|Governor||Made Mangku Pastika|
|Area||5,632.86 km2 (2,175 sq mi)|
|Density||630.4 /km2 (1,633 /sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Balinese (89%), Javanese (7%), Baliaga (1%), Madurese (1%)|
|Religion||Hindu (93.19%), Muslim (4.79%), Christian (1.38%), Buddhist (0.64%)|
|Languages||Indonesian (official), Balinese|
Bali is an Indonesian island located at Coordinates: the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It is one of the country's 33 provinces with the provincial capital at Denpasar towards the south of the island.
With a population recorded as 3,551,000 in 2009, the island is home to the vast majority of Indonesia's small Hindu minority. About 93.18% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, while most of the remainder follow Islam. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music.
Bali was inhabited by Austronesian peoples by about 2000 BC who migrated originally from Taiwan through Maritime Southeast Asia. Culturally and linguistically, the Balinese are thus closely related to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago, the Philippines, and Oceania. Stone tools dating from this time have been found near the village of Cekik in the island's west.
Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian and Chinese, and particularly Hindu culture, in a process beginning around the 1st century AD. The name Bali dwipa ("Bali island") has been discovered from various inscriptions, including the Blanjong pillar inscription written by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 914 AD and mentioning "Walidwipa". It was during this time that the complex irrigation system subak was developed to grow rice. Some religious and cultural traditions still in existence today can be traced back to this period. The Hindu Majapahit Empire (1293–1520 AD) on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. When the empire declined, there was an exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests and musicians from Java to Bali in the 15th century.
The first European contact with Bali is thought to have been made by Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman who arrived in 1597, though a Portuguese ship had foundered off the Bukit Peninsula as early as 1585 and left a few Portuguese in the service of Dewa Agung. Dutch colonial control expanded across the Indonesian archipelago in the nineteenth century (see Dutch East Indies). Their political and economic control over Bali began in the 1840s on the island's north coast by pitting various distrustful Balinese realms against each other. In the late 1890s, struggles between Balinese kingdoms in the island's south were exploited by the Dutch to increase their control.
The Dutch mounted large naval and ground assaults at the Sanur region in 1906 and were met by the thousands of members of the royal family and their followers who fought against the superior Dutch force in a suicidal puputan defensive assault rather than face the humiliation of surrender. Despite Dutch demands for surrender, an estimated 1,000 Balinese marched to their death against the invaders. In the Dutch intervention in Bali (1908), a similar massacre occurred in the face of a Dutch assault in Klungkung. Afterwards the Dutch governors were able to exercise administrative control over the island, but local control over religion and culture generally remained intact. Dutch rule over Bali had come later and was never as well established as in other parts of Indonesia such as Java and Maluku.
In the 1930s, anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, and artists Miguel Covarrubias and Walter Spies, and musicologist Colin McPhee created a western image of Bali as "an enchanted land of aesthetes at peace with themselves and nature", and western tourism first developed on the island.
Imperial Japan occupied Bali during World War II during which time a Balinese military officer, Gusti Ngurah Rai, formed a Balinese 'freedom army'. The lack of institutional changes from the time of Dutch rule however, and the harshness of war requisitions made Japanese rule little better than the Dutch one. Following Japan's Pacific surrender in August 1945, the Dutch promptly returned to Indonesia, including Bali, immediately to reinstate their pre-war colonial administration. This was resisted by the Balinese rebels now using Japanese weapons. On 20 November 1946, the Battle of Marga was fought in Tabanan in central Bali. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai, by then 29 years old, finally rallied his forces in east Bali at Marga Rana, where they made a suicide attack on the heavily armed Dutch. The Balinese battalion was entirely wiped out, breaking the last thread of Balinese military resistance. In 1946 the Dutch constituted Bali as one of the 13 administrative districts of the newly-proclaimed State of East Indonesia, a rival state to the Republic of Indonesia which was proclaimed and headed by Sukarno and Hatta. Bali was included in the "Republic of the United States of Indonesia" when the Netherlands recognised Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949.
The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed thousands, created economic havoc and forced many displaced Balinese to be transmigrated to other parts of Indonesia. Mirroring the widening of social divisions across Indonesia in the 1950s and early 1960s, Bali saw conflict between supporters of the traditional caste system, and those rejecting these traditional values. Politically, this was represented by opposing supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI), with tensions and ill-feeling further increased by the PKI's land reform programs. An attempted coup in Jakarta was put down by forces led by General Suharto. The army became the dominant power as it instigated a violent anti-communist purge, in which the army blamed the PKI for the coup. Most estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people were killed across Indonesia, with an estimated 80,000 killed in Bali, equivalent to 5% of the island's population. With no Islamic forces involved as in Java and Sumatra, upper-caste PNI landlords led the extermination of PKI members.
As a result of the 1965/66 upheavals, Suharto was able to maneuver Sukarno out of the presidency, and his "New Order" government reestablished relations with western countries. The pre-War Bali as "paradise" was revived in a modern form, and the resulting large growth in tourism has led to a dramatic increase in Balinese standards of living and significant foreign exchange earned for the country. A bombing in 2002 by militant Islamists in the tourist area of Kuta killed 202 people, mostly foreigners. This attack, and another in 2005, severely affected tourism, bringing much economic hardship to the island.
The island of Bali lies 3.2 km (2 mi) east of Java, and is approximately 8 degrees south of the equator. Bali and Java are separated by Bali Strait. East to west, the island is approximately 153 km (95 mi) wide and spans approximately 112 km (69 mi) north to south; its land area is 5,632 km².
The highest point is Mount Agung at 3,142 m (9,426 feet) high, an active volcano that last erupted in March 1963. Mountains range from centre to the eastern side, with Mount Agung the easternmost peak. Mount Batur (1,717 m) is also still active; an eruption 30,000 years ago was one of the largest known volcanic events on Earth. In the south the land descends to form an alluvial plain, watered by shallow, north-south flowing rivers, drier in the dry season and overflowing during periods of heavy rain. The longest of these rivers, Ayung River, flows approximately 75 km.
The island is surrounded by coral reefs. Beaches in the south tend to have white sand while those in the north and west have black sand. The beach town of Padangbai in the south east has both. Bali has no major waterways, although the Ho River is navigable by small sampan boats. Black sand beaches between Pasut and Klatingdukuh are being developed for tourism, but apart from the seaside temple of Tanah Lot, they are not yet used for significant tourism.
The largest city is the provincial capital, Denpasar, near the southern coast. Its population is around 300,000. Bali's second-largest city is the old colonial capital, Singaraja, which is located on the north coast and is home to around 100,000 people. Other important cities include the beach resort, Kuta, which is practically part of Denpasar's urban area; and Ubud, which is north of Denpasar, and is known as the island's cultural centre.
Three small islands lie to the immediate south east and all are administratively part of the Klungkung regency of Bali: Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. These islands are separated from Bali by the Badung Strait.
To the east, the Lombok Strait separates Bali from Lombok and marks the biogeographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia. The transition is known as the Wallace Line, named after Alfred Russel Wallace, who first proposed a transition zone between these two major biomes. When sea levels dropped during the Pleistocene ice age, Bali was connected to Java and Sumatra and to the mainland of Asia and shared the Asian fauna, but the deep water of the Lombok Strait continued to keep Lombok and the Lesser Sunda archipelago isolated.
Bali Island is situated on the border of the Wallace Line, where transition from the Asian wildlife and flora is made into the Pacific Islands biotope. Bali is virtually the southernmost island with specific Asian fauna and flora and with very few influences from the Pacific Islands like the Yellow-crested Cockatoo and other bird species occur. Bali has around 280 species of birds, including the critically endangered Bali Starling, one of the rarest birds in the world. Others are: Barn Swallow, Black-naped Oriole, Black Racket-tailed Treepie, Crested Serpent-eagle, Crested Treeswift, Dollarbird, Java Sparrow, Lesser Adjutant, Long-tailed Shrike, Milky Stork, Pacific Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Sacred Kingfisher, Sea Eagle, Woodswallow, Savanna Nightjar, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Yellow-vented Bulbul, White Heron, Great Egret.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, Bali was home to some large animals such as the wild Banteng, Leopard and even the Bali tiger. The first still occurs in its domestic form, while leopards only in neighboring Java, but the Bali Tiger has completely disappeared, with last recorded one in 1937, when last known specimen was shot. Due to the relative small size of the island and clashes with humans, along with poaching and habitat reduction has driven this unique feline to extinction. It was the smallest and rarest of all tiger species and never caught on film or displayed in zoos, few skins and bones remain in museums around the world as a testimony of its undisputed existence. Today, the largest animals remain the Javan Rusa deer and the Wild Boar. The water monitor can grow to an impressive size and move surprisingly quickly. Two species of deer occur in the island the smaller Muntjak and the larger Javan Rusa deer.
