Known as The Island Of The Gods, Bali is a unique circle of sand-fringed land that bobs gently in the coral circle of central Indonesia. The religion here is predominantly Balinese Hindu, making the island stand out from its neighbouring islands, all of which make up the most populous Islamic nation in the world. Bali differs from the rest of the islands in Indonesia in more than just its religious beliefs. Famed for progressive modern art and theatre, as well as spectacular history and extraordinary traditional dance, this is a place made for travellers.

If you’re planning a trip to this incredible island, get ready for a unique experience that will stay with you forever.

The Culture

Hindus arrived in Bali as early as 200 B.C and much of today’s architecture, dance and traditional theatre is rooted in strong historical connection with its Javanese neighbour. Despite the fact that the other 17,000 Indonesian islands are largely Muslim, Bali has retained a strong connection to their Hindu faith. Everyday life revolves around religion and visitors will most notably see tiny offerings (sesajen) which are usually placed in leaf bowls and set out on the street with burning incense sticks.

Balinese dance is something that should not be missed. The famous Barong or “Lion Dance” can be seen all over the island and it depicts the classic battle between good and evil portrayed by elaborately masked figures jumping and moving to complex melodies of Balinese music.


Because of the Hindu culture, religion and customs, there are some amazingly fun festivals in Bali. Try to time your visit for Nyepi, the Hindu New Year. This colourful festival ends in a day of complete silence. Tourists will be asked to stay in their hotels, flights stop running and the streets are empty. But in the days leading up to the New Year, beautifully ornate giants known as ogoh ogoh parade through the streets and everyone is upbeat and in a festive mood.

The Lion Dance In Ubud, Bali
The Lion Dance In Ubud, Bali

The Food

Despite the recent growth in toxic American fast food chains, Bali still has some of the best food in the region. Steer away from MacDonald’s and KFC and indulge in some truly decadent Balinese cuisine. Babi Guling (roast suckling pig) is a Balinese favourite but it may be hard to find in restaurants unless you order a day or two in advance. Sate Lilit is a delicious minced seafood satay wrapped around a twig of lemon grass and it is definitely not to be missed!

The Architecture

Bali is also famous for its sculptors. Men and women who practice the art of carpentry and stone carving create masterfully ornate temples, statues and homes all over the island. Walk through a Balinese temple and stare in awe at the talent of these sculptors. There are temples in every town and all of them are guarded by two lions. Inside you can often find statues of gods and goddesses like Dewi Sri the god of rice and fertility. The curved eves of the rooftops and intricate carvings on structural columns are all unique aspects that make Balinese architecture so fascinating.

A Temple in Ubud, Bali
A Temple in Ubud, Bali


Whether you’re coming here on a week-long honeymoon or a year-long trip around the world, this place has it all! There are accommodation options for all budgets in Bali, from small guest houses and family run hotels in Tirtagangga, to the beautiful Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort.

The beaches in Bali are beautiful but there’s plenty more to do than just lazing in the sand. Rent a surf board and try to ride some waves! Try your hand at wind surfing, kite surfing or sky diving. And if you’re tired after a long day of activities, you can enjoy a nice massage back on the beach.

Bali is at the center of the ring of fire and the famous coral circle of Indonesia, so it’s no surprise that the scuba diving around the island is spectacular. The volcanic rock sunken beneath the crystal clear sea is the perfect breeding ground for hard and soft corals. The colors you’ll find under water are so vivid that it looks like someone has turned up the contrast on an HD television.

Head to the rugged interior of the island and discover tantalizing waterfalls where you can swim, jump and canoe around. The Gitgit waterfall is one of the most famous in Bali and is definitely worth a visit.

Places To See

Make sure you visit all of the different regions of Bali. In each region you’ll find unique culture and architecture. Make your way up to the Kintanami region and hike a volcano, or visit Ubud for its bewildering array of art galleries, museums and traditional architecture. Kuta is the partiers haven but offers visitors little in the way of culture or history.

Climbing a Volcano in Kintanami, Bali
Climbing a Volcano in Kintanami, Bali

Getting Around

By far the best way to see Bali is by renting a car or motorbike to tour the island at your own speed. There is public transport in Bali but it’s not nearly as fun as having your own means to explore the beautiful mountains and stunning coastlines that the island is famous for. You can rent a car for as little as $20 US / day and motorbikes can be rented for just $6 / day!

