Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok by Lonely Planet, Kate Morgan, and Ryan Ver Berkmoes - Read Online
Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok
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Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Stand amongst the clouds on Gunung Rinjani, party all-night in Kuta, or experience the Gili Islands' phenomenal diving scene; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Bali & Lombok and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - art, architecture, beaches, festivals, cuisine, water sports and outdoor adventures, history, dance, music, painting, environment, politics Over 50 maps Covers Kuta & Seminyak, Gili Islands, Lombok, North Bali, West Bali, Central Mountains, Ubud, East Bali, South Bali and more

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The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok, our most comprehensive guide to Bali & Lombok, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Indonesia guide for a comprehensive look at what the whole country has to offer.
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Bali & Lombok


Plan Your Trip

Welcome to Bali & Lombok

Bali & Lombok's Top 20

Need to Know

What's New

If You Like

Month by Month


Bali & Lombok Outdoors

Travel with Children

Regions at a Glance

On The Road

Kuta & Seminyak

Kuta & Legian



Canggu & Around

South Bali & the Islands

South Bali & the Islands Highlights

Bukit Peninsula


Around Jimbaran

Central Bukit

Balangan Beach


Padang Padang

Ulu Watu & Around

Ungasan & Around

Nusa Dua

Tanjung Benoa


Around Sanur

Pulau Serangan

Benoa Harbour


City Walk

Nusa Lembongan & Islands

Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Ceningan

Nusa Penida

Ubud & Around

Ubud & Around Highlights


Around Ubud




North of Ubud



South of Ubud

Blahbatuh & Around


Bona & Belega


Sukawati & Puaya




East Bali

Coast Road to Kusamba



Semarapura (Klungkung)

Around Semarapura


Pura Besakih

Gunung Agung

Kusamba to Padangbai


Padangbai to Candidasa


Candidasa to Amlapura


Around Amlapura

Tirta Gangga & Around

Amed & the Far East Coast


Tulamben to Yeh Sanih

Central Mountains

Gunung Batur

Around Gunung Batur Crater

Around Danau Batur




Danau Buyan & Danau Tamblingan

Munduk & Around

North Bali

Yeh Sanih


Around Singaraja


West of Lovina

Seririt & Around



Labuhan Lalang

Bali Barat National Park

West Bali

Pura Tanah Lot

Pura Taman Ayun




South of Tabanan

North of Tabanan

Balian Beach

Jembrana Coast

Negara & Around

Belimbingsari & Palasari





Around Mataram


Southwestern Peninsula


Bangsal to Bayan


Sembalun Valley

Gunung Rinjani



Around Praya


East of Kuta

West of Kuta

Labuhan Lombok

South of Labuhan Lombok

Gili Islands

Gili Trawangan

Gili Meno

Gili Air


Understand Bali & Lombok

Bali & Lombok Today


Local Life & Religion

Food & Drink

The Arts




Directory AZ



Customs Regulations


Embassies & Consulates


Food & Drink


Internet Access

Language Courses

Legal Matters

LGBTI Travellers


Opening Hours


Public Holidays

Safe Travel




Tourist Information

Travellers with Disabilities



Women Travellers


Getting There & Away

Getting Around


Before You Go

In Bali & Lombok


Behind the Scenes

Our Writers

Special Features

Bali & Lomboks Best Beaches

Top Five Local Encounters

Top Five Balinese Treats

Top Five Arts Experiences

Welcome to Bali & Lombok

The mere mention of Bali evokes thoughts of a paradise. It's more than a place; it's a mood, an aspiration, a tropical state of mind.

Island of the Gods

The rich and diverse culture of Bali plays out at all levels of life, from the exquisite flower-petal offerings placed everywhere, to the processions of joyfully garbed locals, shutting down major roads as they march to one of the myriad temple ceremonies, to the otherworldly traditional music and dance performed island-wide. Almost everything has spiritual meaning. The middle of Bali is dominated by the dramatic volcanoes of the central mountains and hillside temples such as Pura Luhur Batukau (one of the island's estimated 10,000 temples), while the tallest peak, Gunung Agung, is the island's spiritual centre.

One Island, Many Destinations

On Bali you can lose yourself in the chaos of Kuta or the sybaritic pleasures of Seminyak and Kerobokan, surf wild beaches in the south or just hang out on Nusa Lembongan. You can go family-friendly in Sanur or savour a lavish getaway on the Bukit Peninsula. Ubud is the heart of Bali, a place where the culture of the island is most accessible, and it shares the island's most beautiful rice fields and ancient monuments with east and west Bali. North and west Bali are thinly populated but have the kind of diving and surfing that make any journey worthwhile.

Bali's Essence

Yes, Bali has beaches, surfing, diving, and resorts great and small, but it's the essence of Bali – and the Balinese – that makes it so much more than just a fun-in-the-sun retreat. It is possible to take the cliché of the smiling Balinese too far, but in reality, the inhabitants of this small island are indeed a generous, genuinely warm people. There's also a fun, sly sense of humour. Upon seeing a bald tourist, many locals exclaim 'bung ujan', which means today's rain is cancelled – it's their way of saying that the hairless head is like a clear sky.

Lombok &the Gilis

Almost as big as Bali, Lombok is the completely different island right next door. From its volcanic centre to idyllic beaches such as Mawun, it rewards travellers who want to explore. Many are drawn to mighty Gunung Rinjani, Indonesia's second-highest volcano. Rivers and waterfalls gush down its fissured slopes, while its summit – complete with hot springs and a dazzling crater lake – is the ultimate trekker's prize. In the south, you may need to hold your jaw in place as you encounter one superb beach after another.

Meanwhile, off the west coast, the fabled Gili Islands are three exquisite droplets of white sand sprinkled with coconut palms and surrounded by coral reefs teeming with marine life. Each has become a full-blown destination in its own right with oodles of great places to stay, eat and celebrate.

