08 July 2014


How can a tiny island mean so many things to so many different people? Water sports, beaches, landscapes, temples- they're all there. Take your pick, or pick them all. That's why Bali is so great, it lets you try so many different kinds of activities.

Bali has an area of around 5780 sq km, tiny as far as islands go, but as far as destinations go, it is quite a big place. South Bali is home to many of the beach resort areas, such as Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua. The airport and the capital city, Denpasar, are also located in south Bali. Central Bali is home to Ubud, Bedugul. The volcanic Mt Kintamani is in East Bali.

Bajra Sandhi Monument
Denpasar is the capital of Bali with a population of around half a million people. The city centre is clean and green, with many government buildings and a number of interesting attractions.

Visit the Monumen Perjuangan Rakyat, set in nice well-maintained parkland, in Denpasar, built to recognise the struggle of the Balinese people from time to time. Climb the spiral staircase for good views over the city. Entrance fee for foreign adults is Rp 10,000. Opening hours are 8.30-16.30 MON-FRI and 9.00-16.30 on weekends. Closed all Hindu public holidays.

View of Denpasar from the Monumen Perjuangan Rakyat

Lapangan Puputan Margarana (Puputan Park) is a well-maintained park in the center of town. Next to one of its sides is the Jagatnatha Temple.

Jagatnatha Temple

A street in central Denpasar
Also in South Bali are the towns of Kuta, Jimbaran, Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua which are touristy and don't have much apart from beaches, shops and restaurants. The beach town of Canggu, though, is less touristy.

Ubud is the cultural heartland of Bali with superb temples, villages specialising in things like silver and wood carvings and simply beautiful architecture. More than 90% of Bali's population is Hindu and each house here has a temple, which they maintain carefully. Every village also has a minimum of 3 temples. 

Located here are some beautifully ornate temples and palaces, such as the Puri Saren.

The Ubud area consists of 14 villages, each specialising in either wood carvings, silver or paintings. If you take tours, you will be shown the process of actually doing the work and then you can buy- some of the things can be of good quality and at some places you can bargain.

Another attraction around Ubud is the cave of Goa Gajah (Elephant Caves). It was built in the ninth century and served as a sanctuary. I am claustrophobic and didn't find it a problem- the cave is quite small, however narrow and you are not likely to spend too much time in it.

Entrance to the cave, Goa Gajah

Bedugul is another area in Central Bali, and it is home to the picturesque Lake Beratan (Bratan). On the lakefront is the beautiful Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (Lake Bratan Temple). Entrance fee Rp 30,000 per adult. Parking also costs, around Rp 5000-10,000. The temple is on the western side of the lake and is an iconic image of Bali. You can't go inside the main temple but just viewing it from outside, and the whole compound is a great experience. There is some scenic greenery on the other side- behind the main temple.

The temple was built in 1663 for offering ceremonies to the Balinese water goddess, Dewi Danu.

Lake Bratan and the temple
The nearby town of Candikuning is a good place to shop for fruit and souvenirs. The sellers themselves encourage bargaining!

Bali is famous for its rice paddies, and one of the best viewpoints is at Jatiluwih, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unfortunately it was raining when I got there, so views weren't too great.

This area is much higher than South Bali so it is usually much cooler up here. It may not be a bad idea to bring a light jacket, particularly when it is raining.

A farmer works at a rice paddy in Jatiluwih
Mt Kintamani 
Mt Kintamani is a mountain in East Bali from where there are great views of Lake Batur and the active volcano Mt Batur. As in Bedugul, this area can be surprisingly cool, due to its elevation.

Lake Batur and Mt Batur
Tanah Lot
On the western coast, not very far from South Bali, is the iconic Tanah Lot temple (Pura Tanah Lot), one of the most photographed in Bali, on Tanah Lot, a rock formation.

It is a very popular point at sunset and gets very crowded- however if you intend to visit at sunset, cloudy/rainy days can spoil the fun!

Tanah Lot
I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Nusa Dua, in the resort town of Nusa Dua in South Bali. Nice hotel with good rooms. Has an hourly shuttle to a private beach jointly owned by this and a couple of other resorts.

The Loving Hut in Denpasar (Pertokoan Sudirman Agung B 12A Jl. PB Sudirman Denpasar, Bali) A little hard to find- it is a lane of two inside a commercial complex. Good food though, all vegan.
Bali is famous for its bars, such as the Rock Bar in Ayana Resort, Jimbaran.

The Ubud area has villages famous for wood, silver, batik etc and if you are going on tours, you will certainly be taken to those places. Prices may seem quite high; if you're stopping in Jakarta, it may be worthwhile to have a look there as well. Denpasar is home to the usual department stores.

For groceries and such, there are numerous branches of Alfamart, Indomaret, Circle K, Minimart and Coco Mart virtually everywhere.

Cheap petrol means that getting car + driver for a whole day need not be expensive. You can find a 5 seater for around 400,000 rupiah for 10 hrs, anywhere in Bali. Your hotel may have suggestions.

Bali is served by the Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) in South Bali and has flights to many South-East Asian destinations. It is a modern airport, but with beautiful traditional designs on its exterior.

Last visit- Jun/Jul 2014
No of visits- 1

1 comment:

Dan Hancox said...

Nice article, very detailed. I am heading out to Bali in a couple of months time, so i will be looking this over again just before i arrive.