Bali and Lombok as Holiday Destinations
Holidaying in Bali centres around beaches, surf, nightlife, rice terraces in the countryside, Balinese culture with temples, art, dance, music, and of course shopping.
Travel to Bali and Lombok is easy from Australia and New Zealand with cheap flights available from Air New Zealand , Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Malaysia Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Air Asia, all flying routes to Bali. Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport is serviceable and basic, but a huge new terminal is under construction and should be ready by 2014.
Generally you need to pay US$25 on arrival for a 30 day entry visa. The best time to travel is probably in the shoulder season, ie June or September. The weather is generally dry and you avoid the price hikes of the high season in July and August.
Arriving in Bali's capital you find yourself gently enveloped in warmth, greeted by friendly locals and thrown into a bustling and fast paced city. If you don't have transport arranged through your hotel or resort, it's best to go straight to the taxi booth on the right as you exit the airport, where you will get transport at a fair price. Busy roads weaving with motorbikes and cars make travel slow, but there is courtesy and a code of behaviour amidst the chaos. New motorways under construction should soon alleviate some of the congestion.
The Best Of Bali
Beaches surround Bali and the outlying islands of Lombok and the Gillis. In Bali, not all beaches are picturesque white sand, but the sea is warm and inviting, the surf is generally reliable and there are plenty of beach cafes to relax in. Kuta beach is a long sweep of white sand as far as you can see, and great for playing in the waves.
Nightlife in Bali centres around Kuta-the Sky Garden Lounge is a highlight. Bars and nightclubs draw you in with drink promotions and DJ's spinning sets that pump all night. Clubs range from laid back watering holes to high end beach front.
Bali's culture is still very much part of everyday life.
Ceremonies around family milestones are important celebrations, so it's not unusual to see people in traditional dress entering homes marked by lavishly decorated bamboo poles.
Temples are everywhere, every village has several and homes have at least one house temple. Major holy temples include Pura Luhur Butukau in the mountains, or the sea temple-Pura Tanah Lot, which is probably the most accessible and popular. Offerings to the gods, containers of flowers, rice and food appear daily and are left at the temples, family shrines, and even on the pavement.
Music, hypnotic and melodic created on xylophone bronze instruments features at ceremonies and religious events. Ancient dances of intricate routines, precise alluring moves with splayed arms and fingers, wide eyes and head movements are performed by young girls. Costumes of elaborate brocades and gold headdresses complete the dramatic visual impact. Balinese local cuisine is rich with spices and flavour. Influences from Indonesia and Asia contribute to a complexity of flavours that is time consuming to prepare, but a delight to savour. Village coking is usually based around a rice staple, often mixed with vegetables, or side dishes served with a centrepiece of rice. Chicken and pork servings are small. Cows are sacred so beef is not a part of Balinese diet. Cooking classes are a popular tourist activity.
For many Bali is a destination for shopping. Seminyak is the heart of the designer scene and here you can find lovely boutiques crammed amongst the street stalls. Kuta is the major shopping destination with markets and street shops, but malls are springing up where you can get quality clothing, at a fixed price that are a bit cheaper than at home. Shopping is often on the beach and there is an eclectic variety on offer, so shopping is an real expedition.
Here you can enjoy an easy and popular day trip. Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali, its popularity heightened by the 'Eat, Pray, Love' book and film. The region enjoys slightly cooler temperatures and you can encounter village life while wandering around the rice paddy fields. Every village has a local craftsperson creating ceremonial objects and many have art studios and galleries with works from established artists. Art and cooking classes are also available.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary amidst the jungle houses three holy temple and is home to a band of monkeys that enjoy visitors attention.