With over 1300 different islands, Indonesia is the world''s largest archipelago. Blessed with the history of ancient civilisations, a dramatic volcanic landscape and an abundance of beaches, it remains an evocative and enticing destination. Indonesia''s rain falls largely during the winter months of November to March, thus making parts of Indonesia the ideal Asian destination during the summer months, when the rest of South-East Asia can experience rain.
Of all Indonesia''s gems, it is Bali which is the chief draw for most travellers. An island filled with exotic flowers, ancient temples, towering volcanoes and welcoming smiles, it is a truly magical destination. In direct contrast to the mainly Muslim Indonesia, almost all the Balinese practice Hindu Dharma and the island is often referred to as ''the island of a thousand temples'', creating a sense of peaceful spirituality. Long popular as a haven for beach lovers, Bali is now emerging as a true lifestyle destination, the subject of design books such as BaliChic.
Fashionable beaches such as Seminyak attract an international crowd with an eye for creativity, drawn by the Balinese natural flair for style, its excellent craftsmanship and artistic communities. Many of these creative types have chosen to settle here, turning their exquisitely designed private villas into small boutique hotels filled with Indonesian antiques and textiles, where travellers feel more as if they are guests of the stylish owners than clients in a traditional hotel.
Such properties are unlike anything else found in Asia and offer a type of intimacy and personal service with which international hotels just cannot compete. Bali equally has much to offer discerning travellers who require butler service, private pools and sumptuous spas.
The artistic community of Ubud is a great place to begin your holiday to Bali. Recover from your long haul flights by retreating inland, to soak up the breathtaking mountainous jungle scenery of the Ayung River Valley in a gorgeous boutique hotel before heading to the beaches.
If it is chic restaurants, a hip yet relaxed nightlife and a range of fashionable boutiques that you require, then sophisticated Seminyak is the destination of choice. Kuta is ever popular with a younger crowd, particularly surfers. Those who seek a more relaxed scene will enjoy the beaches of Jimbaran and Sanur, which are quieter, yet still have a range of restaurants and small shops and are two of the most picturesque beaches in Bali.
The beaches on the Northern Coast are the most untouched and are perfect for those seeking a tranquil escape. Many of Bali''s best properties are not actually located on the beaches themselves. A number of our favourites enjoy secluded settings, a little off the beaten track but only a short drive from the ocean. In addition, Bali''s excellent value, its inherent style and the true warmth of a Balinese welcome, make this a truly magical destination.