Nicknamed The Island of the Gods, Shangri-La, The Last Paradise, The Dawning of the World, and The Centre of the Universe, Bali is a mystical and captivating land. Considered to be the spiritual heart of Indonesia, the island province is home to Hindu Bali philosophy, which encourages a peaceful balance between mankind, the environment and the spirits.
Speckled with fragrant frangipani trees, enchanting temples, steep rice terraces, soaring volcanoes and palm-fringed beaches, and inhabited by the friendly and kind Balinese people, the tropical paradise is Indonesia’s most visitor-friendly island.
Bali’s capital and administrative centre, Denpasar is a thriving and exciting city. Often overlooked in favour of nearby tourist hubs, such as Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud, Denpasar exudes urban modernity, while showcasing traditional Balinese culture and community.
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Visitors to Bali are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. Drawing record crowds of tourists, Bali has become one of Asia’s most dynamic dining destinations. Cuisines from all over the world are celebrated and dished up at relatively inexpensive costs and enjoyed in magnificent settings.
Bali brims with eating opportunities. Street stalls sit side-by-side with fancy restaurants and serve an endless array of cuisine – covering everything from traditional Balinese fare to steak.
Denpasar features Bali’s most complete and comprehensive dining scene. Everything from oriental to western, Mediterranean to Arabic, and Indian to Indonesian is represented. Areas like Jalan Teuku Umar and Renon Niti Mandala offer the city’s biggest choice of restaurants. Night market stalls provide local delicacies at very cheap prices, while roadside food tents stay open past midnight.
Kuta’s food scene specifically caters for middle-of-the-road and budget travellers. International cuisine is often adapted and infused with Indonesian ingredients to highlight local tastes. While tiny roadside 'warungs' (food stalls) offer a good selection of healthy and fresh Indonesian and international fare. Kuta is also home to Bali’s most famous nightlife.
Legian Beach is a great destination to taste authentic Indonesian and Balinese seafood dishes. From street-side cafés to fine dining establishments, Legian eateries serve unique food in unique atmospheres. Padma Street and Werkudara Street are the township’s most prominent eat streets, most famous for their café-type bistros and bars.
Over the past decade, Seminyak has developed a world-class dining scene. Prices are high by Bali standards, but still good value on an international scale. Jalan Raya Seminyak and Jalan Laksmana offer the area’s best range of dining choices.
The artistic and spiritual township of Ubud is a must visit for traditional dishes – particular 'babi guling' (Balinese spit roast pig) and 'bebek betutu' (slow cooked whole duck). Ubud also fosters a creative restaurant scene, where international and fusion menus can be found. Cafes, delicatessen and restaurants abound in area like Jalan Raya Ubud, Jalan Sanggingan and Sayan.
Most local eating-houses are Chinese, Indonesian Chinese, Indonesian or Halal [Muslim] Padang food of Sumatra. Balinese restaurants are less frequent – due to the fact that the Balinese are one of the few world cultures who do not regard eating as a social habit. It is very rare for a family to eat a meal together, as done in almost every other culture. Everybody eats whenever they hungry.
Like most South East Asian holiday destinations, Bali is a shopping Mecca – particularly famous for tailor-made garbs, handicrafts, art, jewellery and fake goods. International and world-famous designer brands (specifically surfwear labels) can be found alongside local bric-a-brac.
Denpasar’s shopping scene fosters both modern and traditional opportunities. Tightly clustered market stalls sell similar items, making it easy to negotiate and compare prices; while plazas – made up of department stores and local and international brands – feature fixed prices item, with little room for bargaining.
Tents and shops that sell clothing, leather goods, pirated DVDs and handicrafts line the streets of Kuta. Art shops selling Balinese crafts are plentiful and are the perfect place to pick up souvenirs. Kuta also stocks Bali’s biggest choice of swimwear and surfwear with brands like Billabong, Quicksilver and Ripcurl all represented near Kuta Beach.
Seminyak is renowned for its exclusive boutiques. Rows of designer, furniture, handicraft stores, along with art galleries line the township’s streets and offer glamorous shopping opportunities. Seminyak’s main shopping thoroughfare starts on Legian Street and runs all the way to Laksmana.
Holding position as Bali’s artist centre, Ubud features handicraft stores and stalls on almost every corner. The Ubud Art Market on Jalan Raya Ubud is a must visit for lovers of art, craft and all things Balinese.