While Bali is indeed an island, it is also a province that comprises a handful of smaller islands congregated off Bali island’s southeast coastline. Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan form a small cluster of just a 20-30-minute boat from Sanur – well worth the trip if you like surfing, exploring quiet roads and lying on paradise beaches with no crowds.
No need to order all your drinks neat – the ice in Bali is quality controlled by the local government. The tap water is not as belly friendly, unfortunately, so make sure you stay hydrated with bottled water.
If you have a refillable bottle, visit one of the participating businesses of Refill Bali for a cheap, or even free, refill and feel good about limiting your plastic waste!
Mounts Agung and Batur are the two towering peaks of Bali, and these dinosaurs are far from dormant.
Gunung Agung, as it is locally known, last erupted in 1963, killing around 1,500 people, and still makes its presence felt with occasional gassy belches.
Batur, meanwhile, last erupted in 2000, shooting ash into the air, but harming no one.
Nyepi, a Hindu celebration observed mainly in Bali, sees the entire island fall silent, with businesses closing and even the airport shutting up shop.
This ‘Day of Silence’ is seen as an opportunity for self-reflection, and its observation is enforced by pecalang – local security officers. Beaches and streets are closed to all – including tourists.
You do not have to go far to find a massage in Bali – the island has around 1,200 spas. Traditional Balinese massage is, of course, a must.
Characterized by long, not-too-firm strokes focused on pressure points, it’s influenced by Chinese and Indian traditions.
Not all popular tourist attractions are worth the crowds, but Tirta Empul water temple is a clear exception.
This is where locals – and some out-of-town pilgrims – come to undergo a lengthy purification ritual that involves bathing in fresh-water springs from a series of 30 water spouts.
The temple was founded in 962 AD and is dedicated to Vishnu.
Those iconic mountain rice terraces are more than just a photo opportunity.
They represent centuries of social and spiritual culture, having been developed in the 9th century as part of an irrigation system that siphons water from groundwater sources through water temples via a system of canals.
Self-sustaining and a virtually perfect model of eco-farming, subak is even recognized by UNESCO.
You don’t need to go to the Monkey Forest to have your phone stolen by a macaque – it could happen anywhere you see these cheeky critters.
Emboldened by travelers who feed them and take selfies with them, monkeys at any Bali tourist site may try to take your bag/hat/sunglasses/food.
Appreciate them from a distance, and remember that smiling at them with bared teeth is basically challenging one to fight you.
Bali has a long history of gold- and silver smithing, with skills passed down through generations of families.
Ubud and Sanur are just two areas where you can find galleries and boutiques that can custom-make a piece of gold or silver jewellery for you.
Some places also hold workshops, where you can craft your own creation.
Combining Hinduism with some Buddhist mythology, ancestral spirits, animism, (black) magic and indigenous deities, Balinese Hinduism has a higher than average number of gods.
This complex belief system results in an island with more than 20,000 shrines (pura), which is why it’s called the Island of the Gods.