Indonesia Travel Information - Bali

Bali: Much More Than Just "Paradise"!

Bali is easily Indonesia's most famous island and most popular travel destination. Its name is up there among the World's famous tropical paradise islands, along with Hawaii, Tahiti, and the like.
Yet Bali is different. Sure, it has beautiful, verdant green landscapes topped by towering volcanoes. It also has the sunsets to match. Its resorts are second to none, and in fact have successfully resisted international uniformity in favour of a very distinct Balinese style. Shopping, nightlife, surfing... all there for the taking. However, it also has something you won't find on any of those other island paradises: a unique, fervently traditional culture nurturing some of the finest art forms anywhere in the World that remain very visibly part of everyday life. Wherever you look, you will see intricately carved Hindu shrines and temples. Colorful little offerings are placed everywhere, from street corners to your veranda. Somewhere on the island, colorful religious ceremonies take place on any given day of the year, featuring splendid traditional music and dance that would elsewhere only be performed on a stage. Talking of "rich culture" is a cliche in most parts of the World, but in Bali, it is the mere truth.
As for the beaches? Well, I must say they are an afterthought! They are there for sure, and they offer great surfing or sunbathing, but for pristine white sands with swaying coconut palms you could actually do better elsewhere.

Trying to do justice to Bali's million attractions and facilities is well beyond the scope of this website, so I won't even try - there is plenty of info elsewhere on the net!

Attractions Tourist Traps Getting There
Main Attractions
Festivals & Ceremonies

One of the best things about Bali is the frequency with which traditional festivals occur there.
Most of these are truly spectacular with traditional costumes, gamelan music and dances, colorful processions and offerings. Tourists are usually welcome to watch as long as they dress and behave modestly. Still, few ever attend these as most are happy seeing "Balinese culture" in form on dances specially performed for them - see tourist traps on those!
Tourist Traps
Dances for Tourists

While Bali has an unparalleled wealth of traditional dances, most tourists only ever see special tourist-oriented performances that are more like a circus.
No matter what kind of dance you buy a ticket for, what you see will almost certainly be a mish-mash of abridged versions of various dance styles choreographed for the amusement of the one-hour-audience.
Getting There and Around

By Air

After Jakarta, Bali is the main international gateway to Indonesia, and a large number of airlines fly here from all over the World.
A couple of budget airlines also fly to Bali from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and even Australia!


By Air

Bali is also quite well connected to the rest of Indonesia, and is in fact a regional hub for flights to Nusa Tenggara. There are also direct flights between Bali and a number of cities in Java, and from Makassar in Sulawesi - even a direct link to Timika in Papua!
To fly to other destinations within Indonesia you may need to connect through Surabaya, Jakarta or Makassar.

By Sea

Other than the short ferry rides from neighbouring Java or Lombok, possibilities of taking a ship from Bali to the rest of Indonesia are limited. Pelni ships go from Bali to Nusa Tenggara, and can be a good way to get to islands like Sumba or Timor. These ships also continue to islands like Sulawesi and Kalimantan, but this would be a long, round-about way of getting there.
If you wanted to get to Sulawesi or Kalimantan without flying, it could be much faster to take a bus to Surabaya in neighbouring East Java, and catch a Pelni ship from there.

By Bus

Direct buses connect Bali with a number of cities in Java as well as with the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa in Nusa Tenggara. As usual, the buses will cross from island to island by ferry, and the crossing is included in your fare.


By Sea

It is quite easy to take a boat from the main island of Bali to its two smaller satellites, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida.

By Bus

Within Bali, taking public transport has become something of a pain in recent years.
So many locals have bought motorbikes that the once extensive bus and bemo (minibus) services that served all corners of the island have become much less frequent.
Overcharging foreigners is also pretty common here.
To make things worse, even ojeks are far less common in Bali than elsewhere in Indonesia!
All this means that most visitors will end up riding on tourist shuttles operated by Perama, which cost several times more than real public transport would.


Renting a car is a very common way of exploring Bali.
This is one part of Indonesia where self-driven cars are commonly rented, though it is still more common to hire a driver to take you around. So common, that drivers asking you "Transport? Transport?" all the time can be something of a major nuisance in places like Kuta or Ubud!