Bali island: why it is such a popular tourist destination

Bali is rightly named the Island of Gods. From rugged coastlines and magnificent mountains to volcanic hill slides and sandy beaches. Featuring a varied landscape, unique culture, and deeply spiritual atmosphere provides a picturesque backdrop to claim as a paradise on earth. Bali is one of the most famed island destinations globally, with top-class diving and surfing opportunities. Whether you are a backpacker or a luxury lover, this island has something to offer for everyone with all budget ranges.

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Here, we will discuss a few points that make Bali so unique among tourists.

Understanding Bali as a Tourist Destination

Bali is located in the westernmost part of Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia. One of the islands in the archipelago of over 17,000 islands of Indonesia, it is around 2 km from the Java island’s eastern tip. Home to about 4 million people, it is 144 km vertically and 80 km horizontally. 

The combination of magnificent culture, friendly locales, spectacular beaches, and spirituality makes Bali one of Indonesia’s unrivaled tourist attractions. 80% of foreign visitors landing in Indonesia come to visit Bali only. Without a doubt, Bali is a fantastic destination with something to offer to everyone. 

Despite being a heavily traveled place, you can still manage to find some quiet and peace here. Falling in the UTC+8 time zone, it has the same time as Malaysia, China, Singapore, and Western Australia, and one year faster than Jakarta.

An Amalgamation of Different Landscapes

Bali is a spectacular tropical paradise renowned for its lush jungles, dreamy beaches, and volcanic mountains. Lying 8° south of the equator between Lombok and Java’s neighboring islands, it is home to approximately 4.8 million people and has Denpasar as its capital. The island’s ecology boasts 280 bird species and several wild animals.

Bali’s landscape features many volcanic peaks and mountains that mainly influence the island’s climate and weather. Mount Agung is the highest peak with 3,142m above sea level. Mount Batukaru is the second highest peak, which is 2,275m above sea level, and you can trek up to its summit in 9 hours.

Being a tropical island, you enjoy a warm, moderate, and pleasant climate all year through. Characterized by tropical monsoon type of weather, summers here are heavily rainy and humid. Apart from the mountains and volcanoes, you will also find stunning coral reefs around Bali, making it an ideal place for scuba diving and snorkeling. South Bali beaches are white, while those on the north side are darker.

Kuta, Seminyak, and Legian are connected by the island’s long coastline. You do not need to travel much to reach one destination from the other. If you are looking for some really authentic Bali experience, reach Ubud in Bali’s center. Calmer Bali areas include Sanur and Nusa Dua, where you can enjoy some incredible snorkeling and surfing experiences. 

A sunset over Ubud`s jungle. Image by travelfromheart

Head to Jimbaran Bay on the south coast to find some spiritual temples and stunning beaches. Looking for some unspoiled tropical kind of experience, reach Bali’s eastern coast and take a short boat ride to reach Gili Islands, Nusa Lembongan, or Lombok.

So, whatever kind of experience you are craving, you will find all that and much more here at Bali!

A Region Guide of Bali Island

Here is a description of different Bali regions along with their unique characteristics so that you can roam around the island as per your personal interests:

Kuta: This is the party central region of Bali filled with excitement, fantastic nightlife, and endless adventure.

South Kuta: Located in Bali’s heart, it is a laid-back neighboring town that proves to be an extraordinary family-friendly attraction.

Legian: Take it easy in this region’s sleepy atmosphere and explore it at your own pace. This region boosts relaxation and natural splendor at its best.

Seminyak: Offering a luxurious hideout from the hustle of Bali, Seminyak is a place to enjoy boutique shopping, swanky restaurants and bars, and indulgent spas.

Nusa Dua: Looking for a place where you can soak up in the sun? Nusa Dua’s gin-clear waters and sugar-sand beaches are the places to go.

Canggu: This is a beautiful area with beach clubs, cool bars, fitness facilities, yoga centers, boutique shops, and healthy cafes.

Tanjung Benoa: Brimming with rich cultural history and natural beauty, you will find some of Bali’s best temples and shrines in this region. You may also join a traditional cooking school to have a memorable Indonesian experience.

Sanur: The oldest beachside town of Bali, Sanur is a stunning upmarket area with abundant luxury restaurants and resorts.

Jimbaran Bay: This is an excellent Bali region with golden sand beaches and several 5-star luxury beach resorts.

Beyond the south

Ubud: Renowned for its artistic and crafty abundance, Ubud is where you can find some extraordinary art galleries, artist workshops, and architecture.

Lovina: It is the most popular area of the north. It`s known for the black sand beaches and dolphin watching. It has a lot to offer but is way less crowded than the south of Bali.

