Top Tourist Attractions in Bali
Bali, the most westerly of the Lesser Sunda Islands, is probably the best known island in the Indonesian Archipelago as far as tourists are concerned.
Its unique character has fascinated Bali visitors since time immemorial. Here, in contrast to the rest of Indonesia, Hinduism has maintained its position vis-a-vis Islam. A luxuriant tropical vegetation, artistically arranged rice terraces, numerous shrines, rich arts and crafts, colourful markets and the famous temple dances exert a magical attraction throughout the year on holiday makers from all over the world.The natives of the island do not call it Bali: to them it is Nusa Dua, the Great Island.Bali lies in latitude 8°30' south and longitude 115° east, washed on the north by the Bali Sea (Indonesian name Laut Bali) and on the south by the Indian Ocean (this part of which is known in Indonesian as Samudera Indonesia).It is separated from Java, to the west, by the Bali Strait (Selat Bali), an arm of the sea which at its narrowest point is only 2.5 km (11/2 mi.) wide, and from its smaller eastern neighbour, the island of Lombok, by the 40 km (25 mi.) wide Lombok Strait (Selat Lombok).With an area of 5501 sq. km (2124 sq. mi.), Bali is more than twice the size of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (2586 sq. km (998 sq. mi.)). Its maximum length from west to east is 145 km (90 mi.), its maximum width from north to south 95 km (60 mi.).Included within the province of Bali (area 5561 sq. km (2147 sq. mi.)) are the offshore islands of Nusa Penida (the largest), Nusa Cemingan and Nusa Lembongan, which are separated from the main island by the Badung Strait (Selat Badung), and the little island of Pulau Serangan (Turtle Island), which closes off Benoa Bay at the southern tip of Bali. Off the north-western tip of Bali is the uninhabited islet of Pulau Mejangan.Near the southern tip of Bali, in latitude 8°39' south and longitude 115°13 east, is Denpasar, the chief town and administrative centre of the province of Bali.There are numerous sites and attractions within a short distance of Denpasar.
The mountain ranges of central Bali reach close to the east coast of the island and determine the topography of this area. The dominant features are Gunung Agung, whose central cone and foothills extending north and south set the pattern of the landscape, and Gunung Batur, which forms a transition to central Bali.East Bali includes the coast line to the east and north of Bali, including Klungkung and Amlapura.
Tenganan is a village in East Bali that is said to have been created by the god Indra. The village is a traffic-free zone and tourists may visit all but the local temples.
Southern Bali is the most fertile part of the island. It is a region of well watered alluvial plains fertilized by volcanic ash lying on the windward side of the central volcanic hills. They have high rainfall throughout the year, providing an abundant supply of water for irrigation. This is the most intensively cultivated part of the island, with extensive terraced rice-fields.The south of Bali includes the Denpasar area and regions south of Denpasar.There are numerous sites and attractions within a short distance of Denpasar.
The centre of Bali is dominated by four separate volcanic complexes, the highest of which is Gunung Agung (3142 m (10,309 ft)), near the east end of the island. North-west of this is Gunung Batur (1717 m (5633 ft)), with a large crater lake.Central Bali includes regions north of Denpasar as well as the less populated north coast.
Gunung AgungThere are various routes to the summit of Gunung Agung, Bali's highest mountain and the abode of Shiva, not only from Besakih but also from Amlapura (about 6 hours) and Sebudi, near Selat (about 7 hours). In this section only the south-westerly route from Besakih is described. This is for fit climbers only, for since there are no mountain huts in which to spend the night it is necessary to do the ascent and descent in one day (at night and in the early morning it can be decidedly cold!).Stout footwear, weatherproof clothing and sufficient supplies of food and water are essential.On this volcanic terrain it is dangerous to leave the signposted route, and even experienced climbers should take a local guide.A very early start is advisable, preferably about 2am. Good climbers will take between six and nine hours for the ascent; the descent takes at least five hours. The climb begins at the principal temple in the Pura Besakih. The first part, through dense forest, is relatively gentle, but later it becomes much steeper. After about five hours a rock wall known as the Kori Agung and regarded as the gateway to the summit region is reached. From here it is another two or three hours to the rim of the crater, the walls of which drop steeply down for up to 100 m (330 ft). This even more strenuous climb is rewarded by fascinating views over much of the island.
