Bali is an island of color, culture, and vibrant adventure. The island’s mix of beach and mountain, lush vegetation and stark volcanic hillsides make it possibly the most famous island getaway in Indonesia. It’s not known as the Island of the Gods for no reason; a trip to Bali can truly be a life-changing experience! Experience the island’s famous surfing swells in South Bali or explore the mountains, temples, and black sand beaches of the rest of the island.
The good news is, many of Bali’s hotels will offer pickup and drop-off service to and from Ngurah Rai Airport, either included in your stay or for a discounted fee. The bad news is, Bali’s roads are not the best around, nor are they incredibly friendly to pedestrians. You will be best off arranging for transportation directly with your hotel or your tour guides, if offered. Remember that it never hurts to ask.
Public transportation is cheap and readily available, but will generally stick to pre-planned tourist routes. Both tourist shuttle busses and ferry services offer travel between the cities on the island.
To get off the beaten path, it may be best to rent a car, personal driver or scooter for your trip; if you rent a car or scooter, make sure your International Drivers Permit is up to date. If using a taxi or bemo service, make sure that their meter is on before you start, or that you have agreed on a set price before getting in, to avoid arguments.
Food & Culture
Bali is one of the most openly spiritual islands in Indonesia and you will see many signs of this on your trip. Many of its inhabitants follow their own unique brand of Balinese Hinduism, incorporating it into their dances, architecture, and numerous leaf-plate offerings. You’re likely to see these offerings everywhere, from your hotel check-in desk to the very street! Catching a ritual dance or shadow-puppet theater performance, which tell specific religious stories, is a high priority for many visitors.
The island is also famous for its warung, or street vendor food. Even on a luxury trip, you should try a cheap meal from a popular local warung! Unlike most of the rest of Indonesia, which is primarily Muslim, many traditional Balinese dishes include pork, as well as steamed or fried rice and noodles, vegetables, and seafood—and they can be very spicy!
Working on a tolerance for spicy food before your trip is definitely advised. There are few true vegetarian options in Balinese cuisine so if you have dietary restrictions, you may want to do a little extra research.
Sights & Activities
Surfing — Southern Bali is famous for its amazing surfing beaches including Dreamland, Padang Padang, and Uluwatu. Most surfing here will be for intermediate to advanced surfers, though lessons are available.
Kecak Fire Dance — This ritual dance was invented in the 1930s but is spectacularly dramatic, including a chanting chorus and costumed players retelling the story of Rama’s defeat of the demon king Ravana around a fire.
Balinese Temples — These amazing architectural wonders are a breathtaking must-see on the island. In Southern Bali there is the famous Pura Luhur Uluwatu, or you can see the mother-temple Besakih on Bali’s highest mountain, Mount Agung, which was once an active volcano.
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