I’m an expert when it comes to Bali; you can literally ask me anything about Bali. And love Bali dearly. Here are some of the questions I regularly answer to readers from around the world and so this is my start at making an ultimate Bali travel guide. Before you read on I must say that Bali isn’t for everyone. However, I really think that’s because there’s so many myths and misconceptions about what Bali actually is and isn’t. A tropical island it may be, but a tiny paradise island with only quiet beaches it is not. Anyway, here goes.
Where is Bali?
Bali is one of the many islands (over 18,000 islands!) of Indonesia, set in-between the islands of Java and Lombok. It’s a 3 hour flight from the closest Australian airport, and 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) which is a popular route for tourists flying from the West.
Why is Bali so popular?
With over 18,000 islands in Indonesia, Bali is a popular holiday destination because its culture is different from the rest of the country. Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population on the planet yet Bali is of a Hindu culture. Also known as the Island of Gods, the local Balinese people follow their own version of Hinduism. Beautiful temples, small and large, are scattered across the island and the locals perform ceremonies on a regular basis.
The island first became popular with surfers back in the 1970s who fell in love with the world class waves, and has been the number one holiday destination for Australian’s ever since. With friendly locals, a laidback environment, and a coastline of sandy beaches, Bali has fast become accustomed to welcoming all types of traveler; from backpackers and those on a budget, to high-end luxury travelers that enjoy the finer things in life.
In Bali there is something for all types of visitor. It must be remembered that Indonesia is a third-world country and, although you can spend big in fancy establishments if you want to, you can always walk across the street to a local eatery or shop and pay local prices. Imagine walking out of the incredible Potato Head Beach Club where it’s GBP6 for a drink, to a local restaurant (called a warung) where you can pay just GBP1 for your lunch. That’s one of the beauties of Bali; the low-end and high-end (and middle-end and every type of end) is all very much combined together.
How big is Bali?
It’s a bit of a myth that Bali is a small tropical island as, in fact, it’s a huge island of 2,200 square miles and the home of almost 4.5 million people. It has many villages, some of which have grown in stature to become mini towns. The main tourist areas stretch 10-15 kilometres from the airport along the coastline. However, there are also many other villages in Bali that are also popular and worth visiting. A drive from the South to the North takes around 3 hours. And Bali also has a few smaller islands off the main Bali Island that can be reached by a short boat ride – check out Nusa Lembongan.
Map of Bali
As you can see, there are many areas in Bali and they all have something different to offer. However, it’s more or less possible to explore the island no matter where you’re based.
What is the weather like in Bali?
There are two weather seasons in Bali: dry and wet. Dry season normally ranges from March until October. Wet season ranges from November to February. However, Bali is hot all year round, with temperatures quite steady in the mid-30s (Celsius). The rainy season is not always constant and everyone can be happy if the rain pours down for an hour to cool everything down. In the dry season the Bali climate is also very humid making it feel hotter than it actually is. It’s worth noting that although there could be a few clouds in the sky and a cool breeze at the beach, Bali is situated very close to the equator – far nearer than anywhere in Europe – and therefore the sun is far stronger so don’t be fooled, always wear sunscreen to be safe.
What to do in Bali?
There’s no short answer to that question. There’s also no long answer as it has so much to offer and you can do almost anything in Bali. Bali is host to surfing world championships so it’s always popular with surfers from around the glove. Bali has long sandy beaches, some with beach bars and packed with tourists, and some more secluded with idyllic views, clear waters. Bali has shops, loads of shops! It has great big malls with all the biggest brand stores and it has thousands of boutique shops owned by locals or foreign fashion designers. It has restaurants, local restaurants, mid-range restaurants, high-end restaurants with world famous chefs, restaurants on the beaches, and restaurants on rooftops. It has bars and clubs where you can drink the local beers on the cheap or dress up for a more classy night out. It has water parks and theme parks perfect for family holidays. I wouldn’t wish to guess how many spas it has as there’s one every 50 metres. It has many diving centres and schools and beautiful coral reefs in certain parts. It has quiet fishing villages. It has world class golf courses. It has volcanoes and mountains that can be trekked. It has waterfalls. It has a zoo. And it has a lot more.
Over the coming months I’ll expand on all of the above in new separate articles. Hope you enjoy it.