Bali – land of the Gods and home to some of the kindest and friendliest people you will ever meet, incredible cuisine and stunning landscapes. Streetscapes also entice so Bali street photography is among some of the most eclectic that can be found in the photography world. There certainly seems to be something about Bali….I don’t often visit countries more than once, preferring to tick the next destination off of my ever expanding bucket list. Bali is the exception to this rule of return – it draws me in time and time again. Travel photography in Bali means I can indulge my love of café culture – culture in general actually! As well as bask in the beautiful landscapes, and Bali offers all three aspects of beauty in droves. I’ve visited the island three times, but the most recent trip focused solely on Bali photography tours, Bali photography spots and photographic opportunities in general.
Here are my top picks of the best places to photography in Bali:
A couple of tips before we get started…..
Bali photography tours and local photographers who are willing to pick you up from your hotel for a full day or half a day of photography spot trekking are easy to arrange before heading to Bali or when you get there at short notice if that’s more your thing.
My recommended photography tour guides are Yande Ardana and David Metcalfe – prices start from NZD$250 for a full day tour. There are also a number of Instagrammers who will happily take you on a tour, which can be an easy going way to meet like minded friends in the photography world.
However I also found it easy to go it alone by scooter hire for around $5 per day along with a good old fashioned chat with a local taxi driver who can recommend some spots or take you there themselves for a day tour averaging between $50-$70 depending on how many hours you are after.
Below are my top picks from my experiences of touring around Bali. These spots are unmissable, as well as my favourite cafés, especially for the beautiful photogenic food:
Bali Landscape Photography-
Campuhan Ridge- Ubud
Directions to Campuhan Ridge -Ubud: Find the IBAH hotel. Turn in and follow the downhill road to a carpark. Park up your scooter and start walking towards what looks like an overgrown temple in tomb-raider. This is the start of the Campuhan ridge walk.
I set off half an hour before sunrise and it took about 20 minutes to walk to the iconic part of the track with the palm trees. I noticed that there were hardly any other people around which lent a peaceful and tranquil aspect to the walk. After taking a few candid snaps we continued up the ridgeline past some rice fields for about half an hour until we reached Junglefish. I was hoping to take some morning shots around their infinity pool but they weren’t open until 10am. We then turned back the way we came and stopped in at Karsa Spa and Café which is set right amongst the rice fields. We had breakfast in a private garden pagoda before indulging in a flower bath at the Spa – a great place to take beautiful photos. We then made the descent back towards our Hotel.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace- Ubud
We jumped on our scooters and headed from Ubud up to Tegalang as the sun began its ascent above the lip of the horizon. It took us 30mins so we arrived just on sunrise. Many cafes line the terraces including the iconic and well known swing at Dewi Café. Entering the rice fields from Dewi Café I found a section of the terraces which felt right to me, and the excitement of capturing the moment began to build. Farmers were just planting rice so the fields weren’t as green as I had hoped; still it was a breath taking sight and one of my favourite mornings spent in Bali. Make sure you carry a small amount of change with you as the famers ask for tips if you are wanting to take a photo of them carrying out their work.
If you are looking for a perfect gift to take home in the form of handicrafts and home wears then along the end of Tellangag Rd heading back towards Ubub is the place to find huge selection at much better deals than can be found in the main township.
We chose to leave the scooter at home and explore the countryside around Ubud by e bike with E-Bikes Bali. This was a highlight for me, being such an amazing way to whiz around Bali, this experience had me wanting to buy an E Bike to cruise around my town back in NZ!
The tour included a pick up from our villa in a super cool converted golf cart which took us to the company’s office in Ubud where we were able to chose our bike and get all geared up for an adventurous morning. Biking is something I regularly enjoy in general but was I ever grateful to be able to blast uphill in the hot sun of Bali and not even break a sweat! There were plenty of Bali landscape photographic opportunities and being on a bike meant that we could view the locations in a way which made the most of them, stopping as we pleased to capture the visions laid out before us. The tour included a visit to the Lusaka coffee plantation which also boosts a massive ‘Bali Swing’ which can be used for NZD$35. To finish the tour, we were treated to a delicious lunch at a local warang. The tour overall was fantastic for photography but also something that friends and partners who aren’t as into photography can enjoy.
There are many beaches around the Ulawatu area, since we weren’t stating in the main part of the town I organised a day tour from Seminyak. We paid our driver NZD$70 for a 10 hour day, which felt like great value for our money.
Beaches we visited during our tour:
Be prepared for steep steps down to the beach. The sand is as rough as the sea so I wouldn’t recommend this place as a beach for swimming. A great view to capture is of an incredible rock formation with a lone tree sprouting from the top.
There is plenty to explore here along with some trendy bars overlooking the beach from the top of a cliff. We enjoyed a better priced drink further down the cliff at a ‘warung’ looking out over the many surfers charging the impressive surf. Once you reach the bottom of the cliff there are some caves which surfers paddle out from, these caves are excellent to explore as one has an opening to a secret beach which also holds a shipwreck.
