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Travel to Bali: the guide to read before you leave

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Aina Prat
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Bali is a dream destination for many of us. This island of wonders marries wild nature and the mastered works of man incredibly well. An island of divine essence has settled in the hollow of the Pacific and only asks to be known. So ready for a trip to the Island of the Gods?

Understand the history of Bali before your trip

For a long time, the island of Bali was dominated by different nobility. In the 16th century, it was conquered by the Dutch, along with many islands in Indonesia. Bali then exports a lot of cotton, rice and cattle. The population, partly subjected to slavery, revolts from time to time, like the slave Surapati in the 17th century.





The Dutch take little interest in Bali, in fact seeking only to prevent acts of piracy, a lucrative business for the Balinese, but which hurts the economy of the Netherlands. It was because of these maritime thefts that Holland took control of the island in 1906. The two royal families therefore committed suicide, accompanied by their subjects. The same scene is reproduced during the return of the Dutch, in 1946. The repression of a communist movement in the Sixties causes between 60 and one million deaths in Java and Bali.

View of Bali at sunrise

Diversity of cultures: an island world

Although modest in size (140 km long, 80 km wide), Bali is an island-world on its own. She has a strong character, but cultivates the diversity of cultures and nature. Bali is a dream destination for all tourists who find an absolutely relaxing change of scenery on this island.





Balinese culture teaches a lot of exchange and sharing. This is probably due to local Hinduism. Thus, many ceremonies, dances and offerings take place in the various temples that you will have to visit, but also in the streets of the cities of Bali.

Everywhere you can see artisans performing artistic feats, making furniture, making simple and touching decorations. Responsible tourism begins by buying products directly from the artisan. A great opportunity to shop with a clear conscience.

A cultural trip: the essentials to visit

To visit Bali is to meet a civilization totally different from ours, a culture to be tamed by visiting the temples, museums, palaces, or cities of the Indonesian island.

Temples

Pure Ulun Danu Bratan

The Hindu religion is omnipresent in Bali, but it is especially in the landscapes thanks to the temples. They exist both in cities and in the most remote areas. Each of them worships a different deity, whether it is the three great Hindu gods (Vishnu, Shiva and Brahmâ), or whether it is the god of the land, the river or any other element. natural. These temples are worth especially for their decorations and the architectural styles completely new in Europe. Here are 2 temples to visit during your trip:



  • Temple Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
    In Begudul, you should definitely take a look at the magnificent Ulun Danu temple, a sumptuous place. Time literally seems to float on peaceful Lake Bratan. Such serenity emanates from the surrounding places that we often remain speechless.
  • Temple of Besakih
    Besakih temple is the largest Hindu temple in Bali. Located at the foot of Mount Agung, it offers magnificent views of the surrounding wilderness, making it a popular destination in Bali. However, this surrounding nature confers a kind of peace which brings a lot to the sacredness of the place.

Museums

Statue at Agung Rai Museum

There are many museums in Bali. Many are interested in Balinese art. Some are devoted to local peculiarities: nature, agriculture… Suffice to say that with all these cultural facilities, you can get to know other facets of the Balinese.



  • Agung Rai Museum
    In Ubud, this veritable living museum presents numerous paintings and artistic shows. From this museum, you will have full view of the volcano which is an integral part of the museum.
  • Puri Lukisan Museum
    This museum has a collection of around 150 paintings and 60 sculptures. It is the most beautiful art museum in Bali.

Palaces

Puri Saren Ubud

The palaces of Bali are impressive in wealth and decoration. The noble families reigned for a long time on this island and left very beautiful architectural works. Here are some of the palaces to discover during your trip.



  • Palais Picking
    Built in the 17th century, this palace is one of the few open to the public. You will discover all the modern splendor wanted by the last king of Denpasar. Part of this palace has now become a hotel.
  • Puri Saren Ubud
    Puri Saren Ubud (Ubud Palace) is a royal residence located in central Ubud. It is now a cultural center, also with a magnificent market. It is one of the great tourist attractions of Bali, but its splendor greatly justifies this popularity.
  • Palais d'eau Tirta Gangga Park
    Built in 1948, the water palace was partly destroyed by the lava flow of 1963. It is however well worth a look with its veritable belt of swimming pools and small richly sculpted bridges, as well as the numerous statues. A surprising visit.

Towns

Statue at Puputan Square in Denpasar

The island of Bali is a dream destination resulting from the exceptional marriage between men and nature. In Bali, culture and nature are intimately intertwined, and you will pass from one to the other without even realizing it, stopping in cities with rich cultures.