Hindu procession in the lead up to Nyepi | CRYSTAL IMAGE / SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Why I Love Bali & Lombok

By Ryan Ver Berkmoes, Writer

In 1993 I visited Bali for the first time. When I went through immigration, the officer glanced at my passport and said in the sweetest voice possible: 'Have a wonderful birthday on Bali.' Who wouldn't fall in love? I spent a lot of that trip slack-jawed with wonderment. I remember dancers and musicians materialising from across the rice fields to perform in Ubud, I remember driving little back roads of east Bali and being unable to comprehend all the green. Since then, these places – like me – have changed greatly, but their essence still evokes love.

Bali & Lombok's Top 20

Bali's Processions

There you are sipping a coffee at a cafe in, say, Seminyak or Ubud, when there's a crash of the gamelan and traffic screeches to a halt as a crowd of elegantly dressed people comes flying by bearing pyramids of fruit, tasselled parasols and a furred, masked Barong (mythical lion-dog creature) or two. It's a temple procession, disappearing as suddenly as it appeared, leaving no more than a fleeting sparkle of gold and white silk and hibiscus petals in its wake. Dozens occur daily across Bali.


Top Experiences

Bukit Peninsula Beaches

A little plume of white sand rises out of the blue Indian Ocean and fills a cove below limestone cliffs clad in deep green tropical beauty. It sounds idyllic, and it is. The west coast of the Bukit Peninsula in south Bali is dotted with these very beaches, such as Balangan Beach ( MAP GOOGLE MAP ), Bingin and Padang Padang. Families run surfer bars built on bamboo stilts over the tide, where the only views are the breaks, just metres away. Grab a lounger and be lulled by the waves.


Top Experiences

Serene Spas

Whether it's a total fix for the mind, body and spirit, or simply the desire for a bit of serenity, visitors to Bali spend many happy hours (sometimes days) being massaged, scrubbed, perfumed, pampered, bathed and blissed out. Sometimes all this attention to your well-being happens on the beach or in garden – think Ubud's Taksu Spa – other times it's in stylish, even lavish, surroundings. The Balinese massage techniques of stretching, long strokes, skin rolling and palm-and-thumb pressure result in an all-over feeling of calm; it's the perfect holiday prescription.


Top Experiences


Legendary Pulau Menjangan thrills, one tank after another. It offers multiple types of diving around a protected island renowned for its coral walls. And that's just one of Bali's great dive sites. Under the waves at Nusa Penida, you can feel small as a manta ray blocks out the sun's glow overhead, its fluid movement causing barely a disturbance in the surrounding waters as it glides past. And just when you think your dive can't get more dramatic, you turn to find a 2.5m sunfish motionlessly hovering, checking you out.


Top Experiences


Famous in books and movies, the artistic heart of Bali exudes a compelling spiritual appeal. The streets are lined with galleries where artists, both humble and great, create. Beautiful performances showcasing the island's rich culture grace a dozen stages nightly. Museums honour the works of those inspired here over the years, while people walk the rice fields to find the perfect spot to sit in lotus position and ponder life's endless possibilities. Ubud is a state of mind and a beautiful state of being.


Top Experiences

Kuta's Never-Ending Nights

It starts with stylish cafes and bars in Seminyak, open-air places where everything seems just that bit more beautiful amid the post-sunset glow and pulsing house beats. Maybe you move down to action at Double Six beach. Later, the legendary clubs of Kuta draw you in, with international DJs spinning their legendary sets to packed dance floors. Some time before dawn, Kuta's harder, rawer clubs such as Sky Garden Lounge suck you in like black holes, spitting you out hours later into an unsteady daylight, shattered but happy.


Top Experiences

Selong Blanak

Southern Lombok's coastline has a wild savage beauty and few visitors, generating lots of talk about the vast tourism potential of the region. When you set eyes on pristine Selong Blanak beach, you'll appreciate the hype. Enjoy a perfect swath of sand where the swimming in clear, turquoise-tinged water is superb. At the rear of the bay is a crescent of powdery white sand; a dream of a beach that now has the kinds of amenities that come with discovery. Other, as yet barely trod beaches, are nearby.


Top Experiences

Surfing Bali

If it's a month containing the letter 'r', go east; during the other months, go west to fabled breaks like Padang Padang. Simplicity itself. On Bali you have dozens of great breaks in each direction. This was the first place in Asia where surfing took off and, like the perfect set, it shows no signs of calming down. Surfers buzz around the island on motorbikes with board racks, looking for the next great break. Waves blown out? Another spot is just five minutes away. Don't miss classic surfer hang-out Balian Beach.


Top Experiences

Underwater Gilis

Taking the plunge? There are few better places to dive than the Gilis, encircled by coral reefs teeming with life such as at Trawangan Wall and visited by pelagics such as cruising manta rays. Scuba diving is a huge draw – there are numerous professional schools and all kinds of courses taught (from absolute beginner to nitrox specialist). With easy access from beach to reef, snorkelling is also superb, and you're very likely to see turtles. Want to take snorkelling to the next level? Try freediving; it's sweeping the Gilis.


Top Experiences

Luxe Stays

On an island that honours art and serenity, is it any wonder you'll find some of the world's finest hotels and resorts? From blissful retreats like Katamana on south Bali's beautiful beach in Kerobokan or Seminyak to perches on cliffs above the dazzling white sands that dot the Bukit Peninsula, these stylish hotels are as lovely outside as they are luxurious inside. Further resorts by vaunted architects can be found in Ubud's river valleys and in remote idyllic coastal locations right round the island.


Top Experiences

Canggu's Beaches

Canggu is more of an idea and really less of a distinct place, given that the area was all rice fields just a few years ago. But now it's a label that denotes sandy fun and frolic on beaches such as Batu Bolong, pounding surf offshore and nights you hope will never end at a fast-expanding collection of creative cafes and superb restaurants. Find your own faves and make Canggu your Canggu. See what cool new place opens just as you turn your back.


Top Experiences

Jimbaran Seafood

Enormous fresh prawns marinated in lime and garlic and grilled over coconut husks. Tick. A hint of post-sunset pink on the horizon. Tick. Stars twinkling overhead. Tick. A comfy teak chair settling into the beach while your toes play in the sand. Tick. An ice-cold beer. Tick. A strolling band playing the Macarena. OK, maybe not a tick. But the beachside seafood grills such as Warung Ramayana in Jimbaran are a don't-miss evening out, with platters of seafood that arrived fresh that morning to the market just up the beach.


