Bali Travel Guide

Bali is one of over 13,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago and is located just over 2 kilometres from the eastern tip of the island of Java and west of the island of Lombok. The island home of approximately 4 million people is approximately 144 kilometres from east to west and 80 kilometres north to south.

The islands varied landscape of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides provide a picturesque backdrop to the colourful and deeply spiritual culture of this 'Island of The Gods'.

Denpasar — A large, bustling city, the administrative center and transport hub of the island but not a major tourist destination.
Bedugul — A small village north of Denpasar
Jimbaran — Sea-side resorts and nice beaches south of Kuta.
Kuta — Surfer central, by far the most heavily developed bit of Bali. Lots of shopping and night-life, and the center of party culture on Bali.
Legian — Surf beach. Located between Kuta and Seminyak. Also the name of Kuta´s main street.
Nusa Dua — A enclave of expensive high-end resorts.
Sanur — More sea-side resorts and beaches.
Seminyak and Kerobokan — Quieter, more upscale beachside resorts and villas just to the north of Kuta, with some fashionable upscale restaurants and trendy designer bars. Much of the nightlife has moved into this area, especially around Jalan Dhyana Pura.
Canggu An area located about 20 mins drive of greater Seminyak, popular with expats.
Tanah Lot Just north of Seminyak with temple and plush hotels
Uluwatu — A small village near the southernmost tip of Bali with a stunningly located clifftop temple. The name is also broadly used to describe the southern portion of the island.
Uluwatu beach is one of the islands greatest, located at the other end of an amazing cave. Central

Bedugul — Nice lakes in the mountains, Golf Course, Botanical Gardens, and the famous Ulun Danu temple.
Between Sanur and Ubud — A series of "crafts villages" featuring wood carving, painting, batik, and jewelry
Ubud — The center of art and dance in the foothills, with an interesting small palace, monkey forest, and lots of arts and crafts shops.
Sayan — very spectacular rice terraces.


Gilimanuk — Ferry to Java
Negara —

Lovina — Small villages, black volcanic sand beaches and coral reefs on Bali's north coast.
Singaraja -- Largest city on the north shore.
Kintamani — Cooler mountainous region of Bali where growing fruit and vegetables is the main horticultural activity . The main attraction for travellers is located around Lake Batur where Peneloken provides the first spectacular view of this crater lake, set in a vast volcano caldera. A climb to the summit of Mount Batur, still an active volcano, to watch the sunrise is an unforgetable experience for more energetic travellers. Further along the rim of the caldera is Pura Ulun Danau Batur, the second most important temple in Bali.

Amed — A peaceful fishing village. The newest tourist area to be developed in Bali, featuring black sand, coral reefs and excellent diving. Some good restaurants too.
Candi Dasa — A very quiet tourist area with a few good restaurants. A great place to curl up with a good book.
Tirta Gangga -- Mountains, the water palace and beautiful rice terraces.
Padang Bai

Nusa Penida — is an island southeast of Bali island, Indonesia. Administratively, the island is a subdistrict of Klungkung regency. There are two small islands nearby: Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. The Badung Strait separates the island and Bali.
Nusa Lembongan — is an island off the southeast coast of the main island of Bali. The water is quite clear; good for diving and snorkeling. Surfing is crowded but nice waves. Nice coral sand beach. Learn about the cosmetic seaweed farming industry.
Nusa Ceningan — is the smallest of the three islands and is rarely visited. Waters around Nusa Ceningan are crystal clear, hosting colorful coral and sea creatures, making it an ideal location for snorkeling and for any other water sport activities.

The word paradise is used a lot in Bali, and not without reason. The combination of friendly, hospitable people, a magnificently visual culture infused with spirituality and (not least) spectacular beaches with great surfing and diving have made Bali Indonesia's unparalleled number one tourist attraction. Eighty percent of international visitors to Indonesia visit Bali and Bali alone.

The popularity is not without its flip sides — once paradisaical Kuta has degenerated into a congested warren of concrete, touts and scammers live on overcharging tourists, and the island's visibility has even drawn the unwanted attention of terrorists in 2002 and 2005 — but Bali has managed to retain its magic. Bali is a wonderful destination with something for everyone, and though heavily travelled, it is still easy to find some peace and quiet if you like.

Unlike any other island in largely Muslim Indonesia, Bali is a pocket of Hindu religion and culture, although Balinese Hinduism is so far removed from the original Indian variety that the casual eye will be hard put to spot any similarities. Every aspect of Balinese life is suffused with religion, but the most visible signs are the tiny offerings (sesajen) of flowers, glutinous rice and salt in little bamboo leaf trays, found in every Balinese house, restaurant, souvenir stall and airport check-in desk. They are set out and sprinkled with holy water no less then three times a day, before every meal.

Balinese dance and music are also justly famous. As on Java, the gamelan orchestra and wayang kulit shadow puppet theater predominate. Dances include:

barong or "lion dance" — a ritual dance depicting the fight between good and evil, with performers wearing fearsome lion-like masks
kecak or "monkey dance" — Actually invented in the 1930s by early German resident Walter Spies for a movie but a spectacle nonetheless, with up to 250 dancers in concentric circles chanting "kecak kecak", while a performer in the center acts out a spiritual dance

There are an estimated 20,000 temples (pura) on the island, each of which holds festivals (odalan) at least twice a year and there are many other auspicious days throughout the year, meaning that there are always festivities going on.

There are some large festivals celebrated islandwide, but their dates are determined by two local calendars. The 210-day wuku or Pawukon calendar is completely out of sync with the Western calendar, meaning that it rotates wildly throughout the year.The lunar saka (caka) calendar roughly follows the Western year.

Funerals, called pitra yadnya, are another occasion of pomp and ceremony, when the deceased (often several at a time) are ritually cremated in extravagantly colorful rituals.
Galungan (next held on 20th August 2008). A 10-day festival celebrating the death of the tyrant Mayadenawa. Gods and ancestors visit earth and are greeted with gift-laden bamboo poles called penjor lining the streets. The last day of the festival is known as Kuningan.
Nyepi, or Hindu New Year, usually March/April (next held on March 26, 2009). This is the one festival worth avoiding: on Nyepi, also known as the Day of Absolute Silence, absolutely everything on the island is shut down and tourists are confined to their hotels (find somewhere with a pool). However if you are in Bali in the weeks preceding Nyepi you will see amazing colourful giants (Ogoh Ogoh) being created by every banjar throughout the island. On Nyepi Eve the Ogoh Ogoh are paraded through the streets, an amazing sight, not to be missed especially in Denpasar.
Nyepi is a very special day to the Balinese as this is the day that they have to fool all evil spirits that no-one is actually on Bali - hence the need for silence. If this can be achieved, then it is believed that the evil spirits will go looking elsewhere for their prey and leave Bali island alone for another year. Balinese people are very religious and life is full of ritual - Nyepi is one of the most important days in their calendar. Police and security are on hand to make sure that everyone abides by this rule.

Nyepi also serves to remind the Balinese of the need for tolerance and understanding in their everyday life. In fact, Hinduism on Bali is unique because it is woven into and around the original Balinese animistic religion. The two now have become one for the Balinese - a true sign of tolerance and acceptance!

All national public holidays covered in Indonesia also apply, although Ramadan is naturally a much smaller event here than in the country's Muslim regions.

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