Bali - The word is almost guaranteed to evoke a vivid image in people's minds, even among those that have never been there. The place has achieved an almost mythical status. Can any vacation destination possibly live up to such a reputation? Well, maybe.
For the geographically challenged, Bali is an island less than 100 miles long and 50 miles wide, and is one of more than 10,000 islands that make up Indonesia. The country went through some rough years, with the economic downturn of 1997 and the political upheaval that followed, which resulted in a massive decline in tourist arrivals to Indonesia as a whole. Thanks mostly to the geographic ignorance of so many travelers who didn't know Bali is in Indonesia; the island's tourism business hadn't suffered too much. However, in the wake of the bombings in 2002 and again in 2005, arrivals went down seriously, but by early 2010, even in the wake of the global economic downturn, Bali's value-for-money was garnering an ever-increasing number of visitors, and a renewed interest from developers of new hotel properties.
When planning your trip, you'll definitely want to consider the best time to visit Bali. For any first time visitor to Bali, the first big question is where to stay. The island features a wide array of very different beaches and there are some cultural destinations up on the slopes of the island's volcanoes that should also be considered. See our Bali Basics overview for help deciding where to base yourself for your stay. Then check out our list of the main tourists sights for an idea of what to see and do, away from the beach.