BALI, INDONESIA TRAVEL GUIDE | TOURIST ATTRACTIONS, BUDGET HOTELS
Land of the Deities
You have got to be living in a myth if you believe you are living among the gods. Perhaps, a Norse, Greek, Roman, or any other culture in their oriental counterparts. But if you live in a predominantly Hindu region—such as in Bali in Indonesia—you would be living the idea based solely on your belief.
In fact, for one so deeply polytheistic as Hinduism, the island of Bali is an enduring testament that gods might still likely be involved in human affairs—at least, to those who believed in the faith.
It is, therefore, with inevitability, that Bali, Indonesia is considered the “Land of the Gods” in the South East.
But while some may take this claim as mere empty words or something deeply esoteric among Hindus themselves, the idea is more pronounced even for the non-believers of the same faith. Yet, what better way that it does so than to erect some multitude of temples (called Pura) to depict the many gods that is lore among Hindus?
When you think that a handful of temples would be considered many enough for the audacity of a certain faith to reverberate across the region, the place has a plethora of temples, counting to 20,000 unique structures as of the last count.
However, not all of these temples share the same stature all the same. Some are regarded as “holier” than others which makes them the greater temples of the bunch while the rest, are less so. Take, for example, Pura Besakih which is regarded as the holiest of all temples and the “mother” to them all.
Yet, looking into the religion, these 20,000 temples are little in comparison to its astoundingly 330 million gods and goddesses combined, all of which are classified according to their traits.
Although most people, cannot be helped but be captivated by the prevailing religion of the land—which is essentially Bali’s own spirit—there are other noteworthy elements that make the island worthy of people’s visit.
Pura Bratan or Pura Ulun Danu Beratan – a major Shaivite water temple in Bali
Take, for one, the exuding culture of Balinese which are distinct from their neighboring regions despite sharing the similarity of being one nationality. From the outset, the Bali people are said to show welcoming hospitality which, perhaps, makes up for why it has become a tourist-magnet destination for the whole archipelago.
But there are also other telling signs of the place’s rich culture that is visible for many to see.
While the infrastructures are already very telling of its distinctness as heavily influenced by the dominating religion, other aspects of Balinese life are also affected. From the unique and otherworldly dance moves and ceremonies in addition to the arts and crafts that are all peculiarly Hindu, the Bali people and their religion are heavily entwined.
Yet, while mesmerizing the experience in Bali, Indonesia, do not forget the other equally important parts of your visit if you are on the island. By this, I’m specifically referring to the geographic makeup and the vistas that make the island a picturesque place to visit.
Tirta Gangga Park Water Palace, Bali, Indonesia
Bali, Indonesia Tourist Spots
Bali, Indonesia caters to a lot of temples; it is even said that there are more temples than homes in the place. These temples are actually shrines that are quiet and isolated but transform into a festive place for every temple anniversary and festival. During these events, there are dance performances, gambling, and cockfighting. All of the temples in the area are either facing the sea, mountain, or sunrise.
Among all the temples, some of the most famous ones are the following:
Tanah Lot Temple
If you are seeing temples in Bali postcards, more probably that temple is the Tanah Lot. This temple is the most photographed and most visited temple on the island. Tanah Lot which means ‘Land (in the) Sea’ is the home of Pura Tanah – an ancient Hindu pilgrimage temple. This temple has been built in the 16th century by Dang Hyang Nirartha, one of Bali’s religious figures and a Hindu traveler. The historic temple sits on a rock formation that has been restored when it started to crumble in 1980. At present times, the site is the best spot to witness the sunset; however, some find it hard to appreciate it due to the overpopulation of tourists visiting every day.
Uluwatu Temple, Bali, Indonesia
Situated at the top of a steep cliff that is around 250 feet above sea level, this temple is famous for the said wonderful location. This is where its name, Uluwatu, is derived from; Ulu means top/tip and Watu means stone/rock. Uluwatu Temple or Pura Luhur Uluwatu is believed to be one of the six key temples of the island’s spiritual pillars. Same to the Tanah Lot, Uluwatu is also shown in Bali’s postcards and has a good view of sunsets. One of the highlights of the temple is its two entrances which are both split gates that have carvings of flowers and leaves; in front of the gates is a coupling structure of an elephant head with a human body.
