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BALI

Bali is easily Indonesia's most famous island and it’s most popular travel destination. It’s name is up there among the World's famous tropical paradise islands, along with Hawaii, Tahiti, and the like.

Yet Bali is different. Sure, it has beautiful, verdant green landscapes topped by towering volcanoes. It also has the sunsets to match. Its resorts are second to none, and in fact have successfully resisted international uniformity in favor of a very distinct Balinese style.

Shopping, nightlife, surfing... all there for the taking. However, it also has something you won't find on any of those other island destinations, a unique, fervently traditional culture nurturing some of the finest art forms anywhere in the World that remain very visibly part of everyday life. Wherever you look, you will see intricately carved Hindu shrines and temples. Colorful little offerings are placed everywhere, from street corners to your veranda. Somewhere on the island, colorful religious ceremonies take place on any given day of the year, featuring splendid traditional music and dance that would elsewhere only be performed on a stage.

As for the beaches? Well, they are an afterthought! They are there for sure, and they offer great surfing or sunbathing, but for pristine white sands with swaying coconut palms you could actually do better elsewhere.


Information provided by Wikitravel

UNDERSTAND BALI

The island, home to about 4 million people, is approximately 144 kilometers (90 mi.) from east to west and 80 kilometers (50 mi.) north to south.

The word "paradise" is used a lot in Bali and not without reason. The combination of friendly, hospitable people, a magnificently visual culture infused with spirituality and (not least) spectacular beaches with great surfing and diving have made Bali Indonesia's unrivaled number one tourist attraction. Eighty percent of international visitors to Indonesia visit Bali and Bali alone.

The popularity is not without its flip sides— like many places in the island's South, once paradisiacal Kuta has degenerated into a congested warren of concrete, touts and scammers extracting a living by overcharging tourists. The island's visibility has also drawn the unwanted attention of terrorists in 2002 and 2005; however Bali has managed to retain its magic. Bali is a wonderful destination with something for everyone, and though heavily traveled, it is still easy to find some peace and quiet, if you like. Avoid the South of the island if you want a more traditional and genuine Balinese experience.

A consideration is the tourist season and Bali can get very crowded in August and September and again at Christmas and New Year. Australians also visit during school holidays in early April, late June and late September, while domestic tourists from elsewhere in Indonesia visit during national holidays. Outside these peak seasons, Bali can be surprisingly quiet and good discounts on accommodation are often available.

Modest dress is expected in Bali, although bikinis are fine on the beaches and in hotel swimming pools, they are not in appropriate while shopping, eating in restaurants.


CULTURE

The culture of Bali is one of slow pace, the people are very tolerant and welcoming to visitors, however, they are also very modest and polite people so dress modestly and behave modestly. Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Indonesia, Balinese are more tolerant than the mainland of Indonesia but partners kissing and public nudity is not acceptable and 60% of tourists to Bali are from the mainland. Balinese culture is not to complain and not to get angry in public, you may find they giggle if they are uncomfortable if you confront them.


CLIMATE

Daytime temperatures are pleasant, varying between 20-33⁰ C (68-93⁰ F) year-round. From December to March, the west monsoon can bring heavy showers and high humidity, but days are still often sunny with the rains starting in the late afternoon or evening and passing quickly. From June to September, the humidity is low and it can be quite cool in the evenings. At this time of the year there is hardly any rain in the lowland coastal areas.

But be aware of flood along the beach from Tuban to Melasti (Kuta) because the drainage is not sufficient anymore in line with the development of occupying the land. The flood does not occur every year, but please don't stay in the ground floor, because the one to two hours flood can reach your knee on the road in front of your hotel.

Even when it is raining across most of Bali, you can often enjoy sunny, dry days on the Bukit Peninsula which receives far less rain than any other part of the island. On the other hand, in central Bali and in the mountains, you should not be surprised by cloudy skies and showers at any time of the year.

At higher elevations such as Bedugul or Kintamani, it gets distinctly chilly and you will need either a sweater or jacket after the sun sets.


LANGUAGE

Balinese is linguistically very different from Bahasa Indonesia, although the latter is the lingua franca in Indonesia and is spoken by practically everyone in Bali. In tourist regions, English and some other foreign languages are widely spoken. Balinese is a difficult language, and any visitor who makes an effort to speak a few words will be especially warmly received by the local people.


HOW TO GET THERE

By plane

Most visitors will arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport (IATA: DPS), also known as Denpasar International Airport. Despite this misleading name, the airport is actually located in Tuban between Kuta and Jimbaran, roughly 30 minutes away from Denpasar. Ngurah Rai is Indonesia's 3rd busiest international airport (after Jakarta and Surabaya) and a major hub well-connected to Australia, South-East Asia, and the rest of Indonesia.

By bus

There are direct bus services to Bali from all major cities on Java and Lombok that link with ferries for sea crossings. These are cheap and easy, but slow.

By boat

Ferries cross from Ketapang on the island of Java to Gilimanuk in western Bali every 15 min, 24 hr every day. These are very cheap, and the crossing takes just 30 min (plus sometimes considerable waiting around for loading and unloading).


HOW TO GET AROUND

Bali is a fairly large island and you will need a method to get around if you plan on exploring more than the hotel pool. Rapid, seemingly uncontrolled development and an aging infrastructure, mean that the roads struggle to cope. In major tourist areas the traffic is chaotic, and there are daily jams. Particular black spots are Ubud, Kuta, Seminyak and Denpasar.

Once you arrive at your destination you may encounter difficult walking conditions as sidewalks in most parts of Bali are simply the covered tops of storm-water drains and in many places only 60cm (2 ft) wide. This makes for uncomfortable single-file walking next to traffic. Often sidewalks are blocked by a motorbike or a caved-in section, necessitating dangerous darting into traffic. Many of the island's conventional streets are simply not pedestrian-friendly. Beach areas and major tourist areas are easier to walk around and Sanur in particular has a wide beachfront pathway with many cafes and bars. But although the walking conditions are difficult, they are by no means impossible. Lots of tourists and locals travel the roads by foot and even the traffic is generally very accommodating to pedestrians if it is given time to react.

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