Bali

Indonesia Flag

Australia’s love of Bali has a long history. Its lure lies not only in its sheer geographic beauty, but in the way it engages visitors with the spirit of its locals – a friendly and genuine people who welcome visitors with open affection.

Bali’s diversity of experiences also helps to create a unique destination that would appear to almost any holiday-maker. Whether it’s a relaxing beach holiday, a feast of foodie delights, a spiritual journey, a cheap and cheerful mates weekend, a romantic honeymoon escape or a luxurious private getaway, Bali can provide.

Bali is a truly individual cultural experience that exists virtually on our doorstep, helping to make Bali a one-of-a-kind holiday destination.

Where to stay in Bali

With such a wide-variety of experience on offer in Bali, one of the most crucial decisions you need to make before booking your holidays is knowing what sort of holiday experience you’d like. This will help you choose the perfect to stay. Don’t worry, if you crave multiple experiences, then maybe or 2 or 3 stop holiday will leave you spoiled for choice.

Are you looking for restaurants, nightlife, bars and shopping, then it’s hard to go past the thriving hub of the Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. If you’d prefer a quieter family holidays, yet still close enough to enjoy to fun, Nusa Dua or Sanur might be your best bets.

Do you shun the in-crowd and look for a more unique off-the-beaten track style holiday, then Nusa Lembongang, the Gili Islands or Bali’s East and North Coast might be your thing. Cool, calm and cultured, Ubud is famous for its highland yoga retreats, scenic rice field terraces, artistic and cultural experiences, or just a little bit of peace and tranquillity in the cool mountain air.

Karma Kandara Private Beach, Indonesia
Sarah Louise Kinsella on Unsplash

History & Culture

Often referred to as the Land of the Gods, Bali welcomes visitors with it’s wonderful mix of ancient Hindu spirituality, modern Indonesian culture and 1070’s hippie surf vibe.

Originally settled by Hindu’s as early as 100 BC, the rule of the Javanese Majapahit Empire from the 14th to mid-19th century resulted in the main influx of Javanese culture, most of all in architecture, dance, painting, sculpture and the wayang puppet theatre. After a violent occupation by the Dutch from 1846, Bali became part of the newly independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945.

Despite Indonesian’s majority Muslim population, Bali has remained a pocket of Hindu religion and culture. Every aspect of Balinese life is suffused with religion, but the most visible signs are the tiny offerings (canang sari) found all over Bali.

There are over 20,000 temples (pura) in Bali, ranging from small road-side shrines, to local village meeting places, to the major 9 Pura Kayangan Jagat – Bali’s directional temples, arranged in spectacular locations, such as clifftops (Uluwatu), coastline (Tanah Lot), lakeside (Lake Bratan), inside caves (The Bat Cave temple near Candidasa) or deep in the lush jungle interior (Pura Besakih  - the mother temple.

First names in Bali are not that creative .. you’ll meet a lot of locals named Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut … the names literally mean First Born, Second Born, Third born and Forth born, and can be either male or female.

Bali temple gate
Horvath Mark on Unsplash

Natural Wonders

With it’s exotic temples set against stunning natural scenery, beautiful beaches and rugged limestone cliffs, deep, lush jungles and fields of green rice-paddy terraces, there is no shortage of stunning Natural scenery in Bali.

Rising above it all is the mighty Mt Agung, an active volcano which may have caused some travel disruption from time ti time, but which spectacular dominates the skyline from much of the west coast resorts. Active volcanos on neighbouring islands of Lombok (Mt Rinjani) and Java (Mt Bromo) provide challenging but life-changing hiking tours right to the edge of their crators.

While the majority of tourism is centred on the South Coast, SCUBA divers flock to the North-east and North-west corners of the island for spectacular off-shore reefs.

Located in the cool, mountain interior, Ubud is a perfect location to savour the verdant interior.

Mt Agung, Bali
Resa Cahya on Unsplash

Outdoor Adventures

Once of Bali’s main drawcards is its spectacular surf breaks. From beginning beach breaks in Kuta and Canggu, right the way up to challenging shorebreaks such as Padang Padang (home to international surfing events, such as the regular Rip Curl Cup), right up to the appropriately “non-beginner-friendy” named reef break Impossibles. Click below for our Bali Surf Breaks blog post for more.

Ubud offers nature enthusiasts an endless amount of opportunities to explore and adventure through the wilderness, with hikes and trekking, white water rafting, ATV tours and mountain biking just some of the activities making used of Bali’s mountainous interior.

