The Essential Guide to the Best of Bali
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It’s easy to understand why travellers fall in love with Bali. The distinct culture, traditions, temples, beaches, and nightlife make Bali an ideal holiday destination. The island is also a known yoga and wellness hotspot which is why Bali yoga retreats attract more and more visitors each year. Yet despite having so much to offer, a lot of people leave Bali disappointed. The single biggest reason for this is they didn’t choose the right area to stay in.
The fact is each part of Bali has something special that attracts a certain type of traveler.
If you don’t choose the right area to stay in you won’t make the most of the island. To help you avoid making a mistake I’ve created a short guide to the different areas of the island. Let’s help you plan an amazing holiday.
Discover the Best of Bali
Kuta & Legian
Kuta and Legian are the first places that many tourists think of (and book) when they come to visit Bali. They are both districts of the same city. Kuta is located closer to the airport along a long stretch of sandy beach. Legian is a bit further away and slightly inland. Both areas have backpacker hostels through to luxury hotel, lots of places to shop and a nice long beach to relax on. During the day most people relax on the beach and at night the bars fill up and groups spill out onto the street and into the clubs.
Things to Do in Kuta
- Shopping: Ok, I’m a girl, but even so shopping in Kuta is a lot of fun.
- Learn to Surf: If you want to learn to surf in Bali Kuta Beach is a good place to do it. The sea has a sandy bottom and the waves are small. Lessons are normally Rp 500,000 (USD 45).
- Nightlife: There are a lot of great clubs in Kuta and Legian. One of the best is Hypnotized located on the roof of Kuta Mall overlooking the beach.
Seminyak is like the rich older brother of Kuta and Legian. Like siblings they both share a lot of the same characteristics. Seminyak has the hotels, the bars, clubs and restaurants. However, everything in Seminyak is just that little bit nicer and a lot more expensive than in Kuta and Legian. If you have the money and you like to party then Seminyak is worth visiting.
Things to Do in Seminyak
- Luxury Spa: Sometimes you just want to be pampered and the spas in Seminyak are the perfect place to do just that.
- Beach Bars: If you like a drink with a view La Plancha Beach Bar and Restaurant and Bali Juice Park are two of my favourite places to visit (especially at sunset).
- Nightclubs: If you enjoy going out make sure to visit the nightclubs in Seminyak. Ku De Ta and Woo Bar come highly recommended.
Jimbaran is located in a wide bay with a long crescent beach. It’s probably has one of the nicest beaches in Bali and it’s a great place to stay. The beach offers a nice mix of five star luxury resorts and cheap hostels. The area is built up just enough that it’s easy to find a nice place to eat or bar where you can have drink. However it never feels too busy or over crowded. The relaxing atmosphere and beautiful beach makes Jimbaran a popular destination for families with young kids and people just looking for a nice place to stay. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Things to Do in Jimbaran
- Balangan Beach: Balangan is one of Bali’s many famous ‘hidden beaches.’ It’s a beautiful beach to escape to if you’re looking for a bit of me time. Make sure to bring a good book.
- Uluwatu Temple: Uluwatu is one of the most famous temples in Bali. The setting is really spectacular, especially at sunset.
- Garuda Wisnu Kencana: This is a cultural park with larger than life statues (some as tall as 126 meters). It’s a really interesting place to visit, but I’m still not sure if I really like it.
Sanur stretches along a 5km stretch of coastline following the beach. Large resorts, restaurants and dive centers face out towards the sea, while shops and hotels line the main drag. The area is like a relaxed and family friendly version of Kuta. It’s less built up, there are less tourists and more open space. The town has a good mix of restaurants and bars. It’s busy, but not too busy and it’s close to just about everywhere.
Things to Do in Sanur
- Sanur Beach: There’s no better place to enjoy the early morning than sunrise at Sanur Beach.
- Go Diving: There are a lot of dive centers in Sanur that will take you on day trips to the dive sites around Sanur, Padang Bai, Tulamben, and Nusa Penida.
- Bali Marine Walk: Join an all inclusive day trip to Nusa Lembongan. Go snorkeling, do the underwater walker and play around on a jet ski.
Nusa Dua is located on a long stretch of coastline with golden sandy beaches. The area is famous for luxury villas and exclusive five star resorts. Water sports, like banana boat, Jet Ski and windsurfing are all popular activities here. Alternatively you can just sit under a sun lounger on the beach and relax. A lot of the resorts in Nusa Dua offer all-inclusive packages. One big issue with Nusa Dua is that there are not a lot of independent restaurants in the area. The resorts, especially the most expensive ones, are isolated so it can be difficult to find a place to eat if you don’t want to eat at the resort restaurant.