Top Experiences


Bali has oodles of places where you can slip on fins and mask and enter another beautiful world. Swim a short distance from shore and see the eerie ghost of a sunken freighter at Tulamben, or hover a few metres over the marine life teeming around the beautiful reef wall at Pulau Menjangan. The mangroves of Nusa Lembongan lure a rainbow of fish that gather in profusion. Or simply make your way into the calm waters off a beach such as Sanur and see what darts off into the distance.


Top Experiences

Bali's Food

'Oh goody!' It's virtually impossible not to say this when you step into a classic warung like Warung Teges in Ubud for lunch to find dozens of freshly made dishes on the counter awaiting you. It shouldn't surprise that this fertile island provides a profusion of ingredients that combine to create fresh and aromatic dishes. Local specialities such as babi guling (roast suckling pig that's been marinated for hours in spices) will have you lining up again and again. Try lunch at one of the excellent Balinese cafes in Denpasar.


Top Experiences

Kuta Beach

Tourism on Bali began here, and is there any question why? A sweeping arc of sand curves from Kuta into the misty horizon northwest to Echo Beach. Surf that started far out in the Indian Ocean crashes to shore in long symmetrical breaks. You can stroll the 12km of sand, enjoying a foot massage and cold beer with thousands of your new best friends in the south, or find a hip hang-out or even a plot of sand to call your own up north.


Top Experiences

Balinese Dance

The antithesis of Balinese mellow is Balinese dance, a discipline that demands methodical precision. A performer of the Legong, the most beautiful dance, spends years learning minutely choreographed movements from her eyeballs to her toes. Each movement has a meaning and the language flows with a grace that is hypnotic. Clad in silk and ikat, the dancers tell stories rich with the very essence of Balinese Hindu beliefs and lore. Every night there are multiple shows in Ubud at venues such as the Ubud Palace.


Top Experiences

Pura Luhur Ulu Watu

Just watch out for the monkeys. One of Bali's holiest temples, Pura Luhur Ulu Watu is perched on tall cliffs in the southwest corner of the island. In the 11th century a Javanese priest first prayed here, and the site has only become holier since. Shrines and sacred sites are strung along the edge of the limestone precipice. Gaze across an ocean rippled by swells that arrive with metronomic precision. Sunset dance performances delight while those monkeys patiently await a banana – or maybe your sunglasses.


Top Experiences

Sunrise over Trawangan

If you think Gili Trawangan is a stunner by daylight, you should see it at dawn after a night of partying – if you're still seeing. You won't find slick decor, flashy visuals, door staff and stiff entrance prices at venues like Tir na Nog, where the parties started as raves on the beach and still have a raw, unorganised spirit. Local DJs normally spin hypnotic tribal beats and superstar DJs have been known to turn up and play unannounced sets.


Top Experiences

Hiking Rinjani

Glance at a map of Lombok and you'll see that virtually the entire northern half of the island is dominated by the brooding, magnificent presence of Gunung Rinjani , at 3726m Indonesia's second-highest volcano. Hiking Rinjani is no picnic, and involves planning, hiring a guide and porters, stamina and sweat. The route winds up the sides of the great peak until you reach the rim of a vast caldera, where there's a magnificent view of Rinjani's sacred crater lake (an important pilgrim site) and the smoking, highly active mini-cone of Gunung Baru below.


Top Experiences


People wander around Seminyak and ask themselves if they are even in Bali. Of course! On an island that values creativity like few other places, the capital of glitz is where you'll find inventive boutiques run by local designers, the most eclectic and interesting collection of restaurants, and little boutique hotels that break with the island clichés. Expats, locals and visitors alike idle away the hours in its cafes, at ease with the world and secure in their enjoyment of life's pleasures.


Need to Know


Rupiah (Rp)


Bahasa Indonesia and Balinese


ATMs are easy to find throughout Bali and you'll find plenty of places to exchange money, also. Credit cards are accepted at more upmarket establishments.


It's easy to obtain visas but if you're hoping to stay longer than 30 days you may find it a hassle to arrange.

Mobile Phones

Any modern mobile phone will work here and you can buy cheap local SIM cards everywhere (from 5000Rp with no calling credit). Data speeds of 3G and faster are the norm right across Bali.

Time Zone

Indonesia Central Time (GMT/UTC plus eight hours)

When to Go

High Season (Jul, Aug & Dec)

A Accommodation rates increase by 50% or more.

A Many hotels are booked far ahead; the best restaurants need to be booked in advance.

A Christmas and New Year are equally expensive and crowded.

Shoulder (May, Jun & Sep)

A Coincides with the best weather (drier, less humid).

A You may find a good room deal, and last-minute bookings are possible.

A Best time for many activities including diving.

Low Season (Jan–Apr, Oct & Nov)

A Deals everywhere, good airfares.

A Rainy season – though rainfall is never excessive.

A Can do most activities except volcano treks.

Useful Websites

Bali Advertiser (www.baliadvertiser.biz) Bali's expat journal with insider tips and good columnists.

Bali Discovery (www.balidiscovery.com) Excellent weekly summary of news and features, plus hotel deals.

Bali Paradise (www.bali-paradise.com) Compendium site of info and links.

The Beat Bali (http://thebeatbali.com) Comprehensive listings for nightlife, music and events.

Coconuts Bali (http://bali.coconuts.co) Local news and occasional features.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/bali) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Lombok Guide (www.thelombokguide.com) Comprehensive site covering main areas of interest.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Important Numbers

The international access code can be any of three versions; try all three.

