Bali has long been an exotic paradise. The island 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. Bali not only has an incredible
coastline but also the original charm of the 'Island of the Gods'
and 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. 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. There are a number of good scuba diving
sites and reef snorkelling spots close by.
Despite the shock of terrorist attacks a few years ago, Bali is
still a tropical paradise with a rich and intriguing culture, and
beautiful land and seascapes, attracting those in search of an
idyllic vacation. However, visitors are still advised to contact
their foreign office for the latest travel advice before travelling
to Indonesia, and Bali in particular.