Located 1,000 meters high at Mount Agung’s south-western slopes, this temple is more commonly known as the ‘mother temple’. This Besakih is considered to be the holiest and largest temple on the island as it contains about 86 temples and 18 others. Three of the said temples are dedicated to the trinity of Hindu; Pura Penetaran Agung for Shiva (the destroyer), Pura Kiduling Kreteg for Brahma (the creator), and Pura Batu Madeg for Vishnu (the preserver). A lot of the inner courtyards are reserved for the pilgrims and are not open to the public.
Goa Gajah which is ‘Elephant Cave’ when translated into English actually doesn’t have any elephants within. There are some theories on the origin of the name such as Gajah came from a stone figure of Lord Ganesh found in a cave and this figure is characterized by the head of an elephant; other studies show that it came from the name of Antakunjarapada which means elephant’s border. Some things to see in the area are a meeting hall, old stone carvings, a pool with five statues of Hindu angels, rice fields, small streams and arts, and souvenir shops. Like any other temple, this site was built for prayers and meditation.
Aside from a large number of temples, the place also embraces nature and wildlife resources. Remember the movie Eat Pray Love? Yes, the one starring Julia Roberts where her character needed to find her true self. The movie mostly depicts scenes from the area, specifically in the town of Ubud. After seeing the movie, everyone will surely love the calm feeling of living in an urban area. Here are some of the main attractions in the mentioned town of Ubud:
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Tourists visiting these rice terraces always take the opportunity of having a dramatic kind of photo opportunity as it offers a picturesque view of nature while having cool and breezy surroundings. The Tegallalang Rice Terraces is famous for its rice paddies that involve the subak or the traditional irrigation system of the locals. This spot is also perfect for painters as there is a number of art cafes nearby. This site is located in the town of Ubud.
Ubud Monkey Forest
Also located at Ubud, this Sacred Monkey Forest is the best-known macaque-inhabited forest and is probably one of the main attractions in the town. This site is a sanctuary of a group of grey long-tailed macaques. Visitors can watch the monkeys freely play and swing through canopies, feeding them with bananas is also fine. In this forest, also lies a temple and village funerals.
Ubud Art Market
For good shopping of locally made hand-crafted goods like woven bags, hats, baskets, statues, silk scarves, shirts, and more, this market is a perfect choice. Every visitor to the market will surely admire the craftsmanship and artistry of the Balinese. Compare to other markets like Kuta, Ubud Market sells higher quality items. Don’t think of spending huge money here as bargaining is always welcome.
More attractions in Bali that are outside the town of Ubud are the following:
Mount Batur Volcano
Mount Batur or the Kintamani volcano is a popular trek on the island especially in the early morning as the sunrise can be observed from the ridges of the place. The volcano surrounds the Batur caldera lake and a trip down to the lakeshore can be very exciting. The three main villages in the area are Kintamani, Penelokan, and Batur. At Penelokan, you can see the best view of panoramas.
Bali Safari & Marine Parks
For animal lovers and an absolute fun trip for the whole family, this animal theme park is the place to be. This park is home to more than 60 species, of which can roam freely on a mimic look of their natural habitats. A safari bus is available in order to witness the wildlife animals such as elephants doing a talent show, baby orangutans, and water animals like baby sharks. Other animals that you can have a close encounters with are tigers, giraffes, hippos, deer, zebras, ostriches, camels, lions, and more.
If you’re planning to visit Bali, here are some travel tips to keep in mind:
1. Plan ahead: Bali is a popular tourist destination, so it’s important to plan ahead and book your accommodation, transportation, and tours in advance, especially during peak season.
2. Dress respectfully: Bali is a predominantly Hindu island, so it’s important to dress modestly, especially when visiting temples or other religious sites. This means covering your shoulders and knees.
