• Bali, Indonesia
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    Travel to Bali - island of the Gods

    By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile
    At the heart of the Indonesian archipelago in the Indian Ocean, Bali is a renowned paradisiacal tourism destination. With beautiful rice fields, dramatic chains of volcanos and white sand beaches surrounded by turquoise waters, Bali has a varied landscape that provides a picturesque backdrop to its inestimable cultural heritage. This island offers something for all; from luxurious hotels to ambient backpacker hostels and the opportunity to do world-class surfing, diving and visit endless cultural, historical and archaeological attractions. But Bali is not just a delight for the senses, its uniqueness lies in its spirit.

    Travel guide

    Water sports

    Whether you're a beginner or an expert, Bali can offer you world-class surfing. The best time is during the dry season from June to September. The most challenging of Bali's famous surfing spots are near Ulu Watu and along Bali's West coast North of Canggu, but beginners are able to rent a board and a teacher at Kuta Beach, Legian Beach and Seminyak Beach. Scuba diving is also very popular with certified companies offer diving tours with experienced guides and equipment. Along the East Coast is where you will find the most impressive of Bali's diving sites, including shipwrecks. Swimming, snorkelling, banana boat rides, water skiing and parasailing are just a few of the other water activities Bali has to offer.

    Temples and natural attractions

    It has been said that Bali has more temples than houses. Normally peaceful and uninhabited, these beautiful buildings transform into lively scenes and during festivals and their anniversaries with displays of traditional Balinese dance, cockfighting or gambling. Each temple is completely unique but you will find they all either face towards the mountains, sea, or sunrise. Tanah Lot and Uluwatu Temple are two of the most popular and stunning temples in Bali. Bali is packed with natural waterfalls, caves and hot springs that make for spectacular adventures. Take a picnic, go for a swim and discover the best of the natural world. The active volcano of Mount Batur and its beautiful crater lake make Kintamani one of the most popular destinations on the island.

    Ubud

    Ubud is not only Bali's capital but its cultural centre too. It is a vivacious hub of museums and galleries of unique art with unparalleled charm. There is even the opportunity to monkey around at the Sacred Monkey Forest with hundreds of Balinese long-tailed macaques. This village cluster is the ideal place to try a famous Balinese massage and soak up the atmosphere of one of Asia's top spa destinations.

    Beaches

    No visit to Bali would be complete without a visit to some of its world-famous beaches. The southern coast of Bali is where you will find most beaches and there is something for everyone. Kuta Beach on the Western side is where you will find the most concentrated number of Western travellers, but if this doesn't bother you enjoy a drink from one of the beach bars whilst watching the renowned sunset. This beach is also the home of Bali's legendary nightlife scene where Bali's original and still best beach bar, Potato Head, is found. If luxurious peace and quiet is what you're after, head back to Sanur in the East or Nusa Dua in the South.

    Our Editorial team's advice

    There is a number of ways you can travel to Bali. Direct international flights are available, but not from European countries. A less expensive way for Europeans to tackle this may be to buy a cheap ticket to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and get a connection flight to Bali on a budget carrier. Ferries are also a common means of transport to Bali and go from ports on Java, Lombok or Gili Island. Once you've arrived metered taxis are common and essential for getting around. You can usually flag one down in busy areas and they're often a lot less hassle than haggling with local drivers offering transport. The most popular and cost efficient taxi company is Blue Bird Taxi which uses blue vehicles with a light on the roof bearing a stylised bluebird. Most forms of public transport are also available and every town has at least one terminal for all forms of public transport, but this is used less.

    To avoid spending your holiday cooped up indoors due to tropical rain pour the best time to visit Bali is during high season from May to September. Be sure to pack sun cream and leave the jumper at home! British citizens travelling to Indonesia can enter the country without a visa for up to 30 days from most airports and seaports. However extending your stay can be tricky, speak to a reputable visa agent on the ground, or contact your nearest Indonesian consulate prior to departure.

    The local currency on Bali is the Indonesian rupiah (IDR). This converts as roughly 5 GBP to 100,000 IDR so be careful carrying around large wads of cash. Make large purchases safely on a credit card if possible. A few basic words of Bahasa Indonesia will take you a long way in Bali. Try selamat pagi (good morning), tolong (please) and terima kasih (thank you), for starters. Watch out for Bali belly. Hygiene standards have improved markedly recently but be sensible, stay hydrated and avoid notorious liquor and street food.

    pros

    • +With tropical charm and seaside fun, Bali has a first-rate hotel industry and a good climate for most of the year.
    • +Bali has an authentic and deep local culture that is worth discovering.

    cons

    • -The country welcomes a great deal of western tourists who can discourage travellers searching for a real change of scene.
    • -The prices tend to rise each year without any real justification.

