Indonesia

Composed of over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago. They are scattered over 5,000 miles of ocean along the Pacific ‘ring of fire’ making the country prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

There are few places on earth that can match its cultural and geographical diversity making it a tourist draw all year round – helped of course by its year-round hot climate and value for money.

Most visitors flock to the magical island of Bali with its beautiful sandy beaches, verdant landscapes and tropical climate. For those feeling more adventurous, exploration beyond Bali reaps rich rewards.

Sumatra offers the orang-utan nature reserve of Bukhit Lawang, the striking Lake Toba (the world's largest volcanic lake) and the world-renowned surfing destination of Pulau Nias.

Java offers a different experience, especially in Jakarta, the vibrant, chaotic capital of Indonesia. An altogether more peaceful and traditional location is Yogyakarta offering the enigmatic temple ruins of Borobudur and Paramban as well as the volcanic blue lakes and Hindu temples of Dieng Plateau.

Lombok Island has beaches to rival the world's best and offers a more laid back and less touristy experience than Bali.  Further east, Komodo is the home to the world's largest lizard, the Komodo dragon while Flores has intriguing cultures and the extraordinary coloured lakes of Kelimutu.

For the intrepid explorer, north of Java are the vast jungles of Kalimantan, one of the least explored areas in the world. Sulawesi is similarly unexplored, although more accessible to visitors and offers gorgeous beaches perfect for soaking up the never-ending sunshine.

The volatile nature of its location was vividly displayed to the world in December 2004 when a tsunami greatly damaged many Indonesian islands, with the loss of thousands of lives.   Many areas are now able to welcome visitors again, but you should be aware of the impact of the disaster on local communities, even if the physical damage is not always evident.
The situation was aggravated further by the severe earthquake that took place on 28 March 2005 on the tiny island of Nias, a popular surfing destination off the coast of Sumatra.

The currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (Rp). The easiest currency to change is US Dollars; you’ll have no problem in the main tourist areas but may encounter difficulties in other areas.

American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and Eurocard are all widely accepted in Jakarta and the main tourist areas. ATMs are available in towns and it is best to carry cash in small denominations.

Traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at Banks and large hotels. To avoid any additional exchange rate charges take US Dollar or Sterling traveller’s cheques (American Express are more widely accepted)

 

Bali

Introduction

It might sound like a cliché, but Bali truly is a ‘heaven on earth’. It is an island blessed with stunning beaches, lush green countryside and beautiful temples.

Bali is located just off the eastern edge of the main Indonesian island of Java. To the east is the neighbouring island of Lombok, while the equator lies to the north.

The biggest draw for visitors is the beaches, particularly those of Kuta and Nusa Dua in the south. Both are long swathes of golden sand lapped by azure waters. The beaches along the north coast consist of black volcanic sand and tend to be quieter.

But Bali has much more to offer than just beaches. In the east, the volcanic mountain of Gunung Agung dominates the skyline while the islands interior consists of terraced rice fields that cascade down the hillside dotted with terracotta temples.

Traditional dance and music is very much part of life in Bali. This is especially so in the town of Ubud. Here visitors can see performances of gamelan music plus traditional kecak and barong dances. The town is also the best place for homemade crafts which make popular souvenirs.

What makes Bali distinctive from the rest of Indonesia is the belief in a predominantly Hindu faith, incorporating the ancient Indonesian animist conviction (that natural objects are inhabited by good or bad spirits) into every aspect of local life. Scattered around the island are thousands of Hindu temples and places of worship.  

While many come to enjoy the natural beauty and serenity of the island, many backpackers and revellers come to enjoy the laid-back attractions of Kuta and Seminyak, where bars and nightclubs offer more robust entertainments.

But whatever you are searching for, Bali is truly a destination with something for everyone.

See & Do

The main draw for many when visiting Bali are the beaches, however the island has much more to offer. Below are just a few of the places and activities of interest on Bali that you might like to explore and do:

  • Ubud
  • Jalan Monkey Forest
  • Kuta beach (“surfers’ paradise”)
  • Jimbaran & Seminyak
  • Kintamani
  • Gunung Agung
  • Lake Batur
  • Tanah Lot Temple
  • Amed
  • Bukit/Nusa Dua
  • Uluwatu Temple
  • Lovina
  • Brahma Vihara Ashrama Buddhist Monastery
  • Tanganan (Bali’s oldest settlement)
  • Denpasar (Bali’s capital)
  • Hindu Temple of Jagat Natha
  • Samur beach
  • Mount Batur (active volcano)
  • Elephant Park
  • Menjangen Island
  • Klungkun
  • Pemuteran beach
  • Seminyak (great for shopping and nightlife)
  • Surfing
  • Scuba diving
  • Bungy jumping
  • Kuta waterpark
  • Horse riding
  • Paragliding
  • Submarine tours
  • White-water rafting
  • Bird-watching
  • Snorkelling
  • Dolphin-viewing boat trips (Lovina)
  • West Bali National Park
  • Bali Butterfly Park, Tabanan
  • Sangeh Monkey Forest
  • Ubud Monkey Forest
  • Gitgit Waterfalls
  • Daybreak Waterfalls, Lovina
  • Banjar Hot Spring
  • Tennis
  • Golf
     

Shopping

Bali has many markets, shops and shopping centres to keep you occupied when you want a change of scene from the beach. You can pick up numerous souvenirs but the best buys are ethnic handicrafts, traditional fabrics, wooden ornaments and furniture.