Exchange Rates

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than US$80

A Room at guesthouse or homestay: less than US$50

A Cheap food and drink, meals: under US$5

A Beaches: free

Midrange: US$80–250

A Room at midrange hotel: US$50–150

A Great night out eating and drinking: from US$20

A Spa treatment: US$10–40

Top end: More than US$250

A Room at top-end hotel or resort: over US$150

A Lavish evening out: over US$40

A Car and driver per day: US$60

Opening Hours

Typical opening hours are as follows:

Banks 8am to 2pm Monday to Thursday, 8am to noon Friday, 8am to 11am Saturday

Government offices 8am to 3pm Monday to Thursday, 8am to noon Friday (although these are not standardised)

Post offices 8am to 2pm Monday to Friday, longer in tourist centres

Restaurants & cafes 8am to 10pm daily

Shops & services catering to visitors 9am to 8pm or later daily

Arriving in Bali & Lombok

Ngurah Rai International Airport A taxi to Kuta is 80,000Rp, to Seminyak it's 130,000Rp and to Ubud it's 300,000Rp.

Lombok International Airport (LOP; www.lombok-airport.co.id) Near Praya, this airport is ever more busy. There is good service to Bali and Java, with fewer services going east into Nusa Tenggara. Flights also serve the international hubs of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. You’ll find travel agents for airline tickets in Kuta, Mataram and Senggigi.

Getting Around

The best way to get around is with your own transport, whether you drive, hire a driver or cycle. This gives you the flexibility to explore places that are otherwise inaccessible.

Car Small 4WDs can be rented for under US$30 a day. Otherwise you can hire a car with a driver for US$60 a day.

Motorbike Rent one for as little as US$5 a day.

Public transport Small vans called bemos are a cheap way of getting around on fixed routes, though most locals now just use motorbikes. In Lombok public transport is generally restricted to the main routes; away from these, you need a car or motorbike, or to charter an ojek (motorcycle taxi).

Tourist shuttle bus Both economical and convenient.

Taxi Fairly cheap, but only use Bluebird Taxis to avoid scams.

What's New

New Canggu Restaurants

Along the little lanes snaking through the remaining rice fields of Canggu, scores of hip and nifty new cafes and restaurants are opening; typical is Shady Shack, with its uberfresh veggie fare.

Seminyak Village

Bali's shopping wonderland got its first enclosed air-con mall. It earns points for presenting a modest front to the street and for low-cost atrium stalls leased to young local designers.

Nusa Penida Tourism

Having grown steadily for years, tourism to the most mysterious corner of Bali has really started to take off. New guesthouses and cool cafes are cropping up in coastal Ped.


With its daring design and pure fun ethos, Potato Head beach club forever changed how people relate to Bali's beaches. Its companion resort, Katamana, now takes bold design even further.

Bukit Resorts

The Bukit Peninsula's southern limestone cliffs soar over luscious cove beaches near Ungasan. Now it seems each will have its own resort, such as the Kempinski set to open in 2017.

Bali Asli

Noted Oz chef Penelope Williams opened this fine restaurant and cooking school just outside of Amlapura, a part of east Bali where noodle soup was considered a culinary treasure.

Nonstop Action

Despite its length-challenged runways, which limit where planes can fly, Bali is drawing more and more airline services. Long-haul goliath Emirates now flies from Dubai, with worldwide connections.

Echo Beach Bars

Almost overnight, beer joints appeared west of Echo Beach towards Pererenan Beach. These barely there bamboo beach bars are perfect for sunset; Sand Bar sometimes goes till dawn.

Kura-Kura Bus

This Japanese-run tourist shuttle is off and running with a welter of routes across south Bali and Ubud; some schedules run frequently enough to allow hop-on, hop-off exploring.

Boats from Serangan

Because of traffic to Padangbai on east Bali roads, more fast boats to Lombok and the Gilis are leaving from Serangan, midway between Kuta and Sanur. This is a real time-saver.

Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

After several years without new hotels, Ubud's lush Sungai Ayung river valley has a major addition in this stunning and daringly designed luxury resort. Watch out Four Seasons and Amandari.

South Lombok Beaches

As roads continually are improved running east and west from Kuta, the world-class beaches of south Lombok become ever-more accessible.

West Lombok Islands

Now routinely called the 'new Gilis', the tiny islands off the coast of southwest Lombok offer the low-key, white-sand experience that the other Gilis were once famous for.

If You Like…


While there's no shortage of beaches, ones with white sand aren't as common as you’d think – most are some variation of tan or grey.

Seminyak Beach This wide stretch of sand boasts great surf for both swimmers and surfers. Don't miss sunset.

Balangan Beach This curving white-sand beach is ramshackle in an endearing way and perfect for a snooze or booze.

Padang Padang Beach Great white sands and some of the best surfer-watching you'll find anywhere.

Nusa Lembongan Beaches Little coves of dreamy sand you can walk between, plus fab swimming.

Gili Island beaches The beaches are uniformly gorgeous, with white sand, great snorkelling and a timeless traveller vibe.

Selong Blanak An idyllic Lombok bay and beach that astounds first-time visitors.



With more than 10,000 temples, Bali has such a variety that you can’t even categorise them.

Pura Luhur Batukau One of Bali’s most important temples is a misty, remote place that's steeped in ancient spirituality.

Pura Taman Ayun A beautiful moated temple with a royal past; part of Unesco's recognition of Bali's rice traditions.

Pura Pusering Jagat One of the famous temples at Pejeng, which date to the 14th-century empire that once flourished here.

Pura Luhur Ulu Watu As important as it is popular, this temple has sweeping views, sunset dance performances and monkeys.


Nightclubs on Bali draw acolytes from across Southeast Asia.

Seminyak Beach clubs where the cocktails somehow taste better when you can hear the surf.

Kuta All raw energy and a mad mix of party-goers enjoying every aspect of Bali hedonism.

Legian Beach bars and beanbags on the sand where the glow of sunset segues into the twinkle of stars.

Echo Beach A necklace of ephemeral beach bars runs along the sand going west; some have raves.

Gili Trawangan The place for pounding beats and party vibes just about every night (and day!) of the week.


The island’s creative heritage is everywhere you look and there’s nothing manufactured about it. Dance and musical performances are the result of an ever-evolving culture with a legacy that's centuries long.

Dance Rigid choreography and discipline are hallmarks of beautiful, melodic Balinese dance, which no visitor should miss.

Gamelan The ensemble orchestra creates its unforgettable music with bamboo and bronze instruments at performances and celebrations.

