Jakarta is Indonesia's capital and largest city, and it sits in its own little province in the northwest of Java. It has an impressive 2,000-year history and has played host to a number of powerful colonial masters, including the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English
The spectacular island of Bali in the Indonesian archipelago offers a fantastic mixture of tribal culture, picturesque beaches, exciting activities and world-class amenities. Bali is an island paradise that has something for everyone to enjoy on vacation.
Alive with monster mega-clubs as well as chilled-out bars and cultural hotspots, Bali's got plenty going on to keep night owls busy on their holiday. There’s a kind of dizzying alchemy to the combination of fabulous sunsets, exotic scenery and party atmosphere which makes a night out in Bali unforgettable.
It may be seen as the traditional preserve of backpackers and party-ready students, but Bali offers plenty for families in search of a memorable vacation. As well as activity parks set up to cater to children, there are enchanting animal sanctuaries and forest adventures which are ideal for families.
Much like the many layers of its distinctive rice terraces, Bali is multifaceted and complex. Ancient temples, half-hidden in the rainforest, exist alongside modern beaches, with all the trappings tourists desire. Old handicrafts, passed down through generations, are still sold in traditional markets, while shopping malls sell sleek designer wares. In Bali, there’s always a surprise around the corner.
You won’t find high rise hotels or flat complexes in Lombok or on the three Gili Islands. The islands retain a charmingly rustic feel with thatched huts and beachside hideaways nestled between camouflaging trees. Whilst staying true to the Indonesian surroundings the islands also offer luxury boutique hotels and villas, as well as eco-resorts and budget hostels, with homestays for a really authentic experience.
While Paris and Milan can boast haute couture and catwalk pieces galore, Lombok and the Gili Islands have their own designer brands to brag about. Local artisans are the pride of the country’s shopping culture, with handmade clothes and merchandise found all across the islands. While surfing and other water sports clothing are at every turn, the islands also bring bustling night markets, boutique stores and beach front sales into the mix.
Star-lit dining doesn’t get much better than in Lombok or on the Gili Islands. With secluded and often deserted beaches, diners are treated to unobstructed views of the surrounding waters within a charming and romantic setting, occasionally sheltered by charming beach huts. Night markets jostle with those wishing to try a little of everything, while freshly grilled or barbecued seafood is the main fare in the area, with international options also available.
Most of Lombok’s and the three Gili’s attractions hem the islands’ shore lines: surfing, diving, kayaking and deserted powdery beaches lure in the masses on a daily basis. Besides these obvious excursions, the islands also offer a distinctive peek into Indonesian everyday life, with local traders selling their products on the streets and in boutiques, and secluded hillside villages like Segenter Village, nestled in the blooming forests.
Stepping onto one of Lombok’s beaches or the three Gili Islands, and it’s hard to believe the postcard-perfect scene in front of you. Clear aqua waters lick white sandy beaches that are shadowed by bright green trees – it’s someone added a little extra saturation into the mix. But rest assured, the islands are real, and they’re every bit as beautiful as you hope. Whether you’re fleeing everyday life with a luxurious escape or simply exploring the area’s surf with your backpacker mates, Lombok and Gili tick all the boxes.
With such rich diversity in its surroundings, Bali’s accommodation is as varied as the island geography itself. From family-run guesthouses to luxurious beach resorts, thatched-roof bungalows to private villas, there are plenty of options to select from to suit every type of traveler and budget. Saunter along the sun-speckled beach of Jimbaran Bay, delve into the wild forests of Ubud, or, soak up tranquil luxuries of Sanur and Seminyak.
Just like all other Southeast Asian destinations, when it comes to shopping in Bali, bargaining is expected. Lively market stalls thrive on the daily chaos of trading and negotiation. Offering a spot of respite from the searing heat and hectic hawker scene, shopping malls sell brand name clothes and cosmetics to satisfy the expanding western market.
Light, fragrant and infused with a gentle mix of local spices, eating in Bali is a cultural experience. A fraction of the price compared to western food, small rice-based and seafood dishes are affordable staples found in abundance. Authentic Balinese food is a little harder to come by, however, with most local eateries and warungs (cafes) serving Chinese, Indonesian or Halal cuisine from Sumatra.
An exotic province brimming with island attractions, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Bali. Whether you choose to trek through the Balinese rice terraces, climb the rocky façade of Mount Batur, surf the waves of Kuta or scuba-dive the coastal reefs, you won’t be short of activities to keep you busy.
A tiny Indonesian province, Bali’s geography is etched with verdant rice terraces, dewy jungle palms and rippling sandy bays. Becoming increasingly popular as an island getaway, Bali has plenty of attractions to tempt travelers. Head south to Uluwatu Temple to witness hypnotic displays of the kercak dance, visit Ubud to explore local villages filled with ancient handcrafted techniques, or journey east to plunge into the picturesque dive spots dotted all along the coastline.
Much of the dining in Jakarta is highly visible on the street and at the markets, where some of the best deals and tastes can be had. There is, of course, Western-style top-enders in the touristy areas of South Jakarta and in the star-rated hotels, while fast food can be had at the likes of McDonalds and Pizza Hut.
Jakarta shopping options range from cheap, pirated tack up to the best high-end merchandise in swanky department stores. Getting about and finding the best spots cam be tricky, however, although when you know where to go, shopping in Jakarta can be a pleasant experience.
Indonesia's capital has a wealth of sights, attractions and landmarks to check out that range from historical streets to mega religious structures and monuments. Although there is much to see, Jakarta is not overrun with sights and is not as overwhelming as many other Southeast Asian centers.
Jakarta is a noisy and chaotic metropolis and there are cautions to be aware of as with any large urban center. While it can be a headache and the weather decidedly muggy, it can also be lots of fun if you know what you're doing. More on Jakarta travel tips.
Jakarta covers most types of interests in the entertainment department. There are many lively streets for party-goers, a waterfront entertainment complex nearby that comes complete with a beach, and plenty of museums and cultural attractions.
With Bali being a popular international vacation destination there is a wide selection of flavors and cuisines on offer as well as local foods in Bali. There is something for everyone to suit all tastes and budgets.
Modern museums, beachside resorts coupled with a mixture of natural and ancient cultural attractions can be found in Bali. Nature sightseeing is a must with Bali’s large forest areas and untouched coastlines that offer spectacular scenery and picturesque photograph opportunities.
Bali is a fairly safe place to visit although there have been terrorist attacks on tourists in the past so it's advised to keep your wits about you and exercise caution at all times. Make sure to check your country's travel advice website before booking your vacation.
Bali is an exciting vacation destination that has something for everyone of all ages and tastes to enjoy. From sporting activities to adventure tours, shopping, dining and nightlife, Bali is a truly entertaining place to visit.
Shopping in Bali is fantastic with an abundance of markets offering inexpensive locally made goods coupled with modern shopping centers filled with brand name fashion labels. Expect to pay normal prices for international brands while locally made goods are relatively inexpensive.
Whether you’re drawn to Bali by the legendary beaches and world-class surfing conditions, or by the misty jungles and sparkling highland lakes, it won’t let you down. The Indonesian island encapsulates a tropical world, blessed with cultural riches, spiritual celebrations, and rare wildlife. And of course you can also party the night away in some of the coolest clubs in Asia.