Bali has a long chain of history from the ice-age era (pre-historic time) to modern, global civilization era. With a dynamic characteristic indicating selectivity and flexibility, the Balinese culture initially reflects a configuration of an expressive culture dominated by religious, solidarity and aesthetic values. Nowadays, it develops along with the adoption of foreign values especially in the aspects of the economic, science and technology, as a result of the global modernization.
In general, the history of Bali is divided into three different eras including the pre-historic, the Hindu-Buddhist era and the modern culture.
The pre-historic marked the oldest and simplest way of life, an era of hunting and food-stuff gathering, verified by the discovery of several tools and hunting equipments. In the following era there were also building construction system and a particular communication system. These were just proofs of the existence and further development of Balinese culture. The Balinese culture flourished that nowadays one can indicates a perfect bonds between religions, tradition and culture to become the identity of the Balinese community.
The Dutch seamen were the first Europeans to arrive on Bali and started to introduce western culture in 1597, though they hadn’t discovered any appealing aspect until 1800s. Around 1846 the Dutch returned with colonization in their minds, having established a strong political base as majority of the Indonesian islands were under their control since the 1700s. The military campaign embarked from the northern coast of Bali. With the help of Sasak people of Lombok, by 1911, all Balinese principalities were under the Dutch control.
The sense of Indonesian nationalism began to grow after the World War I, with the young generation declaring the national language in 1928, known as Bahasa Indonesia. During the height of World War II the Japanese arrived, expelling the Dutch and ruled the country for about 3.5 years, which ended later in 1945 when Indonesia declared independent led by its very first president, Sukarno. Yet the new-born nation was only recognized by the international community as an independent country in 1949.
Among 17,500 islands across the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is one of the 33 provinces of the Republic of Indonesia, the largest archipelagic country in the world, made up of 2,000,000 km2 of land with a chain of islands stretching over 500,000 km from Sumatra to Papua, and covers territorial waters of more than 5,000,000 km2.
Situated between Java and Lombok, the island of Bali is located 8 to 9 degrees south of the equator with the Java Sea to the north, the Indian Ocean to the south. Bali’s covers an area of 5,636 km2 or 0.29% of Indonesia, measuring just 90km long the north-south axis and less than about 140km from west to east.
Divided into three areas of water, the North Bali Sea is about 3,168km2, the East about 3.350km2, and the West about 2,982km2. Bali Sea covers an area of 9,500km2. The North Bali sea runs along the coastline of Buleleng, the East Bali Sea runs along the coastline of Karangasem, Klungkung and Gianyar, and the West Bali Sea include the coastline of Badung Tabanan and Jembrana.
People and Lifestyle
Bali’s population of over 3,000,000 souls spread over the whole island, including those in the smaller islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan, Serangan and Menjangan Island. The overwhelming majority of Balinese are Hindus, with the increasing number on non-Hindu migrating from the closest neighbouring islands of Java and Lombok.
The coastal areas in the south are the most populous area with over 370,000 people living in various professions in the capital of Denpasar. Farming has been the primary way of living in Balinese life. Where else fishing, trading and craftsmanship are also in fashion from generation to generation. Yet with the fast growing of tourism since past few decades, young people start to build up a new touch in their living culture.
Life in Bali is very communal under the organization of villages. Temple ceremonies, marriage, cremation, farming and even the creative art festivals are decided by the local community institution called “Banjar”. The responsibilities in the day-to-day life are normally administered by both the Banjar and the government. The local government mostly responsible for schools, health clinics, hospitals and roads, and Banjar is responsible for all other aspects of life. There is another association exists in the banjar named “Subak” that concerns to the production of rice and organizes the complex irrigation system. Every family who owns a rice field must be a member of their local Subak, which then ensures that every member gets his fair distribution of water. A banjar consists of an average of 50 to 150 family members, owning a meeting venue called the Bale Banjar, which is used for regular gatherings and a center for local gamelan orchestras and drama groups.
Kuta | Seminyak | Legian
With a long broad Indian Ocean beach-front, Kuta was originally discovered by tourists as a surfing mecca. It has long been a popular stop on the classic backpacking route in South East Asia. Today Kuta still attracts some hardcore backpackers as well as families and tourists from all over the world, and is most notably a playground for young visitors from Australia.
Due to the ever increasingly popularity of Bali, Kuta is continually developing, and is not short of unsightly, poorly planned buildings. It can come across at times to be chaotic, overcrowded and congested. However, amongst all the mayhem this place somehow works, and hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy their time in Kuta every year.
Stretching north from Kuta, Legian offers the same easy access to shops and bars but a slightly more relaxed and less chaotic feeling. The northern area of Legian bordering Seminyak offers a bit of an escape from the crowds and is also a popular surf beach.