Snakes are represented by green snakes and occasional king and pythons occurring around areas where mice and rats are present. Squirrels are quite commonly encountered, more rare the Asian Palm Civet grown also in coffee farms to produce the expensive and controversial Kopi Luwak. Chiropteras are well represented, perhaps the most famous place to encounter them remains the Goa Lawah (Temple of the Bats) where they are worshipped by the locals and also constitute a tourist attraction, and other cave temples like Gangga Beach ones. Two species of primates occur in the island: the Crab-eating Macaque, known locally as “kera” quite common around human settlements or temples, where they became accustomed to people feeding them, particularly in any of the three so called “monkey forest” temples, with the most popular one in Ubud area. They are also quite often being kept as pets by locals. The second primate, far more rare and elusive is the Silver Leaf Monkey known locally as “lutung”. They occur virtually only in Bali Barat National Park, though in decent numbers. Other, rarer mammals include the Leopard Cat, Sunda Pangolin and Black Giant Squirrel.
The rich coral reef around the coast Bali particularly around popular diving spots like Tulamben, Amed, Menjangan or neighboring Nusa Penida host a large amount of marine life, like Hawksbill Turtle, Giant Sunfish, Giant Manta Ray, Giant Moray Eel, Bumphead Parrotfish, Hammerhead Sharks, Reef Sharks, Barracudas, Sea Snakes and so on. Dolphins are commonly encountered on the north coast near Singaraja and Lovina.
Due to human influence many plants have been introduced by humans within the last centuries, particularly since 20th century, making it sometimes hard to distinguish what plants are really native. From the larger trees most common are: Banyan trees, Jackfruit, coconuts, bamboo species, acacia trees and also endless rows of coconuts and banana species. Numerous flowers can be seen: Hibiscus, frangipani, bougainvillea, poinsettia, oleander, jasmine, water lily, roses, begonias, orchids and hydrangeas exist. On higher grounds that receive more moisture, like around Kintamani, certain species of fern trees, mushrooms and even pine trees thrive well. Rice comes in many varieties. Other plants with agricultural value include: salak, mangosteen, corn, Kintamani orange, coffee and water spinach.
Three decades ago, the Balinese economy was largely agriculture-based in terms of both output and employment. Tourism is now the largest single industry; and as a result, Bali is one of Indonesia’s wealthiest regions. About 80% of Bali's economy depends on tourism. The economy, however, suffered significantly as a result of the terrorist bombings 2002 and 2005. The tourism industry is slowly recovering once again.
Although tourism produces the economy’s largest output, agriculture is still the island’s biggest employer; most notably rice cultivation. Crops grown in smaller amounts include fruit, vegetables, Coffea arabica and other cash and subsistence crops. Fishing also provides a significant number of jobs. Bali is also famous for its artisans who produce a vast array of handicrafts, including batik and ikat cloth and clothing, wooden carvings, stone carvings, painted art and silverware. Notably, individual villages typically adopt a single product, such as wind chimes or wooden furniture.
The Arabica coffee production region is the highland region of Kintamani near Mount Batur. Generally, Balinese coffee is processed using the wet method. This results in a sweet, soft coffee with good consistency. Typical flavors include lemon and other citrus notes. Many coffee farmers in Kintamani are members of a traditional farming system called Subak Abian, which is based on the Hindu philosophy of "Tri Hita Karana”. According to this philosophy, the three causes of happiness are good relations with God, other people and the environment. The Subak Abian system is ideally suited to the production of fair trade and organic coffee production. Arabica coffee from Kintamani is the first product in Indonesia to request a Geographical Indication.
Although significant tourism exists in the north, centre and east of the island, the tourism industry is overwhelmingly focused in the south. The main tourist locations are the town of Kuta (with its beach), and its outer suburbs (which were once independent townships) of Legian and Seminyak; the east coast town of Sanur (once the only tourist hub); to the south of the airport is Jimbaran; in the center of the island Ubud; and the newer development of Nusa Dua.
Another increasingly important source of income for Bali is what is called "Congress Tourism" from the frequent international conferences held on the island, especially after the terrorist bombings of 2002 and 2005; ostensibly to resurrect Bali's damaged tourism industry as well as its tarnished image.
The American government lifted its travel warnings in 2008. As of 2009 the Australian government still rates it a 4 danger level (the same as several countries in central Africa) on a scale of 5.
An offshoot of tourism is the growing real estate industry in Bali. Bali real estate has been rapidly developing in the main tourist districts of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Oberoi. Most recently, high end 5 star projects are under development on the Bukit peninsula on the south side of the island. Million dollar villas are springing up along the cliff sides of south Bali, commanding panoramic ocean views. Foreign and domestic (many Jakarta individuals and companies are fairly active) investment into other areas of the island also continues to grow. Land prices, despite the worldwide economic crisis have remained stable.
In the last half of 2008, Indonesia's currency had dropped approximately 30% against the US dollar, providing many overseas visitors value for their currencies. Visitor arrivals for 2009 were forecast to drop 8% (which would be higher than 2007 levels), but this is due to the worldwide economic crisis which has also affected the global tourist industry and not due to any travel warnings.
Bali's tourism economy has not only survived the horrible terrorist bombings of 2002 and 2005, the tourism industry has slowly recovered and surpassed its pre-terrorist bombing levels and the longterm trend is a steady increase of visitor arrivals.
The Indonesian Tourism Ministry expects more visitors arrivals in 2010, whose target for visitor arrivals is aimed to be the highest ever.
Bali's tourism brand is Bali Shanti Shanti Shanti. Where Shanti derived from Sanskrit "Shanti" (शान्ति) meaning peace.
Airports: The Ngurah Rai International Airport is located near Jimbaran, on the isthmus joining the southernmost part of the island to the main part of the island. Lt.Col. Wisnu Airfield is found in north-west Bali.
A coastal road surrounds the island, and three major two-lane arteries cross the central mountains at passes reaching to 1,750m in height (at Penelokan). The Ngurah Rai Bypass is a four-lane expressway that partly encircles Denpasar and enables cars to travel quickly in the heavily populated south. Bali has no railway lines.
The population of Bali is 3,151,000 (as of 2005). There are an estimated 30,000 expatriates living in Bali.
Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, about 93.18% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, formed as a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. Minority religions include Islam (4.79%), Christianity (1.38%), and Buddhism (0.64%). These figures do not include immigrants from other parts of Indonesia.
When Islam surpassed Hinduism in Java (16th century), Bali became a refuge for many Hindus. Balinese Hinduism is an amalgam in which gods and demigods are worshipped together with Buddhist heroes, the spirits of ancestors, indigenous agricultural deities and sacred places. Religion as it is practiced in Bali is a composite belief system that embraces not only theology, philosophy, and mythology, but ancestor worship, animism and magic. It pervades nearly every aspect of traditional life. Caste is observed, though less strictly than in India. With an estimated 20,000 temples and shrines, Bali is known as the "Island of the Gods".
Balinese Hinduism has roots in Indian Hinduism and in Buddhism, and adopted the animistic traditions of the indigenous people. This influence strengthened the belief that the gods and goddesses are present in all things. Every element of nature, therefore, possesses its own power, which reflects the power of the gods. A rock, tree, dagger, or woven cloth is a potential home for spirits whose energy can be directed for good or evil. Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and ritual, and is less preoccupied with scripture, law, and belief than Islam in Indonesia. Ritualizing states of self-control are a notable feature of religious expression among the people, who for this reason have become famous for their graceful and decorous behavior.
Apart from the majority of Balinese Hindus, there also exist Chinese immigrants whose traditions have melded with that of the locals. As a result, these Sino-Balinese not only embrace their original religion, which is a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, but also find a way to harmonise it with the local traditions. Hence, it is not uncommon to find local Sino-Balinese during the local temple's odalan. Moreover, Balinese Hindu priests are invited to perform rites alongside a Chinese priest in the event of the death of a Sino-Balinese. Nevertheless, the Sino-Balinese claim to embrace Buddhism for administrative purposes, such as their Identity Cards.
Balinese and Indonesian are the most widely spoken languages in Bali, and the vast majority of Balinese people are bilingual or trilingual. There are several indigenous Balinese languages, but most Balinese can also use the most widely spoken option: modern common Balinese. The usage of different Balinese languages was traditionally determined by the Balinese caste system and by clan membership, but this tradition is diminishing.
