Bali (east of Java, about 1 hour and 20 minutes by air from Jakarta) is known as a place where traditions of art and culture predominate, where the village way of life based on their strong religious beliefs is still in place. But, it is also a place where modern sports such as diving, sailing, rafting and above all surfing have taken hold and a place where the ultimate luxuries of life: fine dining, spas and massage have reached the peak of perfection. Behind all of this is a single unseen premise; none of these practices, pursuits and pleasures are created as tourist industries in Bali, but are based on the talents, dedication and skills of the Balinese people in their normal course of life.
Bali has consistently ranked as the No. 1 island in the world in the Travel and Leisure readers, ahead of places like Tasmania, the Great Barrier Reef islands and Maui. Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel has ranked Bali second place among the world’s Top Regions. Also known as the Land of the Gods, Bali appeals through its sheer natural beauty and enchants with its dramatic dances and colorful ceremonies, its arts and crafts, to its luxurious beach resorts and exciting night life. For this exotic island has much to offer, from inspirational spirituality to fine dining and meeting experiences, from world class surfing and diving to exhilarating treks in the wild. And everywhere you will find intricately carved temples.
Bali is home to beautiful beaches, striking volcanic scenery, terraced rice fields and 4.4 million people. Even after decades of popularity, Bali continues to amaze and attract a variety of visitors from around the globe: from those who come to surf the waves of Kuta, Uluwatu and Dreamland, to others who love the panoramic beauty of mountains and lakes at Batur, Kintamani, or Lake Beratan at Bedugul, to those who love shopping or spend endless days on the beach, to those enjoy the artistic, New Age scene amid lush surroundings around Ubud. Bali has some good diving spots and has hosted some big raves and surfing competitions.
Denny Lee wrote in the New York Times: “Tucked below the equator on the Indian Ocean, the high temperature hovers around 85 degrees year round, and cools gradually as you move inland. Strolling along Kuta Beach on a recent evening, as the last whiskers of sunlight scorched the dusky sky, the air felt sultry and pacific, hugging the ground like an earthy blanket. The island is ringed by velvety beaches and marbled cliffs. Dewy jungles and black volcanic peaks form its center. Terraced rice patties, the color of fresh lime, are etched into the countryside like giant amphitheaters. The air is expansive, the vistas ageless. [Source: Denny Lee, New York Times, March 27, 2005]
Ask tourists why they are so enchanted by Bali two answers usually emerge. "This is one of the most beautiful places I've been to," a travel blogger at the Monkey Forest in Ubud told the New York Times. "It seems almost mystical and magical." Lee wrote “Visitors also speak wistfully about Bali's idiosyncratic culture. Unlike the rest of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, most Balinese practice a form of Hinduism that blends elements of Buddhism and animism. They believe that gods are everywhere. And, in a way, they are.”
But its not all paradise. Kuta Beach is very touristy; Denpasar is dirty and clogged with traffic like any other Indonesian city. Lee wrote: “On sunny afternoons, a crush of peddlers turn stretches of Kuta Beach into a seaside flea market. In quieter spots, sunbathers are accosted by an almost comical parade of hawkers selling sunglasses, box kites, tattoos, beer, jewelry and full-body massages — sometimes all of them in just half an hour. Street begging got so out of hand that the police had to institute a crackdown.”
