Bali - called also "Island of Gods" - is part of 5 000 kilometers long Indonesian islands-chain containing more than 17000 islands. Island Bali is located 8 to 9 degrees south of the equator between Java in the West and Lombok and the rest of the Lesser Sunda Islands The island of Bali has an area of only 5,632 square kilometers (2,175 square miles) and measures just 55 miles (90 kilometers) along the north-south axis and less than about 90 miles (140 kilometers) from East to West. The tallest mountain is active volcano Gunung Agung (3142 m), last time active in March 1963. The chain of six volcanoes stretches from west to east. Bali offers 400 kilometers of lovely beaches. Capital city of Bali is Denpasar located in east part of island.
Bali is located near to the equator, and has a tropical climate, with year-round maximum temperatures typically ranging from 32 to 35 degrees Celsius, but with higher humidity levels during the hot wet season (from beginning of December till the end of February). Rain can be expected at any time, even during the dry season; however an overnight shower is generally refreshing, and usually washes away the dust. A cooling breeze that often springs up of an evening makes a brilliant tropical day seem perfect. The central mountainous area is typically cooler than the lower coastal regions, especially overnight.
Bali is in the UTC+8 time zone (known in Indonesia as WITA, Waktu Indonesia Tengah), same as Western Australia, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and one hour ahead of Jakarta.
With 3 million people, Bali is a very densely populated island. The population is almost all Indonesian, with the usual small Chinese contingent in the big towns, a sprinkling of Indian merchants, plus a number of more or less permanent visitors amongst the Westerners in Bali. Population control is a priority of the Indonesian government, and the family planning slogan (two is enough) is a recurring theme in roadside posters and statuary. It seems to have been quite successful, as many young families are limiting themselves to two children, or sometimes maybe three, but certainly not the seven or nine children common two or three generations ago. Most people live in the coastal areas in the South, and the island's largest town and administrative center is fast growing Denpasar with a population of now over 370,000. Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, about 90% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism. However, the number of Muslims is steadily increasing through immigration of people from Java, Lombok and other areas of Indonesia who seek work in Bali. About 1% of population are Christians and Buddhists.
Indonesia's cuisine with the influence of traditional cultures: Muslims and Hindu is famous. The centerpiece of any Indonesian meal is steamed or boiled rice, consumed to every meal incl. breakfast. One of the most famous items in Balinese cuisine is a dish similar to Spanish paella: nasi goring made by tossing a small plate of steamed white rice, into a wok, with oil, vegetables and sometimes seafood, or chicken. It is usually served with a fried egg slapped on top and giant prawn cracker. Accompanying dishes to rice include various curries, meat or vegetables. Other traditional dish is grilled suckling pig (babi guling). Other ingredients used to give Indonesian food its unique flavours are chillies, coconut, peanuts, garlic, ginger, saffron, basil, cardamon, lemon grass, lime, nutmeg, pepper, shallots, soy sauce, tamarind, turmeric and several kinds of shrimp paste. If you don't like hot meals inform the serving staff. A separate chapter of menu is fish and seafood, every time fresh and delicate. He prices are very good: 1kg lobster costs ca. 50,-USD, crab ca. 15,-USD, tuna fish steak ca. 5,-USD. Hotel complex often have special restaurant for fish and seafood dishes. Prices of drinks are very similar as at home: 1.5l bottled water costs about 1,- USD, beer and alcoholic drinks in common are more expensive. Prices in restaurants are comparable to the Czech ones, except of fruit juices (much cheaper).
Bali has typical workweek from Monday till Friday. Banking and government office hours are usually from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., on Friday till 1:00 p.m. and closed on weekends. Minimarkets, petrol stations and eateries stay open 24 hours. Most authorized money changers operate seven days a week, and remain open daily until about 10:00 p.m. Most restaurants and hotel bars are open until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., bars and clubs in towns are open till morning.
Weapons, narcotics, pornography and some fresh food are prohibited to bring into Bali. Indonesia has strict drug laws, and it is firmly recommended that illegal drugs of any amount or quantity should not be brought into or out of the country. It is also recommended that the use of illegal drugs be strictly avoided whilst in Indonesia. Westerners are not treated lightly by Indonesian law, and all reports indicate that Indonesian prisons are far from pleasant! Indonesian customs allow entry of a maximum of one liter of alcoholic beverage, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco and a reasonable amount of perfume per adult. Photographic equipment, typewriters, laptop computers and radios are admitted, provided that they are taken out on departure. All these should be declared via a customs declaration form that must be completed before arrival. There is no restriction on import or export of foreign currencies, however, the export or import of Indonesian currency exceeding 5 million Rp /500,-USD/ require a filled form of the Central Bank. Amounts exceeding IDR 100,000,000.- require an approval from the Central Bank or External Affairs.
Indonesia's economy has a market-based economy in which the government plays a significant role by owning more than 164 state-owned enterprises and administers prices. The textile, oil and garment industry, agricultural and handicrafts have become the backbone of Bali's economy. The tourism industry is recovering once again. The economy, however, suffered significantly as a result of the increasing prices of oil and electricity. Indonesia has lots of mineral resources. Indonesia is expanding its copper, nickel, gold, and coal, oil and gas output for export markets. Lately are expanding services especially growing tourism industry. Retail trade and tourism dominate the nonfinancial services accounts for 15% of GDP 15%.
