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==Get around==
==Get around==
Bali's a fairly big island and you'll need a method to get around if you plan on exploring more than the hotel pool.
Bali's a fairly big island and you'll need a method to get around if you plan on exploring more than the hotel pool. The traffic is chaotic. There is a daily traffic jam in Denpasar, Kuta, and tourist centres in Bali.
===By taxi===
===By taxi===

Revision as of 16:40, 22 September 2006

Bali is an island in Indonesia, at the east end of Java.

Map showing the location of Bali in Indonesia


Map of Bali


  • Denpasar — The administrative center and transport hub of the island
  • Jimbaran — Nice beaches south of Kuta.
  • Kuta and Legian — Surfer central, by far the most heavily developed bit of Bali.
  • Nusa Dua — A enclave of expensive high-end resorts.
  • Sanur — More beaches.
  • Seminyak and Kerobokan — Quieter, more upscale beachside resorts and villas just to the north of Kuta.
  • Uluwatu — A small village near the southernmost tip of Bali with a stunningly located clifftop temple


  • Ubud — The center of art and dance in the mountains



  • Lovina — Small villages, black volcanic sand beaches and coral reefs on Bali's north coast.
  • Singaraja -- Largest city on the north shore.


  • Amed — The dry side of the island featuring black sand, coral reefs and shipwrecks.
  • Tirta Gangga -- Mountains, the water palace and beautiful rice terraces.


Daily sesajen offerings

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 unparalleled number one tourist attraction.

The popularity is not without its flip sides — once paradisical Kuta has degenerated into a congested warren of concrete, touts and scammers live on overcharging tourists, and the island's visibility has even drawn the unwanted attention of terrorists in 2002 and 2005 — but 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.


The first Hindus arrived on Bali as early as 100 BC, so it's easy to understand why the island has had some time to develop its own culture. Divided among a number of ruling rajas, occasionally batting off invaders from Java to the west and making forays to conquer Lombok to the east, the island was finally captured by the Dutch in a series of brutal wars from 1846 to 1849. Many Balinese chose death over disgrace and fought en masse until the bitter end, known as puputan. Victory was bittersweet and afterwards the Dutch largely left the Balinese to their own devices.

Bali joined the new republic of Indonesia in 1948, but was again largely ignored by the Java-based Sukarno and his cronies, leading to the spread of Communist thought on the island. This led to disaster after the failed 1965 coup d'etat, when the rivers ran red with the reprisal killings of suspected Communists — estimates of the toll vary from 50,000 to 200,000.

The current chapter in Bali's history began in the seventies when intrepid hippies and surfers discovered Bali's beaches and waves, and tourism soon became the biggest income earner. Despite the shocks of the terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005, the magical island continues to draw crowds and Bali's culture remains as spectacular as ever.


Detail of wood carving, Seminyak

Unlike any other island in largely Muslim Indonesia, Bali is a pocket of Hindu religion and culture, although Balinese Hinduism is so far removed from the original Indian variety that the casual eye will be hard put to spot any similarities. Every aspect of Balinese life is suffused with religion, but the most visible signs are the tiny offerings (sesajen) of flowers, glutinous rice and salt in little bamboo leaf trays, found in every Balinese house, restaurant, souvenir stall and airport check-in desk. They are set out and sprinkled with holy water no less then three times a day, before every meal.

Balinese dance and music are also justly famous. As on Java, the gamelan orchestra and wayang kulit shadow puppet theater predominate. Dances include:

  • barong or "lion dance" — a ritual dance depicting the fight between good and evil, with performers wearing fearsome lion-like masks
  • kecak or "monkey dance" — Actually invented in the 1930s by early German resident Walter Spies for a movie but a spectacle nonetheless, with up to 250 dancers in concentric circles chanting "kecak kecak", while a performer in the center acts out a spiritual dance


Traditional Balinese cremation ceremony, Ubud

There are an estimated 20,000 temples (pura) on the island, each of which holds festivals (odalan) at least twice a year, meaning that there are always festivities going on. Funerals are another occasion of pomp and ceremony, when the deceased are ritually cremated in extravagantly colorful rituals.

