Where to stay in Bali: 10 of the best areas to consider
Bali is a larger island than most people imagine and one of the best things about Bali is the incredible diversity, the different areas and huge range of things to do on the island.
Bali really does offer something for everyone and each area is really very different so it’s important to do some research on the best areas to stay in Bali and carefully consider what they have to offer and the pros and cons of the different areas so that you can pick the area in Bali that suits you.
Whether you are looking for an action packed break full of shopping, surfing and nightlife, a relaxing stay in a luxury resort or a serene yoga retreat. It’s all possible in Bali, you just have to find the right area for you.
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South West Bali – Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Canggu
The Kuta, Legian, Seminyak strip used to be small fishing villages but nowadays is home to Bali’s most popular resorts, in fact it’s hard to tell where one resort ends and the other begins. Kuta, Legian and Seminyak all offer long, wide beaches, great surfing, mesmerising sunsets and a huge choice of accommodation, dining, shopping and nightlife in close proximity to the airport.
Kuta is the most famous resort in all of Bali and is packed with a huge choice of hotels, shops, surf schools, restaurants, spas and the most happening nightlife on the island. Kuta has become a surfing mecca, the beach is a great place to learn how to surf and the resort is a favourite with budget travellers, backpackers and young people who like to be in the heart of the action without breaking the bank. Kuta is very popular, however, it can be too crowded and noisy for some people so if you are looking for a peaceful, relaxing escape you will probably prefer choosing a more laid back resort somewhere else on the island. Read this for tips on visiting Bali on a budget.
Next to Kuta is Legian. Legian is slightly more upmarket and less crowded than Kuta but still offers a good mix of accommodation, eating and shopping options that will suit most budgets as well as some stylish bars and lively nightlife venues. Legian is within easy reach of both Kuta and more upmarket Seminyak which makes it a great choice for those who want the best of both worlds – to experience both areas and be close to the action without the crowds of Kuta or the expense of Seminyak.
Seminyak is one of Bali’s most upmarket and stylish beach resort areas. The beaches are reasonably quiet and the resort still has a great selection of upmarket hotels, villas and luxury 5 star resorts, designer shops, classy bars, trendy beach clubs and some of the islands best fine dining restaurants.
Canggu is a collection of villages and beaches nestled in the rice fields just North of the popular Kuta, Legian, Seminyak strip. Canggu has increased a lot in popularity recently and is now one of Bali’s most trendy up and coming areas offering trendy eateries, hip bars, boutiques, yoga schools and surf breaks. Canggu makes a good beachside alternative to the scene in Ubud. There is a variety of accommodation in Canggu from budget homestays, hotels and surf camps to expensive private luxury villas.
South East Bali – Sanur
Laidback Sanur Beach offers a more peaceful alternative to the busy beach resorts around Kuta attracts more families and older visitors. Sanur has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets as well as many restaurants and boutiques but a limited nightlife scene. The ocean is a lot calmer here and the beach walk makes for a nice, relaxing seaside stroll however, being on the East coast means that you do miss out on those fabulous Bali sunsets.
The Bukit Peninsula – Nusa Dua, Jimbaran Bay and Ulu Watu
The rugged Bukit Peninsula, at the Southern tip of Bali, is home to stunning white sand beaches, epic surf breaks and luxury hotels.
The white sands of Nusa Dua are home to some of Bali’s most luxurious and exclusive beachfront resorts and this is also where you’ll find the posh Bali Collection shopping mall. It’s a beautiful area although it can feel a little cut off from the real Bali and most tourists tend to stick to their resorts.
The area around Ulu Watu is where you’ll find some of best surf breaks in Bali, stunning cliff side sunset views and one of the most famous temples in Bali. As the area mainly caters for surfers, there is a good choice of budget accommodation around Ulu Watu but it’s also prone to traffic jams.
Also on the Bukit Peninsula is Jimbaran Bay which is famous for the romantic seafood BBQ restaurants on the beach and the spectacular sunsets in Bali. Accommodation at Jimbaran Bay is mostly big hotel chains and luxury 5 star resorts and the area suits those who just want a relaxing holiday and aren’t bothered about exploring far outside their luxury resort.
Inland Bali – Ubud
Ubud is Bali’s spiritual and cultural hub. Ubud is a small town surrounded by stunning, gorgeous green rice paddies in Bali’s central highlands that has become one of the most popular places to stay in Bali, especially following the film ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. Ubud attracts spiritual seekers, yogis and artists with it’s plethora of quality yoga schools, workshops, alternative therapies, spas and vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Due to the sudden rise in Ubud’s popularity the center is no longer a peaceful village so for the best experience it’s wise to stay a little further out among the stunning rice fields to escape the crowds.
East Bali – Candidasa
To escape the crowds head to North or East Bali. Candidasa, the main beach resort in East Bali, offers a peaceful holiday a world away from some of the more popular South Bali resorts. Candidasa makes a good base from which to explore the temples, culture and traditional Balinese villages on Bali’s more authentic East Coast. There are also good diving spots nearby although the actual beaches aren’t as good as others on the island. Candidasa has a good range of accommodation options from affordable sea facing bungalows to 5 star resorts and a good dining scene.
Gianyar is located in the centre of Bali’s East coast and makes a great base for an active and cultural holiday. The town of Gianyar is one of the most authentic and best preserved traditional Balinese towns where you can visit temples, markets and see traditional crafts being made. Other things to do include relaxing on uncrowded black sand beaches and visiting the Gianyar theatre, Bali safari and marine park and Sukawati Art Market. There is a varied range of accommodation and some good local Balinese restaurants and warungs in Gianyar.
North Bali – Amed
Amed is a string of quiet beachside villages on the North Eastern coast of Bali that offer a low key tourism scene that is a world away from the busy resorts in South Bali. The most popular places are Jemeluk, Bunutan and Lipah but many other villages also offer some facilities to cater to tourists. Amed’s black sand beaches are dramatically beautiful and there is good snorkelling and diving in the area. You can also do a spectacular sunrise trek up Gunung Agung. Accommodation and dining options around Amed are mostly budget friendly and low key but there’s not much of a nightlife and shopping scene here.
Have you been to Bali? Where was your favourite area?