Bali has been continuously settled since 2,000 bce. Foreign influence, in the form of Dutch control, was not fully evident until the 1840s, when the Dutch began to pit Balinese realms against each other. During its modern history, the 1963 eruption of Mount Agung created economic havoc, while in the 1950s and early 1960s the island saw much infighting between those who supported, and those who rejected, the traditional caste system. After the rise of the ‘New Order’ government led by President Suharto, Bali’s status as a tourist paradise was reinforced.
Bali’s unique culture owes much to Java, in particular the Javanese Majapahit Empire, which here combined with animist (belief in the spiritual essence of non-human entities) traditions. This, together with its Hindu influences, has resulted in a unique religious culture that can only be found on this island.
In contrast to the rest of predominantly Muslim Indonesia, Bali is a haven of Hindu culture, which is most visible in the tiny offerings in leaf trays, known as canang sari, which are found almost everywhere. This form of Hinduism diverged from the mainstream more than 500 years ago, and thus it is very different from what one would find in India, have resulted in a highly unique culture than can be observed, as on the neighbouring Java, in the gamelan orchestra and the wayang kulit shadow puppet theatre, among others.
- PDA frowned-upon, as well as immodest dress (especially on women or visitors to religious sites).
- Besides handshakes, avoid touching people, and never do so with your left hand as it is considered ‘unclean’.
- A call of “hey Mister!” or “Bule!” is a common reaction to foreigners in Indonesia, particularly by children – do not take offense or feign surprise for standing out.
- No public raging (even loud speech) or loss of face.
- Pay particular attention around the elderly, the pious, and modestly-dressed women.
The island of Bali lies just 2km away from Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, and is 660km east of Yogyakarta and 1,155km east of Jakarta. Bali experiences a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons, with year-round high temperatures and heavy rain particularly from December to March.
The southern regions of Bali are wide, with gently slopes. This, in addition the steamy climate and volcanic soil, results in an island that is very much fertile—just look at the rice fields that exquisitely shape the island. Running east to west, just off the middle of the island, is a volcanic mountain range, which includes the majestic Mount Agung.
Bali is still very much a haven of wildlife, and highlights that can be found throughout the island are a variety of monkey forests (including the Ubud and Uluwatu monkey forests), the Petulu bird forest, and the Elephant Safari Park.
Nice to know before you go
Important facts before your trip.
- Language: Indonesian, or Bahasa Indonesia
- Currency: Indonesian rupiah (idr)
- Time Zone:Central Indonesian Time, utc+8
- Voltage: 230
- Electric Socket: Type C/F
- It is highly advisable you buy a card as you get to the airport.
- There are 4-5 operators in Indonesia who offer prepaid, local network sim cards compatible with the gsm network.
- Telkomsel has the highest coverages (country-wide) but the highest prices; Tri has the lowest coverage but cheapest prices; Indosat in between the former two.
- Expect to pay around $1 for a 7-day, 300-megabyte data credit.
Atms & credit cards
- ATMs are widely available and are very popular with both local citizens and expatriates, and plenty are open 24 hours.
- Citibank offers withdrawals in U.S. dollars, whereas other banks working through the main international networks will offer only rupiahs.
- Credit card cash withdrawals are also commonly accepted.
- The usual limit per withdrawal is between 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 rupiah ($70-100) and 10,000,000 rupiah per day ($700).
- Moneychangers are usually open on weekends and after banking hours, but their pricing fluctuates. Changing money at banks is usually good in terms of rates and safety, but it can take a while
- Most banks close by 3.00pm.
If you have any questions, please contact us.