Beautiful Bali © michis_0806
Bali has long been equated with an exotic paradise, a picturesque vision of green rice fields and plantations, soaring volcanoes, cool lakes and rushing rivers, lush forests and palm fringed beaches. It is Indonesia's number one tourist destination and as a result suffers from commercialisation and overcrowding, but this is confined to a few main areas. The original charm of the 'Island of the Gods' and its smiling people is still very much in evidence, especially in the many small rural villages and fascinating places of the fertile interior.

What makes it distinctive from the rest of Indonesia is the belief in a predominantly Hindu faith, incorporating the ancient Indonesian animist conviction that natural objects are inhabited by good or bad spirits into every aspect of local life on the island. It is evident in their ceremonies, daily rituals and attitudes, visible 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 perceptible in their reverence for the Holy Mountain, the soaring volcanic cone of Gunung Agung, which is the spiritual centre of the Balinese universe. Scattered around the island are thousands of Hindu temples and places of worship. Art is also an integral part of daily life and every village has its artists, from the internationally acclaimed painter to the aspirational young cow herder. Ubud, the cultural centre, with its streets lined with art and crafts shops, also has 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, but there are numerous other beach resorts around the island, and many more peaceful settings on the east coast at Candidasa, Sanur and the fishing village of Padang Bai, and on the northern coast at Lovina. There are a number of good diving sites and reef snorkelling close by.

Despite the shock of terrorist bomb attacks in October 2002 and 2005, which were aimed at foreign holidaymakers and killed about 225 people in total, Bali is still the tropical paradise of rich culture and beautiful land and seascapes that has attracted those in search of an idyllic vacation for so long; however visitors are still advised to contact their foreign office for the latest travel advice before travelling to Indonesia, and Bali in particular.


See our separate guides to the following Bali holiday resorts: Kuta and Lovina


Bali Bird Park
Bali Bird Park © A.

Bali Bird Park

Featuring the largest and most spectacular collection of birds, the Bali Bird park boasts over 1,000 birds of 250 different species. Kids will love spotting their favourite bird and learning about the species. Birds such as Macaws, peacocks, parrots, white herons and many more can be seen. The bird park also features a restaurant, café and gift shop for visitors to take home a souvenir.

Address: Jl. Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Batubulan; E-mail:; Website:; Telephone: +62 361 299614; Opening time: Open daily from 9am – 5.30pm; Admission: US $21.5 (adults); US $10.5 (children). Both costs exclude 10% service charge

Bali Botanical Garden
Bali Botanical Garden © JackVersloot

Bali Botanical Gardens

A great place for the kids to let off some steam, the Bali Botanical Garden features a range of micro-climates for kids of all ages to enjoy. There is something here for everyone, such as a lily pond, waterfalls, a mambo grove, a rainforest observation post and even a chocolate grove. There's also a children's play area for the little tots, while older children will love the maze - but be careful not to lose them!

Address: Kutuh Kaja, Ubud; E-mail:; Website:; Telephone: +62 361 970 951

Stone carving
Stone carving © Jos Dielis


The small village of Batubulan is marked by stone figures of gods and demons on the side of the road. Known mostly for its stone carvings, Barubulan is popular with cultural tourism and travellers looking for a unique souvenir to take home with them. Visitors to the village can even enjoy visiting the workshop and watching the artists at work.

Elephant Cave entrance
Elephant Cave entrance

Elephant Cave

Built in the 9th century, Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, is located near Ubud and originally served as a sanctuary and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a wonderfully carved elephant entrance featuring menacing creatures and demons, children will find a visit to this historic cave an unforgettable experience. The main figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the name and in the 1950s, a bathing place was excavated, thought to have been built to ward off evil spirits. Children will love the history and mystery surrounding the cave.

Address: Peliatan, Ubud; Telephone: +62 361 943 401

Mount Batur
Mount Batur © tropicaLiving

Gunung Batur

The still-active Gunung Batur volcano, is known as Bali's second holiest mountain and symbolises the female element of the island, while the male element is symbolized in Gunung Agung, a neighbouring smaller volcano. A great place for hikers to stretch their legs, the walk up Mount Batur is not easy, but the views are spectacular and if you're lucky you might even spot a few monkeys along the way. There is a great lookout point for those who'd rather hire a car and drive to the old crater rim overlooking Lake Batur. The sunrise walks are recommended.

