Bali is the jewel in the Indonesian travel crown, attracting more travellers than the rest of the country put together, and sometimes it feels like it's bursting at the seams. But, there are just so many attractions on this tiny island, that despite the traffic hassles and the crowds, people keep coming back for more.
The beaches, restaurants and beachclubs of the island are legendary, and nowhere typifies this better than Seminyak, where a dinner at a 5-star restaurant can take place 5 minutes away from a sublime beach with a wonderfully chilled out beachclub attached. That defines the allure of Seminyak, complemented by a breadth of high quality shopping, accommodation and bar options that always leaves you struggling to choose which one to try next.
And, that's just a tiny village within the hectic south-west corner of Bali. Neighbouring Canggu offers more of the same but with a more relaxed bohemian surfing lifestyle, while Legian and legendary Kuta to the south are the destination of a younger partying set, with beaches, surf and western-style bars aplenty.
Away from this little corner of the island, things are a little less hectic, but the place still buzzes 24-7. Uluwatu is home to incredible beaches and surf, some of the most jaw-dropping accommodation in the country, and also the best beachclubs, while Nusa Dua to the other wise of the peninsula showcases the finest gated resorts and a more calm pace of life conducive to families.
In the centre of the island, Ubud is famed for its alternative lifestyles, spas and hillside rainforest retreats that draw visitors from around the world seeking its magical powers, and it is the gateway to the mountains of central Bali. Whether its volcanoes you're seeking, centuries-old gravity defying rice-terraces, hiking, biking or white-water rafting, central Bali has it all, complemented by an amazing collection of waterfalls falling off all sides of the plateau.
Further to the north you get to experience a Bali that feels more like Kuta and Seminyak 30-40 years ago. The beaches of northern Bali, while built on volcanic sand, lure the more intrepid and adventurous, while the landscapes and wildlife of western Bali are a wonderful contrast to the more urban environments of the south.
Other than beaches and rice terraces, your trip to Bali is defined by three recurring themes:
The wonderfully warm and positive Balinese who treat all visitors with such genuine welcoming arms, and will be such a memory of your holiday
Temples that are seemingly around every other corner - overall, 20,000 of them dot the island, from stunning clifftop locations to small local versions that are the focus of small town life
The incredible variety and quality of local food, that will keep you sustained...and wanting for more once you get home.
So, just get out there and explore - there are so many Bali's for you to choose from, it's just about finding the one that suits your interests.
Image by Geoff Stringer
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