There are some large festivals celebrated islandwide, but their dates are determined by two local calendars. The 210-day wuku or Pawukon calendar is completely out of sync with the Western calendar, meaning that it rotates wildly throughout the year.

  • Galungan (last held October 5, 2005). A 10-day festival celebrating the death of the tyrant Mayadenawa. Gods come down to earth and are greeted with gift-laden bamboo poles called penjor lining the streets. The last day of the festival is known as Kuningan. .

The lunar saka (caka) calendar roughly follows the Western year.

  • Nyepi, or Hindu New Year, usually March/April (next April 10, 2006). This is the one festival worth avoiding: on Nyepi, also known as the Day of Absolute Silence, absolutely everything (including electricity!) on the island is shut down and tourists are confined to their hotel rooms.

Nyepi is a very special day to the Balinese as this is the day that they have to fool all evil spirits that no-one is actually on Bali - hence the need for silence. If this can be achieved, then it is believed that the evil spirits will go looking elsewhere for their prey and leave Bali island alone for another year. Balinese people are very religious and life is full of ritual - Nyepi is one of the most important days in their calendar. Police and security are on hand to make sure that everyone abides by this rule.

Nyepi also serves to remind the Balinese of the need for tolerance and understanding in their everyday life. In fact, Hinduism on Bali is unique because it is woven into and around the original Balinese animistic religion. The two now have become one for the Balinese - a true sign of tolerance and acceptance!

All national public holidays covered in Indonesia also apply, although Ramadan is naturally a much smaller event here than in the country's Muslim regions.


Rice fields, Ubud

Bali is always warm, humid and tropical. The April-October dry season and November-March rainy seasons are only relative, with plenty of rainfall around the year, but the Balinese winter is cloudier, more humid and with a higher chance of thunderstorms.

A more important consideration is the tourist season, as Bali can get packed in July-August and again around Christmas and New Year's. Australians also visit during school holidays in early April, late June and late September, while Indonesians visit during national holidays. Outside these peaks, Bali can be surprisingly quiet and good discounts on accommodation are often available.


Bali is in the UTC+8 time zone (known in Indonesia as WITA, Waktu Indonesia Tengah), same as Singapore, one hour ahead of Jakarta.


Electricity is supplied at 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travelers should pack an adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Bali.


Balinese is linguistically distinct from Bahasa Indonesia, although the Indonesian lingua franca is spoken by practically everybody. In touristy regions English and some other foreign languages are widely spoken.

See also: Indonesian phrasebook

Get in

By plane

Most visitors will arrive at Denpasar's Ngurah Rai international airport, which has extensive domestic connections as well as direct flights throughout Asia and Australia. In the low-cost carriet set:

Note that if you are flying internationally out of Ngurah Rai, you are then subject to the airport tax (100,000 Rupiah as at Jan '06) which you would need to pay for in Rupiah so save some bills for the trip out. ATM machines are available at Airport Departure Lobby which accept Cirrus and Plus cards for withdrawals. The domestic tax is Rp. 30,000.

Some hotels organize transfer from the airport. Approximate price for getting from Ngurah Rai to Legian is 40 000 IDR

By bus

There are direct bus services to Bali from all major cities on Java as well as Lombok, which use the ferries to cross over. These are cheap and easy, but slow.

By boat

Ferries cross from Gilimanuk in western Bali to Ketapang on the island of Java every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, and the crossing takes just 30 minutes (plus waiting around, loading, unloading, etc).

There are also services from Padangbai to Lembar (Lombok) every few hours, with the trip taking around 3.5 hours.

Get around

Bali's a fairly big island and you'll need a method to get around if you plan on exploring more than the hotel pool. The traffic is chaotic. There is a daily traffic jam in Denpasar, Kuta, and tourist centres in Bali.

