Bali: A pocket guide

Known as the Island of the Gods, Bali is a vacation destination of warm turquoise waters, beaches lined with palms, and upscale accommodations sprinkled across a volcanic landscape. But there’s far more to this magical isle than sun, sea, and sand. Throughout Bali, roadside shrines are decorated with humble offerings of rice and petals, evidence of the widespread devotion that characterizes this most spiritual of sanctuaries. Along with a peaceful pace of life, travelers also enjoy Bali’s fine restaurants, world-famous nightlife, and devotion to the arts.

The northern and western coastal areas, less developed than the south, have just a handful of luxury hideaways, and the region has become a favorite spot of elite travelers in search of stylish seclusion. They fill their days with snorkeling adventures and dolphin spotting in the towns of Lovina and Java. Bali Barat National Park, in the west, is a vast expanse of mangroves, coral islands, rain forest, and savannah.

Travel inland to admire traditional Balinese architecture. The courtyard concept reflects the spiritual nature of the island as a place where people come to look inward. The volcanic soil of this part of the island makes for an incredibly fertile environment, and the hills here are lined with terraced rice fields and an abundance of vegetation and flowers. Inspired by the intensely beautiful landscape, the people of Celuk, Batuan, and Ma are renowned for their crafting talents. In the small but spirited town of Ubud, its streets lined with art galleries and glamorous cafés, an atmosphere of rural charm prevails. You’ll find yourself ambling the streets at an agreeable pace, perusing the artwork and pausing to sip a cup of chai. Ubud’s many luxurious villas and spas offer a tranquil retreat after a day of white-water rafting, mountain biking, or sightseeing.

The east of Bali is an agriculture region where coconut and banana trees climb pineapple-clad hills. Here, farming and rural life prevail over tourism and beach culture, but a new road to Klungkung is sure to bring with it an increase in tourism, so visit the likes of Candi Dasa and Tenganan before they are spoiled. Denpasar, the capital, is a popular day-trip for its monuments and temples. South of Depansar are some of Bali’s best beaches, so this eastern region is now considerably developed. Hotels and vacation rentals, built at an exceptional pace, are a short five-minute stroll from white-sand beaches and conveniently placed sun loungers.

Located on the southernmost point of Bali, Seminyak has an abundance of five-star hotels, spas, fine dining eateries, and opulent contemporary villas with private pools.

Meet the Experts for Bali