Bali Discovery Tours, balidiscovery.com is a good commercial site. It has a hotel search function, travel tips and news, and specials deals. The government Bali Tourism Board site, balitourismboard.com, is pretty good too. Other websites include 1) Bali Tours, Bali-Tours.com; 2) Bali Tourism Authority, balitourismauthority.net; 3) Bali on Line at indo.com; 4) Bali.com, bali.com; 5) baliwww.com. Tourism Office: Bali Government Tourism Office Jl. S. Parman No. 1, Niti Mandala, Denpasar-Bali 80235, Phone (62-361) 222387, Fax (62-361) 226313, Website : tourism.baliprov.go.id/, Email: email@example.com
Bali Lifestyle and Brand
Denny Lee wrote in the New York Times: “ “Visitors also speak wistfully about Bali's idiosyncratic culture. Unlike the rest of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, most Balinese practice a form of Hinduism that blends elements of Buddhism and animism. They believe that gods are everywhere. And, in a way, they are. Sculptures depicting mythical battles loom over traffic circles like the Arc de Triomphe. Thousands of temples dot the island, their split gateways forming a kind of Escher-like portal into a cosmic world. Every morning, millions of boat-shaped banana leaves, stuffed with rice, fruits and flowers, are left on sidewalks like little gift baskets to the gods. [Source: Denny Lee, New York Times, March 27, 2005]
“A leisurely drive through the winding backcountry reveals a simple life steeped in atavistic rituals. Men bathe together in the crystalline rivers, soaking and relaxing in Bali's original spa. Women in floor-length skirts dry tapioca on the roadside, stirring the granules under the baking sun. Slaughtered chickens hang off the back of mopeds. Banyan trees sway. And every few hours, the ethereal tones of gamelan music echo across the lush hills, signaling the start of another temple ceremony. This reverence for Hindu customs may explain why decades of mass tourism has done little to dilute the island's charm. "Everyone smiles all the time," said Melinda Gavala, 28, a frequent visitor from Greece, as she watched the sun set on Seminyak Beach, an upscale area just north of Kuta. "Even when they're overcharging you, their smile is 100 percent authentic."
“But Bali's resilience is also a function of modern day P.R. As one of the world's best-known beach resorts, Bali never faded from tourists' imagination after the bombings. In fact, the Bali tourism board did little more than offer a few junkets for travel writers and tour operators, which most resort destinations do anyway. (The New York Times does not accept free trips.) "The island succeeds in spite of itself," said Jack Daniels, president of Bali Discovery Tours, which runs a tourism news Web site. "Bali has tremendous brand equity. Even through the crisis, travel magazines kept naming Bali among the top island destinations."
Shopping in Bali
Bali is an island that produces great artists and artisans, where creativity exudes from every village. Painters, woodcarvers and dancers are experts, with artistic traditions handed down from generation to generation. There are are thousands of giftshops in Bali. Everywhere you go, from Denpasar to Ubud, you'll find many things you'd like to bring back home.
For best paintings visit at leisure the galleries at Ubud, and admire artists at work, before you decide which painting you like best. Most Balinese paintings go best with a Bali carved wooden frame. For fine woodcarvings, go to the village of Mas, where are the master woodcarvers. If you are looking for gold or silver jewelry, head to the village of Celuk. But if you are thinking of bringing home souvenirs for friends and relatives, your best bet is the souvenir market at Sukowati, where you may be overwhelmed by choice. For casual and chic summer wear the place to browse is Kuta, which has a large variety of boutiques and shops, selling everything from bright T-shirts, surf- wear, flip-flops creative trinkets, Bali coffe and aromatherapy oil.
Between Denpasar and Ubud are numerous towns and villages that sell crafts and often specialize n one craft. Among these are Batubulan, known for stone carving; Celuk, a silver and goldsmithing center; Sukawatio, known for its temple umbrellas, wind chimes and dyed palm baskets; Batuan, a famous painting center; and Mas, famous for its woodcarving. Many of Bali's master carvers still live here. Peliatan is the center of woodcarving, traditional music and dance. Woodcarvers make colorful flowers, fruits and trees. Batuan is also know for its dancing and wood panel carving.
Rosemarie John wrote in the Jakarta Post: “Will it be curios, paintings, clothes or perhaps intricate wood carvings? The choices are endless when you’re in Bali. “Bali is a melting pot of cultures and traditions. The Balinese have an inborn talent of absorbing different cultural elements and blending them with their own to produce creative hybrids. Over the years, Bali has soaked up Chinese, Buddhist, Indian, Hindu, Javanese and Western influences creating a culture of diverse artistry. [Source: Rosemarie John, Jakarta Post, October 11, 2013]
“Some may opine that the markets in Ubud (Central Bali) are much more costly than those in Kuta or vice versa. Possibly true, if haggling is not one of your best skills. Only cash is accepted at these street bazaars but many handicraft stores accept credit cards as well. If in Kuta, visit the art market which has one end of its street located next to a small temple on Jl. Bakung Sari. It is holy ground in terms of beach wear, fabric sling bags, flip flops and trinkets. The Kuta market which also sits next to Kuta Square (designer labels stores) splits into two main lanes and spreads into tiny alleys on each side. Make sure to check the whole market out before settling for the kill. Some peddlers may even give you a far better discount as you venture further into the market.
