Destination Spotlight - Bali
The Indonesian island of Bali goes by many names: the Hidden Paradise, the Last Paradise on Earth, Island of Gods, the Emerald Isle of Asia, Morning of the World, and the Island of the Smiling People. Such wonderful names depict Bali as an undiscovered paradise. Unfortunately, there are areas of the island which have most definitely been ‘discovered’ and are tourist hotspots, however you can still find stunning beaches and unspoilt landscapes to escape to.
Bali is a small island in the Indonesian archipelago, less than 95 miles from east to west and roughly 50 miles from north to south. The population of around four million mostly still live in villages and small towns, which are divided into communities known as banjars. It’s a relatively easy island to get around, with taxis widely available. An organised tour with a guide could be the best way to see areas outside of the main tourist resorts.
Bali is home to a unique variant of Hinduism and there are myriad ancient temples to explore. This tropical island is a great place to experience traditional music and dancing, be inspired by colourful festivals and ceremonies and taste delicious cuisine.
If you want to get away from it all and spend your holiday totally chilled out, Bali offers a huge selection of blissful, luxury hotels where you can wile away the day on your sun lounger overlooking an infinity pool. The island boasts many yoga and meditation retreats where you can learn to chant and become one with your inner peace. You could also try out an art class or a cooking lesson.
For adventure lovers, Bali is the ideal destination. The tropical beaches are renowned for their hardcore surf, the underwater world teems with colourful fish and there is a host of adrenaline activities to try your hand at - from white water rafting to free diving and flyboarding (Google it!).
What to Do
There are many things to do and see on this spiritual island, so here are a few suggestions for you.
The Tanah Lot Temple is one of the island’s beautiful landmarks. Sitting on top of a rock, surrounded by blue sea and sky, turning pink and orange when the sun sets - makes for a breathtaking sight. It is is situated in the Beraban village approximately twenty kilometres northwest of Kuta.
You can only access the rock at low tide as that is when you can walk across the normally sea covered causeway.
Tropical gardens and pathways surround the temple and at the bottom of the rock you’ll be able to see the legendary guardian sea snakes dwell in crevices around the Tirta Pabersihan fountain. The fountain is used to bless visitors with its holy water by the priests. If you get the chance, take a sip of the water to taste just how fresh it is.
There are traditional art and craft shops nearby along with peddlers selling traditional snacks, for you to enjoy.
You cannot enter the temple itself but don’t let that stop you from going, the panoramic views and cultural offerings are not to be missed.
The Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud are beautiful, the high road side location allows you to see the terraces in their full glory across the whole valley, as a cool breeze swirls around you while you take up the perfect photo opportunity to capture the beauty of these lands. The terraces are a thirty minute drive north of Ubud.
Where would a trip to Bali be without going to the Ubud Monkey Forest also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest? It is a well preserved, natural forest sanctuary home to grey long-tailed macaques, enabling you to get up close to these beautiful creatures in a stunning leafy green forest. Ancient temples are dotted around, along with moss covered statues of guardians, all reachable via shaded pathways. There are guides on hand to help you discover and understand the historical and cultural significance of these grounds.
Ever dreamt of seeing an elephant in its natural habitat? How about going on an elephant safari?
Well your dreams can come true at the Elephant Safari Park of Desa Taro, about half an hour north of Ubud.
Spend a day with the elephants that were rescued from deforestation, discovering the jungle while riding them as well as feeding theses beautiful animals and learning about them. Why not enjoy lunch at the park restaurant overlooking the elephant bathing lake
Where to Stay
The Padma Resort
The Padma Resort is located in Legian and is a ten minute walk from the beach.
It has all the amenities that you would need from a hotel including: wifi, televisions, mini fridges, balconies, outdoor pools with bars, a gym, spa, tennis courts and yoga classes and six restaurants.
The sublime manicured gardens are perfect to relax in and to escape the midday sun, or perhaps you’d like to sip a refreshing cocktail while floating in one of their six pools after having a soothing massage at the spa? Whichever you prefer, this will be the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Nusabay Menjangan Hotel
The Nusabay Menjangan Hotel, part of the Waka Hotels & Resorts company has a combination of rustic and contemporary style rooms and villas with excellent Balinese hospitality, located within the West Bali National park and by the beach you are certain to be able to relax the moment you get there.
This is the perfect spot for nature lovers and walkers, divers, canoeist or for those wanting to unwind in a tropical paradise either at the spa or by having dinner on the beach.
Are you looking to get away from the tourist areas of Bali and stay in beach cottages or villas in a traditional Bali village?
Then Life Bali cottages and villas are the place for you, located in the fishing village of Lean to the east of the island.
Accommodation overlooks the pool and beautiful gardens allowing you to stargaze at night, as well as being a few steps away from the sandy beach, which homes a coral flower bed enticing different species of fish for you to spot.
You can take part in their yoga classes or relax in their spa. Watch the local fisherman come back onto the beach around 7.30am with their catch for the woman and children to prepare it to be sent to the city. Go hiking around the local countryside and mountains to take in the breathtaking views.
This is possibly the perfect relaxing retreat for those that want to get away from modern life to have some me time, while feasting on exquisite local produce, made into creative dishes.
When to Go
Bali has a tropical monsoon climate. You can expect sunshine all year round, with daytime temperatures ranging between 20 and 33OC.
From October to March it’s rainy season, when you can anticipate high humidity and heavy showers. It’s driest from June to September, with low humidity and the evenings turn cool.
Not to be Missed
- The ancient village of Tenganan. This walled village dates back to the 11th century, and a visit here will allow you to witness a way of life that has been lost elsewhere in Bali.
- Ubud. The inland town of Ubud is Bali’s cultural hub. Although it is touristy, you won’t want to miss the chance to visit the heart and soul of the country where there are exquisite crafts and treasures to buy and organic food to sample.
- Sunset at Uluwatu. Bali is renowned for its stunning sunsets and the cliffs above this legendary surfing beach offer one of the best unobstructed views. Don’t miss the evening kecak ritual, a traditional Balinese fire and trance dance developed in the 1930s.
- Trek Mount Agung at sunrise. Mount Agung is the highest peak and holiest mountain in Bali. Most routes up involve an eight to 12 hour trek, through the jungle, at night. Although the spiritual experience and panoramic view of Bali from the summit are worth it.
- Visit Pura Besakih. Known as the Mother Temple, Pura Besakih is the largest and holiest temple in Bali, although it’s actually a complex of 23 different temples. Its origins date back to prehistoric times.
Getting to Bali: Indirect flights take around 17-20 hours including a stopover
Visa requirements: British passport holders eligible to enter and remain in Bali without a visa for 30 days.
Time zone: Indonesia Central Time Zone GMT+8
Language: Balinese and Indonesian.