The Best Hotels on Bali

Updated: June 8, 2016

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A Guide to the Best Hotels on Bali

Bali Tips and Recommendations

  • Bali is a year-round destination and weather shouldn’t make a huge difference in deciding when to visit Bali. That said, you will find the driest weather from April to October.
  • My favorite beach towns on Bali are Jimbaran (quiet stretch of beautiful sand, great seafood restaurants, luxury hotels) and Seminyak (nice beach, trendy restaurants, quality hotels). My favorite inland town is Ubud (wonderful art, culture, and food; surrounded by rice paddies and countryside).
  • The best beach hotel on Bali is the Legian Bali in Seminyak. The best hotel in Ubud is the Viceroy Bali.
  • The dry season in Bali runs from April to October. The wet season is from November to March. While there is more rain and less sun during the wet season it can still be a great time to visit. Just be prepared for the occasional downpour – which tend not to last long and are followed by sun shortly afterwards.
  • The best months for surfing are from May to September (generally the dry season) when the west coast beaches (Bingin, Canggu, Uluwatu, Padang Padang, and Impossibles) have the best surf. From October to April the best breaks are on the east coast beaches (Sanur, Serangan, Nusa Dua, Green Balls, Keramas).
  • Kuta is great for learning how to surf and has many surf schools.
  • The best restaurants on Bali are La Lucciola (Seminyak), Sardine (Kerobokan), and Mozaic (Ubud). The beach restaurants serving fresh seafood along Jimbaran beach should not be missed.
  • Bali is an awesome destination for kids.

What are the best luxury hotels on Bali?

  • The Legian Bali Hotel – Seminyak
    Beautiful location right on the beach (and the hotel offers free surf lessons). Wonderful pool, huge suites, great food. The one bedroom villa with private pool is stunning. Hotel phone: +62 361-730622
    The Best Hotels on Bali: Legian Resort on Seminyak Beach
  • The Oberoi Bali – Seminyak
    This is a stunning hotel and a great location for restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. Every detail is just right and the staff are the best on the island. Luxury Villas are worth the upgrade. Hotel Phone: +62 361-730361
    One of the best luxury hotels in Seminyak: The Bali Oberoi
  • Padma Resort Bali – Kuta/Legian
    A 5-star hotel but a little less expensive than the others I’ve chosen. Wonderful swimming pools that are well cared for and lots of fun. The hotel is very kid-friendly (there’s a good kids club) but still luxurious and tasteful. Hotel Phone: +62 361-752111
    Best Resort in Kuta Legian Area
  • Viceroy Bali – Ubud
    Breathtaking setting and incredible views. Every villa is stunning. The infinity pool overlooks a lush jungle landscape. Hotel phone: +62 361-971777
    Best Hotel in Ubud: Viceroy Resort
  • The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah – Ubud
    Peace, quiet, and beauty. Fantastic location (the hotel is surrounded by rice paddies), fabulous service (every suite gets a personal butler), and wonderful views. Hotel Phone: +62 361-975685
    One of the best hotels in Bali: The Chedi Club in Ubud
  • Four Seasons Resort – Jimbaran
    Beautiful location on Jimbaran Bay with its own private beach. Wonderful food and superb service. Every villa has a private plunge pool. Most are one-bedroom but there’s also a 3-bedroom villa that sleeps 6.
    Hotel phone: +62 361-701010
    The Best Hotels on Bali: Four Seasons at Jimbaran Beach
  • AYANA Resort & Spa – South of Jimbaran
    Beautiful hotel with an incredible setting and stunning views. The infinity pool is amazing and the Rock Bar regularly gets picked as the coolest place to have a drink on Bali. Hotel phone: +62 361-702222
    The Best Hotels on Bali: Ayana Resort on Bali
  • The St Regis Resort Bali – Nusa Dua
    If it’s pure rest and relaxation you’re after this is the place. Beautiful spot on a private beach with golden sand and calm water. The salt water lagoon pool is huge and wonderful. Hotel phone: +62 361-8478111
    The Best Hotels on Bali: St Regis Resort on Nusa Dua Beach

Kuta Hotels

The best hotels in Kuta.
The hub of the Bali tourist scene, Kuta is busy, noisy, hectic – and a lot of fun. It’s where you’ll find the most nightlife in the form of large thumping dance bars. Crowds are younger but older travelers are in the mix too. This is the busiest beach in Bali but still a great place to suntan and swim. Also, a great place to take beginner surf lessons.

The Best Luxury Hotels in Kuta

Legian Hotels

The best hotels in Legian Bali
Legian is largely indistinguishable from Kuta other than it being calmer and quieter as you move north. There are still plenty of places to eat and drink, and the sand and surf are still great. The hum and nightlife of Kuta is just a short walk away.

The Best Luxury Hotels in Legian

Seminyak Hotels

The best hotels in Seminyak, Bali.
Seminyak is where you’ll find high-end dining, trendy clubs, and the best hotels of the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak region – which is basically one long beach town. The crowd here skews older and wealthier but it’s still a fun and lively place. Lots of bars, nightlife, shopping, and music. The beach is wonderful too (and quieter than Kuta and Legian).

