The best (and worst) places to stay in Bali…

The best (and worst) places to stay in Bali...

Planning a trip to Bali but unsure where to stay? This holiday-maker haven is full of beautiful beaches to explore, waterfalls to visit and many great food and cultural experiences to be had. Each spot in Bali offers something unique, which means it can be hard deciding where the best places to visit are. To help take the guess-work out of your holiday planning, here’s some insight on the very best places to stay in Bali and a few you should probably avoid too…

Watch: our ‘Bali for first-timers’ video

Arriving into Bali…

The airport has come a very long way from very humble and terrifying beginnings. It received a much-needed face lift, which has made the experience of arriving in Denpasar far less confronting (and a lot less like being processed through the prison system, I swear I had an anxiety attack every time). When you walk out of the safety of the airport and into the arrivals hall you will be greeted by a throng of vocal drivers all vying for your fare. They may follow you, try to grab your bags and repeatedly yell, “Transport! Transport! Where are you going?” If it’s your first time, this is really confronting. Truth is, they’re totally harmless. Just say thank you and keep moving.

Taxi fares from the airport are now capped based on the location of your hotel, this takes the guess-work out of it and helps you avoid scams and is a good way to make your escape. But the best way, by far, is to get a transfer with your hotel. Most offer them and it’s worth it to find a hotel that does. Also, you will need US$35 cash on you to purchase a visa on arrival to enter Bali (price is per person) – don’t forget this, it’s very important. You can find more must-know tips here. 

The best (and worst) places to stay in Bali...

Ubud

Located up in the hills, about an hour away from Kuta, Ubud provides a more leafy, earthy alternative to the beach scene. You’ll find it serving up an abundance of amazing health conscious foods and activities for mind, body and spirit. Think, activated lentil soups, round-the-clock yoga, arts and crafts, reiki sessions and more. We’re talking gorgeous little cafes with fairy lights, soft music and food so good you’ll think you’re in heaven.

I also love Ubud for its incredible temples, which you can visit by ripping around on a scooter, if you feel confident enough. The way to stay here is in a low-key homestay with a pool you can float around in for a few hours each day. You can find a tonne more things to do in Ubud here. 

Beware the ravenous monkey temple. The bananas you will inevitably buy will definitely turn any and all monkeys into heat seeking missiles and your bananas (and body) will be the target. Be warned.

22 Awesome things you absolutely must do in Ubud

Exploring waterfalls in Ubud

Kuta

Kuta is one of the most well-known spots in Bali. It’s a haven for backpackers and young holidaymakers keen to drink, dance and buy Bintang singlets en masse. It’s home to a huge amount of nightclubs, bars, restaurants, shops and everything your party-loving mind could imagine. If you’re a young whipper-snapper keen to get on the party scene, there’s a good chance this is where you’ll want to base yourself. Quite a few people tend to avoid staying in Kuta itself, with the large nightclubs causing some safety concerns, for various reasons.

If you aren’t a party-goer, it’s probably not advisable to stay in this area. Instead, consider popping in for a night on the town or spend a day exploring Poppies Lane (1 and 2), have a meal and some drinks then get the hell outta dodge. The best thing Kuta offers is some amazing sunsets on the beach. Wander down to the water, find a local selling cold beers out of an esky, pull up a plastic chair and make yourself at home for the next few hours. It’s unforgettable.

Where to stay in Bali where to visit Travel Blog

Seminyak

Seminyak is home to a myriad of sprawling beach resorts, gorgeous hotels and cool little boutique spots and homestays too. It’s the perfect spot to still be in the action of Bali, but take a bit of the over-the-top party edge off it. I’d probably recommend it for people who still want to be social, go out to dinner and bars, catch gorgeous beach sunsets and mingle with other travellers, but not get so drunk their shirt gets ripped off in a nightclub each night.

You’ll find this area home to a huge range of boutique shops and really great bars and restaurants too. You’ll probably recognise names like Ku De Ta, Cocoon and Potato Head. It offers a great mix of relaxation and luxury, with fun and excitement too. You’ll also find a good mix of accommodation to suit all budgets, from luxe right through to less. Read about my stay at a private villa in Seminyak, here. 

23 things to know before you visit bali

Canggu

Canggu is the sort-of-new-kid-on-the-block. It’s yet to be tainted by tourists and serves as more a hipster meets surfer escape. We’re talking very cool, low-key beachfront bars with great music playing as the sunsets, sweet little family-run homestays and some amazing food. You’ll find some amazing cafes and restaurants in Canggu, which you can read all about here. 

I’d recommend this spot as being perfect for the chilled out traveller. If you love to visit a place and just keep it real, but still have some great meals and sunset drinks, this is the spot for you. It’s great for surfers, you’ll find a tonne rolling the streets on scooters and running by, boards tucked under their arms. My tip on the way to experience it best is to immerse yourself in this low-key vibe, think homestays, lazy days and plenty of beach time!

