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Welcome to Bali


Bali has long been equated with an exotic paradise, a picturesque vision of green rice fields and plantations, soaring volcanoes, cool lakes and rushing rivers, lush forests and palm fringed beaches. It is Indonesia's number one tourist destination and as a result suffers from commercialisation and overcrowding, but this is confined to a few main areas. The original charm of the 'Island of the Gods' and its smiling people is still very much in evidence, especially in the many small rural villages and fascinating places of the fertile interior.

What makes it distinctive from the rest of Indonesia is the prevalence in Balinese Hinduism, which incorporates the ancient Indonesian animist conviction that natural objects are inhabited by good or bad spirits into every aspect of local life on the island. Scattered around the island are thousands of Hindu temples and places of worship. It is evident in their ceremonies, daily rituals and attitudes, visible in the offerings of flowers and food that adorn the roadsides, the charms hung inside taxis, and the numerous vibrant festivals that occur throughout the year. It is perceptible in their reverence for the Holy Mountain, the soaring volcanic cone of Gunung Agung, which is the spiritual centre of the Balinese universe. Art is also an integral part of daily life and every village has its artists, from the internationally acclaimed painter to the aspirational young cow herder. Ubud, the cultural centre, with its streets lined with art and crafts shops, also has performances of traditional Balinese dance and music. Art, together with tourism, is an important source of revenue for the island.

With its fine beach, the popular resort of Kuta is the most visited destination, but there are numerous other beach resorts around the island, and many more peaceful settings on the east coast at Candidasa, Sanur and the fishing village of Padang Bai, and on the northern coast at Lovina. There are a number of good diving sites and reef snorkelling close by.

Despite the shock of terrorist attacks a few years ago, Bali is still the tropical paradise of rich culture and beautiful land and seascapes that has attracted those in search of an idyllic vacation for so long; however visitors are still advised to contact their foreign office for the latest travel advice before travelling to Indonesia, and Bali in particular.

Information & Facts


Lying just south of the equator, Bali has a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons: wet (November to March) and dry (April to October). The dry season has hotter temperatures, but the humidity levels are much higher during the rainy season. The height of the summer season also brings cool breezes to temper the hot weather. The average annual temperature is about 86°F (30°C).

Kids Attractions

Bali is the ideal holiday destination for children, and if you look beyond the sun-drenched beaches you'll discover there's a multitude of attractions and activities for kids of all ages to enjoy in Bali. Take the kids to the Bali Butterfly Park in Tabanan, or to discover the Ubud Monkey Forest, or for a more exciting encounter with some of Bali's wildlife, take the kids on an elephant safari to explore the Bali Elephant Safari Park of Desa Taro, north of Ubud. The wonderful forest and parks also provide plenty of open space for kids to let off some steam while the Waterbom Water Park is also the ideal place for kids to spend the day cooling off. Or for a seriously lazy day, pack the bucket and spade and head to any one of Bali's beaches to relax in the sunshine. On days when outdoor activities are not an option, take the kids to see a shadow puppet play - an unforgettable and unique experience.

Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but many dialects are spoken. English is widely understood in Jakarta and tourist resorts.

Rupiah (IDR) is the official currency and is divided into 100 sen. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, hotels and money changers in major tourist destinations; US dollars is the most accepted currency. Cash often yields a better exchange rate than travellers cheques, which are not always accepted. It is recommended that travellers cheques also be in US dollars. Most major credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and stores catering to the tourist trade. ATMs are available in main centres. Small change is often unavailable so keep small denomination notes and coins for items like bus fares, temple donations and cool drinks.


The nightlife in Bali is mostly centred round the busy resort town of Kuta, where everything from karaoke bars and pubs to discos and clubs can be found bustling until the early hours. Enjoy sundowners at a rustic beach bar followed by dinner and a pub crawl until the bass lines thump and the party animals start crawling out of the woodwork around midnight. Hot spots include the Paparazzi Lounge or Double Six in Kuta, or the Bounty on Legian Road in Legion Beach area is the place for rockers. Club Peanuts on Legian features a huge open-air disco and there are events like full-moon and half-moon parties taking place frequently - just look out for the flyers. Seminyak also pulsates after dark and countless clubs, bars and sexy dancers can be found. Head to Sunset on Seminyak or Hu'u Bar for a great night out.