Like so much on Bali, the monkey forest of Sangeh (20 km (13 mi.) from Denpasar, 10 km (6 mi.) from Mengwi) has been taken over by the tourist trade. Before reaching the forest in which hundreds of monkeys live in natural conditions, visitors must run the gauntlet of the souvenir shops which line the path from the car park. It goes without saying that both the souvenirs and the peanuts which are fed to the monkeys are dearer here than elsewhere.According to legend the monkeys are descended from the monkey king Hanuman and are therefore sacred. They are venerated in the Pura Bukit Sari, a temple in the forest which probably dates from the 17th century. More impressive than the temple, however, are the mighty trees of the forest. It is not known where they came from, for they are of a species not normally found on Bali.WarningThe monkeys, particularly females with young, are sometimes fairly aggressive. When walking in the forest you should keep cameras and handbags firmly closed; and spectacle-wearers should be particularly wary, since the monkeys are fond of snatching visitors' glasses.
Sukawati and Batuan are craftsmen towns known for the variety of crafts sold on the streets. Batuan is noted for a painting style which developed around the Expressionistic style.
Celuk is a craftsmen's village located in central Bali. Many of the residents are goldsmiths, silversmiths and woodcarvers. Pricing here is comparable to the larger tourist centers.
BesakihBy road: from Denpasar north-east to Klungkung, then north to Rendang and Besakih (approx. 63 km (39 mi.)).Bus: regular bus service only to Klungkung; from there bemos.Bemo: not recommended from Denpasar; from Klungkung and Rendang good services (sometimes necessary to charter the whole bemo).Although the village of Besakih is of no interest in itself, it lies near the Pura Besakih (royal temple), the "first and holiest" temple on Bali.
Known as the "Mother of All Temples", the complex of Pura Besakih is spread out on a terraced hillside. The site comes to life each year during the temple festival which draws thousands of Hindus.
KubutambahanBy road: from Singaraja east in direction of Amlapura.Bus and bemo: good services from Singaraja.The town of Kubutambahan lies 12 km (71/2 mi.) north of Singaraja in an alluvial plain which in spite of its low rainfall is intensively cultivated (coffee, maize).Kubutambahan is a typical northern Balinese town. The townscape, being modern, is of no particular interest.
The Hindu temple of Pura Meduwe Karang is where locals come to pray for a prosperous harvest in the nearby coffee, maize, or vegetable farms.
25 km (15 mi.) east of Singaraja, at the village of Pacung, a road goes off on the right to Sambiran. The people of this little village believe that they are descended from the Bali Aga, the original inhabitants of Bali; and indeed they speak a dialect which is close to Old Javanese.A further distinctive characteristic is their method of disposing of the dead: while elsewhere on Bali (with the exception of Trunyan) the dead are cremated, the people of Sambiran throw the bodies of the dead into a gorge at some distance from the village.There are a number of temples in the village, but all of them are modern.
15 km (9 mi.) north-north-west of Mengwi is Marga, with the Marga National Memorial, commemorating a battle with Dutch forces on November 20th 1946. There is a cemetery with the graves of 1371 Balinese who fell in the battle, and nearby a memorial museum.
Seririt is located along the north coast between Singaraja and Gerokgak.
Bubunan is a small town located just south of Seririt.
The narrow western end of the island is an area of deep valleys between ranges of hills which came into being in the Tertiary era (National Park). Lying in the lee of the hills, it is considerably drier than the southern part of the island.West Bali includes the coast line east and north of Denpasar, including Negar and Gilimanuk.
GilimanukBy road: 130 km (80 mi.) north-west of Denpasar on a road which skirts the coast for much of the way.Bus and bemo: regular services daily from Denpasar-Ubung.Gilimanuk, the most westerly town on Bali, lies on the Bali Strait, only 2.5 km (11/2 mi.) wide, between Bali and Java. It is important as a ferry and commercial port providing a link with the larger neighboring island.Gilimanuk must be the town on Bali with the fewest tourist sights. Visitors may be interested to watch the busy activity around the harbor, centered mainly on the ferry traffic, or to visit the market held every evening in the town center, with some good hot food stalls.A few kilometers before Gilimanuk on the road from Denpasar interesting detours can be made to the little village of Palasari (with Roman Catholic inhabitants) and to Blimbingsari, most of whose inhabitants are Protestants.There are regular ferry services from Gilimanuk to Ketapang on the neighboring island of Java (at the end of the main street bear left and follow the signposts). Places can be booked and tickets bought in the harbor. The crossing takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
TerimaBy road: from Denpasar west along the coast.Bus and bemo: good services from Gilimanuk and from Singaraja.
Antosari is located 40 km (25 mi.) north-west of Denpasar. The road heading north from Antosari leads to Seririt.
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Map of Bali Attractions