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Bali Travel Guide
The jewel of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands, Bali, lies between Java and Lombok. Visitors arriving to Bali are struck by its natural beauty, with landscapes ranging from rugged shorelines to glistening, sun-swept beaches. These idyllic scenes are nestled alongside rows of towering volcanic summits which provide a unique and fittingly primeval backdrop for culture vultures who want to immerse themselves in 4,000 years of Balinese history.
As the only Hindu society in Southeast Asia, the island’s ceremonies and festivals are unequalled anywhere else in the region. For example, the celebrations leading up to the Hindu New Year, Nyepi, when the streets of Bali are awash with beautifully made effigies (Ogoh-Ogoh monsters) proudly held aloft by locals clad in full ceremonial dress.
Bali’s shimmering beaches and glittering nightlife make it a magnet for young travelers eager to party. The nightclubs and discotheques are always in season, with modern laser light shows, towering ceilings, and immersive spaces to dance the night away.
Away from the nonstop partying, Bali is a haven for those seeking spiritual refreshment—this is the Island of the Gods, after all. The Balinese look away from the beaches to the Gunung Agung volcano and the mountain ranges that dominate the island’s landscape, where the gods are said to live, to feed their souls.
What’s the weather like in Bali?
Bali’s climate is tropical monsoon with daytime temperatures hovering between 68 and 91 degrees. The wet season runs from October to March. Travelers taking cheap flights to Bali between these months should expect heavy showers and high humidity. The summer months (June through September) are the dry months, the days are hot but humidity is not a factor.
When are the peak and off-seasons in Bali?
Peak Season: Summer into early autumn are the busiest periods so you’ll find it a lot harder to find cheap flights to Bali then. August and September see the most tourists so prices for flight tickets and accommodation rises drastically compared to other times of the year. April and May sees very little rain while also seeing pleasant temperatures, making it a great time to book flights to Bali for a cheaper price. Christmas is also a hard time to find cheap flights to Bali so book in advance for the best savings on your flight tickets.
Off Season: There is a defined monsoon season between December and March when humidity rises and heavy showers are common. There are still plenty of sunny days with the showers coming in late afternoon onwards and moving through quickly. You’ll find cheap flights to Bali during the monsoon season, meaning you can grab a bargain on your flight tickets whilst still enjoying warm weather. There are climatic differences with Bukit Peninsula receiving far less rain that the interior and mountain areas even during the monsoon.
How long is the flight to Bali?
Technically, the flight from the West Coast of the United States to Bali is about 11 to 15 hours. However, because you can’t fly direct to Bali, you should actually plan on two full days of travel time (remember that one of those days consists of the day you lose when you cross the International Date Line). Fly through Singapore or Hong Kong, either of which puts you within four or five hours of Bali by air. Many travelers take advantage of the layover by planning a day or two in these cosmopolitan cities.
Which airlines fly to Bali?
Major airlines flying to Bali include Singapore Airlines, KLM and Korean Air. You can also make connections to Bali through Singapore, Hong Kong and other major Asian cities flying Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Delta.
What should you pack for a flight to Bali?
The two words to keep in mind when packing for Bali are “tropical” and “casual.” Chances are, you’ll spend most of your time in Bali outdoors, so plan accordingly. Pack heavy-duty sunscreen — if you have ever had a sunburn in your life, the Bali sun will burn you — and don’t forget the mosquito repellent. A hat provides further protection from the sun, and it gives you a way to get long hair off your neck. Casual, beachy clothing is the name of the game for Bali. Pack lightweight, breathable cotton clothing, and make sure you have two swimsuits with you (one to wear while the other’s drying). Don’t forget travel adapters and, if needed, converters for your electronics.
