Bali, the famed “Island of the Gods”, with its varied landscape of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides all providing a picturesque backdrop to its colourful, deeply spiritual and unique culture, stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth. With world-class surfing and diving, a large number of cultural, historical and archaeological attractions, and an enormous range of accommodations, this is one of the world’s most popular island destinations and one which consistently wins travel awards. Bali has something to offer a very broad market of visitors from young back-packers right through to the super-rich.
Travel & Leisure Magazine has awarded Bali the World’s Best Island in 2009, while the Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel 2010 ranked Bali second place among the world’s Top Regions.
The rapid growth of development in tourism has had a big impact and influences to Bali tradition and lifestyle. Interestingly, Balinese culture is still as what it was, growing along with the of globalization. It is the Balinese civilization what makes the island different from other destination.
The tourism industry is primarily focused in the south, while significant in the other parts of the island as well. The main tourist locations are the town of Kuta (with its beach), and its outer suburbs of Legian and Seminyak (which were once independent townships), the east coast town of Sanur (once the only tourist hub), in the center of the island Ubud, to the south of the Ngurah Rai International Airport, Jimbaran, and the newer development of Nusa Dua and Pecatu.
Bali is a tiny island among some 13,000 islands of a large archipelago stretching from Sabang (the West border) to Merauke in West Papua (the East border). Due to its location in the middle of southern series of islands of this country it has several ports of entry.
Before visiting Bali, some visitors may prefer to start their journey in the country’s capital, Jakarta and take an overland tour by bus along the Java Island. If you have time and want to enjoy the amazing culture and panorama of the island. There are many places to discover, for example ancient Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, magic crater of Bromo and so many others. Then cross the Bali strait by ferry at Ketapang (East Java) to Gilimanuk (West Bali).
Other alternatives are to take a cruise. Bali is frequently chosen as a stopover for cruise lines. Prior to continuing to the next destination, passengers take the opportunity to have a sight seeing on this island. Padangbay and Benoa harbor are two main harbors for that. Padangbai is located in the Karangasem regency, Eastern Bali. It connects the island to Lembar in Lombok Island. While Benoa harbor is located on the southern Bali tip (inter island and international gateway). Other than used as tourism port, Benoa harbor is also used for anchorage of fishing vessels.
Ngurah Rai International airport is the airport located in southern Bali, in Tuban exactly. Named after I Gusti Ngurah Rai, a hero of Bali that led the troops against the Dutch in 1946. It becomes the main international entrance for tourists that visit Bali. During the past few years the number of visitors arrival through the airport tended to increase, after the bomb blast at Kuta it dropped in a big way, now recovering once again.
The airport becomes an important hub for the next destinations beyond Bali. It connects flights to Jogjakarta for the destination of one of the seven worlds’ wonder of Borobudur and its neighboring Prambanan temples. Visitors can buy one day tours where they already return to Bali in the afternoon. Or they may take one night stay in Jogja and return to Bali on the next day. The airport also connects some cities in East Indonesia like Mataram in Lombok Island, Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara and Makassar in South Celebes.
Visitors who would like to enjoy and explore the jewels of eastern destinations may choose the next island of Lombok by air or sea, using a speed jetfoil boat on the route Benoa to Lembar. Lombok Island is famous for its stunning coastal mountain scenes, lots of undeveloped nature, Taliwang food (crispy chicken) and pottery. One of the many trips you can plan while having Bali as your main destination that has air connections to all main Asian and international airports.
The island of Bali lies 3.2 km (2 mi) east of Java, and is approximately 8 degrees south of the equator. Bali and Java are separated by the Bali Strait. East to west, the island is approximately 153 km (95 mi) wide and spans approximately 112 km (69 mi) north to south; administratively it covers 5,780 km2, or 5,577 km2 without Nusa Penida District, its population density is roughly 750 people/km2.
