With gorgeous beaches, world-class surfing and diving, and endless sunshine, Bali has long been a bikini paradise for the laid-back sun and surf fan. But Bali has much more to offer than gnarly waves and sweet parties. This Indonesian island is steeped in a deeply spiritual and unique culture that will enchant and delight you in unexpected ways.
The scenery in Bali could almost make you believe it is an artistically painted backdrop, as the emerald green rice paddies, dramatic volcanoes, dense tropical jungle and warm sun glistening on the blue waters are too incredible to be real. Bali is called the "Island of the Gods," and when you arrive in this ultimate paradise, it's easy to see why.
Bali is an absolute treat for the senses, and its colorful traditional art and live performances, lush surroundings, spicy and bold cuisine, and tranquil temples will leave you with unforgettable travel memories.
A very sacred place
Bali is also known as the "Island of a Thousand Puras (Temples)," and there are an estimated 20,000 temples and shrines throughout the island. Each village is required by law to have at least three temples, and many have more. Religion is part of almost every aspect of traditional life in Bali and includes theology, philosophy, and mythology. Gods and goddesses are present in all things, and every element of nature represents the power of the gods.
Everywhere you look you see small offerings to the gods called canang san, which are leafy bowls filled with rice, flowers, cookies and other goodies and topped with incense sticks and holy water. The Balinese follow the Hindu philosophy of "Tri Hita Korana," which states that the three causes of happiness are good relationships with God, other people and the environment. This idea of universal harmony underlies all interactions.
While the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, a small amount of Hinduism has survived on Bali. The art and rituals of Balinese Hinduism are a visual manifestation of sacred religious beliefs.
The sights and sounds of artistic Bali
Bali has one of the most innovative and diverse performing arts cultures in the world. Many temples have an inner courtyard that serves as a performance space for the music, dance or drama that often accompanies a Balinese ritual. Thousands of performances take place throughout the year, at public events, temple festivals, or private ceremonies. Balinese performers reenact the ancient stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana with their own Balinese flavor. They also perform the traditional ritual dances, such as the barong or "lion dance," which represents the struggle between good and evil.
Sculpture is an important form of creative expression in Bali, and you will find many beautifully carved statues of gods and goddesses in the island's temples and courtyards. Bali has a highly developed culture of fine arts, including painting, leatherwork and metalwork.
Try the local cuisine
Are you ready for a hot, spicy and colorful flavor explosion? Balinese food is usually served with rice or noodles, and most dishes consist of pork, chicken or seafood and a variety of vegetables flavored with chili. Sate is a cooking method in which grilled meat is served on a skewer. Nasi Goreng is one of the most popular dishes, a delicious plate of steamed rice stir-fried with oil, vegetables and seafood or chicken, often with a fried egg on top. Duck is also a popular ingredient in Balinese dishes.
You can find excellent authentic food from the roving vendors known as kaki lima. The name means "five legs" and refers to the three legs of the food cart and the two legs of the vendor. At these carts you can get a delicious spicy meatball noodle soup called bakso.
Pretty and peaceful Ubud
Ubud is considered the cultural center of Bali and is the epicenter of all arts and crafts activities in the surrounding villages. It abounds with beautiful temples, tranquil gardens and a general sense of peace and well-being. There are many museums and galleries for art lovers and botanical gardens to relax in. The best way to explore the hidden treasures of Ubud is to take a leisurely bike ride through the streets.Cycling through the island of paradise
Our Bali bike tour, Bali Paradise Ride, begins in beautiful Ubud, where you will have the opportunity to discover the artistic center of the island. Then we ride out of the village into the hills and down to the coast. Enjoy a ride along some of the most breathtaking beaches you can imagine, stopping along the way to admire stately ancient temples. Have you ever seen a black volcanic sand beach or visited an 11th century temple on the edge of an active caldera? Our tours will take you through Bali's most extraordinary landscapes, where you will marvel at the wonders of nature and truly feel like a guest in the land of the gods.