Holidays to Bali : Bali Travel Guide
Bali is just one of more than 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago and lies between Lombok in the east and Java to the west and between 8⁰ and 9⁰ S of the Equator. In the 2010 census the population was almost 4 million and is about 144 kilometers from east to east and 80 kilometers north to south. Bali enjoys a mild tropical climate with very pleasant day temperatures between 20⁰C and 33⁰C all the year round. Rainfall is quite low in the north and heavy in the south. The rainy season is from November to March, and though there is only five or six hours of sunshine a day, this happens to be the hottest time of year too. The remains dry from April to October and are decided by the southeastern cool winds. Bali enjoys a mild climate and makes it the perfect destination for tourists to come and enjoy the holiday throughout the year round. The combination of hospitable friendly people, the magnificently visual culture infused with spirituality and the spectacular beaches with its great surfing and diving facilities have without doubt made Bali Indonesia’s number one tourist attraction. Almost eighty percent of international visitors arriving at Indonesia visit Bali and Bali alone. Bali is a wonderful destination with something of interest for everyone.
Balinese culture is hugely influenced by Indian and Chinese and unlike the other islands in a largely Muslim Indonesia; Bali is a pocket of Hindu religion and culture. Every aspect of Balinese life is suffused with religion and the clearly visible signs are the tiny offerings called canang sari which can be seen in every Balinese house, restaurant, souvenir stall, work place and in the airport check-in desk. Caste is observed here and with an estimated 20,000 temples or puras and shrines, Bali is also known as the “Island of a Thousand Puras“, or “Island of the Gods“. Balinese Hinduism has its roots in Indian Hinduism and Buddhism and adopted the traditions of the indigenous people. This influence has strengthened the belief that gods and goddesses are present in all things visible. So, every element of nature has its own power which reflects the power of the gods. A tree, rock, dagger, or even a woven cloth is a potential home for spirits whose energy can be directed for good or evil. Balinese Hinduism is very deeply interwoven with art and ritual. Besides the Balinese Hindus, we also find Chinese immigrants whose traditions have melded with that of the locals. So, Bali is a clear example of co-existence between the cultures where the Sino-Balinese not only embrace their original religion but is a mixture of Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism and Confucianism, where they find a way to harmonize it with the local traditions. Hence, it is not uncommon to find local Sino-Balinese during the local temple’s odalan. It is also interesting that Balinese Hindu priests are invited to perform rites alongside a Chinese priest in the event of the death of a Sino-Balinese.
The most widely spoken languages in Bali are Balinese and Indonesian and most of the Balinese people are either bilingual or trilingual. Though there are several indigenous Balinese languages the most widely spoken one is the common Balinese. English is also a commonly spoken language due to the necessity of the tourism industry.
Bali is among the top five islands in the world according to a recent report published by BBC Travel. This exotic island not only offers holidays spread by rice fields on the volcanic slopes that are likely to be still active and also offers sea activities and water sports such as snorkeling, surfing, and diving, swimming, fishing among others. But the main interest of a taking a vacation in Bali is the scope and pace of life that has nothing to do with our fast paced lives thus helping us to take life at a relaxed and enjoy the small wonders of this spectacular island with its lovely beaches, the tropical jungle, the interesting culture and of course the wonderful hospitality of the Balinese. Thus, with its vast, wide, wonderful beaches of the Indian Ocean, Bali remains a major destination for holiday makers who wish to explore new horizons. The tourism industry in Bali is primarily focused in the south though there is significant activity in the other parts of the island as well. Since Bali is quite a large island you need to plan well to get out and explore as the traffic is chaotic in the main tourist areas especially Kuta, Seminyak and Denspar which is the capital of Bali. It would be a good idea to join a group tour at one of the many tour agencies or through your hotel.