“If you’re not one to haggle, a best stop for some fine Balinese crafts might be Daun. It’s a cosy gift shop located next to the Kuta market on Jl. Bakung Sari Kuta Blok E26-27. One can find a variety of home decorations from abstract art to traditional figurines and batik sarongs to ceremonial masks. Purchasing artwork at the bazaars isn’t altogether a bad choice but what they lack in authentic Balinese art can be found in many art studios in Sukawati or Ubud known to many as the heart and soul of the art world. Just before heading to Ubud, stopover at the Dewa Putu Toris Art Studio at Br. Tengah Bantuan, Sukawati. The studio run a by a father and son duo carries many painting styles including traditional Balinese and Kamasan style of painting. Also stop by the Sukawati art market located in the Gianyar district. It is situated on the main road and is considered the biggest in Bali having a wide range of clothes, temple umbrellas, leather puppets, wind chimes and jewellery selections.
“While in Ubud, visit the Ganesha Bookshop on the corner of Jl. Raya and Jl. Jembawan for new, used or out of print books. One can also find informative books on the island of Bali written by locals with tales and stories not found in books written by most traveling authors. “Mythological wooden and lime stone carvings are in abundance in most craft stores around Ubud. The ancient Balinese were once animists, meaning they believed the soul is present in all things — humans, animals, trees, rocks and even in thunder and lightening. Visiting at least two townships is enough as far as “shopping at markets” goes. Once you visit more bazaars or markets you will find they carry identical items and could possibly be a waste of time. The only difference would be on how low a trader is willing to go in terms of price. If you’ve seen one or two markets/bazaars… you’ve basically seen them all, in a way providing more time for adventure, mysticism and pampering.”
Food in Bali
Like the food of other regions in Indonesia, Balinese food is rice as the central dish served with small portions of spicy, pungent vegetables, fish or meat and served almost always with sambal or chili paste. Bali is a few of the regions in Indonesia whose majority of its people are non Muslims, thus babi guling or roasted suckling pig is a specialty, as is bebek betutu, smoked stuffed duck wrapped in bamboo leaves.
In the Jimbaran area you can sample seafood dishes while sitting on the beach. Visit this place in the evening, the cool atmosphere and caressing breeze will make your dining experience remarkable.
Entertainment and Cultural Performances in Bali
Taman Werdhi Budaya (in the eastern suburbs of Denpasar), or Bali Art’s Center, is Bali’s foremost cultural centre. It comprises a large exhibition space, art museum, concert hall and amphitheatre and an adjoining school for the performing arts. There are permanent displays of Balinese art covering all styles made famous in nearby Ubud, woodcarvings and traditional costumes. Visitors can experience dance and music performances in two open-air amphitheaters with modern lighting. Dances are also regularly staged for the public, including works integrating modern Balinese choreography. The unique Kecak performance staged every night at 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm.
In Bali, dance and dramas are an inseparable part of daily temple devotion and celebrations, and many are held sacred. Each village has a different date of festivities, and a visitor may therefore, accidentally watch dance performances that are not staged for tourists. However, Bali villages do offer cultural performances catering to tourists. The Barong dance is staged mornings in the village of Batubulan. This is the eternal story of the fight between good and evil.
The Kecak dance is staged most dramatically in the open air by Pura Tanah Lot with as backdrop, the sun slowly lowering in the sea over the horizon beyond this beautiful temple. The Kecak dance tells the story of Ramayana wherein prince Rama’s wife, Sita, is abducted by the ogre Rahwana. In the forest Rama sees a golden deer and he chases it, but not before drawing a circle around Sita, warning her not to step out of it to stay safe. Rahwana lures Sita out of the circle and she is abducte To save her, prince Rama is helped by the white monkey god Hanoman. For its rhythm and music the kecak dance relies entirely on the human chorus of a hundred men representing Hanoman’s monkey army sitting around in a circle forming the dance arena. As the sun goes down and darkness sets in, the arena is dramatically lit by flickering bamboo torches.
The village of Peliatan is famed for its graceful Legong Keraton — the palace court dance - and superb flowing gamelan orchestral music. Other fascinating dances are the Baris — the dance of the warriors, and the Mask Dance — this is a one man performance expressing different dramatic characters and human emotions. Gamalan performances on Bali are held during major festivals set according to the 210-day calendar and the full moon. Tourist shows are also frequently held in Ubud, Peliatan and Bona.
