Bali, Indonesia

Recently, a spate of chic restaurants has sprouted, making the island a regional culinary hotspot while – peculiarly for Muslim Indonesia – its largely Hindu religious heritage has dotted its jungles with architecturally intriguing temples and marked its calendar with an endless string of festivals. Bali is the all-in-one destination; no other place in south-east Asia can compete with its combination of culture and history, gorgeous beaches, lush tropical vistas, great shopping, good people, sexy hotels, sensual spas, and sleek bars and restaurants. Your only problem is deciding what to do each day…

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Do Go/Don’t go

No check-ins or check-outs are allowed on 9 March 2016, when Bali observes Nyepi Day (Day of Silence), although stays are still possible. Bali’s airport also closes for the day. July to September is Bali’s high season, when the temperature and climate are at their most appealing. Fans of peace and quiet may want to avoid August, the busiest period, but don’t leave it later than early October because after this point, the rain clouds start to gather.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Fly into Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (www.baliairport.com), south of capital Denpasar and within easy reach of Seminyak, Canggu, Jimbaran Bay and the Bukit Peninsula (Ubud is a tad further away). It's served by a host of global carriers including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Jetstar and AirAsia. You can buy a Visa on Arrival, if required, for 30 days for US$25 (bring US dollars cash to speed your progress through the queues). Many hotels offer free transfers or you can pick up a taxi easily at the airport. Some hotels can also fasttrack you through immigration and customs on arrival or departure.
  • Boats

    Ferries nip back and forth from Java to Gilimanuk in Western Bali regularly, although they’re far from the smoothest of rides.
  • Automobiles

    You can rent a car at the airport to explore the island easily enough (although you’ll need to pick up a tourist driving licence) but given Balinese drivers’ rather ‘informal’ approach to the rules of the road and the narrow, bumpy streets it’s not exactly recommended. Chauffeur-driven cars are readily available at keen rates.
  • Taxis

    Your hotel will be able to arrange legit, metered taxis on request. The best of the bunch is Bali Taxi (+62 (0)361 701 111), whose blue cabs are clean, safe and charge a fair fare.

DIVE IN

DIVE IN

Underwater explorers will love Gayana Eco Resort's coral-dotted, marine-reserve dive centre (the treks into the Borneo jungle won't disappoint, either). Bali's Alila Manggis is splashing distance from seven of the globe's best dive sites and is edged by sublime snorkeling waters. Sumba, an hour's flight from Bali, is a hush-hush travellers' secret, and at Nihiwatu you'll sample the island's best: incredible ocean views, breeze-cooled outdoor living and world-class surf breaks in reach. A speedboat ride from Amanzoe, a marble-hewn hilltop haven in southern Greece, is the island of Dokos, whose diver-drawing coast lays claim to the world's oldest known shipwreck. 

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