Top 10 Things to See and Do
1. All water sports enthusiasts looking for more than just surfing should make a beeline for Tanjung Benoa Beach, where the calm waters beckon you to enjoy jetskiing, banana boating, parasailing, diving, or even a just a relaxing spot of fishing.
2. Far from the thumping music of the beachside bars, Ubud is the cultural heart of the island; a town steeped in gentle beauty, with a tranquil atmosphere of traditional village life and stunning panoramic views of the paddy fields, you can visit the cave of Goa Gajah (nominated as a UNESCO world-heritage site), Mount Kawi, Pura Kehen and Yeh Pulu.
3. The Sukawati art market in the small village of Sukawati is a must-visit when looking for authentic presents and mementos of your trip. Renowned for selling traditional Balinese clothes and crafts at very low prices, Sukawati is less than an hours drive from Denpasar airport.
4. The Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) is a statue of the god Vishnu towers 20 metres high atop the hill at Uggasan. Theatrical dance performances take place in the display area, and the views at sunrise and sunset are truly mesmerising.
5. The island of Lombok is Bali’s quieter and less commercialised cousin – it is no less beautiful however, and also makes a good base for a day trip to the Gili Islands, which are renowned for their excellent snorkelling and diving.
6. Seminyak and Kuta both boast world-class surfing beaches and are havens for professional surfers, with plenty of surf schools for beginners to get started as well. Each are fantastic places to learn in idyllic surroundings, although be aware that tides can be strong.
7. Bali is a highly spiritual country, with exquisite temples dotted far and wide throughout the landscape; if you stay anywhere in Bali long enough, you’re bound to see a temple ceremony! Temples absolutely not to be missed are Tanah Lot (‘Land in the Middle of the Sea’) which perches on a rock just off the coast and is spectacular at sunset; Pura Luhar temple also overlooks the sea from the soaring cliffs of Uluwatu, with breathtaking panoramic views.
8. Whatever you do, don’t leave Bali without having a Spa treatment! Bali is now in close competition with Thailand for the title of Spa Capital of Asia, and Balinese therapists offer a dizzying array of different treatments designed to relax and pamper you from head to toe.
9. With the active volcano of the majestic mount Batur, six unique ancient villages and the beautiful lake Batur all tucked within its borders, the Kintamani district is one of the most captivating areas of Bali, and an essential stop for the discerning traveller.
10. Take a three day trip to Komodo Island to see the native Komodo Dragons – go trekking , snorkelling, and experience even more fascinating wildlife on the nearby Rinca island
Top 10 Family Experiences
1. Bali safari and Marine park, which opened its gates in 2007, is one of the islands largest animal theme parks. Over 60 species of animals roam freely in expansive enclosures that mimic their natural environment, offering a fantastic opportunity to a diverse range of wildlife living naturally all together.
2. Bali boasts three major water parks, each of which offer a range of facilities, and all the wet, water-based fun your family can handle. Waterbom Bali in central Kuta is the islands largest, with an impressive array of slides, pools and food outlets.
3. Ubud Monkey Forest lies on the outskirts of Bali’s cultural hub of Ubud, and is home to the grey long-tailed macaque monkeys. It is also the site of scientific research and place of spiritual and cultural significance for the locals, with several temples located throughout –well worth a visit for the whole family!
4. Take a trip to the Bali Botanic Gardens, the best place to experience the beauty and serenity of Bali’s cool central upland, with dazzling displays of tropical plants and stunning views; trips can be combined with recreational activities at nearby Beratan lake, where the famous Ulun Danu Temple can also be found.
5. An ever popular choice for the under-12s, Kidsworld indoor play centre in Tampaksiring, four kilometres north of Ubud centre, is a colourful inflatable playworld where your little ones can slide, bounce and let of steam until their hearts content.
6. Head to the Bali Treetop Adventure Park if you fancy an adrenaline-fuelled day swinging tarzan-like through the treetops. Boasting six main circuits with nets, swings, jumps and bridges, each course also features a dramatic ‘Flying Fox’ zip-line of up to 160 metres!
7. Northwest Bali has long been the horse-riding capital of the country, home to several of the islands most notable stables. With an impressive range of breeds from plodding local ponies to thoroughbreds and Arabians, tours and lessons are flexible and can cater to all ages and levels of ability – there is even a children’s camp, where kids can learn how to ride and take care of a horse.
8. Shark Island was established by the Serangan Shark Project in 2011, bringing Indonesia’s first environmentally-friendly shark tour into fruition! Different tours are tailored to all age-groups, and there are even stainless steel cages for in-water viewing for those who are feeling particularly brave.
9. Although still virtually unknown elsewhere in the world, Bali’s culuinary heritage is both rich and delicious! Take a family cooking lesson for a fascinating insight into the exotic recipes and unique cooking style of Bali, with small, intimate class sizes and friendly instructors.
10. The lively beaches of Kuta offer endless activities for all the family to enjoy – kite flying, surfing lessons that cater to all ages and abilities, swimming in the crystalline waters or simply kicking back on the pure white sands with a book or bucket and spade, no one is ever bored in this vivacious coastal resort.
Top 10 Honeymoon Experiences
1. Get away from the bustle of the beaches and embrace Bali’s spiritual side together at a unique tented retreat nestled in the mountains of Jatiluwih, a UNESCO world heritage site. Spend your days mountain biking, bird watching, visiting temples and wandering through the serene paddy fields, before watching the sun set over the rainforest from your deluxe tent.