Getting to and around Bali
Ngurah Rai International Airport is between Tuban and Jimbaran, 30 minutes from Denpasar, the administrative and transport hub of the Island. Taxis are plentiful. There is a booth in the arrivals terminal where visitors can buy a fixed-fare ticket and be allocated a driver. If the booth is closed then travelers can organize their own taxi, but be prepared to haggle and agree upon the price before starting out. Some hotels do provide a shuttle directly to and from the airport so check with them beforehand as it will make your transition easier after your flights to Bali. There are also buses and minivans, although they are crowded they do offer a cheap alternative for budget travelers.
Travelers arriving on cheap flights to Bali will discover there are several ways of getting around the island. Bemos (small vans with a set routine) and buses are cheap if a little on the slow side. Taxis – chartered or metered – are convenient and inexpensive compared to other countries. Renting a car, motorbike or bicycle offers most independence. The most traditional mode of transport is a dokar (a horse and cart).
What are some things to do in Bali?
Bali may be a small island, but it’s filled with beauty and adventure if you step away from the pool bar at your hotel. Visit Jagasari, one of the island’s oldest villages, to tour temples, rice terraces and traditional homes. Prince Ajoaes’ Tabanan Palace takes you back to the 17th century with a traditional feast and performances of Balinese dances. Touring the Seven Temples of Enlightenment takes you through World Heritage sites that date back as far as the 10th century, and many other rice terraces and temples are also U.N. World Heritage sites. After a long day of adventure, have a Balinese massage; the unique technique incorporates specific rhythm and should leave you feeling like jelly.
While any visitor to Bali (justifiably) spends a lot of time at the beach, look for opportunities to get out on the water as well. A sunset sail on a jukung taking off from a black sand beach may lead you right into a pod of frolicking dolphins, Back on land, explore the Bedugal waterfalls, slip into the healing sulphuric waters of the Banjar Hot Springs, or visit the Temple of the Holy Water, Pura Tirta Empul, also known for its healing waters. If you visit in the spring, you may be in time for a special treat: Nyepi, the Balinese New Year. The whole island participates in cleansing rituals and parades — and then everything shuts down completely, with no noise, no lights and no people in the streets everywhere, as the entire Balinese population spends a day in meditative self-reflection.
Tips for your stay in Bali
Kerobokan jail is a popular, if not a little odd, tourist attraction. Infamous inmates include Schapelle Leigh Corby, the Australian woman convicted of drug smuggling, Michael Loic Blanc, the French man convicted of drug smuggling, and the Bali Nine drug smuggling gang.
Bedugul is where the Balinese flee during the very hot and humid weather. This retreat is tucked into the crater of an extinct volcano, 4594 feet above sea level. The air is fresh, the countryside lush and the fruit and vegetables considered the finest in Bali.
Ubud is Bali’s fine-arts, dance and music center (and a staple on the Eat, Pray, Love pilgrimage trail). The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival takes place towards the end of the year. It is considered to be one of the world’s top literary festivals.
On rainy days, beachgoers still have a good chance of catching some sun if they head over to the “Bukit”, the hill south of Jimbaran Beach on Bali’s west coast.
Make sure you bring a sweater if you’re heading up to higher, in-land regions such as Bedugul or Kintamani. Temperatures usually hold up during the day in these mountainous areas, but it gets surprisingly chilly once the sun sets.
The southern resort of Kuta is probably Bali’s busiest coastal town, and home to many of the island’s liveliest nightclubs and bars. Adrenaline junkies will also appreciate the multitude of activities on offer, ranging from diving to bungee-jumping.
People looking for a more secluded area in which to while away their holiday might be better off heading to the southern coastal town of Sanur. The beach lacks the crowds of nearby Kuta, despite being just a 30-minute drive from the airport.
Finding Flights from Bali
From the Denpasar, Indonesia airport, which is Bali’s airport, you can easily make short hops throughout Indonesia. You can also fly to Sydney and other destinations in Australia, as well as to Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong, where you can transition to flights taking you to other continents. Frequent visitors to Bali tend to gripe about the airport taxis, though they are the most readily available transportation to the Denpasar Airport. Other options include public buses and hotel shuttles.