Making It Happen

Getting to Bali is easy thanks to many international and domestic airlines that can get you here on the cheap. If you’re travelling through Indonesia, you can come to Bali via ferry or flight. No matter how you get here, you’re sure to have the time of your life. Bali is one of our favourite islands and it is a place that we would love to return to soon. We’re sure that you’ll share our love for this colourful, culture-filled Indonesian island!

Have you ever been to Bali? What did you think?

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Exploring Bali: A Unique Island Experience

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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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20 thoughts on “Exploring Bali: A Unique Island Experience

  1. I was just reminiscing about my trip to Bali exactly one year ago, which kicked off a year of backpacking! I’m not sure I’m with you on the food (at least compared to other countries in the region), but otherwise I love what you said!

    1. Hey Silvia,

      We really enjoyed the food in Bali/Indonesia, but we do prefer the food in Thailand more and Malaysia as well. But the satay, fresh fish, and rice and noodle dishes are great in Indo 🙂

      Cheers and happy travels!

  2. Great summary guys! Bali is one of our favourites because of the culture and I find the Hindu religion so fascinating. There is a show that’s been airing on Australian television over recent weeks ‘What Really Happens In Bali’ and unfortunately it only highlights the accidents and drinking in Kuta. It does nothing for what the real Bali is, which you can only see if you venture out of Kuta into the hills or along the island’s long coastline. I too want to go back there right now after reading this! In fact, if there wasn’t so much of the world to see, we’d be there every year 🙂

  3. I just spent two months traveling in Indonesia and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by Bali. I didn’t expect to like it but I totally fell in love. I really loved Nusa Lembongan. It’s one of my all-time favorite islands. Motorbiking around the island was the best! And, unlike a lot of people, I kinda liked Kuta. I’m endlessly fascinated by touristy places that have a little bit of grit. Well I love your overview. Bali is definitely a great place!

    1. That’s great that you rented a motorbike. Bali is one of the best places to explore on your own steam. We rented a car for a few days and then motorbikes as well…so much fun! Nice to hear that you liked Kuta actually, I’m sure you found some hidden gems 🙂 We didn’t hate it, but preferred other places on the island.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Nice post – we’re thinking of going to Bali towards the end of the year and are just starting to research it. Any recommendations for a nice guesthouse with AC and wifi to stay in for a month?
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Hey Frank,

      Unfortunately, no! We never stayed with a/c when we were in Indonesia 🙂 I would suggest going on and checking out, maybe even

      Good luck 🙂

  5. Heading off to Bali next week to kick off a few months traveling around Asia and have been getting some good ideas and advice from this site. I gotta say, your blog is super helpful! Thanks!

    – Stephen

  6. I will be travelling to Chiang Mai and Bali with my 25 yr old daughter-im 58. I have a many questions I seem unable to find the answers too.
    -can you hire a driver in Bali? Are the roads safe for driving and is the time taken like the roads in Ontario? Some one told me it takes twice as long to travel a distance in Chiang Mai Thailand and in Bali due to road conditions. In Chiang Mia I have been told not to drive outside the city so we hired a driver for the day to visit the west side from Chiang Mai up to the Mae Khampeng Village and back-stopping on the way visiting the hot springs, Muang On cave.
    -in Bali we are starting at the airport and travelling to the West Bali national park, down the left side-Tanah Lot, Blue point beach, Sanur, Ubud. Is it east to acquire transportation as we go? We are looking for the best spot to snorkel-any suggestions? Have you ever rented bikes and rode the beach path in Sanur?
    -My daughter lives in Singapore and I am travelling on my own to get there. Im fairly active person and got very agitated when travelling to Hawaii due to the long sitting time and that was 30 years ago! Any advice how how to manage the long flight times? One trip is 13 hrs and another 9hrs. I have booked aisle seats-I tend to drink copious amounts of water and hence many bathroom trips. What would you recommend?
    -I think you two are simply amazing and I will be doing what you are doing through all of Italy at 63-life willing!!

    1. Hi Pat,

      Have a great trip with your daughter!

      We rented a car in Bali – roads are so-so. Some are good, some have potholes, it’s SE Asia! Also, you have to be mindful of scooters there. Cops will pull you over looking for bribes – just keep a couple of dollars on you and hide the rest when driving. You can take buses if you don’t rent a car the whole way. We haven’t been to Sanur.

      Regarding the flight – hopefully there will be a tv screen for you to choose what to watch. If not, bring an ipad or a computer with movies downloaded on it 🙂 Bring a book? Walk up and down the aisles to keep the blood moving.

      Thanks for the kind words and enjoy your trip!

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