The Best Luxury Hotels in Seminyak

Jimbaran Hotels

The best hotels in Jimbaran.
Perhaps the ideal beach on Bali. Great sand, wonderful hotels, and a quiet vibe (but only a short drive to the nightlife and shopping of Kuta). At night the beach is lined with seafood restaurants that serve some of the best food on the island. Jimbaran is minutes from the airport so makes a perfect spot for the first few days before heading off to explore the island.

The Best Luxury Hotels in Jimbaran

Nusa Dua Hotels

The best hotels in Nusa Dua.
Nusa Dua is home to many of the 5-star resorts of Bali. It’s a great destination if you want to sit by the pool and drink cocktails. Not so great if you want to see the “real Bali”. The beach here is lovely with the softest sand on Bali. There is a large shopping mall (Bali Collection) filled with high end western name brands but not the eclectic collection of shops that you’ll find in Kuta, Seminyak, or Ubud.

The Best Luxury Hotels in Nusa Dua

Sanur Hotels

The best hotels in Sanur.
A quieter alternative to Kuta-Legian-Seminyak. A nice beach (though narrow in spots) and calm waters (protected by a reef) make Sanur popular with families. Lots of restaurants and shopping. Nightlife is restrained but still plenty of places to get a late night drink.

The Best Luxury Hotels in Sanur

Ubud Hotels

The best hotels in Ubud.
The cultural heart of Bali – Ubud is where to go to watch traditional Balinese performances, take a cooking class, wander through rice fields, or buy from local artists. The food here is wonderful and some of the hotels have jaw-dropping settings. I highly recommend 2 to 4 days in Ubud.

The Best Luxury Hotels in Ubud

248 Questions and Comments

  1. Seminyak/Ubud?

    Hi Dave,

    First of all – great site, really useful information!

    My wife and I will be travelling to Bali for 7 nights in early April next year (we will combining this with 3 nights in Singapore).

    In terms of where to stay in Bali, I was originally thinking Seminyak would be ideal for us. We would like to be based in a nice relaxing location by the sea, in a hotel with a nice pool etc but also somewhere that we can easily sight-see from and which isn’t too remote.

    Looking into some of the places we would like to visit, a lot of these seem to be in or around Ubud- the monkey forest, elephant sanctuary, temples and paddy fields etc. This being the case I wanted to ask for your advice on whether its possible to visit all these places through a couple of day trips from Seminyak or whether it would save time to break up the trip with 2-3 nights in Ubud?

    I’m always wary of staying in too many places due to the hassle and time wasted checking out of one hotel and into another, but in this instance if it would ultimately save us time travelling back and forth between Seminyak/Ubud I might consider it.

    Also, in terms of hotels in Seminyak, I have been looking into the Double Six – do you have any thoughts on this hotel? It seems to have fairly good reviews online and is a bit more affordable compared to hotels like The Samaya and The W, but I have not seen you mention it here so any insight you could provide would be much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

    Ozzy

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      You are right that it’s best to base yourself in just one or two places during a short trip – and preferably just one base if you only want to visit Ubud and a beach area like Seminyak. Seminyak is a relaxing and more sophisticated version of Kuta, with less nightclubs, noise and traffic, but plenty of shops, cafés and bars, and the same sort of beach as Kuta – albeit slightly greyer in places.

      Seminyak is quite spread out and often incorporates the next area north which is actually Petitenget. So, the southern part of Seminyak/Petitenget, where hotels like Double-Six and Anantara are located, offers plenty of cafés at the beach and shops along the main streets nearby. However, the area further north, around hotels like The Samaya and The W, is quite remote, with no cafés along the beach, and the back streets meander around and offer a surprisingly limited array of places to eat, drink, and shop.

      Seminyak is only 10 minutes by taxi to Kuta, with its malls and clubs, and is an excellent base from which to explore places to the north, such as Ubud, because you can avoid the horrendous traffic in the Kuta/Legian region and bypass the capital, Denpasar. Seminyak to Ubud is only about 45 minutes by chartered car with a driver, so day-tripping there from Seminyak is quite easy and avoids packing up and moving to Ubud.

      The Double-Six Luxury Hotel is new, ultra-modern and opulent but lacks any charm – and there is nothing even remotely Balinese (or even Asian) about the place. It does boast an outstanding location, however, with all suites offering sea views, and those on the ground floor have direct access to the pool from their verandas, but constant noise from the beach club next door may be annoying. Another option with an equally great location for cafés, shops and beach, but also cheaper and more authentic, is the Anantara Seminyak Resort.

      Ubud has plenty to see, such as the Monkey Forest, while many places nearby are also worth exploring. If visiting the Elephant Sanctuary, check online or through a travel agency at your hotel about a free transfer to the sanctuary as part of your ticket. You could easily see a fair bit in and around Ubud in just two day-trips (not including the Elephant Sanctuary, where you can spend a while day). Ask your driver (which is best arranged through your hotel) and he will arrange two day’s of wonderful sight-seeing for you in/around Ubud from Seminyak.

