Bali is a tropical diamond-shaped island that has been described as "heaven on earth", for this tiny Hindu island is blessed with an ethereal beauty and infused with a sense of mysticism. The Hindu influence grew during the 14th century when the Majapahit Empire conquered the island, and introduced Hindu art and dance. This resulted in a specialized Hindu culture developing that is different from all other Indonesian islands. Bali is the largest Hindu outpost in the world outside of India and everyday life revolves around the Hindu religion. With over 20,000 temples on Bali there are almost daily festivals featuring such traditional dances as the Barong or Kris dance.
Cruise ships can dock at Benoa Harbour. or land passengers by tender at Padang Bay (Padangbai).
Denpasar is situated on the southern side of the island 25 km (15 miles) from Benoa Harbour. Denpasar is also a university town and cultural centre. Its museums contain many art treasures, and the Bali Cultural Centre includes the internationally recognized Konservatori Kerawitan, which is a major centre for Balinese dance. Ubud is a good place for Balinese culture at the Museum Puri Lukisan and Museum Neka and shopping at the many galleries and craft shops. In the centre is the beautiful Puri Saren Agung, once part of the royal palace. Celuk is a village of silversmiths.
Inland sights worth visiting include Gunung Batur, a volcano with great views; Kerta Gosa (Hall of Justice) and Bale Kambang (Floating Pavilion) in Klungkung; Pura Kehen the 12th century Shiva Temple; Pura Tirta Empul, the temple of Tampak Siring; and tenganan, the ancient walled village of the Bali Aga. For beaches Sanur and Nusa Dua are the best (Kuta is crowded) and Candidasa is ok for snorkelling.
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