Quick facts about Bali

Going To Bali

Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, or Denpasar Airport (DPS) for short, is the main airport where flights to Bali land. It is a major air hub and the third busiest airport in Indonesia. The two terminals of DPS are used by both international and domestic flights; its international flight services come from Australia, Europe, America, and most Asian countries, including Singapore.

It is also well connected to most regions in Indonesia, with regular domestic flights connecting it to major cities within the country. A port of call for numerous cruise liners going through Southeast Asia, Bali receives visitors on ships and ferries.

Accommodation in Bali 

 

Accommodation in Bali can range from as low as Rp60,000 to as high as US$4,000 per night. Kuta’s hostels and dormitories are popular among budget-conscious backpackers. If you are willing to splurge, Nusa Dua, Seminyak and Ubud are where many five-star resorts await with their fine lodgings and bevy of offerings like spa packages and gorgeous ocean views. Serviced bungalows and villas are great options for those who prefer more privacy. An idyllic refuge in more naturalistic settings can be found in village homestays in the Canggudistrict, as well as the fishing district of Amed.

Getting around Bali

Buses from the Denpasar airport are infrequent and are hence not recommended. Instead, hop on a bemoor (shared minibus) as a cheaper alternative. Many hotels in Bali also operate courtesy shuttle buses.

When moving around Bali, do be mindful of chaotic traffic conditions and jams in tourist-concentrated areas, especially in UbudKuta, Seminyak and Denpasar. Traveling by foot is easier in beach and touristy areas; it is recommended that you join an organised tour, should you want an excursion round the island. Alternatively, you can opt for bus services as a cheap and reliable means of getting to popular destinations around the island.

Metered cabs are rare in Bali. Some operate on a pre-paid voucher system and vouchers are sold at the official taxi stand near the airport exit. Some tourists may prefer renting cars or scooters to get around Bali.

Bali Currency

Bali uses the Indonesian Rupiah (abbreviated, Rp). Most banks and authorised moneychangers allow the exchange of foreign currency. Tipping is not mandatory at most hotels, restaurants and at the airport – but always appreciated.

Entry Requirements

All visitors to Bali require a valid passport/travel document with minimum validity of six months beyond the period of intended stay. Visa requirements vary for different countries of origin so be sure to check.

Bali Climate

Temperatures are generally pleasant during the day, fluctuating between 20-33⁰C throughout the year. Do carry an umbrella if you’re travelling during the December to March period, when the west monsoon season can bring on sudden heavy showers in the afternoon and evening. The weather is cooler from June to September with hardly any rain in coastal lowlands. However, there may be flooding along the beach from Tuban to Melasti (Kuta) due to the region’s drainage limitations, which could result in knee-deep waters without the first two hours. Travellers to the highlands, such as Bedugul or Kintamani will need a jacket or sweater after the sun sets and temperatures fall.

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Bali’s Cuisine

Food in Bali

Food options in Bali span a huge variety of cafes and restaurants that offer both Indonesian and international fare. Go to smaller local restaurants for cheaper, authentic Balinese food. Rice is a staple in typical Indonesian dishes like nasi goreng or fried rice and nasi campur, which is basically steamed rice accompanied by spicy vegetables, fish and meat with a side of sambal or chili paste.

Roving food carts called kaki lima also serve up a variety of delicious, inexpensive food. For instance, you can savour a bowl of piping hot bakso, a satisfying meatball broth with noodles, along the beaches of Kuta, Legianand Seminyak. Be sure to go easy on the spicy condiments, though. The Jimbaran area is a hit among seafood lovers, who take delight in sampling freshly-prepared catches while sitting on the beach.

Bali’s predominantly non-Muslim community makes it an anomaly in the region; that’s why pork dishes like Urutan (Balinese spicy pork sausage) and Babi Guling (spit-roasted suckling pig) are available at night markets and certain restaurants. Bebek betutu (bamboo-roasted stuffed duck) and lawar (an exotic mixed salad with spices) are just a couple of the other local delights you shouldn’t miss.

