Bali Travel Guide
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Bali for few years awarded as the world best island by The International Travel Magazine. There, however, are still many people who do not know in depth about the uniqueness of Balinese culture. Life in Bali is always related to "Tri Hita Karana" or a tripartite concept that include the spiritual relationship between human and God, and their environment.

The rapid growth of development in tourism has had a big impact and influences to Bali tradition and lifestyle. Interestingly, Balinese culture is still as what it was, growing along with the of globalization. It is the Balinese civilization what makes the island different from other destination.

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The first Hindus arrived in Bali as early as 100 BC, but the unique culture which is so apparent to any current day visitor to Bali hails largely from neighbouring Java, with some influence from Bali's distant animist past. The Javanese Majapahit Empire's rule over Bali became complete in the 14th century when Gajah Mada, Prime Minister of the Javanese king, defeated the Balinese king at Bedulu.

The rule of the Majapahit Empire resulted in the initial influx of Javanese culture, most of all in architecture, dance, painting, sculpture and the wayang puppet theatre. All of this is still very apparent today.

The very few Balinese who did not adopt this Javanese Hindu culture are known today as the Bali Aga ("original Balinese") and still live in the isolated villages of Tenganan near Candidasa and Trunyan on the remote eastern shore of Lake Batur at Kintamani.

With the rise of Islam in the Indonesian archipelago, the Majapahit Empire in Java fell and Bali became independent near the turn of the 16th century. The Javanese aristocracy found refuge in Bali, bringing an even stronger influx of Hindu arts, literature and religion.

Divided among a number of ruling rajas, occasionally battling off invaders from now Islamic Java to the west and making forays to conquer Lombok to the east, the north of the island was finally captured by the Dutch colonialists in a series of brutal wars from 1846 to 1849. Southern Bali was not conquered until 1906, and eastern Bali did not surrender until 1908. In both 1906 and 1908, many Balinese chose death over disgrace and fought en-masse until the bitter end, often walking straight into Dutch cannons and gunfire. This manner of suicidal fighting to the death is known as puputan. Victory was bittersweet, as the images of the puputan highly tarnished the Dutch in the international community. Perhaps to make up for this, the Dutch did not make the Balinese enter into a forced cultivation system, as had happended in Java, and instead tried to promote Balinese culture through their policy of Baliseering or the "Balinisation of Bali".

Bali became part of the newly independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945. In 1965, after the failed coup d'etat which was allegedly backed by the Communist Party (PKI), state-instigated, anti-communist violence spread across Indonesia. In Bali, it has been said that the rivers ran red with the reprisal killings of suspected communists—most estimates of the death toll say 80,000, or about five percent of the population at the time.

The current chapter in Bali's history began in the seventies when intrepid hippies and surfers discovered Bali's beaches and waves, and tourism soon became the biggest income earner. Despite the shocks of the terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005, the magical island continues to draw crowds, and Bali's culture remains as spectacular as ever.


Bali’s population of over 3,000,000 souls spread over the whole island, including those in the smaller islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan, Serangan and Menjangan Island. The overwhelming majority of Balinese are Hindus, with the increasing number on non-Hindu migrating from the closest neighboring islands of Java and Lombok.

The coastal areas in the south are the most populous area with over 370,000 people living in various professions in the capital of Denpasar. Farming has been the primary way of living in Balinese life. Where else fishing, trading and craftsmanship are also in fashion from generation to generation. Yet with the fast growing of tourism since past few decades, young people start to build up a new touch in their living culture.

Life in Bali is very communal under the organization of villages. Temple ceremonies, marriage, cremation, farming and even the creative art festivals are decided by the local community institution called “Banjar”. The responsibilities in the day-to-day life are normally administered by both the Banjar and the government. The local government mostly responsible for schools, health clinics, hospitals and roads, and Banjar is responsible for all other aspects of life. There is another association exists in the banjar named “Subak” that concerns to the production of rice and organizes the complex irrigation system. Every family who owns a rice field must be a member of their local Subak, which then ensures that every member gets his fair distribution of water. A banjar consists of an average of 50 to 150 family members, owning a meeting venue called the Bale Banjar, which is used for regular gatherings and a center for local gamelan orchestras and drama groups.
Nusa Dua (meaning Two Islands) is the name of the peninsula that extends off the southern tip of the island of Bali, hosting a pristine complex of luxury hotels. A heavy concentration of big name international hotels lines the beautiful white sand shore that offers excellent swimming conditions in a protected lagoon. Located ten kilometres from the international airport, Nusa Dua is designed as an enclave of the most sumptuous and luxurious hotels in the world dedicated to big-spender tourists.

