Bali

Just eight hours from New Zealand lies a tropical island of 4 million people that’s unlike anywhere else on earth.

Bali is the spiritual heart of Indonesia, with a culture based on Hindu philosophy. With its bright green rice terraces, 10,000 temples and towering volcanoes, just gazing at its scenery is a holiday in itself. Add beautiful beaches and some of the world’s top resorts, and you know you’re in for a good time.

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Rice crops grow abundantly in the rich soil allowing Bali’s people ample time to devote to art and performance. Carvings decorate many buildings and children grow up learning the graceful gestures of Balinese dance. While there’s a commercial aspect to the performances, they’re not doing it just for the money. The friendly and openhearted attitude of the Balinese is a big part of Bali’s appeal.

You’ll touch down in the southern part of the island and it’s here you’ll find the biggest crowds and the most popular beaches. The resorts of Nusa Dua offer world-class luxury and the ultimate in relaxation. Buzzing Kuta is famous for its shops, bars and surf beach, but many people prefer the strip at Legian and Seminyak a few kilometres north. Make sure you head to the coast at sundown, and chill out to live music while sipping a cocktail.

With its bright green rice terraces, 10,000 temples and towering volcanoes, just gazing at its scenery is a holiday in itself.

Ubud is an hour or so inland, revealing a different side of Bali. You’ll find numerous palaces and yoga retreats, this is ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ territory, so don’t be surprised if you bump into European or American tourists on their journeys of spiritual discovery. The north coast is quieter than the south but just as beautiful, with jungle walks to remote waterfalls and boutique beachside resorts.

Many people are happy to base themselves at one of the postcard perfect resorts that dot the island but others prefer to go exploring. We suggest you hire a driver and car, negotiate a price and agree an itinerary.

Essential information

Best time to go

Tropically warm all year round, Bali is at its best during the southern hemisphere winter, with temperatures around 30 degrees and mostly clear skies. July and August is the high season, when prices are hiked, with another peak around Christmas.

How much will it cost

The upscale resorts attract affluent tourists and charge accordingly. Stay at a smaller, locally owned resort or villa and you can enjoy luxury at a modest price. You can dine out for the equivalent of NZD $15 per person including drinks.

Health

No vaccinations are required. Beware of exclusions in your travel insurance, such as moped riding – you don’t want to pay for an expensive air ambulance back home.

Visas

New Zealanders receive a 30-day visa on arrival in Bali. For longer stays you’ll need to apply for an Indonesian visa before leaving home.