      With regards to temples, another benefit of staying in Seminyak is proximity (20 minutes if traffic isn’t too bad) to arguably Bali’s most picturesque temple – Tanah Lot. It is sublime at sunset, when, of course, thousands of others also go, but still stunning during the day when you may have parts of the complex to yourself.

      Reply
  2. Honeymoon in Ubud and Gili T

    Hi Dave,

    First of all you have been doing a commendable job to guide tourists likes us. With so many options and forums you get confused. Hats off! Now we are planning our honeymoon in Bali from 5th January 2017 to 12th January 2017. We will be arriving in Bali on 5th night and we are leaving on 12th afternoon. We have shortlisted Ubud to spend three nights, and 3 nights in Gili T. In Ubud we have shortlisted Kamandalu which we really like. And in Gili T we are undecided one of the possible option is Vila Ombok. For Gili we want a good hotel which is at the beach with nice rooms and good facilities besides it should not be too distanced from the main center of attractions and restaurants. There are some places in north of Gili T but people say they are too secluded and sometimes its a hassle to travel from there in the night as it gets dark. So please do suggest a good hotel to us. We did see Pondook Santi but its over our budget. Also what do you recommend doing in Ubud. We are planning to visit the Gitgit waterfalls too, so what other waterfall should we checkout.

    We are also quite confused where to stay in the night we land that is the 5th Jan. We will be going to Gili T on 6h Jan around 1 pm time so we were thinking that night we will stay at some beach place hotel closer to the airport and from there we will go to padang bai to take fast boat to Gili T. However between Jimbaran, Kuta, Sanur and Legian we are undecided. What would you suggest and which hotel? We want a nice mid range hotel preferable on the beach with nice rooms and bathroom so we can refresh and head over the primary destination. After reading your reviews we checked Sanur is a good option but we are unsure that between Jimbaran, Kuta, Sanur and Legian which will be a better option? Also what sort of fastboat do you recommend any suggestions?

    For transportation within the city what medium do you recommend? Uber, grab a taxi, or anyother?

    Thanks & TC!
    Saadain Lari

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      With only 6 nights, it’s best to stay in only 1 or 2 places rather than spend too much time moving around and checking in/out of hotels. And remember that travelling from your hotel on Bali to your hotel on Gili Trawangan can taken 4-5 hours (ie half a day one way) of waiting for the bus transfer, travelling to the port, waiting again for the boat, travel on the boat etc.

      In Ubud, The Kamandalu is gorgeous, wonderfully set in a rural part of Ubud, and particularly ideal for those on honeymoons. It is, however, 10 minutes drive from central Ubud, so you would need to confirm with the speedboat company taking you to Gili T that they will pick up or drop off there; otherwise, arrange a place in central Ubud to pick up/drop off.

      In Ubud, you should certainly visit the sacred Monkey Forest; see a traditional dance at the Pura Taman Saraswati temple (or from the Café Lotus next door); go to an art museum (eg ARMA or Puri Lukisan); wander about the art and produce markets; and take walks among the rice-fields and villages. And charter a car with a driver to see the rice-terraces at Tegallalang; the remarkable rock sculptures at Gunung Kawi; and the springs and temple at Tirta Empul. Short clips about these and loads of other places are on the ‘Ubud in a Minute’ YouTube channel.

      The Gitgit waterfalls are OK, but not world-class – and there are three separate places called ‘Gitgit Falls’. They are probably not worth the trip (about 90 minutes one-way) from Ubud; these are best visited from bases at nearby Lovina or Candikuning/Bedugul.

      On Gili T, there are hundreds of places to stay, but bear in mind that this will be a VERY busy time for the Gilis, so book ahead. The Villa Ombak boasts an awesome location, close to the nightclubs and shops, but out of earshot too. The Pondok Santi is superb, amongst a pristine coconut plantation, and worth a splurge. It’s only 500m from the start of the ‘action’ along the main drag but to/from the port it’s best by horse and cart. Places along the north coast are perhaps too far to walk back late at night from the nightclubs, but you can always get a horse and cart to/from anywhere on the island at any time. Otherwise, try the Pearl of Trawangan, a vast resort with lots of types of traditional cottages in a convenient but quiet southern location near the Villa Ombak, or the low-key but lovely Danima Resort, half-way between the action and quiet north coast.

      Your ticket to Gili T will include transfers to/from your hotel in any of the main resort regions in the south (eg Kuta/Legian, Nusa Dua and Sanur), as well as Ubud, but possibly not Jimbaran, so check first because not as many people stay there. Kuta/Legian/Seminyak is only 15-20 minutes from the airport, Jimbaran barely 10-15 minutes and Sanur about 20-25 minutes, so all these places are close to the airport. Kuta is about shopping and nightclubs and Legian offers more family-orientated resorts, while Seminyak is a classy alternative with nicer shops and cafés.

