In Bali, Indonesia, the sanctity of life is celebrated in almost hourly rituals, and that devotion infuses Balinese culture with dance, sculpture, theater, and painting like no other spot on the earth. Though its splendid beaches are what attracts most of the visitors from nearby destinations, Americans enjoy Bali’s ample sun and fun but are much more enchanted by culture and landscape that are rich aesthetically and spiritually. Americans tend to stay either in the southern tip of the island that culminates in the Bukit Peninsula with its Nusa Dua resort area or in other hotel nuclei such as those found at Legian, Sanur and the Kuta beach area.
Luxury resorts on Bali, with their devotion to sensual detail, have made it a place where indulgence travelers flock to elaborate spas. Low labor costs make these hotels incredible values in terms of room rates and also give them lofty service standards. Amandari, Four Seasons, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, InterContinental, Mandarin Oriental and Ritz Carlton are just some of the international flags flying in Bali. There’s even a Hard Rock Hotel.
Ubud, the crafts center of Bali, is another area popular for five-star hotels. Landscapes such as at Bukit Jambul feature terraced rice paddies whose waters offer a perfect mirror to the sky; Mount Agung, the sacred volcano, and its Besakih Temple; the Monkey Forest (Alas Kedaton) covered with sculptures of monkeys and real monkeys as well; the Goa Gajah (Bat Cave) home to thousands of bats; and literally hundreds of other temples to explore.
While most Balinese eat simply on a daily basis, their religious feasts are elaborate often featuring suckling pigs surrounded by several complementary dishes such as nasi goreng (fried rice) satay (skewered meats in a spicy peanut sauce) and more. Balinese cuisine, which is based as all else in Bali, on religious offerings, mirrors the ritual presentation of food at a temple with many dishes served on a banana leaf. Fish, pork, and chicken are the primary meats on this Hindu island. Beef is also available in dishes that are spicy and aromatic.
Arts in Bali are a huge part of the experience of visiting. The village of Batubulan is a sculpture center for sandstone carvers. The pantheon of Balinese Hinduism is the theme and several workshops are open to visitors who want to see the work, most of it for temples, being created. Denpasar's Bali Museum houses a modest collection of artifacts, and the Arts Center offers a selection of Balinese painting and wood carving.
It’s been several years since Garuda Indonesia Airlines stopped its service to Los Angeles. To get to Bali now air travelers need to fly via Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, or other neighboring countries.
Located near the equator, Balinese temperatures hover between 86 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit year-round with plenty of humidity. The driest months are August and September; the wettest are December and January.