Denpasar

Denpasar is the main city of Bali. Modern capital, Denpasar has nevertheless managed to keep some of its cultural origins, notably with the Pura Jagatnatha temple dedicated to the God of Bali. Other places of very strong historical interest are to be visited, such as Puputan Square, with an impressive monument, recalling the suicide protests against the Dutch.

However, Denpasar has also been able to modernize. Witness the Renon administrative complex and the Werdhi Budaya museum, with numerous exhibitions of paintings and Ballinese art.

In June, you have to see the festival that takes place throughout the city with exhibitions, shows, artistic competitions and other arts related to nature.

Ubud

Located in the central part of the island of Bali, the Ubud region is both a magnificent set of green landscapes and an important cultural center. On the cultural side, two museums are essential: the Puri Lukisan and the Neka. There are also many art galleries as well as an artists' village.

A nature trip: the most beautiful landscapes of Bali

In Bali, the extraordinary shows offered by nature are impressive and quickly make you forget the long hours of flight. Approach the center of the island, and observe these magnificent rice fields that stretch as far as the eye can see and create unique landscapes, especially near Jatiluwih and Ubud.

To the north and east, breathe in the force of the wilderness, whether it's hearing the sea rollers crash against the shore, feeling the sea air rushing through your hair, or to see the immensities of the chain of volcanoes. A playground that will give you the opportunity to practice many activities throughout your trip!

The region of Jatiluwih and its rice fields

Landscape of rice fields in Jatiluwih

The region of Jatiluwih is anchored in the minds of most visitors thanks to the astonishing landscapes, and in particular the immense rice fields cultivated on the terrace. Rice is cultivated here using ancient methods. There are some of the most popular temples on the island. It is the ideal region for wonderful hikes along calming landscapes.

Eastern volcanoes

Mount Agung

Bali, like all of Indonesia, is adorned with several volcanoes. You will absolutely have to greet Mount Agung and Mount Batur during your vacation in Bali.

  • Mount Agung is the great volcano to see. From its 3 meters high, it dominates the entire island with its imposing stature. It caused a lot of damage when it erupted in 142. It is possible to reach its summit, but it is better to be in good physical condition, due to its high altitude. To realize its strength, you absolutely have to see the lava flow left by the last eruption dating from the 1963s.
  • From the top of its 1 meters, Mount Batur is another must-see on the island. This volcano is indeed still active and is even the object of a real cult on the part of the Balinese. It is truly impressive. You can also hike to the top of Mount Batur and embrace a huge part of the island. An enchanting moment.

Hot springs

Panas Banjar hot spring

As you can see, volcanoes are ubiquitous in Indonesia, and especially in Bali. Their underground activity also allows a natural phenomenon: the presence of hot springs, loaded with sulfur, ideal for healing or relieving various problems in a natural way. An unprecedented experience to test during your trip to Bali.

  • Hot springs near Tabanan
    About fifteen kilometers north of Tabanan, the waters naturally contain sulfur, potassium and sodium, which you can enjoy in several private spas.
  • Panas Banjar hot spring
    Imagine a natural hot water swimming pool… Well, here is one located in the northwest of Bali, not far from the coast. You will find a lot of tourists and Balinese come to relax in this little corner of paradise.

Bali Barat National Park

Wildlife of Bali National Park

Almost all of the west of the island of Bali belongs to the national park. It helps conserve many species of flora and fauna that inhabit the tropical rainforest. This park allows tourists to discover an incredible and very rare fauna. Take a day to walk around this huge protected space. Some trails promise you lovely walks during which you can see most of this tropical forest.

You will also have the opportunity to discover the fauna through 2 animal parks:

  • Bali Bird Park
    Located north of Denpasar, the Bali Bird park collects many species (around 250) of birds from Africa and South America. You will have the opportunity to see magnificent shows of birds in the middle of huge tropical plants. A pleasant time to spend with the family.
  • Butterfly park
    Near Tabanan, the butterfly park allows you to observe magnificent insects with rich colors. If there are fewer and fewer butterflies in France, in Tabanan, you will see very many.

The island of Nusa Penida

The island of Nusa Penida

Little known to travelers a short time ago, this island in the south-east of Bali has become the new star of social networks in recent years. It must be said that it is now easily accessible thanks to the ferry which connects it in barely an hour. Once there, the steep coasts of this part of Indonesia offer a breathtaking spectacle!

The beaches of the island

Amed beach and the Agung volcano in the background

In Bali, many beaches are famous for surfing. Others, much more peaceful, allow you to enjoy the warm waters of the Pacific at your leisure. These are the favorite beaches for all lovers who have gone to Bali for their honeymoon.

