Things to Do in Bali When it Rains – From Food Tours to Cooking Classes
Things to do in Bali when it rains? There’s plenty to do during the rainy season downpours. Bali has so much more to offer visitors than beaches, swimming and surfing – the things that draw most travellers to Bali. Here’s our guide to things to do in Bali when it rains – beyond the beach.
UPDATE 28/11: This guide was scheduled to post before Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority raised the volcanic alert level to its highest of four yesterday. Unfortunately, a full-scale eruption of Mount Agung now seems likely with volcanic ash raining down on the island. Over 100,000 locals have been ordered to evacuate their homes, Denpasar Airport has been closed for a second day and thousands of travellers are stranded.We’ll post more about what this means for travellers soon.
For many travellers, rain really puts a dampener on a holiday. Yet so many people spend hours online researching and planning their flights, resorts, tours, and restaurants, but somehow forget to research the weather. They rock up to an island like Indonesia’s Bali and get upset when it rains – despite the fact they’ve arrived between October and March, when it’s rainy season in Bali.
During the Bali monsoon, between October and March (give or take a month, thanks to climate change), it rains almost daily. But it doesn’t necessarily rain every day, and when it does rain, it doesn’t rain all day. There are different rainfall patterns throughout Bali’s monsoon season and these also vary depending upon whether you’re on the coast or highlands.
Historically, January, February, December, and November are the wettest months of the Bali monsoon, however, we were on the island in late September last year and it rained most days. When we visited Tanah Lot it had just started to sprinkle when Terence took the photo, above, of locals sheltering beneath the rocky ledge.
Not long after, we were running through torrential rain to the souvenir shops where, already saturated, we sought refuge as the path to the car park turned into a raging torrent that surged downhill toward the sea. Not that we minded, to be honest. It was part of the experience and misadventures make for great stories.
Monsoon is simply part of life in the tropics. The obvious bonus is that the countryside is even more lush, green and gorgeous than usual. The rain usually brings a breeze and things cool down a tad after it’s over. And the rain gets you off your beach towel and forces you to be a bit more active. So here are some of the things to do in Bali when it rains – things that we like to do.
Things To Do In Bali When It Rains
Where to Stay in Rainy Season
You could check into one of our suggested Seminyak stays, which include chic boutique hotels and stylish beach resorts but rainy season is a good time to rent villas in Bali, especially if you’re travelling with family and friends. There’s so much more space than there is in a hotel room, so you can spread out to play board games, hide away to read a book, or cook a meal together. The last time we stayed in a villa in Bali it was for two weeks in Tumbak Bayuh village. Family came to stay and there was more than enough space to socialise, but also lovely nooks for quiet time.
Get to Arty Ubud
One of the best things to do in Bali when it rains is to get up to Ubud to absorb its art and culture. Bali’s artistic, cultural and spiritual heart, Ubud is peppered with museums, art galleries and crafts shops. Make a beeline for the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) to soak up the best of Balinese art and learn about the Pitamaha school and naïve style of the Young Artists. Also check out the Museum Puri Lukisan and Neka Art Museum. There are dozens of smaller commercial art galleries dotted around town, but start with the Seniwati Gallery of Art by Women, which supports local women artists, and Tony Raka’s gallery for tribal and contemporary art. See our One Day in Ubud Itinerary for more ideas.
One of the best things to do in Bali when it rains is to linger in a café for a while. Or depending how long the rain continues for, embark on a self-guided café tour. There are no shortage of excellent cafés in Bali, many of them Australian-owned or with Balinese baristas who trained in Australia. Coffee is grown in Bali’s highlands, in the Kintamani area between the volcanoes of Agung and Batukaru, and some of Bali’s best coffees are being made in Ubud at the award-winning Seniman Coffee Studio. These guys do their own sourcing, grading and roasting of single-origin beans from Indonesia and beyond. For our Seminyak café recommendations, see our Seminyak eating and drinking guide.
For experiential travellers, one of the best things to do in Bali when it rains is to get hands-on and go learn something. Ubud has long been a centre of learning and you can do a class in just about anything, from getting lessons in playing the gamelan, as Terence once did (see this video of Terence’s lesson) to learning how to make offerings, as I did. We did our classes at ARMA, which has an affordable program of classes on history, Hinduism, astrology and numerology, yoga, music, dance, and arts and crafts, including Balinese painting, wood-carving, basket weaving, and more.
WS Art Studio has lessons in bamboo and basket weaving, wood carving, Balinese dance, among other craftsy things. Threads of Life are the textile and weaving experts, for batik making Nirvana is also very well regarded, while Sari Api has popular ceramics courses. For jewellery making and silver smithing, try Chez Monique. You can even learn traditional Balinese martial arts. At Seniman Coffee Studio you can get lessons in brewing coffee, roasting beans, and latte art while the guys.
Do a Food Tour
Food tourism has boomed in Bali in recent years with an array of delicious experiences created by locals keen to introduce you to their cuisine and culinary culture. Take an umbrella and wear a plastic poncho. In Ubud, you’ll meet legendary merchants, learn about the spices and ingredients that go into Balinese cooking, and sample local specialties on the Ubud Heritage Food Tour, try authentic Balinese coffee, a traditional brunch, Ubud’s famed suckling pig, and beloved Balinese desserts at the market and local eateries on the Ubud Foodie Walking Tour.
In Seminyak, pork fans will be in pig heaven on a four-hour pork-focused tour to five different eateries renowned for their pork specialties, from pork satay to suckling pig. If you’re a seafood lover, the six-hour Balinese Authentic Seafood Tour takes you to the traditional fish market and old eateries that specialise in authentic seafood dishes made to secret recipes passed down from one generation to another. Get a taste of Indonesia’s diverse regional cuisines as you try 7-8 specialties from across the country on this Seminyak Indonesian Food Tour.
