How to reach Bali
The city is served by Ngurah Rai International Airport, popularly known as the Denpasar International Airport. It is located in South Kuta district and is just 13 kilometres from Denpasar, the capital of Bali. Flights from major international cities regularly fly in and out of the Denpasar Airport. It is also well connected to most of Indonesia and has regular domestic flights connecting it to major cities within the country. From the airport, you can easily hire a taxi to your destination. Please note that buses might not always be available from the airport.
After you get your visa to Indonesia, determine your departure airport. Select a carrier of choice and book your ticket to the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. You can also consider taking multiple carriers that will cost you less when compared to round trips. However, multiple carriers have the risk of delays due to the late arrival of originating or connecting flights. No matter where you choose to fly from, you need to keep in mind that you will be having a connecting flight to Bali with one stop. Other than this, there are other airports in Indonesia from Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Bandung, and Lombok that have direct flights to Bali at cheaper rates if you want to explore these places before you reach Bali.
Many of the cruise liners traversing through South-East Asia have a stop at Bali. If you wish to travel to Bali via the sea, then take a flight from Singapore, Sumatra or Java. From either of these places, you can book your ship and take an onward journey to Bali. However, it is not advisable and practical to travel to Bali by ship as the seas can turn rough leading to an unpleasant and avoidable experience. You can instead take a flight to Bali without any hassle.
You cannot travel to Bali by bus or train. You need to land in one of the cities closer to Bali and take a ferry ride that plies between the towns. The most popular ferry ride is the one from Jakarta to Bali which is a tiring 23 hour-long journey. It is one of the most exhausting trips you can ever take, and it is not advisable to travel by bus. However, if you wish to take a train, you can catch one to Banyuwangi and switch to a ferry from here to Bali. From Jakarta, Yogyakarta or Bandung there are trains to Surabaya’s Gubeng Station. From this station, you can take an air-conditioned train to Banyuwangi that will offer a ferry to Denpasar. As mentioned earlier, flights are the best way to reach Bali, and it would be better to avoid the roadways as, in addition to being tiresome, may also be risky. Duration of is above 24 hours, depending on availability.
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Places to Visit
1. Ubud Monkey Forest
Only 10 minutes’ walk south of the town center in Ubud, the Monkey Forest, also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, is one of the top attractions in this tourist town and a must-see for animal lovers and photographers. Besides the entertaining troops of grey long-tailed macaques that make their home here, a large part of the appeal is the evocative jungle setting where the monkeys roam free. Paved pathways lead through thick forests of giant banyan trees and nutmeg, where moss-covered statues and ancient temples loom through the dense
foliage, imparting an almost mystical feel. The forest is intended to represent the harmonious coexistence between humans and animals. It also conserves rare plants and is used as a location for researching macaque behavior, particularly their social interaction.
Address: Jalan Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali
Official site: http://monkeyforestubud.com/
2. Uluwatu Temple
Presiding over plunging sea cliffs above one of Bali’s best surf spots, Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu) is one of the island’s most famous temples, thanks to its magnificent clifftop setting. In Balinese, “Ulu” means “tip” or “land’s end” and “Watu” means rock, a fitting name for the location of the temple on the Bukit Peninsula along the island’s southwestern tip. Like Pura Tanah Lot, sunset is the best time to visit, when the sky and sea glow in the late afternoon light.Archaeological finds here suggest the temple to be of megalithic origin, dating from around
the 10th century. The temple is believed to protect Bali from evil sea spirits, while the monkeys who dwell in the forest near its entrance are thought to guard the temple from bad influences (keep your belongings securely stashed away from their nimble fingers). A scenic pathway snakes from the entrance to the temple with breathtaking viewpoints along the way. Only Hindu worshippers are allowed to enter the temple, but the beautiful setting and the sunset Kecak dance performances that take place here daily are more than worth the visit.
