Bali is a small (90km by 140km) tropical island in the Indonesia archipelago located east of Java and just a few degrees south of the equator. Home to nearly four million mostly Hindu inhabitants, Bali is known as the “Island of the Gods” and is universally considered an exceptional vacation destination. Much of Bali is surrounded in coral reefs, white and black sand beaches, mountains dotted with volcanic crater lakes and fertile plains in the south crossed by fresh water rivers and streams. With its consistent, mild tropical weather, Bali is home to large national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and marine reserves and a wide diversity of both flora and fauna. Much of the island is covered in lush plants, exquisite flowers and countless green rice terraces. Bali is a volcanically active island with rugged peaks rising over 3,000 meters as well as a scenic coastline. The azure seas surrounding Bali make it a paradise for diving, boating, water sports and legendary surfing.
In addition, Bali also offers extraordinary opportunities for cycling, jungle and volcano trekking, bird watching, and white water rafting. Cultural events and religious holidays are numerous in Bali and allow visitors to catch a special glimpse of the rich and traditional Balinese culture through art, beautiful handicraft and traditional musical forms. In the southern Bali beach towns, the nightlife is glamorous, pulsing and contemporary. Bali offers many 5 star luxury hotels and gorgeous, private villas as well as simple and affordable traditional bungalows and family-stay arrangements. Put simply, in Bali there is something to satisfy everyone’s budget and taste. Culinary opportunities abound in Bali with an almost unbelievable assortment of high quality restaurants from around the world as well as delicious and inexpensive Balinese delicacies. Beaches, romantic sunsets and vibrant nightlife await newlywed couples, while sparkling swimming pools, wildlife parks, exciting shopping and amusement centres are there for the whole family to enjoy.
Bali is just one of more than 13,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago. While relatively small (90 km wide and 140 km long), the island is home to nearly four million mostly Hindu inhabitants and is one of the most influential, culturally and economically, and well known islands in the entire nation. Much of Bali is surrounded in coral reefs, white and black sand beaches, mountainous dotted with volcanic crater lakes with fertile plains in the south crossed by numerous fresh water rivers and streams. Bali is home to large national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and marine reserves with a wide diversity of both flora and fauna. The people are skilled farmers, craftsman and artisans, with rich cultural history.
Located just south of the equator, Bali has a pleasant tropical climate and even temperatures that makes it ideal for vacationing year round. At any given time, the climate will vary according to elevation and proximity to the coastline but in general Bali simply has a wet season and dry season. The dry season begins in May and is slightly cooler with average high temperatures around 27 to 30 degrees C°. The wet season beginning in November brings average high temperatures of around 30 to 33 C° degrees.
Night and daytime temperatures do not fluctuate significantly on Bali. Monsoons rains usually arrive in December through March but in elevated forested areas, brief and intense rain showers are common year round. In general, elevated, forested areas in the interior of the island tend to be cooler and wetter while the northern volcanic areas and beaches around the island tend to be hotter and drier. Recent climate change is apparent in Bali however, making traditional weather patterns less predictable. It is best to always be prepared for sudden rain showers and hot sunny days with compact umbrella, light waterproof jacket, sunglasses, hat and sunscreen.
Low season runs from the second half of January until the first of July, then begins again in September and carries through to the middle of December. During the low season there are fewer tourists, a slower pace, and lower prices for accommodation.
High Season starts in July and runs through technically to the end of August. During the high season there are throngs of visitors, especially Australians on their winter holidays and Europeans during their summer holidays.
Peak Season includes middle December to early January (Christmas and New Year) and Chinese New Year (about two weeks in late January or early February). During these dates many hotels charge up to a 25% premium and the island is often fully booked. Make sure you reserve rooms as far in advance as possible.
The culture of Bali is unique among the people of Indonesia’s thousands of islands. The Balinese people have a gentle, tolerant and patient nature and are famously open and friendly. Life for most of Bali centres on the practice of a blend of Hinduism, Buddhism and Animism. The Balinese are highly spiritual and their constant devotion to ceremonies, temple festivals and prayer is striking. The essence of Bali has been captured in the preservation of dance and highly prized art forms such as stone and woodcarving, metalworking, painting and music. The Balinese are passionate about life, are very family-oriented and welcoming in nature. Life is simple, relaxed and the people are good-spirited.
Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport, is located in southern Bali, 13 km south of Denpasar. The airport is located in Tuban between Kuta and Jimbaran and is close to the tourist locations of southern Bali. The resort center of Kuta is 2.5 km north of the airport. The airport is named after I Gusti Ngurah Rai, an Indonesian national hero and Indonesian republican who died on 20 November 1946 in a battle in Tabanan where the Dutch defeated the Indonesians with the aid of aircraft, killing Rai and 95 others during the Indonesian Revolution. Ngurah Rai is Indonesia’s third busiest international airport, after Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport.
The airport is notoriously understaffed and overcrowded so be prepared to wait at immigration. There is no obligation to hire a porter at the baggage carousel so politely refuse if you do not need one. Remember that customs are strict so only bring in the allowed limit of alcohol and tobacco.
