Bali – is an Indonesian island located at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java Island to the west and Lombok Island to the east. Its population is estimated to about 4 million people, mostly followers of Hinduism. Its capital, Denpasar, is located in the southern part of the island.
The picturesque landscape is varied by hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides. Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species. Colourful, deeply spiritual and rich in unique culture, Bali is reasonably considered to be paradise on earth.
With world-class surfing and diving, a large number of cultural, historical and archaeological attractions, and an enormous range of accommodations, this is one of the world’s most popular island destinations and one, which consistently wins travel awards.
Bali has a lot to offer to a very broad market of visitors from young backpackers right through to the super-rich.
Denpasar – is the capital of Bali, and is the main gateway to the island. The city is also a hub for other cities in the Lesser Sunda Islands. With the rapid growth of the tourism industry in Bali, Denpasar has encouraged and promoted business activities and ventures, contributing to the highest economic growth rate in Bali Province.
The name Denpasar – from the Balinese words den meaning “north” and pasar meaning “market” – indicates the city’s origins as a market town. Denpasar is a bustling, multi-cultural city. Traditional Balinese culture is still deeply rooted in the area. Culture and art in Denpasar are largely influenced by Balinese Hindu traditions.
The whole area is bristling with temples, palaces and museums and its occupants are outstandingly friendly. The city is also the promoter of many cultural and artistic festivals, like Pesta Kesenian Bali (Bali Art Festival) or Sanur Village Festival.
Besakih Temple (Pura Besakih) – is a temple complex in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali. It is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali, and one of a series of Balinese temples. Perched nearly 1000 meters up the side of Gunung Agung, it is an extensive complex of 23 separate but related temples with the largest and most important being Pura Penataran Agung.
The temple is built on six levels, terraced up the slope. The entrance is formed by a Candi Bentar (classical Balinese split gateway), and beyond it, the Kori Agung is the gateway to the second courtyard. The precise origins of the temple are unclear but its importance as a holy site almost certainly dates from prehistoric times. The stone bases of Pura Penataran Agung and several other temples resemble megalithic stepped pyramids, which date back at least 2,000 years.
Tampaksiring – is a town located in central Bali, Gianyar Regency. It is the home to the Gunung Kawi Temple and archaeological site and Tirta Empul Temple. The word tampak in Balinese means “foot”, while siring means “oblique” or “tilted”. According to the legend, the slope of the mountain where the town stands today was created by footstep of a king named Mayadenawa. Tampaksiring was also one of the major kingdoms during Bali’s pre-colonial period.
Tirta Empul Temple
Tirta Empul Temple – also known as Tampaksiring Temple or Holy Water Temple – is a Hindu Temple located in a valley between two hills near Tampaksiring town, in Bali. The place was built in the 10th century on a big spring, which water supposedly has magical and healing power.
The local residents consider the temple a sacred place and believe that its water washes down all the bad influences on the body and purifies the soul and mind. Like many places on the island, this also has a legend. The legend says that god Indra battled king Mayadenawa. During the clash Mayadenawa craftily poisoned many men of Indra’s army. To save his soldiers Indra pierced the ground and created the sacred healing spring of holy water. The spring is the source of the Pakerisan River.
Gunung Kawi – is an 11th-century temple and funerary complex in Tampaksiring, north east of Ubud region of Bali that is spread across either side of the Pakerisan River. It comprises of 10 rock-cut candi (“shrines”) that are carved into some 7-metre-high sheltered niches of the sheer cliff face.
These funeral monuments are thought to be dedicated to King Anak Wungsu of the Udayana dynasty and his wives. On the east side, there are five temples that are dedicated, according to one theory, to King Udayana, his wife, queen Mahendradatta, and their sons Airlanga, Anak Wungsu, and Marakata. The temples on the west side are dedicated, according to the same theory, to the king’s minor queens or concubines.
Kintamani – is a village on the western edge of the larger caldera wall of Mount Batur, Bangli Regency, in Bali. The village is located about 1,500 m above sea level and offers dramatic views of the active volcano Mount Batur, serene Lake Batur and Toyo Bungkah village, down at the lake edge. Kintamani is also known for Tuluk Biyu Temple with its 1,000-year-old "Rites of Peace" stone tablets.
Ubud – is a town located in Ubud District, in Bali. It is located amongst rice paddies and steep ravines in the central foothills of the Gianyar regency. Famed as an arts and culture centre, it has developed a large tourism industry. Ubud has a population of about 30,000 people. It can be difficult for visitors to distinguish the town itself from the 13 villages that surround it.
The area surrounding the town is made up of small farms, terraced rice fields, and dense forest. The town and area have a number of art museums, such as Puri Lukisan Museum, the oldest art museum in Bali, which specializes in modern and traditional Balinese paintings and woodcarvings. The town was originally important as a source of medicinal herbs and plants. Ubud takes its name from the Balinese word ubad (“medicine”). Nowadays it remains a centre of artistic activities: traditional dance, music (gamelan orchestra), painting (batik), poetry and so on.
Monkey Forest (Mandala Suci Wenara Wana) – is a nature reserve and Hindu temple complex in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Its official name is the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. The Ubud Monkey Forest is a popular tourist attraction, lies within the village of Padangtegal, which owns it. The village’s residents view the Monkey Forest as an important spiritual, economic, educational, and conservation centre for the village.