By taxi

Metered taxis are very common in southern Bali up to Denpasar but not available elsewhere. The starting fee is Rp 5,000 for the first two km and the meter ticks up Rp 2,000 per kilometer afterwards. Waiting time is Rp 20,000 per hour. Trips outside southern Bali will incur an extra charge of 30%, as the driver has to go back empty — if day-tripping, it's often cheaper and more convenient to arrange for your driver to wait and take you back.

You may also rent a car with a driver for half a day or for the whole day in order to travel around the island. You pay appr. 375 000 IDR for the whole day and tell him what you want to see. The price is fixed and to be discussed before your trip.

By bemo

Bemos, basically minivans which serve as a flexible bus service, are Bali's "traditional" form of transportation, but they have largely given way to metered taxis in the south. Fares on shared bemos can be very cheap, but drivers will often insist that foreign tourist charter the entire vehicle, in which case they'll usually ask for taxi prices or worse.

By car or motorbike

Car and motorbike rental is available, but may not be safe for drivers used to more formal traffic rules. Consider hiring a car and driver as you can relax, be safe, and not get lost.

By bicycle

Travel by bicycle is quite possible, and provides a very different cultural experience to other means of transport. You should bring your own touring bike, or buy locally – there is at least one well stocked bike shop in Denpasar, but with a racing/mountain bike focus. While traffic conditions may appear challenging at first, you can acclimatise after a few days, especially once you escape the chaotic heavy traffic of southern Bali.


Bali's best-known attractions are its countless Hindu temples. Even the smallest villages usually have at least three, but the nine directional temples (kayangan jagat) are the largest and most important. Uluwatu, at the southern tip of Bali, is easily accessed and hence the most popular, with Tanah Lot a close second. However, for the Balinese themselves, the "mother temple" of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung is the most important of all.

Amusement Park

  • Air Bali, Dewa Ruci Building, Jl.By Pass Ngurah Rai 100X, Kuta Bali, Tel.: (62)(361) 767466.Fax: (62)(361) 766 581. Website: Air Bali. Helicopter tour around Bali.
  • Bird Park, Jl.Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Gianyar, Tel.: (62)(361) 299 352.
  • Butterfly Park, Jl. Batukaru, Wanasari, Tabanan, Tel.: (62)(361) 814 282.
  • Camel Safari, Jl.Nusa Dua Selatan, Niko Nusa Dua, Tel.: (62)(361) 773377, Fax.: (62)(361) 773 388. Website: Camel Safari.
  • Children Jungle Camp, Jl.Nusa Dua Selatan, Niko Nusa Dua, Tel.: (62)(361) 773377, Fax.: (62)(361) 773 388. Website: Jungle Camp.
  • Eka Karya Botanic Garden/Kebun Raya Eka Karya, Candi Kuning, Baturiti 82191, Tabanan, Tel.: (62)(368) 21273.
  • Elephant Safari Park, Desa Taro, Tegalalang, Gianyar, Bali - Indonesia, Tel.: (62)(361) 721480. Website: Elephant Safari Park. Elephant Tour.
  • Odyssey Submarine, Submarine Safaris Asia,Ltd, Jl. Raya Kuta No. 9X Kuta, Bali 80361, Tel.: (62)(361) 759777, Fax: (62)(361) 768333. Website: Odyssey Submarine. Underwater tour.
  • Rimba Reptile Park, Jl. Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Gianyar, Tel.: (62)(21) 299344. Adjacent to Bird Park.
  • Waterboom Park, Jalan Kartika Plaza, Kuta, Badung, Tel. : (62(361) 755676, Fax.: (62)(361) 753517. Swimming pool, water slides.
  • Zoo Park, Desa Singapadu, Gianyar, Bali, Tel.: (62)(361) 249310. Fax.: (62)(361) 237966. Wildlife conservation area.


  • Garuda Wisnu Kencana. Nusa Dua, Kabupaten Badung, 40 km south of Denpasar. Created by I Nyoman Nuarta. This is statue of god Wisnu riding the mythical Garuda bird.