Airport tax is included in the price of the ticket.
Citizens of most countries are eligible for a free visa on arrival. This free tourist visa is good for a 30 day stay in Indonesia. You should note that the day you arrive is counted as a day, even if your flight arrives at 11:55 at night.
Passport Warning: If your passport will expire within the following 6 months, from the time you plan to enter Indonesia, you will more than likely be refused entry. Be sure to check this when you book your flights. Many people don’t bother checking this until it is too late.
If you are interested in staying longer than 30 days, you get the paid 30 day Visa on Arrival. You can then extend this visa for a further 30 days at immigration offices in Indonesia. There are several payment counters, a bank and a moneychanger set up in the airport to process payments. Once you have your visa you will need to have completed an immigration arrival card and customs information form before proceeding.
The airport can get busy during high season. The wait at immigration in the airport can be up to an hour during peak times. There are often men who will approach arriving tourists and ask them if they would like to have their immigration process expedited for 100,000 rupiah or more. While this is possible, we recommend you to proceed through the proper channel as taking advantage of the “informal” system contributes to corruption and inefficiency.
The current rupiah consists of coins from 100 rupiah up to 1000 rupiah, and from banknotes of 1000 rupiah up to 100,000 rupiah. There are money changers at the airport and ATMs if you need to get some rupiah to pay for a taxi. The money changers at the airport do not give the best rates, so change just enough to get your to your accommodation.
Only change money at reputable money changers and banks. The more reputable money changers operate from proper shops and give receipts. Tiny money changers on the side of a street may offer higher rates, but they will use various scams to not pay you the correct amount.
Bali uses the Indonesian country code +62. An international dialing code (or prefix) is used to make international phone calls outside Bali.
Example call from Indonesia to the UK:
001 (Indonesian IDD code) + 44 (UK) + 7651 123 123 (mobile number without the 0)
Mobile phone coverage quite good all over the island. We advise anyone traveling to Bali with their mobile phone to check with their network operators for availability and costs for their international roaming status prior to traveling.
Indonesia uses a 4G cellular network. If you bring your mobile phone to Bali, you have the option of purchasing a prepaid calling card to make outgoing calls at a lower cost than with your home SIM. These are available from a number of companies such as 3, Telkom, Indosat and XL. Also, one may purchase a SIM card (with a local number) and calling credit at any of the many roadside telecom shops scattered around the major tourist areas. The extra credit is referred to as “pulsa”. Some network providers have poor signal quality in the mountains or rural areas but this is constantly improving. Presently, one of the best signal provider is Telkomsel’s card.
Bali has six telephone area codes:
0361 : Badung, Denpasar, Gianyar, and Tabanan regency
0362 : Buleleng regency
0363 : Karangsem regency
0365 : Jembrana regency
0366 : Bangli and Klungkung regency
0368 : Bedugul and Candikuning area in North Tabanan
You must dial the area code first when calling these numbers from a mobile phone.
Important Bali Numbers
108: Local directory assistance
106: Long distance directory assistance
102: International directory assistance
113: Fire brigade
751111: SAR (search and rescue)
227911: Denpasar Hospital
761263: Bali International Medical Center
In addition to the activities listed in the activities section of this guide, here are some other suggestions:
Attend a Festival, Temple Ceremony or Dance – Gatherings and processions of elegantly dressed local people with towers of fruit and offerings carefully balanced on their heads happen every day all over Bali. Many temples have scheduled ceremonies which allow foreigners to attend. The instrumental Gamelan music is mystical and mesmerizing while Legong, Barong and Kecak are exotic and beautiful dances that are definitely worth experiencing. Dress modestly, speak softly, bring your camera and wear a smile!
Golf – Bali has developed a reputation as a world-class golfing destination with multiple beautiful and challenging courses to test your skill. The course in Bali Beach Golf Club near Nusa Dua and the Nirwana Bali Golf Course near Tanah Lot are both gorgeous and worthy of a leisurely round. You can even get some professional golf lessons while in Bali.
Culinary Delights – Food is without doubt one of the most pleasing aspects of a visit to Bali. There are high quality offerings of virtually every type of cuisine on the planet. Exquisite imported meats and cheeses are available as are colourful and exotic local fruits and vegetables grown at one of the many famous organic farms nearby. Spicy local grilled chicken, pork or barbeque seafood and fragrant rice are staples of the Bali dining experience. From affordable to expensive, the entire range is at your fingertips. Many restaurants will deliver to your room!
Adventure Activities – Many adventure activities are available across the island, from river rafting, zip lining and canyoneering to rock climbing and surfing. All levels of expertise from novice to professional can be accommodated. Mountain cycling down from a volcano or trekking through dazzling green rice terraces should not be missed. Step out of your comfort zone and make an unforgettable memory on your Bali holiday!!
Spa Treatment/Massage/Manicure/Pedicure – Bali is well known for its wide variety of high quality spas. Relaxing massage, luxurious body treatments, muds, masks, hair and nail treatments are all widely available and range from simple and affordable to elaborate and expensive. Practically every hotel and villa will offer these services in a beautiful tropical environment. Price varies greatly and the best value may be found at private spots away from the bustling tourist streets and hotels.
