What to do in Bali Guide
To some, Bali is volcanoes and black sand beaches, spirituality and rice paddies spilling down steep hills. To others it’s luxury villas, beachside resorts, cool clubs and cocktails. Whether you dine with locals in humble street warungs or dress up to sample some of Asia’s most cutting-edge fusion cuisine, Bali promises a world of sensory wonder.
For generations of Australians, Bali has been our go-to tropical holiday playground. These days, it’s as popular as ever with a great array of top-quality value-for-money accommodation options and every conceivable leisure activity. The buying power of the Australian dollar remains one of the prime motivators for visitors, along with the friendliness of the Balinese people and the ability to experience its deeply spiritual culture.
Another factor in Bali’s favour is that Australians, in most cases, can access direct flights – leave home in the morning and be relaxing in the resort swimming pool in time for dinner. A climate that encourages a shorts-and-T-shirt lifestyle and a relaxed standard of living makes Bali one of the best holiday destinations in the world.
- Country: Indonesia
- Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
- Offical Language: Indonesian
- Visas: Australians travelling to Indonesia as tourists can apply for a 30-day Visa on Arrival (VoA) for a fee payable in USD or AUD
- Tipping: Many hotels and restaurants will include a service tax on the bill, which overrides the need to tip
- Electricity: Indonesian outlets run on an average 220 volts and use Type C and F plugs
Temperature (max C)
J 31, F 31, M 31, A 31, M 31, J 30, J 29, A 29, S 30, O 31, N 32, D 31
Rainfall (max mm)
J 340, F 280, M 210, A 90, M 70, J 70, J 50, A 20, S 40, O 90, N 150, D 290
Soak up some local culture at…
- Spectacular Tanah Lot temple
- An ashram in the Ubud hills
- A traditional batik factory
Had your fill of spectacular Seminyak sunsets? Head on out to Pura Besakih – Bali’s revered ‘mother temple’ – check out the critters at Ubud’s famous Monkey Forest, or simply pamper yourself in an authentic Balinese spa. There’s definitely no shortage of delights on offer at this eclectic island paradise!
The whole family will love...
- A splash at Waterbom Park, Kuta
- Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest
- The Bali Treetop Adventure Park
There’s hardly a cuisine that isn’t represented in Bali and the staples – Thai, Japanese, Indian, French, Italian, German and American – reflect both the tastes of visitors and the many ex-pats who call Bali home. Balinese and Indonesian food is widely available and extremely popular. The best-known dishes include: nasi goreng (rice stir-fried with meats and vegetables), mie goreng (replaces the rice with noodles); babi guleng (spit-roasted Balinese suckling pig), bebek betutu (slow-cooked duck rubbed with spices) and gado gado (a mixture of cooked vegetables and salad topped with a peanut sauce).
Don’t leave Bali without trying...
- Stuffed duck (Bebek Betutu)
- Arak (local liquor made from tuak)
- Sambal (spicy chilli sauce)
Compared with many other destinations, accommodation in Bali offers incredible value for money. Although the newer ultra-luxury properties may stretch the budget, there are many internationally recognised five-star hotels and resorts available for a fraction of the cost of their Australian stablemates. The choice then comes down to two factors: hotels and resorts with a wealth of facilities or the privacy of a villa environment; and what part of Bali suits your tastes?
Grab your towel and head for...
- Kuta Beach – Bali’s most famous
- A Balinese spa, to rest and relax
- Your 5-star hotel pool
Spoiled for choice is a phrase that best describes shopping in Bali. Modern air-conditioned malls are alive and well with traditional favourites such as the Mal Bali Galleria and the Discovery Shopping Mall. The latest is the flashy Beachwalk, located across from the beach on Jalan Pantai Kuta, In these establishments, prices are usually fixed.
For those who treasure the thrust and parry of bargaining, markets and stalls abound. Clothing, famous brands of dubious provenance, souvenirs and other tourist trinkets can be had for a fraction of the asking price – if your skills are well honed.
Snap up local designer...
- Tableware at Jenggala Keramik, Jimbaran
- Clothing at Biasa, Seminyak
- Furniture at Living Karma, Kerobokan
Bali like a Local
While you could easily spend your entire Bali holiday by the water, why not explore a little further? Mount Agung may be the highest mountain on the island, but Mount Batur is the summit to scale for spectacular sunrise views.
For the adventurous of spirit, you can scale to the top of the active volcano from the small village of Penelokan on the southern side, where a 1,717-metre climb will reward you with vast panoramic views across the island and beyond.
While south Bali is primed for sunning and shopping, its verdant interior is rich in tradition and culture. Visit the organic eateries and galleries of Ubud before exploring outlying temples, rice paddies and sleepy nearby villages including Penestanan and Campuhan.
1: In the club: Of all the beach clubs, the top pick is Komune Beach Club fronting the black-sand Keramas Beach on Bali’s east coast. A 60-minute drive from Seminyak, it is more relaxed and less fashion-conscious than most other beach clubs. The popular surf break is lit for night surfing sessions, with sun-lounges arranged around a large circular pool, excellent well-priced food and drinks and modern comfortable accommodation that includes suites and, opening soon, villas.
2: The quieter side: If the west coast beaches don’t quite conform to your expectations of paradise, it’s only a 30-minute drive to Sanur. Less hectic than Kuta and Seminyak, Sanur is like an Asian version of the south of France. A breakwater shelters the beach, leaving it clean and largely wave-free, making it perfect for children and families.
3: Scooters and insurance: Everyone else seems to be doing it but don’t hire that motorcycle until you’ve checked the fine print on your travel insurance. It may be void if you don’t have an Australian motorcycle licence. It’s dangerous out there on the crowded Bali roads and hospital bills will be astronomical for uninsured drivers.
When in Bali, remember to...
- Wear long clothing to temples in respect
- Leave a little food on your plate ‘for the gods’
- Use both hands when giving or receiving
Did you know...? The majority of the island’s population practises Balinese Hinduism with many holidays and special celebrations. Nyepi, 24 hours of silence, fasting and reflection, generally observed in March, is the most important event on the Balinese calendar.