Bali’s central mountains include several peaks over 3,000 metres in elevation. The highest is Mount Agung (3,031 m), known as the “mother mountain” which is an active volcano. Mountains range from centre to the eastern side, with Mount Agung the easternmost peak. Bali’s volcanic nature has contributed to its exceptional fertility and its tall mountain ranges provide the high rainfall that supports the highly productive agriculture sector. South of the mountains is a broad, steadily descending area where most of Bali’s large rice crop is grown. The northern side of the mountains slopes more steeply to the sea and is the main coffee producing area of the island, along with rice, vegetables and cattle. The longest river, Ayung River, flows approximately 75 km.
Flights to Bali:
With the increasing number of direct flight to Bali from some other parts of the world, it makes it easier to go to Bali. From Bali, flight to Jakarta is about 1.5 hours, to Singapore and Perth (Australia) 2.5 and 3 hours, to Hong Kong about 4.5 hours, and to Sydney/Melbourne about 5.5 to 6 hours, with various airlines offering their services.
Recent Flight Deals to Bali:
Among 17,500 islands across the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is one of the 33 provinces of the Republic of Indonesia, the largest archipelagic country in the world, made up of 2,000,000 km2 of land with a chain of islands stretching over 500,000 km from Sumatra to Papua, and covers territorial waters of more than 5,000,000 km2. Situated between Java and Lombok, the island of Bali is located 8 to 9 degrees south of the equator with the Java Sea to the north, the Indian Ocean to the south.
With sunshine shining throughout the year, Bali has a tropical monsoon climate, with pleasant day temperatures between 20 to 33 degrees Celsius or 68 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainy season starts from October to March, when the West monsoon brings heavy showers and high humidity. June to September is considered the driest season, with low humidity and it can be fairly cold in the evenings, the best time for any outdoor activities.
Fauna & Flora:
Bali Flora Just like common tropical islands, in Bali you will find a wide variety of plants by surprise. Huge banyan trees are everywhere in the villages by the Bale banjar or pavilion, or temples ground. Tamarind is also a typical Balinese tree mostly found in the north coast, as well as clove at the highlands. Meanwhile acacia, flame tree and mangrove can be found along the south coastlines.
People of Bali:
Bali’s population of over 3,000,000 souls spread over the whole island, including those in the smaller islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan, Serangan and Menjangan Island. The overwhelming majority of Balinese are Hindus, with the increasing number on non-Hindu migrating from the closest neighboring islands of Java and Lombok. The coastal areas in the south are the most populous area with over 370,000 people living in various professions in the capital of Denpasar. Farming has been the primary way of living in Balinese life.
Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, about 83.5% of Bali’s population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, formed as a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. Minority religions include Islam (13.3%), Christianity (1.7%), and Buddhism (0.5%). These figures do not include immigrants from other parts of Indonesia.
Balinese Hinduism is an amalgam in which gods and demigods are worshipped together with Buddhist heroes, the spirits of ancestors, indigenous agricultural deities and sacred places. Religion as it is practised in Bali is a composite belief system that embraces not only theology, philosophy, and mythology, but ancestor worship, animism and magic. It pervades nearly every aspect of traditional life.
:Bali is known as an island of thousands temples. In every village in Bali, there are several temples and at least one small temple in each home of Balinese which reach to a total of 10.000.
Balinese word for temple is ‘pura’ which means ‘space surrounded by a wall‘. Although many temples are quiet and uninhabited, they are transformed into colorful, active and decorated places of worship when there is a festival. While offerings are made, performances of traditional dances and gamelan, cockfighting and gambling enliven the atmosphere.
All temples derive their direction from the mountains and the sea. The direction toward the mountains, Kaja, is the most significant direction. The direction toward the sea is Kelod. The direction toward the sunrise, Kangin, is found in most secondary shrines.
Bali has a long chain of history from the ice-age era (pre-historic time) to modern, global civilization era. With a dynamic characteristic indicating selectivity and flexibility, the Balinese culture initially reflects a configuration of an expressive culture dominated by religious, solidarity and aesthetic values. The first Hindus arrived in Bali as early as 100 BC, but the unique culture which is so apparent to any current day visitor to Bali hails largely from neighbouring Java, with some influence from Bali’s distant animist past. The Javanese Majapahit Empire’s rule over Bali became complete in the 14th century when Gajah Mada, Prime Minister of the Javanese king, defeated the Balinese king at Bedulu.