      Where your speedboat to the Gilis leaves from depends on how much you want to pay for your ticket. The cheapest boats leave from Padangbai, but this can easily add two hours one-way in bus transfers (longer than the boat trip). If you don’t mind paying a little bit extra and because you have such a short holiday, you should book tickets using Gili Getaway from Pulau Serangan, which is 5 minutes from Sanur, thereby avoiding several hours on a bus to/from Padangbai. And then you could maximise your precious time by staying that first night in Sanur, perhaps at somewhere special like Tandjung Sari or Segara Village.

      Details and bookings for boats to the Gilis are available online.

      All taxis are metered, reliable and very easy to find in any of the resort regions, except Ubud, where you will have to charter a car with a driver if you want to get around. Uber has not taken off in Bali, because of quite militant taxi unions. And if chartering a car with a driver (NEVER drive yourself), arrange this through your hotel so you know the driver is reliable and reasonably-priced.

      Reply
  3. Airport Noise at Jimbaran Hotels

    Hey Dave, I’m planning my first trip to Bali with my husband and soon to be six year old daughter. I am loving the look and sound of Jimbaran, it looks idyllic, but my husband thinks it will be too noisy considering how close the airport is? Did you find the airport noise intrusive/annoying/overwhelming? Thanks for your advice.

    Sarah

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      You can see the planes in the distance but there is zero plane noise in Jimbaran (or so close to zero for it to be completely forgettable).

      Reply
  4. Seminyak or Somewhere Else?

    Hi Dave!,

    Reading all your posts and comments and I am torn in deciding where to go and what to do, so thought I’d ask for your help.

    I am going to Bali with my boyfriend at the end of September and staying there 4 nights. I have been reading that Seminyak could be our choice but wanted to confirm. We like a relaxing, romantic vacation where we could also do a bit of sightseeing. Also prefer a nice beach and good food. We would like to stay at a 5 star hotel and are considering the W but it is a bit expensive. Any choices similar to that that don’t break the bank?

    Also, what activities do you recommend around that area. I also saw you suggested the Gili islands, how far are those and are they worth visiting, since we are not there for that long.

    Additionally, it is my boyfriends birthday during that time, so are there any surprise dinners by the water that they do there.

    Thank you so much in advance for your input!!

    Vicki

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Yes, the number of options about where to stay and what to do can be overwhelming, especially if you only have a short stay.

      Seminyak certainly sounds the sort of place you and your boyfriend would enjoy. It’s more relaxed and sophisticated than Kuta, but still has oodles of shops, bars (some playing live music) and cafés with any number of cuisines, as well as the same world-famous beach and surf as the more (in)famous Kuta a few kilometres down south. And it’s easy enough to organise a car with a driver through your hotel and spend one or two days sightseeing around the island.

      The W Retreat is quite extraordinary, but it’s also about the most isolated of the resorts in the Seminyak/Petitenget region. Closer to the classy shops and cafés on offer in Seminyak are these resorts, which would probably be cheaper than The W.
      a) Anantara – boutique hotel on the beach and at the end of an access road with lots of shops
      b) Royal Seminyak – in the midst of the classy eateries and nightclubs and very good value
      c) The Samaya – quiet and elite, pricey with awesome beach frontage
      d) Breezes Bali Resort – a good-value mid-priced option, 200m from the sea, so doesn’t have beachfront rates

      Seminyak is about relaxing, shopping and eating/drinking. But nearby day-trips you may consider include Ubud, with its temples, art galleries, market and Monkey Forest; and places near Ubud, such as the Tirta Empul sacred temple and springs, the remarkable rock sculptures at Gunung Kawi and the rice terrace views at Tegallagang – perhaps finishing at Tanah Lot temple (see below) for the sunset.

      To be honest, you won’t have enough time to really visit the Gili Islands. From airport/hotel on Bali to your hotel on Gili Trawangan can take 4-5 hours one-way of waiting, minibus transfers, more waiting and the boat trip, eating too much into your limited time.

      I would suggest a birthday dinner at Jimbaran, where cafés spill out onto the sand for seafood dinners at sunset, with wandering musicians, traditional dances and fireworks after the sun goes down. Some cafés cater for bus groups, so choose a café (there are dozens and dozens) with a romantic table – and enjoy.

      Perhaps even better is the Melasti Tanah Lot restaurant at the Tanah Lot temple (see above), close to Seminyak – sunset over a scared cliff-side temple, small number of tables on a cliff, candlelight, seafood and traditional kecak dance beforehand. Reservations recommended, especially for best tables.

      Reply
  5. Diving, Beaches, and the Gili Islands

    Hi David! Well done on this page. Very informative. Please may you assist me. We are flying to Bali mid November and have about ten days in total to play around with but would like to keep two days to use at Penang. So maybe 8 days in Bali. I am a diver so very keen on dive beaches whilst my wife and child are water lovers and would like mainly white sand and turquoise shore water. We intend to explore Bali and I heard some excellent views of the beaches and dive areas of Gili islands. We are strictly halaal and would therefore appreciate resorts/hotels that cater as such or areas where there are halaal restaurants. Very concerned about travelling with my 1 year old toddler in the ferry for five hours to get to Gili…happy to drive and explore, would enjoy water falls, breath taking naturist views, and hot springs as well as the Volcano’s on either islands.
    Please can you advise us how to go about travelling in Bali, where to stay, for how long to stay and how to travel safely to any of the Gilli and do the ship wreck dives?

