Mini guide to Bali, Indonesia
The Pura Ulun Danau lake temple in Bali. (Anders Blomqvist/LPI)
Bali’s small size doesn’t make for uniformity. The popular Indonesian island combines green rice terraces with long tropical beaches and volcanoes.
Likewise, traditional Hindu temples and artistic towns such as Ubud provide a counterpoint to party capital, Kuta.
Bali's best-known dive area, Pulau Menjangan, is good for divers and snorkellers, and is located in the Taman Nasional Bali Barat park. Expect tropical fish, corals, clear water and underwater cliffs (Labuhan Lalang visitors' centre, on the north coast, where boats leave for Pulau; 7.30am-5pm).
Perched in Bali's central mountains, Ubud's focus remains on Balinese culture in all its forms. The Agung Rai Museum of Art is a gallery and cultural centre where you can take courses in batik (wax-resist dyeing) and Balinese history (armamuseum.com; Jalan Raya Pengosekan; 9am-6pm; £2).
At Jatiluwih, which means 'Truly Marvellous', you will be rewarded with vistas of centuries-old rice terraces that have been nominated for Unesco status. You'll understand why when you see the panorama from the twisting 12-mile road. Get out for a walk along the water channels.
For out-of-the-way beaches, head to Bingin. The scenery here is superb, with cliffs dropping down to a row of houses and the foaming edge of the sea. The surf can be savage, but the white sands are calm and the roaring breakers mesmerising.
The village of Munduk is one of Bali's most appealing mountain retreats, and is set among hillsides covered with rice, coffee and fruit plantations. Waterfalls tumble off precipices and there are great trekking opportunities around the lakes of Danau Tamblingan and Danau Buyan.
Eat & drink
Few locals making the trek up the hill pass the open-air Nasi Ayam Kedewatan without stopping. The star is the superlative sate lilit (minced chicken satay with lemongrass). (00 62 361 974795; Jalan Raya Kedewatan, Sanggingan, Ubud; lunch; mains from 70p).
It's all about pork at muchloved open-front stall, Warung Dobiel in the south's Nusa Dua. Pork satay, pork soup and beans with shredded pork are favourites. The sautéed jackfruit will make you a convert; the green sambal (chilli-based sauce) is redolent with spices. Seating is at long tables (Jalan Srikandi, Nusa Dua; lunch; mains from £1).
Join the lunchtime lines outside Warung Ibu Oka , opposite Ubud Palace. They're waiting for the eponymous Balinese-style roast suckling pig. Locals and expats in the know travel far for meat they say is the most tender and tasty on the island (Jalan Suweta, Ubud; lunch; mains £1-£1.50).
At night, hundreds of candles twinkle around outdoor tables at The Living Room. The décor combines Balinese thatching and colonial posh, and the menu fuses French classics with Asian flair (livingroombali.com; Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak; lunch and dinner; mains £6-£8).
Arguably Bali's finest restaurant, Blossom has high-end décor and a creatively global menu. Try the lobster mango-shiro miso with mandarin salt (balisentosa. com; Sentosa Private Villas & Spa, Jalan Pura Telaga Waja, Seminyak; mains £10-£18).
Matahari Cottages has six flamboyantly themed rooms, including the 'Batavia Dacha' and the 'Indian Pasha', stuffed with Balinese furniture and colourful soft furnishings. There's an Elizabethan-themed library and an elaborate high tea is served on silver (00 62 361 975459; matahariubud.com; Jalan Jembawan, Ubud; from £22).
Turn left after the toll gate for Mu, the most stylish option in Bingin. Thatched bungalows are scattered about a landscaped compound dominated by a cliffside infinity pool. All have hot tubs with sea views (00 62 361 8470976; mu-bali.com; Jalan Pantai, Bingin, Pecatu; bungalows from £38).
At Taman Sari bungalows are set on a long stretch of quiet beach, and feature intricate carvings and other traditional artwork. The open-air bathrooms are delightful places for that wake-up shower (00 62 361 288096; balitamansari.com; Pemuteran; cottages from £45).
Founded in order to help develop sustainable tourism, the Puri Lumbung Cottages are set among rice fields with views down to the coast. Dozens of trekking options and courses are offered, including dance and cooking. The hotel's restaurant, Warung Kopi Bali, is excellent (00 62 362 70128871; purilumbung. com; Munduk; cottages from £54).
On a ridge near Sayan stands the unique Bambu Indah, a compound of 100-year-old royal Javanese houses. Several outbuildings create a timeless, yet luxurious village. Rooms are works of art, with tasteful batik bedspreads and simple, authentic decoration (00 62 361 977922; bambuindah.com; Banjar Baung, Ubud; from £100).
Public transport is provided by minibuses called bemo. You can hire a car at the airport (from £14 per day; balicarhire.com), but as roads can be busy, taxis are the safest option and tend to have meters. Bali Taxi is the most reliable (00 62 361 701111).
Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific fly to Bali's Denpasar airport from the UK (from £617; singaporeair.com; cathaypacific.com). Pre-paid taxis at the airport, to Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud, cost around £3.50, £6 and £15.