The jewel of Indonesia's 17,000 islands, Bali lies between Java and Lombok.
Visitors arriving in Bali are struck by its natural beauty, with landscapes ranging from rugged shorelines to glistening, sun-swept beaches. These idyllic scenes are nestled alongside rows of towering volcanic summits which provide a unique and fittingly primeval backdrop for culture vultures who want to immerse themselves in 4,000 years of Balinese history.
As the only Hindu society in Southeast Asia, the island’s ceremonies and festivals are unequalled anywhere else in the region. For example, the celebrations leading up to the Hindu New Year, Nyepi, when the streets of Bali are awash with beautifully made effigies (ogoh-ogoh monsters) proudly held aloft by locals clad in full ceremonial dress.
Bali's shimmering beaches and glittering nightlife make it a magnet for young travellers eager to party.
Away from the nonstop partying, Bali is a haven for those seeking spiritual refreshment. This is the Island of the Gods after all. The Balinese look away from the beaches to the Gunung Agung volcano and the mountain ranges that dominate the island's landscape, where the gods are said to live, to feed their souls.
Bali's climate is tropical monsoon with daytime temperatures hovering between 20 and 33 degrees. The wet season runs from October to March. Travellers taking cheap flights to Bali between these months should expect heavy showers and high humidity. The summer months (June through September) are the dry months, the days are hot but humidity is not a factor.
When to fly to Bali
Most travellers take cheap flights to Bali during the dry season (June through September) and for Christmas. Of the dry season months, July and August are the most popular and this is when school is out and tour groups take trips around the island. The weather is hot, but not as humid as during the wet season.
The wet season (October to March) is generally considered the low season, but travellers who don't mind the humidity can benefit from lower fares and fewer crowds. It doesn't rain steadily throughout these months, usually the rains start to fall in December and January.
Getting around Bali
Travellers arriving on cheap flights to Bali will discover there are several ways of getting around the island. Bemos (small vans with a set routine) and buses are cheap if a little on the slow side. Taxis - chartered or metered - are convenient and inexpensive compared to other countries. Renting a car, motorbike or bicycle offers most independence. The most traditional mode of transport is a dokar (a horse and cart).
Bali insider information
Kerobokan jail is a popular, if not a little odd, tourist attraction. Infamous inmates include Schapelle Leigh Corby, the Australian woman convicted of drug smuggling, Michael Loic Blanc, the French man convicted of drug smuggling, and the Bali Nine drug smuggling gang.
Bedugul is where the Balinese flee during the very hot and humid weather. This retreat is tucked into the crater of an extinct volcano, 1,400 metres above sea level. The air is fresh, the countryside lush and the fruit and vegetables considered the finest in Bali.
Ubud is Bali's fine-arts, dance and music centre (and a staple on the Eat, Pray, Love pilgrimage trail). The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival takes place towards the end of the year. It is considered to be one of the world's top literary festivals.
On rainy days, beachgoers still have a good chance of catching some sun if they head over to the "Bukit", the hill south of Jimbaran Beach on Bali’s west coast.
Make sure you bring a sweater if you’re heading up to higher, in-land regions such as Bedugul or Kintamani. Temperatures usually hold up during the day in these mountainous areas, but it gets surprisingly chilly once the sun sets.
The southern resort of Kuta is probably Bali’s busiest coastal town – home to many of the island’s liveliest nightclubs and bars. Adrenaline junkies will also appreciate the multitude of activities on offer, ranging from diving to bungee-jumping.
People looking for a more secluded area in which to while away their holiday might be better off heading to the southern coastal town of Sanur. The beach lacks the crowds of nearby Kuta, despite being just a 30-minute drive from the airport.