The final stop of our Uluwata beach tour was my favourite beach to have visited, Balangan Beach. This place is so popular I had to wait for around five brides to have their photo taken before I could get a good spot to set up some shots, despite this it was worth the wait and this spot also became my family’s favourite beach.
Seminyak beach for sunset shots-
The spot with the best Bali photography shots is near the beanbag bars on Seminyak beach, you can walk down from the Kudeta end of the beach, taking in the views by the seaside edge or taxi to Cocoon Beach Club and enter the lively stretch of beach from here. Many different beanbag Beach Bars litter the sand, some with bands set up in front of them for entertainment, making for a colourful vibrant beach culture scene.
My fav spot was the beach bar La Plancha Beach Bar & Restaurant – make sure to arrive early. Even being there half an hour before sunset meant the bags were all full. This ended up being to my advantage, as La Plancha have a full bar where I was able to go upstairs to enjoy a sunset drink and take advantage of the view over the beanbags and beach, getting some shots as the sun blazed its way beneath the horizon, vibrant in its last splashes of colour. It was a real banger and the best sunset of the trip.
I mistakenly thought that this ‘little-known’ waterfall would be a quiet spot during Monsoon season in February – I had my first clue that this wasn’t so when we arrived with our day driver and there were at 5 cars parked in the carpark headed by a big Instagram spot sign. We had left from Ubud and the trip took approx. 1.5hrs, although the area seemed to be less ‘touristy,’ due to lack of shops and tourist traps (make sure to bring snacks), get here as early as you can to avoid disappointment – as the actual waterfall was impressive but it was hard to find a moment where nobody was underneath it.
To get to the falls you head through some caves after reaching a cavern. It costs 50 cents to get in from the carpark and from there it is a 20 minute walk down steps and alongside a creek till you get to the cavern where Tukad is. If you arrive earlier in the day I think you would get a great chance to capture the rays of light illuminating the canyon, making for a memorable image.
Tibumana waterfall –
You can take up the opportunity to visit the Penglipuran Bamboo Forest in Bangli along with the Tibumana Waterfall as they are close to one another, making the trip super worthwhile for capturing the Indonesian landscapes Bali is famous for.
This pretty waterfall cascades into the famous Bangunlemah River and the journey there is almost as picture perfect as the waterfall itself. Sweet villages and plenty of greenery make for a pleasant scene, classic of Bali landscape photography. A short trek to the waterfall will have you meeting with butterflies, bamboo groves and tropical birds along with jungle lush with island life. Excellent photography opportunities abound. A swimming hole will greet you and there is a change room hut, charming in its simplicity, for your use.
Instagram/selfie spots –
Bali has become a mecca for Instagram photo opportunities, accompanied by selfie sticks. Ever the canny entrepreneurs, local Balinese have taken advantage of the boom and built selfie platforms in surprising and interesting places which adds to the charm of the island photography experience.
The Bali swing-
The infamous Bali swing is available to experience in a variety of places dotted around the island, if you can squeeze it into your budget it is well worth investing in a stay at Hideaway Bali, where you can enjoy your own personal swing. This was a super special treat I surprised my family with. You can also satisfy your swing desire at the official Bali swing not far from Hideaway.
$35 will give you access to 4 different swings as well as some quirky “selfie” stations such as a birds nest and an airplane.
Smaller Bali swings can be found along Telangan Rd as well as at the aforementioned Luwak Coffee Plantation.
The Monkey Forest – its name says it all, for a $10 fee you can enter this magnificent mecca of a playground for Bali’s most cheekiest residents. Buy some bananas and enjoy getting a close up photo with these playful and photogenic critters.
Holy Water Springs: Tira Empul –
An extremely popular spot, be prepared for people. Everywhere. You can squeeze yourself into a spot near the waterside and capture an incredible view of worshipers gathered in the holy water with a backdrop of the temple.
Discovering the Neighbouring Islands of Nusa Lembongan and Pendina:
Nearby Islands offer an escape from the often hectic pace of Bali, you can jump on one of the many boats available and take a breather away from the more typical tourist spots of Bali. Nusa Lembongan offers up the experience of racing around in a Golf Cart exploring some interesting spots – we spent around 7 hours exploring the island. Below are some choice photography spots to experience:
Devils tears is named for the ocean spray that is thrown out from a cave in the cliff face as each wave hits. I captured some beauty shots here and if you turn to your left there is an area of rock that gets a major spray every ten minutes or so when a bigger wave comes along.
A picture perfect beach with white sand, a bali swing and restaurant overlooking a azure blue ocean – what more could you want? Be prepared to wait for at least an hour for food although, allowing for plenty of time to drink in the view.
Known to be an Instagram spot as this establishment is so photogenic with strong cocktails, and a background of cute blue and white themed bungalows. A great photography spot for sunset shots.
A classic beach club with quirky seating, hammocks for relaxing and swings right on the beach.
