BaliDestination Guide

Bali beyond the beach.

People flock to Bali for the beaches and it’s easy to see why. The white sandy shores of Nusa Dua, Kuta and Sanur in the south serve up a classic tropical atmosphere. Imagine lying back with the sun overhead and the ocean in front of you as local vendors wander the beach selling fresh pineapple.

To the north and west you’ll find the black volcanic sands of Lovina and Medewi Beach, both excellent locations if you’re looking for an exotic alternative or chasing waves.

Potato Head in stylish Seminyak is a family-friendly hangout by day and a party palace by night with a pool, lawn area and three restaurants. It’s renowned as one of the top places to see the sun set so get in early, settle in and watch the day fade away.

More prime beachside real estate can be found in Ungasan at the southern tip of Bali, where Karma Beach Bali sits at the bottom of a limestone cliff. Take the stairs or ride the inclined cable car down to the secluded beach where you can relax on the bamboo deck with a drink, grab a bite to eat, or make the most of the water sports on offer.

Currency

Indonesian Rupiah

Language

Bahasa Indonesia (English is spoken in hotels and major tourist areas)

Busy season

May – September, December – January

Major airport (DPS)

Ngurah Rai International Airport/Denpasar International Airport (DPS)

Drive time from the airport

15 minutes to Kuta, 20 minutes to Seminyak

Tipping

Optional (more details below)

With its scenic coastline, Bali is also home to some of the best beach clubs in the world.

We couldn’t blame you if you only went to Bali for a beach break.

But some of Bali’s most spectacular sights and unique culture can only be experienced if you brush off the sand and get a little adventurous.

If you’re not within walking distance or taking a tour, flag down a Blue Bird Taxi or hire a driver. While you can rent a scooter or catch public transport, it’s safer and more convenient to jump in a car. Always insist the driver turns the meter on (taxi) or agree on a fare before you take off (private service).

The Balinese are very religious and their temples are the centrepiece of their culture.

Take a trip to Ubud (about an hour’s drive from Kuta) and you’re in for a temple tour with a twist. The Sacred Monkey Forest is a nature reserve with three temples and hundreds of long-tailed macaques freely running around the grounds. The furry residents are quite mischievous so keep your belongings close; only feed them if you’re happy for them to climb on you; and avoid eye contact or smiling directly at them (they could take it as a sign of aggression).

Customise your Bali holiday package

Choosing what other sights to visit can be tough – there’s a reason Bali is called ‘the island of a thousand temples’.

Tanah Lot

If you’d like to see one of Bali’s most iconic temples, Tanah Lot is the place to go but it can get very crowded thanks to its incredible seaside location.

Batukaru Temple

Prepared to get off the beaten path for a more serene experience? Head to Batukaru Temple at the foot of Mount Batukaru and you’ll be rewarded for your travels.

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple is also popular with tourists. Set on a clifftop on the south-west tip of Bali, you can take in some amazing views and even catch a traditional Kecak Dance performance.

Speaking of mountains, Mount Agung and Mount Batur are two of Bali’s active volcanoes.

While it’s a fair trek to reach the top (it takes about four hours to climb Mount Agung and two hours for Mount Batur), the jaw-dropping views are well worth the effort, especially if you’re there for sunrise or sunset.

When you're done with temples and trekking, take a ride down Lazy River at Waterbom Bali.

Bali doesn’t disappoint when it comes to family-friendly activities.

Go on a guided elephant ride through the Bali Safari & Marine Park where you can see an awesome collection of animals, from Komodo dragons and meerkats through to piranhas and whitetip sharks. That’s not all though; you can also learn traditional Balinese dances, check out a show at the theatre, or chill out at the water park and ‘Fun Zone’.

Prefer to splish splash the day away? Bali has three major water parks – Waterbom Bali, Circus Waterpark and New Kuta Green Park – with slides, pools and food outlets to keep everyone entertained (kids or no kids).

Many hotels in Bali also offer kids club facilities. Why not take advantage of the downtime and treat yourself to a massage or head to the markets and bag a bargain?

The key to shopping in Bali is you need to know how to haggle; if there’s no price tag on an item, it’s game on.

You can find plenty of clothing, souvenirs, jewellery and homewares in Kuta, Legian and Nusa Dua but Seminyak is where you need to go for boutiques, high-end fashion, and local arts and crafts.

Start by asking for the ‘harga pagi’ or ‘morning price’. Even if lunch time has come and gone, this will let the shopkeeper know you mean business (even if you’ve never haggled before).

Be friendly, let them name the first price, then bargain your way down. The Balinese enjoy the process but remember to be fair. The aim is to get some goods on the cheap, not to be a cheap-skate.

Customise your Bali holiday package

Whether you spend all day on the beach or out and about, you’re going to have to eat.

If you stick to the tourist areas you’ll find familiar favourites like pizza, burgers, sandwiches and salads as well as local dishes including nasi goreng (Indonesian-style fried rice with egg), mie goreng (noodles with egg) and sate (satay) sticks.

If you’re keen to try something that’s more of a delicacy, head to a warung (roadside café) that serves babi guling. The meat and crackling from a spit-roasted pig stuffed with herbs and spices is teamed with rice, vegetables and soup to create one heck of a tasty feast.

Watch your step; the Balinese leave offerings for the gods every day.

The essence of Bali lies in the Balinese people who live and breathe their faith. Community is key and festivals and events play an important part in their lives. Be there for one of these colourful gatherings and you’ll experience Balinese culture at its best.

Sure, you’ll go to Bali for the beaches. But take a step back and you’ll discover a whole lot more than surf and sand.

Forget the four seasons – it’s always warm in Bali

Dry Season (May to September)

With little rainfall and humidity at a comfortable level, the dry season is more friendly for visitors weather-wise. Days are warm (or hot depending on what you’re used to) and nights are mild making it the ideal time to experience Bali as its best. The clear, sunny days attract more tourists so you’ll need to plan ahead to catch the best deals.

Wet Season (October to April)

You can expect a daily dose of rain and humid weather if you head to Bali in the wet season, but don’t let that put you off; rain usually falls in short spells in the afternoon or evening. Rates are also lower in the wet season and there are fewer tourists around. Keep in mind, though, that the “population” swells in December and January as visitors flock to Bali for the Christmas/New Year period.

Bali serves up average year-round temperatures between 28°C and 31 °C and two seasons – wet and dry. Its consistently warm weather is a big drawcard for visitors but you do have to take the island’s unique tropical climate into consideration when deciding when to visit.