Insider's View


Bali, Indonesia

The latest insider information on Bali, Indonesia from our recent discussion with Sue Butler.

Q: How would you describe Bali for visitors who haven’t been there?

Bali, Indonesia has one of the most developed tourism infrastructures in the region, with a wide selection of beautiful resorts that range from ultra-modern to traditional luxury. Bali has inspired and attracted many to its beautiful island paradise and peaceful way of life, colorful rituals and genuine hospitality, which continue to draw tourists, artists and escapists.

Q: What are the top sights in Bali?

Bali’s Hindu culture is unique in Indonesia, and visitors will be amazed by the sheer number of temples, from tiny garden shrines to the stunning cliff top temple at Uluwatu. The islands coastline is dotted with gorgeous beaches, from the surfers’ paradise of Kuta to the exclusive resorts of Nusa Dua, whilst inland Bali offers the spectacular rice terraces of Sayan, the volcanic landscape of Bedugul, and the traditional craft villages of Ubud. The peaceful city of Ubud is the center of art and culture of Bali with its numerous museums, palaces and local markets. The rice fields near Ubud offer spectacular scenery and tranquil surroundings with a serene atmosphere typical of central Bali.

Q: How would you describe the people and the culture?

Bali, the Island of the Gods, is a tropical paradise inhabited by people who like to share their culture with visitors through music and dance performances and are renowned for their loveable and courteous personalities.

Q: What makes this destination so exotic for luxury travel or a unique experience?

Bali is the largest tourist destination in Indonesia and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species. In this area alone over 500 reef building coral species can be found. There is a wide range of dive sites with high quality reefs, all with their own specific attractions.

Q: Can you describe your most unique luxury tour in Bali?

"A Day Experience with Balinese Artist" would fit the bill.

You’ll explore a series of villages between Sanur and Ubud where the inhabitants specialize in the production of particular arts and crafts. Stops on the tour may include, Celuk, rightly famous for its silver jewelry, away from the tourist circuit and a visit to the home and workshop of Made Sandiago; Mas, home to the wood carvers where we take you to the workshop of Nyoman Sumerta.

Our last stop of the morning will be to the private residence of Ida Bagus Ketut Dharma who is not only an inspired artist but also a Hindu Priest. Dharma is especially well respected in his village of Keliki since he dedicates his life to the preservation of Balinese culture and the Keliki style which he teaches to the children in the community.

Q: What food and drink would you recommend people try in Indonesia?

  • Es campur – lumpy and brightly-colored fruit drink: Made from a number of local fruits, it is very sweet and combines shaved ice, palm sugar syrup, tapioca, coconut, gelatin and other fruits.
  • Brem – distilled from red and white rice: After distillation yeast is then added to the cooked rice. This concoction is then wrapped in palm leaves and left to sit for a week and the juice is then squeezed from the rice. There are many alcoholic drinks that are popular with the Balinese, many of which use the fermenting of rice as their basis.
  • Nasi goring – fried rice mixed with meat and vegetables: Literally meaning "fried rice" in Indonesian and Malay, Nasi goreng has been called the national dish of Indonesia. It can be enjoyed in simple versions from a tin plate at a roadside food stall, eaten on porcelain in restaurants, or collected from the buffet tables of Jakarta dinner parties. Nasi goring refers to a variety of rice dishes with local spices and ingredients added. Another kind is made with ikan asin (salted dried fish) which is also popular across Indonesia.
  • Beef Rendang – Carmelized meat served with white rice: We highly recommend this dish to all guests traveling to Indonesia. The meat is cooked in coconut milk with many spices and local ingredients until it is carmelized. Also known as West Sumatran caramelized curry, this is a traditional dish of the Minangkabau ethnic group of West Sumatra prepared for all "Minang" ceremonies and festivals.

Q: In your opinion, what is the most outstanding scenic view?

Tegalalang Rice Terrace, north of Ubud, which features amazing rice terraces set by the cliff. (Tegalalang Village is situated nearly 2,000 ft. above sea level.

Q: What cultural etiquette should visitors be aware of?

The etiquette of Bali is strongly related to their religion and customs.

  • Dress and act modestly – Balinese locals are far more conservative than most Westerners. They frown on public displays of affection so when in or near Balinese temples or rural settlements, you should keep any touchy-feely gestures to a minimum. When paying a visit to a Balinese temple, both men and women are expected to wear shirts that cover shoulders and part of the upper arms.
  • Don’t use your left hand to touch or give – The left hand is used primarily for toiletry purposes thus the left hand is somewhat polluted and should never be used to touch other people or to hand something over. The exception is when you use both hands to hand something over to someone; this is considered a high compliment.
  • Don’t use your index finger to point or to beckon – If you need to call attention to someone, beckon him/her by extending your hand and, with palm facing down, making a downward wave.
  • Don’t touch people’s heads – The soul is supposed to reside in one’s head, making it off limits for people to touch. Not even children (Balinese children, that is) should be touched on their heads, so no noogies.
  • Don’t enter any temple if you are bleeding – This may be galling to any woman, but you have a whole island’s culture against you on this one. Any woman on her period, or anyone with a running sore or bleeding wound, is considered impure and not to be allowed into any Balinese temple.

The rice terraces of Tegallalang, Ubud | Bali, Indonesia

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