2. The impossibly clear blue waters of Bali are any divers dream, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a snorkelling beginner. The Gili islands and the beaches around the coast of East Bali are particularly ideal for divers, with colourful, healthy coral and a diverse range of marine life.
3. There is more to Bali than its mainland shores – the islands scattered in its orbit are notoriously beautiful. Indonesia has around 17,000 islands to its name in all shapes and sizes, and many completely uninhabited. Set your own island hopping agenda and head out to discover and explore your very own remote island hideaway!
4. Bali is an island truly blessed with romantic beaches - from the hushed magic of Jimbaran beach to the timeless charm of Seminyak and the dramatic, soaring cliffs that stud the coast, it sometimes seems almost as though the beaches were designed with honeymooning lovers in mind.
5. Be sure to relax, rejuvenate and take advantage of the numerous spa treatments available in a country now rivalling Thailand as the preeminent Asian Spa destination!
6. As the spectacular sunset fades for another night and the sky begins to darken, embark on a romantic stargazing session together – lie on a floating platform and gaze into the endless universe while listening to a meditation soundtrack used by NASA when training astronauts!
7. If private time together is top of your honeymoon agenda, Bali has a wide range of private pool villas at great value, with spacious interiors and serene, romantic surroundings – enjoy your honeymoon in luxurious comfort with a wide range of villa packages and deals.
8. The iconic temples of Bali, with their elaborate decorations, ornate architecture and often stunning locations, are endlessly intriguing to any visitor. Be sure to explore a few together, as you will never find two quite the same.
9. Rent bicycles and cycle languidly through the paths less trodden by tourists – get lost together in the serene village roads, peaceful plantations and rice fields of Bali.
10. Connect with the natural and cultural heart of Bali with a stay in Ubud, the countries cultural capital, and enjoy the rice paddies and ravines as well as the plethora of art galleries, exhibitions, traditional performances and workshops.
Bali's Festivals and Events
A country overflowing with resplendent temples that has become something of a world capital for modern day mythology, Bali has no shortage of festivals and celebrations. One thing to bear in mind if planning to attend any Balinese ceremonies and events is that they are organised according to the 210 day Balinese calendar, so the months and dates may change from year to year – check with your local tourist board if you are unsure.
Siwa Ratri (frequently referred to as the ‘night of Siwa) is a Hindu festival comprising of intense introspection, meditation and a series of ritual observances through which the Balinese pray for support and strength from Siwa, and forgiveness for their earthly sins.
In February, the end of Ramadan marks the beginning of the two day Idul Fitri festival (also known as Eid) for Bali’s Muslim population. People distribute sweets, children wear new clothes, and festivities continue well into the night, particularly in Bali’s most populous Muslim area of Klungkung.
The Bali spirit festival is an annual event held in the country’s cultural capital of Ubud – it usually runs for five days and has a distinct spiritual focus. Visitors can enjoy a diverse range of international artists and world music, join in yoga and healing workshops and participate in dance events.
The Folk Art Festival of Bulelang is a traditional art festival in Northern Bali. In a cheerful week-long celebration of local culture, you can experience traditional dance and music performances in Singaraia and the nearby villages.
The month of May brings Galungan, the most important festival for Balinese Hindus. Lasting 10 days, it symbolises the victory of good over evil, and families offer up generous sacrifices of food and flowers to ancestral spirits to express gratitude
The Bali Arts Festival is a source of tremendous pride to the country, and rightly so. A full month of daily dance and dramatic performances, handicraft exhibitions and other cultural and commercial activities, there is perhaps no other event that showcases the beauty and tradition of the islands culture in such vociferous style. Make sure you don’t miss the opening ceremony and parade in Densepar, which are especially spectacular.
The Balinese love kites, and the annual Bali Kite Festival just north of Sanur is the event the main enthusiasts flock to compete in a range of events, showcasing everything from best kite design to flight skills! The spectacle of Bali’s blue skies accosted by hundreds of colourful kites of all shapes and sizes make this festival one that is truly not to be missed.
On August the 17th, the Balinese celebrate Indonesian Independence Day, marking the historical date on which the country achieved independence from Dutch Colonisation.
The Nusa Dua Fiesta is an annual event for the promotion of tourism, which celebrates with a different theme and character each year. There are dance performances, live music and art displays designed to showcase Bali’s unique identity for visitors to the island.
For the literary minded, Ubud writers and readers festival is not to be missed; writer workshops, book launches, spoken word events and performing arts events are among the plethora of activities that bring together literature lovers from across the globe. Later in the month, the Kuta Karnival brings excitement to Kuta beach with sand sculpture competitions, surfing, sea turtle releases, kites, Balinese arts and a food festival!
Taking place on and around Matahari Terbit Beach, the Sanur village festival offers the chance to experience a range of activies such as yoga, various competitions and beach activities, dance and music shows, food bazaars and more!
On the 25th of December, Christmas is celebrated throughout Bali by the island’s Christian minority.
Culture in Bali
Bali is a highly spiritual and predominantly Hindu country, with over 10,000 temples across the island – the Balinese people make daily offerings of food, cigarettes, sweets and sometimes money at these temples to honour the good spirits and ward off the evil ones.
Bali is also renowned for its rich arts culture, which encompasses a range of different forms from painting, woodcarving and sculpture to theatre, dance and performing arts.
Beach Holidays in Bali
It may be a small island, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in its seemingly endless stretches of spectacular coastline . In fact, for many travellers, ‘Bali’ is synonymous with ‘beach’ – whether you’re looking for secluded sandy coves or vibrant beachside parties, you won’t be in Bali long before you find whatever you were hoping for and more along the breathtaking coast.