Bali’s temples and beaches need no further introduction. And yet, tucked into the country’s folds are several unusual sites that make for essential visiting for adventurous travellers, eager to step off the beaten track. And so, without any further ado, here are some of Bali’s most distinctive and unusual sites that are absolutely worth a visit on your next Bali holiday.
Sanur’s Ghost Town
Located on the remote Padanggalak Beach, far from more the touristy Sanur hub, lie the derelict ruins of the Taman Bali Festival theme park. Shut down in 1997 due to lingering financial troubles, the park was handed over to the local government and has since crumbled into an eerie ‘ghost town’. The deserted entrance gates, ticket booths, cafeterias and main buildings that are encroached by dense foliage lend the site an odd, post-apocalyptic air. Locals also believe that lost spirits like to ‘borrow’ such sites – so make sure to keep your wits about you!
Definitely not an attraction for everyone, this site is located in the ancient Bali Aga village of Trunyan. The local tribes of Trunyan wrap their deceased and bring them to the designated graveyard by boat, under the boughs of a large, fragrant tree. Interestingly, this tree is found only on this island and somehow manages to neutralize the odour of the decomposing corpses. Expect to find plenty of skulls on the mossy stone stairways.
Goa Lawah’s Bat Cave
Batman fans will love the majestic Hindu temple complex of Goa Lawah, which is built around a cave opening that houses thousands of bats. The temple was built in the 11th century and is visited by hordes of tourists and locals every day. However, for a truly sinister experience, try visiting the temple during dusk when the bats are active and swarm the skies in search of airborne insects.
Imagine wandering through lush rainforests that are virtually untouched by 21st century modernism, only to walk smack into a shiny white plane or two. That’s exactly what experiencing Bali’s lost planes feels like. The first is a Boeing 737 near Benoa Square and the second is quite close to Pandawa Beach. Locals claim that plans are afoot to transform these planes into restaurants or cool hangouts in the near future.
Goa Gala-Gala or the Underground House
More of an underground limestone labyrinth than an actual place of residence, the Goa Gala-Gala is a cave project by the house’s owner Made Byasa. Made was inspired by the Hindu Mahabharata epic, specifically the part about the Pandavas evading the Kauravas by hiding in a cave. Today, you can climb seven meters down the limestone cave’s belly to find an underground kitchen, sleeping quarters and a living room, connected by a maze of chambers.
Goa Gong’s Stalactite Cave Temple
Hidden from public view by the urban Jimbaran resort area, this temple is guarded by giant cat statues dressed in red and chequered cloth. The stars leading to the temple are decorated with strange gargoyles and the stone shrine is festooned with dripping water and several stalactite formations. The site also has a stone gong that is struck during special rituals.
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