Nusa LembonganLooking for a place away from the hustle and bustle of central Bali? This place boasts sun spotted sands, turquoise waters, and admirable coral reefs.

Lombok: Natural beauty at its best, the Lombok region boasts cascading waterfalls, golden beaches, and the magnificent Mount Rinjani.

Gili IslandsAway from the modern life hustles and no motor vehicles allowed, time seems to stop at Gili Islands. Enjoy its dreamy landscape and have some great ‘island time.’

Plan Your Trip After Knowing the Climate

Bali island in rain season. Image by travelfromheart.

Temperatures remain pleasant during the day, from 20 to 33°C, all year round. West monsoon may bring high humidity and heavy showers between December and March, but the daytime is still sunny. Rains usually start late in the afternoon and pass quickly. June to September is when humidity levels are low, evenings are cool, and there is almost no rain in the coastal areas. So, this period seems to be the best time to visit Bali.

If you happen to arrive in Bali during the rainy season, head to the Bukit Peninsula region. It receives less rain even at times when it is raining in other parts of the island. Be ready for unexpected showers and cloudy skies in central Bali and mountains any time of the year. North Bali also receives less rain than other areas. Keep a jacket or sweater if you are heading to a higher elevation like Kintamani and Bedugul.

Ways to Reach Bali Island

You can reach Bali through many transport mediums:

By Air: NgurahRai International Airport is one of the busiest international airports in the country, located 13 km south of Denpasar. Domestic and international flights operate to and from Jakarta, Borneo, Sumatra, Sulawesi, West Papua, and Surabaya. Direct flights connect this airport to almost every Asian and Pacific country.

By Water: Passenger ferry connects Bali with East Java and Lombok. Direct services are also offered between Bali and Gili Islands. All of them reaching Lombok on the route or afterward.

By Road: Long-distance bus services can take you to Jakarta or Yogyakarta.

By Train: There is a train station near Java ferry port, where trains to and from Surabaya, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Probolingo operate.

Ways to Get Around Bali Island

Once you reach Bali, you will find several options to travel around the island:

By Car: Most of the Bali roads are made around the coastline or near the mountain edges. Since the mountains in the interiors are very steep, you won’t find many roads on the island except for a few that take you to the volcanoes. You may hire a car and share it with others to get a cheap transport medium inside the island. Metered taxis are standard in southern Bali that can take you up to Denpasar. Beyond that, you have to pay extra. 

Remember one tip; don’t enter a taxi without a working meter, as there are chances of you being deceived.

By Bus: Perama Bus Company serves budget buses in Bali and beyond, with offices in many island tourist spots. Other shuttle buses also operate between many famous attractions of Bali. Trans Sarbagita government bus service also operates buses in Bali since 2011. Full-size buses and large minibusses also run on the longer routes, connecting Denpasar, Gilimanuk, and Singaraja.

By Bicycle: You can rent or buy a touring bike to Bali and have an all-new kind of experience on the island. Some better hotels may even offer them for free. Southern Bali often has heavy traffic, but once you escape that, you can quickly get acclimatized to the traffic conditions. One popular bike route is from Kintamani to Gianyar. The traffic is light, and you pass through the splendor of villages, paddy fields, and several small temples on the route.

By Boat: You may rent a boat for a day and go out on the sea. Fishing trips can also be included with your rental boat.

Places to visit

Temples

Gunung Kawi Temple (Bali Indonesia). Image by travelfromheart

Since the majority of Bali’s population is Hindu, there are many Hindu temples on the island. It is a customary law for each Bali village to build and maintain a minimum of three temples: the temple of origin, the village temple, and the temple of the dead. Some rich villages may have more than these compulsory three. 

There are nine directional temples on the island that are believed to protect the island from dark forces. Uluwatu Temple is situated on the southern tip of the island. The Mother Temple of Besakih is built on the slopes of Mount Agung. Other seven directional temples are Pura Luhur Batukaru, Pura Masceti, Goa Lawah, Pura Lempuyang Luhur, Pura Pasar Agung, Pura Ulun Danu Batur, and Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. All these temples are either situated on high ground or at the edge of the waters.

Before you enter a Bali temple, make sure you have dressed appropriately in a sash and sarong. You can rent them at the temple or buy them in Bali.

Landscape Beauty

Bali’s coastline is lined by beaches, with exceptions being some mangrove forest areas in the southeast. Certain areas of the Bukit Peninsula have high cliffs that enter the Indian Ocean. Due to the island’s volcanic nature, finding black sand at different places is the norm. Some southern beaches also have fine-grain white sand. Jimbaran Bay and most parts of the northern coast are safe for swimming. However, it’s important to follow local safety markers.