The scented oil menu at a spa in Sanur
  • Hot springs — There are several hot springs to be discovered in Bali. One of them, along the northern coast of the island, near Lovina, is Air Panjar where stone mouth carvings allow hot water to pass between pools which are set among a lush garden.
  • Spa — Bali is paradise for spa lovers and all sorts of treatments are widely available, but the Balinese lulur body scrub with herbs and spices — traditionally performed before a wedding ceremony — is particularly popular. Balinese massage is usually done with oil and involves long, Swedish-style strokes.


  • Ayung River, Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai, Benoa, Tel.: (62)(361) 721480. Fax: (62)(361)721481. Ayung River. Facility: white water rafting.
  • Go Kart, Jl. Kartika Plasa, Kuta, Badung, Tel.: (62)(361) 289534.
  • Paragliders, Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai No. 12 A, Kuta, Badung, Tel.: (62)(361) 704769. Fax.: (62)(361) 704768. Website: Bali Paragliders.
  • Scuba Diving — There are many interesting scuba diving sites around Bali such as the wreck of USAT Liberty Glo at Tulamben. Pulau Menjangan is particularly popular.
  • Surfing — Warm waters, cheap living and reliable sets keeps Bali near the top of world surfing destinations. The southern coast, namely Kuta and the around Nusa Dua are the primary draws. Beginners will find the gentler, sandy areas of Kuta to be ideal for learning. You'll find surf instructors lounging around the beach; a one hour lesson including board rental will cost you around $45 USD.
  • Telaga Waja River, Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai, Denpasar, Tel. : (62)(361) 281 408. Fax.: (62)(361) 281 409. Facility: white water rafting.
  • Umalas Stable, Jl. Lestari No 9 X, Banjar Umalas Kauh Kerobokan, Kuta, Tel: (62)(361) 731402, Fax.: (62)(361) 731403. Website: Umalas Stable. Facility: horse riding.


  • Adrenalin Park, Jl. Benasari, Kuta, Kuta, Badung, Tel.: (62)(361) 757841. Facility: bungy jumping, slingshot, climbing wall, pool.
  • AJ Hacket, Double Six Club Jl. 66, Kuta, Badung, Tel.: (62)(21) 731144. Fax.: (62)(361) 730466. Facility: bungy jump, restaurant, observation tower.
  • Paintball, Jalan Danau Tamblingan no.118, Sanur, Tel. : (62)(361) 289073, Fax.: (62)(361) 286845.
  • Sea Walker, Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai No.7 Sanur, Denpasar,Tel.: (62)(361) 281 408, Fax.: (62)(361) 281 409. Facility: special equipment for walking at the bottom of the sea.
  • Sling Shot, Jalan Legian Bounty Mall, Kuta, Badung,Tel.: (62)(361) 736151.


Bali has a huge variety of cafes and restaurants, serving both Indonesian and international food; see Indonesia for a menu reader. Try the smaller local restaurants rather than touristy ones, the food is better- and cheaper.

Actual Balinese food, however, is comparatively rarely seen, and it has made few inroads in the rest of the country due to its emphasis on pork, which is anathema to the largely Muslim population in the rest of the country. Notable dishes include:

  • babi guling — Roast suckling pig, a large ceremonial dish that must usually be ordered several days in advance.
  • bebek betutu — Literally "darkened duck", topped with a herb paste and roasted in banana leaves. The same method can also be used for chicken, resulting in ayam betutu.
  • lawar — Covers a range of Balinese salads, usually involving thinly chopped vegetables, minced meat, coconut and spices. Green beans and chicken are a particularly common combination.
  • sate lilit — Minced seafood satay, served wrapped around a twig of lemongrass.
  • urutan — Balinese spicy sausage, made from pork.


Not being Muslim, the Balinese have nothing against a drink and alcohol is widely available.

