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Bali Travel guide

Terraced paddy fields Mengwi Temple Procession for Nyenuk ceremony Pendawa Beach
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Bali : Michelin's recommendations

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A heavenly refuge in the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is also its premier destination. But don't let that put you off! Forget your surfboard and flippers for a minute and discover a different reality here: the men and women whose lives follow the pace of its traditions and beliefs.

Was that a subtle gamelan melody floating out from a courtyard? Take a peek inside and you may get a chance to sit in on a Balinese legong dance rehearsal. A surprising concentration of motorbikes on a little street? That would definitely be the cries of bettors announcing a cock fighting. Follow the insistent pounding of gongs and cymbals echoing from afar: they are probably guiding people's footsteps in a procession.

The "Island of the Gods", a Hindu bastion in predominantly Muslim Indonesia, celebrates Brahma, Vishnu and Siva with unshakeable faith and dazzling folklore. In one of the six sacred temples that are the six "sanctuaries of the world", we hope you reach Nirvana, the ultimate liberation of the soul, like the Javanese priest Mpu Kuturan.

Follow the roads and lanes that call to you, going from beach to beach, then heading up the hillsides sculpted by tiers of rice paddies. Bali also charms visitors with its remote villages tucked away in little valleys and its relics from ancient royal cities. They might lead you to the "navel of the world", Agung, the volcano most highly revered by the Balinese.

Bali - See all cities and regions

Bali : Must-see towns and regions

  • Jimbaran

    This fishing village in the north of the Bukit peninsula has modest houses dotted along the side of the road. Its side streets lead to the beach, a half moon of yellow sand which is practically desert...

  • Ubud

    Since swallowing up the surrounding hamlets, this artists' village set among the paddy fields has become a little town in its own right. Although its charm has attracted growing tourism, Ubud has mana...

  • Like Kuta, which lies just north of here, Seminyak has not escaped tourism-related development, but unlike its neighbour it caters to the luxury market. From the designer boutiques housed in gleaming ...

  • In the 1960s Penestanan became something of an artists' village under the influence of Arie Smit, a Dutch painter, who distributed canvas and painting materials to children without giving them any fur...

  • Padangbai

    Nestled in the hollow of a small bay surrounded by hills, the fishing village of Padangbai is also one of Bali's most important transit ports. From here you can take a ferry to Lombok. Unlike Candidas...

  • Pemuteran makes an ideal base if you want to go diving in Pulau Menjangan and itself boasts a sheltered bay which is ideal for bathing, as well as several pleasant hotels. The resort is also an exampl...

  • Perancak

    Located on the Perancak estuary, the Pura Gede Ancak marks the spot where Danghyang Nirartha first set foot on the island one day in 1546. As the afternoon draws to a close the village rouses itself t...

  • Sanur

    Charlie Chaplin, the German painter Walter Spies and other artists active in the 1930s became enamoured of this coastal village in the southeast of Bali, which subsequently grew to become a high-end s...

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