Balinese Healers and Healing: An Exploration

This trip offers an in-depth excursion into the culture of Bali through the eyes of the Balinese, for those who wish to observe, appreciate, and experience traditional healing methods, at the same time enhancing their own health with traditional massage and bodywork.

There has been a strong, dynamic and extended movement in western culture to explore traditional medicine from many ancient cultures which received momentum in the early 1970’s. The study of Asian medicine has been in the forefront of this movement, particularly Chinese acupuncture, herbal medicine and the practice of Feng Shui. This trip is conceived as an introduction to the philosophy and use of traditional medicine in Bali—why Balinese use it, its causes–both internal and external, material and spiritual



In Southeast Asia local people have long held their traditional healers (called Balian or Dukun) in high regard. With the advent of western medicine, healers have not been discarded, but seen as adjunct and complementary to what western medicine offers. Besides visiting a western-style doctor when ill, the Balinese consult a Balian, a traditional healer. These men and women work in different ways: some mix herbal remedies; some create drawings of magical inscriptions and symbols to protect the wearer; and some, while in trance, communicate messages from the Bali Hindu deities that dictate the creation of certain offerings and ceremonies. Paramount to the work is the study of the actual practitioners: who they are, the types and varieties, what they do, why they do it, who they work with, etiquette and behavior. Tantamount to understanding Balinese medicine is to understand the magic of the Left versus the Right. Love potions, black magic and their relationship to illness.

Medicinal plants & herbal medicines play an important, daily role in the indigenous population and we will spend time investigating the forms and applications of these. Every Balinese knows how to make the simplest medicines for common colds, flu, headaches and wounds.

Made from basic ingredients found on the island, these remedies have been time-proven over the centuries to be effective in any country in the world. Most Balinese grow their own herbs, but they can also be found in the local markets. We will go on a herb walk, learn about mixing herbal medicines, and observe the use of these medicines during visits to Balinese healers. We will also learn the art of making a temple offering.


Massage is regarded as an important healing art on the island of Bali. Almost every family includes one member who practices this art, and there are many professionals on the island. These Balian Tulang/Uat are called upon in emergencies to set broken bones or dislocations. Many of the Balian’s have received their knowledge from a parent or grandparent, while others have acquired their skills directly from the Hindu deities. During the trip each participant will receive two massages from respected practitioners, with enough time to schedule repeat sessions.Purification ceremonies are an important part of Bali Hindu religious cycles. Usually held during times of stress, plague, transgression, or as part of the rites of passage, these ceremonies many times involve sacred masks, and most are held within the villages temples. Each member of our group will experience a purification ceremony. Besides the wealth of knowledge included in the itinerary, in this trip participants stay in three different locales: the mountains, the sea, and the cultural centre, You will truly experience the best Bali has to offer.”


Sat. July 10: Candi Dasa Arrive at our beachfront hotel in East Bali and check-in. Group meeting with Made Surya and dinner at hotel.

Sun. July 11: Candi Dasa B Buffet breakfast, followed by an introductory session with Made Surya with focus on basic Indonesian manners & customs. A morning snorkeling excursion to nearby coral gardens. After lunch, body work begins. Late afternoon talk with Made Surya on Bali Hinduism and its relationship to healers and healing.

Mon. July 12: Candi Dasa B Optional early morning yoga class. Buffet breakfast and talk with Made about Balian, traditional healers. Then depart for the nearby aboriginal village of Tenganan, to visit some of the resident artists, and hear about their customs. Finally visit a local retired healer to discover his experiences. Afternoon free to swim or explore more spa treatments. Later afternoon walk with Made Surya to visit the local temple for which the village is named.

Tues. July 13: Candi Dasa B Today is a free day—you may visit other attractions in East Bali, explore snorkeling or scuba spots, indulge in spa treatments—up to you. In the evening, an ethnographic film: The Three Worlds of Bali.

Wed. July 14: Ubud B Check out and transfer to Ubud in Central Bali. Stop for lunch at an NGO for physically challenged Balinese to tour the facility and hear about their programs. After we visit the home of a highly regarded Balinese healer to hear about his history and perhaps have a check up. Continue to Ubud and our hotel. In the evening, a performance of traditional dance.

Thur. July 15: Ubud B In the morning, we visit a local market where your guide points out herbs and food used in herbal medicine. Late afternoon travel to a famous temple with healing properties for a purification ceremony.