It is an idyllic place for honeymooner and those who are bringing the entire family, the white sand and shallow water are ideal for children to play in the sea while lifeguards keep a watchful eye.The roads in the area are well maintained and 24/7 security staff guard two entrance gates with full security procedures for every incoming and outgoing guest. It is no wonder then that year round Nusa Dua is an official venue for international conferences, congresses, meetings and other executive corporate events and annual festivals, attended by important worldwide participants.

Kuta, located in southern Bali, was a sleepy fishing village half a century ago, but it has slowly expanded since the 1960s after its long sandy beach was discovered by travellers from Asia and wandering surfers from nearby Australia.

Nowadays Kuta is quite busy and packed with varied accommodation from four-star hotels to budget hostels. Cheap bars and clubs make it a party centre, while local and international restaurants offer great dining. Kuta also offers shopping aplenty, from the chic beachfront ‘Discovery Shopping Mall’ and Kuta Square to the souvenir shops lining Jalan Kartika Plaza, Jalan Pantai Kuta and up to Legian and Seminyak – all within easy walking distance. Despite its negatives, Kuta has its own beauty and attractions and remains one of Indonesia’s major tourist destinations; particularly during the peak season from July to August and the holiday season for Christmas and New Year: at these times Kuta will be fully booked by a local younger crowd, Asian travellers and Australian teenagers who are intent on enjoying an affordable vacation in Bali.

Legian is probably the second most popular area with visitors after Kuta because of its close association with beach life and its parties. Indeed, one of Legian’s main attractions is its extravagant night life. Another attraction is the white sandy beach filled with tanned wannabe celebrities.

For first timers Legian is just like another Kuta but give yourself a day, and an evening walk along the famous Double Six Beach, and a night in a cosy club, then you decide what you’ll do with the rest of your vacation.

A few miles north of Kuta is Seminyak which is the hippest part of southern Bali. More upmarket than Kuta and home to Bali's best bars, clubs and restaurants with new places opening almost weekly. Creative energy is the phrase that best sums up Seminyak, energy which also extends to the fashion boutiques.

Cool comes at a price, featuring strongly are world class hotels and resorts located next to the beach. Expect prices to be a little higher than Kuta.

Like many other beachside destinations in Bali, Tanjung Benoa also used to be a fishing village and an old dock, and today most of the shore-side properties have become upper class hotels and resorts. The remaining mangrove marsh still lies at the western side entrance.

Tanjung Benoa is located 15 kilometres from the international airport but if you are already staying within the Nusa Dua cluster, it is just few steps away from the west gate.

While the rest of Bali's beaches have developed at a breathtaking pace, Bali's first beach resort remains largely unchanged.

Sanur is one of Bali's biggest traditional villages but it's also one of the most established tourist areas. Fine hotels, restaurants and modern entertainment venues compliment traditional village activities like drama and dance, so it's a good place to enjoy the delights of a tropical island and gain a real appreciation of Balinese culture and local life.

Located on Bali's west coast - Jimbaran offers a small secluded beach area, where tranquility and peace are the perfect antidote to a stressful world. The land gently slopes away from the beach revealing exclusive celebrity haunts hidden under a canopy of leafy tropical forest.

Candidasa is located at Samuh Bugbug Village 12 kilometres from Amlapura, the main town of Karangasem. It was formerly known as Teluk Kehen (Kehen Bay), but since the tourism industry was introduced the name was changed to Candidasa.

Only one thing is for sure, Candidasa is a tranquil village offering varying accommodation, from basic to five-star resorts and few good restaurants in between.

In many ways Ubud is considered Bali's cultural heart. Located in the cool mountains, just one hour's drive north of the airport and the resorts of southern Bali, this traditional country town is the home of the Balinese Royal family.

Ubud is also a flourishing crafts centre. Around Ubud the surrounding villages like Camphuan, Penestanan, Peliatan and Batuan specialising in crafts and woodcarving which are sold all over the island. There are hundreds of shops selling antiques, woodcarvings, crafts, textiles, paintings and jewellry as well as some of the best art museums in the country, dozens of art studios, an excellent local craft market, and galleries selling local and international art.

Daytime temperatures are pleasant, varying between 20 and 33 degrees Celsius (68 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit) year-round. From December to March, the west monsoon can bring heavy showers and high humidity, but days are still often sunny with the rains starting in the late afternoon or evening and passing quickly. From June to September, the humidity is low and it can be quite cool in the evenings. At this time of the year there is hardly any rain in the lowland coastal areas. Even when it is raining across most of Bali, you can often enjoy sunny, dry days on the Bukit Peninsula which receives far less rain than any other part of the island. On the other hand, in central Bali and in the mountains, you should not be surprised by cloudy skies and showers at any time of the year. At higher elevations such as Bedugul or Kintamani, it gets distinctly chilly and you will need either a sweater or jacket after the sun sets.

