Known as "The Island of the Gods," thanks to its estimated 20,000 temples and shrines, Bali offers travelers a balance of classic tourism offerings (beautiful beaches, volcanoes and rain forests) and real cultural gems, such as the mesmerizing sounds of the gamelan. Your American dollar can get you pretty far here, which is not always the case with island destinations. Despite the distance from most of the U.S., flights are not terribly expensive even in high season, but we found packages, from the budget minded to the fully escorted, that cut that cost even further by bundling in airfare and airport transfers.
Asian Affair Holidays (tel. 800/742-3133; www.asianaffairholidays.com) offers "Bali Spectacular" from $1,120 for seven days/five nights (part of your time is traveling), round-trip on Singapore Airlines. Accommodations choices include Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa, Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort, Melia Bali Villas & Spa, or Nikko Bali. The package also includes daily international breakfast buffet, round-trip airport transfers, and a full day barong dance and Kintamani tour, with lunch. The price includes a $180 security and fuel surcharge and does not include other governmental taxes and fees. The advertised low end of the price range is good for travel from San Francisco or Los Angeles from September 1-December 5 and then again January 1, 2007-March 31, 2007. Departures from New York during the same travel period are an additional $120.
Contiki (tel. 866/266-8454; www.contiki.com) isn't just a travel company for students, although it does package trips for the 18 to 35 demographic. They're generally packed with possibilities, activities, and low on price, offering incentives for group travel by making triple occupancy an option. Contiki even has its own Bali Resort (www.contiki.com/en-US/Resorts/Bali/) located in Seminyak, an evolving resort area close to the beach. The resort's amenities include an Internet lounge, 30-seat movie theater and even a departure lounge with separate shower and storage facilities. The prices for Contiki don't include airfare, but they do include brunch, dinner, and transfer to and from Ngurah Rai Airport. A triple room for four nights is available from $218 and $368 for seven nights, good for travel through November 30. The price for a four-night stay drops to $182 for December 1-23. The Contiki resort is currently offering shoulder season rates, sandwiched in between low and high seasons. Spend a little bit more for a double room with a pool view, which goes fro $238 for four nights and $403 for seven nights, until November 30.
For a package with budget accommodations, check out Escapes Unlimited (tel. 800/243-7227; www.escapesltd.com), featuring a "Bali Special" from $689 per person for five nights for San Francisco or Los Angeles departures. You have a few options; you can spend three nights in either the Sanur Beach or Legian Beach areas, and two nights in Ubud, or spend all five nights in the same hotel in any one of those three places. Daily breakfast, hotel taxes and service fees, round-trip airport transfers and a half-day village and temple tour are included. The price is valid for travel September 1-November 30; add $250 for New York-JFK departures. Hotel upgrades and travel extensions are possible.
Finally, World Travelers Club (tel. 800/693-0411; www.around-the-world.com) is a club without membership dues; it's a way for people to travel independently to "the far corners of the world," according to its website. "Bali Vacation Super Saver" for example, is an eight-day trip from $969 including airfare, with daily departures available. The company offers both silver and gold accommodations; the latter are in better locations and offer better service and more amenities. The price represents travel August 21-31 and September 1-December 5 for silver level accommodations with departures from Los Angeles or San Francisco. Daily breakfast, a full-day private sightseeing tour, airport-hotel transfers and hotel taxes and service charges are included. Select East Coast departures are available for additional $129.
Another offer, "Bali: Beaches to Highlands", is an 8-day trip that gives you the option of staying in Ubud -- the highlands area -- and a beach area, either Nusa Dua, Sanur or Legian. The trip includes round-trip airfare, airport transfers, applicable hotel taxes, buffet breakfast daily, and a private tour of Bali with an English-speaking guide. Prices reflect double occupancy. Travel August 21-31 for $1,059 for silver accommodations; upgrade to gold for $1,219. Or travel September 1-December 5 from $999 (silver) and $1,179 (gold). There are a handful of other Bali trips, too, with availability, but travel dates December 20-31 are a bit more difficult to accommodate, according to a company representative, but travelers may be in luck if their travel dates are flexible. If you book a trip through them, you'll fly Singapore Airlines.
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