Bali, being part of Indonesia, uses the Indonesian currency, the Rupiah (abbreviated, Rp.) as its monetary unit. Foreign money, traveler's checks and other bank exchanges can be imported without limits. Limits are only for export of Rupiah. Money can be changed at the airport, at hotel cashiers, banks and at authorized money changers (found in almost every medium to large village and city). Accepting are credit cards American Express, Diners, MasterCard a Visa. Sometimes you can pay with USD, but only small transaction with no receipt (snorkel equipment or a boat trip to a neighbour island). Exchange rates about 1USD = ca 9.000 Rp.
Balinese and Indonesian are the most widely spoken languages in Bali, and the vast majority of Balinese people are bilingual or trilingual. There are several indigenous Balinese languages, but most Balinese can also use the most widely spoken option: modern common Balinese. The usage of different Balinese languages was traditionally determined by the Balinese caste system and by clan membership, but this tradition is diminishing. English is a common third language (and the primary foreign language) of many Balinese, owing to the requirements of the tourism industry. Sometimes local people can ask you to have an English conversation with them. Mostly they are students, who has English lessons at school and look for opportunity to speak English with tourists. You can refuse or you can ask them about local attractions, sights, good restaurants or attractive tours. Most student are good informed and for free they will talk about a nearby temple or the names system of Balinese children. Most of tourist agents speak Japanese or other Asian language.
You don't need any special vaccination or prophylaxis for going to Bali. Most of the problems that travelers experience came mostly from underestimate the local climate: overheating, dehydration, sunburn or accident. Sensitive persons should be careful by manipulation with air-conditioning in Indonesian as at home holds rule: difference between temperature outside and inside (room, car) should never be higher than 6°C. Using of repellent is recommended as the mosquito bite can in hot climate swell up and heals longer. Basic help with minor inconveniences you can ask in most hotels on reception. In reception they can also contact local medical help. State hospital is in Denpasar but we recommend contacting private clinics for better care standard. Cash payment for services is required so retain all receipts for insurance claims.
You must drive on the left in Bali, the allowed speed is 40km/h in town and 70km/h out of town, but the roles are very benevolent. Public transport in Bali is sporadic except the shuttle busses from hotel or shopping centers. To hire a motorbike or a car you must have an international driver license. Regarding Balinese road conditions and the traffic we recommend using taxis or hiring car with driver who will be your guide as well. This way you can explore the island cheaper than in hired car. The price you can negotiate before taking the ride or ask the driver to use taxi meter. Shorter destination (nearby beach) should cost about 50.000 Rp, hiring the car for all day (depending on the area you want to explore) about 500.000-700.000.
Because of its tropical climate, dress is generally quite informal in Bali. Accepted attire for men is shirt and long pants. Long sleeved plain or batik shirts are acceptable for formal or evening wear, should you need to attend a formal event. For ladies, a dress, blouse, skirt or long pants are appropriate. In highlands the morning temperature could be 12-15° Celsius. Don't forget a pair of good walking shoes, raincoat and spare T-shirt. Even if you will see a villagers bath in river with no close on don't try to change a public beach to a nudist beach. Topless sun bathing is accepted on tourists' beaches, for less frequented places and especially Lombok we recommend using of the top piece
Power supply is usually 220 volts, 50 hertz. Normal outlets are European style sockets, accepting plugs with two rounded pins. Electricity blackouts can be common in rural areas, so it is a good idea to bring a torch or flashlight.
The Balinese are very tolerant but due to culture differences travelers can cause a faux-pas or even an offence. Never attempt touching someone's head. For Balinese the soul seat in head and head is therefore sacred. Hand or receive thinks strictly with the right hand as the left is impure, a common belief throughout Indonesia. Take your shoes of before you step into masjid or someone's house. While speaking to someone don't have your arms akimbo. Traditional meaning of this gesture is aggression and attack (you can see this for example in marionette theatre). Waving at taxi don't lift your arm, just indicate the place where the taxi driver should stop. If you start a conversation with locals who ask about you family, ask them too. In common the locals like to talk to make sure you feel comfortable and don't miss anything. If they offer services you are not interested at, just shuffle tham friendly off. In opposite to Thailand it's not wrong to say that you will "think the offer over till tomorrow".
Aside of your passport's and flight ticket's numbers (it is best to have a copy) is important to have a contact on your embassy and a nonstop phone number of your insurance agency handy. Police 110 Firefighter 113 Emergency medical help 118 Resort Relax Bali -Indonesia +62 878 619 69 733 +6287762790688 Relax Bali - Czech Republic +420 608 925 000, +420 720 310 888, +420 602 610 853
Lots of tourists visit Bali especially to shop there. If you are looking for design goods, you can find it in Kutu, where we organize tours. Handicrafts and art galleries you find in Ubudu and its surrounding. Prices in shops are fixed (look for signs "fixed price"), in stands and markets you can bargain. Remember, the price the seller tells as first you can decrease to nearly a half by bargaining. To popular souvenirs from Bali belong painted native masks and marionettes form traditional performances. Don't forget the luggage weight limit for the back flight while shopping.
Some restaurants count 10% service charge, this information you can see in menu. If the service charge is not counted automatically, you can leave from 5 to 10% if satisfied. First pay the bill, wait for the money back and then leave the amount you wish to the staff. Luggage carrying from reception to room, from airport to the bus etc. is not in accommodation price. It's good to 1 or 2 dollars for bag for service or carry your luggage yourself.