Seminyak is more upmarket with mostly luxury accommodation and fashionable high-end restaurants and bars. The atmosphere is much more sophisticated and laid-back than Kuta, and the beach in particular is quieter during the day. Seminyak is also the high end spa and boutique shopping capital of Bali.
Sanur is Bali’s oldest upscale resort area and is a mature beach-side town. Despite the abundance of restaurants and accommodation, it has a quiet and relaxed feel to it. In general terms, it is more expensive than Kuta but cheaper than Seminyak. Sanur tends to appeal most to middle-aged and older families, especially Europeans.
Nusa Dua is a purpose built resort, home to a host of luxury hotels, as well as the most popular golf course in Bali and the main convention centre on the island.
This was formerly a real backwater of south Bali -just a tiny fishing village with a daily market. That all started to change in the 1980s, and Jimbaran is now home to several world class five-star beach resorts, plus a few more moderate mid-market hotels. There is little in the way of budget accommodation though. Because of the number of five-star beach resorts, there are also many high-end villas in this area, particularly on the ridges of high ground above Jimbaran Bay.
The bay itself has a pleasant white sand beach and is very safe for swimming. The three clusters of grilled seafood restaurants on the beach are a major tourist draw in the evenings, as is the truly stunning sunset.
Udud is famous as an arts and crafts hub, and much of the town and nearby villages seems to consist of artists’ workshops and galleries. There are some remarkable architectural sights, artistic gems to be found, and a general feeling of well being to be enjoyed, all thanks to the spirit, surroundings, and climate of the place.
While Ubud seems to outsiders like one small town, it is in fact 14 villages, each run by its own banjar (village committee). Ubud has grown rapidly, but there are still terraced rice fields along the rivers, and away from the town centre, regular, quiet village life carries on relatively undisturbed
This is a laid back and very relaxing area of Bali with a wide range of accommodation options. Many visitors, especially Europeans, combine a stay in the hotspots of south Bali with a more relaxed break here. The black sand beaches are very narrow and often disappear altogether at high tide.
The whole stretch of coast here is fringed by quite narrow black sand beaches, which are accessed by a multitude of small lanes which run perpendicular to the east-west coast road. The beaches are generally safe for swimming, and the waters of Bali’s north coast, in direct contrast to the crashing surf of the south, are relatively calm.
Diving, snorkelling and dolphin watching are the main activities, but perhaps above all else, this is an area in which to relax and take in a very slow, traditional pace of life. It can get a little crowded in July and August, but outside that peak season, this is a quiet part of the island.
Bali General Information
Time Difference: GMT +8 Hours
UK Passport: Valid for at least six months from the date of arrival in Bali
Visa: Single entry visa on arrival
Climate in Bali:
From April to October, it is comfortably warm, temperatures range from 29’C – 34’C. From November to March occasional tropical rainfalls occur, which last but few hours a time. The average daily temperature is within a constant range of 25’C-31’C.
Indonesian currency is called the Rupiah, abbreviated as Rp. For the best exchange rate, you will find a bank or money exchange in most of the larger hotels. Please beware of “money changers” outside of the hotels, often a higher rate of exchange is offered, but sometimes you are not given the correct amount of money, always check you money before you leave. When cashing Travellers cheques your passport will be required, and the cheque must be counter signed in front of the cashier. Travellers cheques are also accepted at many shops. Credit card that are commonly accepted here in hotels, restaurants, and shops are: Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club and American Express. Personal cheques are rarely accepted anywhere.
From Bali, this can be very expensive, so check the rates first! Most hotels have IDD, direct dialling. Once you have an outside line, dial 001 then the country code then drop the 0 from the STD code.
Cards and letters can be sent from all hotels, contact the reception or concierge for stamps.
Health and Safety:
We suggest you exercise the same caution you would anywhere. Please leave all your valuables including your flight tickets, passport and travellers cheques in your safety deposit box provide free of charge in most hotels. Do not leave it to chance!
We suggest you to wear sun glasses, ensure sun cream is used and topped up regularly when you will be in the sun, use insect repellents when necessary.
Water: Please do not drink local tap water. Water used in food preparation and ice making is purified.
In case of theft, sickness or any other emergency, please contact your representative or the Duty Manager at your hotel. Most hotels have a house doctor. If you do require any medical treatment, please ensure that you obtain a receipt for your insurance claim on your return home.
Eating out in Bali:
Indonesian food can be very diverse, preparation and presentation varies from region to region. There are many good restaurants to choose from in Bali, where you will find local and European dishes as well as some restaurants specialising in seafood, Thai or Chinese.
Highbridge House | 581 Bath Road | Longford | UB7 0EW | Company registration 4939093