Visiting Bali – A City Guide
Verdant, tropical Bali is covered in rice paddies, dotted with volcanoes and ringed by pristine beaches. Adding an extra splash of vibrant colour is the island’s deep-rooted culture, visible everywhere in its thousands of Hindu temples, where ceremonies take place every day.
Bali: city layout and top attractions
Most large hotels are concentrated in the south of Bali. South of the airport and the island’s capital Denpasar are the resort of Jimbaran and Bukit Peninsula, home to many upscale hotels. Bustling Kuta has long been a tourist hotspot, while neighbouring Tuban, Legian and Seminyak are also busy with beachcombers and surfers. Sanur is more family oriented. Surrounded by rice fields, serene Ubud is the cultural capital. Northern and western regions are less developed, while central Bali is dominated by dramatic volcanoes.
As a break from the beach, many of Bali’s most exotic temples come with spectacular backdrops. Coastal Tanah Lot sits on a rocky outcrop. Uluwatu perches precariously on a clifftop at the southern tip of the island, while the 17th-century Ulun Danu Bratan graces the shores of a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.
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Eating Out in Bali
You can find great food everywhere on Bali, whether it’s noodles from a mobile stall you crave, or you want to eat in a warung (traditional family-run eatery) or dine in style in a high-end restaurant. Bali is also one of indonesia’s few non-Muslim islands, and pork dishes are very popular. Locals like to pep up their meals by adding a spoonful of sambal, a fiery chilli relish.
Southern Bali has thousands of international restaurants in all price categories, especially in resorts such as Kuta and Seminyak, and around Ubud. Many beach restaurants specialise in seafood. Away from these areas most restaurants are simpler, and the focus is more on Balinese and Indonesian dishes.
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Shopping in Bali
Balinese shopping covers it all, from street stalls selling souvenirs to designer outlets specialising in hand-crafted batik. Haggling is expected in traditional local stores and markets, but prices are generally non-negotiable in upscale boutiques and shopping malls.
Kuta was once mainly known for its surf shops, but it now has everything from markets to air-conditioned fashion stores. You’ll find shopping malls there and in other resorts such as Seminyak and Nusa Dua, as well as in the capital Denpasar. The island’s artistic centre Ubud is known for its handicrafts. Shops in other parts of the island tend to be more basic and traditional.
Top souvenirs from Bali
Culture & Nightlife in Bali
Local Balinese people live their colourful culture daily. You can see temple ceremonies and offerings of flower petals everywhere, and the air is often filled with the otherworldly sounds of a gamelan percussion orchestra. Balancing this tradition, modern Bali features tourist nightclubs of world renown that often book globally famous DJs. Many clubs only get going at around midnight.
Make your way to Ubud if you want to experience traditional Balinese culture. For more modern diversions, the southern resorts have the best nightlife. Chaotic Kuta is packed with upscale clubs, cocktail bars and pubs. Legian is also lively, as is the more upmarket Seminyak, while the resort hotels in Nusa Dua and on Bukit Peninsula often lay on entertainment for guests. Away from the beaches, evenings are frequently quieter and relaxing.
Classical culture in Bali
Leisure in Bali
For many visitors leisure in Bali simply means relaxing on a beach or taking a dip in the warm sea. Away from the sand and surf, the biggest attractions are the temples and the lush tropical scenery covered in rice terraces.
On Bali’s north coast, Lovina is less-developed than the southern resorts, but its colourful coral reefs make it an ideal spot to try out scuba diving or snorkelling. If you prefer to stay on the surface, it’s also the best place to watch dolphins frolicking in the waves.
Top activities in Bali