Sail away to a beautiful beach destination that offers everything from pulsing nightclubs to tranquil retreats with stunning views.
South Bali has it all. From pulsing nightclubs to tranquil retreats, and from cliff-top temples to the very latest in music and fashion. You’re in the thick of it the moment you step off the plane and there’s something to suit every budget, from dirt-cheap backpacker offerings to some of the most exclusive resorts in Asia. But what really sets Bali apart is that for all the hustle, bustle and helter-skelter traffic a deep Hindu-Balinese tradition still underpins everything. Where else would you find a delicate offering to the gods laid out each morning at the threshold of an exclusive fashion boutique?
There’s a huge amount of action crammed into the small space of south Bali. The cheap and cheerful chaos of Kuta, the über-cool spaces of Seminyak, the exclusive enclave of Nusa Dua, and the sedate seashore of Sanur all lie a short taxi-ride from the airport. Further south, the rugged Bukit Peninsula is home to glorious hidden beaches where surfers ride some of the world’s best waves. Denpasar City, meanwhile, the capital of Bali, has a few quiet corners of its own to explore.
Whether its action or relaxation, surf or shopping that you’re after you’ll find it here, and a glimpse of the mighty Mount Agung, rising to the north, is a reminder that the rest of Bali is in easy striking distance too. A visit to 'the Island of the Gods' is exactly what you make of it.
South Bali gets its fair share of thunderous downpours during the wet season, (Nov-Apr), and this is not a great time if you're here for the water sports. But otherwise it's fine to visit at any time of year. Peak seasons are July and August, and the Christmas holidays when prices rise and things get crowded. During the Lebaran holidays at the end of Ramadan half of Jakarta decamps to Bali, so this isn't the best time to come if you're after solitude.
Singaporeans and citizens of other ASEAN member states can visit Indonesia for 30 days without a visa. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months and that you have a return or onward ticket. Visitors from many other countries can get a 30-day visa on arrival at Denpasar for US$25.
Indonesian rupiah. There are ATMs and currency exchange counters at the airport, with more cash points and money changers at every turn all over South Bali. Be warned, however - local money changers have a reputation for all sorts of sleight-of-hand shenanigans.
There's a prepaid taxi booth at the airport with fixed prices to destinations all over Bali. There's not much by way of public transport in South Bali, though the Trans Sabargita bus service is slowly expanding its network. Most people opt for metered taxis (Bluebird have the best reputation) or rent a car with driver. Others hire motorbikes and head out on the highway under their own steam, but be warned - Bali's traffic is not for the faint-hearted.
For such a busy place South Bali is pretty safe, but there is always a threat of petty crime. Bag-snatchers on motorbikes have become a problem in recent years so keep a firm grip on your belongings and while it's generally safe after dark, beware of spiked drinks and scams involving card games. Watch out for arak, the local moonshine often on offer in cheap bars and restaurants - it's sometimes tainted with methanol and tourists have died from drinking it.
|How are you?||Apa kabar?|
|Fine, thanks||Baik, terima kasih|
|Excuse-me! (to get attention)||Permisi!|
|Thank you||Terima kasih|
|What's your name?||Siapa nama anda?|
|My name is…||Nama saya…|
|Nice to know you||Senang berkenalan dengan anda|
|Are you on Facebook/Twitter?||Anda ada di Facebook/Twitter?|
|Where’s an internet café?||Warnet [warung internet] di mana?|
|Where can I get a taxi?||Di mana saya bisa mendapatkan taksi?|
|Where is the bus/train station?||Stasiun bis/kereta di mana?|
|A one-way/return ticket to…||Tiket sekali jalan/pulang-pergi ke…|
|Do you have a room for one/two?||Ada kamar untuk satu/dua orang?|
|When's check out?||Kapan waktu check-out?|
|Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar?||Bisakah anda menyarankan restoran/bar yang bagus?|
|A table for two, please||Tolong meja untuk dua orang|
|A menu, please||Tolong minta menunya|
|The bill, please||Tolong minta bonnya|
|Where's the toilet?||Kamar kecil di mana?|
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Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Bali’s most spectacularly located temple, the 11th-century Pura Luhur Uluwatu complex perches 70 metres above the seething surf at the far southwest tip of the island. One of the island’s most important places of worship, you can rub shoulders with pilgrims here and dodge the resident troop of monkeys who are always ready to snatch snacks from unwary passers-by. You’ll get a stupendous view of the sunset over the Indian Ocean, and there’s also a nightly performance of the famous kecak dance, a dramatic scene from the Ramayana acted out with fire and hypnotic chanting.
Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali
When you’re done with the surf, the sand and the high life, head inland to the fascinating Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali in the genteel heart of Denpasar. Built in the 1930s in the style of a Balinese palace, the pavilions and split gateways are just as interesting as the collections, which run the full gamut of Bali’s history. Crafts, fabrics and cultural relics from prehistory to the more recent past are on display here to help you make sense of Bali’s deep-seated artistic traditions.
With a mass of rides, flumes and pools set in a 3.8-hectare expanse of gardens, Waterbom Bali is the spot for serious aquatic fun. As well as rides and games there are in-house spas, bars and restaurants, and a full package of activities to keep you occupied. Staff are enthusiastic and helpful and the whole place is very well run.
The place where it all began – Kuta was where Bali’s first hotels appeared in the days when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony. Back then the place was just a fishing village amongst the palm trees. Much has changed, but the great expanse of yellow sand is as it always was. There are always crowds of sun-seekers here, but the beach is so big that you’ll never feel cramped. This is also the best place in Bali to find your feet as a surfer and there are plenty of places to rent boards.
A perfect little gem of a beach tucked between craggy limestone cliffs and banks of shady vegetation, Padang Padang is a world away from the clamour of the main resorts. On days when the groundswell is running the offshore reef throws up some of the most powerful waves in Indonesia and plays host to an annual international surf contest in July and August. But closer to shore the waters are warm, calm and clear. There are more soft sands further along the coast at Bingin, and a few low-key places to stay and eat are dotted along the cliffs nearby.
If you’re visiting Bali with kids then Sanur or Nusa Dua are the places to stay. Not only are they free from the rowdy nightlife of the west coast; both the traffic and the waves are much calmer and the beaches are safe for swimming. Children are usually fascinated by the colourful ceremonies that go on every day in Bali, so let them explore the temples near your accommodation in the morning before the day’s adventure begins.
For some wild encounters head north to Gianyar to explore the Bali Safari and Marine Park, home to elephants, orang-utans, and all sorts of other beasts from Indonesia and beyond, as well as a large aquarium. The park is around 45 minutes from most parts of South Bali, and there is a free daily shuttle bus from the resort areas. If you’re still looking for animal encounters the nearby Bali Bird Park has huge walk-in aviaries and beautiful parkland to explore.
Head back south Kuta and cool off at Waterbom Bali, where there are rides, slides and splashes aplenty. It’s one of the biggest waterparks in Southeast Asia, and there’s enough to occupy water-loving kids for a whole day. Finally make your way to Nusa Dua and hunt out The Pirates Bay, a pirate-themed park and beachfront restaurant, complete with tree houses and pirate ship play areas. There’s a menu aimed at children, but also good food for hungry adults.
Bali has all the romance you could ever ask for. There are endless exquisite villas and boutique hotels tucked away in quiet corners, beachfront dining in full view of glorious sunsets, and excursions into emerald green landscapes – and all spiced with a dash of ancient and mysterious culture.
Look for a place to stay away from the hurly-burly of the main resorts. There are peaceful villas and hotels out in the rice fields of Canggu, north of Seminyak – or more peaceful still, up on the high cliff-tops of the Bukit Peninsula. Find the right accommodation and your perfect romantic getaway will come fully formed, but if you do want to step outside the hotel grounds there are plenty of other atmospheric corners.
Start the day with a lazy brunch at one of the many fine restaurants that line the beach at Seminyak (try Breeze at The Samaya). There are also lots of luxurious spas in the same area for a little indulgence. If you’d like to find romance in the natural world, however, it’s time to head south to Padang Padang or Bingin, the most secluded and romantic beaches in South Bali, with soft golden sand and clear waters. Anywhere along the west coast makes a great spot to take in the sunset, but for a truly romantic day’s end head to Pura Luhur Uluwatu to watch the kecak dance with a fiery evening sky for a backdrop.
There are dozens of intimate restaurants in Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua, but a particularly lovely option is to head to Jimbaran where you can dine on fresh seafood at a candlelit table right on the beach.