When to Visit
Just considering the weather, the cooler dry season from April to October is the best time to visit Bali. The rest of the year is more humid, cloudier and has more rainstorms, but you can still enjoy a holiday.
There are also distinct tourist seasons that affect the picture. The European summer holidays bring the biggest crowds —— July, August and early September are busy. Accommodation can be tight in these months and prices are higher.
Balinese festivals, holidays and special celebrations occur all the time, so don't worry about timing your visit to coincide with local events. It could be a nice treat to fuse into the local culture and enjoy the traditional cuisine and local delicacies.
Have you heard of Bali, a place to the south of Indonesia? It's a small island but is becoming more and more famous by its fascinating tourist attractions enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people from world at large. Bali is so picturesque that you could be fooled into thinking it was a painted backdrop: rice paddies trip down hillsides like giant steps, volcanoes soar through the clouds, the forests are lush and tropical, and the beaches are lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. But the postcard paradise gloss has been manufactured and polished by the international tourist industry rather than by the Balinese themselves who don't even have a word for paradise in their language.
Off-beaten Tourist AttractionsKuta and Legian
Including the two beach sites of Kuta and Legian, this area is a major sightseeing for travelers, offering cheap accommodation, Western food, great shopping, surf, sunsets and riotous nightlife. Although it's fashionable to contempt Kuta for its rampant development, low-brow nightlife, the cosmopolitan mixture of beach-party and entrepreneurial energy can be exciting.
Kuta is not pretty but it's not dull either, and the amazing growth is evidence that a lot of people still find something to appreciate in Kuta. It's still the best beach in Bali, with the only surf, which breaks over sand instead of coral. Lots of cheap accommodation is available and there's a huge choice of places to eat. Shops and venders offer everything from local handcrafts to genuine antiques. Even the tourists themselves have become a tourist attraction, with visitors swarming into this small island on the tropical area.Behind the beaches, roads and alleys lead back to the most amazing district of hotels, restaurants, bars, food stalls and shops. The renowned Poppies Gang, running directly back from Kuta Beach, is where most of the quieter, inexpensive hostels and restaurants are located. Cheap beachfront accommodation is available in Legian; the lanes running parallel to the beach are the best places to start trawling for a decent bed.
The Bali Museum
The Bali Museum consists of an attractive series of separate buildings, including examples of both palace and temple architecture. The exhibits themselves are not always well presented, but there are enough arts and crafts and everyday items displayed to make it worthwhile. The tiny cane cases for transporting fighting crickets are pretty special. The Abiankapas arts center houses a collection of modern painting and woodcarving. Dancing groups and gamelan orchestras regularly perform here, mostly for the benefit of tourists.
Situated in the hills 20km north of Denpasar, Ubud is the serene cultural center of Bali. Extensive development in recent years has meant that Ubud has engulfed a number of nearby villages, although these have retained their distinct identities. Head off in any direction and you're in for an interesting walk to a secluded craft hamlet, through the rice paddies or into the dense Monkey Forest, just south of the town center.
In Ubud itself, the Puri Lukisan Museum displays fine examples of all schools of Balinese art in a beautiful garden setting. There are several other quality galleries such as Museum Neka, which features work of some Western artists who have painted in Bali, and Agung Rai Gallery, a commercial operation which also houses a small, but important, permanent collection. The homes of influential Western artists Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet, who played key roles in transforming Balinese art from the purely decorative, can also be viewed. Ubud is a good place to see Balinese dancing and hear Balinese music, and it has some of the finest restaurants on the island.
The ancient village of Tenganan, inland from the east coast port of Padangbai, can only be reached by motorbike or on foot. It's a walled Bali Aga village, busy with unusual customs, festivals and practices. It's the center for the weaving of the little-seen double ikat cloth, and ancient versions of gamelan and accompanying dances are performed here. The nearby towns of Amlapura and Tirtagangga are known for their decaying water palaces - relics of the power of the Balinese rajahs - which are surrounded by beautiful terraced rice paddies.
The Bali Barat National Park
The Bali Barat National Park covers nearly all the coral reef and coastal waters. Most of the natural vegetation in the park is coastal savanna with deciduous trees, which become bare in the dry season. Over 200 species of plants inhabit the various environments. Animals include black monkeys, leaf monkeys and macaques; Java, barking, sambar and mouse deer; squirrels, wild pigs, buffalos, iguanas and pythons. The bird life is prolific, with many of Bali's 200 species represented, including the striking Bali starling. The park's attractions include hot springs, uninhabited Deer Island (which has great diving) and guided jungle treks.
Transport from Ngurah Rai international airport, 2.5km south of Kuta, is quite simple. Choose from an official taxi counter, where you pay a set price in advance, or walk across the airport car park and hail a metered cab. The lightly-laden can walk straight up the road to Kuta, although it's a more pleasant stroll along the beach. The main forms of public transport on Bali are the cheap buses and bemos (minibus) that run on more or less set routes within or between towns. If you want your own transport, you can charter a bemo or rent a car, motorcycle or bicycle. The Balinese drive on the left, use their horns a lot and give way to traffic pulling onto the road. Tourist shuttle buses, running between the major tourist centers, are more expensive than public transport but are also more comfortable and convenient.