Some of the other tourist attractions in Bali apart from its beautiful beaches, the lush green paddy fields and the temples are the Bali Bomb Memorial on Jalan Legian in Kuta which remains as a sad reminder of the first Bali Bomb attack and which commemorates the 202 victims, Mount Agung which at 3,142 meters has not erupted since 1963 and dominates the landscape of East Bali, the still active Mount Batur which smoulders permanently and produces a big bang and plumes of ashy smoke from time to time as and when the pressure is released from within and is just a two hour climb. There are several museums which is a showcase for the works of both the local and foreign artists who have made Bali their home. As Taman Ayun Temple, Batukaru and the Pakerisan watershed are to be proposed to UNESCO as World Heritage sites by the Bali administration it would be a great idea to visit these places of interest too.
Nyepi, or the Hindu New Year of Bali is also known as the Day of Absolute Silence, and is usually either in March or April. In the days preceding Nyepi, you can see amazing and colorful giants (ogoh ogoh) being created by every banjar. On the eve of Nyepi, the ogoh ogoh are paraded through the streets which are an amazing sight and should not be missed if you are in Bali during that time. But on Nyepi absolutely everything on the island is shut down between 6AM on the day of the New Year and 6AM the following morning. Tourists are confined to their hotels and asked to be as quiet as possible for the day. After dark, light must be kept to a bare minimum. No one is allowed on the beaches or the streets. The only exceptions granted are for any real emergencies. The airport remains closed for the entire day, which means no flights into or out of Bali for 24 hours as are the Ferry harbours. Galungan is another 10 day festival which is celebrated to rejoice the death of the tyrant Mayadenawa.
When it comes to water sports and activities, there are many interesting scuba diving sites around Bali. Particularly popular are the ones at Tulamben in the east, the chilled out coral bommies in Padang Bai, exciting drift diving off Nusa Penida in the south and the beautiful reefs around Menjangan Island in the northwest.
The crowds of young backpackers, warm waters, cheap living and the ever reliable waves help to keep Bali near the top of world surfing destinations. Kuta, Legian and Canggu, the Bukit Peninsula and Nusa Lembongan all in the southern coast are the primary draws. Beginners opt for the gentle, sandy areas between Kuta and Legian to be ideal for learning to surf while experts usually head for the big breaks off the Bukit Peninsula.
There are also a number of reputed white-water rafting operators in the Ubud area, and the rafting experience is worth it and is of good quality, especially in the wet season.
Sport fishing is another increasingly popular activity with visitors to the island. Trolling, jigging and bottom fishing can all be very rewarding, with large game far from unusual. The most popular points with a competitive range of options are Padang Bai on the east coast and Benoa Harbour and nearby Serangan close to Kuta, just to the north in Sanur.
Any sport or activity can be found in Bali to satisfy just about any interest. From Golf Courses, adventure activities such as Mountain Cycling in the hills of Ubud, Paragliding at Nusa Dua, Bungie Jumping in Seminyak and Horse Riding in Seminyak and Umalas, Jungle Trekking, and even hiking in the rice fields near Ubud are all interesting activities that tourists can look forward to.
There is a lot for the food lovers as well. Bali has a huge choice of restaurants and cafes which caters to both Indonesian and international food. There are many small local places that are worth trying out where the food is really delicious and cheap when compared to the high end eating places. Do try the Indonesian dishes like the nasi goring (fried rice) or mie goring (fried noodles) which are really typically Balinese. Don’t miss out on the bakso which is a delicious and steaming meatball and noodle soup which you can buy in the beaches of Legin, Kuta and Seminyak at sunset – but be careful when you season it as Indonesian spices can be truly hot.
While in Bali don’t forget to take advantage of the famous Bali Elephant Ride which really gives you an out of this world experience. With so much to offer, it is not surprising that Bali is such a popular tourist destination especially since it is easily within the reach of one’s budget. So if you are making plans for a holiday, Bali is the place for you and get ready to enjoy some of the most memorable time of your life where you will be literally living in an Island of Paradise with nature at its very best!
Plan your next Holidays to Bali , you will never get Disappointed.
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