Exotic, magical, with sheer natural beauty, friendly people, vibrant culture and great cuisine. What’s there not to like about Bali, our Destination of the Month in May 2017?
Perhaps the most famous island in Indonesia, Bali blends spectacular mountain scenery, idyllic beaches, imminent volcanoes and lush terraced rice fields. But the Island of Gods, as it is also known as, has so much to offer, including impressive heritage sites, luxurious beach resorts, an exciting night life, and a bustling capital – Denpasar. It is not hard to understand why the island continues to impress its visitors.
The main gateway to Bali is Denpasar, its largest city and capital. Located in the southern part of the island, the city is its main hub and definitely worth lingering, to explore its museums and markets and to sample the spectacular Balinese food. Nowhere offers a better introduction the history of Bali than the sprawling Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali in the centre of Depensar, where you’ll find pavilions recreating the glory of ancient Balinese Architecture, filled with displays of Balinese culture and crafts. And right next door you can find the Pura Jagatnatha temple, which is thronged by devotees for the full moon and new moon. Denpasar is where Bali comes to shop, and Pasar Badung is the biggest market in the country. Traders and shoppers throng the passageways, haggling for temple offerings, spices, flowers, baskets and every imaginable kind of tropical fruit. Seek out fine Balinese batiks close by at the emporia on Jalan Sulawesi.
But if beach is what you’re after than Bali will not disappoint. The beaches here are famous for their white sand, pristine waters and are a favourite for family holidays. The most well-known among Bali’s beaches is Kuta Beach – the best spot to watch dramatic sunsets. Or for a quieter evening enjoy the beach at Jimbaran, a popular spot to eat fresh barbecued seafood and renowned for the Barong trance dance.
And if you are looking for more than just sunbathing and sunset-watching, then there are a variety of water sports available. Surfers will rejoice in Kuta beach and at Uluwaty, which is the site for international competitions. Divers will revel in Padang Bay and Cemeluk, better known as Amed Beach or at Menjangan in the Bali Barat National Park, with its reef flat, anchor wreck, eel garden and caves to explore. And why not go on submarine dives to watch the tropical underwater life off the coast?
The more adventurous can also white water raft down the Ayung River by Ubud, but if cycling is your thing, then Ubud and the surrounding landscape is a great place do it, as described in Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling novel ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.
Culture and Heritage
Bali is also known for its many impressive heritage sites, including the famous Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, the important water temple built in 1633; the Gunung Kawi, one of Bali's oldest and largest ancient monuments, consisting of ten shrines; the Pura Luhur Ulu Watu, renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 metres above sea level; or the Pura Taman Ayun, regarded as one of the most attractive temples of Bali.
And with an abundance of cultural events and festivals, you will never run out of things to do. These include the Tari Kecak, also known as the Kecak Dance, an intense and lively dance event performed on a vast amphitheater in the Uluwatu temple, which sits on atop of a hill facing the Indian Ocean; or the Bali Spirit Festival, which gathers renowned musicians, yogis, and dancers from around the world.
And to round it all up, why not admire the panoramic beauty of the mountains and lakes at Batur, Kintamani or Lake Beratan at Edugul? Or even meander through the scenic rice terraces in Ubud? Tip: try visiting in the morning or just before sunset.
Perhaps the best spot to sample the best of Balinese cuisine is Denpasar and its many cafes and restaurants. Locals rave about the city’s warungs – family owned restaurants specializing in Balinese delicacies, each with its own recipe for sambal (chili, shallot and lemongrass relish). Look out for restaurants serving Babi Guling, Bali’s famous roast suckling pig. Or head out the food stalls that set up around the Pasar Badung market, for the more authentic Balinese dishes.
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