Things to Do in Nusa Dua
- Geger Temple: Geger is located at the top of some limestone cliffs overlooking Nusa Dua.
- Nusa Dua Beach: Try out some of the adventure watersports or just relax on the beach all day.
- Enjoy Your Resort: You’re in a luxury resort. Swim in the pool, eat great food and enjoy the amenities.
If you are into yoga, like vegan food or just want to relax and unwind away from the beach then Ubud is for you. The town has a café and restaurant culture and the food here is international, varied and delicious. There are vegan restaurants, Michelin star restaurants and tasty street stalls. The clothes shops here are really amazing and you can find accommodation to fit any budget (though it is getting more expensive). The other nice thing about Ubud is its location. It is based in the tropical highlands of Bali. Beautiful paddy fields and thick forests surround the town. The climate is also that little cooler than along the coast.
Things to Do in Ubud
- Tegenungan Waterfall: Tegenungan Waterfall is a 15 minute drive from Ubud. It’s a great place to swim and relax in the afternoon.
- Goa Gajah Temple: Goa Gajah is translated as the elephant temple. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ubud.
- Tegallalang Rice Field: Grab a coffee with a beautiful view at Tegallalang rice field located just outside of Ubud.
Canggu is a bit like Ubud, but every tenth person driving a motorbike has a surfboard attached to it. The area is a mix of bars, cafes, yoga retreats and clothes shops spread out between rapidly vanishing rice fields. Like up and coming neighborhoods the world over Canggu attracts a very Bohemian crowd. There are also a lot of location independent people living here. Make sure to visit the beaches in the evening (or first thing in the morning) if you enjoy the surf.
Things to Do in Canggu
- Tanah Lot: Tanah Lot is one of the most picturesque temples in Bali. It is a 20-minute drive along the coast from Canggu.
- Go Surfing: There are three surf spots in Canggu and when the weather is right the waves offer great surf.
- Join a Yoga Class: There are a lot of yoga schools in Canggu. Join a class and find your center in Bali.
Candidasa is located on the east coast of Bali. It’s a tranquil and relaxing part of Bali. There aren’t any large towns, just beautiful beaches, palm trees and rice terraces. Surfing, diving, a bit of sightseeing and reading a good book are probably the most popular activities for tourists who visit the area. The accommodation in Candidasa ranges from basic backpacker hostels through to five star luxury resorts.
Things to Do in Candidasa
- Tirta Gangga: Tirta Gangga Water Palace is one of my favorite places in Bali. It’s so calm and relaxing, you really have to go.
- Lempuyang Temple: This place is a hidden gem. Trek up the hill and you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the temple with Mount Agung in the background.
- Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: Charlie’s Chocolate Factory is like a large adult playground. The swings between the palm trees are just so much fun.
Amed is a favorite destination for divers. The district is composed of a strip of fishing villages that follow the East coast of the island. The beaches on this part of the island have black sand, which is created from the volcanic rock. A holiday in Amed is quiet and relaxing. It’s a place for people who enjoy nature and want to escape from the busy life of a city. It’s easy to find a place to stay here, though the accommodation here tends to cater more to flashpacker and backpacker than luxury traveller.
Things to Do in Amed
- USAT Liberty: The USAT Liberty was a WW2 minesweeper that was sunk by a Japanese submarine. It is the best wreck dive in Indonesia.
- Learn to Free Dive: If you want to learn to dive without a tank there are two free diving schools in Amed.
- Climb Mount Agung: Hiking to the top of Mount Agung is an amazing experience. It’s a hard climb, but the view from the top is worth it.
Visiting Lovina is like stepping into a time machine and going back 20 years. Located on the north coast of Bali, Lovina is far away from the crowds and the tourism money that comes with it. The resorts in Lovina are old and many have seen better days, but the area is not without its charm. It’s busy, but not bustling. There are nice restaurants and the countryside in the North of Bali is great to explore.
Things to Do in Lovina
- Sekumpul Waterfal: There are a lot of waterfalls close to Lovina, but Sekumpul is probably the best.
- Dolphin Watching: One of the most popular activities visiting Lovina is dolphin watching at sunrise.
- Banjar Springs: The hot springs of Banjar are one of the highlights of Lovina. It’s easy to spend half a day here.
Bali is a great destination for a holiday. It gets even better when you choose the perfect place that actually fits your needs. Of course the perfect holiday is only as good as your itinerary, so if you are after inspiration be sure to check out this list of 91 things to do in Bali. Enjoy the Best of Bali.