    Your assistance is most welcomed and very much appreciated.

    Mahomed

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      With your interest in diving and love of ‘white sands’ and ‘turquoise waters’, the Gili Islands are just what you are looking for. And in November they will be reasonably quiet, and the wet season shouldn’t have arrived yet.

      There are three ways to reach the Gilis from Bali:
      (1) fly to the airport on Lombok, take a taxi to the port of Bangsal, and a local boat (quite crowded) or charter a boat to Gili Air. This is the most comfortable, as it involves very little travel on a boat (about 15 minutes), and may be the best option if traveling with a child
      (2) take a ferry to Lombok from Padangbai, and then minibus or taxi to Bangsal. This is the option for backpackers on a very strict budget, and would take the ‘five hours’ you mention but is very uncomfortable and not recommended
      (3) take a direct speedboat from Padangbai or Sanur to Gili Trawanagan or Gili Air, which is the way 95% of travellers get there. The boat trip takes 60 to 90 minutes and can be rough at times

      If you choose the Gilis, you should certainly stay at Gili Air, which is quieter than the party island of Gili Trawangan and still has world-class diving. Gili Air also has a real village with many Muslim workers and residents, so halal restaurants are easy to find – most, however, would cater for locals rather than tourists and be basic. Otherwise, to avoid a long boat trip, try Nusa Lembongan island, which is only 30 minutes or so by boat from Sanur and has lovely beaches and wonderful diving. But as part of Bali, there would be very little choice in halal restaurants on that island.

      If find halal food is a priority over quality of beaches, then try staying at Sanur or Lovina. Sanur has a lovely beach, is quiet and relaxed, and has several halal restaurants: eg Natrabu Minang (on the bypass road) and Sari Bundo (in southern Sanur), while it’s only a short taxi ride to Denpasar where there are plenty of halal restaurants – just ask the taxi driver. And don’t forget, most fast food outlets, like McDonalds and KFC, are certified halal.

      Lovina attracts a lot of Indonesian tourists from Java, so there are many halal restaurants, but there is certainly no ideal beaches – grey and unappealing sand – but not far away is classic diving at Menjangan island and the hot springs at Banjar. (The shipwreck dives are at Tulamben, on the far east coast, where there is nothing but dive sites and dive agencies – and, again, not perfect beaches.)

      Another alternative base for exploring the countryside is to stay in Candikunung, which is home to a sizeable Muslim population and has many halal restaurants. Within walking distance of your hotel would be the gorgeous Bratan temple, the vast Bratan crater lake and the world-class Botanical Gardens, and a short ride by chartered taxi with a driver (NEVER drive yourself!) are the rice terraces at Jatiluwih and the volcano at Gunung Batur.

      So, with 8 days, you may want to spend four at Sanur, from which you can easily day trip to temples and the countryside, and four days at Gili Air. More information about resorts and hotels is available from this specialty travel agency.

      Reply
  6. Bali on Budget in October

    Hi Dave, love your site and your replies. My boyfriend and I are heading to Bali for 10 days from 24 October, we are both mid 40s and love to travel for food and culture and the other half loves the water, diving, and snorkeling so not looking for party central, shopping or too touristy. So we were thinking time in Ubud, beach maybe Padang Bai and Gill Air. We are on a budget of £50 ish a night. Recommendations? thanks in advance, Tracy

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      You have done some good research, and those three options you mention are ideal.

      Ubud is perfect for culture and food. For your budget, try
      a) Alam Indah – idyllically serene but convenient to the Monkey Forest
      b) Nick’s Pension – remarkably central with bungalows overlooking a ravine or rice-fields
      c) Ubud Art Villa – small, personal and in gorgeous Penestanan village (but still part of Ubud)

      Padangbai has a lovely village vibe and is a wonderful base for exploring nearby temples (eg Goa Lawah), water palaces (ie Ujung and Tirtagangga) and other major attractions (eg Tenganan), all a little off the tourist trail. It’s also easy to organise diving/snorkelling in Padangbai, which has two scenic beaches (Blue Lagoon and Bias Tugel) within walking distance. Try
      a) Bloo Lagoon Village – maybe a little out of your budget (depending on seasonal rates) but worth a splurge for breath-taking views
      b) OK Divers Resort – very new and colonial style in a superb location

      Gili Air is arguably the best of the three Gilis, with world-class snorkelling and diving, but also plenty of shops, cafes, and bars (that aren’t as noisy as on Gili Trawangan!). Try
      a) Gili Air Lagoon Resort – with all bungalows facing an enormous circular pool in a very central location
      b) Villa Karang – the newer rooms are nicer, it’s very good value and in a convenient location

      Reply
  7. Good Surfing School in Bali

    Hi Dave,

    Hoping you can help us… My boyfriend and I are travelling to Ball in mid-December. We are looking for a few days at a surf school/camp (preferably not Kuta) followed by a few days by the beach at somewhere quite luxurious but not a resort. Budget would be £120 a night.