Tulamben on the north-east coast and Menjangan island, in West Bali National Park, are home to some impressive SCUBA dive sites.

For some thrills and spills on water with a high-octane speedboat ride round the southern coast of Bali or out to Bali’s 3 sister islands, Nusa Lembongang, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan.

Mountain bike riding, Ubud Bali

Must-do Experiences

All destinations have some must-do experiences, Bali is no exception:

  • RELAX – Book a massage or a spa at your hotel, on the beach or in town, limber up at a Yoga retreat in peaceful Ubud or the north-east coast or simply pool up a pool lounger with a book and let your cares melt away in the tropical sunshine.
  • EAT – Be adventurous and take a street eats food tour, sample some Nasi Goreng, Babi Guling or Sate. Or go upscale at a Michelin-star level restaurant, such as Mozaic or Locavore in Ubud, or Seminyak’s Teatro Gastroteque.
  • FUN – Adventure, excitement … a Jedi craves not these things, so they definitely avoid Bali – dance the night away in a thumping club, sip a cocktail in the breeze at uber hip beach club, hike a volcano, ride a perfect barrel, dive inside a WWII era cargo ship, go white-water rafting or jungle hiking, or treat the whole family to a day of waterslide mayhem … the choice is yours!
  • IMMERSE – delve deeply into the incredible rich culture of Bali – witness the colour and movement of one of the many festivals, watch the Barong or Kecak Dance, or get up-close to the cheeky inhabitants of the Monkey temple.
  • REPEAT – With SO much to do, see, eat, drink and experience in Bali ... you’ll need to come back again and again to this incredible destination.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Indonesia
Marcus Löfvenberg on Unsplash

Points of Interest

Language
Bahasa Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Many people also speak English, especially those working in the tourism industry, and in tourism-centric islands like Bali and Lombok.
Currency
The Indonesian rupiah (IDR) is the official currency in Indonesia. Australian dollars are easily exchanged in most tourist areas, and major credit cards are also widely accepted.
Electricity
220V/50HZ
Time
Bali, Lombok & the Gili Islands are 2 hours behind AEST. The Island of Java is 3 hours behind AEST. Indonesia does not observe Daylight Saving Time.
Visas

For visa, passport, health and security advice for Australian travellers, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website: www.smartraveller.gov.au
Register your details online so you’re easier to contact in case of an emergency.

Important Info
Nyepi Day – meaning day of silence – is a sacred Hindu holiday in Bali that commemorates the Saka New Year. It is a day of silence, meditation and fasting, and there is no work, entertainment, light or travel allowed. It’s one of the rare times that the usually busy streets of Bali will be deserted!

Useful Phrases

Good morning Selamat pagi
Goodbye (see you later) Sampai jumpa
Thank you Terima Kasih
What is your name? Siapa nama anda?
I'm just walking (when hassled by taxi drivers) Jalan jalan
How much is it? Berapa harganya?
No worries santai aja
A monkey stole my sunglasses Monyet mencuri kaca mata saya
I'd like a big bottle of Bintang please Saya mau botol Bintang yang besar
My moped has a flat tyre, where is the nearest mechanic? Ban moped saya kempes, di mana mekanik yang terdekat?

Best Time to Visit

Being a tropical destination, there are basically two seasons in Bali: the wet season and the dry season. The dry season offers the best weather – sunny days and cool pleasant evenings, but it also attracts the highest prices for accommodation. The best accommodation deals can be found during the wet season, but remember to take your tropical-strength insect repellent. Christmas and the school holidays are the best times for families to travel, although with such an influx of visitors, the roads and restaurants can get quite busy – try one of the smaller resort areas, such as Nusa Dua, Sanur or Candidasa, for the best deals.
Activity Time
The best Bali beach weather Dry Season - May to September
Love a good tropical storm at Cocktail O'Clock? Wet Season - November to April
Shhh, reflect on this beautiful destination on the Day of Silence Nyepi Day - late March (exact date changes each year)
See the sky filled with colourful Kites Bali Kite Festival - July to August
Surf's Up on the West Coast May to September
Surf's Up on the East Coast November to April

Getting Around

Bali's bustling streets can be confronting for first-time travellers, and we would always recommend an arrival and departure transfer for ease and safety. Once you're in Bali, getting around is easy with a plentiful supply of taxis. If catching a cab, make sure you ask the driver to turn on the meter, if they refuse, either get out and hail another cab, or negotiate a price you think is fair - many drivers will try and arrange a set fare- but it is generally higher than a metered fare.