3. Be aware of your surroundings: Bali is generally a safe place to visit, but like any tourist destination, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings.
4. Respect the culture: Balinese culture is unique and should be respected. Learn about the local customs and traditions, and be respectful when visiting temples and other religious sites.
5. Try the local cuisine: Balinese cuisine is delicious and varied, with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices. Be sure to try some local dishes, such as nasi goreng (fried rice) and satay (grilled meat skewers).
6. Get off the beaten path: While Bali is known for its beaches and nightlife, there are plenty of other things to see and do on the island. Consider exploring some of the lesser-known areas, such as the rice terraces in Ubud or the waterfalls in Munduk.
7. Stay hydrated: Bali is hot and humid, so it’s important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
8. Negotiate prices: Bargaining is common in Bali, especially when shopping at markets or taking taxis. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices to get a fair deal.
9. Respect the environment: Bali’s natural beauty is one of its biggest draws, so it’s important to respect the environment. Don’t litter, and consider using eco-friendly products when possible.
10. Have fun: Bali is an amazing destination with plenty to see and do. Relax, enjoy yourself, and take in all the island has to offer!
What to buy in Bali, Indonesia
Bali is known for its unique arts, crafts, and textiles, and there are many markets and shops where you can find a wide variety of souvenirs and gifts. Here are some popular items to buy in Bali, as well as tips for where and how to buy them:
1. Batik textiles: Batik is a traditional Indonesian fabric that is handmade using a wax-resist dyeing technique. You can find batik textiles in many markets and shops in Bali, especially in the town of Ubud.
2. Silver jewelry: Bali is famous for its intricate silver jewelry, which is often decorated with traditional Balinese motifs. You can find silver jewelry in many markets and shops throughout the island, including the town of Celuk.
3. Wood carvings: Bali is home to many talented wood carvers, who create beautiful sculptures, masks, and other decorative items. You can find wood carvings in many markets and shops throughout the island, including the town of Mas.
4. Traditional paintings: Bali has a rich artistic tradition, and you can find many beautiful paintings and artworks in markets and galleries throughout the island, especially in Ubud.
When shopping in Bali, it’s important to be prepared to bargain, as most prices are negotiable. It’s also a good idea to shop around and compare prices before making a purchase. Additionally, be wary of counterfeit goods, especially when buying branded items such as clothing or accessories.
Some popular markets and shopping areas in Bali include the Ubud Art Market, the Sukawati Art Market, and the Kuta Art Market. Additionally, many hotels and resorts have on-site shops or boutiques where you can find locally-made goods.
LIST OF HOTELS AND RESORTS IN BALI, INDONESIA
HARRIS Hotel Seminyak
Jl. Drupadi 99
BOOK A BALI INDONESIA HOTEL ROOM HERE
Adi Dharma Hotel
Jl. Benesari Kut
Astagina Resort and Spa
Jl. Werkudara, Legian – Double Six Seminyak Kut
Ramada Encore Bali Seminyak Resort
Jl. Dewi Saraswati III
Royal Singosari Kuta
Jalan Singosari Kut
Park Regis Kuta Hotel
Jalan Raya Kuta 8
Puri Dewa Bharata Hotel
11 Nakula Stree
Puri Gangga Resort Ubud
Br. Sebatu, Desa Sebatu, Tegalalang, Ubud 1
BOOK A BALI, INDONESIA HOTEL ROOM HERE
Primera Hotel Seminyak
Jl. Camplung Tanduk (Dhyana Pura) No. 9
Risata Bali Resort & Spa
Jalan Wana Segara, Kut
Sandat Mas Cottages
Jalan. Pantai Suluban, Uluwat
The Harmony Hotel Seminyak
Drupadi No. 23
Anulekha Resort and Villa
Banjar Silungan, Desa Lodtunduh, Ubud, Gianyar, Ubu
Ashana Hotel Uluwatu
Jalan Raya Labuansait No 10, Suluban, Uluwat
Avisara Villa and Guest House
Real Estate Taman Mumbul Jl. Pulau Sari, Dukuh II, Nusa Dua
BOOK A BALI, INDONESIA HOTEL ROOM HERE
Budhiayu Villas Ubud
Jalan Raya Nyuh Kuning, Bali Cultural Center (BCC) Lane no.