Bali is renowned for its diverse and sophisticated art forms, such as painting, sculpture, woodcarving, handcrafts, and performing arts. Balinese percussion orchestra music, known as gamelan, is highly developed and varied. Balinese performing arts often portray stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana but with heavy Balinese influence. Famous Balinese dances include pendet, legong, baris, topeng, barong, gong keybar, and kecak (the monkey dance). Bali boasts one of the most diverse and innovative performing arts cultures in the world, with paid performances at thousands of temple festivals, private ceremonies, or public shows.
The Hindu New Year, Nyepi, is celebrated in the spring by a day of silence. On this day everyone stays at home and tourists are encouraged to remain in their hotels. But the day before that large, colourful sculptures of ogoh-ogoh monsters are paraded and finally burned in the evening to drive away evil spirits. Other festivals throughout the year are specified by the Balinese pawukon calendrical system.
Celebrations are held for many occasions such as a tooth-filing (coming-of-age ritual), cremation or odalan (temple festival). One of the most important concepts that Balinese ceremonies have in common is that of désa kala patra, which refers to how ritual performances must be appropriate in both the specific and general social context. Many of the ceremonial art forms such as wayang kulit and topeng are highly improvisatory, providing flexibility for the performer to adapt the performance to the current situation. Many celebrations call for a loud, boisterous atmosphere with lots of activity and the resulting aesthetic, ramé, is distinctively Balinese. Oftentimes two or more gamelan ensembles will be performing well within earshot, and sometimes compete with each other in order to be heard. Likewise, the audience members talk amongst themselves, get up and walk around, or even cheer on the performance, which adds to the many layers of activity and the liveliness typical of ramé.
Kaja and kelod are the Balinese equivalents of North and South, which refer to ones orientation between the island’s largest mountain Gunung Agung (kaja), and the sea (kelod). In addition to spatial orientation, kaja and kelod have the connotation of good and evil; gods and ancestors are believed to live on the mountain whereas demons live in the sea. Buildings such as temples and residential homes are spatially oriented by having the most sacred spaces closest to the mountain and the unclean places nearest to the sea.
Most temples have an inner courtyard and an outer courtyard which are arranged with the inner courtyard furthest kaja. These spaces serve as performance venues since most Balinese rituals are accompanied by any combination of music, dance and drama. The performances that take place in the inner courtyard are classified as wali, the most sacred rituals which are offerings exclusively for the gods, while the outer courtyard is where bebali ceremonies are held, which are intended for gods and people. Lastly, performances meant solely for the entertainment of humans take place outside the walls of the temple and are called bali-balihan. This three-tiered system of classification was standardized in 1971 by a committee of Balinese officials and artists in order to better protect the sanctity of the oldest and most sacred Balinese rituals from being performed for a paying audience.
Tourism, Bali’s chief industry, has provided the island with a foreign audience that is eager to pay for entertainment, thus creating new performance opportunities and more demand for performers. The impact of tourism is controversial since before it became integrated into the economy, the Balinese performing arts did not exist as a capitalist venture, and were not performed for entertainment outside of their respective ritual context. Since the 1930s sacred rituals such as the barong dance have been performed both in their original contexts, as well as exclusively for paying tourists. This has led to new versions of many of these performances which have developed according to the preferences of foreign audiences; some villages have a barong mask specifically for non-ritual performances as well as an older mask which is only used for sacred performances.
The Balinese eat with their right hand, as the left is impure, a common belief throughout Indonesia. The Balinese do not hand or receive things with their left hand and would not wave at anyone with their left hand.
Bali, the famed Island of the Gods, with its varied landscape of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides all providing a picturesque backdrop to its colourful, deeply spiritual and unique culture, stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth.
With world-class surfing and diving, a large number of cultural, historical and archaeological attractions, and an enormous range of accommodations, this is one of the world's most popular island destinations and one which consistently wins travel awards. Bali has something to offer a very broad market of visitors from young back-packers right through to the super-rich.
Bali (Kuta, Bukit
Peninsula, Canggu, Denpasar, Jimbaran, Legian, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Seminyak, Tanah Lot)
By far the most popular part of the island with the amazing Kuta Beach.
Bali (Ubud, Bedugul, Tabanan)
The cultural heart of Bali and the central mountain range.
Bali (Negara, Gilimanuk, Medewi Beach, Pemuteran, West Bali National Park)
Ferries to Java and the West Bali National Park.
Bali (Lovina, Singaraja)
Quiet black sand beaches and the old capital city.
Bali (Amed, Besakih, Candidasa, Kintamani, Klungkung, Mount Agung, Padang Bai, Tirta Gangga)
Laid back coastal villages, an active volcano and the mighty Mount Agung.
|Southeastern Islands (Nusa Lembongan,
Nusa Penida, Nusa
Quiet offshore islands in the southeast, popular for diving activities.
Bali is one of more than 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago and is located just over 2 kilometres (almost 1.5 miles) from the eastern tip of the island of Java and west of the island of Lombok. The island, home to about 4 million people, is approximately 144 kilometres (90 mi.) from east to west and 80 kilometres (50 mi.) north to south.
The word "paradise" is used a lot in Bali and not without reason. The combination of friendly, hospitable people, a magnificently visual culture infused with spirituality and (not least) spectacular beaches with great surfing and diving have made Bali Indonesia's unrivaled number one tourist attraction. Eighty percent of international visitors to Indonesia visit Bali and Bali alone.
The popularity is not without its flip sides—once paradisaical Kuta has degenerated into a congested warren of concrete, touts and scammers live on overcharging tourists, and the island's visibility has even drawn the unwanted attention of terrorists in 2002 and 2005—but Bali has managed to retain its magic. Bali is a wonderful destination with something for everyone, and though heavily traveled, it is still easy to find some peace and quiet, if you like.
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.
Unlike any other island in largely Muslim Indonesia, Bali is a pocket of Hindu religion and culture. Every aspect of Balinese life is suffused with religion, but the most visible signs are the tiny offerings (sesajen) found in every Balinese house, work place, restaurant, souvenir stall and airport check-in desk. These leaf trays are made daily and can contain an enormous range of offering items: flowers, glutinous rice, cookies, salt, and even cigarettes and coffee! They are set out with burning incense sticks and sprinkled with holy water no less than three times a day, before every meal.
Balinese dance and music are also justly famous and a major attraction for visitors to the island. As on neighbouring Java, the gamelan orchestra and wayang kulit shadow puppet theatre predominate. Dances are extremely visual and dramatic, and the most famous include:
The Day of Absolute Silence
Nyepi is a very special day to the Balinese as this is the day that they have to fool all evil spirits that no one is actually on Bali - hence the need for silence. If this can be achieved, then it is believed that the evil spirits will go looking elsewhere for their prey and leave Bali island alone for another year. Balinese people are very religious and life is full of ritual - Nyepi is one of the most important days in their calendar. Police and security are on hand to make sure that everyone abides by this rule.
Nyepi also serves to remind the Balinese of the need for tolerance and understanding in their everyday life. In fact, Hinduism on Bali is unique because it is woven into and around the original Balinese animistic religion. The two now have become one for the Balinese - a true sign of tolerance and acceptance.
There are an estimated 20,000 temples (pura) on the island, each of which holds festivals (odalan) at least twice yearly. With many other auspicious days throughout the year there are always festivities going on.
The large island-wide festivals are determined by two local calendars. The 210-day wuku or Pawukon calendar is completely out of sync with the western calendar, meaning that it rotates wildly throughout the year. The lunar saka (caka) calendar roughly follows the western year.
All national public holidays in Indonesia apply in Bali, although Ramadan is naturally a much smaller event here than in the country's Muslim regions.
With its truly unique culture, Bali has inevitably been the subject of much attention from anthropologists, both amateur and professional. At a more informal level, much has been written about the island by interested visitors and artists in particular, some of whom made Bali their home. The following is a short list of such reading that would benefit any visitor before and during their visit to the island.
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.
An important consideration is the tourist season and Bali can get very crowded in July and August and again at Christmas and New Year. Australians also visit during school holidays in early April, late June and late September, while domestic tourists from elsewhere in Indonesia visit during national holidays. Outside these peak seasons, Bali can be surprisingly quiet and good discounts on accommodation are often available.
Electricity is supplied at 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. American and Canadian travellers should pack a voltage-changing adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment (although a lot of electronics with power adapters will work on 220 volts, check your equipment first).
Some major destinations in Bali have their own tourism offices; contact details are given in the relevant destination articles.
Balinese is linguistically very different from Bahasa Indonesia, although the latter is the lingua franca in Indonesia and is spoken by practically everyone in Bali. In tourist regions, English and some other foreign languages are widely spoken. Balinese is a difficult language, and any visitor who makes an effort to speak a few words will be especially warmly received by the local people.
