In addition to its famous places, Bali also holds the wonder of unique beauty that is peculiar and strange at the same time magnificent. If you are looking to break away from the usual and common ways of vacationing such as five-star accommodation or mainstream beaches, you may be in for a wonderful surprise. We have the all-ins to what are still considered as hidden and off the tracks destinations in Bali for you to discover.
So gather your adventurous wits and let’s explore the many mysteries the island still has to offer.
1. Taman Festival Bali ‘Ghost Town’
Right on Padanggalak beach of Sanur, Bali has its own “ghost town”. It is a remote cast located quite far away from the center of Sanur Hub. You will soon find the remains and ruins of what once was designated to be the island’s theme park or Taman Festival bali. It only lasted a short while after meeting marketing and financial problems in 1997, and later on it became an abandoned government project. Up till now, there is no words on its reestablishment, making it compound of silent theme park in destructed shapes.
Everything is pretty much intact, with the main entrance, ticket booths, cafeterias, and empty buildings that are now in ruins. The whole place carries a rather creepy vibe as vines and shrubs grow untamed around its ornamental figures. This post-armageddon setting can somewhat bring uneasy nerves for visitors but still has the charms and mysterious beauty left.
Location: Jalan Padanggalak, Padanggalak Beach, Sanur
Image Courtesy of Lukas Bolliger
2. Trunyan Necropolis
Image Courtesy of Yusuf IJsseldijk
At Trunyan Necropolis, you will encounter something that is truly disturbing once you’ve arrived. It is located on the east of Batur Lake and may be reached using a boat from the other side. In the highlands of where the old Balinese villages are, lies an ancient community who still practices unusual and different ways with their deceased people. The Trunyan people do not believe in burying nor cremating their dead. Instead, the deceased are wrapped and transported by boat to a village graveyard and laid down among the ground where the giant trees stand. The bodies are then kept within a wooden cage to avoid them being destroyed or eaten by animals. The tree is known as taru menyan ( almost sound similar to the village’s name) exudes a certain fragrant aroma and is believed to only grown in that location only in whole of Bali island. It is quite a mystery as to how the odor of the bodies is almost non existing, which is probably believed to be cleansed away by the tree’s fragrance.
Location: Trunyan Village, Batur, Kintamani
Image Courtesy of Yusuf IJsseldijk
3. Goa Lawah, the bat cave temple
Image Courtesy of Mike Haller
Goa Lawah is quite famous on its own account. It is one of Bali’s most important Balinese Hindu temples complete with its creepy cave entrance that is filled with bats. Regardless of the time of day, when one visits Goa Lawah whether at day or evening, the sight of these bats will surely give you a chill. This temple dates back to 11th century and is located enroute to Candidasa and east of Bali. Take a chance to visit this temple at dusk as the bats usually leave the cave and fly above the temple for a feast on insects. During the temple’s anniversary, Goa Lawah becomes a truly magnificent scene of an exotic temple with pilgrimage and local praying activities along with many colorful flags, parasols and banners. There is one unsolved mystery that is yet to be proven. It is whether the secret passage that leads to Besakih Temple just northeast of Mount Agung, is true or false.
Location: Jalan Raya Goa Lawah, Pesinggahan Village, Dawan District, Klungkung
Image Courtesy of Mike Haller
4. Bengkala, village of the deaf
The village of the deaf rings true to its name as over 2% of the population of Bengkala village are deaf since birth for over seven generations. Bengkala village is in the Kubutambahan district, located north of Bali and the deaf villagers are usually called “ kolok”. It actually refers to the sign language that is developed within the village or “kata kolok”. Cultural and traditional rituals such as dances, performance and martial art are still carried out but in their own special ways – deaf dances, dead martial art etc. All of these are done using distinct social system based on the belief in a deaf god, which all villagers look up to.
Location: Bengkala Village, Kubutambahan, Buleleng, North Bali
5. Lost Plane #1
When you have arrived in Bali from the airport and heading towards Nusa Dua, pay attention on your left side as you go along Bypass Ngurah Rai. Right beside Dunkin Donuts or around 500m from the Benoa Square is a peculiar old white Boeing 737 aircraft. The plane is parked just so making it hard to comprehend as to why it is placed there. Many believe that it is just one of the marketing gimmicks by the restaurant owner, but some say that the plane fell through and now becomes a nice addition to the island.
Location: Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai, Jimbaran
6. Lost Plane #2
Another mystery aircraft on the island is in quite a remote area right on the southern Bukit Peninsula, just a few kilometre north of Pandawa Beach. The exact location is a private property of a carved limestone hill. It has been one of the hot tourist sites open for public to explore and hangout in its restaurant and bar.
7. Goa Gala-Gala Underground House
Essentially an underground house, Goa Gala- Gala is a must visit when you are heading to Nusa Lembongan Island. This limestone house is well known for its labyrinth feature which connects the chambers in it. It is made by the owner – Made Byasa- who took inspiration from the Mahabharata epic in the episode where the protagonists made a cave hideout while dodging the persecution from the Koravas. This had then resulted into a passionate personal project for over a decade long, with completion in 1976. As soon as you enter 7 metre deep hole in the ground, you will soon appreciate how one man had succeeded in building all the rooms underground.
Location: Lembongan Village, West Nusa Lembongan Island
8. PI Taman Rekreasi Bedugul ‘haunted hotel’
All recreational places must have at least one haunted hotel. In Bali, it is once used to be a mountain resort in the early 1990’s but had to succumb to financial issue and came to a total halt just halfway through its project. The abandoned building is located on the central highland and is easily spotted during your trip to Beratan Lake or the Ulun Danu Temple. The ruins of P.I Taman Rekreasi Hotel & Resort has been deemed haunted for long and only a brave handful are willing to enter it. Abandoned for over 2 decades now, it is no wonder that the building rarely makes for a favorite place to visit for mainstream tours.
Location: Jalan Raya Baturiti, Batunya, Bedugul, Central Bali
9. Goa Gong (Jimbaran)
Tucked away in the bustle of modern development of Jimbaran resort area is a hidden and unique cave temple, namely Goa Gong. It is located on the street paying homage to it, jalan Goa Goang, which is just up the hill from Bali’s top university : The Udayana. Take a left from the small Batu Ngongkong community and you will encounter 2 ornate red cat statues donned in chequered cloths. Usually this site is not open for public unless the keeper and supervisor is present onsite. This rather unwelcoming area is evident with the presence of gargoyles statues just right before its cave temple in the midst of banyan and tamarind trees. If you have a chance to get inside, the dimly-lit cave will reveal stone shrines under the dripping water of natural stalactites. A large stalactite can function as a stone gong, which is used for rituals and anniversary processions.
Location: Jalan Goa Gong, Jimbaran
10. Goa Peteng (Jimbaran)
If cave walking or exploring is your thing, get to Goa Peteng which is right beside Ayana Resort and Spa in Jimbaran. Goa Peteng in local language literally is translated to ‘dark cave’ and true to form, it is almost pitch black as you walk into this limestone cave. Right at the cave entrance, there are shrine guards under a large Banyan tree to complete your whole goosebump experience. Decorated with shrubs and creeping vines down around its opening, you will soon be greeted with a rather dense atmosphere with bats welcoming you by their shrieks filling the hollow stalactite space. After a 15 minute descend into Goa Peteng, you will reach a freshwater pool at its base. Legend has it that on a full moon, a hidden chamber will be exposed through a causeway which is an extension of narrow passage on the water area.