Location: 25 kilometers from Kuta
One of the most integral neighborhoods on the island, tourists can find virtually everything from humble traditional shops to high-end designer boutiques. This neighborhood also has its share of stunning beaches, lined up with vibrant bars and restaurants that stay alive until late at night.
Bali is known for its flamboyant designers and fabulous shopping, and you’ll find the best examples of Balinese design along the busy streets of Seminyak. Cutting edge designer
fashion, surf and swimwear, jewelry, furniture, and homewares are just some of the items you can buy at the chic shops and busy market stalls here. Top boutiques include Biasa, Magali Pascal, and Bamboo Blonde, while Kody & Ko sells colorful quirky art and homeware. Sea Gypsy is a favorite for affordable jewelry, and Drifter Surf Shop & Cafe offers a collection of surf and skateboard gear.
The two main shopping malls are Seminyak Square and Seminyak Village, but you’ll probably find better deals in the smaller shops lining the streets. If you’re really seeking a bargain, head to the Seminyak Flea Markets, near Seminyak Square, where you’ll find stalls crammed with clothing, jewelry, carvings, and handicrafts. Seminyak is also home to some of Bali’s best restaurants and art galleries.
4. Tanah Lot Temple
About 20 kilometers northwest of Kuta, Pura Tanah Lot (“Pura” means temple in Balinese) is one of Bali’s most iconic temples thanks to its spectacular seaside setting on a rocky islet surrounded by crashing waves. For the Balinese people, it is one of the most sacred of all the island’s sea temples. (The largest and holiest Hindu temple in Bali is Pura Besakih, but recently local hagglers have been harassing visitors.) Every evening, throngs of tourists from Kuta, Legian, and Sanur find their way through a labyrinth of lanes lined by souvenir sellers to watch
5. Tegallalang and Jatiliwuh Rice Terraces
About a 30-minute drive north of Ubud, Tegallalang Rice Terraces are one of the most famous areas to photograph these iconic landscapes and absorb their timeless beauty. Be aware that locals ask for donations along the most popular trail through the rice fields here, and many request fees for entrance and parking along the road. A relaxing way to enjoy the lush landscapes is at one of the many restaurants and cafes overlooking the fields.
6. Ubud Art Market
Made famous by the book and movie Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud is also the epicenter of Balinese art and culture. This is where the modern Balinese art movement was born, with the surrounding royal palaces and temples acting as the main patrons. Today, several excellent local museums and galleries celebrate its evolution and traditions. Art gazing is particularly rewarding here, as many collections are housed in traditional Balinese buildings surrounded by serene tropical
gardens. For an overview of Balinese art, your first stops should be Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) and the Neka Art Museum, which lie within a short stroll of the Ubud Monkey Forest. Both span traditional to contemporary works, including kris (ceremonial daggers), photography, and classical wayang (puppet-figure) paintings. Other worthwhile art galleries and museums in the Ubud area include Setia Darma House of Masks & Puppets featuring ceremonial masks from Asia and beyond; Museum Puri Lukisan, spanning a range of Balinese artistic styles; and the Don Antonio Blanco Museum, at the artist’s former home and studio.
If shopping for art is more your style, don’t miss the the Ubud Art Market. This labyrinth of stalls brimming with carvings, sculptures, jewelry, sarongs, paintings, and homewares is one of the top tourist attractions in town. Bargaining is essential, and a good rule of thumb is to counter with half the asking price and barter upwards from there, always with a smile. Opposite the market, the Puri Saren Royal Ubud Palace is also worth a visit and hosts traditional Balinese dance performances during the evenings.
If you’re a budding artist or have children in tow, one of the popular things to do here is to sign up for an art workshop at a local village, which can include traditional painting, mask-making, and jewelry making.
