First time in Bali? Which area should I stay?

Bali, the number one holiday destination for 2017 (according to TripAdvisor), is attracting tourists from all over the world. And a question often asked: which area in Bali should I stay?

Bali is a large island with many different towns and villages, each with different characteristics and offering something different. And the island has grown so fast in the past 15 years that the main suburbs are all joined together now; as previously they were distinctly separated by authentic rice fields and village roads. Here we give a quick rundown of the different areas that are popular to stay in.

Kuta – ideal for young singles

Situated right next to Bali’s Airport (Ngurah Rai International Airport), Kuta was the original destination for holidaymakers. Nowadays, Kuta is famous for it’s bustling nightlife and hordes of youngsters (mainly Australians) descend on Kuta to party. With a huge selection of budget hotels, bars and nightclubs, as well as a beach filled with beach bar shacks, we only advise you stay in this district if your under the age of 25 and travelling with a group of friends.

Legian – ideal for young families

The next door neighbour of Kuta but with a slightly similar feel, Legian is popular with young families that want to stay near the beach on a budget. The streets are lined with cheap local stores selling all the typical clothes and keepsakes, and the beach contains many relaxed beach bars.

Seminyak & Petitenget – ideal for families, groups, and couples

Continuing north, you will then cross into the Seminyak area (which includes the up and coming Petitenget suburb). Without a doubt, Seminyak is the upmarket area of Bali, with thousands of luxury villas, good quality restaurants, and boutique shops. This doesn’t mean it is over expensive – its possible to

The main street in Seminyak (Jalan Kayu Aya, aka Jalan Oberoi, aka “Eat Street”) is a place to be; with many restaurants, coffee shops, and independent clothes shops, and a few bars and nightclubs. There’s also an abundance of hotels, resorts, and private villas to rent in and around Seminyak, and all walking distance to “Eat Street” and the beaches. The beaches, we must add, are slightly more relaxed than Kuta and Legian beaches, and you’ll find world famous beach clubs there – Ku De Ta and Potato Head to name just two – that are great to hang out all day, with family or friends.

Canggu – for families and singles

Again continuing north and next up from Seminyak and Petitenget, the large beautiful area of Canggu awaits. In the past few years Canggu has grown immensely popular; and it’s growth is showing with many new bars, restaurants, coffee shops and beach clubs opening their doors. It has a “hipster” feel – more relaxed than Seminyak, yet cool in it’s own right. To stay in Canggu you would require transport as it’s not easy to walk around, however, you’ll mostly be travelling through streets that are lined with lush green rice paddy fields, and all of which lead to the famous beaches! As is the scene in Bali now, extremely upmarket (and popular) beach clubs are opening in Canggu – see Finn’s Beach Club – which makes it popular with 30-something singles on group holidays. And Canggu is also popular with families as it has a large range of private rentable villas with private swimming pools, as well as a large recreation and splash park for kids.

Nusa Dua & Uluwatu – for honeymoons, weddings, couples, and surfers

South of the airport and in the southern peninsula of Bali, the sububs of Nusa Dua, Uluwatu, and Jimbaran are not to be missed. This area is a lot more hilly than the rest of Bali, and a lot of the coast is set on cliffs – which means beautiful hidden beaches under cliffs as well as clifftop private villas and hotel resorts with incredible views over the ocean. There’s not much shopping to do around these areas, and to leave your accommodation would definitely mean that some type of transport is required as everything is set apart by lots of winding country roads. Uluwatu is a highly favoured spot for professional surfers and, even if you don’t surf, it’s great to see them in the backdrop while you’re sipping a drink in one of the many upmarket beach clubs. And as far as beach clubs are concerned, there are a few notable beach clubs in this area – look up Sunday’s Beach Club, Omnia Day Club, Ulu Cliffhouse, and Single Fin – which each offer an amazing experience as there so secluded from the tourist areas. Nusa Dua and Uluwatu are perfect locations to spend at least part of your honeymoon or quiet romantic getaway. It’s also worth noting that there’s some top golf courses around here.

Sanur – suitable for the older generation

Set on the east coast, Sanur is a quieter beach side town with a more relaxed feel. It’s not too expensive and has everything within a close vicinity that allows visitors to lounge in the sun, then dine and drink at one of it’s many restaurants and bars. The beach is quieter than Kuta’s and Seminyak’s beaches, and has a more settled sea which makes it more suited to watersports such as jet skiing. All in all, Sanur is more popular with the older generation (over 50s).

Ubud – for singles, couples, those that appreciate yoga and rice fields, or anyone on a day trip

Made famous from the Julia Roberts film, Eat Pray Love, Ubud is a situated inland and faraway from the main tourist spots. Although it has it’s own tourism, Ubud still very much has kept its traditional homage. A lot of travellers pass through Ubud, including backpackers, hippy types, and single girls that are obsessed with yoga and living freely. It might not be the ideal holiday destination for a lot of our customers but it’s definitely worth visiting for a day.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed our quick rundown of the differences between Bali’s main tourist areas. If you’re visiting Bali for the first time we really do suggest you split your trip between Seminyak (for fun and activeness) and somewhere in the south such as Nusa Dua (for relaxing and chilling) then organise a few days trips to places such as Ubud. We are happy to help anyone who needs further tips and advice of where to stay in Bali.

Mark Tulloch is Co-Founder at Asia Holiday Retreats.

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Comments (3)

  1. John Roberts says:

    I was so happy to find this article. We have been looking at Bali for a while. Being 40s and 50s, we aren’t sure what to expect. We have a group that loves outdoors adventures, though, I think we’ll try Seminyak and Petitenget.
    Cheers!
    JR

  2. Claire says:

    My boyfriend is dying to go to Bali! When we go travelling next summer that’s where he wants our first destination to be. It does look like a magical place, but I’m just not a fan of beaches and sun! Seminyak & Petitenget sounds lovely, as does Nusa Dua & Uluwatu. I have heard it’s great for vegan food!

  3. Laura says:

    I’ve been to Bali, I didn’t really enjoy Kuta as it was very touristy. Although it did have amazing sunsets! I’ve heard very good things about Seminyak so will have to give that a try. I really enjoyed Ubud as its a bit more cultural and great if your into yoga or want to visit the rice fields. Also make sure you try a cooking class, such a fun thing to do.

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