As of March 2009, Ngurah Rai Airport charges departure taxes of Rp 150,000 (US$15) for international flights and Rp 40,000 (US$4) for domestic flights, payable in cash only. You cannot pay in any foreign currency. Forgetting this could be very awkward!
Most visitors will arrive at Denpasar's Ngurah Rai international airport (IATA: DPS) . Despite the misleading name, the airport is actually located between Kuta and Jimbaran, roughly 30 mins away from Denpasar.
Ngurah Rai is Indonesia's second-largest airport (second only to Jakarta) and a major hub well-connected to Australia, South-East Asia, and the rest of Indonesia. In addition to national carrier Garuda , major airlines that serve Bali include Malaysia Airlines  (Malaysia), Singapore Airlines  (Singapore), Thai Airways  (Bangkok), Cathay Pacific  (Hong Kong), Air Asia  (domestic, Malaysia and Singapore), Mandala (domestic, Hong Kong, Taipei), Pacific Blue (Australia), and Jetstar (Australia and Singapore).
Note that if you are flying internationally into Ngurah Rai, most nationalities are now required to purchase a visa on arrival (VOA) at US$10/25 for 7/30 days; see the main Indonesia article for details. Few other currencies are accepted, so it is a good idea to play it safe and have the required dollars on hand. Flying internationally out of Bali, you are subject to the airport departure tax (Rp 150,000 effective from 1st November 2007) which must be paid in Rupiah, so save some bills for the trip out. The domestic airport departure tax is Rp 40,000. All passports must be valid for a minimum of six months from the date of entry into Indonesia and have at least two blank pages available for stamps.
With an ever-increasing number of tourist arrivals and a double queuing system (VOA and then immigration), the arrivals hall is bursting at the seams during obvious holiday periods and throughout the top of the peak season (mid-July to end of August). Visitors at those times might want to consider organising a so-called VIP clearance, whereby you are met off the plane by a representative who purchases your VOA and clears you through customs. This can save queuing for up to 2 and a half hours. Many hotels in Bali can organise this service for a charge of about US$30 per person. Bali Concierge  offers exactly the same service with the added benefit of a nice lounge to wait in, for US$50 per person.
The airport will not win any awards for style, but it is functional enough and has the usual complement of overpriced restaurants, duty-free shops, etc. ATMs which accept Cirrus and Plus cards for withdrawals are available in airport departure and arrival areas.
In terms of transportation, Ngurah Rai is probably the most hassle-free airport in all of south-east Asia. Some hotels organise free transfers from the airport, but there are plenty of other taxis also available: just go to the ticketing booth, on the right side just after the exit, buy a fixed-fare ticket and a driver will be assigned to you trouble-free. As a guide, the approximate price for getting from Ngurah Rai to Legian is Rp 55,000 and to Sanur Rp 90,000. These are marginally higher than metered fares, so if you're really pinching pennies, head out to the main road and flag a cab or bemo (local minivan) from there.
Since the second Bali bombing, security at the airport has increased considerably; be prepared for rigorous scrutiny of luggage, including carry-on items. Arrivals are passed through immigration, an X-ray security checkpoint and finally customs. When departing, you will likely pass through a total of three security checkpoints, so be patient, particularly when things are busy.
There are direct bus services to Bali from all major cities on Java and Lombok that link with ferries for sea crossings. These are cheap and easy, but slow. The Perama bus company  is a good option for budget travellers.
Ferries cross from Ketapang on the island of Java to Gilimanuk in western Bali every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. These are very cheap, and the crossing takes just 30 minutes (plus sometimes considerable waiting around for loading and unloading).
A number of speedboats and catamarans operate into Benoa Harbour near Kuta (~2 hours) and Padangbai (80 min) from the Gili Islands of Lombok. These are relatively expensive but convenient. See the Gili Islands article for full details.
Cruise ships occasionally stop so that passengers can tour or shop. Some ships still anchor off-shore toward the southeast side of the island and tender guests to shore. Modest-sized ships can choose to dock at the port of Benoa not far from Denpasar, Kuta and Sanur. The dock area is basically industrial, with few amenities and no ATMs, but masses of taxis are usually ready to whisk you to nearby destinations at a moderate cost.
Bali is a fairly large island and you will need a method to get around if you plan on exploring more than the hotel pool. The traffic is chaotic and there are daily jams in Denpasar, Kuta and other major tourist centres.
For different excursions around the island, it is common to join a tour via your hotel or at one of the many street agencies which are found everywhere in booths normally marked "Tourist Information".
Once you arrive at your destination you may encounter difficult walking conditions as sidewalks in most parts of Bali are simply the covered tops of storm-water drains and in many places only 2 ft wide. This makes for uncomfortable single-file walking next to traffic. Often sidewalks are blocked by a motorbike or a caved-in section, necessitating dangerous darting into traffic. Many of the island's conventional streets are simply not pedestrian-friendly. Beach areas and major tourist areas are easier to walk around and Sanur in particular has a wide beachfront pathway with many cafes and bars.
The Perama  bus company serves the budget traveller well in Bali and beyond, and they have offices in several major tourist destinations on the island.
There are other scheduled shuttle buses between many of Bali's most popular destinations, and these are cheap and reliable. Check locally advertised services (you cannot miss them) and book one day in advance.
Metered taxis are very common in southern Bali as far north as Denpasar but few and far between elsewhere. The starting flagfall charge is Rp 5,000 for the first two kilometres and the meter ticks up Rp 5,000 per kilometre after that. Waiting time is charged at Rp 20,000 per hour. Trips outside southern Bali will incur an extra charge of 30%, as the driver has to go back empty. By far the largest and most reliable taxi company is Bali Taksi/Blue Bird; they have a telephone call service (+62 361 701111) for both instant taxis and for advance bookings. If you are hailing a taxi on the street, Bali Taksi cars are always sky blue with a white top light. The cars are modern and the drivers well-informed with a decent level of English-language ability. If day-tripping, it is often cheaper and more convenient to arrange for your taxi to wait and take you back.
Bemos are minivans which serve as a flexible bus service and are Bali's "traditional" form of transportation. They have, though, largely given way to metered taxis in the south. Fares on shared bemos can be very cheap, but drivers will often insist that foreign tourists charter the entire vehicle, in which case they will usually ask for a price equivalent to a taxi or even more.
Driving in Bali is on the left-hand side. Car and motorbike rentals are widely available but you should think very carefully about your ability to handle driving in Bali with its lack of formal traffic rules. Consider hiring a car and driver as you can relax, be safe and not get lost. If you rent a car to drive yourself, a modern four door Toyota Avanza or Daihatsu Xenia should cost Rp 150,000 to 170,000 per day. If on a tighter budget, you should be able to get an old, rough Suzuki Jimny from about Rp 90,000 to 110,000 per day.
Renting motorcycles or scooters can be a frightening yet fascinating experience. They are typically 125cc, some with automatic transmissions, and rent for between Rp 50,000 and 100,000 per day. In areas outside of the tourist enclaves of south Bali, a motorbike is a wonderful way to see the island, but in south Bali, with its crush of traffic, the chances of an accident are greatly increased. Bali is no place to learn to ride a motorbike.
A word of warning when renting motorbikes. A sizeable number of travellers seem to leave their brains at home when visiting Bali and think it is acceptable to ride a motorbike through extremely busy streets in a foreign land without wearing a helmet. Obviously, it is not. You are both showing a great deal of arrogance as a guest in foreign country by thinking you are above the law of that country, and putting yourself at risk. When you rent a motorbike you will be given a helmet, so wear it.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is required for vehicle rental, with a motorcycle endorsement if renting a motorbike. The IDP is seldom requested by the person renting you the vehicle but will be required (along with the vehicle's registration papers) if stopped by the police (typically a Rp 50,000 "fine" will allow you to keep driving). An IDP is easily available from motoring clubs in your home country (e.g., AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance in the United States provides them for around US$15) and it is valid for one year.
Rental car services owned by individuals or companies are easy to find in Bali and this is the best option for first time visitors. Using a rental car with a driver is certainly cheaper than taxis and far more efficient than using other public transportation. The drivers are usually English-speaking and they can also act as informal tourist guides recommending good destinations and restaurants. Choosing to rent from a large car company is naturally more expensive than sourcing from a private individual. Ask hotel staff to recommend a good individually owned rental car with a knowledgeable driver.
