You can rent a car to explore the island easily enough (although you'll need to pick up a tourist driving licence), but given Balinese drivers' rather 'informal' approach to the rules of the road, and the narrowness of the streets, it's not exactly recommended.
You can hop on connecting flights from Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore and other cities in Australia and Southeast Asia to Bali's Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar. Cathay Pacific, Quantas Singapore Airlines and AirAsia all fly in and out. UK citizens will need to pay on arrival for a 30-day visa ($25).
Country code for Indonesia: +62; area code for Bali: (0)361.
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: the wittily rendered memoirs of a woman attempting to find herself over a year of travel, culminating in Bali. Bali: Sekala and Niskala by Fred Eiseman: a double volume intelligently exploring all aspects of the island's religion, myth and culture.
Do go / Don't Go
July to September is Bali's high season, when the temperature and climate are at their most appealing. Fans of peace and quiet may want to avoid August, the busiest period, but don't leave it later than early October because after this point, the rain clouds start to gather.
The global fast food conquistadors of KFC, MacDonald's and their ilk have their claws in Bali too, but thankfully, they're still vastly outnumbered by local eateries and kaki lima roving vendors, all providing the Balinese take on Indonesia's traditional rice dishes, satays and spicy fish. Don't miss the iconic babi guling - spit-roasted pig stuffed with chilli, turmeric, garlic and ginger. Bear in mind that anything edible's fair game in Indonesia, so you may stumble upon such delights as bat or dog meat in more local-orientated restaurants. Many dishes are intended to be eaten by hand; if you want to avoid offending anyone, make sure you use your right.
Your hotel will be able to arrange legit, metered taxis on request. The best of the bunch is Bali Taxi (+62 (0)361 701 111), whose blue cabs are clean, safe and charge a fair fare.
Tipping is not obligatory, but no one who has given you good service is going to object to a few thousand rupiah here or there.
The air in Bali is hot and heavy, so pack cool and light. You'll need sturdy soles if you plan on jungle-trudging, and if you intend to visit temples or other religious sites, ensure you're respectfully covered up (arms included). Mosquito repellent is never a bad idea.
Fifty half-naked sweaty men dancing around a bonfire may not sound like your ideal evening but the Cak Rina dance is the most dramatic and complex of all the Balinese dances. Catch performances every full and new moon at the Arma Museum (+62 (0)361 975 742). At the other end of the spectrum, there's Ubud's Blanco Renaissance Museum, which showcases the (generally nude) works of flamboyant artist Antonio Blanco (+62 (0)361 975502). Serious collectors will find one of the finest selections of Balinese and Indonesian art at the Neka Museum in Ubud (+62 (0)361 975074).
Bali's manifold spas range from the basic to the ludicrously indulgent, and the business of achieving total relaxation can get very intense. Alila Spa's open-to-nature spa villas in Alila Ubud allow serious pampering in rustic luxury while those seeking something flashier might find Prana Spa's (+62 0361 730840) Ayurvedic treatments in faux-palatial environs more their style.
Seminyak is the best option for decent, tout-free shopping. Check out G&V (+62 (0)361 731916) where you'll find unique silver jewellery and beautiful antiques. St Isidor can custom-make Asian silk and cotton bed linen in 24 hours (+61 (0)361 738 836). There are bargains to be bagged in Ubud too: jewellery designer John Hardy (www.johnhardy.com) does a fine line in Balinese bling, as does Jean François Fichot, with a fantastic range of handmade silver sparklies (+62 (0)361 974 601). Both men export the majority of their work but you can make appointments to tour their studios and see their exquisite (and appropriately expensive) products.
Even if you're not getting married - and especially if you are - the glass Tirtha Chapel on the Uluwatu clifftops in southern Bali offers the most astonishing views of the Indian Ocean (www.tirthabridal.com).
If Ubud is Bali's cultural heart, then the gangs (alleys) are its veins and art is its lifeblood. You can lose a day just wandering around the town, pootling between art galleries and craftsmen's workshops. Bali's growing generation of female painters exhibit at the Seniwati gallery (+62 (0)361 975 485), which you can stroll around for free.
June The month-long Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar is definitely worth planning your visit around. Considered to be the cultural event of the year, it showcases modern and traditional dance, handicrafts and music (www.baliartsfestival.com). June-October Held at an unspecified point during the third quarter, the Kuta Karnival offers nine days of beach-based festivity, with skating, surfing, dancing and parades. Check out www.kutalkarnival.com for details. September-October The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival has become one of the largest events of its kind in Southeast Asia (www.ubudwritersfestival.com).