Lush rainforests, stunning Hindu temples, carefully crafted Balinese architecture, a vibrant arts and foodie scene, and some of the best surfing beaches in southeast Asia – Bali is the stuff of dreams. Transport yourself to this peaceful, spiritual island paradise for an experience you’ll never forget and explore the golden beaches, the emerald rice paddies, colourful coral reefs and jungle-draped volcanic hillsides.

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Highlights of Bali

Monkey Forest

Located in Padangtegal, just outside Ubud, Monkey Forest is a series of sacred temples set in an ancient forest that acts as a sanctuary for around 600 macaque monkeys. In Bali, sanctuaries like this are an important part of Balinese heritage and everyday life, essential for renewing contact with the spiritual world and are a fine example of the importance Balinese people place on the harmonious existence of humans and nature. Officially called Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana, it’s a calm, quiet place where visitors can expect to see the monkey living in its natural habitat, among a huge variety of rare plants and trees. The temples were built in the 14th century when the Pejeng Dynasty ruled Bali and there are three main ones to explore. It is

Mount Batur

According to Hindu beliefs, Mount Batur is a sacred mountain, located on the north east of the island, close to Mount Agung. It is an active volcano that last erupted in 2000 and is also home to Lake Batur, the largest lake on Bali. Sitting 1,717m above sea level, the summit can be reached in around two hours. It is a popular attraction for walkers and hikers, who come to enjoy the spectacular scenery and may even experience their guide cooking eggs in the volcano’s hot crater. Many companies offer a sunrise tour, taking in the mountain, tropical plantations and a stop off at a traditional Balinese coffee processing plant. An experience not to be missed.

The Gili Isles

This string of three islands – Gili AirGili Trawangan and Gili Meno – is a tropical paradise that has long attracted travellers looking for an authentic island experience. Located off the northwest coast of Lombok, they can also be reached by fast boat from Bali. Tourism has grown here rapidly over the past 10 years but you can still enjoy an authentic escape where horse-drawn carriage is the main method of transport. On Gili Trawangan, dive schools jostle for space with trendy bars catering for the young party crowd who flock here to enjoy hip guesthouses, late night parties and sunsets on the west coast of the island. Gili Air has a much calmer vibe and is the perfect place for snorkeling, relaxing on the white sandy beaches and staying in rickety bamboo huts. Gili Meno is the smallest of the three islands and the least developed. Head here if you really want to escape from it all on a remote island paradise.

Tirta Empul Temple

This temple is considered to be one of the most holy in Bali, built around a sacred spring in the village of Manukaya. The spring feeds various purification baths, pools and fishponds, which all flow to the Tukad Pakerisan River. Balinese locals have been worshipping here for over 1,000 years, attracted by the healing, restorative qualities of the waters. There are three courtyards in the temple complex, but the main attraction is a long rectangular carved stone pool, filled with koi and fed by the sacred spring via 12 fountains. Balinese worshippers make their offerings at the temple, then climb into the main pool to pray.