Painting Balinese and Western styles merged in the 20th century and the results are often extraordinary. See some of the best in Ubud’s museums.

Offerings Artful and ubiquitous, you'll discover them at your hotel room door and in huge stacks at temples.

Great Food

Enjoy superb dining on cuisines from around the world, or go local with the subtle flavours of Balinese cuisine.

Seminyak The spot with the greatest variety of top restaurants – on a 10-minute stroll you can wander the world.

Kerobokan The go-to area for the hottest and best restaurants, plus some superb Balinese warungs.

Canggu Bali's liveliest hot spot sees interesting cafes and restaurants opening every week.

Denpasar Local cafes serve exceptional Balinese and Indonesian food in simple surrounds.

Ubud A profusion of creative restaurants and cafes, many organic and healthful, all delicious.



Some consider Bali a great destination for shopping; for others it's their destiny.

Seminyak Sometimes it seems everyone in Seminyak is a designer; the reality is that many actually are.

Kerobokan A continuation of stores north of Seminyak sees myriad places offering everything from housewares to fashion.

Canggu Soon to be Bali's shopping hot spot as low rents (at least for now!) and creative energy draw designers.

Ubud Excellent for handicrafts, art, books, yoga wear and more.

South of Ubud Artisan craft shops abound in towns like Mas; look for the don't-miss market in Sukawati.

Month by Month

Top Events

Nyepi, March or April

Galungan & Kuningan, varies

Indonesian Independence Day, 17 August

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, October

Bali Arts Festival, June to July


The rainy season pours on and the island start to hum again after the January pause following the holiday high season. Accommodation bargains abound.

z Nyale Festival

The ritual harvesting of nyale (wormlike sea fish) takes place on Seger Beach near Lombok's Kuta. The evening begins with poetry readings, continues with gamelan performances and carries on until the dawn, when the nyale start appearing. Can also be held in March.


The rainy season is ending and there's a lull in the crowds – this is low season for tourism, especially around Nyepi when even many non-Balinese flee the silence.

z Nyepi (Day of Silence)

Bali’s major Hindu festival, Nyepi celebrates the end of the old year and the start of the next. It’s marked by inactivity – a strategy to convince evil spirits that Bali is uninhabited so they’ll leave the island alone for another year.


The islands dry out after the rainy season and there's a small but noticeable uptick in visitors. This is another month when insiders recommend visiting.

z Bali Spirit Festival

A hugely popular yoga, dance and music festival from the people behind the Yoga Barn in Ubud. There are more than 100 workshops and concerts, plus a market and more. It’s usually held in early April but may begin in late March.

1 Malean Sampi

Yoked buffalo race over waterlogged earth in Narmada, near Mataram on Lombok, their jockeys clinging tight. It’s as dangerous, muddy and fun as it sounds. Held early in the month.


The airport is getting busier, but much of what makes May a good month also applies in June. Crowds begin at the Bukit breaks.

z Bali Arts Festival

The premier event on Bali’s cultural calendar. Based at the Taman Wedhi Budaya arts centre in Denpasar, the festival is a great way to see traditional Balinese dance and music, as village-based groups compete fiercely for local pride. Held mid-June to mid-July.

Dancers in traditional costume at the Bali Arts Festival |TROPICAL STUDIO / SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Lebaran Topat

Held during the seven days after the end of the fasting month (Idul Fitri; Ramadan) in the Islamic calendar, Lebaran Topat hJun) is a Sasak ceremony thought to be unique to west Lombok. Relatives gather in cemeteries to pour water over family graves, and add offerings of flowers, betel leaves and lime powder.


After August, July is the second-busiest month for visitors to Bali. Don’t expect to have your pick of places to stay, but do plan to enjoy the energy of crowds on holiday.

z Bali Kite Festival

In south Bali scores of kites soar overhead much of the year. Often huge (10m-plus), they fly at altitudes that worry pilots. There’s a spiritual connection: the kites urge the gods to provide abundant harvests. During this festival the skies fill with huge creations.


Galungan & Kuningan

One of Bali's major festivals, Galungan celebrates the death of a legendary tyrant called Mayadenawa. During this 10-day period, all the gods come down to earth for the festivities. Barong (mythical lion-dog creatures) prance from temple to temple and village to village, and locals rejoice with feasts and visits to families. The celebrations culminate with the Kuningan festival, when the Balinese say thanks and goodbye to the gods.

Every village in Bali celebrates Galungan and Kuningan in grand style, and visitors are welcome to join in.

The 210-day wuku (or Pawukon) calendar is used to determine festival dates. The calendar uses 10 types of weeks that are between one and 10 days long, which all run simultaneously, and the intersection of the various weeks determines auspicious days. Dates for future Galungan and Kuningan celebrations are as follows:


The busiest time on Bali sees an ever-increasing number of visitors each year. Book your room and tables far in advance and expect crowds.

z Indonesian Independence Day

Celebrated across Indonesia, 17 August is the day Indonesia's independence from the Dutch was declared in 1945. Legions of school kids march with great enthusiasm on Bali's main roads. Traffic is snarled (as it is days before for rehearsals) and lots of fireworks are shot off.

2 Surf Contests

The exact names and sponsorships change every year but you'll find top international surf contests being held throughout August down at Padang Padang Beach. Peak tourist season coincides with peak wave season.


The skies darken more often with seasonal rains, but mostly the weather is pleasant and the islanders bustle about their normal business. Outside of Ubud, crowds are few.

z Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

This festival hosts scores of writers and readers from around the world in a celebration of writing – especially that which touches on Bali. Each year there is a theme and famous authors whose works address the topic attend.


It’s getting wetter, but not really so wet that you can’t enjoy the islands to the fullest. Usually a quiet month crowd-wise, you can find accommodation bargains.

z Perang Topat

This ‘rice war’ on Lombok is fun. It takes place at Pura Lingsar just outside Mataram and involves a costumed parade, and Hindus and Wektu Telu pelting balls of ketupat (sticky rice) at each other. Can also be held in December.


Visitors rain on Bali ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays. Hotels and restaurants are booked out and everybody is busy; in the south, the energy can seem manic.

