The word "Indonesia" comes from the Greek -- melding indos meaning "Indian" and nesos meaning "islands." While Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia on the island of Java, stands as one of the world's more important commercial centers and home to the tallest buildings, the other islands composing Indonesia offer the possibility of that much sought-after, far-flung and relaxing vacation.
Bali is an escape to artistic and creative passions, and great natural beauty formed by volcanoes slicing through its land mass from coast to coast. Many of the Balinese speak English and are well-known for their friendliness. But it's the white sandy beaches and local crafts such as masks and furnishings that keep tourists flocking to the island. A good place to start your research on Bali is www.balitourismauthority.net.
For package tours to Bali, Gate1 (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has a seven-day/five-night special out of Los Angeles starting from $979 per person. The trip includes round-trip airfare between LAX into Bali, five nights at your choice of hotels and daily breakfast. Available now through March 30, 2006, this tour has a no current booking deadline. To ensure availability, however, you should book as soon as possible. Accommodations, even at the least expensive option, are superb. At the $979 price point, you can stay at the elegant and beachfront Parigata Resort and Spa in Sanur. The boutique hotel only has 42 rooms, marble lobby, hotel bar and swimming pool in a jungle setting. Two levels up at the $1,069 price point, accommodations are at the larger Discovery Kartika Plaza on popular Kuti Beach. With six restaurants and over 300 guest rooms, the hotel is a party all to itself. Taxes on airfare and departure fees are not included in this trip. Visit the village of Mas where some of the best Balinese woodcarvers still hold shop and deals on furniture seam like steals compared to prices back home.
Look to Asian Affair Holidays (tel. 800/742-3133; www.asianaffairholidays.com) for its five-night "Enchanting Bali" package priced from $888. This combo includes round-trip airfare on Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles, New York City or San Francisco; accommodations at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa; all morning meals and some lunches; and two tours. Additional taxes and fees can run as high as $230 per person. You can add a couple of nights in Singapore at the Copthorne King's Hotel for $136 per person. This package must be purchased by March 24 for travel through March 31, 2006.
Because of a huge demand to visit Bali, Friendly Planet Travel (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) had an 11-day "Beautiful Bali" tour costing approximately $999 that sold out before we could even get it on the site. In addition to round-trip airfare out of Los Angeles and seven nights at the Kuta Paradiso Hotel, features of the package included a full American-style breakfast buffet everyday, a welcome reception, a half-day guided tour of Balinese heritage and history focusing on arts, culture and village life, all hotel transfers and the services of an English speaking representative to help you with any special requests, simple questions or emergencies. Why are we telling you this? There are plans to schedule more package tours just like this one. To be the first in line to know, simply head to Friendly Planet's site to sign up for their e-mail notifications. When the next round of deals become available, you'll know in time.
To book individual hotels in Bali, the site www.bali-travel-online.com has detailed listings of hotels and inns on the island as well as day tours. Offering package deals on hotel stays from three days and on, the Site has special packages ranging in price from $65 per person for all three nights in a budget hotel called the Ratna Hotel to $162 per person for three nights at the luxurious, waterfront Nusa Dua Beach Hotel. These packages include airport transfers, a welcome flower, three nights or more at the hotel of your choice, a daily American breakfast, and all government-related hotel taxes.
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