    Any tips/advice would be great! Thanks, Tabitha 🙂

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      At a ‘surf camp’ guests stay at a hotel, or even a resort, at a popular surfing location and organise lessons through the hotel. This is an alternative to taking ad hoc surfing lessons at Kuta, Legian, or further out at Canggu, but these camps are really for those who want to invest time and money to learn seriously. The attraction of learning at Kuta, as so many do, are that the waves are gentle, plenty of places offer lessons, you can stay anywhere you want, and there’s no shortage of non-surf activities. And if you take lessons at Kuta, you could easily stay at the milder and more sophisticated Seminyak, 10 minutes away by taxi, or even as far as Sanur, 20-25 minutes away.

      Otherwise, for surf camps away from the Kuta region, try
      1) Padang-Padang Surf Camp – not that far from Kuta, and you could even day-trip from Jimbaran. The waves around that region can be tough, but the setting is superb.
      2) Rapture Camp – prides itself on safety and affordability, with highly qualified teachers. Also located at Padang-Padang, it’s popular and great way to learn among like-minded travellers.
      3) Ripcurl Surf School – at Jimbaran, which is easily accessible. This school doesn’t offer accommodation, but there’s plenty of places to stay in Jimbaran, and the waves are considerably calmer there for beginners.

      Afterwards, you may want to relax at one of these places:
      1) Nusa Lembongan – easy to reach by boat, with plenty to see and do, or just a great place to relax. With no real resorts on the island, you could stay at the secluded but convenient Indiana Kenanga Villas or Batu Karang Lembongan Resort, with villas layered up the cliff
      2) Padangbai – charming village, with two beaches, and an ideal base to explore the east coast. Try the sparkling new colonial-style OK Divers Resort or the Bloo Lagoon village, with jaw-dropping views
      3) Tanjung Benoa – the place to try some other water sports for a fraction of the cost in western countries. Try the Rumah Bali, which is traditionally built and designed, and really quaint

      Reply
  8. Bali and Gilis

    Dear Dave,
    we followed your advice last year when we were in Santorini, thank you!! This year, we will be arriving in Denpasar airport on October 2 (from Seoul, South Korea). We would like to take a boat on Oct 3 to Gili Air and plan to stay there until Oct 5, then go to Ubud and stay until Oct 9, then depart to Singapore.
    Questions:
    Where should we stay on the 1st night, to be closer to the harbor and catch the boat to Gili Air, I was thinking of Sanur, what do you suggest? You said something about boats going from Gili islands to Bali with a transfer to Ubud, can u specify which boats please? Any advice on our plan, suggestions, etc etc?
    Thank you so much,
    Barbara

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Where you should stay on your first night probably depends on where your boat to Gili Air leaves from, but all fast-boats to the Gilis include transfers to/from your hotel anywhere in the southern resort regions or in Ubud.

      You have three main options for departure points for the fast-boats:
      (1) from Padangbai – but avoid this as you’ll spend a boring, uncomfortable 2 hours plus in a minibus from Sanur or Kuta to get there;
      (2) from Sanur – a good option as you could even walk to the departure point at the beach if you stay along Jalan Hang Tuah street (eg the Mentari Sanur hotel or Sanur Plaza Paradise Hotel); or
      (3) from Serangan Island – a short minibus transfer from Kuta, Legian, Seminyak or Sanur, and therefore the quickest overall trip. These boats also the most expensive but use a jetty, whereas all boats leaving/arriving to/from Sanur involve wading in the water on to the boat.

      All fast boats from Bali go to Gili Trawangan, but none go to Gili Meno, and not all go on to Gili Air, so make sure your fast boat does. Your boat trip back from Gili Air to Bali will also include a transfer to Ubud.

      Return tickets are rarely cheaper than two one-way tickets. So, to save traveling time on your short holiday you could:
      1) Stay in Kuta, Legian or Seminyak, or even Sanur, which are all close to the airport, and book a boat leaving from Serangan island, which will include a quick transfer from your hotel
      2) Book a ticket from Gili Air to Padangbai, which is a shorter boat ride than back to Serangan or Sanur, and is only 30-40 minutes by minibus transfer to Ubud

      Full details about departure points and times, and information about bookings for reliable boat companies, are available here.

      Reply
  9. Surfing and Hotels in Bali

    Wow, great info, thank you. I read many of the conversations, not all, so apologies in advance if you have to repeat yourself!
    I am a single woman in late 50’s going to Bali alone for 19 days in September. I am an impassioned snorkeler (especially right from shore) and may also do some diving, and I also want some cultural immersion. I missed out on an Intrepid 9-day tour, now full, so will be finding my own way around.
    It seems, from lots of reading, that the best areas for reef snorkeling and mantas!! – not interested in the wrecks – from shore would be Amed, Nusa Penida/Lembongan, and up north at Nusa Menjangan. Do I have that right?
    I am thinking to stay in Ubud as a base for the cultural immersion part. Have not decided which to do first, so if you have any thoughts on that as well, perhaps as regards Bali in September, they are most welcome.
    Last, I’d love to know any suggestions you have for gorgeous accomodations in the $50-$75/night range in any of those spots.

