Grab your partner and head to breathtaking Bali the next time you have a yen for an adventurous and exotic weekend escape. The island, located in the southern region of Indonesia, has been renowned for decades as a tourist must, with its show-stopping sunrises and sunsets, highly developed culture and arts, as well as its exotic cuisine. It has been described as a haven for honeymooners and a delight, even for the casual traveler just passing through.
While the 90 mile-long island sees its biggest influx of tourists in the summer months, the late winter period is the quietest time and the least crowded (but also the wettest). With the third busiest air hub in Indonesia, the Ngurah Rai International Airport (also known as Denpasar International) is well-connected for flights to Bali from Australia, the rest of Indonesia and Southeast Asia in general. Just a weekend in Bali may not allow you to see every noteworthy sight the island has to offer, but any time spent on “the Island of the Gods” will leave you fully convinced you’ve just visited paradise.
Where to Stay
You’ll want to set your luggage down and rest your head somewhere, but that location depends on what you’d like to do and see in Bali, as well as how deep your pockets go. Different cities on the island offer very different experiences, but there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a backpacker (see Kuta, where accommodations are cheapest) or a prince (try any of the five-star resorts in Nusa Dua, Seminyak or sophisticated Ubud). Bali has also developed a reputation for its private villas, some of which come equipped with personal staff and private pool. Yet the phrase can be used loosely and so the real villas of quality will be rather expensive.
What to See and Do
The natural splendor of Bali is only rivaled by the sophisticated culture and tradition its people have cultivated over the centuries. Luckily, the island abounds in both and a weekend can fill up quickly. The simplest, yet still enduring, attraction is sunrise and sunset, popularly taken in at Tanah Lot, a rock formation approximately half an hour from the administrational city of Denpasar. If you’re physically inclined, a two-hour hike up Mount Batur, the more active of the two major volcanoes on Bali, provides spectacular views. There’s also the opportunity to hear some volcanic banging and see ash rise from the great mouth. Those who like their nature sandier can toast under the sun at Kuta Beach, which is also suitable for surfing and on any given day hosts surfers from around the world.
If shopping is your (literal) bag, Bali offers some incredible markets and will produce some great deals if you have a talent for haggling. Though memories make nice souvenirs, handmade crafts such as jewelry, ceramics, carvings, glassware and baskets make even better ones. Try to buy direct from the artist at the Kumbasari or Kuta Art markets. The oldest and largest market, Badung, is open 24 hours a day and sells not only goods and textiles but fresh meat, fish and tropical fruits.
After a long day you might enjoy a nice dinner and then catch a Balinese dancing show. Ubud is the most popular place to see the traditional dances of Bali, and they happen every single night of the week so if you miss one day, there’s always the next.
What To Eat
Without a doubt, Ubud is emerging as the culinary hotspot in Bali, with its Ibu Oka Warung restaurant attracting the likes of Anthony Bourdain, who proclaimed their suckling pig (babi guling) the best. Bebek betutu and ayam betutu are duck and chicken, respectively, roasted in banana leaves. Try also lawar, a catch-all for Balinese salads, which commonly includes chopped vegetables, meat, coconut and spices. Every city will have its own independently-run restaurants, and your best bet – in terms of taste and economy – is finding the places the locals eat. However, if you’re in the mood for something fancier, Seminyak is in general more upscale with the restaurants to match. Try Sardine or Sarong for hip, chic dining experiences or visit the numerous bars in Seminyak for cocktails, beer, outdoor seating and funky lounges.
This article was provided by Ryan Jamerson, An Australian native, freelance writer and travel enthusiast who enjoys traveling the world and writing about what he experiences. Ryan recently had the opportunity to experience Bali first hand.__________
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