Introducing the city
£1.00 | Rp16,936
GBP | IDR
An island with heart, soul and beauty, Bali seeks no approval from the hordes of culture-clad backpackers and tourists that visit year after year.
If you've got 99 problems, a beach certainly isn't one if you find yourself on the paradise island of Bali, where you'll discover a great spirit and culture that's proudly maintained by its four million population.
Some may argue its charm has been somewhat dampened by its tourist-heavy approach in recent years, prompted by international visitors seeking a lively nightlife scene in resorts such as Kuta during high season. Yet beyond its vibrant haunts and hangouts, there's a cultural beauty that still retains the island's alluring appeal. From the lush green rice fields and dramatic volcanoes near the cultural hub of Ubud, to the powder-soft sandy bays along the glorious coastline, and the array of ancient temples, spiritual monuments and other natural wonders off the beaten track, Bali evokes a sense of appreciation and a feeling of being.
And whatever problems you may have before visiting, you can be sure that the biggest one you'll have when it's time to go home... is leaving.
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When Should You Visit?
High season is during the months of July and August but if you prefer less tourists, head here just before or after.
The island of Bali has a tropical climate with an average temperature of around 31 degrees Celsius all year round. The dry season falls between April and September which is when the island experiences most tourists. The rainy season is around October to March, although it isn't uncommon for the rainy season to enjoy a dry week and the dry season to have a wet week. The most rainy days however fall between December and February. The mountain areas in central Bali are typically cooler than the lower coastal areas.
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Travioor top tips
- Bali is a surfer's paradise and caters to all abilities. There are plenty of beaches that are excellent for beginners including the ones found in the north and even the waves at Kuta Beach at certain times of the year. You can take surf lessons or hire a surf board for a small fee.
- Upon arriving, most people stay in Kuta or Seminyak. The former is great for those looking for a cheap (and rather tacky and tourist-heavy) nightlife scene where as the latter is best for classier bars and clubs such as the super-chic Potato Head Beach Club. Capsule Hotel New Seminyak is a great (fairly new) hostel to stay in. If you head for Ubud, the most popular hostel with backpackers is In Da Lodge (they let you sleep in the communal area for a cut-price fee if there are no beds available).
- It's probably best to avoid renting a scooter in the main tourist areas if you're inexperienced as the roads can be chaotic and busy. Stick to Bluebird taxis for short trips and always ask them to turn on the meter as they will try and rip you off. Also, try and pre-book a taxi over email before you arrive at the airport as prices can be steep.
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Food and drink
Given Bali's huge tourist appeal, dishes aren't necessarily as cheap (in the main tourist resorts) as on other south-east Asian islands or cities, but if you're heading here from Australia or western Europe, you'll still consider it a bargain. Much of the food is made using locals herbs and spices and you'll find a range of places to dine, from excellent restaurants to shack-like stalls presenting tiny plastic furniture at the side of the road.
One of the most well-known and loved dishes is nasi goreng (stir fried rice mixed with various spices and topped with egg) and you'll find this popular specialty at almost every Balinese restaurant and market on the island. Other delicacies include satay which originated in Indonesia, suckling pig best enjoyed at Ibu Oka's in Ubud and martabak (a crepe/pancake type dish) available in both sweet and savoury options.
After you've finished eating, opt for a Bintang - Indonesia's best selling beer. The liveliest nightlife can be found in Kuta with the Sky Garden a popular club for tourists as it offers a buffet of delicious food and unlimited selected drinks for an incredibly cheap price. Alternatively, Seminyak and in particular, Potato Head Beach Club (which draws comparisons to an Ibiza-style hangout), is the best place to go for a sophisticated evening and a few high-end cocktails.
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It's believed that Bali was first inhabited in prehistoric times although the oldest artefacts are thought to be from around 3000 years ago. From the 11th century, Hinduism began to spread throughout Bali from nearby Java and it wasn't until 1597 that the island experienced its first European contact from Dutch seafarers. At first contact they were intrigued by the culture and beauty of the island but they returned later in search of power and profit. After taking northern Bali, in 1906 they went after the south and then the east before they had full control of the island making it part of the Dutch East Indies.
After WWII, Soekarno (the Indonesian leader) proclaimed the nation's independence although the Dutch couldn't accept this until some four years later. Soon after in the early 70's, the beginning of Bali's huge tourism industry took hold and many new roads, hotels, education and health services started to be put in place. Since that time, it has seen many international visitors, with many of those coming from nearby Australia. Despite vast new developments, this island has still managed to keep sight of its historic cultural values which make it a special place to visit.
The most used languages by the natives on Bali are Balinese and Indonesian. Indonesian is arguably used more in the main tourist areas as many of the people living there are migrants from other Indonesian islands and cities. English is understood and also used by most given the mass of international visitors who flock to the main tourist resorts. However, English will be difficult to come by if you're planning on going off the beaten track to lesser known resorts and villages. Try these phrases below:
- Goodbye: Pamit Nggih
- Good morning: Selamad pagi
- My name is: Wastan tiang
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Need to know
Get The Low-Down
- Be wary of people exchanging your money at shops and stalls on the street.
- Be aware there may be a dress code when visiting some of the up-market clubs.
- Cover yourself appropriately when visiting temples and holy sites.
- Look out for pick-pockets when leaving the clubs and bars in Kuta.
- Be aware of stray and wild animals, particularly the monkeys who will steal anything they can get their hands on.
- At the airport before you fly into Bali, you will probably need to provide evidence of a flight out of the country.
Find out about the visa requirements for Bali here.
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Relax, surf and enjoy water sports at Bali's beautiful, postcard-perfect sandy beaches. Kuta is arguably the most popular with tourists.
2. Mount Batur
From Ubud, book an unforgettable sunrise hike up Mount Batur (an active volcano) for the most mesmerising views above the clouds.
3. Rice Fields
Take the time to explore the lush green rice fields on the island. Head for Jatiluwih Rice Terrace or towards Ubud for the best rice fields in Bali.
4. Uluwatu Temple
Visit one of Bali's most significant sea temples taking in the glorious sunset from the cliff's edge.
Enjoy the nightlife of Kuta where there's a lively strip of bars and clubs. Alternatively, head to Seminyak for a classier evening.
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