When you move away from the coastline, most of Bali is green and fertile. You will commonly see rice paddies, especially in Ubud, East Bali, and Tirta Gangga. You may participate in a rice field tour and even stay at a resort in any of these areas. 

All mountains in Bali are volcanoes, some of which are dormant, while others are still active. Mount Agung is a dominating landscape in East Bali that last erupted in 1963 and then erupted in 2018. Mount Batur is active and can be reached by a 2-hour climb.

Bali island mountains. Image by travelfromheart.

Artwork

Bali is a place where you will find both modern and traditional forms of art. Ubud has several museums along with a variety of art retail outlets and workshops. The museums display artworks from local as well as foreign artists, both dead and living.

Monuments

You will find the Bali Bomb Memorial in Jalan Legian, Kuta, which is made to commemorate 202 people who died in Bali’s first bomb attack in 2002. The former Sari Club got affected by the blasts lies adjacent to the memorial and is not redeveloped yet.

Many Balinese people fought to the death in the early 20th century against the Dutch colonialists. Several monuments are also built on the island to commemorate them. The two most popular ones are in Klungkung, East Bali, and Puputan Park, Denpasar.

Things to Do

Witnessing the Cultural Activities: Apart from partying, shopping, and enjoying the beaches, do not miss the opportunity to understand the place’s history and culture. Visit the temples, witness their daily offerings, and don’t forget to admire the Balinese shadow puppetry known as Wayang Kulit during your visit to Bali.

Visiting the Hot Springs: There are many hot springs on the island. Air Banjar is one of them located on the northern coast of Bali. It has stone mouth carvings through which hot water passes between the pools set in the lush gardens. Another hot spring is present at Toya Bungkah near Lake Batur, located high in the north-eastern mountains.

Relaxing at a Spa: Being a haven for spa lovers, you will find all types of spa treatments in Bali. Balinese lulur body scrub is extremely popular, done filled with spices and herbs, traditionally performed before weddings. Balinese massage involves oil done with Swedish style, long strokes. As compared to exorbitant western massages, Balinese massage is of great value, and you should avail of this luxury.

2-hour mandi lulur incorporates a body scrub and a hydrating body mask of yogurt. Cream-bath is a 45 minutes long shoulder and scalp massage in which your scalp and hair are worked with thick conditioning cream.

Doing Yoga: Some of the finest well-being and yoga centers in the world are present in Bali. You can join a yoga class to suit all expertise levels in any tourist area. Some of the best ones are present in Seminyak and Ubud. Several yoga teacher training centers are also current on the island.

Water Sport

Doing Water Activities: Some of the most exciting scuba diving spots are present around Bali. The most popular ones include the USAT Liberty wreck in the east at Tulamben, coral bommies of Padang Bai, reefs in the northwest around Menjangan Island, and Nusa Penida in the south. You may also join SSI and PADI affiliated dive centers to learn diving. 

Dive voluntourism has also become popular in Les Village, Tejakula. You help in rebuilding the coral reefs and sustainably catching ornamental fish. Bali is also a fantastic surfing destination, thanks to its warm waters, reliable waves, and young crowds. The most popular spots are Legian, Kuta, Canggu, Nusa Lembongan, and Bukit Peninsula. Legian and Kuta are for beginners, while more significant breaks can be found near Bukit Peninsula.

Happy author catching his first “green wave” on Bali island. Image by travelfromheart

Many reputable operators of white-water rafting are present in the Ubud area. The activity is high in quality and very enjoyable during the wet season. Canyoning is another sensation you must consider enjoying.

When it comes to sport fishing, you can enjoy many popular activities, including trolling, bottom fishing, jigging, and others. Some popular spots include Benoa Harbour, Serangan, north of Sanur, and Padang Bai. Waterbom is one of the best waterparks in the world, located in Jl Kartika Plaza, Kuta.

Other Activities

Bali is quite famous among golfers

See birds and animals at Bali Bird Park, Taro Elephant Park, Bali Zoo, and Bali Marine & Safari Park

Go for adventure activities like paragliding, mountain cycling, jungle trekking, bungy jumping, horse riding, hiking, and others

Hiking the Bali volcanoes

Trekking at the Butterfly Park, West Bali National Park, or Bali Botanical Gardens of Bedugul

Having a bird’s eye view of nature from Bali Treetop Adventure Park

Conclusion

With a combination of many landscapes, including beaches, forests, volcanoes, nature, cities, and mountains, you don’t need to travel long distances to change your surroundings. The locales are friendly. The culture is mind-blowing, and there are many spots on the same island suitable for people of different interests. Book your tickets, pack your bags, and head on to an all-new experience you won’t find anywhere else!

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