Within its pocket-sized territory, Bali manages to cram in a remarkable secular identity, stunning monuments and breathtaking scenery. Tamed to some extent by man, who planted beautiful rice paddies across the island, the Balinese countryside has managed to hold on to its rugged landscape: from the delicate, uninhabited “deer island”, Menjangan, which combines mangroves with a protected national park, to the amazing waterfalls of Sekumpul. This volcanic region is home to countless sleeping giants, lined with fertile slopes, like Mount Batur and Mount Agung, offering brave walkers beautiful climbs and gorgeous sunrises.
If you’d rather spend your time on the beach, you might prefer Nusa Dua, Jimbaran Bay and Seminyak, to the south, or the Gili Islands, off the coast of Lombok, for a relaxing break or a spot of surfing or scuba diving. Home to a wealth of marine life, including glorious coral and shimmering fish, this destination is particularly popular with divers and surfers.
It is also undoubtedly a fantastic destination for anyone interested in spirituality and culture. Tanah Lot, Uluwatu Temple, Goa Gajah, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary… The Island of Gods is also the Island of Temples. In a predominantly Muslim country, Bali is the exception to the rule in that it celebrates Hinduism as well. The days are marked out by the celebrations of the faithful, including elements of Animism and Buddhism. On the stone or grass altars, everywhere you look you will find floral gifts for the heavens, which paint a beautiful scene to brighten up the day. From the exuberant Galungan holiday, celebrating the triumph of Dharma (good) to the silence of Nyepi, the Balinese New Year, the months are punctuated with different examples of devotion.
Bali is also an island of the arts, predominantly in Ubud, an untamed area that comes to life each year during the Bali Spirit Festival dedicated to yoga, music and dance. Famous for its market and museums, Ubud boasts an impressive tradition of craft and culture. Shadow puppet shows, woodwork, batik… the Balinese have all sorts of different skills, and dance is particularly popular in the archipelago. Showcased during many events, it also takes centre stage each year at the Bali Arts Festival in the province’s capital, Denpasar.
Your taste buds won’t be neglected here, with a sophisticated diversity and different specialities unique to the region: the Balinese make a delicious urap with finely shredded vegetables and spices. Using a duck and a banana leaf, seasoned with skill and patience, they make a divine betutu which is steamed for hours. Among the coffee plantations, coconut trees and mango trees, there are also vines that produce a wine that is well worth trying as you watch the sun go down. Food and time take on a real intensity on this island, and the locals' genuine smiles should be classed as a national treasure.
Where to eat
Secret Café Nusa Dua
With its white walls adorned with surfboards, bicycles and the latest chalk-board menus, the cosy Secret Café Nusa Dua offers a warm welcome and a homely atmosphere. Coffees and cakes emerge from behind the beautifully tiled counter, delivered to a handful of colourful tables filled with locals, surfers and in-the-know travellers.
Being next to the equator, Bali has a warm and equatorial climate and is great to visit all year around.
Day time temperatures vary from 20 to 30°C in the coastline and are cooler in higher altitude areas. May is the hottest month with an average 28°C and January is the coldest with 26°C.
Humidity and rainfalls are low, except during the monsoon period from October to April, when rainfalls can be heavy, especially from January to March.
The best time to visit Bali is from June to August when the temperatures are warm with very little humidity.
Bali annual calendar
New Year Celebrations, early January
Galungan and Kuningan 10 days Festival, February 2016
Bali Live International Jazz Festival, mid-March
Bali Spirit Festival - yoga, dance and music, late March to early April
National Awakening Day in Indonesia, 20th of May
Ubud Food Festival, early June
Bali Arts Festival, mid-June to mid-July
Sanur Village Festival, late August
Bali Kite Festival, July to October all around Bali
Ubud writers and readers Festival, late October to early November
Nusa Dua Fiesta, late October to early November
Christmas and New Yearâ€™s Eve celebrations
Public transportation is not easy to organise in Bali, except if you have a lot of time and are not demanding in terms of comfort.
Methods of transportation recommended are local cabs, private car services and rental car.
You can also rent motorbikes and bikes, however it can be dangerous due to the traffic and the state of the roads.
Keep in mind that when driving in Bali, you must drive on the left side of the road.
Taxis in Bali are convenient even for short distances and at night when there is no other option of transport. Taxis are very cheap and taxi drivers usually speak English.
Taxis can be hailed everywhere. However, you can find them at taxi ranks or book them in advance through one of the several taxi companies.
The initial charge is 7.000 IDR (half Euro/Dollar) and then a fare of 6.250 IDR for each kilometer. Keep in mind that a 1 hour trip from Kuta or Nusa Dua to Ubud will cost you between 20 and 30 Euros/Dollars.
Credit cards are rarely accepted and an additional charge fee may apply.
getting to & from the airport
Denpasar International Airport (Bali Ngurah Rai) is located in southern Bali, 13 kilometers from the city center of Denpasar, 5 kilometers from Kuta, 16 kilometers from Nusa Dua and 35 kilometers from Ubud.
You can also catch a bus shuttle from Denpasar Airport to the major tourist destinations.
Metered taxis are available and private transfers can be arranged at the airports.
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