Bali is one of the best known Islands in the Indonesian archipelago. To the west of Bali is Java and to the east lies Lombok, both also well worth a visit if you have time.
The temperature is fairly constant throughout the year, although there is a dry and a rainy season. However, there is still plenty of sunshine in the rainy season and it can be less busy and hotels/flights are less expensive then too.
Whilst tourism is a major contributor to the economy, Bali is also famous for its coffee and its iconic rice terraces which are supported by a complex irrigation system dating back to the 9th century, which has attracted UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition.
The Balinese people are proud of the unique elements of their culture, part of which is their majority Hindu religion set against the predominantly Muslim orientation across the rest of Indonesia. Expect to see plenty of temples, shrines and offerings wherever you venture!
There are a number of mountains on the island, including an active volcano or two and there are plenty of climbing tours available for the adventurous.
The sunrises are apparently magnificent if you fancy a 1am or 2am start for your trek!
The temperature cools significantly with the altitude and the mountains can impact the weather patterns, often bringing clouds and rain.
Mount Agung, the highest point in Bali, is volcanic and the people of Bali believe that it is the abode of Gods. We visited the temple Pura Lempuyang, lying 1,175m above sea level with Mount Ayung as its backdrop.
Note that many photos show the scene below with a reflective water like mirror in front but that’s actually an official’ photographer using a mirror beneath their smartphone to create the effect!
We also visited Tirta Gangga, a former royal palace in eastern Bali which has a lovely garden with fish ponds full of large Koi carp.
Ubud is great place to visit too, it’s in the uplands of Bali and is known as a center for traditional crafts and dance. The area surrounding Ubud is rainforest and terraced rice paddies. It’s a busy, but pleasant area to stay in and an option to get away from the often hectic beaches and towns of southern Bali.
We also took a trip to Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, a major temple set on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains.
One of our favourite places was Tanah Lot, a temple set on some natural rock formations by the sea on the south west coast. Whilst you cannot enter the temple itself, its quite a stunning site to see from the shoreline and the sunsets from the cafes on the cliffs here can be beautiful.
Bali is, of course famous for its beaches, surf and party nightlife 😉 we of course stuck to the cultural activities!
Bali is a busy and well developed place nowadays, for those wanting to experience a less commercialised experience, you may want to look at some of its more northern beaches, or some of the nearby smaller surrounding islands or even the less commercial but quite beautiful island of Lombok. At least take a look if you have time!