Indonesia's most popular beer Bintang is ubiquitous, but local brand Bali Hai is nearly as popular. Both are rather bland lagers, so if you want some taste in your beer look for the Bali-brewed microbrew Storm, available in several different flavors. Beer is, however, relatively expensive: at Rp. 10000 and up, a small bottle costs at least the same as a full meal in a “local” eatery.

Bali produces its own wines, with Hatten being the most popular brand, available in white, red, rose (most popular) and sparkling varieties. Quality can be inconsistent, but the red is usually OK and at least it's cheaper than imported wines, which can easily top Rp. 100,000 per bottle.

Bali's traditional drinks are arak, a clear distilled spirit that packs a 40° punch, and brem, a fermented rice wine sold in gift shops in attractive clay bottles that are much nicer than the taste of the stuff inside.

Tap water on Bali is not drinkable, but bottled water is universally available (Rp. 3000 or so per 1.5L bottle) and restaurants usually use purified water for cooking. "Filtered" water shops are also common, providing on-site treatment of the mains water to a potable standard. These shops are much cheaper than retail outlets, selling water for about Rp 5000 per 11 litre re-usable container, and avoid the waste created by plastic bottles.

Very cheap (app. 10 000 IDR) are fresh juices or their mixes (it can be water-melon, melon, papaya, orange, lime, banana or any other possible juice).


Bali has, without a doubt, the best range of accommodation in Indonesia. Backpackers tend to head for Kuta, which has the cheapest if also dingiest digs on the island, while many (but not all) five-star resorts are clustered in Nusa Dua. Seminyak, Sanur and Jimbaran offer a fairly happy compromise if you want beaches, nightlife and some quiet, while Ubud's hotels and resorts cater to those who prefer spas and cultural pursuits over surfing and booze.

Stay safe

Bali has been the scene of lethal terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005, both waves of attacks targeting nightclubs and restaurants popular among foreign visitors. Security is consequently tight in obvious targets, but it is of course impossible to protect fully against terrorism. If it is any reassurance, the Balinese themselves — who depend on tourism for their livelihood — deplore the bombings and the terrorists behind them for the terrible suffering they have caused on this peaceful island. As a visitor, it is important to put the risk in perspective: the sad fact is that Bali's roads are, statistically, far more dangerous than even the deadliest bomb. It is still prudent to avoid high profile western hang-outs, especially those without security measures, and the paranoid or just security-conscious may wish to head out of the tourist enclaves of south Bali to elsewhere on the island.

Bali is increasingly enforcing Indonesia's harsh penalties against importation, exportation, trafficking and possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, ecstasy and heroin. Several high profile arrests of Westerners have taken place in Bali since 2004, and a number have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms or execution. Even the possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use puts you at risk of a trial and prison sentence if searched.

Stay healthy

The midday sun in Bali will fry the unwary traveller to a crisp, so slap on plenty of suntan lotion and drink lots of fluids. However, don't carry liters of water as you can buy a bottle virtually anywhere. The locals tend to stay away from the beaches until about two hours before sunset, when most of the fierceness has gone out of the sun.

Get out

Boat services run regularly to Lombok, Flores, and islands further east. Combined bus and ferry service will take you to Java destinations such as Yogyakarta, though the trip can be long on winding jungle lined roads.

Less than one hour, at the south-east of Bali lies Nusa Lembongan. From Sanur a ferry service can take you to this small and beautiful island. This island is a good place to go one or two days, if you want to get out of the touristic area from Bali. Along the beach you can find many small and cheap Homestays. Be aware you get wet feet getting in or out the ferry. And the island doesn´t have a Money Machine or Bank. Many people on this island live from farming seaweed. And the acres with the different coloured seaweed, just under the sealevel, makes a beautiful view.

  • Yogyakarta has convenient air service from Bali on Garuda with scheduled service early in the morning and late in the evening, making it possible to have a full day of sight seeing in Prambanan and Borobudur and still make it back to your hotel in Bali in time for bed.
  • Komodo, is an island and national park in East Nusa Tenggara. The island is famous for its komodo dragon (giant lizard).

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