Enthusiastic about Bali? Here are 12 Fascinating Facts to Know

03 Jul, 2024 | Featured Stories

Discover 12 fascinating facts about Bali that will make you long to visit this tropical paradise even more.

There’s always something more to Bali, Indonesia than meets the eye. As you delve deeper, you’ll realize that what sets this island apart and makes it one of the most attractive destinations on Earth lies not only in its natural beauty but also in the richness and originality of its culture. Below are 12 fascinating facts about Bali that we believe are worth keeping in mind to enrich your journey beyond the regular tourist path. Let’s scroll down for the details!

1. Religion makes Bali mistaken as a separate country 

The first fascinating fact about Bali has to do with religion. Balinese identity is so distinct from the rest of Indonesia that the island is sometimes even mistaken as a separate country. Amidst the predominantly Islamic landscape of Indonesia, Bali stands out as the only island where approximately 87% of the population is Hindu. 

Long before the spread of Islam in the 13th century, Indian merchants and literati had brought Hinduism to Indonesia. Such a religious influence in Bali peaked when it was part of Majapahit, a Hindu-Buddhist empire that rose in the archipelago in the 14th and 15th centuries. 

The religion integrated into the island has also taken on a unique form that differs from that in its motherland of India, as Balinese Hinduism is a fusion of Hinduism, Buddhism, and local animist beliefs. 

2. Offerings are everywhere and every time 

In Bali, the spiritual life is deeply intertwined with daily life, so offerings are not confined to temples and shrines. As you wander the streets, you’ll stumble upon baskets filled with colorful items in front of homes and businesses. The Balinese offerings, known as ‘canang sari’, are made every day in the early morning, and often again in the afternoon and evening to express gratitude and respect to the Gods. This fascinating fact about Bali imbues its streets with a charm that is hard to find anywhere else. 

The Balinese meticulously crafted their canang sari with natural materials including palm leaves, flowers, rice, and fruits. Each component, with its own color, represents a specific Hindu deity. It is to be noted that daily household offerings are distinguished from ceremonial ones, which will be more elaborate. 

3. The biggest celebration is without celebration 

While New Year’s Day would typically be one of the most vibrant times of the year in other parts of the world, in Bali, it’s when lights and sounds are turned off, traffic and all other worldly activities are halted, and locals meditate. Even planes wouldn’t operate. The whole island would retreat to complete silence for 24 hours. 

Nyepi, the Balinese New Year’s Day, is all about strengthening one’s connection with God through prayers and self-reflection to decide on values that truly matter. This has to be one of the most fascinating facts about Bali. 

The celebration falls in March or April based on the lunar calendar. If you happen to be in Bali during Nyepi, be sure to respect the tradition and avoid going outside, turning on bright lights, and making loud noises as local watchmen will patrol the streets to keep an eye on lawbreakers. 

4. The volcanoes are not simply natural spectacles 

The majesty and threatening nature of volcanoes awe us, and for the Balinese, this awe translates to reverence. Among Bali's four sacred volcanoes, which include Agung, Batur, Batukaru, and Abang - places considered to be the abodes of the Gods - Mount Agung holds the greatest significance. This is understandable as it is also the roof of the island, standing at 3,032 m (9,944 ft). 

The significance of Mount Agung is reflected in the Pura Besakih temple complex seated on the volcano's slopes, referred to as the Mother Temple of Bali. This vast complex features 86 temples, mostly built in the 14th century. What makes this fascinating fact about Bali even more special can be traced back to a miracle that occurred at Pura Besakih during the most recent eruption of Mount Agung in 1963. The lava flowed mere meters away from the temples and they remained intact. This event further reinforced the Balinese’s belief in the sacredness of Mount Agung. 

5. Let’s set aside the white-sand beaches for a moment

Here we have a fascinating fact about Bali that comes from nature. Besides the alluring white-sand beaches that make up its tropical paradise reputation, you can also find numerous black-sand beaches on the island. The black sand is a result of being mixed with eroded black rocks from volcanic eruptions. While it might look peculiar, it is completely safe for human health. 

Prominent black beaches in Bali include Amed Beach, Tulamben, and Keramas. Amed has the deepest color since it is closest to an active volcano. Tulamben is popular with divers and Keramas with surfers. In general, they tend to be less crowded than their white-sand counterparts. 

6. Bali boasts an unimaginable number of temples

Everyone expects Bali to have many temples from templed-featured photos all over the internet but the actual number, a fascinating fact about Bali, is just unimaginable: over 20,000! That means 9 temples for every square mile or 3.5 for every square kilometer of the island. It’s no exaggeration to say that here you can encounter temples at every turn. For first-time visitors looking to navigate such a maze, here are the 9 must-visit temples in Bali to start with. 

Building temples is even a legal obligation as every village needs to have at least 3 of them. Every household also has a private temple. 