Lovers of beautiful sunny beaches will appreciate just as much the marriage of land and sea. Indeed, the green hills as well as the high volcanoes are very close to the sea, offering magnificent walking trails.

  • Grajagan
    G-land, as surfers call it, is a world famous surf spot. Here, the rollers break at high speed and only the best surfers manage to stay on the ridge for a long time. If you are a windsurf enthusiast, this is an unmissable place in your Balinese itinerary.
  • Uluwatu
    South of Denpasar is the other great beach known for surfing: Uluwatu. The rollers can sometimes be dangerous. Novices really need to be careful.
  • Amed beach
    Imagine an uncrowded beach with beautiful white sand, warm waters, a beautifully green hinterland… That's it, you are at Amed beach. An idyllic setting awaits you here, in the northeast of Bali.

Accommodation: our hotel selection for your stay

Hotel in Bali, Indonesia

With jet lag, fatigue is quickly felt. It is therefore advisable to book your accommodation before boarding the plane. Remember to check that your hotel also has a restaurant, so you can spend a quiet evening or two, without having to go back to town. Here is our small selection of hotels in Bali to facilitate your research before your trip.

  • Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa Resort
    In Nusa Dua, there are many hotels, but few of them offer such comfort, such a swimming pool and such a choice of restaurants. You should also mention the many activities offered throughout your stay in this 5-star hotel.
  • Bali Garden Beach Resort
    This 4-star hotel is ideally located on Kuta Beach and very close to the main shopping areas (malls and shopping streets). Many activities are available: massage, swimming pool, billiards, internet connection, etc.
  • Segara Village Hotel
    This 4-star hotel complex is made up of bungalows from which you will be able to access the various activities on offer, such as golf, a jacuzzi, cycling ...
  • Kuta Seaview Resort
    The 3-star Kuta Seaview Hotel is located close to Kuta Beach, in an idyllic tropical setting. The rooms also offer a view of the ocean or of this magnificent lush forest.
  • Hotel Sinar Bali
    Close to the Legian district, the 3-star Sinar Bali hotel offers a Balinese village atmosphere with beautiful flowers arranged in each room.
  • Hôtel Sayang Maha Mertha
    Located in Legian, the 2-star Sayang Maha Mertha Hotel enjoys a superb location next to the beach and major shopping attractions.

Go out and eat in Bali

Bali has plenty of restaurants. However, it is very often fast food. All hotels generally offer their own restaurant, which often looks more like French and Italian restaurants.

Where to party in Bali?

The best places to go out are in the Kuta region. Australians are king here and you will meet many surfers on the different streets. North of Kuta, in Seminyak, you will find many restaurants where to eat. Do not be surprised to hear French or Italian spoken. Many Europeans have settled in this rather trendy part of the island.

Shopping: souvenirs from your trip

Bali is an island more and more known for its shopping areas. A good tip: pack light suitcases, because you risk falling for many memories ...

craft

The Balinese are masters in the art. They produce many objects from bamboo, coconut, ceramic, metal and silver… Do not hesitate to choose carved and painted wooden objects. They often represent fantastic animals such as a dragon, or pets such as cats. They are usually great home decor items.

Works of art

Bali is an island of artists, of which Ubud is truly the capital. Suffice to say that you will meet many galleries throughout your stay in this great Balinese city. You will also find some at the Denpasar market.

Tattoo

Take advantage of your stay in Bali to get a tattoo on your skin. Many artists will offer to paint a part of your body permanently or temporarily. However, be careful with the choice of tattoo artist. It is better to have a good feeling with him, and do not hesitate to ask your hotel for information ...

Practical information for your trip to Bali

statue of a balinese god

To prepare your trip to Bali, nothing better than useful addresses and practical information! Find tourist offices, modes of transport, exchange rate, time difference ...

Tourist offices

The website of the Indonesian tourism office:
http://my-indonesia.info/

Come to Bali

There is an airport in Bali, located in Denpasar, in the far south of the island. The trip is quite long: it takes about 15 hours by plane before landing on the island of the gods. Compare the price of airline tickets to Bali.

Getting around Bali

The easiest way to get around Bali is to rent a car with a driver. So you won't have any trouble with the left-hand traffic, but in addition, your driver will show you the best places to visit and where to go out in Bali.

If you would like to drive yourself, and thus be completely autonomous, consider asking your prefecture for a international permit.

Public transport can also be a good compromise between independent visits and safety. Choose a Bemo, a modernized local minibus.

Last but not least, the bike can be a great way to get around town. A Dutch heritage that is very practical for traveling through the jungle of the cities.

Currency, change

The local currency is the Indonesian Rupiah or Rupiah (Rp).


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