Where To Stay In Bali?
This is the big question. When it comes to Bali, there is so much to see and do. Adventurers swim and surf in crystal clear seas, explore lush jungles and trek up volcanos to enjoy flaming sunrises. Those in need of rest spend their days relaxing at 5-star luxury infinity pools and eat at trending restaurants. Where you stay in Bali will affect your overall experience and shape the holiday you’re planning. We’ve outlined the key areas to stay in with their best offerings in mind.
Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, and Canggu
These four areas lie one on top of the other along the west side of Southern Bali; about 30km’s down from Ubud. We grouped them because not only are they situated so close together, but there appeal more or less the same and equally (and hugely) popular amongst travellers.
This area’s volcanic black-sands coastline is not the drawcard to staying here, and I wouldn’t consider doing so if you’re picturing beautiful scenic beaches (we found them to be polluted and overcrowded). Stay in this region if you’re interested in mingling with other travellers, partying, and enjoy the nightlife. Kuta offers a wide selection of sports bars and multi-story nightclubs hosting international DJs.
Seminyak will blow you away with the shopping and restaurant scene. It’s also more upmarket and littered with vibey cafés, bars, and fancy dining spots.
In Canggu, you’ll experience a slightly more laid-back beach vibe, but still being part of the social scene. However, It’s an up-and-coming area located next to Seminyak, as you’re reading this it is gaining more popularity. Some are referring to Canggu as the new Seminyak.
Bali’s’ east coast is the least-touristy with the area of Sanur being far quieter than Kuta, Ubud, and Uluwatu. It has limited nightclubs, surf and shopping, and, therefore, fewer crowds, traffic, and noise. This area faces a long stretch of beach, so if you’re looking to unwind with the sand on your back and sea as your view, base yourself in Sanur. It is also an excellent location for speedboats trips to the Nusa Islands.
The long, curved bay with white sands and calm waters is ideal for beginner surfers. There are fewer places to stay, eat, drink and shop, and parts of the beaches are empty. From about 4 pm, everyday tables and chairs spill out onto sections of the bay with restaurants offering superb seafood meals under candlelight at sunset.
Uluwatu, Balangan, Bingin and Padang Padang
The southern tip of Bali is unlike the rest of the island. It’s quieter, laid-back, and more down-to-earth with less tourism than you’ll find in Kuta, Seminyak, and even Ubud.
The Bukit Peninsula is Bali’s southernmost extremity. Unlike the black beaches of Kuta, the southern shores are made up of white sand coves, long coastlines, and high waves. Most activities happen at four main spots down south: Uluwatu, Balangan, Bingin and Padang Padang. All within 10km of one another, these areas have built up tourism around surfing, but lately, the expansion of luxury resorts and beach clubs is broadening its appeal.
If your main interest is booking a beach-related holiday, the south is where you’ll want to be, exploring the vast amount of beaches, all uniquely beautiful and not too crowded. When you need a break from sunbathing, check out some of the stunning beach bars and beach clubs in the area.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
Green Bowl Beach
Ubud is the central point of Bali, 40km’s North of Kuta. It’s the place to go for an authentic experience of the Balinese culture. Be amongst health-conscious vegans and enjoy organic locally-grown produce while starring out at cascading rice-terraces. A great location to branch out from, exploring parts of Bali to the east and north. keep in mind the 2-hour drive to the beaches, so for this reason, not a convenient choice for the beach bums or surfers.
Meditation, yoga, and spiritual healing are the order of the day in Ubud. That’s not to say it’s all tranquillity all the time, with a vast range of bustling cafes, restaurants and live music; it carries the perfect mix of inner-city vibes with relaxing spiritual escapes.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Firefly Eco Villa
Air Tejung Kuning Falls
The” Nusa” Islands
Bali is made up of 4 different islands, namely mainland Bali and three Nusa islands. The three Nusa islands are the most accessible islands to visit from Bali, being a 30-45-minute boat ride away.
The Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are small secluded islands joined together by a long yellow bridge crossing the sea. You can plan an entire 10-day trip staying at the Nusa islands or join a day tour from mainland Bali, depending on what you want to spend your time doing on your holiday and the length of your stay.
These islands are great for honeymooners and anyone looking to spend their days soaking up the sun on pristine (but small) beaches, and snorkelling/diving in some of the best coral-filled spots.
Neighbouring these two islands is Nusa Penida, although quite a bit bigger than the other two, is considerably less developed and untouched. Excursions and tourist attractions are spread out, and it takes time getting to them. Beaches and waterfalls on Nusa Penida are some of the best we’ve seen in Bali but aren’t for the faint-hearted or the unfit. Everything is down a couple of hundred staircases. Restaurant and shopping spots are limited on the Nusa islands, as are working ATM’s and card machines. Wifi is intermittent, and cellphone signal isn’t always available. Nusa Penida is for explorers and those wanting a bit less luxury and more adventure.
Nusa Penida, Peguyangan Waterfall
Whether you’re brave enough to rent a bike or car, or plan on getting around with local taxi’s or Gojek (the Asian uber), traffic congestion will slow you down and make you rethink a quick visit into a neighbouring area. Besides the heavy traffic, absent road signs on narrow potholed roads are other things to consider before driving around.
A drive from Seminyak beach to a restaurant you plan on feasting at 15km’s away can take you well over an hour to reach. Visiting the spiritual and cultural pursuits of Ubud from Kuta is an hour’s drive away by bike and possibly 2 hours by car. The last thing you want to do on your holiday is to spend half your time sitting in annoying grid-locked traffic trying to get to the pursuit of happiness. We recommend you choose your bases carefully, avoiding unnecessary travel, and, if fortunate enough, spending 4 or 5 days in a single area before moving to the next.
If you’re unable to move around and need to decide on one leading destination, decide what kind of holiday you’re planning on having first. We have outlined some of the main destinations in Bali, focusing on strong points and endeavours to help make it easier.