In order to capture the sunrise from the picturesque Kling kling Point, we arranged a water taxi which conveniently picked us up from our beachside Villa at the early hour of 5am – I had thought this would give us plenty of time to get to the Island for sunrise but because of the tidal times and the large coral reef, we had to detour which meant seeing the sunrise boat-side. It was a $60 trip but included some snorkelling upon the return trip. The captain was very hospitable in organised us a scooter for $12 including petrol after dropping us at the port of Nusa Pendina. This quaint island is not touristy at all, not one café or hotel was in sight let alone road signs, just quirky hand-written signs which pointed out known sights worth visiting. The surge in Instagram Bali photography means that the Island is not equipped to deal with the influx of visitors. Our scooter driver provided us with a map and marked out the spots Kilngkling, Angels Billabong and Crystal Bay, telling us there was approx. an hours drive between each location.
What followed next was nothing short of a brutal assault on my behind and I am a Kiwi farm girl use to rough roads, but this experience was something else!
The reward was found when we finally made it to Klingkling beach, albeit a bit battered and bruised but the first ones there. Once you have parked, which is a small fee so remember to take some change, head towards the cliff where the wooden handrails mark the beginning of a shoddily made ladder descending to the beachside.
This place was breath taking and I felt I couldn’t quite do it justice in capturing its beauty with the equipment I had with me – I feel a drone would be best in this instance. Giant Manta Rays graced us with their majestic presence in the tropical waters below, a highlight of the trip.
We had the place to ourselves until anther couple arrived around 8am. It was a blessing to have experienced that as Angels Billabong was the opposite. By the time we arrived at 9am there were about 40 people mostly using Selfie Sticks so that it was impossible to get a good shot here.
A Billabong was actually an infinity pool – I have a feeling sunset would have been an ideal time to get some classic Bali photography shots, at 10am the lighting wasn’t anything special. It shocked me to see at least 50 tour buses heading in the direction of Angels Billabong, definitely not a ‘secret spot’ then.
After being roughed up by the bumpy unformed surface which passed for a road we decided to call it quits and head back to Nusa Lembognan. After a night of rest we did head back to Angel Bay for a spot of snorkelling since we remembered it being so beautiful – it did not disappoint surrounded by palm trees and pretty vistas.
Food Photography Bali
Besides the breath taking rich tapestry of Balinese landscapes, character soaked and vibrant bursts of colour can be found in the street food and scenery which has become so well known as showcasing the quirkiness of the Bali street culture. From ‘warangs,’ local street food specialists serving up classic Indonesian meals such as Nasi Goreng and Gad Gado to impressive 5-star resorts and beach clubs such as Potato Head and Old Mans in Canguu.
The variety of food and the incredible ways that it is presented means that you cannot pass up the opportunity to satisfy a hunger for capturing Bali street scenes and dishes.
Below are notable cafes I could not pass up for their photogenic quality:
The Spicy Coconut
This venue has great outdoor seating, a huge playground which is perfect for families and also provides healthy smoothies among beautifully presented fresh salads. I recommend the Coconut Shake and the Snickers Bar. Delish!
Set atop a cliff, this romantic spot overlooks the glistening ocean making it a perfect sunset spot. With an infinity pool and delicious tapas, the food is as gorgeous as the setting making for fantastic photo opportunities.
Cafe Organic – this unique place wins the award for the best styled café with self-proclaimed garden gansters.
Street Boi True to their name, this place boosts Asian style street food. The tastiest pulled pork bao ever, while the caramel shake will knock your socks off. I also highly recommend the delicious chicken popcorn.
Clean Canteen Who knew breakfast could be so beautiful – this café had the prettiest Bircher Muslie I’ve ever come across. They also made a flavoursome pizza and the perfect Pad Thai was on point.
Bo and Bun – Vietnamese food served fresh and colourful along with a beautifully detailed interior made this place a great photography spot.
The Fat Turtle If you want serious red velvet pancakes then make this place a must on your hit list.
Watercress Great design with open air dining and the best burgers we experienced over the whole trip.
Casa de Luna a modern vegetarian Mexican restaurant – with platters of individual nacho chips arranged on a plate and pre topped in a flavour explosion.
Ginger & Jamu conveniently perched right on the beach with plenty of tables, a Bali swing and a damm good breakfast menu made this place perfect. The pink panther smoothie bowl was a favourite.
Karsa Spa at the top of Campuhan ridge- go for the famous Campuhan ridgeway walk and then stay for the relaxing, fragrant flower bath. Make sure to snap a selfie surrounds by 100’s of petals.
Prana Spa A Moroccan themed spa with jewel toned tiles and a celestial vision of stars on the ceiling.
With several branches around the island and two in Seminyak alone this highly rated spa is top in Tripadvisor for a reason.
I went there for a shellac/ mani/pedi with my Mum and the staff were among the friendliest people you can come across and you could tell that they took pride in their workplace reputation.
Not only was it an excellent mani/pedi but I also experience the best massage I’ve ever had. It was my Mums first massage experience and certainly left a lasting impression. The massage was priced at $16NZ which is seriously value for money especially in Seminyak.
A personal favourite of mine a I have been back each time I’ve visited Bali and it is always reliably fantastic. The therapists are professional and the spa itself is set in a lush jungle type environment. If you opt for a couple’s massage you will enjoy a view of the Balinese jungle vista.