Visit Bali – the small island that packs a mighty punch
From the buzzing nightlife of Kuta to the serenity of Ubud, Bali may be a small island, but it certainly packs a mighty punch.
A Bali holiday for everyone
Nestled in the Java Sea, Indonesia’s premier tourist destination caters for all ages and tastes, with humbling religious sites, peaceful yoga retreats, breath-taking beaches and a great party scene all wrapped up in this wonderful package.
Bali’s diversity – in terms of landscapes and activities – is undoubtedly its main draw, allowing visitors to experience two or three holidays in one. Take a week sightseeing, drinking deep from the island’s seemingly bottomless cultural glass, before ending with a few days lounging on the beach, soaking up the pure paradise on offer.
Alternatively, an active start to your holiday – exploring the volcanic landscape and heading off-shore to enjoy Bali’s great surf or dive resorts – could be the perfect predecessor to a yoga or meditation break, interspersed with taking advantage of Bali’s ridiculously cheap spas.
As the only Hindu-majority province in Indonesia, there are numerous stunning and thought-provoking temples that are a must-visit when on the island. Ulun Danu Bratan is often featured on the cover of guidebooks, but it’s just one of many special religious sites. Besakih, Gunung Kawi (Valley of the Kings), Luhur Lempuyang, Uluwatu, Goa Gajah, Tanah Lot and Taman Ayun are some key temples to tick off your list.
Let Ubud rejuvenate you
For a peaceful yoga retreat, there’s no better spot than Ubud in central Bali, which boasts a wealth of studios and classes. In Ubud, you can really detox thanks to the huge array of health-conscious restaurants and cafes, and don’t miss out on an afternoon stroll of the Campuhan Ridge Walk and its sweeping hilltop views.
But Ubud’s most famous attraction is possibly the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, where more than 1,000 long-tailed monkeys roam free among the visitors.
Keen adventurers won’t want to miss the chance for a sunrise climb of active volcano Mount Batur – easily reached from Ubud via an organised tour. The two-hour climb isn’t overly challenging, but be sure to pack sturdy footwear.
Away from dry land, Bali is blessed with stunning surf and amazing dive resorts. The island forms part of the Coral Triangle – an area with over seven times the number of reef-building coral species as the Caribbean. Surfers will want to head to Padang Padang, Canggu or, for experts, Uluwatu.
Younger holidaymakers may be tempted by the bright lights of Kuta. Popular with Australian youngsters in particular, this area boasts Bali’s main nightlife scene, as well as an awesome waterpark – Waterbom – which makes for a great day out.
Meanwhile, for something more tranquil, Seminyak and Sanur are great spots to soak up the sun, sea and sand without the crazy crowds of Kuta.
Lovina, on the northern coast, is a good place to stay for a night, allowing you an early start to head out to experience the delights of dolphins in their natural habitat. Equally, Amed on the eastern coast or Sanur in the south are also good spots.
With public transport virtually non-existent on Bali, it’s advisable to hire a driver for at least part of your stay. This is the ideal way to travel between different parts of the island while also gaining local knowledge and insight.
Another great thing about Bali is the food. Not only is cuisine throughout the island simply sumptuous, it’s also incredibly cheap too. In the bigger towns, such as Seminyak and Kuta, you’ll find a number of upmarket restaurants, where you can dine in style without breaking the bank.
But while this is certainly an opportunity not to pass up, don’t neglect the backstreet warungs either, where you can tuck into sate, Nasi Goreng or Babi Guling, rubbing shoulders (quite literally) with the locals.
Fly into Ngurah Rai International Airport (just outside the island’s capital, Denpasar) in around 17 hours from London Gatwick (stopping in Doha), London Heathrow or Manchester (stopping in Singapore) for approximately £800. Alternatively, those willing to make two stopovers in Frankfurt and Singapore can fly for just £500 from Edinburgh – although this will take 19 hours outbound and 26 hours inbound.
For more inspiration, visit the Bali section of the official Indonesia.travel website.