BALI – The Enchanted Isle

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From surfing it up on pristine beaches, diving through aquamarine waters, old temples that are harmoniously integrated with nature, hospitality that is reflective of the culture to an amazing nightlife, Bali has it all. Once you visit its beautiful sand beaches, you really will not want to leave the sun dappled enchantment you fall under.

Where to stay
Bali is a great spot for students to visit thanks to its cheap accommodation and food. Two can spend the night at a 3-star hotel with a pool for about $30 (approx Rs.1,500) a night, and there are higher-end spas and hotels all around the island. The commercial Kuta beach in the south has a number of budget hotels and is popular with partygoers for its many cheap bars and clubs. Surfers from Australia flock to this sandy white expanse for a taste of the surf, and small cafés and shops line the narrow streets on either side.

To escape the crowds at Kuta, should you happen to land in the busy tourist season, head north to the more peaceful Seminyak and Legian beaches. Legian has the same beautiful beaches that are popular with surfers and also some budget restaurants and bars but is far less chaotic that Kuta. Seminyak on the other hand proliferates with luxury resorts, fashionable restaurants, charming designer boutiques and art studios. If you are in the mood for some high-end shopping or spa treatments, you can’t go wrong in this upscale neighbourhood. It’s also home to Bali’s hippest nightlife, and most places are packed on the weekend. Try the popular Ku dé Ta, a sleek restaurant and bar complex that is has innovative cocktails and divans on the beach.

Dive the ocean blue
Surrounded by pristine waters where colourful and diverse marine life has found a home, one must go diving or snorkelling on a visit. The most interesting dive spot is at Tulamben where one can explore the USAT Liberty shipwreck, a cargo ship that was equipped with guns for the Second World War and sunk by a Japanese warship in 1942. Only metres from the shore, the skip forms a gorgeous artificial reef that is often visited by large fish. If you are new to diving, this is a great spot to try it out as the wreck is easily accessible  and safe. You can also snorkel at the wreck, as its highest point is about four metres below the surface. A short distance from Tulamben is Amed, a quiet fishing village that is another great diving spot for beginners who can try reef and wall dives.

Historic temples
The unique Hindu culture of the island makes it an interesting visit for Indians who may be interested in how the religion is interpreted in other parts of the world. The Shiva temple at Tanah Lot is built on top of a rock that is surrounded by the sea on all sides and is thousands of years old. The waves form a soft cadence as you step across the shallow wavers to enter the cave-shrine where a shivalingam is attended by priests. Water from the waves is channelled so there is a  constant stream that falls on the deity. Enjoy the sunset here in one of the most tranquil places in the world. Another must-visit temple is the Pura Besakih sanctuary, towering high on the slopes of the holy Mt Agung. The temple has three main shrines dedicated to the trinity, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Also known as the ‘Mother Temple,’ it is considered the holiest in Bali and is a special pilgrimage site for locals.

Art and Shopping
Art lovers should head to Ubud to soak in Balinese paintings dating back to the turn of the century at the local museum before exploring the  numerous art galleries nearby that feature more modern styles. Walking through the pretty streets is a pleasure by itself! While shopping, pick up clothes made in the traditional, handwoven ikat style from the textile capital, Gianyar. You can also attend a tour at one of the many factories in the region.

A visit to Bali is sure to leave you in a state of bliss and enchantment, so enjoy your fairy tale vacation on the island!

Volume 1 Issue 9