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From immaculate beaches, world-class restaurants and excellent surfing, diving, and snorkelling, to natural springs, volcanos and picturesque rice paddies, Bali has everything you’d want from a luxury holiday. Whether you’re a history buff, an adrenalin junkie or a spa lover, Bali’s uniquely spiritual atmosphere is evident almost everywhere you go. You’ll see small offerings to the Hindu gods outside every shop, home and restaurant as well as the familiar sound of traditional gamelan music wherever you travel in the country. With its beautifully ornate Hindu temples, majestic volcanos, and peaceful rice paddies, Bali is a unique gem with something for everyone.
Get to know the real Bali by leaving the beach behind for a couple of days and travelling to Ubud, Bali’s cultural heart and spiritual capital. Surrounded on all sides by lotus ponds, rice paddies and tropical forests, Ubud has a relaxed pace and an authentic atmosphere perfect for a 5-star holiday. Start with a visit to the temples in the sacred monkey forest sanctuary before wondering into the craft market, where dozens of talented artisans sell ornate woodwork, jewellery, incense and textiles. There are also a fabulous selection of restaurants and cafes selling Balinese and other cuisines of Asia. Don’t miss the delightful Babi Guling, a delicious local speciality of barbecued suckling pig served with a side of fiery sambals and sauces.
Lombok is quieter and less developed than its rather showier big sister, and a visit here offers a slightly different perspective to Indonesia. Many say it’s like stepping back in time, with its mostly rural, laid-back way of life. It also offers some of the region’s best diving, snorkelling and surfing. No visit would be complete without a trip to the Gilli Islands, three little gems off Lombok’s northern coast. These tiny islands offer tranquillity, calm and a chance to reconnect with nature, with excellent surfing, snorkelling and swimming facilities. The islands will also appeal just as much to those who simply want to top up their tan in delightfully blissful surroundings.
Make sure you include a visit to Jimbaran Bay at least once in your trip. This atmospheric stretch of local restaurants or ‘warungs’ serve charcoal grilled seafood including freshly caught lobster, crab and prawns, with tables right on the beach. The setting is utterly romantic and the views of the sunset are nothing short of spectacular. Arrive early to get a table at the front, but it’s still worth a visit even after sunset, when the whole bay twinkles by the light of the oil lamps on the tables, and the sound of the ocean provides the perfect soundtrack to a romantic meal.
Nusa Dua is a holiday haven, with a gorgeous stretch of white sand, framed by lush vegetation and some of the most fabulous hotel resorts in the whole of Bali. Set on a peninsula in the south of the island, the resort area is delightfully well-kept, with manicured gardens and excellent beaches. Sanur is another great base, famed for its white sandy beach, opulent hotels, and a great selection of local restaurants and bars for those who like to get out and explore. For the ultimate in chic and luxury, look no further than Seminyak, Bali’s upmarket resort with its extensive selection of boutiques, trendy bars and 5-star hotels lining the ocean.
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