Everything you need to know about Bali
Bali has a wow factor for tourists and is aiming to attract a whopping seven million visitors this year. Belinda Jackson reports on the attractions of the Indonesian island.
Whether you love to surf or shop, dive or chill out, Bali satisfies its many and varied admirers. It’s an epic shopping stopover, a top-notch dining destination, and stay options range from vast tropical villas to family-friendly hotels.
Bali comprises several areas. In this guide we cover Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu (pronounced 'Changgu').
Downtown Kuta is just five kilometres north of Bali's main airport, near Denpasar, with upmarket Seminyak another four kilometres north. New kid on the block, Canggu is another 10 kilometres further up Bali’s western coastline from Seminyak, through green rice paddies.
As a rule of thumb, Kuta is a magnet for backpackers and budget partygoers, while Seminyak attracts a more upmarket crowd. Fast-growing Canggu used to be the sleepy surfers’ escape, but is now itself booming ( indonesia.travel ).
Don’t let southern Bali’s short distances fool you: the narrow roads are crammed with mopeds, carts, taxis and pedestrians, which makes for slow going. Avoid the morning and afternoon peak hours.
At the airport, companies will meet you and fast-track you through customs to your transfer car waiting outside: pre-book
before you travel (baliairport. com).
Taxis are cheap and plentiful: either ask for the meter to be turned on, or agree a price beforehand. For the intrepid or the short of time, mopeds or motorbikes will also give you a lift for a few rupiah.
Note that a jalan is a street, and a gang is a connecting alleyway. Also, streets change their names as they pass through different areas. And if you’re not confused yet, some names have been updated over the years, such as Seminyak’s so-called Eat Street, Jalan Kaya Ayu, which is also known as Jalan Laksmana and even Jalan Oberoi (whew!).
It’s easy to tap into Bali’s welcoming religious culture: Pura Petitenget is a beautiful seaside temple ( pura) where you’ll spot devotees gathering on the island’s many significant dates. On Kuta beach, you’ll find small puras that receive offerings from locals every morning and evening.
Despite its recent fame, Canggu is still a surfers’ paradise for the famed reef breaks off Echo Beach. Early morning sees surfers scanning the waves, while the black-sand beach is a magnet for walkers, photographers and board riders all day long.
The three areas of Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu are all set on the coast, with wide beaches that beg for long walks.
Shining bright ... Bali is popular with tourists, and it's no wonder with sights like this sunset framed by a water temple.