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Introduction to Bali

The Indonesian island of Bali is a popular destination for travellers from all over the world, thanks to its stunning beaches, traditional culture and guaranteed warm weather. Located in the Java Sea, Bali lies just a few miles east of the much larger Indonesian island of Java, and is the main island in the Indonesian province which shares its name. Beaches may be the island's big selling point, but there is much more on offer to visitors with package holidays in Bali, including religious temples, mountain scenery and a rich and vibrant local culture.

What to know before visiting Bali?

Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport (DPS), is located to the south of the island, a few miles from the town of Denpasar. Travellers arriving on package holidays to Bali will no doubt have their airport transfer included, but independent travellers can take advantage of the cheap taxis to get to their final destination. The 25-mile journey to the resort of Padang Bai, for example, costs less than £20. When booking your flight to and hotel in Bali, flights from the UK depart from London airports Gatwick and Heathrow, while you can also fly to Bali from Manchester Airport.

Balinese is spoken by everyone who was born and bred on the island, although most are also fluent in Indonesian, and many speak English as well. The currency is the Indonesian Rupiah, and Bali is eight hours ahead of the UK. If you are planning on spending less than 30 days on Bali, then you don't need a visa to enter Indonesia.

When is the best time to visit Bali?

There really isn't a bad time for city breaks on Bali! The island sits close to the Equator, which means that its climate is very settled – hardly changing between summer and winter – and very warm all year round, with average temperatures on the coast between 20-33°C. Humidity is high, around 85% and Bali's rainy season starts in December and runs until about March. Although the temperature is still very warm, you can expect daily rain showers at this time of year.

What to do on Bali?

Bali's natural scenery is what makes visitors return again and again. If you are spending a weekend on Bali make sure you explore the best that the coast and the mountains has to offer.

  • The waters of the Java Sea aren't just for sunbathers needing to cool down. Many Balinese beaches are popular with surfers and other watersports enthusiasts. Balangan Beach is an unspoilt surfers' paradise, with wooden shacks selling beer and home-cooked food, while the black sand beach at Balian allows you to surf in picture-postcard surroundings.
  • White Sand Beach, or Pasir Putih as it is known locally, is a little off the beaten track, but this picturesque beach with its turquoise waters is just how you expect a tropical beach to appear, and the perfect place to relax on your weekend in Bali.
  • Bali is as famous for its lively nightlife as it is for sun, sea and sand, but why not mix the two by visiting Seminyak Beach, where beautiful sand and surf meets the best of Bali's bars and nightclubs.
  • Spend some time exploring the island's interior on your weekend in Bali. One of the best ways to do this is by taking guided treks onto the slopes of Mount Batur or Mount Agung, both of which are active volcanoes.
  • Meet local wildlife as well as animals from across the globe at the Bali Safari Park, where younger visitors will enjoy the chance to ride on an elephant.

What to visit in Bali?

The island is home to hundreds of temples, many belonging to Bali's dominant religion, Hinduism. The temple at Tanah Lot, a rocky outcrop on the south coast of the island, is a major pilgrimage site for the island's Hindus, and is open to travellers – although foreigners have to pay more than locals to enter the temple. Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park is a large garden near the airport, which is home to a collection of huge Hindu sculptures, as well as the venue for many cultural events and performances.

Tirta Gangga is a fascinating royal palace in eastern Bali, featuring a "water palace" – a collection of buildings, temples and gardens surrounded by lakes and fountains. Water is at the heart of another popular Balinese attraction, the Kanto Lampo Waterfall, created by the rainy season, which cascades into a shallow pool where you can paddle and swim. If you want to learn more about the island's culture and history before you start exploring on city breaks in Bali, pay a visit to the Bali Provincial State Museum in Denpasar.

What to eat in Bali?

Balinese cuisine is dominated by spicy meat dishes often flavoured with coconut milk and rice. Babi guling, roast suckling pig, is a real speciality on the island while rawon babi is a spicy port stew often served as nasi bali in restaurants – rice served with a selection of dishes to give you a broad sample of Indonesian cuisine. Nasi goreng is the national dish of Indonesia, and will be found on almost every menu in Bali. Terang bulan is a type of sweet pancake, often served from street stalls and beach shacks with chocolate and peanuts.

What to bring back from Bali?

Stalls and shops across Bali are packed with items made by local artisans which make great souvenirs of your stay. Traditional painted wood carvings and gloriously coloured textiles make great gifts, or you can bring back some delicious Balinese coffee as a reminder of your holiday of a lifetime.

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