Shopping – Shopping is a favorite pastime and a delight for visitors to Bali. Both luxury upscale and local markets are widely available. You can find anything from top-of-the-line luxury bags and accessories to trinkets, t-shirts and crafts. Visit the new, more expensive Galleria Mall for brand name and electronic items or the famous Pasar Senggol Kreneng night market in Denpasar. At local markets, bargaining is the norm and you maybe be given a “special price” that is really your starting point for negotiations. Upscale stores have fixed prices. Especially in Ubud and Seminyak, local boutique shops and vendors offer a splendid variety of unique gifts, decorations, art and home furnishing.
Wildlife Adventures – Bali hosts a variety of interesting parks, sanctuaries and zoos. The bird life is amazing and varied. Bird enthusiasts can take a forest walk escorted by an experienced local guide to add many beautiful and exotic species to their life lists. For a more comfortable glimpse into Bali’s bird life, visit the famous Bali Bird Park that keeps hundreds of species in attractive and natural enclosures. The Bali Bird Park also has a fascinating reptile collection. Visit the Elephant Safari Park in Taro(near Ubud) for an unforgettable and up-close experience with these wonderful pachyderms. The Bali Safari and Marine Park hosts elephants, tigers and many other species in natural surroundings. The Monkey Forest in Ubud has hundreds of free roaming Macaques in an ancient high-canopy forest that eagerly seek bananas, rambutan and sweet potatoes from visitors. Bali maintains several marine sanctuaries and reserves featuring dolphin, turtles, exquisite coral reefs and other sea life. The Barat National Park and Marine Reserve in Western Bali deserves special mention as a place with high biodiversity and relatively few visitors.
Gyms/Fitness Centres – For the fitness enthusiasts, in addition to gyms at many major hotels there are many modern gyms and fitness centers in most tourist areas. A stop at a concierge or quick search of the Internet will locate a good place for the much-needed workout. In fact, most sports and physical activities are practiced in one form or another in Bali. Ask around.
Diving/Sea Sports – Diving is a top priority of many visitors to Bali. The beautiful, untouched coral of Menjangan marine reserve, the famous Liberty wreck at Tulamben and the Manta Rays at Nusa Penida are all internationally known dive spots. Bali has many dive centers that provide enthusiasts with a diverse range of diving opportunities and services including the entire range of diving certifications.
Visit the Beach – Most tourists that go to Bali will make time for at least one visit to one of the many gorgeous white and black sand beaches across the island. Some are easily accessible and sometimes crowded while others are out of the way, but are sure to be beautiful and quiet. Take a long, slow walk down the beach with a cool breeze at sunset in Kuta or Sanur, sunbathe in the bright, hot sand in Nusa Dua, explore the caves and secluded surf at Uluwatu, or the calm blacksand beaches of Lovina.
Don’t leave valuables on the beach when swimming or unattended anywhere. Bali is a pretty safe place for tourists, but there are always bad apples. Don’t flash around large quantities of cash. Relax and leave the expensive watch and jewellery at home.
Don’t cause confrontations and don’t get angry or argue with the local people. It will not accomplish anything but ruin your day. The loss of “face” is something to be avoided throughout Asia and Bali is no exception. The Balinese are a friendly and hospitable people who will almost always go to great lengths to make you happy. Smile. Ask nicely. Be patient and leave a good impression. You’re on vacation after all!
Don’t forget to always count your money after exchanging money for the local currency! Convenient roadside money changers are ubiquitous in Bali and make changing money easy and convenient. However, guests should beware of dishonest vendors who use swift, slight-of-hand or other techniques to confuse and dupe unwitting tourists. Count your money twice and ask for a receipt before stepping away from the counter.
Don’t drink the tap water. While the water quality in Bali is from springs and deep ground water wells, it is not potable. Larger hotels provide free bottled water daily, some have their own purification systems and the ice is also made from purified water.
Don’t be too quick to meet up with someone for an encounter. Some have been known to ask for money for services, and others simply to rob you. Indonesia has strict laws and any kind of illicit behavior will likely result in jail time and/or heavy fines. Bali is an alluring and romantic place and there are many encounters that are just good fun, but be smart.
Don’t do drugs here. Indonesia has low tolerance for such behavior. There are foreigners doing time in prison in Bali right now for possession of drugs/drug use. While it may be possible for foreigners to pay a heavy fine / bribe, this is not assured, and happens less as of late. In any case, the drug scene in Bali while perhaps not apparent to casual observers does exist and should be avoided. There are undercover police officers offering marijuana.
Don’t overstay your visa. The current charge is 1,000,000 rupiah per day if you overstay your visa. Immigration is very strict about this, so it is definitely something to avoid, even if you might have some kind of excuse. Indonesia does have quite favorable extension rules, but visit one of the Business & Visa Consultants that can be found in most major tourist areas to request an extension. Be sure to compare prices as they differ widely.