Price varies between Rp 300,000 to 600,000 per day (usually defined as 10 hours) depending on your negotiation skills and the class/age of the car. Make sure the price includes petrol and driver for the day. Petrol costs, after the removal of some government subsidies in recent years, have escalated dramatically (although still very cheap by international standards) and the distance travelled is a factor if you have not fixed a daily price. Entrance tickets to tourist destinations and any parking fees will be charged to you and it is good form to buy lunch for your driver. For those on a tight schedule, visiting most of the major tourist destinations in Bali will need about 3 days with a rental car and driver.
Travel by bicycle is quite possible and provides a very different experience than other means of transport. You should bring your own touring bike, or buy locally—there is at least one well stocked bike shop in Denpasar, but with a racing/mountain bike focus. Bicycles are also widely available for rent and some of the better hotels will even provide them free of charge. While traffic conditions may appear challenging at first, you will acclimatise after a few days, especially once you escape the chaotic heavy traffic of southern Bali.
Bali's best-known attractions are its countless Hindu temples. Each village is required by adat (customary law) to construct and maintain at least three temples: the pura puseh (temple of origin) located at the kaja (pure) side of the village, the pura desa (village temple) at the centre for everyday community activities and the pura dalem (temple of the dead) at the kelod (unclean) end. Wealthy villages may well have more than these three obligatory temples, and additionally all family compounds have a temple of some nature.
The nine directional temples (kayangan jagat) are the largest and most prominent. These are located at strategic points across Bali and are designed to protect the island and its inhabitants from dark forces. Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Uluwatu Temple), at the southern tip of Bali, is easily accessed and hence very popular, as is Tanah Lot. For the Balinese, the "mother temple" of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung is the most important of all and sits above the nine. The other seven directional temples are Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Pura Ulun Danu Batur, Pura Pasar Agung, Pura Lempuyang Luhur, Goa Lawah, Pura Masceti and Pura Luhur Batukaru. All of these are located on either rugged high ground or at the water's edge, and this is a clear indication of the likely source of dark forces as far as the Balinese are concerned.
Balinese temple design is an involved subject and one which baffles many visitors. Local geography has a fundamental effect on design, and two temples are rarely the same. Everything you see, be it decorative or structural, has a specific, well-considered function which may be of an earthly or spiritual nature. There are, though, general elements which are common to the vast majority of temples, which are always split into three courtyards: jaba (outer courtyard) , jaba tengah (middle courtyard) and jeroan (inner courtyard). Each of these courtyards contains various structures and/or shrines of differing levels of importance.
The tiered, black-thatched roofs that you see on temples are made from a palm fibre, and this material is not permitted to be used for any roof other than those on temples. The elegant, pagoda-like tiered structure is itself called a meru (named after sacred Mount Meru (Mahameru), the home of the gods), and the most dramatic of them can consist of as many as 11 tiers. The number of tiers, though, is always uneven.
The temple entrance is always on the kelod axis point (facing away from Mount Agung) of the compound and is usually a gateway of some nature. This leads into the jaba which is the domain of humans and all things earthly. The jaba contains only minor shrines, is where some celebratory dance performances take place, and during special ceremonies is where the foods stalls are set up. Non-Hindu tourists are nearly always allowed to visit this part of a temple.
A gateway called a candi bentar leads into the central courtyard which is called the jaba tengah. This is the intermediary point between our earthly domain and the realm of the Gods, and this is where daily offerings are prepared in an open pavilion called a paon. The jaba tengah also usually contains a large pavilion called a wantilan, which is used for special dance performances.
The kori agung gate leads into the jeroan—the inner sacred area. This houses the most important shrines to different Hindu gods and deities and is where serious rituals and prayers take place. Shrines are many and varied but usually include a padmasana, the throne of the supreme deity Sanghyang Widi Wasa. The large pavilion in this section is called a gedong pariman, which is always left completely empty to allow the gods to visit during ceremonies. Sometimes properly dressed visitors will be allowed into the jeroan and at others times not; it depends on the individual temple and the ceremonies that have been, or are about to be, performed.
The most common and practical architectural features to be found in virtually all temples are gazebo pavilions called bales. Each has a raised seating section and either an alang-alang (grass-thatched) or tali duk (black palm fibre-thatched) roof and has a myriad of social functions. Bales can serve as a place for the gamelan orchestra to sit, as a village meeting point, host dance performances or simply be a place of rest for worshipers. This part of traditional Balinese temple architecture has been copied by hotels all over the island and in the wider world. The open grass-roofed pavilions you see everywhere in Bali are all derived from this original piece of temple design.
To enter any temple you must be appropriately dressed with a sarong and sash. These are always available for rental at the large temples which attract a lot of tourists but better is to buy one of each when you arrive and use them throughout your visit.
Most of the coastline of Bali is fringed by beaches of some type, with the exceptions being some important areas of mangrove forest in the southeast, and certain parts of the Bukit Peninsula where high cliffs drop straight to the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean.
Unsurprisingly, given the volcanic nature of the island, black sand is the norm, but there are also some beaches in the south which have fine-grained white sand. Beaches that are especially safe for swimming include Jimbaran Bay and virtually all of the north coast. At all times though, visitors should be aware of and obey local swimming safety markers—far too many visitors to Bali drown each year after ignoring these.
Away from the coast, Bali is largely lush, green and fertile, and rice paddies are the dominant agricultural feature of the island. In some areas, paddies take the form of dramatic sculpted terraces which efficiently utilise every available acre of land for cultivation. Especially beautiful examples of terraced paddies can be found in the centre of the island north of Ubud and in east Bali around Tirta Gangga. Elsewhere, gently rolling rice fields make for very pleasing rural scenery.
All of Bali's mountains are volcanoes, some long dormant and some still active. At 3,142 metres, magnificent Mount Agung dominates the landscape of East Bali and has not erupted since 1963. Much more active is Mount Batur, which permanently smoulders and periodically produces a large bang and plumes of ashy smoke as pressure is released from within. Taking only two hours to climb, Batur is one of the most accessible active volcanoes in the whole of Indonesia.
Art, both traditional and modern, is everywhere in Bali and impossible to miss. Ubud is the artistic capital of the island with several museums and a whole host of informal workshops and retail outlets. Ubud's museums showcase the works of local artists, both living and dead, as well as works by many foreign artists, who either have a strong affinity to Bali or have made the island their permanent home.
A sad reminder of the modern world is the Bali Bomb Memorial on Jalan Legian in Kuta, which commemorates the 202 victims of the first Bali Bomb attack in October 2002. The site of the former Sari Club, obliterated in one of the blasts, lies adjacent to the monument and has not been redeveloped.
There are several monuments commemorating the puputan (suicidal fight to the death) of the Balinese against the Dutch colonialists in the early 20th century. The two most famous are in the town centre of Klungkung in East Bali and in Puputan Park, Denpasar.
Bali's Hindu culture and history is both extraordinary and unique. Many visitors get so wrapped up in shopping, partying and beach life as to miss the opportunity to understand and absorb at least some of this. You cannot fail to see temples, come across ceremonies and witness daily offerings, and those who take the time and effort to understand what is going on around them will find their visit very rewarding.
There are several hot springs to be discovered in Bali. One of them, on the north coast of the island near Lovina, is Air Banjar, where stone mouth carvings allow hot water to pass between the pools, which are set in lush gardens. Another good choice is at Toya Bungkah on the shores of Lake Bratan, high in the north eastern mountains.
Bali is a paradise for spa lovers, and all sorts of treatments are widely available. The Balinese lulur body scrub with herbs and spices—traditionally performed before a wedding ceremony—is particularly popular. Balinese massage is usually done with oil and involves long, Swedish-style strokes. In steep contrast to exorbitant western massage fees, Balinese massage is incredible value, and visitors should definitely avail themselves of this luxury. In local salons, a one-hour full body massage will cost between Rp 70,000 and 100,000, and the two-hour mandi lulur, which incorporates a body scrub and hydrating yogurt body mask in addition to the massage, will cost about Rp 150,000. The curiously named creambath is a relaxing scalp and shoulder massage, usually lasting 45 minutes, in which a thick conditioning cream is worked through the hair and into the scalp. A creambath typically costs about Rp 60,000. Note that these same services in an upscale hotel will cost many times more.
Bali is host to some of the finest yoga and well-being centres and retreats in the world. You can find an abundance of amazing yoga classes to suit all levels in most of the tourist areas. Look for the best yoga centres in Ubud and Seminyak.
