Indonesia’s jewel in the crown is the bewitching island of Bali where it would seem the terraced rice paddies, bamboo forests, palm trees, warm, blue waters (at The St. Regis Bali Resort, you’ll find it difficult to resist dipping into the gentle ocean waves of crystal-clear waters) and delightful beaches exist only to exceed any preconceived ideas of a tropical paradise.
Bali practically invented the concept of sophisticated intimacy which makes travellers feel like guests rather than clients and the island offers an extraordinary calibre of luxury hotels noted for their exceptional service and outstanding settings – the atmospheric Amanusa, is situated on one of those many gorgeous beaches previously mentioned, yet is within easy walking distance of markets and traditional handicrafts shops while Amandari is set in the countryside, surrounded by terraced paddy fields with views of the Ayung River – whilst here you can opt for an exhilarating Indonesian experience either white-water rafting down the Ayung River or a relatively easy, child-friendly trek along the rice paddies.
Often referred to as 'the island of a thousand temples' Bali is packed with villages whose way of life has changed little over the years and a sublimely spiritual culture pervades throughout – you’ll see humble offerings of rice and petals at roadside shrines in abundance and hotels such as the exotic and inspiring Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay perfectly capture the mystique of this spiritual land.
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Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya) and Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/ In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Additional links to sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk and http://nathnac.net
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice for a number of countries to reflect the health advice of The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNac) in relation to the Zika Virus.
ZIKV is a dengue-like virus that is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The infection often occurs without symptoms but can also cause an illness similar to dengue. The condition is usually mild and short-lived; severe disease is uncommon and insect bite avoidance measures are recommended. http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
Recently, a possible link between exposure to Zika virus (ZIKV) in pregnancy and microcephaly and other congenital malformations has been identified and investigations are ongoing. Whilst investigations continue,
NaTHNaC advises that it is recommended that pregnant women should postpone non-essential travel to areas with active Zika transmission until after pregnancy. This is a change to the previous advice which encouraged pregnant women to consider avoiding travel and seek travel health advice.
In addition it is recommended that women should avoid becoming pregnant while travelling in an area with active Zika virus transmission, and for 28 days following return home. If a woman develops symptoms compatible with Zika virus infection on her return to the UK, it is recommended she avoids becoming pregnant for a further 28 days following recovery. If travel is unavoidable, or you live in areas where ZIKV is reported, you should take scrupulous insect bite avoidance measures, both during daytime and night time hours.
Symptoms of Zika virus infection may include fever, joint pain, rash, conjunctivitis/red eyes, headache, muscle pain and eye pain. No specific anti-viral treatment is available for Zika virus infection.
Elegant Resorts advises that pregnant women already booked to travel to any of the destinations affected, should seek medical advice from their GP and talk to their travel provider. Where it is necessary to change or cancel their holiday arrangements in light of the NaTHNaC advice, they should request that their GP provides them with a medical certificate in order to assist with them with any possible insurance claim.
Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with ZIKV and receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures. http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Sources of information include: www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
If you’re travelling to Indonesia for a holiday of up to 30 days, you can enter the country without a visa at certain airports and seaports, providing you also leave from one of designated airports or seaports. You will not be able to extend your stay beyond 30 days if you enter under this visa waiver scheme. For more information, and to ensure you meet visa requirements prior to travel, it is advised you visit the website of the Indonesian Embassy , or your nearest Indonesian Embassy offices.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Traditional Balinese architecture, with its courtyard concept, looks inwards. So, in terms of beauty, does Bali itself. Perhaps it’s no coincidence then, that the richly fertile interiors have created a flourishing culture of art and artists. The main road north of Denpasar is lined with villages specialising in different art forms: you’ll find silversmiths in Celuk, painters and dancers in Batuan and wood-carvers in Mas. Ubud meanwhile, is Bali’s cultural nexus. In the 1920s and ‘30s, Ubud's royal family invited a number of artisans to visit and thus began the town's development as an international arts centre. Amongst the visitors were the German artist Walter Spies and the Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet. Today, Ubud is rich with a wealth of art galleries and craft shops, yet despite its growth retains a charmingly genuine arty spirit.
Night dances and singing performances in temples such as the Batukaru or Pura Dalem make for a magical experience; low lighting and candles create the atmosphere whilst the Balinese dances themselves are moving pieces of artwork. At Amandari a main path between a local settlement and its temple has been cleverly integrated into the public areas of the hotel; over time the festivals and ceremonies have become a quintessential part of Amandari’s gracious soul.
Home to green rice terraces, intriguing temples, ancient palaces some of the best surf and a less crowded beach scene to neighbouring Bali, Lombok is only a short boat ride away from the secluded Gili Islands - Gili Air, Gili Meno and the biggest of the three Gili Trewangan – where white sand beaches are ringed by coral and the vivid waters provide spectacular diving opportunities. The Oberoi Lombok is located just opposite the Gili Islands and has its own PADI-certified scuba-diving centre so guests can easily access the dazzling array of tropical fish that wait in the waters.
