Though no artefacts or records exist that would date Bali as far back as the Stone Age, it is thought that the very first settlers to Bali emigrated from China in 2500 BC, having created quite the evolved culture by the Bronze era, in around 300BC. This culture included a complex, effective irrigation system, as well as agriculture of rice, which is still used to this day.
Bali's history remained vague for the first few centuries, though many Hindu artefacts have been found, which lead back to the first century, indicating a tie with that religion. Though it is strongly held that the first primary religion of Bali, discovered as far back as 500 AD, was Buddhism. Additionally, Yi-Tsing, a Chinese scholar who visited Bali in the year 670 AD stated that he had visited this place and seen Buddhism there.
By the 11th century, Hindu and Javanese influences became very important to Bali. In fact, when the Balinese Prince Airlanggha's father died in about 1011 AD, he moved to East Java, uniting it under one principality and appointing his brother, Anak Wungsu, the ruler of all of Bali. Following this time, there were many reciprocal political and artistic ideas that formed. Javanese language, called Kawi, became the aristocracy's preference, among other Javanese traits and customs that were worked into Bali life.
When Airlanggha died in the mid-11th century, Bali remained quite autonomous until 1284, when East Javanese king Kertanegara conquered Bali and ruled over it from his home in Java. Kertanegara was assassinated in 1292, and Bali was once again liberated, until 1343 when it was brought back into Javanese control by Hindu-Javanese general Gajah Mada, of the Majapahit Empire.
At this time, the 16th century, Islam was spreading throughout Sumatra and Java, and the Majapahit Empire started to fall, creating a large exodus of aristocracy, priests, artists and artisans to Bali. This brought Bali great prosperity, becoming Bali's golden age of cultural history for the following centuries. Bali soon became the major power of the region, taking control of its neighbouring country, Lombok, as well as pieces of East Java.
In 1597, Dutch seamen were the first Europeans to land in Bali, though they had no true interest in Bali until the 1800's. In 1846 the Dutch returned with colonization on their minds, having already had vast expanses of Indonesia under their control since the 1700's. The Dutch sent troops into northern Bali, and by 1894, they had sided with the Sasak people of Lombok to defeat the Balinese. By 1911, all Balinese principalities were under Dutch control.
After World War I, a sense of Indonesian Nationalism began to grow, leading to the declaration of the national language in 1928, as Bahasa Indonesia. World War II brought the Japanese, who expelled the Dutch and occupied Indonesia from 1942 until 1945.
The Japanese were later defeated, and the Dutch returned to attempt to regain control of Bali and Indonesia. However, in 1945, Indonesia was declared independent by its very first president, Sukarno. The Dutch government ceded, and Indonesia was officially recognized as an independent country in 1949.
Just 8° south of the equator, Bali has a tropical climate - the average temperature hovers around 30°C (mid-80s°F) all year. Direct sun feels incredibly hot, especially in the middle of the day. In the wet season, from October to March, the humidity can be very high and oppressive. The almost daily tropical downpours come as a relief, then pass quickly, leaving flooded streets and renewed humidity. The dry season (April to September) is generally sunnier, less humid and, from a weather point of view, the best time to visit, though downpours can occur at any time.
There are marked variations across the island. The coast is hotter, but sea breezes can temper the heat. As you move inland you also move up, so the altitude works to keep things cool - at times it can get chilly up in the highlands, and a warm sweater or light jacket can be a good idea in mountain villages such as Kintamani and Candikuning. The northern slopes of Gunung Batur always seem to be wet and misty, while a few kilometres away, the east coast is nearly always dry and sunny.
Air-con is not really needed on Bali. A cool breeze always seems to spring up in the evening, and the open bamboo windows, so common in Balinese architecture, make the most of the light breezes
... change money only at serious, trustworthy places. Use your own pocket calculator (or the hotel ones) before change!
... apply sunscreen with a high SPF a lot and frequently! (especially if you are planning to spend a lot of time in the water)
... drink extensively bottled water and take large amounts in fresh fruits - do your body a favour!
... try not to step on the offerings on the streets, go around!
... respect the slow processions during ceremonies. If you are behind one, do not honk please!
... don`t forget to haggle(except of already marked goods)!
... bring US Dollars in big, new (from 2001) bills! The change rate is lower with small notes and old bills are not exchanged.
...spend a great vacation!!
By no means ...
... touch the heads of the locals or food with the left hand - for Hindus an affront!
... visit a temple during menstruation. Sorry, ladies!
... forget to add salt to the meals and to drink enough - here you sweat more than at home!
... forget to listen and look when crossing a street. Cars may stop - motorcycles may not!
... any kind of drugs! It may lead to death sentence. Quite a few foreigners reside on Bali under supervision of a state custody institution!