It’s the famed Island of the Gods -- and the mere mention of this Indonesian locale evokes the thought of paradise. Get in a tropical state of mind with varied landscapes of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, as well as lush rice terrains and barren volcanic peaks that all offer a truly picturesque backdrop to a diverse, rich, and deeply spiritual culture that plays out at all levels of life. You’ll come across exquisite flower-petal offerings, tons of local ceremonial processions, a myriad of ancient temples, and unique traditional music and island dances performed all throughout the region. There’s also the chance to engage in world-class surfing and diving, to visit numerous historical and archaeological attractions, and a chance to mingle with a broad range of travelers from young back-packers to the super-rich elite.
Head on over to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean for colorful and incomparable beachside beauty. With an island mysticism and spiritual grace that’s as eclectic as it is soothing, Bali is truly a place that’s fit for the Gods. And you.
Things to Do in Bali
There’s never short of activities to do in this paradisiacal hotspot. Rise with the sun during a sunrise trek to the summit of Mount Batur for some of the island’s most spectacular views. You can also end your days with sunset visits to the 11th century Uluwatu Temple perched high above the Indian Ocean, as well as other nearby sites evoking Bali's extraordinary and unique Hindu culture. Come across ancient ceremonies and witness daily offerings over at various temples and take time to truly understand the spiritual magic that surrounds you.
For spa lovers, you’ll be glad to know that Bali is the place to discover rest, relaxation, and unrivaled stress-free bliss. Not only is it a yoga haven, (with renowned centers in Ubud and Seminyak), but you’ll also find a vast array of quality treatments available, such as the famous Balinese lulur body scrub with herbs and spices, or a good old Balinese massage that uses oils and involves long, Swedish-style strokes. There are several hot springs to be discovered, such as Air Banjar on the north coast where stone mouth carvings allow hot water to pass between pools set in lush gardens. Another favorite would be Toya Bungkah on the shores of Lake Batur, which is set high in the north eastern mountains. Adventure seekers should take a Bali dive safari that’ll have you embarking on both shore and boat diving that ventures through walls, mucks, reefs, and Tulamben’s world famous 120m USAT Liberty shipwreck! You might even want to scuba your way over to the chilled out coral bommies in Padang Bai, or the serene reefs surrounding Menjangan Island. Deep drift diving is also often done off Nusa Penida in the south.
Bali Day Trips
It may be one moderately-sized island, but there truly are all too many destinations to check out during the day. Surf along the wild beaches in the south, hangout on Nusa Lembongan, or simply lose yourself in the chaos of Kuta, or the luxurious pleasures of Seminyak and Kerobokan. Family friendly fun can be found in nearby Sanur, while lavish romantic getaways can be discovered on the Bukit Peninsula. In Ubud, you’ll also find the heart and soul of Balinese culture—it’s got ancient temples and monuments galore, as well as the island's most beautiful rice field paddies and forested volcanic mountains. And though North and west Bali are more thinly populated than select resort towns, they boast diving and surfing options that make any beachside journey worthwhile.
What’s more is that around town, boat services run regularly to Lombok, Flores, and islands further east in the Indonesia archipelago. Hop on a bus or ferry to spots such as Yogyakarta, the Gili Islands, or Komodo, which is an island and national park in East Nusa Tenggara that’s famous for the Komodo dragon. You can even plan for a full day of sightseeing in Prambanan and Borobudur but still make it back to your hotel in Bali by bed time. Maybe try checking out Bandung near Jakarta, which is a popular tourist destination for Malaysian visitors and day visitors that serves as the center of Indonesia’s garment and textile industry—get ready to do some of the best bargain and factory outlet shopping and haggling ever! Plus, the area is well known for its art deco architectural buildings, nice cafes, and all around laid-back lifestyle and cooler air. There’s even a semi-active volcano crater and hot spring nearby. What more could you ask for?
From hotels and motels, to charming inns and guest lodges, you’ll find a wide variety of accommodation options in Bali. It has, without a doubt, some of the best range of stay options in Indonesia, from losmens to super-homes, or cheap island digs for backpackers at Kuta to numerous five-star resorts clustered in and around Nusa Dua, Seminyak, and Ubud.
For beachside stays, try Sanur and Jimbaran, which both offer seashore bliss and lots of quiet time, as well as perhaps Uluwatu, one of the newer areas that boasts everything from surfer bungalows to the opulent Bulgari Hotel. Further north on the west coast is the district of Canggu, which offers many traditional villages set among delightful rice fields. For those wanting rest and revitalization, try out Amed, where you’ll find an array of peaceful fishing villages on the east coast with some good hotels and restaurants. What’s more is that thanks to Bali's balmy climate, most accommodations offer open-air bathrooms, often set in a lush garden setting. They not only look amazing, but provide a definitely very Balinese experience! You might even want to rent out one of the vacation spaces within the large collection of private villas nearby that come complete with top-class levels of staff and service.
Most visitors arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport (also known as Denpasar International Airport). It’s Indonesia's third busiest international airport (after Jakarta and Surabaya) and a major hub that’s well-connected to Australia, South-East Asia, and the rest of Indonesia. There are also a number of domestic airlines operate as LCC - low cost or budget carriers-- like Wings Air, which is a LCC of Lion Air, or Citilink, a LCC of Garuda Airlines.
By itself, Bali is a fairly large island, so travelers will definitely need some sort of transportation to get around if planning to explore beyond their hotel pool. Major tourist areas often have chaotic daily traffic jams, which make “Bemos” an excellent option to consider. These minivans serve as a flexible bus service and are the area’s most "traditional" form of transportation. You can also find direct bus services to Bali from all major cities on Java and Lombok that link with ferries for sea crossings. The Perama bus company is especially great for budget travelers, while the Trans SARBAGITA bus company operates fully air-conditioned buses providing one-way adult fare to any destination on a bus route for only about Rp3,500 per person.
Those hoping for a bit of speed can check out a number of speedboats, catamarans, and day cruises operating in and around Benoa Harbour near Kuta, Padangbai, and the Gili Islands of Lombok. Plus, many companies even run bike tours in the mountains that serve simultaneously as “adventure tours”—you’ll get more than just a nice bike ride, but also a full-on cultural experience while visiting traditional villages and taking part in cooking classes that include a trip to the local market!