Weddings in Bali have become very popular in recent years. Many couples who are already legally married choose Bali as the place to renew their vows. Full wedding-organising services are widely available: ceremony arrangements, photography, videography, flowers, musicians, dancers and caterering. There are several wedding chapels available that are usually attached to luxury hotels, and the number is growing all the time. There are many professional organisers to handle your wedding in Bali, and these are easily found through the Internet. Destination weddings, featuring all types of religious and presentation arrangements, are becoming increasingly popular, with large private villas being one of the island's many offerings for venues.
An excellent way to get to know and understand more of the country is to do some volunteer work. There are organisations that arrange work for international volunteers in Bali and other places in the region.
There are many interesting scuba diving sites around Bali. Particularly popular are the wreck of USAT Liberty Glo at Tulamben in the east, the serene reefs around Menjangan Island in the northwest, and dramatic drift diving off Nusa Penida in the south. Bali is a major teaching centre, and there are numerous reputable dive centres around the island affiliated with PADI and SSI.
Warm waters, crowds of young backpackers, cheap living and reliable waves keep Bali near the top of world surfing destinations. The southern coast at Kuta, Legian and Canggu, the Bukit Peninsula and Nusa Lembongan are the primary draws. Expert surfers usually head for the big breaks off the Bukit Peninsula, whilst beginners will find the gentler, sandy areas between Kuta and Legian to be ideal for learning. There are formal surf schools on Legian beach and Kuta beach. The more adventurous might like to to try informal lessons from one of the many local self-styled surf teachers to be found hanging on any beach in South Bali. Regular surf reports are provided by Baliwaves .
There are a number of reputable white-water rafting operators in the Ubud area, and the rafting is of good quality, especially in the wet season.
Whether it is simple trinkets, a nice statue or high fashion boutiques that turn you on, Bali is a shopper's paradise. A huge range of very affordable products are offered to the point where shopping can overwhelm a visit if you allow it to!
Clothing is a real draw. Popular sportswear brands are available in a multitude of stores in Kuta and Legian for prices approximately thirty to fifty per cent lower than you would pay at home. If the mass market is not your thing, try the ever-increasing number of chic boutiques in Seminyak and support young local designers. Jalan Laksmana is a good starting point.
Bali is an island of artisans, so arts and crafts are always popular. Try to head to the source if you can rather than buying from identikit shops in Kuta or Sanur. You will gain more satisfaction from buying an article direct from the maker and seeing the craftsman in action. Bali has a huge range of locally produced paintings, basketware, stone and wood carvings, silver and shell jewellry, ceramics, natural paper gifts, glassware and much, much more.
Dried spices and coffee are very popular items to take home. Most supermarkets have specially designed gift packages aimed at tourists, or, if you are visiting Bedugul, buy at the Bukit Mungsu traditional market.
Whatever you are buying, make sure you are in your best bargaining mode, as these skills will be required except in the higher-end stores that specifically state that their prices are fixed. And of course, bargaining is a lot of fun.
For more general shopping, Bali is home to a myriad of small stores and supermarkets and you will not be short of options. In recent years, 24-hour convenience stores have mushroomed in South Bali with the CircleK franchise chain being especially prominent. The staff at these always speak English and the product lines they stock are very much aimed at visitors; everything from beer and magazines to western foodstuffs and sun lotion are available around the clock.
Bali has a huge variety of cafes and restaurants, serving both Indonesian and international food (see Indonesia for a menu reader). For better or worse, some American chains have established a presence here, although almost exclusively confined to the southern tourist areas. You will see KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut and Starbucks. Interestingly, the menus are often highly adapted to the local tastes. The menu at Pizza Hut looks nothing like one you find in the U.S.
Try the smaller local restaurants rather than touristy ones; the food is better and cheaper. Be sure to try the ubiquitous Indonesian dishes nasi goreng (fried rice), nasi campur (steamed rice with various vegetables and meats), and mie goreng (fried noodles). These dishes should rarely cost more than Rp 25,000 and are often considerably cheaper.
Some of the most authentic food can be found from roving vendors called kaki lima, which literally means "five legs". This comprises the three legs of the food cart and the vendor's own two legs. Go to the beaches of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak at sunset and find steaming hot bakso, a delightful meatball and noodle soup, served up fresh for a very inexpensive Rp 5,000. You can season it yourself but be forewarned: Indonesian spices can be ferociously hot. Go easy until you find your heat tolerance level!
Padang restaurants are a good choice for both the budget-conscious and those visitors wishing to experience authentic Indonesian (but not Balinese) cuisine. These are usually marked with a prominent masakan padang sign and serve food from Padang, Sumatra. The options are usually stacked on plates in the window, you choose what you want and it is served with steamed rice. The most famous Padang speciality is rendang sapi (spicy beef coconut curry) but there are always a number of chicken, fish, egg and vegetable options. Padang food is always halal and you will eat well for Rp 15,000-20,000.
Actual Balinese food is common on the island but it has made few inroads in the rest of the country due to its emphasis on pork, which is anathema to the largely Muslim population in the rest of the country. Notable dishes include:
Other local Balinese specialities include:
There are plenty of options for vegetarians in Bali from indigenous Indonesian fare to international cuisine. A word of caution: the Indonesian spice paste sambal is a hot paste of ground red chillies, spices and usually shrimp paste. Always check to see if the sambal being served to you contains shrimp paste—you can find it without at a few places. Additionally, kerupuk crackers with a spongy appearance contain shrimp or fish. Instead, ask for emping which is a delicious cracker made from a bean paste and is totally meat free—it resembles a fried potato chip in appearance.
A meal in a basic tourist-oriented restaurant will be around Rp 20,000-50,000 per person. In a local restoran or warung the same meal might be about Rp 15,000 or less. Simple warungs sell nasi bungkus (a pyramid shaped paper-wrapped parcel of about 400gm of rice with several tasty extras) for as little as Rp 3,000-5,000. One very reliable option is nasi campur (rice with several options, chosen by the purchaser) for about Rp 10,000-15,000. Note that rice is often served at ambient temperature with the accompanying food much hotter—it is the Indonesian way.
At the other end of the scale, Bali is home to number of truly world-class fine-dining restaurants. Seminyak is home to many of the trendy independent options, and elsewhere on the island, the better five-star resorts have their own very high quality in-house restaurants with prices to match.
The Balinese have nothing against a drink, and alcohol is widely available.
Indonesia's most popular beer is the ubiquitous Bintang, but the cheaper Bali Hai is nearly as widespread. Bintang is a fairly highly regarded classic light Asian beer, but Bali Hai is a rather bland lager. The Bali-based microbrew Storm is available in several different flavors, and the pale ale is especially good. The other local beer is Anker, and both Carlsberg and San Miguel are brewed locally under license. A wide range of more expensive imported beers are available. Beer is relatively expensive in local terms, though still cheap by western standards; at Rp 10,000 and up a small bottle costs the same as a full meal in a local eatery. In tourist centres, happy hours are widely publicised before and after sunset, with regular bottles of beer going for Rp 7,000 to 15,000 and the giant sizes for Rp 12,000 to 30,000.
Bali produces its own wines, with Hatten being the most popular brand, available in white, red, rose (most popular) and sparkling varieties. Quality is inconsistent, but the rose is usually OK and massively cheaper than imported wines, which can easily top Rp 300,000 per bottle. Wine aficionados are better off bringing their own bottle in with them. Most restaurants will let you bring your own bottle and some will charge a modest corkage fee. Smaller establishments likely will not have a corkscrew, so bring your own!
Bali also produces its own liqueurs and spirits, with Bali Moon being the most popular. They offer a wide range of flavoured liqueurs: banana, blackcurrant, butterscotch, coconut, hazelnut, lychee, melon, peppermint, orange, blue curacao, pineapple and coffee. Vodka and other spirits are also produced locally, with Mansion House being the most popular brand. Be aware, though, that many of these local spirits are little more than flavoured rice liquor. Cocktails in Bali range from Rp 30,000 in small bars to Rp 100,000 in high end establishments. Bali Moon cocktails are available in almost every bar, restaurant and hotel in Bali. Liqueurs are available in many retail outlets; just enquire within if you wish to have fun making your own cocktails!
Bali's traditional hooches are arak, a clear distilled spirit that packs a 40° punch; brem, a fermented rice wine sold in gift shops in attractive clay bottles that are much nicer than the taste of the stuff inside; and tuak, a palm 'wine' which is often served at traditional festivities. Visitors should be extremely careful about where they purchase arak, as there have been a number of serious poisoning cases and even some deaths involving tainted arak.
Tap water in Bali is not drinkable, but bottled water is universally available and extremely inexpensive (Rp 3,000 or so for a 1.5 litre bottle); restaurants usually use commercially purified water for cooking. The most popular brand is Aqua and that name is often used generically for bottled water. Filtered water shops are also common, providing on-site treatment of the mains water to a potable standard. This is known as air putih (literally "white water"). These shops are much cheaper than retail outlets, selling water for about Rp 5,000 per 11-litre reusable container, and they avoid the waste created by plastic bottles.
