Bali, 8 degrees south of the equator, is blessed with a tropical climate that’s divided into two seasons. The dry season runs from April to September and most visit during this period although climate varies across the island. The length of this season is the reason why Bali has no malarial swamps. The rainy season, from October to April, generally sees a rain-shower every day. It can be humid, especially in the hottest months of January and February, but the rain doesn’t tend to last very long and the ground steams dry as soon as the sun peeps out again.
Temperature varies across the island – the northern and eastern lowlands can be hot at about 33 Celsius (and it doesn’t seem to get much cooler when the sun goes down), while the southern beaches tend to hover around a more digestible 26 degrees. In Ubud in the centre, the temperature is moderated by its proximity to the central mountains and it can feel quite cool in the shade at 22 Celsius. The highland interior, which experiences year-round showers, is a good ten degrees lower than the coastal regions, and it can get to a cooler 18 degrees.
Note: flight, boat, train and bus timetables change constantly, and airlines come and go, so please do not rely solely on this information for your travel planning. Check with relevant companies, or a flight search engine like Skyscanner, first.
Flight time from London: 17 hours, including a 1-hour stopover
From the UK
Garuda Indonesia offer many flights from the UK and Europe to Indonesia, including flights to Jakarta and Bali.
Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific fly from London Heathrow to Denpasar.
From North America
Cathay Pacific flies from New York, LA and San Francisco; Singapore Airlines flies from New York and San Francisco.
From Australia and New Zealand
Qantas flies from Sydney and Melbourne; Jet Star flies from Perth and Darwin. Singapore Airlines flies from Christchurch and Auckland.
From the Airport
Visitors arrive at Denpasar's Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS). Despite the misleading name, the airport is actually located between Kuta and Jimbaran, roughly 30 minutes away from Denpasar. Taxis are readily available at the airport. They’re very cheap, most have air-con and drivers will anticipate you’ll ask them to switch on the meter.
After walking, the best way to get around Bali is by bemo, which can be anything from a minibus to a truck with seats tacked on the back, and these travel to just about everywhere on the island. At official bemo stops the driver waits until he's filled the bemo, and then he sets off; outside of the official stops, you simply hail a bemo, and if there's room, he'll stop and pick you up. You won’t get to your destination as quickly as you would in a taxi, but, if you want to get to know the Balinese, there’s no cheaper and safer way to break the ice.
Bluebird and Nguruh Rai taxis are available at the airport and in the southern tourist resorts. They’re very cheap, most have air-con and drivers will anticipate you’ll ask them to switch on the meter. Try also Bali Taxi.
In the resorts and Ubud, you will also be propositioned by Kijang drivers, who’ll happily volunteer to take you anywhere in their frequently tatty 4-wheeled drive vehicles. The price is negotiable (your starting point should be roughly half of what’s initially asked) and, once you’ve found a driver and car you like, it’s worth making a regular arrangement with him: that way, you can fend off the other transport touts.
Ferries ply between Bali and the major islands in Indonesia, including the Gilis, Java, Lombok and Komodo.
Most Indonesians travel by coach as it's the cheapest way to get around. However journeys are incredibly long, and you'll be subjected to a fug of cigarette smoke and loud music videos en route. If you're still tempted though, ask for a 'Lorena Bus' when you book your ticket; these are air conditioned with a toilet on board.
HIRING CARS / MOTORBIKES
You can hire both motorbikes and rental cars while you’re in Bali, but the traffic around the airport and Denpasar is a nightmare. Driving in Bali is also difficult because roads are not always clearly signposted. Turning right is a rule-free game of chance, and negotiating a roundabout is best done with your eyes open (as all the other drivers will have theirs firmly shut). Traffic cops can be rigorous in exacting fines from foreign tourists so, on balance, unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s best to have someone else do the driving for you.
There’s a 30-day visa-on-entry fee, payable in US banknotes at the airport by visitors from certain countries including all of Europe, Australia and North America.
There’s also a departure tax to pay when you leave the country; make sure you have enough money left for it!