    Margarita

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Bali is really quite easy to get around, especially if you stick to the main tourist areas, which are almost all connected by tourist shuttle buses, so there is often no need to join tours.

      Yes, you have certainly done your homework, and the places you mention are amazing for diving. Amed and Pemuteran (for Pulau Menjagan island) are remote, and not easy or cheap to reach. Both places cater very much for scuba diving – much less so for snorkelling off shore. Nusa Penida is still quite undeveloped with regards to transport around the island, and there are only a handful of tourist hotels, although getting there is easier these days, and CASPLA arranges all sorts of tours from Bali.

      If you are more interested in snorkelling from the shore, you may consider these 3 options – each place certainly offers world-class scuba diving as well
      1) the Gili Islands – 3 gorgeous islets where you can snorkel straight off shore. Gili Trawangan is the party island and, perhaps, all-night reggae parties and magic mushrooms may not be your thing, so try Gili Air. Places to stay in your price range include Villa Karang (right at the harbour), Kai’s Beach (remote west coast) and worth a splurge is the remarkable Gili Air Lagoon, where all rooms face a circular lagoon-shaped pool.
      2) Nusa Lembongan – easier to reach than Nusa Penida, but also close enough for day trips there with diving agencies on Nusa Lembongan. Great options to stay are Ketut Losmen Bungalows (right on the beach); Tigerlilly (charming and in the village of Jungutbatu) and Akah Cottages (Dream Beach). Excellent value can be found in the low season (which includes September), so just turn up and find a suitable place with the perfect sunset views in Jungutbatu. Snorkelling is easy to arrange off-shore at Jungutbatu but best at Mushroom Bay.
      3) Padangbai – gets a little overrun at times by island-hoppers to/from the Gilis. The town beach is scenic but great snorkelling offshore is at Bloo Lagoon and Bias Tugel beaches, both within walking distance, while Candidasa and Pasir Putih (both within 30-40 mins by car) offer even more exciting options. Delightful places to stay include the new, colonial-style OK Divers Resort; Kerti Bungalows, right on the beach; and worth a splurge is the Bloo Lagoon Eco Village with jaw-dropping views and only metres to that snorkelling beach. Again, it is easy enough to turn up at Padangbai and spend 10 minutes finding your perfect place.

      And, yes, Ubud is the best place to base yourself for ‘cultural immersion’. Special places to consider are Nick’s Pension; Murni’s Houses; Swasti Eco Cottages; or Alam Indah. It is probably best to stay in Ubud first, get yourself organised and settled in before rushing off to the islands or east coast. And you can organise your transport to these 3 paces listed above from Ubud (easy enough online) or through Perama shuttle bus company. There are shuttle buses from Ubud to Padangbai and plenty of boats from Padangbai to the Gilis. So, a good option would be staying, in order,: Ubud, Padangbai, the Gilis, Nusa Lembongan (which is connected by boat from the Gilis) and finish in Sanur, where boats from Nusa Lembongan arrive.

      Reply
  10. Gluten Free Eating on Bali

    Wonderful web-site. Love it! Went to Sanur in the 80’s with my late husband, did lots of sight-seeing & beach relaxing and loved the whole experience. Am now considering Bali again with a girlfriend. Although retired, we are both very fit, active, enjoy beaches, swimming, walks, culture, sunsets with a drink, and not having to totally ‘dress to impress’ for dinner! In other words 5* hotels/restaurants not required, so would like your recommendations for a different base, please. In general it’s always been a big ‘yes’ to local food, but about 5 years ago I became a Celiac , i.e. definitely NO wheat, NO gluten etc. Do you think Balinese food in general will be ok? And is anybody likely to understand my dietary problems? In the main I can eat meat, fish, vegs, salads, eggs, cheese, rice but probably not noodles, and not Soy and other sauces that have wheat thickeners. So whaddaya reckon ‘Doctor Dave?’ Obviously I would not hold you responsible if I had to write a Guide to the Loos of Bali….but would appreciate your comments. Thanks. Diane de Rees

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Perhaps it won’t surprise you that Bali and Sanur have changed dramatically since the 1980s, but Sanur is still fairly relaxed – certainly compared to Kuta/Legian. You are likely to relive some wonderful memories, although almost all of what you may remember (hotels, cafe etc) may no longer exist.

