The island of Bali forms one of the 33 provinces of the country of Indonesia and is the main tourist destination. Visitors can dance from dusk until dawn in the manic town of Kuta, well- known for its vibrant nightlife, or relax on one of the island’s endless stretches of shimmering sand. Surfers will also find plenty of waves to test their board skills! Bali has a rich culture with religion playing a central role; interestingly, the majority of the population are Hindu unlike the rest of Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim.
When to go
The dry season falls between May and September so this is generally the best time to travel to Bali. However, even in the rainy season, there is still likely to be sun for a good part of the day. Daytime temperatures usually average around 30 Degrees Celsius but the humidity can make it feel hotter. Mountainous areas are much cooler.
Things to do
When you’re not partying or soaking up the sun, here are some of the popular attractions in Bali:
The stunning temple of Tanah Lot was built in the 16th century on a huge rock jutting out into the sea. Visitors have the opportunity to be blessed by the temple priests or touch the holy snake, which is supposed to bring good luck. The temple gets extremely crowded at sunset so bear this in mind before you go.
The mountain village of Kintamani, rising 5,000 feet above sea level, provides breathtaking views of the active volcano Mt Batur and the lake below. The black lava field from previous eruptions is still visible today.
The picturesque rice paddies are a defining feature of the Balinese landscape. Rice is a staple part of the Balinese diet and is considered a gift from God. Many tours offer a trek through the terraces where you can see the farmers at work. There are several tea and coffee plantations across the island where you can sample the different varieties grown there.
Based on stories from Balinese mythology, the Barong dance represents the dualities of life and the essential balance of good and evil. The costumes are elaborate and although the dance is often humourous, it is still very much part of the religious tradition.
Ubud is frequently dubbed the cultural centre of Bali with its numerous art galleries and shops specialising in local handicrafts. The Seniwati Gallery, founded in 1991 by Mary Northmore, is particularly special as it showcases the work of talented Balinese women, who often struggle to be accepted as artists.
The surrounding artisan villages of Butubalan (stone carving), Celuk (silver and gold jewellery), Mas (wood carving) and Pengosekan (painting) are worth visiting.
A group of cheeky long- tailed macaques inhabit the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, a lush rainforest sanctuary. It is advisable not to touch the monkeys as they can be aggressive- they also like to steal people’s things, especially food! The site is commonly used for spiritual practices and religious festivals.
The local currency is the Indonesian Rupiah, although many tour operators and hotels accept American Dollars. The current exchange rate is just over 14,000 Rupiah to the pound.
Food, transport and accommodation are relatively inexpensive. There are a range of hotels and hostels for every budget and a meal at a decent restaurant is around 40,000 Rupiah. Even better are the food stalls, where you can buy a delicious meal for less than 10,000 Rupiah. Beware of taxi drivers trying to rip you off.