Bali Nightlife

Sanur and Nusa Dua are popular for nightlife in Bali. However, Kuta and Seminyak are where most of the fun Bali nightspots are located. Choose from a wide selection of entertainment options ranging from discos, open-air pubs to restaurant-bars with live music and clubs with DJ performances. You could also watch out for special nighttime events in Kuta and Seminyak, such as Body Painting Parties and Full Moon Parties.

Bali produces its own beers, ales, wines, liquers and spirits, which are cheaper than imported ones. Most restaurants charge a modest corkage fee if you bring in your own bottles.

Explore Bali

Shopping in Bali

High-end shoppers and bargain hunters alike will be pleased at the number of shopping options in Balinese shops, handicraft villages and markets. Antique and modern furniture, paintings, jewellery, batik fabrics and wood and stone carvings are just some of shopping you can find in Kuta, Legian, Sanur, the Sukawati market en route to Ubud, and in the town of Ubud itself.

Ceneva and Jalan Raya Kerobokan are well-known shopping centers in Seminyak where cheap handicrafts can be found. You could also visit Kuta Square for beachwear, clothing, trinkets, shoes and leather goods, or head down to Bali Galleria and Kartika Discovery Mall for luxury and branded goods.

Places to Visit In Bali

Catch some waves along Bali’s best beaches, like Kuta Beach, which is just a quick ride from the airport.

Seminyak, just to the north of Kuta, is where most of the Bali expat community resides. Trendy Seminyak is home to luxury villas, designer shops, international restaurants and swanky bars. Enjoy a laid back evening with live musical performances. Seminyak, along with Ubud, is also home to world-class yoga centres and retreats.

 

Bali’s rice paddies and quaint villages are a must-see. Stroll through the lush rice terraces at Ubud and Jatiluwih or go on a day trip to Teganan to discover the native Balinese way of living. Temple processions are a big deal in Bali, so you should definitely stop to watch if you chance upon a procession.

Explore the island’s rich heritage by making a trip down south to the Tanah Lot temple in Tabanan, one of the most popular spots in Bali and a main temple for the worship of Balinese gods. Casting a dramatic landscape on the ocean, the temple is guarded from evil spirits and harm by snakes. It looks the most surreal at sunset, a sight to be enjoyed at low tide or up on the cliffs.

Shutterbugs can also visit the Uluwatu Monkey Forest for another temple that makes for great photos. Be careful though, those mischievious monkeys are drawn to bright colours and the sight and smell of food. At night, catch a traditional Balinese kecak dance performance that uses no instruments, just vocals. Lose yourself in a cultural trance as actors chant and perform the Ramayana among the cliffs.

Spa treatments and massages are available everywhere at affordable prices (around Rp 70,000 to 1000,000 for a full body session). Traditional Balinese massage is done with aromatic oils, using long, deep strokes. The more adventurous can pay a visit to a fish spa, where small fish will nibble dead skin from your hands and feet.

Bali Surfing, Diving & Snorkelling

Bali is one of the world’s top surfing destinations, most notably along the southern coast at Kuta, Canggu, and Legian, as well as the Bukit Peninsula and Nusa Lembongan. The waves at Kuta and Legian break over sand rather than coral – this makes it less intimidating for newbies. Simply enrol for a one-day trip at surfing schools like Odyssey and Rip Curl School of Surf and you’ll be riding those waves in no time. Reef surfers can hit the hotspots in Uluwatu, Bingin and Balangan.

Thrill seekers can also try out other water sports like white-water rafting and parasailing in areas like Ubudand Nusa Dua.

As part of the Coral Triangle – an area with the highest concentration of marine biodiversity – Bali boasts a wide range of dive sites with beautiful variants of coral reefs that are rich in marine life. Keep a lookout for hawksbill turtles, manta rays, reef sharks and more at diving hotspots, such as Tulamben, Menjangan and Nusa Penida. You might even spy a dolphin or two near the coasts of Singaria and Lovina.