Another of Indonesia’s fascinating islands is Java, home to the huge Buddhist temple of Borobudur, one of the most important sites in South East Asia. Guests of Amanjiwo who make a special request, can enjoy a private dawn tour of Borobudur to watch the sun and early morning mists rise above the plains to reveal coconut groves and the distant silhouettes of volcanoes – breathtaking.
Some four hours drive from Surabaya, the capital of East Java sits Mount Bromo (Gunung Bromo), part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. This ancient caldera measures six miles across and has four smaller peaks rising from its centre. Every few years cinder and ash pour forth to carpet the countryside with nutrient-rich deposits. The annual festival of Kasodo, sees thousands of Hindu Tenggerese participate in a midnight procession to the caldera where they toss in their offerings to the spirits of Gunung Bromo, thus assuring their blessings for the coming year.
East of Bali and Lombok and just north of its larger neighbour Sumbawa lies the appealingly remote island of Moyo. Amidst 350 square kilometres of lush forest, savannah grasslands and yet more of those glorious beaches we mentioned earlier - all framed by eye-poppingly blue waters and the iridescent coral reefs of the Flores Sea - there's just a few villages and one luxury camp; Amanwana appeal lies in its (and yours) complete surrender to the serenity of the environment - there are no iPod docks or televisions to bind you to your room instead guests are encouraged to enjoy the natural pleasures the island has to offer by participating in the myriad of water sports available, trekking through virgin forests or succumbing to a treatment at the Jungle Cove Spa.
Singapore Airlines from London Heathrow and Manchester to Singapore, British Airways and Qantas from London Heathrow to Singapore with onward connecting flights to Bali and Lombok; Malaysia Airlines from London Heathrow with onward connecting flights to Bali, Lombok and Java.
16 hours from London Heathrow to Bali
British Airways (Club World) upgrades from Bali via Singapore start from as little as £900 per person, each way.
The Borobudur is the one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world. A vast pyramidal structure it was built in the 8th and 9th centuries, over a period of seventy-five years, out of an estimated two million blocks of stone. Hundreds of images of Buddha stare impassively out over the plains whilst the detailed galleries and terraces leading up to the central stupa tell tales of ancient gods and battles. It was abandoned in the 14th century, for reasons that still remain a mystery, and for centuries lay hidden in the jungle, under layers of volcanic ash. Today it is one of Indonesia’s most popular attractions. Paying homage to its unique neighbour, the domed buildings and circular layout of Amanjiwo echoes those of Borobudur - spectacular views of the monument can be seen from the main building, which houses an open-air bar and restaurant, and all of the freestanding, domed suites.
Forming one corner of the 'Coral Triangle' and containing over 3,000 fish species and 600 species of coral, steep walls, deep water trenches, underwater volcanic mountains, World War II wrecks, and an endless variety of macro life, Indonesia is probably one of the worlds’ best dive sites.
To the east of Bali lies the Lombok Strait, through which flows the greatest volume of tidal water on earth, creating some powerful currents and rollercoaster rides that characterise Bali’s best scuba diving sites. The strong currents cleanse the water and create fantastic visibility of the pelagic fish – mola mola and sunfish – that visit regularly.
A mind-blowing variety of superb dive spots are easily accessible from Amanwana. Guests can organise their underwater programme at The Dive Centre that provides a range of equipment and underwater programmes that include day and night dives.
Weddings & Honeymoons
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay provides a perfectly exclusive and exotic setting for a private celebration with villas providing Balinese sleeping, dining and bathing pavilions surrounding a courtyard and plunge pool - romance at its finest.
Not having a Balinese massage would be a wasted opportunity. An hour or two of kneading, rolling, stroking and deep-tissue and holistic treatment should quite honestly, be on every Bali-goer’s agenda. At Amanjiwo a range of Javanese and traditional beauty treatments are available including the two-hour Mandi Lulur is a highlight and follows the traditional Javanese preparation of a princess on the eve of her wedding - a masculine version of Mandi Lulur is also available.
Food & Drink
The local rice wine, arak, is fairly potent; Bintang beer is fairly popular whilst Indonesian coffees is amongst the best in the world. Nasi Goreng - fried rice with assorted vegetables normally served with a fried egg on top – is one of Indonesia’s most popular dishes; guests of the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, can discover the elaborate world of Asian cuisine at The Cooking School. There are three modules to choose from, including Balinese, Spa and Asian cuisine.
Located in the centre of the Gili Isles archipelago, the Komodo National Park is home to the largest living species of lizard in the world, the Komodo dragon. Believed to be a descendant of dinosaurs, Komodos can grow to about eight feet long and weigh in at two-hundred pounds. The Komodo is the only lizard that will attack prey bigger than itself (wild boar, deer and goats) - it will even attack other Komodo dragons.
On the Indonesian island of Bali, Nyepi Day (Silent Day) is celebrated by the Balinese every 355 days, marking the start of a new year in the Balinese calendar. During this holiday, local people stay at home, relax, enjoy the quiet and often, meditate. Generally, this means that services, including transportation and tours, will be unavailable. Nyepi 2015, is 21 March.