Lovina, Nusa Dua, Ubud and Sanur offer a more low-key variety of night time entertainment which is mostly confined to restaurants and hotels but there is always something happening to keep the young at heart entertained.

Many travellers like to stop past the Bali bombing memorial site outside Paddy's Pub, which was destroyed in the 2002 bombings, to pay their respects to the victims. Paddy's: Reloaded was reopened further down along Legion Street and sees many travellers from across the globe coming together for a toast!


Shopping in Bali is much like shopping in any south-east Asian country: there is plenty of fake designer wear and the usual tourist knock-off goods, and plenty of haggling is necessary. There are also wonderful local batik designs, plenty of bikinis, swimwear and surf wear for shoppers to indulge in while in Bali.

In Kuta, the streets are lined with stalls and shops selling clothing, leather goods, pirated DVDs and handicrafts, as well as great art shops selling Balinese crafts. Kuta Art Market, next to Kuta Square, is the place to go for local arts and crafts or for something more western. Discovery Shopping Mall on Jalan Kartika Plaza offers fantastic shopping opportunities with its department stores, cafés, bookshops, home accessories, jewellery and international brand outlets such as Sogo, Guess and Esprit.

Denpasar's 3-storey Kumbasari Market near the river is a great place to shop for clothing and spices while Seminyak is the place to go for trendy boutiques, unique furniture and ethnic chic couture from the corner of Legian Street to Laksmana Street.

For good local souvenirs such as hand-made jewellery or traditional wood and stone carvings, head to the surrounding villages, such as Ubud, where some of the best quality can be found. The Bukit Mungsu traditional market in Bedugul is a good place to find dried spices and coffee, which are also popular Bali souvenirs.


Sightseeing in Bali is a somewhat relaxing undertaking, with many of the island's best attractions centred round the breathtaking beaches, but step away from the sugary white sands and warm turquoise waters to the verdant and tropical interior or the island to discover much more to this popular island than meets the eye. Kuta beach is without a doubt thebeach to go for sun and surf, but plenty others are also worth exploring, such as Legian and Sanur beach, while Seminyak beach is the place for art lovers to peruse the tiny shopping galleries. Nature lovers will have a great time exploring Bali's waterfalls, such as Gitgit and Blahmantung Falls, while the very fit will love a sunrise climb to the top of Mount Batur, or one of the other volcanoes that form the island's peaks. After a long day of exploring, the hot springs of Banjar will rejuvenate tired muscles. See Bali's wildlife up close at the Sangeh Monkey Forest near Sangeh, or the Bird Park in Singapadusuch. For something a little more exciting, book an elephant safari.

Aside from the natural wonders available, Bali has many cultural gems as well. Every village is required to maintain at least three Hindu temples, including the largest on the island, the Nine Directional Temples. Pura Luhur Uluwatu, perched on the cliffs above Uluwatu, is regarded as the most spectacular. There is also a wealth of local art, best showcased in Ubud's museums.

Indonesia spans three time zones. GMT +7 (West, including Java and Sumatra), GMT +8 (Central, including Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok), GMT +9 (East, including Irian Jaya).

Featuring the largest and most spectacular collection of birds, the Bali Bird park boasts over 1,000 birds of 250 different species. Kids will love spotting their favourite bird and learning about the species. Birds such as Macaws, peacocks, parrots, white herons and many more can be seen. The bird park also features a restaurant, café and gift shop for visitors to take home a souvenir.

A great place for the kids to let off some steam, the Bali Botanical Garden features a range of micro-climates for kids of all ages to enjoy. There is something here for everyone, such as a lily pond, waterfalls, a mambo grove, a rainforest observation post and even a chocolate grove. There's also a children's play area for the little tots, while older children will love the maze - but be careful not to lose them!

The small village of Batubulan is marked by stone figures of gods and demons on the side of the road. Known mostly for its stone carvings, Barubulan is popular with cultural tourism and travellers looking for a unique souvenir to take home with them. Visitors to the village can even enjoy visiting the workshop and watching the artists at work.