Denspasar is a great place to find handicrafts. The Kumbasari market near the river is a typical Indonesian market with household goods and clothing, spices and dried goods as well as fresh produce. The nearby Jalan Hasanudin, is a whole street of gold shops. Close by is Jalan Sulawesi where all types of fabrics are sold.  Denpasar also boasts of a wide range of department stores such as the Matahari, Libi, MA Department Store, New Dewata Ayu, Tiara Dewata, Ramayana or the Tragia.

Ubud is very much the artistic centre of Bali, where well-known and highly regarded galleries like the Neka, Agung Rai and Rudana are worth a visit.

Kuta's main road is lined with shops selling everything from swimwear, sarongs, handicrafts and CDs to jewellery, clothing, furniture and leather goods.  If you don't enjoy haggling for the right price, Kuta has a number of department stores and shopping centres with fixed prices. Try Kuta Square and Kuta Centre located very close to each other in Jalan Kartika Plaza. Galena Nusa Dua with over 80 specialty shops is also a hit with the avid shopper, as it has everything a tourist and shopper could be interested in. Kuta is also home to Bali’s biggest and most modern shopping centre ‘Bali Galeria’, a huge complex with cinema, duty free shops and international branded stores.

Nusa Dua has a small charming market, with some great bargains at its entranceway. Within the Nusa Dua complex is The Galena, a huge open-air shopping mall with stores selling fixed priced, high quality items. The Kris Gallery is also worth a try for things uniquely Bali. It is also good to know that all hotels have their own shopping areas with fairly exclusive products.

Food & Drink

Bali’s restaurants offer a range of international dishes. You can find anything from sushi to schnitzel and pizza to paella – even McDonalds! The better hotels have excellent restaurants but there are also many great restaurants, informal cafés or street/roadside stalls (Warungs) which sell delicious food.

Below is a selection of some of the names you could look out for during your visit:

  • Massimo Il Restaurant, Sanur
  • CharMING, Sanur
  • Resto Ming, Sanur
  • Café Batu Jimbar, Sanur
  • Mezzanine, Sanur
  • Ryoshi, Sanur
  • Ketupat, Kuta
  • Sate Bali, Kuta
  • Kembang Goela, Kuta
  • Warung Batavia, Kuta
  • Made’s Warung, Kuta
  • Poppies, Kuta
  • TJ’s Mexican Restaurant, Kuta
  • Teppanyaki, Kuta
  • Bluefin, Kuta
  • Ku De Ta, Kuta
  • Nusa Dua Beach Grill, Nusa Dua
  • Bumbu Bali Restaurant, Nusa Dua
  • Café Lotus, Ubud
  • Ryoshi, Ubud
  • Murni’s Warung, Ubud
  • Dirty Duck, Ubud
  • Mozaic, Ubud
  • Cinta Grill, Ubud

Alcohol is widely available in restaurants although international wines and beers are very expensive. Local produce is very good especially the popular Bintang beer. If you are feeling brave you could also try some of the local spirits such as Tuak (sweet palm wine), Brem (made from black glutinous rice and coconut milk) or Arak (colourless, sugarless spirit distilled from either Brem or Tuak)

 

Entertainment

Bali isn’t renowned for its nightlife, mainly because most visitors come for the beach life and water sports rather than the clubs.

Most of the hotels will offer some live entertainment, but there are several other venues in many of the resorts to keep you occupied after dark.

One thing you ought to see during your visit is a performance of Balinese dance. There are two types, Legong (young and graceful girls) and Kecak (a large group of men waving their arms and swaying). Details of what is on and where can be found in the publication Bali Plus which can be found in hotels and restaurants.

The island also has 2 cinemas (Wisala 21 in Denpasar and Galeria 21 in Mal Bali Galeria) which usually show American films with Indonesian subtitles.

If you are looking for somewhere to party until the small hours, there are several good bars and clubs. Listed below is a selection of venues you might like to try:

·         Club 66, Seminyak

·         Apache Club, Seminyak

·         MBargo, Kuta

·         Hu’u Club, Kerobokan

·         Café del Mar, Seminyak

·         De Ja Vu, Seminyak

·         Jazz Bar & Grill, Legian

·         Maccaroni, Kuta

·         Funky Monkey, Ubud

·         Santa Fé, Seminyak

·         Spy Bar, Seminyak

·         Rumours Nightclub, Sanur

There are also numerous events that occur throughout the year, below are just a few that you might enjoy should your trip coincide:

  • January – Lomban Festival
  • March/April – Nyepi (Balinese New Year)
  • July – Bali Arts Festival
  • August – Galungan & Kanuningan Festival

Excursions

We have already seen that there is a wealth of things to see and do across Bali. Your hotel will also be able to provide you with details of excursions run by local tour operators. However here are a few suggestions on top of those already listed above:

·         Dolphin cruise

·         Nusa Lembongan – small, tranquil island

·         Lombok – neighbouring island which is quieter and less commercialised

·         Nusa Penida – small island ideal for scuba diving

Health & Safety

The tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water is readily available and cheap and should also be used for cleaning your teeth. Some expensive hotels and restaurants use purified water in their ice however it is always best to check as it could be made from tap water.

One of the main causes of illness on Bali is dehydration so ensure you drink plenty of water and don’t spend too long in the sun. Also, always use a high factor sun cream to reduce the risk of burning.

Always consult your GP before travelling to ensure you have the required vaccinations and make sure you have full medical insurance in place before your trip.

Crime is not a serious issue but you should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables especially in crowded, tourist areas.

Following the bombings in 2005, Governments are advising travellers to take extra care when visiting Bali and to keep up to date with the latest news and advice before travelling.

ACCEPT COOKIESTo give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. We have published a cookies policy, which you should read to find out more about the cookies we use. View cookies policy.