabins can be seen just beyond the shoreline, making for a completely secluded and romantic experience. The island is also popular amongst scuba divers and snorkelers who come to explore the multiple ruins and wrecks that can be found just off the coast.
Ubud Monkey Forest
Where else in the world can you explore acres of tropical rainforest, all the while being surrounded by hundreds of grey long-tailed macaques? The Ubud Monkey Forest is one of the most popular attractions in Indonesia and is a completely unique and unmissable experience. The forest is a natural sanctuary and visitors can explore its entirety via the paved pathways that snake their way throughout the dense nutmeg tree forest. Over 700 monkeys live at the sanctuary and have become friendly and un-scared of humans, and it’s not uncommon for the macaques to clamber onto passing by people.
Conservation and ecology are primary focus’ of the sanctuary and researchers carry out extensive monitoring of the monkeys in order to create a better living environment. The forest is also home to a number of ancient and authentic temples, the most popular being Pura Prajapati – a 14th-century structure that was once used for funerals.
Nusa Penida can be reached by a one-hour boat ride from Bali, and whilst the crossing can be choppy, it’s well worth it once you set eyes upon the Jurassic island. The landscape of the Nusa Penida is truly like none other, massive and dramatic cliffs give way to rugged and untouched wilderness, and the island is almost completely devoid of tourism infrastructure. However, the jewel in Nusa Penida’s crown can be found on its east coast, stretching out into the ocean. Kelingking Beach is one of Bali’s most stunning and breath-taking locations, and it’s here that an enormous rock formation curls out into the sea, forming a huge lagoon and serving as one of Bali’s top tourist attractions.
The beach is accessible from the cliff top and the walk down can be perilous, however, it’s also here that you’ll find some of the best views on the island and also one of the most photographed sights in Indonesia. Nicknamed “T-Rex Beach” by the residents of Nusa Penida, the cliffs surrounding Kelingking beach resemble a large dinosaur and this can be observed from the popular viewpoint. The beach gets particularly busy around sunset when tourists flock to witness the stunning display of awe-inspiring natural beauty.
by George Pizani | On: Gay Bali