Bali Bule Homestay
Jl. Pantai Padang – Padan
The Lokha Ubud Resort
Br. Bangkiang Sidem, Desa Keliki, Tegallalang, Ubu
The Taman Ayu Hotel Seminyak
The Oasis Kuta Hotel
Jl. Bakungsari Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, 8036
Watermark Hotel and Spa Bali
Jalan Uluwatu No. 88 Kedonganan, Jimbara
Jimbaran Bay Beach Resort & Spa by Prabu
Jalan Pantai Kedongana
Liberta Seminyak Hotel
Jalan Petitenget No. 2 Kerobokan
BOOK A BALI, INDONESIA HOTEL ROOM HERE
Jalan Danau Tamblingan 100 Gang Keke 4 Sanur, Denpasa
Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel
Jl Hang Tuah, Sanu
Villa Puri Royan
Jl. Pantai Sari No. 25, Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia, 8036
Mesten Tamarind Hotel Nusa Dua
Jalan Celagi Nunggul, Sawangan, Nusa Dua
BOOK A BALI, INDONESIA HOTEL ROOM HERE
Street performers in Bali, Indonesia
How to Get to Bali, Indonesia
Bali by Plane from Abroad
Bali, Indonesia is served by its airport located at Denpasar (Bali’s capital city), the International Ngurah Rai Airport. Several direct flights to Bali to serve tourists including Kuala Lumpur, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Bangkok, Hongkong, Brunei, Fukuoka, Tokyo, Honolulu, Singapore, Munich, Los Angeles, and much more.
Domestic Plane Transport (within Indonesia)
During our latest trip to Indonesia, we used the bus train, and boat to visit major provinces and cities. However, I guess for anyone who would visit Bali, you must take a domestic flight. Direct flights to Bali are available in most major cities in Indonesia. Various airlines such as Air Asia, Wings Air, Sriwijaya Air, Citi Link, and Garuda cater to various routes within Indonesia.
From Java to Bali by Boat
If you are from Java you can travel by boat to reach Bali. You need to go to East Java and proceed to Ketapang Port and take PELNI Ferries to reach the Gilimanuk port in Bali. Gilimanuk is the only port that serves the 2 islands. Travel time is approximately 30 to 45 minutes to cross the water. While the ship is relatively safe for travel, most tourists gave it unfavorable reviews, especially in terms of sanitation and poor facilities.
From Lombok or Gili island to Bali by Boat
Regular ferries are crossing Padang Bai (Bali, Indonesia) to Lembar (Lombok). Travel time would take -4-6 hours. Tickets are purchased at the port.
Getting Around Bali, Indonesia
The best way to get around Bali depends on your travel preferences, budget, and group size. Here are some options based on different travel scenarios:
1. For groups: Renting a car or minivan can be a good option for groups, especially if you want the convenience of having your own transportation and the flexibility to explore the island at your own pace. You can rent a car with a driver or rent a self-drive car. Alternatively, you could consider joining a group tour, which can be a good way to meet other travelers and explore the island with the help of a knowledgeable guide.
2. For solo travelers: Taxis and ride-hailing services like Grab and Gojek are widely available in Bali and can be a good option for solo travelers, especially if you’re not comfortable driving on your own. You can also rent a scooter, which is a popular and affordable option for getting around Bali. However, be sure to wear a helmet and drive carefully, as traffic can be busy and chaotic in some areas.
3. For couples: Renting a scooter or motorbike can be a good option for couples, as it allows for easy navigation through Bali’s traffic. Alternatively, you could consider renting a car or joining a private tour, which can be a more comfortable and convenient option for exploring the island together.
Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to plan your routes ahead of time, especially if you’re traveling during peak season when traffic can be heavy. Additionally, be sure to take safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet and avoiding driving under the influence of alcohol.
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