From the heights of plunging mountain vistas at the top of the world in northern Vietnam to the watery depths of the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, a tour through this long, skinny country is ever-changing. two areas stand out above all others: Sapa and the Mekong Delta. Unfortunately for the visitor with limited time, they are on opposite ends of the country, 1,270 miles (2,047 km) apart.
It was an auspicious start to our second day of touring Bali with our driver, Gusti, on our Bali Blues Adventure tour. The waters of the Bali Sea looked glassy, like a quiet lake, but our boatman said even the gentle waves lapping at the sand were more than they would see in July—it was hard to imagine a sea any flatter. We donned mask and snorkel and flopped into the bathtub-temperature water.
For beach lovers the white sands, warm waters and perfectly shaped waves of Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia might fill the holiday agenda, but if you have soaked up your maximum sun allotment and want to explore the island there are many more pleasures to be experienced, including luxurious hot springs at the base of mighty Mt. Batur.
Budget travel is alive and well in Bali, and if tourists traveling on a shoestring can overlook some failings in the bathrooms they’ll likely be pleased with the range of inexpensive accommodations available to them. Bali, Indonesia manages to retain its place as a tourist mecca, despite the hordes attempting to love it to death, by showing off its natural beauty—the sun soaked beaches, clear, blue water and lofty volcanic peaks. Combined with the untrampled spirit of the Balinese it’s easy to see why 2.75 million visitors are expected to descend upon the shores of this tiny island, about half the size of the Big Island of Hawaii, in 2011. Though all the adoration comes at a price, rumors of the death of budget travel in Bali are simply incorrect if you know where to look and are willing to adjust your expectations.