Bali has been voted the best island in the world for the past few year by the magazine Travel + Leisure. Bali has some great hotels, restaurants and places of interest, but what separates Bali from other island destinations around the world and seems to capture the hearts of anyone who visits the island?
Everyone who visits and falls in love with Bali, has their own personal reason for liking the island so much. For me it is seeing a burly taxi driver, driving along with a flower tucked behind his ear and falling to sleep at night with the sound of gamelan music (Balinese orchestra) being played in the distance.
Bali is just 5,600 square kilometers in area and one of Indonesia's 17,000 islands. For such a small island, it certainly packs in the available activities and places of interest. Bali is an immensely popular tourist destination with millions of foreign and domestic tourists visiting the island every year.
Even though Bali is fairly small, the activities and places of interest varies so much from place to place. The south and west coast facing the Indian Ocean is famous for its surf beaches. While the east coast with its black volcanic beaches is popular for diving.
Kuta is famous for its surfing and raucous nightlife and a popular destination for Australian tourists.
Seminyak is popular with foreign expats living in Bali. It has many upscale restaurants, shops and nightlife. Sanur is a little more sedate and popular with European travelers. The capital city of the island, Denpasar is a busy city not frequented much by tourists, but is a good place to catch buses to different places around the island and across to Java.
Ubud, which is just over an hours drive from Denpasar is regarded as the cultural heart of Bali. It is the center of art and sculpture in Bali, and is a favorite place for foreigners wishing to learn more about Balinese culture. Ubud is also famed for its stepped rice terraces that you so often see on postcards of Bali.
Further along the east coast is Padang Bai, the launching place for ferries visiting Lombok and Ahmed which is popular for snorkeling and diving. In the center of Bali there are a number of mountains, including the auspicious Mount Agung. If you are looking to get away from the tropical heat, Bedugul is a small town in the mountains and is often covered in a cloudy mist. The cooler climate makes it a great place for growing vegetables. The market is a great place to visit and stock up on some fresh produce.
The north of Bali is much quieter than the south. The town of Lovina is famous for viewing dolphins in the Bali Sea. West of Lovina are the Banjar Hot Springs, a great place for taking a relaxing dip.
Balinese are mostly Hindus, living in the most populous Muslim country of Indonesia. Religion plays a central role in the life of Balinese. Almost every day there is some kind of religious ceremony going on and the island has thousands of temples dotted around the island.
Bali is also popular for its massage and days spas. Prices for vaious treatments are just a fraction of what you would pay back home.
If all of that is not enough, neighboring Lombok and the beautiful Gili Islands are just a ferry ride away.
With all of that culture, mystique and beautiful natural environment, it is not surprising that many foreigners want to live in Bali on a permanent basis. Even if people can't just give up their day job and move to Bali, many people go back again and again for their holidays.