How to haggle like a professional in Bali

Old Man’s at Canggu

Nusa Dua

Absolutely boring. I would only recommend going to Nusa Dua if you are not really interested in an authentic Bali experience at all and, instead, would like to secret yourself away in a huge, sprawling resort with little to no contact with the outside world. Woah.. I think I fell asleep there for a second…

While this review may sound scathing, it isn’t mean to be. I’m sure plenty of people love going to Nusa Dua, I just find it a bit soul-less and, to me, it feels like it could be anywhere in the world. Nothing really defines it as having a Bali feel and I figure, why go to Bali if it doesn’t feel like you’re in Bali?

The only thing I go to Nusa Dua for is to visit my favourite restaurant, Bumbu Bali. This place is definitely in my top 5 favourite restaurants in the world. Based on the great service, relaxed and beautiful restaurant but most importantly, the incredible food – it is just that good. Sometimes I think I go back to Bali just to eat here.

The best (and worst) places to stay in Bali...

Uluwatu

Uluwatu is a fantastic spot to stay along the stunning, jagged coastline of the Bukit Peninsula. A stay here takes you away from the throng of tourists living la vida loca in the main areas of Kuta and Seminyak. The best thing about this area is, of course, the views. It’s the place where you want to choose a seriously gorgeous resort with an outstanding infinity pool and spend all day, erryday getting your chill on. Eat, swim, sleep, repeat.

Aside from all this, you’ll find plenty of cool cafes and bars tucked into cliff-faces, some great day spas and amazing viewpoints offering views of the water unlike any other. It’s a haven for surfers, which means you can perch up high and watch them paddle out, catching wave after wave. I’d recommend Uluwatu is a great spot for just about anyone, provided you didn’t have your heart set on getting wasted each night. If that sounds like you, pack up and get back to Kuta or Seminyak, bro! Read our ultimate guide to Bali’s Bukit Peninsula here. 

The best (and worst) places to stay in Bali...

Nusa Lembongan

Without a doubt, one of the best things to do is get off the mainland and onto one of the islands. While Nusa Lembongan used to be a quiet haven, it has quickly been unearthed by savvy travellers as a serene, gorgeous place to visit and it now offers some fantastic accommodation, great restaurants and bars and a chilled out vibe to boot.

You’ll find it an awesome location for water sports, things like parasailing, snorkelling and scuba diving. Not only this, it’s the best spot to hire a scooter and rip around the island like a modern adventurer should (helmets required!). I love visiting Nusa Lembongan for more of an island feel, an escape with great food and beautiful water to swim in. You’ll have to catch the boat over, but it’s well worth the trip.

The best (and worst) places to stay in Bali...

Jimbaran Bay

Famed for its sunsets and seafood, Jimabaran Bay is a must-try dinner spot for visitors. Choosing a restaurant is the tough bit and everyone in Bali knows someone who runs one of them. Once you’ve chosen a restaurant, you can contact them and arrange for them to pick you up from your hotel, drive you to Jimbaran, then drive you back to your hotel again after dinner. Seriously, it’s ridiculous.

So far I haven’t really mentioned accommodation here and that’s because I don’t really recommend it as a great spot to stay. It can feel like you’re removed from the world and, honestly, feels a bit random for some reason. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I think it’s just one of those places that is great to visit for a delicious meal and sunset, but then time to jump in a cab and head off again.


Phoebe Lee Profile Image

Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through InstagramFacebook and YouTube.

10 Comments on The best (and worst) places to stay in Bali…

  1. Hi Phoebe

    Thanks for all the wonderful advice! Im really torn with where to spend the last 6 nights of our first trip to Bali. Would you recommend staying on Nusa Lembongan for that long or do you think we would run out of things to do?

    Like

    • That’s a hard question to answer, sorry Emma 🙂 Just depends on the type of holiday you like to have etc. It’s a gorgeous place. Hope you have a great trip xx So glad you found this helpful!

      Like

  2. Hi Phoebe, what do you think about staying in Padang Padang?

    Like

  3. Hi Phoebe,

    Lovely article 🙂 Canggu is now the new trend and I hope they don’t over-develop it just like they did Kuta. My favorite of all-time is Ubud. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome post! Found this very helpful for my upcoming trip to Bali! Thank you for putting this together. I think I will be doing Uluwatu, Ubud, and Canggu 🙂

    Like

  5. Lovely post – makes me want to jump on a place and fly to Bali!

    Like

  6. I’ve never been to Bali, and it’s never been one of the places on my list of places to go to, but I know so many people that have gone and loved it. Maybe I should give it a chance one day!

    Like

  7. Wonderful post Phoebe. Brought back some great memories for me and a terrific guide for anyone wanting to visit Bali for the first time. Personally, my favorite place was Ubud but I have to say after reading this I’d love to visit Nusa Lembongan.

    Like

Leave a reply for Phoebe

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: