The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok

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9781405381352: The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok

"The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok" is the perfect companion for exploring the cultural and natural richness of these beautiful places, with clear maps and up-to-date coverage of the best attractions. Discover Bali and Lombok's highlights with the guides' full colour introduction, showing everything from dramatic cliff-top temples to sparkling white-sand beaches. Find detailed practical advice on what to see and do, with great coverage of family-friendly destinations and activities, the unique volcanic landscapes and Balinese pop music. Whether you're looking for bargain hostels and beach shacks or chic spas and boutique hotels, this guide has it all. Plus there's advice on where to dive in Bali and Lombok, how to arrange treks to the island's volcanoes and the top surf breaks. With detailed maps, "The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok" gives you all the practical advice you'll need for a great adventure. Make the most of your trip with "The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok".

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About the Author:

Lucy Ridout has spent most of the last decade travelling in and writing about Asia. Lesley Reader has lived and worked in Bhutan and Thailand and travelled widely in Asia. They are both co-authors of other Rough Guides.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

WHERE TO GO

Bali’s best-known resort is Kuta beach, an eight-kilometre sweep of golden sand whose international reputation as a hangout for weekending Australian surfers is enhanced by its numerous restaurants, bars, clubs and shops. Travellers seeking more relaxed alternatives generally head across the southern peninsula to Sanur or, increasingly, to peaceful Candi Dasa further east, or the black volcanic sands of Lovina on the north coast. Quieter, but more upmarket, seaside options can be found at Jimbaran in the south and Pemuteran in the northwest. On Lombok, the Senggigi coastline offers the widest range of accommodation, while the nearby and rapidly developing Gili Islands have long been a favourite with backpackers. All these resorts make comfortable bases for divers and snorkellers, within easy reach of the islands’ fine reefs; Bali also boasts an unusually accessible wreck dive. Surfers on Bali head for the famed south-coast swells (particularly around Uluwatu) and the offshore island breaks of Nusa Lembongan, though less experienced wave-riders find Kuta and Medewi more manageable. There’s also plenty of surfing potential off Lombok’s south coast.

Despite the obvious attractions of the beach resorts, most visitors also venture inland to experience more traditional island life. On Bali, the once-tiny village of Ubud has become a hugely popular cultural centre, still charming but undeniably commercialized, where traditional dances are staged every night of the week and the streets are full of arts and crafts galleries. Tetebatu on Lombok occupies a similarly cool position in the foothills, although, like the island as a whole, it lacks the artistic heritage of Bali. In general, the villages on both islands are far more appealing than the towns, but Bali’s capital Denpasar, its former capital Singaraja, and Lombok’s Ampenan-Mataram-Cakranegara-Sweta conurbation are all worth a day-trip for their museums, markets and temples.

Bali’s other big draw is its proliferation of elegant Hindu temples, particularly the spectacular island temple of Tanah Lot and the extensive Besakih complex on the slopes of Gunung Agung. Temple festivals are also well worth attending: held throughout the island and at frequent intervals during the year, most are open to tourists.

Both islands hold a number of hiking possibilities, many of them up volcanoes. The best is undoubtedly the climb to the crater lake of Lombok’s Gunung Rinjani – one of the highest peaks in Indonesia – though the ascent to the summit of Bali’s Gunung Batur is less arduous and therefore more popular. Bali’s sole national park, Bali Barat, has relatively few interesting trails, but is a rewarding place for bird-watching, as is the area around Lake Bratan in the centre of the island. Even if you don’t want to go hiking, it’s worth considering a trip to the northern hills for the change of scenery and refreshing temperatures; the little village of Munduk makes a satisfying focus.

WHEN TO GO

Located firmly in the tropical zone, just eight degrees south of the equator, Bali and Lombok enjoy fairly constant year-round temperatures, averaging 27°C in the shade in the coastal areas and the hills around Ubud, and 22°C in the central volcanoes around Kintamani. Both islands are hit by an annual monsoon which brings rain, wind and a sometimes unbearable 97 percent humidity from October through to March.

The best time to visit is outside the monsoon season, from May to September, though monsoons are, like many other events in Indonesia, notoriously unpunctual, and you should be prepared to get rained on in Ubud at any time of year. However, the prospect of a daily rainstorm shouldn’t put you off: you’re far more likely to get an hour-long downpour than day-long drizzle. In addition, the landscape is at its most verdant during this time, and the rivers and waterfalls at their most dramatic; mountain-climbing, though, is both unrewarding and dangerous at this time of year. You should also be aware of the peak tourist seasons: resorts on both islands get packed out between mid-June and mid-September and again over the Christmas–New Year period, when prices rocket and rooms can be fully booked for days or weeks in advance. For a two-day weather forecast for the different regions of Bali, and to request a customized forecast for weather-sensitive activities such as diving, sailing or hiking, visit Baliweather.net.

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Lucy Ridout, Lesley Reader
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