1 Peresean

Martial arts, Lombok-style. Competitors, stripped to the waist, spar with sticks and cowhide shields. The winner is the first to draw blood. It’s held annually in Mataram late in the month.


Bali & the Gilis

2 Weeks

See an incredible cross-section of Bali and enjoy the most popular parts of a Bali trip, including the Gili Islands.

Start your trip in Seminyak, which has the best places to go out for a meal or a drink or to buy a new frock. Allow at least three days to experience the refined charms of Kerobokan, the beachy pleasures of Canggu and the wild nights of Kuta. Once you're sated, head north, driving through the rice terraces of Jatiluwih ( GOOGLE MAP ; adult/child 20,000/15,000Rp, plus per car 5000Rp) and on to Pura Luhur Batukau, a holy temple up in the clouds. Head northwest to the mellow beach resorts at Pemuteran, from where you can snorkel or scuba Bali's best dive site at Palau Menjangan. Next, driving east inland, stop in Munduk for some hiking to remote waterfalls.

Carry on via Candikuning to Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali. Nights of dance and culture are offset by days of walking through the serene countryside. Do a day trip to the ancient monuments at Gunung Kawi. Then head down to the cute little port town of Padangbai and catch a fast boat to the Gili Islands. Wander the islands, enjoy the pulsing nightlife of Gili T and go snorkelling to spot a turtle.



Total Bali & Lombok

3 Weeks

You'll visit six islands and countless beaches on a trip that takes you to the most interesting sites and places across Bali, Lombok and the Gilis.

Begin your trip at Bingin. Settle back in the sand and let the jet lag vanish. Then move to Canggu for Bali's hippest scene. Transit through Denpasar for a purely Balinese lunch and head up the hill to Ubud to get a full taste of Balinese culture. Next, tackle Gunung Agung, the spiritual centre of the island. Start early to reach the top, and take in the views before the daily onslaught of clouds and mist.

Having climbed Bali's most legendary peak, head west to the village of Munduk, which looks down to the north coast and the sea beyond. Go for a walk in the area and enjoy waterfalls, truly tiny villages, wild fruit trees and the sinuous ribbons of rice paddies lining the hills. Then head south to the wonderful temple of Pura Luhur Batukau and consider a trek up Bali's second-highest mountain, Gunung Batukau. Recover with some chill-out time on popular Balian Beach, just west.

Next, bounce across the waves from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan, the island hiding in the shadow of Nusa Penida. The latter is visible from much of the south and east – it's almost unpopulated and makes a good day trip. Take in the amazing vistas from its cliffs and dive under the waves to check out the marine life.

Head to the Gili Islands on the direct boat from Nusa Lembongan for more tranquil time circumnavigating the three islands above and below the idyllic sapphire waters fringing them. Take a boat to Senggigi, but ignore the resorts and head south. Still off the beaten path, the south coast near Lombok's Kuta has stunning beaches and surfing to reward the intrepid. The seldom-driven back roads of the interior will thrill the adventurous and curious, with tiny villages where you can learn about the amazing local handicrafts. Many of these roads lead up the flanks of Gunung Rinjani, the volcanic peak that shelters the lush and remote Sembalun Valley. Trekking from one village to the next on the rim can take days but is one of Bali and Lombok's great walks.


Bali at a Slow Pace

3 Weeks

Find accommodation close to the beach in Kerobokan. Be sure to get to the trendy restaurants and cafes of Canggu before you leave this part of south Bali behind. Maybe you can learn how to surf, or at least brush up on your skills, before you head south to Bingin and its groovy cliff-side inns overlooking fab surfing. Make the short drive down to Bukit Peninsula's spiritual centre (and monkey home) Pura Luhur Ulu Watu.

Take a trip through Denpasar and stop at the excellent local restaurants and museum. Next, Bali's ancient rice terraces will exhaust your abilities to describe green. Sample these in a drive up to the terraces of Jatiluwih followed by the lyrical Pura Luhur Batukau. Make your way over the mountains via the Antosari Road, pausing at a remote hotel on the way. Head west to Pemuteran where the hotels and resorts define relaxation. Dive or snorkel nearby Pulau Menjangan in Bali Barat National Park. It's renowned for its coral and sheer 30m wall.

Lovina is a good break on a route around the coast to Tulamben, where scores of people explore the shattered hulk of a WWII freighter underwater. Get some serious chill time on the Amed Coast before the short jaunt to Tirta Gangga and hikes through rice fields and up jungle-clad hills to remote temples. Continue to Padangbai. This enjoyable port town is an ideal place to hang out for a couple of days before you take back roads to Ubud. Find your favourite cafe and let the world wander past, or rid yourself of travel kinks at a spa. You might consider staying at one of the iconic family homestays, taking gentle walks through rice fields by day and marvelling at dance performances at night.

When you're ready and rested, get a fast boat from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan. This little island has its own buzz, with a string of hotels – from basic to semi-posh – lining its sands. It's a timeless travellers' scene with a backdrop of excellent surfing and splendid snorkelling and diving.


Best of Bali

1 Week

Seven days will fly by on this trip which covers Bali's best.

Start at a beachside hotel in Seminyak, Kerobokan or Canggu; shop the streets and spend time at the beach. Enjoy a seafood dinner on Jimbaran Bay as part of a day trip to the monkey-filled temple at Ulu Watu.

In the east, take the coast road to wild beaches like the one near Pura Masceti, followed by the well-mannered royal town of Semarapura with its ruins. Head north up to breathtaking Sideman, which combines rice terraces with lush river valleys and cloud-shrouded mountains. Then go west to Ubud, the crowning stop on any itinerary.

To spoil yourself, stay in one of Ubud's many hotels with views across rice fields and rivers. Sample the offerings at a spa before you try one of the myriad great restaurants. Bali's rich culture is most celebrated and most accessible in Ubud and you'll be captivated by nightly dance performances. Check out local craft studios, including the woodcarvers of Mas. Hike through the surrounding rice fields to river valleys, taking a break in museums bursting with paintings.