Fri. July 16: Ubud B After breakfast, we travel to a small village and the home of a gifted healer who specializes in bones, joints and muscles.

Treatments are possible. Evening performance of Balinese dance.

Sat. July 17: Ubud BL In the morning we travel to south Bali, stopping along the way at the home-studio of a sacred mask carver to discover the process. On to the family home of your guide to tour the compound, meet the family and have lunch. Our last stop is the home of a trance channeler—a woman healer.

Sun. July 18: Munduk BD Depart Ubud for Munduk mountain village in Volcano country. We stop in Mengwi to see the fabulous creations of Ogoh Ogoh, giant dummies created for the the celebration of the Balinese new years. Our next stop is the fruit, spice and flower market. We wind our way through the towering volcanoes, ending our travels in Munduk. Check into our hotel. Lunch, downtime, and included therapeutic massages begin. Late afternoon meet with Made Surya for talk on Kanda Empat—-the four spiritual siblings all Balinese are born with.

Mon. July 19: Munduk. BD Following breakfast, a guided tour with Made Surya of natural medicinal herbs growing both wild and cultivated in the hotel herb garden. Continue on to Bali’s tallest waterfall with a chance for the adventuresome to take a dip. Late afternoon session with Surya, focusing on the caste and banjar system. Group dinner together.

Tues. July 20 Munduk BD Breakfast, followed by walk through the neighboring countryside: small villages, rice fields, coffee and clove plantations, culminating at the sacredRock that Grows. Return to hotel for lunch. Casual forum on massage, with Surya and an Ayurvedic practitioner from the hotel, explaining their work.

Wed. July 21 Munduk BD A session on basic aromatherapy/plant medicine and  tips on how to view and interact with those plants in Bali, followed by a workshop in making herbal medicine. Afternoon we observe a dance class by village children. Evening farewell to Munduk ristaffel and performance of music and dance by the village Gamelan group.

Thur. July 22 B: Check out and workshop concludes.


Trip Package Includes:

  • Airport transfers

  • 6 nights in Muduk mountain village

  • 4 nights in Ubud—Bali’s cultural centre

  • 2 nights in beautiful Sanur Beach

  • 2 traditional massages with local professionals

  • 4 visitings with traditional healers

  • 5 performances of traditional music and dance

    • Island tours including visits to Tenganan aboriginal village, traditional markets, temples of Tampaksiring, Gunung Kawi, Mengwi and Ulun Danu

    • 3 treks through rain forests, rice fields, and plantations

    • 6 dinners in Muduk, lunch in your guides family home, a ristaffel dinner of Balinese food, breakfast every day.

    • Seminars on sacred masks, local customs and culture, language and religion, ceremonies, trance, rites of passage, East/West medicine.

    • Services of Made Surya-Bali’s utmost authority on local medicine and healers

Not Included:

  • Laundry, additional sightseeing, tips, meals not noted

Cost: $3000.00 based on two persons sharing a room with bathroom. Single supplement available. Minimum 6 participants, maximum 16 participants.

Roommates: Single people may sign up for accommodations desired on a shared basis; roommates can be chosen from other tour members. If a roommate is unavailable, the participant will be notified of the adjusted price for a single supplement: $326.00  extra.

Deposit: A deposit of $500.00 per person is due at the time of booking. Final payment is due 45 days prior to beginning date. Deposit, minus a $100.00 cancellation fee, is refundable until 45 days prior to tour. For cancellations after June 1, cancellation fee $500.  No refunds will be made after July 1, 2021.

Passport, Visa, and Health: A passport, valid six months from date of entry with proof of onward transportation is required for entry into Indonesia. Visa on arrival valid for 4 weeks. If you wish to stay longer, apply to the Indonesian Consulate for a 2 month visa prior to arrival. No inoculations  are required or advised. Everyone participating in this trip is expected to be in good health and able to walk at least three miles unaided.


Trip Organizer/Leader: Madé Surya B.S. is a professional tour organizer and has been leading study tours in Bali for over 30 years. He has translated and worked with scholars and educational groups, film and video crews, including National Geographic, and lives in Bali half the year. He was senior research assistant for several scholarly books relating to the Balinese view of the After Death. He is on the advisory board for Sacred Sites International, and has been a contributor to Hinduism Today. Surya has continuously led Healing Arts educational tours to Bali since 1986, and is said by Lonely Planet On-line Travel to be the “top authority on Balinese Healers.“