I have just had the pleasure of visiting Bali, a tiny island in the vast archipelago that is Indonesia.
The most stunning country, located between mainland Asia and Northern Australia, a land of contrasts, dramatic volcanoes, bustling markets, towering mountains, lush rice terraces and beautiful temples. A wonderful blend of culture and beauty.
Gorgeous beaches line the coastal resorts in the south, ranging in colour from darker volcanic sand to more golden.
Weather is great year round, with only two seasons: summer and winter. The wet season is between October and April.
Resorts differ. Popular Seminyak is an upmarket, bustling beach resort. Legian and Kuta are more renowned for nightlife, while Sanur is very family friendly. For more peaceful resorts try Jimbaron, Utuwatu and Nusa Dua, or get away from the coast to the cultural heart of Bali, Ubud, where you will find the main markets, sacred temples and the beautiful and impressive rice terraces.
Tanah Lot Temple
Pura Tanah Lot is a hugely popular, iconic tourist destination. Dating back to the 16th century, it is built into a rock 300 metres out at sea. It can be accessed when the tide is out by crossing the sands, however, you are not allowed to enter if you are not Balinese. It's the most visited and photographed temple in all Bali.
Mason Elephant Park
The Mason Elephant park, landscaped to mimic the elephants' original environment, has been voted Bali's number one 'must see' attraction. Opened in 1997, the elephant park is dedicated to the rescue and conservation of Sumatran elephants. It's home to 31, with four having been born in the park. The park provides you with the opportunity to interact and learn about the elephants by washing and feeding them.
Monkey Forest, Ubud
The 'Ubud Monkey Forest' lies in a village of Padangtegal, where the residents view the forest as a important spiritual, economic, educational and conservation centre. Over 700 (naughty) Balinese long tailed (or as we know them, Macaques) live freely in 12.5 hectares of forest. A great family day out for only the equivalent of £2.50.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
Jatiluwih rice terraces are a cultural landscape and a Unesco World Heritage site. Here you'll be amazed by the beauty of the thousands of hectares of lush green paddy fields, where you will watch the locals tending the rice by hand. A lovely stop where you'll also be able to have an excellent lunch.
Ulun Danu Braton
The trip to Ulan Danu Braton was my favourite excursion. This temple built on a lake is a famously picturesque landmark. It's the most tranquil spot, featuring not only the 17th century temple, but also beautiful gardens and flower beds. A dramatic mountain range provides a stunning back drop.
Bali is 85% Hindu, and the local people are so gracious and warm, and constantly smiling. Nothing is too much trouble!
It is a truly wonderful experience to spend time in Bali, well worth the 17 to 18 hours to get here. Though my recommendation would be to stop a few nights en route, somewhere like Singpore or Hong Kong.