Bali is one of the 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia and is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
To find Bali on a map, simply look northwest of Australia to find the string of islands that make up Indonesia, located between the Pacific and Indian oceans.
While Indonesia’s land mass totals around 1.9 million square kilometres (735,400 square miles), Bali itself measures just 5,780 square kilometres (2,230 square miles).
Packed into this small island, however, is a treasure trove of cultural history, natural beauty, delightful people, great food, and a fantastic nightlife scene.
Sitting just a few degrees off the equator, Bali enjoys year-round sun and – as it occupies both South Asia and Oceania – can be reached by many international airlines.
Where is Bali Located in Indonesia
Bali is located in the South of Indonesia and sits between Java and the island of Lombok.
Bali is classed as part of the Nusa Tenggara Islands. This group of islands were formerly known as the Lesser Sunda Islands and was formed by tectonic plates converging and land mass being forced upwards.
As well as the main island, the smaller islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Gili Trawangan, and Nusa Ceninghan are also considered part of the province of Bali.
The Balinese People
Despite being a relatively small island, Bali boasts a considerable population of 4.2 million people. This is just 1.7% of Indonesia’s total population, however, with the country’s total population estimated to be around 280 million.
Most of Bali’s population are native Balinese, with around 5% consisting of groups such as Chinese persons and Muslims.
People from Bali are considered amongst the kindest and most hospitable people anywhere in Indonesia. This generosity of spirit is found everywhere within the Bali culture, which is organised by a caste system structured within a form of Hinduism.
As a Hindu province, Bali stands in contrast to most of Indonesia, which is 86% Muslim. Bali people are fiercely proud of their heritage, with the island historically serving as a refuge for those escaping religious persecution.
Why Bali is So Popular
As you fly over Bali and see its verdant rice fields, imposing volcanos, white sands, and pristine waters for yourself, you begin to understand why this small island has become one of the world’s hottest tourist destinations.
The land itself is beautiful and ticks all the boxes of an island paradise, with waterfalls, swaying palm trees, and Pina Coladas all included.
Bali’s popularity among tourists can be traced back to the 1960s when authorities began actively encouraging tourists to visit. Over the preceding decades, these efforts transformed Bali into an international destination, with people arriving from all around the world to experience everything the island has to offer.
One of the main draws of Bali is that it’s extremely budget-friendly. For most tourists – especially those from Australia and Western nations – the price of food, drinks, and accommodation on the island will seem cheaper in comparison to European countries.
This is because, despite enjoying a relatively good standard of living, Bali’s cost of living is lower than most parts of the world. Most people here live on less than $1000 USD a month, with the average backpacker or traveller expected to only spend around $50-$70 per day.
For those who want no expenses spared, however, Bali also has plenty of premium hotels, bars, restaurants and activities. These offer a more luxurious stay in Bali and are still relatively affordable.
Weather-wise, you can expect warm, sunny weather all year round. This is because Bali sits so close to the equator, lying just 8 degrees south.
This gives the island a tropical, humid, and warm climate no matter what the month. Like all tropical islands, however, Bali does experience a rainy season that runs from November to March. For this reason, the best time to visit Bali is from April to October when there is less chance of rain and more chance of sun!
Something a lot of people frequent Bali for is the truly spectacular food.
Traditional Bali dishes include marinated meats, spicy and sweet sauces, and plenty of rice. Look out for favourites such as the shredded meat, coconut, beans and vegetables dish Lawar, Lilit satay, Soto Bakso, and the daily tonic drink Jammu. All delicious and giving the authentic taste of Bali.
With so many different people the world over arriving in Bali, restaurants, bistros, and cafes also offer a variety of international cuisine. This includes American-style fast food as well as Spanish tapas, Latin-inspired dishes, and plenty more.
After an evening meal, most travellers move on to experience Bali’s exciting nightlife.
The main party hotspots include Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu, and Uluwatu, with bars, beach lounges, party villages, and nightclubs found everywhere.
For those who want a wild night out, Bali’s Kuta region is considered the go-to destination, with non-stop music, drinks, and dancing all night.
For those who want a quieter night, there’s also plenty of nightlife suitable for conversations and enjoying expertly made cocktails in Uluwatu and Seminyak.
While Bali has a reputation for fun and partying it’s also a great place to go on retreat.