Bali Day Trips

1 Week

This is for the traveller who wants to unpack only once, seeing what's possible on Bali during a series of relaxed day trips. Base yourself at a beachside hotel in Sanur. In between your days out, soak up the mellow beach vibe and let your cares float away at a spa.

Day trip one starts with the short drive to the markets and museums of Denpasar, followed by a visit to the shops of Seminyak and Kerobokan. Finish up with a sunset seafood grill at Jimbaran.

Day trip two heads to Ubud for a half-day strolling the streets, looking at the shops, galleries and museums. Take different routes there and back so you can enjoy sights such as the temples of Pejeng, the carvers of Mas and the village market at Sukawati.

Day trip three follows the wave-tossed volcanic beaches along the east coast. Stop at Lebih, which has a temple and mica-infused glittering sand. Go inland to the temple ruins and market at Semarapura, then head north along beautiful Sideman. Next, loop west and head back down through the tidy regional centre of Gianyar, where you can check out traditional fabric showrooms and feast at the night market.


Lombok in Two Weeks

2 Weeks

Lombok is all about the great outdoors, from its incredible beaches to its iconic volcano.

Kick off in gorgeous Kuta and spend a day or two finding the perfect beach. East or west of town there are a dozen or so bays to choose from: magnificent Selong Blanak is just one. While you're here, it would be rude not to sample the fabled south Lombok surf – tiny Gerupuk is an excellent place to either take a lesson or hitch a boat ride to an epic break. Not far away, tranquil southwest Lombok is ideal for more aqua action; swim in sheltered waters or explore the dozen or so islands by boat. Tiny Gili Gede makes a perfect base.

Sacred Gunung Rinjani is up next. You can explore its foothills from the rustic base of Tetebatu, or go the whole hog and trek from Senaru to the crater rim, the sublime crater lake or the summit itself (depending on your time, energy and commitment level). Just don't miss the beautiful Sembalun Valley. Finish off with a stay at one of the quietly luxurious resorts on the white beaches of Sire.


Gili Islands in One Week

1 Week

These three little dots of white sand off Lombok can easily occupy your entire trip, with their top-class options for diving, lazing, partying and hanging out on the beaches.

The ideal place to get to grips with island life is Gili Air, where the main beachfront strip is perfect tropical lounging territory. You can while away a day or two doing nothing but chilling with a book, taking a cooling dip, snorkelling the offshore coral and feasting on inexpensive fresh seafood.

Next up is Trawangan, where there's much more action. The perfect day here could start with a morning dive at a site such as Shark Point, followed by a healthy lunch and an afternoon snooze. Then take a gentle stroll round the sandy lanes of the island, slipping in a sunset cocktail on the west coast. After dinner, feel the beat at one of Trawangan's parties.

The final stop is Gili Meno, where, once you've secured the perfect place to stay (including at some new upscale choices), there's little to do except ponder the sheer desert-isle-ness of the place. If you can drag yourself away from the beach, you can go egret-spotting on the inland lake.

Plan Your Trip

Bali & Lombok Outdoors

Bali is an incredible place to get outside and play. In its waters there's world-class diving and some of the world's best surfing. On land, hikes abound through rice fields, mountain lakes and up volcanoes.

Best Outdoor Adventures

Top Surfing

World famous Ulu Watu, which every serious surfer needs to tackle once, and all-round great Batu Bolong.

Top Diving & Snorkelling

Spectacular Pulau Menjangan, whether you're just drifting or following a wall; Tulamben's sunken WWII freighter, and its snorkelling and diving from shore.

Top Hiking

Munduk's lush, spice-scented, waterfall-riven landscape; beautiful walks lasting from one hour to one day in Ubud and its rice-field surrounds; Tirta Gangg's emerald rice terraces, gorgeous views and temples.


Surfing kick-started Bali tourism in the 1960s, and it's never looked back. Many Balinese have taken to surfing, and the grace of traditional dancing is said to influence their style.

Where to Surf Bali

Swells come from the Indian Ocean, so the surf is on the southern side of the island and, strangely, on the northwest coast of Nusa Lembongan, where the swell funnels into the strait between there and the Bali coast.

In the dry season (around April to September), the west coast has the best breaks, with the trade winds coming in from the southeast; this is also when Nusa Lembongan is at its best. In the wet season, surf the eastern side of the island, from Nusa Dua around to Padangbai. If there's a north wind – or no wind at all – there are also a couple of breaks on the south coast of the Bukit Peninsula.

Note that the best breaks almost always have good beaches of the same name.

To reach the breaks, many will rent a motorbike with a surfboard rack while others will hire a surfboard-carrying-capable car with a driver. Either option is easily accomplished.


Follow Jl Pantai Balangan and its surfer crash pads until you reach the parking area overlooking the Balangan beach cafes. Balangan is a fast left over a shallow reef, unsurfable at low tide, but good at mid-tide with anything over a 4ft swell; with an 8ft swell, it's magic.


There are a few peaks near the mouth of Sungai Balian (Balian River) in western Bali. The best break here is an enjoyable and consistent left-hander that works well at mid- to high tide if there's no wind. Choose from guesthouses simple to luxe.

Batu Bolong

North of Kerobokan, on the northern extremity of the bay, Batu Bolong (often called Canggu) has a nice beach with light-coloured sand, many surfers and a cool party scene. An optimum size for Batu Bolong is 5ft to 6ft. There's a good right-hander that you can really hook into, which works at high tide.


Accessible down a cliff, this spot can get crowded. It's best at mid-tide with a 6ft swell, when it manufactures short but perfect left-hand barrels. The cliffs backing the beach are lined with plenty of accommodation options.


Just north of Padang Padang, this challenging outside reef break has three shifting peaks with fast left-hand tube sections that can join up if the conditions are perfect.

Keramas & Ketewel

These two beaches are northeast of Sanur. They're both right-hand beach breaks, which are dodgy at low tide and close out over 6ft. The surf is fairly consistent year-round and you can night surf at the Komune Bali surf resort.

Kuta Area

For your first plunge into the warm Indian Ocean, try the breaks at Kuta's beach. At full tide, go out near the life-saving club at the southern end of the beach road. At low tide, try the tubes around Halfway Kuta ( MAP GOOGLE MAP ), probably the best place in Bali for beginners to practise. Start at the beach breaks if you are a bit rusty, but treat even these breaks with respect.

