The island province of Bali in Indonesia, also called the "Land of the Gods", is a popular destination for visitors in search of a truly unique culture. Balinese Hindu, the major religion in the island, is practiced by a majority of a local population of over four million people. Stories of Balinese deities strongly figure in their rituals, architectures, and traditions.
Balinese art and culture, which is abundant all over the island, is a fusion of Chinese, Indian, Arab, and Malay values and aesthetics. Among the mediums of art they take most pride in is the art of dance. Two of their famous dances are the Bedaya and the Serimpi. The Balinese Fire Dance or the Ramayana, performed by fifty to a hundred people, is also a popular attraction.
Bali offers a range of activities for all kinds of travelers. Those looking to hit the waves can head over to Coconuts Beach on Nusa Lembongan island in the southeast coast, or Halfway Kuta beach in Kuta in the south coast. Other popular surfing spots include Tuban Beach, the Bukit peninsula, and Lombok's Ekas Bay. Divers and snorkelers can go to Pulau Menjangan in the west, or Gili Trawangan, which is located on north of Lombok. Tulamben also offers a diving expedition for exploring the wreck of WW II-era US cargo ship, the Liberty.
Visitors looking for a mellower pace can take yoga classes in the Aiona Garden of Health in east Bali. If you're willing to stretch your budget for a pampering session, book a treatment at the Alila Villas in Ungasan. Bali also offers leisurely walks along rice terraces and plantations, such as the Puri Lumbung Cottages in the central mountain village of Mundak.
When shopping around Bali, traditional markets trump souvenir shops any day. The capital of Denpasar houses the two largest markets in Bali: Pasar Badung and Pasar Kumbasari. Pasar Badung sells the best of local cuisine, which is an interesting fusion of South Indian, Malay, and Chinese aromas and flavors. If you're looking for the perfect fabrics, crafts, and trinkets to take home, then Pasar Kumbasari is the place to be. Visitors in search for the offbeat and quirky can shop along the road that stretches from Seminyak to Kuta.
Soak up the nightlife in Bali with a cool cocktail in Seminyak at the Living Room, or at Ku De Ta, the beachfront club. Other popular places include the Apache Reggae Bar and the Sky Garden Lounge in Kuta, and Sama Sama and Rudy's Pub in Gili Trawangan. You can also sample the best of Balinese cuisine in the night market at Denpasar and the Jimbaran fish market. Bali's top restaurants, such as Biku and Sardine in Keroboka and Bali Buddha in Ubud and the Sate Bali Cooking School headed by acclaimed chef Nyoman Sudiyasa, are a must-visit for serious foodies.
Despite Bali’s reputation as a prime tourist destination, the Balinese people have successfully managed to let their history and culture remain strong throughout the years.