Located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, Bali has a surface of 5633 Km² for about 4 million inhabitants. The island of gods, as we like to call it, is a real paradise that is always fascinating to discover.
With a unique culture, sumptuous rice paddies and a warm and welcoming people, Bali attracts more than a million visitors every year. The tourist boom of the past 30 years, however, has not turned Balinese away from their culture and religion.
Bali is one of the smallest islands of the archipelago but enjoys a great geographical diversity thanks to its volcanoes and mountains. Rising to more than 3100 meters, Mount Agung is the highest point of the island. Mount Bautur (1717 m) meanwhile is still active and its caldera offers a magnificent view of the lake of the same name. The interior of the land is dominated by mountains and volcanoes with many rice terraces.
The coasts enjoy beautiful beaches of white or volcanic sand with a sea often agitated with some famous surf spots but also many dive sites with seabed rich in fish and corals.
Bali enjoys a hot and humid climate throughout the year. Near the coast, the temperature varies from 27 ° C (dry season) to 32 ° C (rainy season). In the mountains, it is around 20 to 25 ° C depending on the altitude. The dry season runs from March to October and the rainy season from November to April with more precipitation from December to February. However, there may be showers even in the dry season but short and mainly at the end of the day.
The Balinese are mostly Hindu with ancient animist traditions still very much alive. Very close to nature, they devote a great deal of time to offerings and prayers dedicated to the gods and other deities. We can see a multitude of altars placed near a tree, a river or at the intersection of a crossroads to appease evil spirits. The temples, meanwhile, are innumerable since each house has one. The most important ones are Besakih, Uluwatu and Tanah Lot.
The ceremonies, rites and Balinese festivals punctuate the life of every day. Every Balinese goes through different rites of passage such as the filing of teeth, marriage and cremation which gives rise to magnificent processions.
Bali lived mainly from rice cultivation until the middle of the 20th century, when the government encouraged the diversification of the production of export goods such as coffee, vanilla, tobacco and cloves. Maritime resources have been little exploited and fishing remains an activity reserved for the poor. The island has not experienced any real industrialization except in the South where there are some small textile or furniture companies. The craft industry is also a dynamic activity, mainly for tourists and for export. But for thirty years, it is tourism that accounts for a large part of the Balinese economy with almost two-thirds of the island’s resources.
Art, like painting or music, was formerly only for secular use. Many Western artists who frequented the island at the beginning of the century played a determining role in the development of Balinese art. Among the most influential visitors are Walter Spies, a German painter and musician of the 1930s, and the Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet. You will find, below, a link selection on Balinese culture.
To do and see
The main interest of a visit to Bali is to discover this very rich and still very lively culture. Ceremonies and other religious holidays are very common and Balinese spontaneously invite foreigners to attend. It is however preferable to move away from tourist centers to find more authenticity. Among the most visited temples are Besakih, Ulawutu, Tanah Lot, Taman Ayun in Mengwi or Bratan Temple. Other historical sites are also worth visiting, such as Yeh Pulu bas-reliefs or Gunung Kawi’s burial chambers. Finally, dance shows, music or puppets are essential for those who love refinement.
The landscapes are also beautiful with sumptuous terraced rice fields and impressive volcanoes like Batur or Agung. The beaches are not idyllic but are very pleasant, Kuta or Nusa Dua are among the most beautiful. Most other beaches are volcanic sand (gray) and swimming is sometimes dangerous.
The activities that can be practiced in Bali are multiple. Very nice dive sites are accessible, including for surface diving. The most famous are Tulamben, the small island of Menjongan or Lembongan Island. Surfing is a common practice in Bali with some of Indonesia’s most popular surf spots. Kuta Beach is ideal for beginners while Bukhit Peninsula spots are reserved for the more experienced. You can also practice rafting and a multitude of other water sports (jet-ski, windsurfing, sailing …). And of course, the seaside resorts offer all possible activities such as golf, tennis …
The hike is an ideal way to discover the beautiful landscapes of the island and get in touch with the Balinese. The region of Ubud offers beautiful walks and for the more athletic, the ascent of Mount Batur and Mount Agung reserve magnificent views of Bali and the surrounding islands.
Finally, Bali is more and more famous for shopping and crafts. There is a wide selection of items (paintings, jewelry, sculptures, batiks, clothes …).