Long recognised as an exotic paradise, the island of Bali is a picturesque vision of green rice fields and plantations, soaring volcanoes, cool lakes, rushing rivers, lush forests and palm-fringed beaches. It is Indonesia's number one tourist spot and it is not difficult to understand why, with its incredible coastline and the charm of its smiling people, especially in the many small rural villages and fascinating places of the fertile interior.
What sets Bali apart from the rest of Indonesia is the prevalence of Balinese Hinduism. Scattered around Bali are thousands of Hindu temples and places of worship. The island's religious beliefs are evident in the ceremonies, daily rituals and attitudes of the locals, in the offerings of flowers and food that adorn the roadsides, the charms hung inside taxis, and the numerous vibrant festivals that occur throughout the year. It is also perceptible in local reverence for the Holy Mountain, the soaring volcanic cone of Gunung Agung, which is the spiritual centre of the Balinese universe. Art is an integral part of daily life and every village has its artists, from internationally acclaimed painters to aspirational young cow herders. Ubud, the cultural centre, with its streets lined with art and crafts shops, also offers regular performances of traditional Balinese dance and music. Art, together with tourism, is an important source of revenue for the island.
With its fine beach, the popular resort of Kuta is the most visited destination. Located just a short drive from the airport in southern Bali, it is blessed with a lovely sweep of golden sand, crashing surf and spectacular sunsets. Visitors will find a range of tourist trappings along with the natural attractions, including shops, hotels, excellent restaurants and an energetic nightlife.
There are numerous other beach resorts around the island, with more peaceful settings on the east coast at Candidasa, Sanur, the fishing village of Padang Bai, and on the northern coast at Lovina. Though not as developed as the south of the island, Lovina retains a rural charm travellers won't find in the more commercial areas, with guesthouses prettily situated on the beach or among rice fields. Lovina is also a good base for diving excursions.
Bali is a tropical paradise with a rich and intriguing culture, and beautiful land and seascapes. Travellers will find it an idyllic holiday destination.