The Monkey Forest grounds are home to three Hindu temples, all constructed around 1350. The area is inhabited by many hundreds of macaques living freely in the forest and around the temples. The temples play an important role in the spiritual life of the local community, and the monkey and its mythology are important in the Balinese art tradition.
Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot Temple – is a rock formation located on the southern coast of Bali. It is home to the pilgrimage temple Pura Tanah Lot. Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 16th-century Dang Hyang Nirartha. Tanah lot has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast.
Each of the sea temples was established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast. In addition to Balinese mythology, the temple was significantly influenced by Hinduism. The local belief says that venomous sea snakes hidden at the base of the rocky island guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. According to the legend, the temple is purportedly protected by a giant snake, which was created from Nirartha’s selendang (“a type of sash”) when he established the island.
Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest
Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest – is a small forest within the area of 6–7 hectares located in the middle of the rice fields in Tabanan regency, west part of Bali. Nestled amidst the dense woodland is located Alas Kedaton temple, usually referred to as Pura Dalem Kahyangan Kedaton.
The Hindu high priest Mpu Kuturan built this expansive temple complex to unify the island’s Hindu sects, merging them into the Balinese Hinduism we know today. Alas Kedaton temple, a megalithic sacred Hindu relics of ancient times and the forest inhabited by numerous macaque monkeys has become one the favourite tourist attractions in Tabanan region.
Jatiluwih – is a village located in Penebel District, north of Tabanan Regency. A startlingly beautiful area of verdant, terraced rice paddies nestled in the shadow of spellbinding Mount Batukaru and Mount Agung.
The area of extensive rice fields is known for using traditional Balinese irrigation system called subak. Jatiluwih lies at an altitude of 700 meters; so the much cooler air combined with fertile volcanic soil create excellent conditions for rice cultivation. In 2007 Jatiluwih was nominated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Balian Beach – is a beach located right at the mouth of the wide Sungai Balian (Balian River), 800 meters south of Lalang-Linggah town. It is considered to be one of the most relaxing destinations in Bali. Balian means “sacred” in the local vernacular and is the perfect place for meditation or sunbathing on the black-sand beach. The place attracts both surfers and those looking to escape from hustle and bustle for a few days.
Although Balian is on the same island as the bustling Kuta Beach, it feels worlds away.
Pemuteran – is a small laid-back village, which has become increasingly popular with visitors in recent years. There are a number of waterfront resorts and hotels located here. Its proximity to Lovina and West Bali National Park together with the extreme natural beauty of the area has fuelled quite rapid growth in tourism infrastructure in the area. Pemuteran is home to the largest artificial Bio rock reef project in the world and there is a real spirit of marine conservation effort in this area.
The area around Pulaki village just east of Pemuteran is full of vineyards, rare in this climate zone. As a result, there are a couple wineries in the area.
Menjangan Island – is a small island, located 1 km to the northwest of Bali and 8 km to Banyuwangi, eastern coast of Java. Menjangan is a significant part of the protected marine reserve of Bali Barat National Park. Menjangan in Indonesian means “deer”.
The name was given by the local people observing wild deer herds swimming to the island every spring. The island is surrounded by hectares of beautiful coral reef gardens with a diversity of coral species and colourful, tropical fish, which makes it a favourite destination for snorkelers, as well as divers. Most of the superb dive sites are close to the shore and suitable for snorkelers or diving novices. There are no dangerous currents to contend with in this area. Apart from rich underwater life, there are also many kinds of seabirds and shorebirds frequenting the island.
Lovina – is a quiet coastal area on the North Bali coastline located 5 km west of the city of Singaraja, in Buleleng Regency. The whole coastline is fringed by black sand beaches perfect for swimming and the sea is much calmer compared to the south of the island.
Popular activities for visitors include diving, snorkeling, and early-morning boat trips off the coast to see dolphins. Above all else, this is an area to relax and take in a very slow, traditional pace of life. The atmosphere on the beaches is one of laid-back tranquillity. The shoreline is dotted with traditional colourfully decorated outrigger boats called jukung. Lovina is becoming more popular with tourists but remains far quieter than the tourist hotspots of the island’s south side.
Tirta Gangga – is a former royal palace in eastern Bali, about 5 kilometres from Karangasem, near Abang. Its name literally means water from the Ganges and it is a site of some reverence for the Balinese Hindus.
Tirta Gangga water palace is a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by a lush garden and stone carvings and statues. The one-hectare complex was built in 1946 by the late King of Karangsem but was destroyed almost entirely by the eruption of nearby Mount Agung in 1963. Beautifully restored still has its original charm.
Amed – refers to a long coastal strip of fishing villages in Karangasem regency, East Bali. The pace of life here is slow and the coastal scenery quite stunning making Amed the perfect place for a relaxed holiday on the island.
Amed Beach with the sun disappearing behind Mount Agung is the most recent tourist development area in Bali. Amed’s inhabitants live from fishing, salt-making, and tourism. This is the most commonly used base for visitors wishing to dive the USS Liberty wreck at Tulamben.
There are other good dive and snorkeling sites close at hand and a thriving dive industry has developed all the way along the coast here. The teeming marine life here includes various tropical fish, sea turtles, reef tip sharks, manta rays and vibrant coral gardens.
Indonesia is a land of over 17 000 islands, situated in South- East Asia. Its coastline is surrounded by two oceans: Pacific and Indian. This is a mecca of many cultures, customs and traditions with very colourful and fascinating folklore.