Very cheap (about Rp 10,000) are fresh fruit juices and their mixes (it can be watermelon, melon, papaya, orange, lime, banana or almost any other fruit you can think of). In Bali, avocado (alpukat) is used as a dessert fruit. Blended with sugar, a little water and ice—and sometimes chocolate syrup—this is a beverage you will rarely find elsewhere! If you do not drink alcohol, Bali's fresh juices in various creative combinations will please you no end. Almost all restaurant menus have a section devoted to various non-alcoholic fruit-based drinks.
Bali has, without a doubt, the best range of accommodation in Indonesia, from US$5-per-night losmens to US$4,000-per-night super-homes.
Backpackers tend to head for Kuta, which has the cheapest (and dingiest) digs on the island, while many five-star resorts are clustered in Nusa Dua, Seminyak and Ubud. Sanur and Jimbaran offer a fairly happy compromise if you want beaches and some quiet. Ubud's hotels and resorts cater to those who prefer spas and cultural pursuits over surfing and booze. Legian is situated between Kuta and Seminyak and offers a good range of accommodation. The newest area to start offering a wide range of accommodation is Uluwatu which now boasts everything from surfer bungalows to the opulent Bulgari Hotel. Further north on the west coast is the district of Canggu, which offers many traditional villages set among undulating ricefields and a good range of accomodation. For rest and revitalisation, visit Amed, an area of peaceful fishing villages on the east coast with some good hotels and restaurants, or head for the sparsely populated areas of West Bali.
Thanks to Bali's balmy climate, many hotels, bungalows and villas offer open-air bathrooms, often set in a lush garden. They look amazing and are definitely a very Balinese experience, but they may also shelter little uninvited guests and are best avoided if you have a low tolerance for critters.
Bali hotel prices may be given in three different currencies. Prices in U.S. dollars are most common, particularly away from the budget sector. Euros are sometimes used, particularly at hotels owned by European nationals. Lower-end places usually (but not always) price in Indonesian Rupiah. If you pay your bill by credit card, then the amount in the currency you agreed to when making the booking is converted to Indonesian Rupiah on the day you pay and your account is charged with that amount of Rupiah. This is because Indonesian banking law does not permit credit card transactions in any other currency. If you pay by cash, you can settle with the currency in which you were quoted the room rate.
It is important to understand the tax and service charge that hotels are obliged to levy by Indonesian law. All high-end and mid-range (and a fair proportion of budget) hotels will levy a 21% tax and service charge on the room rate (the so-called "plus plus"). When you make a booking, you should always ask whether the rate quoted includes or excludes this. Simple budget homestays/losmen and informal accommodation are not obliged to levy these charges. The 21% consists of 11% sales tax which goes to the government and a 10% service charge which goes into a pool shared between the staff.
Bali has become famous for its large collection of private villas for rent, complete with staff and top-class levels of service. Low labour costs result in single villas boasting staff teams of up to 30 people at the really high end. A private villa rental can be a great option for a visit to Bali, but it pays to be aware of the potential pitfalls.
Not every place sold as a villa actually fits the bill. Prices vary widely and some operators claim to go as low as US$30 per night (which usually means a standalone bungalow on hotel grounds with little actual privacy). Realistically, you will be looking at upwards of US$200 per night for anything with a decent location and a private pool. At the top of the range, nightly rents can easily go north of US$1,000. The general rule of you get what you pay for applies here. There are, of course, exceptions, but a four-bedroom villa offered for US$400 and one for US$800 per night will be different in many ways—the standard of maintenance, the number of staff and their English ability, and the overall quality of furnishings and fittings in the property.
Look carefully as to who is running the villa. Is it run by the owner, a local company, a western company or by local staff who answer to an absent overseas owner? And who you are renting through—directly from the owner, a management company, an established villa agent or one who just opened a month ago after his friend Nyoman told him how easy it was? Each path has its pros and cons. If it is an agency, see if there are press reviews. Ask how long the villa has been taking commercial guests, as villas normally take a year or so to get to best service levels. In the first six to 12 months of operation, great villas may offer introductory rates that are well below market value to gain awareness.
Private villas are found mostly in the greater Seminyak area (Seminyak, Umalas, Canggu), in the south around Jimbaran and Uluwatu, in Sanur and around the hill town of Ubud. They are rare in heavily built-up areas like Kuta, Legian and Denpasar.
For an extended stay, it is worth considering a long-term rental, which can be as low as US$4,000 per year. Restaurants, shops and bars frequented by Bali's sizable expatriate community, particularly in Seminyak, Sanur and Ubud, are good places to find information about long-term rentals. Look for a bulletin board with property advertisements tacked up or pick up a copy of the local expat biweekly publication, The Bali Advertiser . Remember that with a year-round tourism trade, villas that have everything right are usually available for more lucrative short-term rental only. Long-term rental houses tend to be older and not as well maintained. If you are willing to be flexible, though, you can find nice house options over a wide range of budgets.
Bali is, in general, a safe destination, and few visitors encounter any real problems.
Bali was the scene of lethal terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005, with both waves of attacks targeting nightclubs and restaurants popular among foreign visitors. Security is consequently tight at obvious targets, but it is of course impossible to protect oneself fully against terrorism. If it is any reassurance, the Balinese themselves—who depend on tourism for their livelihood—deplored the bombings and the terrorists behind them for the terrible suffering they have caused on this peaceful island. As a visitor, it is important to put the risk in perspective: the sad fact is that Bali's roads are, statistically, far more dangerous than even the deadliest bomb. It may still be prudent to avoid high-profile western hang-outs, especially those without security measures. The paranoid or just security-conscious may wish to head out of the tourist enclaves of South Bali to elsewhere on the island.
Bali is increasingly enforcing Indonesia's harsh penalties against the import, export, trafficking and possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. Several high profile arrests of foreigners have taken place in Bali since 2004, and a number have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms or (very rarely) execution. Even the possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use puts you at risk of a trial and prison sentence. Watch out for seemingly harmless street boys looking to sell you drugs (marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, etc.). More often than not, they are working with undercover police and will try to sell you drugs so that they can then get uniformed officers onto you. The police officers will (if you are lucky) demand a bribe for your release, or, more likely, look for a far larger payday by taking you into custody. Just avoid Bali's drug scene at all costs.
The unfortunate people who are caught and processed will find there is little distinction between personal use and dealing in the eyes of the Indonesian legal system. 'Expedition fees', monies paid to shorten jail or prison time, can easily run to US$20,000 and are often a lot more.
There is a fair chance that you will be offered magic mushrooms, especially if you are young and find yourself in Kuta. Indonesian law is a little unclear in this area but with the whole country in the midst of a drug crackdown since 2004, it is not worth taking the risk.
If you see a red flag planted in the sand, do not swim there, as they are a warning of dangerous rip currents. These currents can pull you out to sea with alarming speed and even the strongest swimmers cannot swim against them. The thing to do is to stay calm and swim sideways (along the shore) until out of the rip and only then head for the shore. The ocean is not to be trifled with in Bali, and dozens of people, some experienced some not, die by drowning every year.
Petty scams are not uncommon, although they can usually be avoided with a modicum of common sense. If approached on the street by anybody offering a deal on souvenirs, transport, etc., you can rest assured that you will pay more if you follow your new found friend. Guard your bags, especially at transport terminals and ferry terminals. In addition to the risk of them being stolen, self-appointed porters like to grab them without warning and then insist on ridiculous prices for their "services".
Timeshare scams are common in Bali with several high profile, apparently legitimate operators. If you are approached by a very friendly street canvasser asking you to complete a survey and then attend a holiday resort presentation to claim your 'prize' (this is inevitably a 'free' holiday which you end up paying for anyway), politely refuse and walk away. If you fall for this scam, you will be subjected to a very long, high-pressure sales presentation and if you actually buy the 'holiday club' product, you will certainly regret it. Timeshare is a completely unregulated industry in Indonesia, and you have no recourse.
The money changing rule is simple: use only authorised money changers with proper offices and always ask for a receipt. The largest is called PT Central Kuta and they have several outlets. If you are especially nervous, then use a formal bank. You will get a better rate at an authorised money changer though.
Avoid changing money in smaller currency exchange offices located within shops, as they more often than not will try to steal money by utilising very creative and "magician"-like methods. Often the rate advertised on the street is nowhere near the rate that they will give you in the end. Many times the rate is set higher to lure you in so that they can con you out of a banknote or two, and when this is not possible, they will give you a shoddy rate and state that the difference is due to commission. This even applies to the places which clearly state that there is no commission.