Few visitors to Bali ever make it to the capital, which is reason enough to do this Denpasar Food Tour, centred on the old city. You’ll kickstart the three-hour walking tour at one of the oldest Balinese coffee shops, then learn about the history of the island as you explore the old city, stopping at local institutions to sample specialties, such as fish cakes from South Sumatra, traditional Balinese satays, and popular Indonesian desserts.
On this Foodie Tour of Canggu, which is expat-central, you can get a taste of local food as you zip through the rice paddies on the back of a motorbike, sampling Balinese chocolate and cashews, and local specialties such as sambal matah chicken and beef Rendang, before finishing with a taste of Balinese wine on beautiful Echo Beach.
Chocolate lovers can discover how fresh organic cocao beans are transformed into hot liquid chocolate as they learn about cocao harvesting, fermentation, grinding, and tempering, and get to taste and make some chocolate on an interactive tour of the POD Chocolate factory, a sustainable and eco-friendly venture.
Get Cooking Lessons
Cooking is always a good idea on a drizzly day and definitely one of the best things to do in Bali when it rains. If you’re staying in a villa, you can do as Terence did and trade cooking lessons with your villa cook. Our cook Desak gave Terence a good introduction to Balinese food and taught him some delicious recipes, while he taught her how to make some Western dishes for when villa guests (and the villa’s foreign owner) get cravings for food from home.
Many hotels offer cooking lessons if you don’t want to go far from your resort. Otherwise, in Ubud, sign up for this Balinese cooking class or this East-meets-West cooking class with Mozaic restaurant’s head chef, which includes a transfer from wherever you’re staying on the coast and kicks off with a visit to the local market. These Balinese cooking lessons in Seminyak with Chef Putra begin with a visit to Jimbaran fresh fish market to buy fresh produce and ingredients for the class. You’ll then learn how to make three specialties such as jukut gedang mekuah (young papaya soup with seafood), sate lilit ayam (chicken satay on lemongrass stick) and godoh biu (Balinese fried banana).
Your hotel or villa should have an umbrella so grab your brolly and get out and go browse. Because shopping is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Bali when it rains (and when it doesn’t). Ubud’s streets are lined with some of the island’s best shops. Some of my favourites are Threads of Life, for traditional fair-trade textiles and handicrafts and Kafe Kares for postcards and prints. Ubud Market is also fab for sarongs, baskets and carvings. Seminyak provides some stiff competition. I loved Drifter for swimwear (for when the sun comes out); Uma and Leopold for boho holiday gear (this is where to buy your kaftan); Bali Boat Shed for tropical island-style; and Souq for home décor and gifts.
Eat and Drink
There are few better things to do in Bali when it rains than eat and drink. The island has an abundance of brilliant restaurants, cafes and bars, where you can while away hours quite happily lingering over great food. But like a lot of places, you need to know where to go. Ubud is home to Indonesia’s best restaurant, Locavore, which serves some of the most original and inventive Indonesian cuisine on the island. Order the tasting menu with matching drinks. Also lovely in Ubud is Hujan Locale (note that ‘hujan’ means ‘rain’) by chef Will Meyrick and Palm Amatawet, who also have restaurants in Seminyak. See our Ubud itinerary.
You’ll find more of Bali’s finest restaurants in Seminyak, Kerobokan and Canggu. Start with chef Kieran Morland’s Sangsaka for creative contemporary Indonesian cuisine, then try his older but nevertheless impressive modern-Indo Merah Putih. All of Chef Will Meyrick’s Seminyak restaurants warrant a meal. Mama San is boisterous and fun for lunch, while the more subdued Sarong (for refined street food) and Tiger Palm (for pan-Asian cuisines) are musts for dinner. The latter is themed around the delicious history of the spice trade of the region. Click through to this eating and drinking guide for more details and links, as well as info on cafés, casual lunch spots and bars.
Laidback Canggu is the area to head for everything from smooth bowls and sushi to fish tacos and vegan food. Chef Geoff Lindsay owns one of our favourite Canggu spots, Salumeria Tanah Barak a Spuntini and Campari Bar. Start there, order a negroni and peruse his local guide to eating and drinking in Canggu for more ideas.
See a Movie
One of the best things to do in Bali when it rains – and one of the only reasons to go to Kuta apart from the surf – is to see a movie. The Beachwalk XXI Cineplex at the breezy Beachwalk Shopping Centre shows a (limited) selection of the latest Hollywood movies and Asian films. Make sure to check the language and whether there are sub-titles or its dubbed). Go for the VIP Premiere experience (book ahead) for the large, comfy, reclining seats and service. The tickets are cheap by foreign standards; the equivalent of $8 and around $4 for standard seats. Open 10.30am-10.30pm.
Tip: most hotels and villas have umbrellas you can borrow, but do bring a good lightweight waterproof jacket and flip flops for flooded streets. If you find the jacket too steamy, buy a plastic poncho, which are cheap as chips.
When the rains stop and skies clear, see our guide to the Best Things to Do in Bali, which covers everything from surfing those mythical waves to meeting locals and village walks.
Note: this post contains some affiliate links with our tour partner. You won’t pay any more for experiences than if you booked direct on their site but we’ll earn a small commission which supports the work we do on Grantourismo to provide you with food and travel inspiration, information and advice.
Have you been to Bali during the rainy season? What are your favourite things to do in Bali when it rains?