The rule of the Majapahit Empire resulted in the initial influx of Javanese culture, most of all in architecture, dance, painting, sculpture and the wayang puppet theatre. All of this is still very apparent today. The very few Balinese who did not adopt this Javanese Hindu culture are known today as the Bali Aga (“original Balinese”) and still live in the isolated villages of Tenganan near Candidasa and Trunyan on the remote eastern shore of Lake Batur at Kintamani.
With the rise of Islam in the Indonesian archipelago, the Majapahit Empire in Java fell and Bali became independent near the turn of the 16th century. The Javanese aristocracy found refuge in Bali, bringing an even stronger influx of Hindu arts, literature and religion.
Divided among a number of ruling rajas, occasionally battling off invaders from now Islamic Java to the west and making forays to conquer Lombok to the east, the north of the island was finally captured by the Dutch colonialists in a series of brutal wars from 1846 to 1849. Southern Bali was not conquered until 1906, and eastern Bali did not surrender until 1908. In both 1906 and 1908, many Balinese chose death over disgrace and fought en-masse until the bitter end, often walking straight into Dutch cannons and gunfire. This manner of suicidal fighting to the death is known as puputan. Victory was bittersweet, as the images of the puputan highly tarnished the Dutch in the international community. Perhaps to make up for this, the Dutch did not make the Balinese enter into a forced cultivation system, as had happened in Java, and instead tried to promote Balinese culture through their policy of Baliseering or the “Balinisation of Bali”.
Bali became part of the newly independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945. In 1965, after the failed coup d’etat which was allegedly backed by the Communist Party (PKI), state-instigated, anti-communist violence spread across Indonesia. In Bali, it has been said that the rivers ran red with the reprisal killings of suspected communists—most estimates of the death toll say 80,000, or about five percent of the population of Bali at the time.
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.
Interactive Bali Map & Hotels:
Traveling to Indonesia is definitely a trip you will never forget.Plan for a long ride to get there, as it is a 31 hour flight from New York. Bali is a wonderful area with an array of fun filled activities to choose from. It is the main tourist area of Indonesia.
The people of Bali are very friendly, and enjoy having visitors come to their area. Many speak English to interact with tourists. They have chosen to preserve their culture for all to see rather than change it to become like other countries. The beaches are a main attraction with surfing being one of the most popular activities. Others enjoy renting a boat for the day to relax on the open waters.
Lodging in Bali ranges from small bungalows to huge fancy hotels, all with basic accommodations to meet the needs of tourists. The view from your hotel will be wonderful because of the rich beauty of the area regardless of where you choose to stay.
The people of Bali are very artistic. They enjoy painting, weaving, carving, basket making, and other arts. Children are taught art from a very early age. They often display their makings to sell to the tourists.
Temples are a main attraction in Bali. They are called Pura. The temples provide an opportunity to explore religion and art of the culture. The people of Bali are still very religious, and it is very important that those visiting the Temples show respect for their religious beliefs.
Art galleries exhibit creative and attractive art work to view. Wildlife and nature reserves are popular in Bali. Many people go to get a glimpse of the very dangerous Komodo Dragon, a large lizard that is found only in the area and is extinct. The rare Java tiger is also displayed.
There are more than 400 volcanoes in Indonesia, 128 are still active. They offer a historical view of this natural creation to observe. Botanic Gardens are also a very popular attraction. Displaying flora and fauna as well as promoting conservation, people are drawn to the beauty of such attractions.
While Indonesia is a beautiful and serene place to visit, it is strongly advised at this time to be cautious with such visits due to the possibility of terrorist attacks. If you do choose to travel to the area do not travel alone and make sure you have registered with the US Embassy.