Bali’s Culture

People in Bali

Visitors to Bali are often struck by the warmth and hospitality of its people, who mostly reside in the southern coastal areas of the capital of Denpasar. Bali’s ethnically-diverse population includes people from the smaller islands of Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lebongan, Nusa Peninda, Serangan and Menjangan. Hinduism is their main religion – another thing that makes Bali stand out amongst all the other islands in largely Muslim Indonesia. Other minority religions include Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Balinese Hinduism is vastly different from mainstream Hinduism. For one, the religion’s main deity is Sanghyang Widi Wasa, an all-compassing being, of whom other gods like Vishnu and Shiva are merely manifestations of.

Most Balinese rely on agriculture as their main livelihood. Fishing, trading and craftsmanship are also traditional practices passed on from generation to generation. However, globalisation and increased tourism activity have contributed to the rise in the number of younger people seeking new career paths.

Bali Language & Arts

Most people in Bali are fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, the main language spoken by everyone in Indonesia. English is commonly spoken in tourist hotspots, where multilingual signs are written in other foreign languages like Japanese, Korean, French, Russian and German. There are also a few Balinese indigenous languages distinctive from Bahasa Indonesia. Any small effort you make to learn and speak this difficult language will undoubtedly impress the locals.

Bali is well known for its painting, woodcarving, sculpture and performing arts. Just like neighbouring Java, the gamelan percussion orchestra and wayang kulit shadow puppet theatre are key tourist attractions. Performances usually depict stories from Hindu epics, such as the Ramayana, and dances are extremely dramatic and expressive.

Celebrations in Bali range from temple festivals to tooth-filing ceremonies, which are a coming-of-age ritual. Ceremonial artforms like wayang kulit can be improvised to suit the context of the occasion. Ramé, a rowdy, lively atmosphere, is characteristic of many celebrations in Bali.

Design & Architecture

Thanks to the increased demand for Balinese-style villas, hotels and cottages after the growth in the tourism industry, Balinese architecture has become one of the most popular styles of Asian tropical architecture. Blessed with abundant natural materials to utilise, modern Balinese architecture mixes native artistry with contemporary influences. It also carries some Hindu and pre-Hindu influences.

The Balinese are known for being master craftsmen and sculptors, whose works are influenced by a strong

 

sense of communal living and spirituality. They favour sophisticated techniques and intricate decoration, often with floral motifs. Sculpted in both stone and wood, palaces and temples are richly ornamented. Common elements of Balinese architecture include pagoda-like tiered roof towers called Meru; shrines honouring ancestors, certain gods; ornately carved columns, beams and ceilings; carvings of the deity, Kala and candi bentar (“split gate”) at entrances.

Statues are a common sight in temples and courtyards. Keep a lookout for the likenesses of Dewi Sri, Goddess of Rice and Fertility, the protecting demon Rakasa and various gate guardians that often flank entrances. Entire villages like Batubulan specialise in the large-scale production of such sculptures, which are popular souvenir items for tourists.

Cultural & Legal Restrictions

Spirituality is a big part of the Balinese way of life. Leaf trays bearing tiny offerings (canang sari) like flowers, rice, glutinous rice, and even coffee and cigarettes can be seen on the ground everywhere, together with burning incense sticks. It’s worth noting the local belief that deliberately stepping on these can bring bad luck – so, mind your step.

Balinese village systems are very communal in nature. All rites, festivals and important decisions are decided by a community panel of about 50 to 150 family members called the Banjar, while the local government oversees matters related to education, healthcare and infrastructure. The Subak – a subset of the banjar – takes charge of rice production and irrigation organisation, in order to ensure that every rice field receives a fair share of water. Bale Banjars are venues that function like town halls for regular gatherings.

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