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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Bali Sightseeing
Bali Sightseeing Guide - TravelPuppy.com
Denpasar

The capital of Bali has been the region of much of the wealth and growth on the island over the last quarter of a century. It now has all the bustle and hustle one associates with the fast-growing cities of Asia. While the traffic, pollution and noise make it a difficult city to relish, Denpasar still retains some pleasant, tree-lined streets and gardens and is very much part of the 'real' Bali.

The Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali is an attractive series of separate buildings, including examples of both palace and temple architecture. The exhibits are not always well presented, but there are enough arts and crafts and other items displayed to make it worthwhile. The tiny cane cases for transporting fighting crickets are worth checking out. The Taman Wedhi Budaya arts centre is home to a collection of modern painting and woodcarving. Dancing groups and gamelan orchestras perform occasionally, mostly for the benefit of visitors.

Denpasar is in the south of Bali, about 10km or 6mi northeast of Kuta.

Gunung Batur

The volcanic cone of Gunung Batur and the lake that fills half of the caldera form one of Bali's most beautiful and spectacular landscapes. Climbing Batur (1717m or 5631ft) to see the sunrise is an experience, but be prepared for cold, damp and cloudy conditions and some aggressive souvenir sellers. Gunung Batur is in northern Bali, approximately 35km or 22mi north of Ubud.

Kuta Bay

Kuta and Legian, this area has been a major draw for travellers for more than 25 years, offering cheap accommodation, Western food, good shopping, surf, sunsets and a riotous nightlife. The events of October 2002, when nearly 200 people were killed after the bombing of the Sari and Paddy's nightclubs, put a severe dent in tourist numbers and the businesses that depended on them. Things are slowly recovering - the Sari nightclub re-opened in July 2003 - and tourist numbers are picking up.

Kuta is not stunning but it's not dull either. It's has the best beach on Bali, with the only surf which breaks over sand instead of coral. An abundance of cheap accommodation is on offer there's a wide range of places to eat. Shops and hawkers offer everything from fakes to genuine antiques offered with a considerably softer sell.

Even the tourists have become a tourist attraction, with visitors coming from Java to view the topless bathers, and from other resorts to disaprove of all the tackiness. Despite all the extremes, away from the traffic-clogged streets Kuta is still a village of quiet compounds and narrow alleys, where loyal offerings are placed in front of houses and neighbours appear in the coolness of the evening to gossip in the street.

Behind the beaches, roads and alleys lead back to the most spectacular groups of hotels, bars, restaurants, food stalls and shops. The famous Poppies Gang, directly back from Kuta Beach, is where most of the quieter, inexpensive hostels and restaurants can be found. Cheap beachfront accommodation is available in Legian and the lanes running parallel to the beach are the best places to start looking for a decent bed.

Kuta Bay is in the south about 10 kilometres (6 miles) southwest of Denpasar. To the north is Sanur, a more exlusive alternative to Kuta; whereas Nusa Dua, to the south, is an upmarket alternative to Sanur. Ulu Watu, on the southern tip of Bali, is the island's best known surfing area.

Ubud

In the hills 20 kilometres (13 miles) north of Denpasar, Ubud is the quiet cultural centre of Bali. Extensive development in recent years has meant that Ubud has engulfed numerous villages, but these have retained their distinct identities. Each direction offers an interesting walk to a secluded hamlet, through the rice paddies or into the dense Monkey Forest, which is just south of the town centre.

In Ubud itself, the Puri Lukisan Museum is home to fine examples of all schools of Balinese art in a stunning garden setting. There are some quality galleries such as Neka Gallery, which features work of some Western artists who have painted in Bali, and Agung Rai Gallery, a commercial operation which also has a small, but significant, permanent collection. The homes of influential Western artists Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet, who were key players in transforming Balinese art from the purely decorative, can also be visited. Ubud is a good place to see Balinese dancing and listen to Balinese music, it also has some of the best restaurants on the island.