If using Uber in Bali, be aware there are some parts of Seminyak that do not allow Uber and hotels are obliged to not allow Uber driver to pull up at their lobby. Check with the front desk before hailing a ride.

Hiring a scooter is a great way to get around, although should always be ridden with caution - make sure you check your insurance before you travel to ensure you are covered, and always obey all local road rules.

If you do not want to book a group tour, you can pre-book a driver and guide for a day and ask them to take you pretty much anywhere you want to go … a shopping trip, remote waterfall or a hidden temple, you can choose your own itinerary, or just ask the driver for advice.

Dining

As a world-renowned holiday destination, Bali boasts an impressive array of restaurant and dining options, from simple street food and markets, to high end dining and ultra-swanky bars. With no shortage of restaurants and bars on offer, ask anyone who's been to Bali and they be sure to regale with their favourites.

One of the most common places to eat in Bali (outside of the hotels and resort restaurants) are warungs – small, often family-run shops or cafes. There are a few different kinds, but generally this is where you’ll find some of the most authentic Indonesian food, at low prices. You’ll be able to find tasty dishes, like ayam bakar, fried tempe, nasi campur, nasi goreng, gado gado plus a whole lot more. Babi Guling is the Balinese version roasted suckling pig. Stuffed with a spice mix called basa gede that infuses the tender, juicy meat with a delicious, mouth-watering flavour, it ss often served with fluffy white rice, vegetables and sambal.

If you don't mind the sand in your toes, there a quote a few bars and eateries right along the beaches of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, as well as range of seafood restaurants right on the sand in the Jimbaran area.

At the top end of the dining scene are a growing number of international restaurants and beach clubs, where you can eat and drink pretty much any cuisine from around the world.

Shopping

For those inclined to bring home a slightly heavier suitcase, there's good shopping anywhere in Bali, but out top pick destination for Shopholics would be the Legian and Seminyak areas:

Beachwalk Shopping Centre – Legian
Situated right on the beachfront, surrounded by restaurants and bars, is one of Bali’s largest shopping centres, Beachwalk Shopping Centre. It boasts a unique aesthetic and fantastic shops, including TopShop, GAP and H&M.

Mertanadi Art Market – Legian
This roadside complex has over a dozen shops selling a range of items, from batik and ikat fabrics, to wayang shadow puppets and Balinese wood carvings.

Designer Shopping – Seminyak
This is shoppers’ heaven! If you were thinking about getting that dream dress at home, but couldn’t afford it, never fear, Seminyak has designer shops lining the streets, with all your favourites at a discounted price.

Seminyak Square – Seminyak
As one of the main shopping hot spots in Seminyak, this two-level arcade offers shops, restaurants and cafes, with streets full of more boutiques right next door.

What to Pack

With a warm, tropical climate, packing for Bali is pretty easy; 

Clothes: Light, loose & comfortable. Choose your attire depending on your resort. For young and fun resorts in Kuta, the ubiquitous Bintang singlets are de rigueur. Casual resort-wear is acceptable in even the most upscale 5-star hotels.

Bathing Suit/Togs/Swimming Costume: Whatever you call it, you're going to need it on the beach or round the pool. Pair it with a sarong or maxi dress when you leave the beach.

Cover Up: Don't forget a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.

Respect: While Bali is extreemly laid-back for a hindu/muslim country, you should still respect local customs and traditions, especially if visiting a temple or place of workship.For ladies, make sure you pack someting light that can cover your shoulders and knees such as a nice sarong (not a beach sarong), dress or a shirt, and for guys, dress modestly, t-shirts without offensive slogans and shorts rather than boardies.

Breaking down barriers through dance
Ni Nyoman Tjandri, one of very few female Arja and Dalang (puppet masters) in Indonesia.

Bali is a haven for a wide-range of holidays, what's your ideal holiday?

  • Chilling on a beach or near the pool with a book
  • A journey of gourmet delights through local markets, street food stalls or fine-dining restaurants
  • Have a cocktail and a dance at some amazing bars, nightclubs or beachclubs
  • Action and adventure, hit the mountian bike trail, fire up a quad-bike or hike up a volcano
  • Splash out on some aquatic fun at Waterbom waterslide park, rafting on the Ayung River or learn to surf at Kuta

Take a look at the Experinces section of our latest Bali Brochure for more ideas.