Activities in Bali
Activities that can enjoyed in Bali include sailing, surfing, walking, fishing, whitewater rafting, take a trip on anourigger canoes and trek to the top of Mount Agung, Mountains bikes can be rented on many places. Mountain bike tours are also offered. Better yet bring your own bike as I did and had a great time.The Umalas Equestrian Resort offers horse-back riding tours and lessons for about $30 an hour. There also many golf courses.
Bali offers exciting white water rafting down the spectacular Ayung River by Ubud. Here you can also go bungy-jumping from a cliff down to almost touch the river. Ubud and its surrounding countryside is great for cycling. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her bestselling novel “Eat, Pray, Love” that there are also good cycling paths at Uluwatu in the south.
Trekkers and mountain climbers head to Gunung Agung. Begin your ascent from behind the temple or through the village of Sebudi. However, make sure to ask permission first from the temple authorities, as Balinese religion prescribes that no one may stand higher than the sacred temple especially when ceremonies are being held. The tough climb takes 6 to 8 hours. You are advised to start out early in the morning, and be led by an experienced guide.
Beaches and Waterports at Bali
Bali’s white sand and black sand are a major draw, There are a variety of water sports available, such as banana boats, parasailing or jet skiing, swimming or plain sunbathing. Cruises to the surrounding islands can be arranged as well as submarine dives to watch the tropical underwater life from within safe compartments.
Most well known among Bali’s beaches is Kuta beach, a nice but touristy with dramatic sunsets and pushy hawkers. The surf can be a little rough for people who are not strong swimmers. Further back from the beach are hotels, restaurants, shops and cafes.
Jimbaran is a little quieter. It is a popular spot to eat fresh barbecued seafood in the evenings, while watching from a distance the lights of planes landing and taking off from Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport. Located here are some of Bali’s best hotels like the Four Seasons and the Bali Intercontinental hotel. Jimbaran is also renowned for the Barong trance dance.
Further west of Kuta are Legian and Seminyak. On the other side of the peninsula is the more sedate Sanur Beach, which is also dotted with hotels and restaurants, or visit Nusa Dua, where more private beaches front super de-luxe hotels.
Diving in Bali
The best diving is on the east and northeast coast. According to one National Geographic photographer, the diving off the northeast coast of Bali is some of the best in the world because the volcanic sand “gives Bali’s colorful creatures a perfect backdrop. Divers sees titan triggerfish, clownfish, stingrays, moray eels, and cuttlefish. Lovina is a favorite snorkeling spot. There is a range of options to suit beginners. However, many sports others should only be attempted by advanced divers.
Because the dive sites are scattered around many companies offer diving safaris in which travelers are driven around to different jumping off points for dive sites. Menjangen Island off Bali’s northwest coast is regarded as one of Bali’s finest diving sites. One of the main features here is a huge eel garden and large number if enormous bumphead parrotfush, The channel between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa penida is another good spot. . Mola Molas are seen here between September and November
The coast town of Tulamben is the jumping off point for the wreck of the Liberty, a ship that was torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942 and towed here and abandoned after its cargo was unloaded. The 300-foot ship sits in water between five and 30 meters deep. It is encrusted in coral and crinoids and is full of groupers, sweetlips, surgeonfish, unicornfish and schools of jacks and barracuda,
At Nusa Penida, there are strong currents as this strait separates Bali from Lombok. At Nusa Penida’s south western coast are the Manta Point and the Malibu point where divers can swim with Travally, big rays and even sharks. At Blue Corner find Moia Moia fish. At Bali‘s most eastern end is Padang Bay and Cemeluk, better known as Amed Beach for great dives, where you can find cardinal fish, black snappers and damsel fish. While along Bali’s north-western coast in the Bali Barat National Park, the best dive spots are at Menjangan with its reef flat, anchor wreck, eel garden and caves to explore. Nearby and still in the Bali Barat Park is Pemutaran island.
Surfing in Bali
A good start for surfers is Kuta beach. But the best waves in Bali are at Uluwatu, at the southern tip of Bali, which is the site for international competitions. Here are the long, and perfectly formed hollow-barreled reef-breaks at three unique lefts, while at Nusa Dua and Sanur three complementary rights can be found. The time to surf is during April through September when winds are predominantly east-southeast. .