Most international visitors will fly to Bali directly.

  • Numerous direct flights from Europe, America, Australia and most Asian Countries.
  • Domestic flights to and from major cities within Indonesia.

  • Regular passenger ferries from Java and Lombok.
  • Cruise ship stop-offs.

  • By car or bus from Java.

  • There are many modes of transport to help you "Jalan Jalan" your way around Bali. A variety of excellent half day, full day and overnight tour packages are available from your hotel desk or any of the numerous travel agents and tour operators which abound in Bali. Or you can find a car and driver who will also act as your guide.

    Whilst walking about, you will be barraged with constant questions of "Transport, transport?". Competition is tight and many drivers know several languages. Tell the driver your desired route and negotiate a fee.

    An important virtue to have while on the road in Bali is patience! Although the road system in the heavily populated areas is quite reasonable (condition wise) in comparison to other developing countries, it can be heavily congested at peak periods. Ceremonial processions often overtake the whole road so if you're caught behind a procession, enjoy the colorful experience.

    In less populated areas, roads may not be sealed and the famous "gang" (very small road just big enough to accommodate one car, but very often two-way) is ever present no matter what area you may be in.

    Walking is still one of the best ways to see Bali. You'll be close to the action. Don't forget a sun hat and bottle of water. If you're walking in Kuta be wary of the undulating footpaths and open access holes placed every meter or so in the footpath. Every so often, the access holes are left open or the lid is broken, which can result in a nasty fall especially at night.

    The public transport system in Bali can virtually take you anywhere you want to go but slowly. Buses and bemos are often over-crowded and hot and are recommended for short trips only. Wait by the side of the road and one will inevitably pass by for you to flag down to stop. Get out where you want, by loudly saying "STOP!" Metered taxis are readily available at very reasonable prices.

    Bicycles are available but bear in mind heavy traffic in Kuta, Legian and Denpasar. Bicycles are ideal in Ubud and the countryside if you're fit. A few companies offer mountain biking excursions.

    If you're feeling brave, hire cars and motorbikes are the thing for you. You will need your license from your home country and an international driving license for renting a car and a special permit available at police stations for renting a motorbike. The rental company can help you obtain this, but it can take half a day of your precious holiday time. Types of cars available are usually small jeeps or Kijangs (larger car with room for 6 people).

    There are some important points to remember while driving in Bali. It is not unusual for cars and bikes to swerve into your lane without indication. Because there are often obstacles such as parked cars or the ever present procession of bakso trolleys and salesmen of all types of paraphernalia on the sides of the road, a system of "sharing lanes" has developed.

    Quite often red traffic lights are considered "only as a suggestion" and there are a few lights where traffic in the left lane may turn or continue straight through whilst the light is red.

    Remember to "hoot" your horn when going around curves on mountainous roads as it is very common to drive in the middle of the road here. There are a lot of one way roads in Bali. If you miss your turn off you may have to drive quite a distance before being able to turn back. Be alert!

    It is not recommended to drive at night especially road to Gilimanuk where the ferry to Java commences. Truck drivers to and from Java are notorious for overtaking on corners. Obstacles such as pot holes or road construction is often marked only by a leafy tree branch. By the time you think "What's that there for?" you could well be in a pothole!

    We highly recommend you fill up at any of the numerous government owned petrol stations. In more remote areas at stalls by the side of the road sell bottles of clear liquid. The quality may not be as good as at the petrol station and could cause damage to the rental car.

    One way to beat the traffic is to go by air! Air Bali can provide helicopters and seaplanes for joy rides or charter. Or go by boat. One ingenious individual who wanted to avoid the flooded and traffic jammed By-pass chartered a boat from Benoa Harbor to Nusa Dua. It's all possible in Bali!.