Pura Besakih
Pura Besakih

Pura Besakih

Locally known as the mother Temple of Bali, Pura Besakih is located on the slopes of Mount Agung and is the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temples. Dating back to the 14th century, the three main temples are dedicated to Shiva, Brahma and Wisnu, and another 18 separate sanctuaries belonging to different regencies and caste groups surround these.

Pura Kehen
Pura Kehen © Jos Dielis

Pura Kehen

One of the most valued temples in Bali, Pura Kehen is a garden temple located in the town of Bangli in East Bali and can be traced back to the 11th century. Founded by Sri Brahma Kemuti Ketu, Pura Kehen is the second largest temple on Bali and the most sacred in the region. Many visitors are mesmerized by the temple's grandeur and steep steps leading up to the gateway.

Balinese long-tailed Macaques
Balinese long-tailed Macaques © Sam Fraser-Smith

Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal

Featuring over 115 species of trees, many of which are considered holy and used in various Balinese spiritual practices, the Monkey Forest in Ubud is a fantastic place for kids to spend the day exploring. Children can see the Balinese long-tailed Macaques up close as they scramble through the forest and banyan trees and lush tropical vegetation. There are also a few temples to explore while visiting the forest.

Address: Jalan Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud; E-mail:; Website:; Opening time: Open daily from 8am - 6pm

Tanah Lot at sunset
Tanah Lot at sunset

Tanah Lot

Meaning 'Land in the middle of the sea' Tanah Lot is an exquisite sea temple built atop a rock formation off the island of Bali. A popular tourist spot and a great location for fantastic photographs, Tanah Lot is surrounded by poisonous sea snakes at the base of the rocky island, which are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. The temple was built by one of the last priests to arrive in Bali from Java in the 16th century.

Waterbom © basibanget

Waterbom Bali

With thrilling rides, a spa, pool bar and even a food hall, Waterbom Bali is the perfect place to take the family for a day of cooling off in the Balinese heat. Older kids will love rides such as the race track, the Superbowl, the Macaroni, Jungle Ride and even the Smashdown, while the younger ones will enjoy paddling round the Kiddy Park.

Address: Tuban, Kuta; Website:; Telephone: +62 361 755 676; Admission: Splash band: Rp 505.000 can be topped up


Prambanan Temple Complex

Rivalling the Buddhist monument of Borobudur, this magnificent Hindu temple is the largest in Java and the most beautiful in Indonesia. Prambanan was built in the 9th century, possibly to compete with the splendour of Borobudur, or to celebrate the return to power of the Hindu dynasty in Java at the time. The complex is dominated by three main temples, Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, each dedicated to their god, and the walls are decorated with exceptional relief carvings depicting scenes from the famous Hindu classic tale of Ramayana. The Shiva Temple is the largest of the three, soaring above the others at a height of 154ft (47m), containing the impressive statues of Shiva, his elephant-headed son Ganesh and the goddess Durga. From May to October the Ramayana Ballet, a traditional Indonesian dance based on the Ramayana story, is performed on an open-air stage at the complex during the full moon and is a spectacular sight involving hundreds of dancers, singers and musicians.

Website:; Transport: Prambanan is a 30-minute bus or taxi journey from Yogyakarta; Opening time: Daily from 6am to 6pm


Set in the hills north of Denpasar, Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali and the major attractions of the town and its surrounding villages are the art museums and galleries, notably the Neka Museum, containing a huge collection of traditional and modern Balinese paintings. An enormous variety of Balinese art and crafts line the streets and crowd the market place of Ubud, and frequent performances of traditional dance and music, and restaurants offering some of the best food on the island, compel visitors to stay much longer than intended. Ubud is also close to several sites of interest, including the 'Mother Temple' of Besakih, majestically situated high on the slopes of the Agung Volcano, and hiking in the scenic Batur region with its volcano and lake are popular excursions.
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