Regularly ranking highly in lists of the world’s best islands, Bali is an intoxicating combination of dramatic volcanic scenery, stunning cultural monuments and, of course, beautiful beaches. These picture-perfect stretches of powdery sand and crystalline waters lure visitors from all around the world. Cementing the island’s reputation as the dream holiday location is a population of tirelessly friendly locals. Whether they’re welcoming you to their town or taking part in one of the region’s many religious ceremonies, you’ll find that it’s the people who make Bali truly special.
Many come to Bali to experience its spirituality. The Hindu population observe their religion in thousands of ornately carved temples across the island. Find peace in the clifftop serenity of Pura Uluwatu, watch a traditional religious dance at Pura Tanah Lot or climb the stone stairs of Besakih Temple. Each religious monument seems to have been designed for maximum aesthetic impact, resulting in the same awed response from visitors of every background.
Bali is Indonesia’s number one holiday destination and its ever-increasing popularity means you can adapt your trip to meet your own needs. If you’re looking for a life of luxury, then choose between palm-tree lined resorts and beachfront accommodation in places like Seminyak and Nusa Dua. Budget travellers and adventure seekers hoping to tackle volcano hiking trails, meanwhile, should opt for the less-developed shores to the north and west of the island.
Surfers and partiers head to the crowded beaches of Kuta for a trendy vibe, water sports and dancing. Ubud, in the centre, is the cultural heart of Bali where you’ll find arts and crafts stalls mixed in with stunning Indonesian architecture. This island often rewards exploration away from the most popular destinations, so take some time to roam. Journeying inland could lead you past terraced rice fields into villages celebrating local festivals, or perhaps you’ll find yourself in a corner of coastline as yet unreached by the resorts.
Occasional stories of corruption and crime on the island are outweighed almost entirely by reports of the famous Balinese friendliness. The island’s locals are always ready to welcome visitors, even during the height of peak season in August when tourists arrive in their droves.
You’ll notice this famous friendliness when you land at Ngurah Rai International Airport, whenever you’re on public transport and even when riding on the back of an ojek, a motorbike taxi. Small buses crisscross the island over time-consuming routes, so groups and families may find it easier to hire a car to reach some of Bali’s more inaccessible wonders.