7. Where vegans’ dream comes true 

Vegans will love this fascinating fact about Bali! Here, it will be very easy for you to find an abundance of vegan restaurants or those offering vegan options. This island has long been positioned as a destination for yoga and health-conscious living, with vegetarianism being an integral part. Ubud, the yoga capital of Bali, is where the vegan dining scene is the most vibrant. 

Traditionally, vegetables and fruits play a considerable role in the local cuisine. Bali's year-round tropical climate and fertile volcanic soil are ideal for growing a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, and Hinduism also promotes vegetarianism among its followers. In addition to vegan restaurants established by the expat community, it's also quite common for local restaurants to offer traditional Balinese plant-based dishes.

8. Bali’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site is so obvious yet so hidden 

You’ll admire Bali's gorgeous terraced rice fields when knowing that behind them lies a sophisticated irrigation system that has been recognized by UNESCO since 2012, giving us another fascinating fact about Bali. Known as Subak, this 9th-century system features a network of interconnected canals, weirs, and water temples that allow water to be evenly distributed across the fields. Thanks to Subak, the Balinese have become Indonesia's most productive rice farmers and can support a dense population. 

Almost everything in Bali has a spiritual aspect to it, and this system is no exception. It encompasses the Hindu philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, which emphasizes the harmony between the spiritual world, humans, and nature. Water temples are involved in the process to serve as intermediaries between the Gods and the people. You can witness Subak in action at these top spots for rice fields in Bali. 

9. The crown of Indonesia’s tallest statue goes to Bali

Soaring phenomenally from the cultural park of the same name on the Bukit Peninsula, the grandeur of Garuda Wisnu Kencana commands attention. With a height of 120 m (394 ft) and a width of 64 m (210 ft), it is the tallest statue in Indonesia and among the tallest in the world. This fascinating fact about Bali is credited to the renowned Indonesian sculptor Nyoman Nuarta. 

After 28 years since construction began, the statue was officially completed in 2018, bearing the image of the Hindu god Vishnu riding the mythical eagle-like creature Garuda. Its strategic location allows visitors to see it as they gradually descend into Ngurah Rai International Airport like an impressive welcome to the ‘Island of the Gods’.

10. The Kecak Dance has quite a recent history  

Next, we have a history-related fascinating fact about Bali. With no musical instruments, no artificial background, performed outdoors at sunset, with sounds created entirely by the dramatic chant 'cak, cak, cak' of a chorus of men, the unique Kecak Dance easily evokes thoughts of ancient rituals. The reality is quite close to that. Kecak dance is inspired by an ancient Balinese trance ritual called Sanghyang. However, what we see today didn’t take shape until 1930 through the collaboration between Balinese dancer Wayan Limbak and German artist Walter Spies. 

Today, watching the Kecak Dance at Uluwatu Temple is one of the top cultural immersion experiences in Bali.

11. One of the world’s most expensive coffees has something to do with an animal’s stomach 

​​​​​​A coffee type that may not sound appetizing but is considered the finest, civet coffee, or kopi luwak, can cost between $35 and $100 per cup. One fascinating fact about Bali is its association with kopi luwak, often referred to by Westerners as 'cat poop coffee' since it is made from coffee beans excreted by civets, a cat-like mammal native to South and Southeast Asia.

Their digestive system acts as perfect natural processing where only the cherries are digested, the beans come out untouched and more acidic and palatable. However, the popularity of kopi luwak also comes with ethical issues. From farmers having to forage for wild civet droppings, it is reported that nowadays civets are often captured and force-fed coffee cherries to meet the high demand from luxury retailers worldwide and tourists. 

12. Balinese name is systematic

The Balinese certainly don’t need much time to name their children like others might, as their names are predetermined by a caste system and birth order. The caste system is attributed to the historical influence of Hindu Indian culture, although its extreme is not much of a case in Bali.

Society is categorized into four classes. The lowest class, Anak Jaba or Sudra, is the majority, including laborers and farmers. For those in this class, the following names are given based on birth order: Wayan, Putu, or Gede for the first child, Made or Kadek for the second, Nyoman or Komang for the third, and Ketut for the fourth. The cycle repeats if a family has more than four children. To distinguish the younger children, 'Balik,' roughly meaning 'another', may be added after their names. Boys and girls are named the same, except boys' names are preceded with 'I' and girls' names with 'Ni,' similar to 'Mr.' and 'Ms.' in English.

The aristocratic class, Wesya, has names like Gusti, Dewa, or Desak. The royal and warrior class, Kshatriya, often have names such as Ngurah, Anak Agung, or Tjokorda. Finally, Ida Bagus for men or Ida Ayu for women are names given to those in the highest class, the Brahmana, which includes saints and religious leaders.

Explore these fascinating facts about Bali in person

Now you have more reasons to add Bali to your bucket list and experience its captivating nature and culture. It’s no wonder why this island is a dream for travelers worldwide. If you're ready for an insightful exploration of Bali tailored specifically to your interests, don’t hesitate to design your trip with Exotic Voyages. 

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