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Most first time visitors will be drawn to the south of the island, where most of the famous beaches and resort areas are located, in areas like Kuta, Nusa Dua and Seminyak, home to golden beaches, upscale hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. The buzzing regional capital of Denpasar is also located in the south of Bali. It is a large metropolis, but not much of a tourist destination. Venturing further north and deeper inland will take visitors to stunning natural beauty of another kind, green, lush mountains and hilly rice terraces. The town of Ubud can be found here, the island's hub for the arts, with museums and lots of arts and craft shops. Elsewhere on the island you can find the West Bali National Park (west Bali), quiet and secluded beaches (north Bali), small coastal villages and volcanoes (east Bali) and fantastic diving spots (southeastern islands).
Bali is quite simply a tropical paradise with a unique mixture of modern tourist facilities and breathtaking natural wonder, combined with great shopping, beautiful beaches and a rich cultural heritage. Besides spending your day lazing on the unreal beaches, you can also enjoy exceptional diving, snorkeling and wonderful day trips to nearby attractions, like the inland rice fields and cultural expeditions to Ubud.
Denpasar has its share of functional warungs (basic Indonesian eateries). For the best of Balinese and international cuisine however, take a taxi to Seminyak or Kuta. Some of the best western, Asian and international food is to be found in the restaurants of the major resort hotels, which offer a wide choice of alternatives.
Bali is one of the exclusive list of islands which produce Kopi Luwak, coffee made from beans that have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet, a small animal native to the area. Once the beans have passed through the animal, they are roasted like ordinary coffee beans. Try a cup if you're feeling brave, or stick to more traditional coffee or some of the fresh fruit juices available at the numerous cafes on the island.
The most exciting nightlife in Bali – from throbbing dance clubs to hot karaoke bars and cool jazz cafés – is in Kuta. If you're happy to just sip a cocktail and watch the sunset, there are also several options in the many tourist resorts around the island.
Shopping in Bali is rich in artwork and handicrafts. Markets and stalls throughout the island showcase long-held traditions of wood carving, silver and gold craft, embroidery and more, particularly in Ubud, the island's cultural hub. Urban areas also have modern shopping centres that cater to all your shopping and entertainment needs, the most prominent being the pleasant Kuta Beachwalk. Among Pasar Badung, you can find shops and stalls selling all kinds of goods, from fresh fish, fruits, vegetables to Bali and Java crafts and textiles. On the other side of the river, Kumbasari Complex, there are a lot of small traders selling cheap batik garments, jewels, silverware and antique. As for the international style retail space, there are also a number of air-conditioned shopping centres in Denpasar, like New Dewata Ayu and Matahari, which are located facing Jalan Dewi Sartika. Moving out from the city, Sanggraha Kriya Handicrafts in the eastern suburb of Topathi (8 km from the city center) sells a wide variety of Balinese handicrafts at a fixed price. Yet, Bali's best shopping destination is not in Denpasar, but in the vicinity of Kuta and Sanur beach resort, or in the Ubud mountain resort, that are less than an hour's drive from the city. Kuta is a good place to buy cheap beachwear and trendy jewelry. You can go to Ubud to buy the best traditions and modern Balinese wood carvings, ready to bargain with the seller to get a satisfactory price.
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