Surfers also love the waves at Nusa Lembongan near Nusa Penida, sister islands due south east of Bali facing the Indian Ocean. These islands are a 45 minutes boat trip from Nusa Dua or from Sanur. Here the waves are known as Playground Surf Break, Shipwreck Surf Break, Ceningan Reef Surf Break to Lacerating Surf Break.
Meditation, Health, Spas and Wellness
Bali has become a major center for wellness and spa tourism. Many resorts and hotels have their own masseuse services and yoga and meditation classes. Almost all the top-end hotels have class spa facilities where guests enjoy luxurious treatment and pampering. Special health resorts offer deep-tissue massage, medicinal baths, herbal teas, and colonics. Some temples have mediation classes.
Spas in Bali offer aromatherapy massages, herbal wraps and scrubs with essential oils, foot reflexology, detoxification, from highly respected traditional treatments once only enjoyed by princesses in the ancient courts, to modern technology methods. Two spa resorts in Bali offer thalassotherapy, based on the restorative powers of the sea rich in miner and oligo elements that are massaged in and absorbed into the bloodstream to restore the balance in the body.
A number of spas are set amidst breathtaking views of green hillsides and winding rivers or jut out to sea where the lapping of the waves of the Indian Ocean provides peace and rest. Each spa has its own unique feature. Most incorporate salon treatment for facials, cream bath, manicures and pedicures, everything to make you feel refreshed and come out feeling completely different person.
A weekend at Bagus Jati provides the opportunity to enjoy delicious, healthy food, lots of activities and pampering in a tropical forest. Here the Indonesian herbal treatment or “Jamu” restores the body, mind and spirit, cleansing the body from all toxins. Regular Yoga exercises complete the course.
The Ritz-Carlton Bali, Thalassa & Spa is one of several luxurious spas on Bali. It features beautiful views of the Indian Ocean and lush tropical gardens. The luxurious decor of the private spa villas, suites and rooms, the soft music and fragrant oils pamper the spirit, senses and the body. An unforgettable total spa experience is created as Asian beauty and health treatments are harmoniously combined with European products and modern technology. The spa features the world's largest Aquatonic pool that possesses the healing qualities of mineral-rich seawater, advanced hydro-therapies and aquatic exercise programs. In the Thalasso therapy, marine elements such as seawater, seaweed and other sea-based minerals, that incorporate both curative and preventive properties, are used.
Accommodation in Bali
Accommodations range from four-star hotels to simple guest houses and bungalows. Many beautiful resorts offer fine lodgings. Many of the starred hotels are located near the beach. Otherwise, they usually have their own private spots at certain beaches. You can find them easily at popular spots like Kuta or Sanur. If you're in a serene highland like Ubud, forget starred hotels. You're there to embrace the atmosphere. Just pick one of the small lodgings lining up the streets. And even the smallest one's ready to make you feel welcome.
During the 2007 Ubud Readers and Writers Festival, a man in a wheelchair checked in at a small inn on Monkey Forest. He had some difficulties in navigating through the stairs to his bungalow. He then left for the Festival. When he returned at night, the owner had already paved an ascending lane to his bungalow. That's a typical Balinese hospitality.
Denny Lee wrote in the New York Times; “Lodging choices range from $5 budget hostels with bunk beds and no air-conditioning to over-the-top suites fit for a sheik, starting at $3,000. For $100 to $150 a night, many places offer spas, courtyards and meandering pools. The Bali Hotels Associations, which represents the island's larger chains, has online links to its members at balihotelsassociation.com. [Source: Denny Lee, New York Times, March 27, 2005]
Here is a sampling of choices on the island: “Amanusa, Nusa Dua (62-361) 772-333, amanresorts.com. A minimalist temple to Balinese architecture, it rents 33 villas perched on a hillside overlooking the Indian Ocean. A private path leads to a secluded beach. Suites are $650 for a garden view, and $1,300 for one with a private pool.
“Cendana Resort and Spa, Monkey Forest Road, Ubud (62-361) 973-243, cendanaresort-spa.com. Close to art galleries and artisanal villages, the hotel is a homey base to explore Bali's culture. Doubles start at $70 for a room with air-conditioning.
“Hotel Padma, Padma 1, Legian (62-361) 752-111, hotelpadma.com. Just north of Kuta, the 405-room hotel features spacious rooms, a swim-up bar and several restaurants. Popular with young couples and wedding parties. Web rates start at $110 for a standard room.