Surrounded by some of the world’s most exquisite landscapes and perfectly clear waters with the Hindu tradition running deep, Bali is something of a spiritual hotspot.
Known as the land of a thousand temples, people come here to absorb the atmosphere and calming effect of the island’s 10,000 spiritual locations, practice at the many yoga studios, and centre themselves at the spiritual healing centres.
Bali’s Popular Travel Destinations:
One of Bali’s most exciting areas, Canggu attracts a wide variety of people, including expats, digital nomads, and families.
Located a short ride West of Denpasar, Canggu has a beautiful beach, an unapologetically fun nightlife scene, and a great spot for surfers. Be sure to check out some of the inspired street art and hipster cafes when visiting.
Jimbaran is a limestone-fringed beach town just 15 minutes from the Ngurah Rai International Airport. It’s a lot quieter than some of Bali’s other towns and is perfect for those who prefer to keep away from the hustle and bustle.
As Jimbaran is traditionally a fishing village, you can expect some of the finest seafood here served from its numerous restaurants and bars. It’s also a great spot to do a bit of shopping, with essentials, traditional trinkets, and luxuries all available from outlets and market stalls.
Kuta & Legian
If you’re coming to Bali to experience partying, street food, shops, and boutiques check out Kuta and Legian. These two areas of Bali lie on the South West coast of the island and are considered two of the main tourist traps.
Kuta is something of a party town, attracting countless visitors from Australia and elsewhere with its world-famous nightlife scene. While this isn’t for everyone, those who want an authentic Bali all-nighter should definitely check out Kuta.
Legian is a quieter alternative with a similarly busy nightlife crowd and serves as a great place to stay, with the busy Kuta just minutes away.
Clean, luxurious, and away from the main party hotspots, Nusa Dua is one of Bali’s most relaxing locations. Here, the beaches are quieter, there are fewer crowds, and less noise.
For people who want luxury standards in a beautiful, tropical island setting, Nusa Dua is a hit. This comes at an increase in cost, however, with Nusa Dua’s secluded location fetching more premium prices for hotels, dining, and activities.
Seminyak is one of Bali’s most popular destinations, with tourists attracted by its wide variety of hotels, shopping outlets, and villas that cater to all budgets.
While Seminyak is just 5 kilometres from Kuta, the experience is quite different and has a much more relaxed atmosphere. You’ll still find nightclubs and a great night scene, but with a slightly older demographic that appreciates a more unhurried pace, art galleries, boutique shopping, and designer outlets.
Uluwatu is considered a blend of Canggu’s busy nightlife scene and Seminyak’s laid-back luxury. Here you’ll find temples, amazing vistas, and affordable but charming accommodation with some great surf.
Most famously, Uluwatu is home to the world-renowned Single Fin Beach Club, a beach bar, hotel, and place to relax located on the cliffside of Uluwatu Beach. This club epitomises Uluwatu, with DJs playing great tunes while people relax and chat, overlooking the bay with surfers catching waves.
Ubud is located northeast of Bali’s capital Denpasar and is one of the island’s most popular inland destinations. It has a more rural feel to the area than other tourist hotspots, making it great for a relaxing, slower-paced stay with plenty of spiritual retreats nearby.
With the area located away from the coast, it’s a great base for a vacation, making it easy to visit many of the natural attractions, such as the Ubud Monkey Forest or soak in some Bali culture at the Agung Rai Museum of Art.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Bali have an international airport?
Bali is easy to arrive at, thanks to its Ngura Rai International Airport. This is located in the capital Denpasar and receives planes from over 18 international airlines.
Is Bali near the equator?
Bali is located just 8 degrees south of the equator. This makes it a truly tropical destination, experiencing a warm climate all year round.
What is the best time to travel to Bali?
Like all tropical areas, Bali experiences a rainy season from November to March.
For this reason, most people visit Bali during the months of April to October when there is less chance of rain.
What ocean is Bali in?
Bali is situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The waters immediately surrounding Bali are known as the Bali Sea and span an area of around 45,000 square kilometres.
What is the capital of Bali?
Bali’s capital is Denpasar.
Denpasar has a population of 725,000 people and covers an area of 1749 square kilometres. It was established as the capital in 1960 and is also a central hub for other islands of Indonesia.
What are Bali’s neighbouring countries?
While Bali is a provincial island, Indonesia itself is neighboured by Malaysia, East Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Australia to the southeast.