The beautiful island of Bali is an ever popular tourist destination for those looking for a little fun in the sun and a chance to recharge the batteries. As tourism in Bali continues to boom and Bali becomes more and more developed, you may find it hard to make a choice on where to stay in Bali as options grow.
Tourism is mainly concentrated toward the South of the island where commercialism has met demand over the years and many beach villages have become somewhat urbanised. If you decide to head towards the centre of Bali, you will come across the more cultural side, with traditional Balinese villages, temples and cultural events that are a far cry from the busy tourist towns of the South. Below is a short guide on each area that may help you decide on where to stay in Bali.
Kuta is one of the three original tourists towns (Sanur and Nusa Dua are the others) that sprouted up during the 1960s and is one of the most developed of all the tourist towns in Bali. Kuta tends to attract the younger crowd with it’s ready to go party vibe, budget accommodation and great surfing breaks.
Kuta is the ‘go to’ place for those who want to party – and party they do! Here you will find wall to wall bars, nightclubs and upmarket lounge clubs. Legian Street and Poppies lane is where a lot of the action happens and it can get quite hectic or even a little crazy with over-enthusiastic party goers. Accommodation will suit everyones hip pocket with a choice of budget hotels, luxury hotels and everything in between. Shopping is well catered for too, with two large shopping malls to keep you busy all day long. Kuta becomes super popular between October and December each year, when many Australian school leavers (schoolies) and end of year football trips descend on Bali looking to party hard.
If you are looking for a quiet or more upmarket holiday then best you avoid Kuta. If you don’t mind the crazy ‘anything goes attitude’ then head to the nearest bar, order yourself a bintang and watch the passing show.
Legian is ideally located between Kuta and Seminyak. So if you want to be slightly away from the action but not too far from it, then Legian is your best bet. Legian is popular with families on a budget and offers good restaurants, excellent coffee places and small bars. If you are after shopping then head to Jl. Legian Street which is a long shopping strip, with a mix of boutiques and market shops. On the beach toward the north of Legian you will find little beach bars and trendy cafes. Legian offers both resort and boutique hotels lining the beach, along with budget options in the backstreets. Walk along the beach in either direction and you will eventually end up in either Kuta or Seminyak.
Seminyak is perhaps, Kuta’s classier cousin. It’s hip, it’s trendy and it’s upmarket. With funky eateries, quirky bars and cruisy beach clubs, Seminyak is the place to be seen – preferably on a sun lounge sipping cocktails at sunset. Seminyak is quite urbanised and is a maze of narrow streets, which can be quite the traffic nightmare. There are lot’s of private villas located in the back streets and lane ways that offer good value for money. Lining the beach are luxurious resorts, hotels and beach clubs offering beachfront dining and bars. Some say that the best restaurants in Bali can be found in Seminyak and you will be most certainly spoilt for choice. Seminyak also has great shopping with many clothing and homeware boutiques lining the main strip and you won’t be required to barter either. Like it’s neighbours Kuta and Legian, Seminyak is located on the west coast, which is where you will get to see some magnificent sunsets as the sun disappears into the ocean.
Nicknamed ‘millionaires row’ here you will find five star resorts and high end private villas. Jimbaran doesn’t offer much in the way of nightlife but that is not what people who come to Jimbaran are looking for. Emphasis is on relaxation and tranquility – an escape far from the maddening crowd. The cliff top resorts are quite isolated, so if you are wanting to venture away from your resort for shopping or other dining options then you will need hire a private driver/taxi to get around. Kuta and Legian are around a 45 minute drive away. One thing not to be missed in Jimbaran is the beach dining. Tourists flock to Jimbaran to experience the popular sunset dinners provided by three restaurants on the beach. Be prepared to pay a little extra in Jimbaran compared to the rest of Bali.
Sanur was one of the original tourists areas many moons ago, where the who’s who of hollywood once frequented. Sanur still retains much of it’s village charm and tends to be on the quieter side these days, with less crowds than those of Kuta and Seminyak. There are still great international hotel options in Sanur and plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from. Most bars and restaurants are located on Jalan Danau Tamblingan and are ready to close up around midnight if not before. The picturesque narrow beach stretches around 5 km and is protected by a reef, making it perfect for families with young children. Facing South-East you will find beautiful sunrises over the sandy white beach.
If Seminyak is Kuta’s classier cousin, then Nusa Dua is the old rich Aunt. Located South-East of the airport, Nusa Dua is home to a number of large scale international resorts, that are luxurious and extravagant. Nusa Dua is a lot quieter than the other regions of Bali and the best dining options are within the resorts themselves. There is no nightlife to speak of, with nothing much happening after 9 pm. If you feel the need for a night out then a 40 minute taxi ride will get you to Seminyak for a bit of fun and shopping. Nusa Dua is ideal for those who wish to simply do nothing other than lay by the pool, read a book or a walk along the beach. Like Sanur, Nusa Dua faces South East so you will be able to witness the sunrise over the beach.
Canggu is located to the North of Seminyak, has a beach with fine black sand (volcanic) and is a fairly laid back area with some nice restaurants and cafes. Popular with experienced surfers, photographers and ex-pats, Canggu is an up and coming area that tourists are starting to discover. The beach has strong currents which is not good for swimmers but great for experienced surfers – kind of a surfers paradise. There are plenty of boards for hire and surf lessons are readily available at the surf schools. Canggu is still a somewhat quiet area that extends inland, with many villas located within the rice fields. There are hotels in all price ranges, along with retreats and home stays. Canggu is sometimes referred to as Echo Beach.
Ubud is located toward the centre of Bali, heading toward the mountain region. Considered the cultural centre of Bali, people visit Ubud to experience the ‘real’ Bali. With public temples located nearby and the chance to observe the Balinese traditional way of life. Ubud is a good base to explore the Kintamani volcano, rice fields and coffee plantations. Accommodation is rather budget friendly and there are opportunities to experience home stays – which give an insight into family life. In the surrounding regions there are some exclusive resort and spa retreats that can set you back some serious cash. There are good dining options throughout and in particular in the Campuhan area where you will find some upmarket restaurants. Due to the mountainous region temperatures are a lot cooler than the beach side towns. The laid back Ubud is generally cheap and cheerful and will well suit those on a budget.
For more relaxing stays in Ubud, check out these 7 Best Value Hotels to Relax in Bali listed by HotelsCombined.