Balinese cuisine is known for its spicy ingredients, the Balinese roasted pig 'Babi Guling' is a favorite as well as the Indonesian 'Nasi Goreng' , 'Mie Goreng' or 'Satay' are frequently chosen dishes by foreigners. Other appetizing alternatives such as Chinese or Oriental cuisines are represented in numerable food-stands or restaurants, while European and American foods are now also found in most of the tourist hubs. Bali offers a wide selection of tropical fruits as well as various kinds of canned or boxed soft drinks made from them. Bottled mineral water is served at restaurants and hotels and travellers can protect themselves against digestive discomfort by drinking these and not tap water. Excellent domestic made beers and rice wine called 'Brem' or Balinese alcohol 'Arak' and sweet coconut wine 'Tuak'. Or try hot drinks like : the tasty Balinese coffee or sweet Javanese tea. In Bali today, you can eat extremely well, and choose from many different national cuisines. Furthermore, the cost is a fraction of what you would pay, for the same quality of food, in any of the world's major cities. When you add to this, for no extra charge, some of the most magnificent dining settings that you could ever imagine, then you know that you really are holidaying in the `land of the gods'.

Passports and Visas

Bali Visa. Important change to Indonesia's Visa Policy for Tourists.

Please read carefully as there have been changes to Indonesia visa policy.
[ updated January 26th 2010 ]

Countries that do not require a Visa to enter Bali.

Brunei Darussalam
Hongkong Special Administrative Region,
Macao Special Administrative Region,

Countries that require and are eligible for Visa-On Arrivals
US$25 for a stay of up to 30 days
30 day visa can now be extended.
7 day visas NO longer available.

[ updated January 26th 2010 ]

Arab Emirates
Czech Republic
Japan ( processed on plane)
New Zealand
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
South Korea
United Kingdom
United States America


Citizens of countries not on the visa on arrival or visa free lists will be required to apply for a visa before entering Indonesia.

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into Indonesia, and you must have proof of onward passage (either return or through tickets). If you cannot fulfill both of these requirements, you may not be allowed to enter the country.

    Check out the nearest Indonesian Embassy click here
    Indonesian Embassies with websites click here
    Indonesian Consular offices worldwide click here


    The Rupiah. Notes 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000. Coins 25, 50, 100, 500, 1000. Currency Converter click here

Bali Time

    Bali Time Zone is GMT + 8 hours.

Credit Cards

    Major credit cards are acceptable in most hotels along with American dollar traveler's cheques.


    Most hotels use 220 volts, 50 cycles and a round, two-pronged slim plug. Bathroom shaver plugs usually have a transformer switch. We suggest taking an adaptor for your appliance.

Getting Around

    You will find a range of chauffeur driven limousines, self-drive cars, taxis and hotel courtesy cars. Many taxis are not metered so it's wise to negotiate the fare before you climb aboard. Bemos are a unique form of transport. They are a mini-van masquerading as a communal bus. You simply hail the driver and negotiate the fare that suits you both. Motorcycles can also be hired in many places but special care should be exercised at all times as road and traffic conditions can be somewhat hazardous in certain locations. Traveling around Bali is made all the easier because everywhere you go you'll find friendly people only too happy to give you advice and directions on how to get where you want to go.

Driver's License

    If you wish to hire a car you must be over 18 years of age and posses an International Driver's License or license from ASEAN countries.


    Light, airy, casual clothes are the most practical and you'll find natural fibers like cotton or linen are the most comfortable in Bali's often humid conditions. Waist sashes should be worn when visiting temples.

Useful Numbers

  • Taxis

    make sure the metre is switched on and flag up is 5,000Rp to start.

    • Taksi Praja : 289191, 289090
    • Taksi Bali : 701111
  • Medical
    • AEA International (Medical Evac) Jl. Hayam Wuruk 40, Denpasar. Tel : 228996
    • Bali International Medical Center Jl Bypass Ngurah Rai 100X Denpasar. Tel : 761263
    • Rumah Sakit Dharma Husada (Hospital) Jl. Panglima Sudirman No.50, Denpasar. Tel : 227560
    • Kuta Clinic : Jl. Raya Kuta No.100X, Kuta. Tel : 753268
    • Nusa Dua Clinic : Jl. Pramata No. 81A, Nusa Dua. Tel : 771324
    • Rumah Sakit Umum Sanglah (Hospital) : Jl. Diponegoro, Denpasar. Tel : 227911
  • Emergency Numbers
    • Ambulance : 118
    • Fire : 113
    • Police : 110
    • Search & Rescue : 51111
    • Red Cross : 26465
  • Operator Assisted Calls
    • Within Indonesia : 100
    • International : 101
  • Directory Information
    • Bali : 108
    • Indonesia : 106
  • Credit Card Enquiries
    • American Express :
      • Grand Bali Beach Hotel, Sanur. Tel : 288511 ext. 111
    • Mastercard :
      • Bank Central Asia, Jl. Cokroaminoto, Denpasar. Tel : 222652
    • Visa Card :
      • Bank Duta, Jl. Hayam Wuruk 165, Denpasar. Tel : 226578

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