“The Oberoi Bali, Seminyak (62-361) 730-361, oberoihotels.com. Right on the beach, the hotel offers a surprisingly tranquil setting not farfrom the bustle of Kuta. The 75 thatched lanais and villas start at $255, but Internet rates can be less.
“Villa Sasoon, Jalan Puri Bagus, Candi Dasa (62-363) 41511, villasasoon.com. The four two-bedroom pavilions offer a modern spin on traditional Balinese homes, with pebbled courtyards, open living rooms and outdoor showers. Rates are $250, including breakfast.
The Amandari Hotel in Ubud is a favorite of rock stars and fashion designers. Designed by Australian architect, Peter Muller, it has been declared the 5th nicest small hotel in the world in by Travel & Leisure. Amandari and Amankila hotels Bali have selected as the world's top two hotels in Condé Nast Traveler reader's poll. The Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay was ranked no. 6 in Travel and Leisure's list of the world's ten best hotels.
Transportation on Bali
There are many modes of transport in Bali. A variety of excellent half day, full day and overnight tour packages are available from your hotel desk or any of the numerous travel agents and tour operators which abound in Bali. Or you can find a car and driver who will also act as your guide. Whilst walking about, you will be barraged with constant questions of "Transport, transport?". Competition is tight and many drivers know several languages. Tell the driver your desired route and negotiate a fee.
Buses provide transport in the city and to many popular destinations. Bemos (Minvans) provide transport to the city and near by towns. To avoid being overcharged, observe what residents pay.Rental cars are available. Metered taxis and bemos (minivans) provide transport. Agree on fare prior to boarding.
On Bali, public transportation—usually Bemo minibuses—is a hassle and taxis are expensive for traveling long distances. There are special bus transportation systems for tourists but working out their schedules can be problematic.Transfers between bemo routes may be time consuming. Major bemo terminals: Batubulan (for central and eastern cities), Tegal (for southern and western cities) and Ubung (for northern and western cities).Ojeks (motorcyle taxis) are not recommended due to safety concerns.
For many the easiest way to get around is with a rented vehicle. The island is not very big, the roads are relatively well sign posted and the back roads are generally free of traffic. Cars in Bali can be hired by the hour or by the day. Most hotels and agents have a clear map of Bali, so it is easy to determine time, distance and mileage. Jeeps can be rented for $40 a day. Small Suzuki vehicles for as little as $25 a day. A jeep and driver cost around $75. Small motorcycles can be rented for $10 a day. Bicycles can also be rented. The fees for renting vehicles are considerably lower in Kuta and Ubud than at the airport.
Bali now has a fairly extensive network of roads. The roads around Denpasar, Kuta, Ubud, Sanur and Nusa Dua are quite busy. Many of places are filled with pushy hawkers and touts selling tours and trinkets. If you are driving yourself, remember to "hoot" your horn when going around curves on mountainous roads as it is very common to drive in the middle of the road here. There are a lot of one way roads in Bali. If you miss your turn off you may have to drive quite a distance before being able to turn back. Be alert!
An important virtue to have while on the road in Bali is patience! Although the road system in the heavily populated areas is quite reasonable (condition wise) in comparison to other developing countries, it can be heavily congested at peak periods. Ceremonial processions often take up the entire road so if you're caught behind a procession, enjoy the colorful experience. We highly recommend you fill up at any of the numerous government owned petrol stations. In more remote areas at stalls by the side of the road sell bottles of clear liquid. The quality may not be as good as at the petrol station and could cause damage to the rental car.
According to ASIRT: “Traffic is congested., Completed road safety improvement projects include: New traffic lights, road signs, road markings, guard rails, center lines on major road to the city and signs and road markings for all U-turns on Denpasar Bypass. Drivers and motorcyclists seldom stop for pedestrians. Raise hand and wave at oncoming motorists or cyclists and look confident that they will comply. Proceed only if drivers slow down or stop. Walking is not recommended due to traffic congestion and long distances between points interest. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT): PDF, 2008]
Getting to Bali by Air
With increasing number of direct flights from many parts of the world, getting to Bali is easy. Flights from Jakarta to Bali take about 1.5 hours, from Singapore and Perth (Australia) around 2.5 and 3 hours, from Hong Kong about 4.5 hours, and from Sydney/Melbourne about 5.5 to 6 hours on many national and international carriers. Just make sure that you look for "Denpasar (DPS)" instead of "Bali" in airline time tables. Denpasar is the capital of Bali. While the name of its international airport is Ngurah Rai.