For many, the largest irritant will be the hawkers and peddlers who linger around malls, beaches, and anywhere tourists congregate. It may feel difficult or rude to ignore the constant come-ons to buy souvenirs, food, and assorted junk, but it can be necessary in order to enjoy your holiday in semi-peace.
Last but not least be wary around the monkeys that occupy many temples (most notably Uluwatu and Ubud's Monkey Forest). They are experts at stealing possessions like glasses, cameras and even handbags, and have been known to attack people carrying food. Feeding them is just asking for trouble.
Although the standards of healthcare and emergency facilities have improved greatly in recent years, they remain below what most visitors would be accustomed to in their home country. Minor illness and injury can be adequately treated in the ubiquitous local clinics. Most overseas visitors would not be comfortable having serious problems dealt with in a local hospital, and insurance coverage for emergency medical evacuation (normally to Singapore or Perth) is therefore a wise precaution.
Be aware that the purchase of travel insurance still means that most clinics and hospitals require payment in advance. Any claim is then made to the insurance company on your return home. This is almost always the case if the problem is one that can be dealt with on an outpatient basis. Make sure that your insurance company has an agreement with a hospital or you will also be landed with a bill for an inpatient stay. Bali International Medical Centre (BIMC) appears to have the most agreements with insurance companies and is a well serviced hospital. This is however a relatively very expensive option and even they ask for payment for outpatient treatments.
The midday sun in Bali will fry the unwary traveller to a crisp, so slap on plenty of high-factor sun-protection and drink lots of fluids. There is though no need to carry litres of water as you can buy a bottle virtually anywhere. The locals tend to stay away from the beaches until about two hours before sunset, when most of the ferocity has gone out of the sun.
Bali is officially a malaria-free zone but dengue fever is a problem and all sensible precautions should be taken against being bitten by mosquitoes.
Take care in restaurants and bars; although it is very rare nowadays, some may use untreated/unsafe tap water to make ice for drinks otherwise made with clean ingredients. Tap water in hotels should not be used for drinking or brushing teeth unless explicitly labeled as safe.
The HIV infection rate in Bali is increasing, mainly amongst sex workers of both genders and intravenous drug users. If you engage in any risky activity, always protect yourself.
International phone operators: 101. International Direct Dialing prefix: 001, 007, or 008.
Hospitals with 24 hours emergency room (ER):
Selected medical clinics with English language abilities:
Some countries have set up consulates in Bali and these are their contact details:
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BALI, an island of the East Indies, E. of Java, from which it is separated by Bali Strait, which is shallow, and scarcely over a mile in width at its narrowest point. Bali is 93 m. in length, and its greatest breadth is 50 m. The area is 2095 sq. m. In 1882, for administrative purposes, Bali was separated from Java and combined with the island of Lombok to form the Dutch residency of Lombok and Bali. Politically its divisions are two: - (1) the two districts, Buleleng and Jembrana, on Dutch territory; and (2) the autonomous states of Klung Lung, Bangli, Mengui, Badung and Tabanan. Buleleng, on the north-west, is the chief town. The population on Dutch territory in the whole residency in the year 1905 was 523,535. Bali belongs physically to Java; the climate and soil are the same and it has mountains of proportionate height. There are several lakes of great depth and streams well fitted for the purposes of irrigation, of which full advantage is taken by the natives. The geological formation includes (like that of Java) three regions - the central volcanic, the southern peninsula of Tertiary limestone, and alluvial plains between the older formations. The highest volcanoes, Tabanan, Batur and Gunung Agung (Bali Beak), have respectively heights of 7545 ft., 73 8 3 ft., and 10,497 ft., the central chain having an average altitude of 3282 ft. As regards flora and fauna Bali is associated with Java. The deep strait which separates it on the east from Lombok was taken by A. R. Wallace as representing the so-called Wallace's Line, whereby he demarcated the Asiatic from the Australian fauna.
The natives of Bali, though of the same stock as the Javanese, and resembling them in general appearance, exceed them in stature and muscular power, as well as in activity and enterprise.
They are skilful agriculturists and artisans, especially in textile fabrics and the manufacture of arms. Though native rule is tyrannical and arbitrary, especially in the principalities of Badung and Tabanan, trade and industry could not flourish if insecurity of persons and property existed to any great extent. The natives have also a remedy against the aggression of their rulers in their own hands; it is called Metilas, consists in a general rising and renunciation of allegiance, and proves mostly successful. Justice is administered from a written civil and criminal code. Slavery is abolished. Hinduism, which was once the religion of Java, but has been extinct there for four centuries, is still in vogue in the islands of Bali and Lombok, where the cruel custom of widow-burning (suttee) is still practised, and the Hindu system of the four castes, with a fifth or Pariah caste (called Chandala), adhered to. It appears partly blended with Buddhism, partly overgrown with a belief in Kalas, or evil spirits. To appease these, offerings are made to them either direct or through the mediation of the Devas (domestic or agrarian deities); and if these avail not, the Menyepi or Great Sacrifice is resorted to. In the course of this ceremony, after the sacrifice, men rush in all directions carrying torches; the women also carry fire-brands, or knock on the houses with rice-crushers and other heavy implements, and thus the evil spirits are considered to be driven away. The Mahommedan religion occurs among the coastal population. The Balinese language belongs to the same group of the Malayan class as the Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, &c., but is as distinct from each of these as French is from Italian. It is most nearly akin to the Sasak language spoken in Lombok and on the east coast of Bali. The literary language has embodied many of its ingredients from the Old Javanese, as spoken in Java at the time of the fall of Majapahit (15th century), while the vulgar dialect has kept free from such admixture. Javanese influence is also traceable in the use of three varieties of speech, as in the Javanese language, according to the rank of the people addressed. The alphabet is with some modifications the same as the Javanese, but more complicated. The material universally used for writing on is the prepared leaf of the lontar palm. The sacred literature of the Balinese is written in the ancient Javanese or Kawi language, which appears to be better understood here than it is in Java. A general decline in culture is manifest in the Balinese. Of the early history of their island the Balinese know nothing. The oldest tradition they possess refers to a time shortly after the overthrow of the Majapahit dynasty in Java, about the middle of the 15th century; but it has been supposed that there must have been Indian settlers here before the middle of the 1st century, by whom the present name, probably cognate with the Sanskrit balin, strong, was in all likelihood imposed. It was not till 1633 that the Dutch attempted to enter into alliance with the native princes, and their earliest permanent settlement at Port Badung only dates from 1845. Their influence was extended by the results of the war which they waged with the natives about 1847-49.
The only roadstead safe all the year round is Temukus on the north coast. The rivers are not navigable. Agriculture is the chief means of subsistence; rice being a crop of particular importance. Other crops grown for export are coffee, tobacco, cocoa and indigo. Gold-working, the making of arms and musical instruments, wood-carving, cotton, silk and gold thread weaving are of importance. There are numerous Arab and Chinese traders.
See R. Van Eck, Schetsen van het eiland Bali, Tijdsch. van Nederl. Indie (1878-1879); J. Jacobs, Eeenigen tijd onder de Baliers (Batavia, 1883); H. Tonkes, Volkskunde von Bali (Halle, 1888); Liefrinck, De rijst cultuur op Bali, Indische Gids. (1886).
<< John Balguy
Bali is an island in Indonesia. It is known as an island of a thousand temples. There are about 3,100,000 people in Bali. Bali's most important city is Denpasar. Hinduism is Bali's largest religion. More than 90% of its people are Hindus. Textiles and garments are 45% of their exports. The currency in Bali is the Indonesian rupiah (IDR). Bali's food mainly consists of rice and mostly spicy foods. Tourists often enjoy a local specialty called babi guling (roast pig). Bali has many fruits, such as pineapples, mangos, passionfruits, bananas, coconuts, rambutans, selaks, durians, mangosteens and different kinds of oranges and grapefruits. Bali is also known for its folk music which is played on a group of instruments called a gamelan. The literacy rate for Bali is 45.55%.
Bali is a popular place for tourists. They have lots of historic temples. Bali is known for its great views and its beautiful beaches and volcanoes. Bali has cool days between April and October and hot days from November to March. Bali had a major terrorist bombing on October 12, 2002 killing more than 200 people. The attacks were at a local nightclub in the tourist town of Kuta.
A number of tourists are in prison in Bali. Australians Schapelle Corby and a group known as the Bali Nine are serving long terms in Kerobokan Prison and several of the Nine have been sentenced to death.