NZ$208 per night
Expected price for:10 Mar - 11 Mar
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The island of Bali is the most visited of all of Indonesia’s thousands of islands and presents visitors with a remarkable contrast of scenery, culture and activities, ensuring there really is something for everyone. From the party districts of Kuta to the cultural myriad of Ubud, with the stunning coastline and intense rainforests in between, it is easy to see why Bali is so popular. Despite the mass-tourism, Bali also offers tranquil retreats and quiet villages and in certain spots during the lower-seasons it is possible to feel like the only foreigner on the island.
The focal point of the island is the south with the two large urban districts of Kuta and Denpasar, also home to Bali’s international airport. Most travellers will come through here first, or at least at some stage on their trip. Kuta is home to large open stretches of beach and is one of the most common spots for surfing. Consequently it is also one of the most Westernised and developed regions of the island, with many of the large international hotels Bali possesses situated here. Kuta is also known as the party district of the island, with many holidaymakers and a considerable backpacker scene taking advantage of the extensive array of bars and clubs. Kuta itself is part of the larger city of Denpasar and it is here where many of the regions temples and museums are concentrated, with more examples of traditional architecture than in the newer Kuta. Puputan Square is the central point and a crucial orientation landmark as it features a sizeable and distinctive eight-armed statue.
Ubud, by contrast, is in inland and is said to be the cultural capital of the island. It is formed of a variety of small communities connected by hectic streets and countless market-stalls interspersed between dozens of temples. Visitors head here for a concentrated experience of traditional Bali culture and although arguably the amount of tourists does not seem much less than in Kuta, the atmosphere and attractions have a greatly differing focus. This region of Bali contains a much larger amount of individual hotels, with a greater range of smaller and family owned properties than on the coast. Ubud is also renowned for shopping and souvenirs; countless stalls, markets and workshops offer traditional crafts and artwork in unique Balinese styles, allowing travellers to take a piece of Bali home with them. Moreover, cooking lessons are another favoured activity with visitors, providing a chance to delve deeper into the local culture and experience excellent examples of Indonesian cuisine.
Moving away from the south of the island and the large urbanisation, there are a series of smaller towns dotted along the coastline which present an opportunity to experience everyday Bali life. The east coast is home to the town of Padang Bai, a port used to connect to the neighbouring island of Lombok. Either side of the town there are several sandy beaches which are generally quieter than those closer to Kuta, however equally as beautiful. The north side of Bali is a lengthy few hours’ drive across the centre of the island from Ubud or Kuta, plus is has a very different atmosphere. Singaraja is the largest town on the north coast, and was the former administrative capital. The history here is very different than to the history shown in Ubud as Singaraja has many reminders of its Dutch colonial days; wider streets and examples of European influenced architecture are still present. For those seeking hotels in Bali which are simultaneously close to a beach but not over-run with travellers and party-goers, the small coastal towns offer an ideal scenario.
Despite all of the fascinating cities and beautiful beaches, visitors will not experience the true essence of Bali without heading inland and exploring some of the incredible nature. As with much of Indonesia, the island is geographically shaped by volcanoes. Bali’s highest peak of Mount Agung is indeed a volcano, which erupted with great devastation in 1963. Nowadays visitors regularly frequent the foothills in this eastern region for the dense jungle trails and small villages which feel like a polar opposite to the hectic southern coastline. Further to the centre of the island there are a selection of picturesque lakes amongst the towering peaks of the central mountain range. This area known as Bedugul is home to an assortment of villages which provide bases to explore the nature from, indeed staying in a hotel here is a vastly different experience than on the coast. A variety of outdoor activities are available inland, including many activities favoured by young travellers such as quad-biking, off-road cycling, kayaking, and whitewater rafting. This demonstrates that choosing a hotel in the countryside of Bali does not mean sacrificing the energy and excitement found in a beach resort.