Another means to reach the island is by ferry from Banyuwangi, located at the most eastern tip of East Java. It takes 30 to 45 minutes crossing from Banyuwangi to Ketapang on Bali. From Bali, you can also continue further by ferry to the island of Lombok, in West Nusa Tenggara . Take the ferry at Padang Bay with transit at Lembar seaport for a total of 4 hours journey. Bali has many travel agents to assist you with your holiday plans.
Most international visitors will fly to Bali directly. There are numerous direct flights from Europe, Australia and most Asian Countries. Connections are sometimes made via an Asian city such as Bangkok, Tokyo or Singapore. Bali is served by Garuda, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, Korean Air. Thai Airways, Air France, Air New Zealand, Air paradise, China Airlines, Eva Air, KLM, Lufthansa,
There are no direct flights between Bali and the United States. Singapore Airlines has daily connections via Singapore from New York City, Newark, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Round-trip coach fares from Kennedy Airport (with a layover in Frankfurt) start at around $1,200. Flights from Newark start at $1,550. Cathay Pacific flies to Bali via Hong Kong from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Web fares for mid-April start at $923 from Los Angeles and $1,150 from J.F.K. Other airlines flying from New York to Bali include Korean Air (through Seoul) and Japan Airlines (via Tokyo or Osaka).
Most visitors coming to Bali will arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport (IATA: DPS), also known as Denpasar International Airport. The airport does not meet international security standards and the U.S. State Department has issued warning about it.. Despite this misleading name, the airport is actually located in Tuban between Kuta and Jimbaran, roughly 15 kilometers from Denpasar or about 30 minutes drive. Acting as a main entrance to Bali, the airport is the second busiest international airport in Indonesia, after Jakarta's Sukarno-Hatta International Airport. Ngurah Rai International Airport connects Bali to most of Indonesian major cities and some of the major cities of the world. More information on domestic and international flights to and from Ngurah Rai International Airport can be found at ngurahrai-airport.co.id. Buses and airport taxis provide transport to the city. Taxis are metered; ask driver to use the meter.
Getting to Bali by Ferry and Bus
Frequent, sometimes several a day, domestic flights to and from major cities, and some smaller ones too, operate within Indonesia Bali acts as hub of sort for many destinations in eastern Indonesia.
There is also regular passenger ferries from Java and Lombok. Cruise ship stop by occasionally. You can travel by car or bus — or bicycle — to and from Java, Lombok via ferries.. The ferry between Bnayuwangi/Ketapang harbor in East Java and Gilimanuk in Bali runs frequently around the clock. Boats between Bali and Lombok leave from Padangbai and Pelabuhan Benoa. Those from Padangbai leave every hour. A fast boat leaves once a day in the morning.
Denpasar is centrally located and easily reached by car or taxi from the main tourist regions of south Bali. A trip from Kuta, Legian and Seminyak will take 20 to 30 minutes depending on traffic. Sanur is just 15 minutes to the east and Ubud about 30 minutes to the north. Tabanan is about 40 minutes to the northwest. A pre-paid taxi from the airport will cost between Rp 70,000 and 100,000, depending on exactly where in Denpasar you are heading to.
Ubung Bus Station (main bus station) is in the northwestern section of the city. It is also a bemo (public minibuses transportation) terminal. Aside from connecting many cities in Bali, Ubung is also the main bus hub of Southern Bali to Java. A bus to and from Surabaya, the capital of East Java will cost about IDR120.000 including the ferry trip between Banyuwangi and Gilimanuk, mineral water and a meal.
Although there is no train station nor any railroad tracks in Bali, you can still use train as a transportation option to Denpasar. Through the Inter-Transportation Modes Ticket (Titam/Tiket Terpadu Antar Moda) You can buy the so-called "train tickets" to and from Surabaya, including a bus (air-conditioned) to Banyuwangi, and the ferry between Gilimanuk and Ketapang, and then a train from Banyuwangi to Surabaya. More information at indo.com/ground_transport/train_old/deparinfo.html
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in August 2020