Let’s Play Bali: In and around Indonesia’s coolest province
Even among the 17,500 islands of the Indonesian archipelago, with all their natural beauty and abundance, Bali stands out from the rest. Perhaps it’s the fact that, despite its small size, Bali has an incredible array of ancient temples. Or, perhaps, that it’s a part of the Coral Triangle, filled with reefs that boast the highest marine diversity on the planet. Or that Bali has some of the most stunning geography, including three active volcanoes in the South Pacific. For these reasons and more, Bali has become one of the coolest and most popular tourist attractions in the world.
It’s hard to describe all there is to do on a tour of Bali. The province is famous for its surfing, hiking and plain old relaxing, but there’s much more to it than that. Your visit there just isn’t complete without witnessing these key sites.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Housed in three temples within the thick section of jungle called Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana are groups of grey long-tailed Balinese macaques. The monkeys show personality and prove just a little greedy for the bundles of bananas sold outside the temple’s entrance. In fact, the monkeys have become so used to handouts that they’ll follow you around, just in case you should change your mind about feeding them. Past the monkeys, the temple complex can make for a fascinating visit as you will find moss-covered murals that date back centuries.
Mount (and Lake) Batur
There are plenty of ways to reach this still-active 5,000-foot high volcano in the heart of a 14 kilometer crater lake, including a midnight hike that arrives precisely timed to the remarkable view of sunrise over the caldera. A drive to Mount Batur passes through villages like Batubulan and Celuk, where artisans famous for their silver crafts and stone carvings are happy to show their creations to curious visitors. Upon arriving at Batur you’ll want to have your camera ready, as the sheer spectacle of the view from the edge of the crater is enough to take your breath away.
Pura Luhur Ulu Watu
Perched high atop a steep cliff wall above the pounding surf on the island’s southernmost point, the Pura Luhur Ulu Watu temple is one of the most sacred and spellbinding shrines in all of Bali. Make sure to move to the southern end of the temple just before sunset. You will be able to witness the sun sink into the Indian Ocean, a memorable sight awash in gold and blue. Javanese priests first started this shrine’s construction back in the 11th century. Now in the 21st, you can stand and watch the sunset just as they must have all those years ago.
Cliff-side temples, still-smoldering volcanoes and banana-crazy primates – it’s all just a part of a tour of Bali, perhaps Indonesia’s coolest province. Just as feeding the Balinese monkeys leaves them craving more, a visit to this province leaves you wanting to come back.
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