Located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands — a string of islands known for their mesmerizing beaches and mountainous topography — Bali is one of Southeast Asia’s top tourist destinations. The island has black sand beaches on the east, north and west coasts, whereas the white sand beaches can be found around the island’s southern end, around Kuta and Sanur, around Nusa Lembongan, as well as in a few places on the east coast. Sites to check out for their underwater beauty are Nusa Lembongan, Menjangan Island, Tulamben, Amed, Gili Topekong, and Padangbai. With great waves to ride, beaches of Kuta, Padang Padang, Uluwatu and Balangan are among surfers’ favorites.
Head inland to discover Bali’s world-famous terraced-paddies surrounding traditional houses, rivers flowing at the bottom of verdant ravines, and elaborate shrines standing next to natural springs. You can discover all these in Ubud, town of the artisans, and home to some of the island’s best food. About an hour drive from Bali’s capital, Denpasar, to the north, Ubud has temples that regularly stage traditional dance-and-music shows.
On the north-east, Mount Agung stands as Bali’s highest mountain. The Mother Temple of Besakih is located on its western slopes. In Kintamani, at the foot of Mount Batur, is a lake of the same name. Located on the lake’s edge is Trunyan Village, a destination not for the faint-hearted. What makes this village unique is that, unlike most Balinese, the people here do not cremate or bury their dead, but leave them out in bamboo cages to decompose. The corpses’ stench, however, is neutralized by the strong perfumed scents from a huge Taru Menyan tree growing in the cemetery.
For those who has enough time, exploring Bali’s charms means counting the colorful canangsari offerings the Balinese put in their temples, around their houses, and at every curve of the streets on a daily basis — it promises a never-ending discovery.