Built in the 9th century, Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, is located near Ubud and originally served as a sanctuary and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a wonderfully carved elephant entrance featuring menacing creatures and demons, children will find a visit to this historic cave an unforgettable experience. The main figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the name and in the 1950s, a bathing place was excavated, thought to have been built to ward off evil spirits. Children will love the history and mystery surrounding the cave.

The still-active Gunung Batur volcano, is known as Bali's second holiest mountain and symbolises the female element of the island, while the male element is symbolized in Gunung Agung, a neighbouring smaller volcano. A great place for hikers to stretch their legs, the walk up Mount Batur is not easy, but the views are spectacular and if you're lucky you might even spot a few monkeys along the way. There is a great lookout point for those who'd rather hire a car and drive to the old crater rim overlooking Lake Batur. The sunrise walks are recommended.

Rivalling the Buddhist monument of Borobudur, this magnificent Hindu temple is the largest in Java and the most beautiful in Indonesia. Prambanan was built in the 9th century, possibly to compete with the splendour of Borobudur, or to celebrate the return to power of the Hindu dynasty in Java at the time. The complex is dominated by three main temples, Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, each dedicated to their god, and the walls are decorated with exceptional relief carvings depicting scenes from the famous Hindu classic tale of Ramayana. The Shiva Temple is the largest of the three, soaring above the others at a height of 154ft (47m), containing the impressive statues of Shiva, his elephant-headed son Ganesh and the goddess Durga. From May to October the Ramayana Ballet, a traditional Indonesian dance based on the Ramayana story, is performed on an open-air stage at the complex during the full moon and is a spectacular sight involving hundreds of dancers, singers and musicians.

Locally known as the mother Temple of Bali, Pura Besakih is located on the slopes of Mount Agung and is the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temples. Dating back to the 14th century, the three main temples are dedicated to Shiva, Brahma and Wisnu, and another 18 separate sanctuaries belonging to different regencies and caste groups surround these.

One of the most valued temples in Bali, Pura Kehen is a garden temple located in the town of Bangli in East Bali and can be traced back to the 11th century. Founded by Sri Brahma Kemuti Ketu, Pura Kehen is the second largest temple on Bali and the most sacred in the region. Many visitors are mesmerized by the temple's grandeur and steep steps leading up to the gateway.

Featuring over 115 species of trees, many of which are considered holy and used in various Balinese spiritual practices, the Monkey Forest in Ubud is a fantastic place for kids to spend the day exploring. Children can see the Balinese long-tailed Macaques up close as they scramble through the forest and banyan trees and lush tropical vegetation. There are also a few temples to explore while visiting the forest.

A typical Balinese village tucked away in a lush green valley, Sidemen is a popular excursion on Bali for tourists looking for peace and quiet. Terraced rice paddies lie under the shadow of a volcano, which offers good opportunities for hiking. Other active pursuits in the valley include bicycling and white water rafting. The village of Sidemen is known for its skilful weavers, who make the intricate silver-and-gold-woven songketfabric used in traditional weddings. The Pelangi Workshop allows visitors to watch the weaving process, and there are several shops in town to buy songket fabric along with other souvenirs.

Meaning 'Land in the middle of the sea' Tanah Lot is an exquisite sea temple built atop a rock formation off the island of Bali. A popular tourist spot and a great location for fantastic photographs, Tanah Lot is surrounded by poisonous sea snakes at the base of the rocky island, which are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. The temple was built by one of the last priests to arrive in Bali from Java in the 16th century.

Set in the hills north of Denpasar, Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali and the major attractions of the town and its surrounding villages are the art museums and galleries, notably the Neka Museum, containing a huge collection of traditional and modern Balinese paintings. An enormous variety of Balinese art and crafts line the streets and crowd the market place of Ubud, and frequent performances of traditional dance and music, and restaurants offering some of the best food on the island, compel visitors to stay much longer than intended. Ubud is also close to several sites of interest, including the 'Mother Temple' of Besakih, majestically situated high on the slopes of the Agung Volcano, and hiking in the scenic Batur region with its volcano and lake are popular excursions.

With thrilling rides, a spa, pool bar and even a food hall, Waterbom Bali is the perfect place to take the family for a day of cooling off in the Balinese heat. Older kids will love rides such as the race track, the Superbowl, the Macaroni, Jungle Ride and even the Smashdown, while the younger ones will enjoy paddling round the Kiddy Park.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selection of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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