    Traditions

    The Balinese are a famously friendly people and very tolerant of Westerners and their ways. But this doesn't mean that they are any less concerned with their own traditionalism, so you must respect them too. When it comes to clothing, the Balinese dress conservatively. This doesn't mean you must also completely cover up, but the tropical climate is not an excuse for going around half naked. Save the skimpy beachwear for the beach and avoid extremely bright colours. In the temples and mosques it is necessary to take off your shoes even if it is not your religious practice and dark clothes are considered more respectful.

    Gestures that you may use daily could offend the locals in Bali, so it is best to know what to avoid. The left hand is considered unclean, so only use the right hand for giving, receiving, and picking up food. Never indicate with your index finder, instead using your hand as a whole. Feet are considered the most impure part of the body so try not to gesture with them and don't sit with your legs crossed at the house of a local resident or restaurant. Avoid touching people's heads when in Bali, especially a child's, as the Balinese believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body. If you show any traits of anger, the Balinese will lose respect for you. This involves crossing your arms or placing your hands on your hips and especially raising your voice. This seems like a lot of rules, but if you're respectful and polite you will never have any problems!

    During any commercial transaction in Bali, it is normal to bargain hard for a better price. This includes souvenirs at markets and also in shops, but know when to stop because the Balinese certainly will. Tipping is not compulsory, but appreciated for good service.

    Food

    Thousands of islands with different cultures make up Indonesia and thousands of tourists with different cultures travel to Indonesia, so no wonder its food is just as diverse. But Balinese cuisine especially seems to be one of the most complex in the world. The traditional Balinese even eat their food on food, using banana leaves as plates. A lot of preparation goes into Balinese food to create large quantities that must be eaten fresh.

    Western dishes, together with Thai, Indian and Japanese cuisine, are widely represented. Chinese cuisine, which is often of high quality, has been introduced. Local markets provide fresh fruit and vegatables so make the most of your stay to enjoy the tropical fruit: banana, pineapple, mango, mangosteen, rambutan, jackfruit or, for the more adventurous, the very "perfumed" durian... A traditional Balinese dish would normally consist of rice accompanied by vegetables and meat or seafood. One of the most widespread combinations is the famous nasi goreng, rice fried with vegetables, sometimes accompanied by chicken or beef. Numerous spices go into a Balinese dish, and you can decide how hot you go! The addition of coconut and sugar is not rare. The Balinese have a rich collection of snacks, cakes and desserts for your sweet tooth too! Regarding drink, beer is very widespread, and Bali produces excellent coffee.

    Due to the majority of the Balinese population practicing Hinduism, culinary traditions are somewhat distinct, with festivals and religious celebrations including many special foods prepared as offerings for the deities, as well as other dishes consumed communally during the celebrations. Engaging in a cooking class in Bali gives you an insight into this gastronomically enriched world.

    Ideal Weather Search

    Find weekly weather forecasts for Bali . Different criteria make it possible to predict with precision the best time of year to go to Bali . A comprehensive weather score, made up of temperature indicators, bad weather predictions, sunshine levels and wind speeds, will allow you to choose the activities best suited to the weather conditions and therefore make the most of your holiday in Bali .

    Souvenirs

    Bali is a very good destination for shopping. Art and crafts have always been very good, and the development of tourism has only encouraged them. Wooden carving, painting, hand-made gift trays, delicate pottery, musical instruments used in the gamelan, silver jewellery, basketwork, puppets, innumerable decorated textiles, including the famous batik, the list is huge. And you are spoilt for choice... Shops are open from Monday to Saturday from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

    What to see

    The coast , Lovina Beach and the northern coastline , Indonesia
    The coast
    The beaches , Kuta and the west coast , Indonesia
    The beaches
    The hotels , Sanur and the east coast. , Indonesia
    The hotels
    Nusa Dua and the Bukit Peninsula , Nusa Dua and the southern peninsula , Indonesia
    Nusa Dua and the Bukit Peninsula
    Flora , Indonesia
    Flora
    The national park of Bali Barat , Bali Barat National Park , Indonesia
    The national park of Bali Barat
    The spectacles , Performing arts , Indonesia
    The spectacles
    Sculpture , Indonesia
    Sculpture
    Religion and rites , Indonesia
    Religion and rites
    The temples of Ulun Danu Batur, Tanah Lot and Besakih , Ulun Danu Batur , Indonesia
    The temples of Ulun Danu Batur, Tanah Lot and Besakih
    Tanah Lot , Indonesia
    Tanah Lot
    Besakih , Indonesia
    Besakih
    Ulu Watu , Uluwatu , Indonesia
    Ulu Watu
    Terraced paddy fields , Terraced rice paddies , Indonesia
    Terraced paddy fields
    Lakes , Indonesia
    Lakes
    Bali : Explore