Bali, the famed Island of the Gods, is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. It has something for everybody – from lush rice-paddies, sandy white beaches and great surfs to mesmerizing dance performances, rocking nightlife and some of the most beautiful sunsets ever seen. With such a varied landscape and colorful culture, it's no wonder why more than 2.7 millions (2009 figure) travelers flock to Bali every year.
Start in the south of Bali, where tourism and developments are largely concentrated. The area of Kuta is bustling with backpacker accommodations and bars serving cheap beer. Just around the corner, the manic whirl of Kuta transforms into the affordable luxury of Seminyak, where hip night clubs sit next to posh restaurants serving gourmet treats at surprisingly affordable prices.
A little further south is the Nusa Dua, Pecatu and Jimbaran area, home to numerous resorts and luxurious private villas. Spend the day enjoying the sandy white beach of Dreamland in Pecatu, followed by a relaxing dinner of grilled seafood served right by the beach at Jimbaran. Along the way, be sure to indulge in a massage by the beach or a rejuvenating spa session. The area is also home to one of the most spectacular temple in all of Bali, Pula Luhur Uluwatu, which is perched majestically on the edge of a steep cliff.
Travelers looking to experience the natural and cultural charms of Bali would enjoy the hilly landscape of Ubud. Here, ancient temples and natural beauty are the main attractions, as well as some of Bali's most popular restaurants serving gourmet treats amidst the backdrop of lush rice paddies and volcanic mountains. Adrenaline seekers can try whitewater rafting down the River Ayung or Telaga Waja, or even a hike to the top of Mount Agung, passing by the Besakih Mother Temple on the way.
On the northern coast of Bali is Lovina, a small resort-style area where developments has stalled. They are a good three to four hours away from the main tourism area, but well worth a visit for their famed dolphin trips. Along the way you can also see other natural attractions such as Lake Batur, Lake Bratan and Buleleng National Park. The Kintamani area is not far off, a highland area featuring an active volcano and serene Lake Batur. Here you can enjoy a relaxing soak in a natural hot-springs at various affordable resorts, or pay a visit to Pura Ulun Danu Batur, one of the six most important temples in Bali.
Bali also has a number of small, pristine islands worth a visit, such as Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Day tours can be booked through your hotel and usually include hotel pick-up and return trip, buffet lunch and a host of water-based activities.
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