BALI’S BEST HOLIDAY INFORMATION FOR FIRST-TIMERS.

I am not going to bore you with a whole lot of geography and history lessons about Bali, but I will start off by informing you where you are on the planet, now that you have landed.

You are on the island of Bali, eight degrees south of the equator. The island is only one of around 17,500 islands making up the great Indonesian Archipelago.

The area of the island is 5,632 sq km in total. Day trips around the island are possible but I do not recommend this idea to anyone. The island measures approximately 150kms from east to west and spans 112kms from north to south.

Bali is famous for its beautiful landscape, which includes six volcanoes varying in height from 1350 meters to 3014 meters, stretching from east to west.

I recommend at least one tour to any of these four suggestions. Ubud 35km northeast, Uluwatu about 20km southwest, Candi Dasa 75km to the east or a tour to the volcano at Kintamani. All four would be ideal if it is affordable and if time allows.

Once you have made the effort, you will be rewarded with seeing lush tropical forests, pristine lakes, fast flowing rivers, deep ravines, picturesque rice terraces and fertile fruit and vegetable growing areas. You will also notice, beaches to the south consist of white sand and are gray or black volcanic sand in other parts of the island.

A large quantity of rice is grown on the island and is the staple diet of the Balinese people. Rice is also a major export, however, in recent years tourism has overtaken agriculture as Bali’s main source of income.

The climate is one very good reason why so many people flock to Bali and especially if it is cold, raining and downright miserable at home. Bali’s climate is subject to a monsoon pattern, which means a seasonal reversal of wind direction as summer and winter fluctuate in the north and south hemispheres.

This results in a wet season beginning November-March due to moist air sweeping across the Indian Ocean. The flow is reversed from April-October as dry air is blown in from deserts in Australia resulting in intermittent rainfall.

Most Indonesians are Islamic, however Bali has retained it’s own unique form of Hinduism. During your visit, you will be delighted and amazed with the never ending colourful ceremonies and daily rituals performed by these wonderful people.

The population of Bali is around 3.5 million people, with the majority being Hindu. In addition to the number of local inhabitants, two and a half million tourists visited Bali during 2010. This number equates to an average of approximately seven thousand tourists arriving daily, from all over the world.

In a nut-shell, the combination of some of the friendliest people on the planet, the fantastic natural attractions, the long list of things to see and do, plus the fabulous year round climate, makes Bali a very special place indeed.

Weather permitting, every Sunday late afternoon and evening is beach time for young Balinese and their families. This is a sight not to be missed at Kuta and legian beaches. Activities include kite flying, soccer, racket ball, volley ball and fishing. You will see hundreds of motorbikes lined up and hundreds of people on the beach enjoying themselves. After sunset they start heading home in all directions.

I sincerely hope you make the effort to explore some of the islands many treasures in the event you become bored from lazing around a pool everyday.

How to be a Smart Traveller:

I advise you to consider the following for your own safety, as well as consideration for your family.  Register your intended trip with smartraveller.gov.au.

The benefit of becoming a free member of Smartraveller is your registered known whereabouts in Bali should the government be alerted to something untoward is likely to occur i.e tsunami, earthquake or terrorism. In this event, smartraveller will have your Bali address and phone details to give you advance warning and help get you out of the area as soon as possible if something was about to happen. In addition to this, you will also receive emails in the future warning you of whether it is safe or not for travel to Bali/Indonesia.

Your family will also be advised of your status in the event you are involved in any disastrous situations. Look it up on the net and form your own opinion.

Handy tips:

Please be courteous to the Balinese people whose names appear in this guide. You will get a good deal without being rude and more likely to be treated with respect if it’s reciprocal.

Respect the Balinese daily rituals of their offerings to the gods, their culture and religious beliefs, particularly when you come across a cremation or on entering a temple.