Bali Travel Guide

Renowned for its incredible white beaches, lush rainforests and evergreen rice terraces, the Indonesian island of Bali is a retreat for all types of travellers. Offering world-class nightlife, dining, amenities and entertainment, Bali attracts visitors from around the world. Although the once laid-back surfer getaway is now a booming tourist hot spot complete with all-inclusive resorts, challenging golf courses and high-fashion shopping centres, Bali’s distinct culture and history remains the main attraction. Go ahead, pack your bags, grab your passport and get your travel insurance—whether you’re travelling to Bali for a tropical escape or a culture-filled excursion, we’ve got everything you need to know to make the most of this top travel destination.

Quick Travel Notes

Etiquette & Customs: For almost a thousand years, the native Balinese have followed a unique form of Hinduism, thus, religion and heritage are incredibly important. Though Bali natives welcome guests to share in their culture, it’s important to recognise proper etiquette especially when visiting sacred temples. See below for details.

Ecotourism: The island prides itself on its abundance of natural land and wildlife, making Bali a potential hotspot for ecotourism. The idea of sustainable travel is still in the infancy stages in Indonesia as a whole but Bali proves to be at the centre of the movement with tourist attractions like the Jatiluwih rice terrace. Word of caution -- the term "ecotourism" is a buzzword in Bali, often misused and misunderstood, and an excuse to charge more.

Transportation: You can see the sights by hotel shuttle, private car, taxi, scooter or bike. Exercise caution when driving as Bali roads can be rough. If you plan to drive a car, you’re supposed to have an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Temperature & Weather: The temperature in Bali remains moderately warm throughout the year, with November being the hottest month at an average of 32 degrees. The lowest average high temperature occurs from June through October when temps drop to a “cool” 30 degrees.

Do, See & Explore

 

When you have limited vacation time to take in all the beauty, how’s a traveller to choose? Here are our picks for Bali’s must-see attractions:

  1. Terraced Rice Paddies: Highly photographed, the rice terraces must be witnessed in person. Located in Ubud, the Tegallalang Rice Terraces are vast expanses of lush green rice paddies that slope upward in a step-like manner, providing scenic vistas all around.

  2. Tanah Lot: Located northwest of popular Kuta and Seminyak, this seaside temple is a signature sight on the island. Built during the 15th century, part of the temple’s allure lies in its location; it’s perched atop ocean rock, with the sea crashing at its base.

  3. Bali Bomb Memorial: October 12, 2002, marks the tragic terrorist bombing attacks that resulted in more than 202 deaths, 88 of them Australians. Located at the site of the first blast, the elaborate monument pays homage to the victims.

  4. Sukawati Art Market: Tourists seeking local goods and a native shopping experience must head to the village of Sukawati Gianyar where curios, figurines and other handicrafts abound.

Health & Safety

Paradise isn’t exempt from danger and ill will. Travel protection can insulate visitors from the risk of financial loss while abroad, and by knowing the most common scams and obeying local law, you’ll ensure a safer and more pleasant trip to Bali.

Taxi: Unknowing of the local practices and eager to see the sights, tourists are a taxi driver’s dream. Don’t fall victim to common scams aimed to overcharge innocent travellers. Common tricks include claiming to have a broken meter and taking the longer route. Seasoned travellers rave about the blue taxis marked "Bali Taxi," claiming good experiences and honest drivers.

Drug Stings: Tourists are not exempt from Bali’s zero-tolerance laws on drugs. Because parts of party-town Kuta are hotbeds for drug dealers, undercover narcotics officers are always on the lookout for dealers and buyers. Victims of a drug sting can face severe punishments including life in prison. If you get whispered a solicitation for drugs, don’t acknowledge the situation; just walk away.

No Smoking: The recently implemented "smoke-free" law has gone into effect across Bali. Off-limit areas include restaurants, hotels, temples, tourist attractions, hospitals and schools. The law is nothing to take lightly; smokers caught violating may face up to six months in prison.

Getting Around in Bali

From oceanside to countryside, Bali’s main roads skirt around the island and meet up with hundreds of smaller trails that venture into the island’s rural sectors. You can see the sights by hotel shuttle, private car, taxi, scooter or bike.

Figuring out where to go on the island is half the battle. Depending on your travel style, use this breakdown to select your preferred Bali destination:

South Bali: As the most developed region on the island, this area is considered Bali’s tourist hub. A hot spot for partygoers, head to Kuta’s white-sand beaches for dancing, drinking and boisterous nightlife. If you’re seeking more refined entertainment, Seminyak offers upscale beachside resorts, fine dining and chic boutique bars.

Central Bali: At the centre of this culture hub is Ubud, a retreat from the bikini-clad partygoers in South Bali. From museums and galleries to temples and historical sites, this area is filled with activities for arts and culture enthusiasts. Here, visitors will also enjoy perusing unique artisan-crafted goods and clothing.

East Bali: An adventure seeker’s dream, East Bali is filled with activities for all types of outdoor sporting enthusiasts. Setting the scene is Bali’s renowned Gunung Agung, or “Holy Mountain.” This stratovolcano is the highest point on the island and towers over East Bali. You’ll find the best dive spots off the coast of East Bali, complete with incredible reef dives as well as scenic snorkeling areas for non-divers. Hikers will find everything from leisurely trails to more advanced climbing excursions. Thrill seekers can opt for canyoning through, over and into canyons and waterfalls to discover Bali’s natural beauty.

North Bali: For a retreat from the more crowded and tourist-filled parts of the island, head to North Bali. Providing a quiet and laid-back getaway, this section of the island is marked by calm black-sand beaches, stunning waterfalls and natural hot springs.

Cultural Etiquette

Set against a backdrop of awe-inspiring architecture, pristine coastlines and dense rainforests, the island boasts more than 20,000 ancient temples, known to the locals as pura. For the traditionally Hindu Balinese, spirituality and community is an integral part of their heritage. Bali residents are known to be among the friendliest locals in the world, and they openly encourage visitors to experience their culture. If you plan on mingling with the locals, here’s what you need to know:

  • The sacred temples of Bali—some dating back to prehistoric times—are a must-see for their architectural greatness and historic value. Conservative locals expect guests to show respect by covering up before entering a temple. Shoulders and upper arms should be fully covered. In addition to keeping your legs and waist concealed, guests must also don a selendang (temple scarf) around the waist and sarong around the legs.
  • Public displays of affection between men and women are highly objectionable in Bali. Couples should avoid kissing and holding hands in public.
  • In the mornings, it is tradition to offer canang sari, little packages of woven palm leaves, flowers and herbs, to the Creator. These gifts are placed just about anywhere on the streets, sidewalks and stair steps. Watch your step, because crushing one is deeply offensive to locals.

Bali’s relatively close proximity makes this hotspot a favourite for Aussies seeking rest, culture, beauty and even a little dancing. Don’t let lack of preparation ruin your stay. Put your mind at ease with travel insurance, in case of emergency. Whether you’re canyoning the depths of East Bali, partying it up in Seminyak or perusing hand-crafted artifacts at the Sukawati Art Market, unwitting tourists make excellent targets for thieves and con artists. Even the slightest mishaps like lost luggage, stolen identification and losing your credit cards can cast a shadow on the perfect getaway.

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Annual rainfall and average temperatures representative of statistics gathered from World Bank for the host country or a continental sample; temperatures and rainfall gathered from a 20-year period between 1980 and 1999. Clock time does not take into account DST for other countries.

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