August 1, 2004 -- Imagine an island where the sunsets are breathtaking fireballs of red and orange. A place where you can laze on the beach all day with food and drinks brought to you while a masseuse works out the tension in your neck. A place steeped in culture and history, where the locals are peaceful, friendly and welcoming, the shopping is nirvana, while staying in a your own villa with a pool and a personal chef to cater to your every culinary whim. Well imagine no more: The answer is Bali.
Almost two years after a brutal and callous act of terrorism threatened to destroy Bali's thriving tourism industry, Bali is definitely worth considering again. Though the US State Department (www.travel.state.gov/travel/indonesia_warning.html) continues to impose a travel advisory on all non-essential travel to Indonesia, this jewel of the Indian Ocean is slowly returning to its pre 2002 status -- the perfect beach and adventure destination of South East Asia.
August is high season in Bali, with an influx of predominantly European tourists, but in September, prices come down and the weather stays magnificent.
Airfare Straight Up
Kasbah (www.kasbah.com) has the following options for September departures:
- Roundtrip from Los Angeles on Eva Airways from $953 including taxes.
- From Newark on China Airlines from $1,218 including taxes.
Both flights are via Taipei. Departure tax from Denpasar, Bali of approx. $6 is additional on all flights.
Cathay Pacific (www.cathay-usa.com) has slightly cheaper options via Hong Kong.
- Roundtrip from Los Angeles: $957 including taxes.
- Roundtrip from New York JFK: $1,006 including taxes.
If you're only interested in Bali accommodations, visit Mario's Villas (firstname.lastname@example.org; http://graziemario.com/villas.htm) or Batukaru (www.batukaru.com) for a wide selection of budget to medium priced villas. The best rate we found was the Villa Kendil Seminyak starting at $67 off of Batukaru's website. Many villas also offer free airport transfers and can also arrange for personal chefs and spa treatments in your villa depending on your needs and budget.
The Whole Package
Balivacations.com offers package a three-night package starting at $1,180 from Los Angeles and San Francisco or $1,260 from Newark or JFK (add $60 for departures from Washington, D.C., $80 from Chicago). The package includes:
- Roundtrip airfare
- Private car airport transfers
- 3 nights 5-star hotel accommodation with buffet breakfasts
- 3 days use of an air-conditioned car with an English-speaking driver (up to 10 hours per day, gas included)
- All room taxes & service charges
- Additional nights available from $60
For more information, head over to www.balivacations.com or call them at +62 361/703-060 to book your trip.
Even better, budget packager, Go-Today has a six-day/five-night air and hotel combo starting from only $899 (before about $110 in fees and taxes) for departures out of San Francisco for stays in Kuta. This deal is valid for travel from September through November, after which prices rise slightly higher. Additional departure gateways are available at varying additional costs. For complete details, visit www.gotoday.com/ID_FGBF.ASP.
More About Bali
Bali has several distinct beach areas. The most populated is Kuta/Legian, which is the budget end of Bali and the main shopping area. As you head northwest along the coastline, Seminyak provides the main villa renting area, with up-market restaurants, boutique shopping and less tourists. Resort areas featuring mainly 4- and 5-star hotel complexes are further south in Nusa Dua and east in Sanur. Jimbaran Bay is a more exclusive resort area with hotels such as the Four Seasons. All are located within a 30-minute drive of Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport and each other.
There are so many sensational places to eat in Bali -- it is difficult to only mention a few. These locations serve delicious food in environments that are both pleasing to the eye and the purse. Many have ocean views and outstanding architectural features. Ku De Ta (tel. +62 361 736 969; www.kuteda.com) , La Lucciola (tel. + 62 361 730 838) , The Living Room (www.thelivingroominbali.com) and Kafe Warisan (tel. +62 361 731 175; www.kafewarisan.com) are all located in Seminyak. Poppie's (tel. +62 361 751 059; www.poppies.net) and TJ's Mexican (tel. +62 361 751 093) are in Kuta. Jimbaran Bay is famous for it's beachfront seafood stands where you choose your own seafood by the pound.
No trip to Bali would be complete without the indulgent spa services offered throughout the island (there are actually over 200 spas scattered throughout Bali). Body Works Spa (tel. + 62 361 730 454) offers massages and 1/2 and full day beauty treatments, including bathing in essential oils and rose petals, body wraps, mud baths and facials for under $40. Or pay around $5 for a one-hour full body massage under a palm tree on the beach.
A warning on small moneychangers located throughout Bali. Although the Balinese are in general honest and truly hospitable people, harsh economic times have forced some unscrupulous vendors to resort to short-changing you during currency exchanges. The hand is definitely quicker than the eye, so the best advice is to withdraw cash from ATMs or change your money with a reputable bank. With an exchange rate of over 9,000 Indonesian Rupiah to the dollar, Bali is without doubt a value for money destination.
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