Bali has long been equated with an exotic paradise, a picturesque vision of green rice fields and plantations, soaring volcanoes, cool lakes and rushing rivers, lush forests and palm fringed beaches. It is Indonesia’s number one tourist destination and as a result suffers from commercialisation and overcrowding, but this is confined to a few main areas. The original charm of the ‘Island of the Gods’ and its smiling people is still very much in evidence, especially in the many small rural villages and fascinating places of the fertile interior.
Art is an integral part of daily life and every village has its artists, from internationally acclaimed painters to aspirational young cow herders. Ubud, the cultural centre, with its streets lined with art and crafts shops, also offers regular performances of traditional Balinese dance and music. Art, together with tourism, is an important source of revenue for the island.
With its fine beach, the popular resort of Kuta is the most visited destination, but there are numerous other beach resorts around the island, with more peaceful settings on the east coast at Candidasa, Sanur, and the fishing village of Padang Bai, and on the northern coast at Lovina. There are a number of good scuba diving sites and reef snorkeling spots close by.