From eerie hotels abandoned for years to fighting festivals in the shadow of Indo's misty jungles, this list of 10 weird and wonderful Bali attractions is sure to get you thinking about that long overdue trip to the fabled Isle of the Gods. Enjoy…
1. Trunyan aga village
You'll have to head far from the party strips of Legian to discover the enthralling aga (ancient) village of Trunyan, which clutches the banks of Lake Batur under the gaze of one colossal volcano. For those interested in local culture and the age-old traditions of the Isle of the Gods, the trip promises to be a fascinating one. That's because the folk who reside here still follow the folkloric religions of an age long gone; an age that predates the arrival of both Hinduism and Buddhism in the Nusa Tenggara region. One of the most eye-opening practices still observed in Trunyan is the ritual of decomposing dead, which sees the bodies of deceased people left out in open wicker coffins.
2. The lost 737s
Although they only sit just a short jaunt away from the runways of Bali's Bandar Udara International Airport in Denpasar, the duo of abandoned 737s that pepper the Bukit Peninsula are hardly the flying sort of plane. They've actually been sat rusting between the fields and roadways of the southern Bali regencies for years; slowly gathering dust and entertaining the occasional salt-washed surfer or partier who happens to pass their way out of nearby Kuta or Nusa Dua. Rumors abound that one of the abandoned airplanes is going to be turned into a bar come restaurant in the coming years. Watch this space!
3. Bounty Beach Club Bungalows
Okay, okay, so we know the haunting empty rooms and unfilled pools of the Bounty Beach Club Bungalows aren’t really on Bali at all, but rather on the tiny little speck of an isle that is Gili Meno – surely that's close enough for them to warrant a place on this list though, right? Well tough, they are here, and they come with their eerie ruins and empty cabanas, which are all now slowly being reclaimed by the creeping jungle vines and growing forests that surround them. Some locals will even tell you that the spot, which was abandoned sometime in the early noughties, is haunted, but we're just not sure whether to believe that. Anyway, pass the Bintang please.
4. The abandoned Taman Festival
Eerie and empty, the Taman Festival is a huge outdoor complex of entertainments and attractions that has been left completely abandoned since the project became embroiled in legal and financial difficulties in 2000. Today, there are zoo enclosures and theatres, ticket booths and fiberglass volcanos all gathering dust at the site, which can easily be reached by foot or bike just a short jaunt out of Sanur Beach. Be wary though: the locals say there were also a group of crocodiles left in the park when it was deserted, and tales abound of them gobbling up poultry and birds!
5. Luwak coffee plantations
Bali is famed right across the globe as the home of the world's most expensive coffee bean: the Kopi Luwak. This is produced in plantations up and down the central highlands of the Isle of the Gods, many of which can be visited today. And while a tasting excursion to these bean-growing farms might not sound that weird and wonderful, things might just take a turn for the unusual when we tell you that Luwak beans must first be eaten, digested and (ahem) passed by Bali's native civet cat before they are ready to brew. Yea, it's hardly an ice-cold Bintang beer, is it?
6. Herons and photo frames in Petulu Village
Head north into the wild jungles and cascading rice paddies out of Ubud town and you'll eventually come to the earthy little village of Petulu. This little speck on the map of the south-central regencies is home to an age-old tradition of wood whittling, which has now turned into a penchant for picture frames - you'll be able to shop for everything from small picture frames to dragon-wreathed borders in the workshops on the edge of the town. But that's not it, because Petulu is also a magnet for the White Heron. In the evening, it's possible to watch literally thousands (some say as many as 10,000) of the beautiful birds meeting in the trees here. Many believe they are the souls of local Balinese dead, come to bless the hidden village of the forest.
7. Pemuteran underwater temple
Deep under the swells of the Bali Sea north off the coast of Pemuteran, visitors with a diving cert to their name can delve below the waves to discover a medley of carved Hindu figurines and seaweed-covered shrines. Despite looking truly ancient, the whole lot was actually put there in the 2000s by an Aussie artist by the name of Chris Brown. The sudden 'discovery' of the site by intrepid divers even managed to convince a couple of news outlets that something historic had been unearthed (or, un-watered?). Still, there's definitely a spot for it on this line-up of weird and wonderful Bali attractions!
8. Kecak Fire Dance at the Uluwatu Temple
LBW have been leading our tour groups to see the wondrous Kecak Fire Dance for years. For us, it's one of the most eye-opening cultural encounters with the local peoples of the Isle of the Gods that's possible. Unraveling the ancient stories of the Hindu dieties, it showcases spine-tingling displays of fire bursts and mask pageantry. What's more, the whole thing takes place in the mystical surrounds of the Uluwatu Temple, where the waves of the Indian Ocean crash against the sheer-cut cliffs all around. Don't worry, it's all part of our Blissful Bali tour!
9. The Tengananese Usabha Sambah
At first glance, the rustic bamboo homes and mist-topped forests that meet in the country village of Tenganan seem peaceful enough. But just wait until the famous Usabha Sambah ritual starts up in spring; when fierce warrior folk dressed in sarongs and armed with thorny pandanus branches face up to each other on the town's central square. They come to do battle in honour of the Hindu God Indra – the god of war. As the pitched skirmishes take place, festivities abound all around, with traditional gong music, fair rides and food all part of the action.
10. Makepung buffalo races
We've all heard of Formula One. We've all heard of horseracing. But what about heated speed battles between water buffalo? Welcome to the western region of Jembrana, which hosts some of the most curious races in all of Asia each year. Farmers come from all over the rice paddy-covered hills to compete in the tournament, which sees pairs of hefty heifers yoked together for a race over the grassy tracks. The locals dress up their prized duo of buffalo for the occasion too, with flamboyant golden plumes and jingling dragon bells aplenty.
We at LBW know just how amazing the fabled Isle of the Gods can be, and we're also sure there are plenty more weird and wonderful Bali attractions to add to this list. If you can think of any, be sure to make your voice heard in the comments below. Or, if you think it's time you explored Indo's jewel island, why not check out our offering of Bali itineraries?
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