The Ultimate Bali Travel Guide
Bali's bewitching beauty beckons! This Indonesian Island is a tropical paradise with beaches, waters, trails, volcanic peaks, lush jungles, terraced rice fields, and cascading waterfalls — no wonder it's commonly known as the Island of the Gods. However, this nickname doesn't just refer to Bali's raw natural beauty; it is also a tribute to the profound sense of spirituality and kindness exhibited by the Balinese people, which filters into all aspects of island culture and daily life.
Our ultimate Bali travel guide is designed to help you discover everything this fascinating destination has to offer, from its best beaches to supporting local wildlife initiatives. Find out exactly when the best time to visit Bali is, how you can be part of the local celebrations, where the best infinity pools are, and which paths lead to the most awe-inspiring views.
MAIN PLACES TO VISIT
A few miles north of Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali's capital of Denpasar sits between popular beach resorts and the Bukit Peninsula in the south and more peaceful, laid-back villages and jungle-filled expanses of the north. Denpasar is well worth a visit to get a true sense of local Balinese life, especially its temples and lively street markets. The Bajra Sandhi Monument at the city centre and the Bali Museum are great spots to learn more about the island's history, and the Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Centre offers a colourful showcase of Balinese culture with traditional music, costumes, and dance performances. Time your trip right and you can even catch the annual Bali Arts Festival.
Ubud is in the central foothills of Bali and is approximately an hour's drive north of Denpasar. Though the town has long stood as a centre of traditional arts and crafts, the ease of access it provides to the ancient holy temples, scenic trails, and hidden waterfalls of Bali's interior adds to its popularity among travellers. Many travellers are keen to grab a snap of Ubud's photogenic emerald terraces of rice paddies, pay a visit to the mischievous long-tailed macaques of the Sacred Monkey Forest, or meander along the Campuhan Ridge Walk.
Kuta is probably the most well-known and busiest beach resort on the island, so if you're looking for a lively base from which to explore Bali, together with some decent nightlife, then this is it. Shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels stretch along the main strip from Kuta, through Legian, to Seminyak catering to the holiday crowd. Located on Bali's southern coastline, the beaches here are a good spot for beginners to learn how to surf, and because they face west, can prove a trendy spot from which to enjoy the sunset.
Mount Agung is Bali's highest peak, and it looms over the district of Karangasem to the east. If you're keen to take on the challenge of climbing to the summit of this volcano, this can be done on a 6-hour guided excursion and you'll be rewarded with views that extend across the entire island from the top. It's not hard to see why the Balinese people believed Mount Agung to be the abode of the gods. It is home to Pura Besakih, the largest and most important temple complex of Balinese Hinduism. Time your trip over the Galungan celebrations to see the temple beautifully decorated and the ceremonies in full swing.
West Bali National Park
Tucked away on Bali's northwestern tip, West Bali National Park is a 190-square-kilometre protected area encompassing rainforest, savanna, scrublands, mangroves, and beaches that's home to more than a hundred species of wildlife. Approximately 60 miles from the bustle of Denpasar, this national park is off the traditional tourism trail and a great way to connect with nature. The habitat further extends to offshore coral reefs and to Menjangan Island (a popular wall-diving spot) and twitchers will be in their element as this national park is also a sanctuary for the rare and endemic white Bali starling.
- Bali's sandy shores are one of its biggest appeals, and there's a huge variety to choose from! Whether you're looking for a secluded cove, a party, coral reefs, black sand, or impressive surf, there's a beach for you
- Make the most of Bali's lush surroundings and snap that perfect Instagram pic with a dip in one of these heavenly infinity pools
- From spas and Balinese massage to yoga and achieving inner calm, wellness breaks are a seriously revitalizing affair in Bali
- Take to its temples! See the Kecak Fire Dance at Uluwatu Temple
- Go gourmet at the Ubud Food Festival and walk off those extra pounds on these epic trails
- Bali is generally a very safe and welcoming destination for travellers, but (as with any trip) there are steps you can take to ensure your time on the island remains a stress-free and pleasurable one
- Approximately 85% of Bali's population are Hindu and during your travels you may note the many small and prettily decorated canang sari, handmade daily offerings, dotted about. These can be placed around the home and in temples, but also in public spaces such as pavements, stairwells, and doorways. Be sure to watch your step so you don’t disturb them and inadvertently cause offence
- Take plenty of sun cream and drink lots of water. Bali's temperature can climb into the 30s°C and, even during the rainy season, sees several hours of strong sunshine. Use this guide to plan the best time to travel to Bali
- Should you have an International Driving Licence, hiring a scooter can prove a cost-effective (and fun!) way to get around the island. But be aware that the traffic, particularly in urban areas, can be extremely busy and accidents not uncommon. Taxis are a relatively inexpensive alternative: for example, a journey from the Ngurah Rai International Airport to Kuta will cost approximately £5
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