Further north, the breaks at Legian Beach can be pretty powerful, with lefts and rights on the sandbars off Jl Melasti and Jl Padma.

For more serious stuff, go to the reefs south of the beach breaks, about a kilometre out to sea. Kuta Reef ( GOOGLE MAP ), a vast stretch of coral, provides a variety of waves. You can paddle out in around 20 minutes, but the easiest way to get there is by boat. The main break is a classic left-hander, best at mid- to high tide, with a 5ft to 6ft swell, when it peels across the reef and has a beautiful inside tube section.


Along the south coast of western Bali is a soft left called Medewi. It's a point break that can give a long ride right into the river mouth. This wave has a big drop, which fills up then runs into a workable inside section. There's accommodation here.

Nusa Dua

During the wet season, there are some fine reef breaks on the eastern side of the island. The reef off Nusa Dua has very consistent swells. The main break is 1km off the beach to the south of Nusa Dua – go past the golf course and look for the remaining shred of Gegar Beach up against the huge Mulia resort, where there will be some boats to take you out. There are lefts and rights that work well on a small swell at low to mid-tide. Further north, in front of the Club Med, there is a fast, barrelling right reef break called Sri Lanka, which works best at mid-tide.

Nusa Lembongan

In the Nusa Penida group, this island is separated from the southeast coast of Bali by Selat Badung (Badung Strait).

The strait is very deep and generates huge swells that break over the reefs off the northwest coast of Lembongan. Shipwrecks ( MAP GOOGLE MAP ), clearly visible from the beach, is the most popular break, a longish right that gets a good barrel at mid-tide with a 5ft swell.

A bit to the south, Lacerations ( MAP GOOGLE MAP ) is a very fast, hollow right breaking over a very shallow reef – hence the name. Still further south is a smaller, more user-friendly left-hander called Playgrounds ( MAP GOOGLE MAP ). Remember that Lembongan is best with an easterly wind, so it's dry-season surfing.

Padang Padang

Just Padang for short, this super-shallow, left-hand reef break is off a very popular beach and just below some rickety accommodation joints where you can crash and watch the breaks. Check this place carefully before venturing out. It's a very demanding break that only works over about 6ft from mid- to high tide.

If you can't surf tubes, backhand or forehand, don't go out. After a ledgy take-off, you power along the bottom before pulling up into the barrel. Not a wave for the faint-hearted and definitely not one to surf when there's a crowd (such as you'll find during high-profile surf contests throughout the year).


Sanur Reef has a hollow wave with excellent barrels. It's fickle and doesn't even start until there is a 6ft swell, but anything over 8ft will be world-class, and anything over 10ft will be brown-boardshorts material. There are other reefs further offshore and most of them are surfable.

Hyatt Reef, over 2km from shore, has a shifty right peak that can give a great ride at full tide. The classic right is off the Grand Bali Beach Hotel.


The development at Pulau Serangan (Turtle Island) has caused huge disruption on the southern and eastern sides of the island; paradoxically, these changes to the shape of the shore have made the surf here much more consistent. In addition, the causeway has made the island more accessible, and several warung (food stalls) face the water, where waves break right and left in anything over a 3ft swell.

South Coast

The extreme south coast, around the end of the Bukit Peninsula, can be surfed any time of the year provided there is a northerly wind, or no wind at all – get there very early to avoid onshore winds. The peninsula is fringed with reefs, and big swells are produced, but access is a problem; the shoreline is all cliff (getting down to Nyang-Nyang requires traversing more than 500 steps).

Ulu Watu

When Kuta Reef is 5ft to 6ft, Ulu Watu, the most famous surfing break in Bali, will be 6ft to 8ft with bigger sets. It's way out on the southern extremity of the bay and consequently picks up more swell than Kuta.

Teluk Ulu Watu (Ulu Watu Bay) is a great set-up for surfers – local boys will wax your board, get drinks for you and carry the board down into the cave, which is the usual access to the waves. There are popular cafes, and accommodation for every budget.

Ulu Watu has about seven different breaks. The Corner is straight in front of you to the right. It's a fast-breaking, hollow left that holds about 6ft. The reef shelf under this break is extremely shallow, so try to avoid falling head first. At high tide, the Peak starts to work. This is good from 5ft to 8ft, with bigger waves occasionally right on the Peak itself. You can take off from this inside part or further down the line. It's a great wave.

Another left runs off the cliff that forms the southern flank of the bay. It breaks outside this in bigger swells, and once it's 7ft, a left-hander pitches right out in front of a temple on the southern extremity. Out behind the Peak, when it's big, is a bombora (submerged reef) appropriately called the Bommie. This is another big left-hander and it doesn't start operating until the swell is about 10ft. On a normal 5ft to 8ft day, there are also breaks south of the Peak.

Observe where other surfers paddle out and follow them. If you are in doubt, ask someone. It's better having some knowledge than none at all. Climb down into the cave and paddle out from there. When the swell is bigger you will be swept to your right. Don't panic – it is an easy matter to paddle around the white water from down along the cliff. Coming back in you have to aim for the cave. When the swell is bigger, come from the southern side of the cave because the current runs to the north.

Where to Surf: Lombok & Gili Islands

Lombok has some good surfing and the dearth of tourists means that breaks are generally uncrowded.


This giant bay 6km east of Kuta boasts four surf breaks, so there's always some wave action no matter what the weather or tide. Bumbang is extremely dependable: best on an incoming tide, this right-hander over a flat reef is good for all levels and can be surfed year-round. Gili Golong excels at mid- to high tide between October and April. Don-Don needs a bigger swell to break but can be great at any time of year. Finally Kid's Point (or Pelawangan) only breaks with big swells, but when it does it's barrels all the way. You need to hitch a boat ride to each wave.

Gili Trawang

Much better known as a diving mecca, Trawangan also boasts a surf spot off the island's southwestern tip, offshore from, yes, the Surf Bar. It's a quick right-hander that breaks in two sections, one offering a steeper profile,