7. Mount Batur
Every day in Bali’s predawn darkness, hundreds of visitors begin the trek up the 1,700-meter summit of Mount Batur to watch the sun rise above the lush mosaic of mist-shrouded mountains and the caldera far below. This sacred active volcano lies in Kintamani District in Bali’s central highlands, about an hour’s drive from Ubud, and the hike to the summit to watch the sunrise has long graced the list of top things to do in Bali. The hike along the well-marked
trails is relatively easy and usually takes about two to three hours. Guided treks typically include a picnic breakfast, with eggs cooked by the steam from the active volcano. On a clear day, the views are spectacular, stretching all the way across the Batur caldera; the surrounding mountain range; and beautiful Lake Batur, the island’s main source of irrigation water. Sturdy hiking shoes are essential, and it’s advisable to wear layers, as the temperature can be cool before sunrise. You can also combine a trip here with a visit to one of Bali’s most important temples, Pura Ulun Danu Batur, on the lake’s northwest shore, and a therapeutic soak in hot springs at the beautiful village of Toya Bungkah on the banks of Lake Batur
Snorkeling and diving in Amed will reward tourists with a magnificent sight of colorful corals, various tropical species, and even Japanese shipwrecks. The Amed beach is known for its expansive, black volcanic sand.
9. LovinaTourists are drawn to Lovina for many reasons, one of which is the opportunity of dolphin watching on its calm seas. The area is also a popular beginners-friendly snorkeling and diving destination.
10. Tanjung BenoaTanjung Benoa is the foremost most popular spot for water sports in Bali, where tourists can find virtually every beach and ocean activity, from banana boat to sea walking, flyboarding to scuba diving. The area is also packed with luxurious resorts for those who’d like to stay the night.
11. Jimbaran Bay
The seaside restaurants lining up at Jimbaran Bay serves the island’s best and most fresh seafood dishes. Most restaurants have candle-lit outdoor seating areas, where tourists can dine and chill while soaking their feet in the sands
12. Nusa Island
If you’re craving a slower-paced Bali, without the crowds, traffic, and tourist touts, the Nusa Islands are where you’ll find it. The most popular of the three islands is Nusa Lembongan, about 20 kilometers offshore from Sanur and easily accessible by speedboat. Surfing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and paddle boarding are the main activities here, and the top attractions include beautiful Dream Beach; Mushroom Bay; and the Devil’s Tears rock outcrop, with views of crashing surf erupting over the rocks. Many locals still make their living
13. Kuta Beach
Yes, it’s crowded and persistent hawkers stalk the beach, but this famous stretch of sand, along with neighboring Legian and Seminyak Beaches just to the north, is still a fun day out, especially if you’re a beginner surfer or you just want to soak up the scene. You can book surf lessons and rent surfboards, boogie boards, sun loungers, and umbrellas directly from vendors set up on the sand, and plenty of cafes and restaurants border the beach. Beach vendors are
easily dissuaded with a polite “no thank you,” but an icy cold coconut sloshing with juice served directly to your sunlounger can be a blessing on a sultry day. For a more peaceful slice of coast on the island, head to the soft sands of Sanur, Jimbaran Beach, or Nusa Dua (Geger Beach here has public access). Surfers should check out Dreamland, Canggu, Balangan, Bingin, Padang-Padang, or the cliff-fringed hidden coves of Uluwatu.
14. Tirta Empul Temple
Locals believe that the sacred water flowing at the Tirta Empul Temple has power to heal and cleanse their body and soul. Tourists may or may not believe the same notion, but soaking in the spring water in a serene, beautiful temple is an experience not to be missed.
15. Sekumpul Waterfall
In the Singaraja region in Bali’s north, Sekumpul Waterfall, actually a series of about seven falls, is considered by many to be Bali’s most beautiful falls. Most hikers hire a local guide to do the three- to four-hour round-trip trek, which passes by bristling rice terraces and local villages rimmed with rambutan and durian trees, and continues through dense tropical jungle. It can be strenuous in parts, as you need to hike down slippery steps and slosh through a river, but once you arrive, you can cool off with a refreshing swim at the base of the falls. This is a great
adventure for nature lovers who want a taste of wild Bali far from the touristy resorts.
Location: About 66 kilometers north of Ubud.
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