Impossibly natural rice terraces, pulse-pounding surf, wonderful Hindu temple events, mesmerising dancing shows, wide lace of beaches, a truly lovely people: you will find as many images of Bali and there is flowers on the ubiquitous frangipani trees. The small island - it is easy to drive the whole coast in one day - looms large for every trip to Indonesia. No place is more visitor-friendly. Hotels vary from surfer dives and the exciting won't stops to sybaritic retreats in the lush hills. The shopping, from hackneyed baubles to designer duds will put ‘extra bag’ at the top of your list. You are able to have dinner with local foods bursting with flavors fresh from the marketplaces or let a world-class chef take yourself on some culinary journey around the world. From cold Bintang at sunset to an impressive night clubbing, the social whirl is limited only by your own fortitude. So when comes time to relax, you can find a low-cost beach massage or lose your self in the all-day spa.

And even small definitely doesn’t mean homogeneous. Manic Kuta segues into luxurious Seminyak. The artistic swirl of Ubud is a counterpoint to misty journeys among the volcanoes. Calm beach areas like Amed, Lovina and Pemuteran can be found right around the coast and merely offshore is the laid-back idyll of Nusa Lembongan. While you find the beautiful little religious offerings that appear to materialise everywhere like by magic, you’ll see that their little tapestry of colors and textures is a metaphor for Bali itself.

Bali’s culture strips the cliché in the word unique. The variation of Hinduism applied with great fervour is found no place else on this planet and has inspired fervent artistic expressions that charms visitors. People in Bali is actually all Indonesian; 95% are of Balinese Hindu descent and can be identified as ethnic Balinese. The residents are generally from other places of the nation, particularly Java.

You can’t escape from religion in Bali - there re temples in most village, shrines in most ield and offerings made at each corner. The Balinese already had strong religious beliefs and a dynamic cultural life, and the new influences ere simply overlaid on existing practices - hence the peculiar Balinese interpretation of Hinduism. The Balinese worship the same gods as the Hindus of India - the trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu - however they also have a supreme god, Sanghyang Widi. Unlike in India, the trinity is never seen - a vacant shrine or empty throne tells all. Nor is Sanghyang Widi often worshipped, though villagers may pray to him when they have settled new land and are about to build a new village. Other Hindu gods such as Ganesh, Shiva’s elephant-headed son, may occasionally appear, but a great many purely Balinese gods, spirits and entities have far more relevance in everyday life.

The word for temple is pura, which is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘a space surrounded by a wall’. As in so much of Balinese religion, the temples, though nominally Hindu, owe much to the pre-Majapahit era. Their kaja, kelod or kangin (alignment towards the mountains, the sea or the sunrise) is in deference to spirits that are more animist than Hindu.

  • Pura Luhur Ulu Watu ( p291 ), on the Bukit Peninsula, one of Bali’s nine directional temples, with a spectacular cliff-top location.
  • Pura Tirta Empul ( p323 ) at Tampaksaring, renowned for its beauty and nearby springs and bathing pools.
  • Pura Luhur Batukau ( p355 ) on the slopes of Gunung Batukau, with its cool, misty atmosphere.
  • Pura Kehen ( p326 ), state temple of the Bangli kingdom and miniature version of Pura Besakih.
  • Pura Maduwe Karang ( p358 ), near Kubutambahan, an elaborate seaside temple with some surprising carvings.

Many visitors are seduced by the haunting and melodic charms of a dance performance in Ubud, a quintessential Bali experience. Music, dance and drama are closely related in Bali. In fact, dance and drama are synonymous, though some ‘dances’ are more drama and less dance, and others more dance and less drama. Balinese dance tends to be precise, shifting and jerky, like the accompanying gamelan music, which has abrupt shifts of tempo and dramatic changes between silence and crashing noise. There’s virtually no physical contact in Balinese dancing – each dancer moves independently, but every movement of wrist, hand and finger is important. Even facial expressions are carefully choreographed to convey the character of the dance.

Getting There
Ngurah Rai Airport
(DPS) is just south of Kuta, however it is 
sometimes referred to internationally as 
Denpasar (which is 15km north) or on some 
internet flight booking sites as Bali.

International airlines flying to and from Bali:
  • Garuda Indonesia (GA; Map pp298-9 ; %0361-227824;; Jl Sugianyar 5, Denpasar) Serves Australia and major cities in Asia direct.
  • AirAsia (AK; %0361-760116;; ticket office outside international terminal) Serves Kota  Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur and Kuching in Malaysia, connects to London.
  • Cathay Pacific Airways (CX; %0361-766931; Serves Hong Kong.
  • China Airlines (CI; %0361-754856; Serves Taipei.
  • Eva Air (BR; %0361-751011; Serves Taipei.
  • Japan Airlines (JL; %0361-757077; Serves Tokyo.
  • Jetstar/Qantas Airways (QF; Map p286 ; %0361288331;; Grand Bali Beach Hotel, Sanur) Serves Australia.
  • Korean Air (KE; %0361-768377; Serves Seoul.
  • Lion Air (JT; %0804-177 8899; Serves Singapore.
  • Malaysia Airlines (MH; %0361-764995; Serves Kuala Lumpur.
  • Pacific Blue (DJ; %+61 7 3295 2296; Offshoot of Australia’s Virgin Blue.
  • Singapore Airlines (SQ; Map p270 ; %0361-768388;; GOI Bldg, Airport Parking Lot) Several Singapore flights daily.
  • Thai Airways International ( TG; Map p286 ; %0361288141;; Grand Bali Beach Hotel, Sanur) Serves Bangkok.
Domestic flying to and from Bali:
  • AirAsia (AK; Fast-growing Malaysianbased budget carrier with a web of Indonesian domestic flights.
  • Batavia Air (7P; Serves numerous destinations; has the enigmatic slogan: ‘Trust us to fly’.
  • Garuda Indonesia (GA; The national carrier serves numerous cities.
  • Lion Air (JT; Fast-expanding budget carrier has a web of services across the archipelago; carried the most passengers in 2008.
  • Mandala Airlines (RI; Serves major routes.
  • Merpati Airlines (MZ; Serves many smaller Indonesian cities, in addition to the main ones.
Taxi to/from Airport
  • Denpasar 70,000-90,000Rp
  • Jimbaran 75,000-95,000Rp
  • Kuta Beach 45,000-50,000Rp
  • Legian 55,000-65,000Rp
  • Nusa Dua 95,000-105,000Rp
  • Sanur 95,000Rp
  • Seminyak 70,000-80,000Rp
  • Ubud 195,000-225,000Rp
Many visitors are using bikes around the towns and for day trips in Bali. Ask at your accommodation about where you can rent a good bike; hotels often have their own. Generally, prices range from 20,000Rp to 30,000Rp per day.

Car & Motorcycle
A small Suzuki or Toyota 4WD is the typical rental vehicle in Bali. Typical costs are 150,000Rp to 180,000Rp per day, including insurance and unlimited kilometres but not including fuel. Hiring a car with driver will cost around 350,000Rp to 600,000Rp for an eight- to 10-hour day.

Motorcycles are a popular way to get around Bali, Typically you can expect to pay from around 30,000 to 40,000Rp a day. This includes a flimsy helmet.

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