      But if you want to avoid the crowds, you don’t crave 5-star treatment, you want to experience the ‘real’ Bali, and you enjoy outdoor activities, you may also consider these bases:

      1) Ubud – this is an obvious choice, but (a) it is the cultural heart of the island; (b) it is easy to get a nice villa/room among the rice-fields to escape the crowds; (2) there is so much to see and do in around Ubud; and (d) it’s the perfect base for outdoor activities like hiking, walking among rice-fields, rafting, elephant-riding, mountain-biking down volcanic slopes etc
      2) Padangbai – a charming village, quite undeveloped compared to other resort regions, and a perfect base to explore the dramatic and fascinating east coast. There are also great little beaches nearby at Blue Lagoon, Bias Tugel and Pasir Putih, and spectacular guided hikes from places not far away, such as Tenganan and Tirtagangga
      3) Nusa Lembongan – an island that doesn’t attract the crowds like the Gili Islands, but with lovely beaches, hills to climb and bike ride along, and world-class snorkeling

      Obviously without being an expert, it is difficult to advise about your dietary considerations. The good news that the stuff you can’t eat, such as bread and pasta, is only offered in restaurants for tourists; almost no Indonesian or Balinese person eats these products. Wheat is not grown and very rarely eaten by Indonesians: it’s all rice, rice and rice. A typical tourist menu will offer 15-20 meals with rice, mostly chicken, fish and vegetables, with red meat being a rarity, as it often has to be imported – except for pork which is produced and eaten by Balinese. A variety of yummy salads are also offered on every menu catering for tourists.

      The only potential problem is that soy sauce (and others like oyster sauce) are common ingredients in fried rice and other dishes that accompany boiled rice, such as sweet and sour chicken. You could ask for your food to be ‘tanpa’ (without) these sauces but is quite likely that the waiter or even cook won’t understand (coeliac being unheard of in Indonesia) or, worse, they would nod and say ‘OK’ to make you happy and the sauces are included anyway, not comprehending the severity of the issue. You should probably stick as much as possible to salads or grilled chicken, pork, fish and other seafood with boiled rice and/or fresh, cooked or fried vegetables, such as french fries. All of these dishes are very commonly available anywhere tourists can be found, so you shouldn’t encounter too many problems, and you can focus on enjoying yourself.

      Reply
  11. Where to Stay on Bali with 9 Month Old

    Hey Dave,

    My husband and 9 month old will be traveling to Bali in August. We will be staying 6 nights. We are having a hard time figuring out where to stay. We want to relax, shop, eat, and maybe see the elephants. I was thinking Seminyak would be nice but am not quite sure. Also, should we stay somewhere with a private pool with our room or at one of the resort style hotels with multiple pools? We’d appreciate any advice. Time is flying by and we need to make a decision soon!

    Katie

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      The good news is that traveling with a young child in Bali is less of a hassle than you may expect, especially as the Balinese absolutely adore all children. The bad news is that August is the high season so you should book as soon as possible, and be prepared for many European visitors.

      Seminyak ticks all the boxes: it is relaxing (certainly more so than Kuta just down the road), while there are also plenty of stylish shops to browse and classy eateries to enjoy. And it is easy enough to charter a car with a driver from your hotel to visit the elephants near Ubud – and add the monkey forest in Ubud, the sacred springs and temple at Tirta Empul, and the jaw-dropping rice-field views at Tegallalang in the same day trip.

      Seminyak does have a few villas with your own pool, but these can be rather expensive and perhaps a little isolated – ie quite a walk to any shops or cafes. One option is to stay in Legian, which is half-way between Kuta and Seminyak. Legian offers all the shops, cafes and bars you would possibly need, as well as several spacious resorts which are superbly set up for children, with a kiddies pool, playground, supervised activities and so on. And some resorts even offer the best of both worlds: your own tiny pool in front of your door, as well as 3-4 massive pools with lounge chairs, relaxing gazebos etc. In Legian, check out these very family-friendly resorts, The Padma Resort, the Bali Mandira and The Legian Beach, all of which would happily put a cot into your room for little or no extra charge.

      Reply
  12. Bali in April with 2 Kids

    Hello Dave
    I have read so many of the posts, You are so helpful! We are planning 8 days in Bali in April 2017. myself, husband and 2 kids 14 & 10. I know I want to go to the elephant sanctuary, and Monkey Forest. I would love to see some culture like temples but don’t want to bore the kids who are 100% about being at the beach. Is it possible to do these things in 2 days in Ubud? We are young at heart and don’t want the quiet secluded beach but maybe not Kuta either, any suggestions? Kids love water activities and souvenir shopping and a nice beach.
    Thanks
    Mary Cunningham

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Bali is compact so you could visit the Elephant Safari Park, not far from Ubud, and the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, during one daytrip from Sanur, Kuta/Legian or any other beach resort region in the south.

      Ubud is the cultural heartland of the island and an ideal base to visit temples, see a traditional dance and other highlights such as the sacred springs at Tirta Empul and the amazing rock sculptures at Gunung Kawi. So, yes, it is possible to see many attractions in two days while staying in Ubud or while day-tripping from a beach region in the south.

      Perhaps, consider a long day-trip with the elephant park, monkey forest and a temple or two in/near Ubud during one day-trip from a beach, and then do another daytrip visiting the extraordinary crater lake and hot springs at Lake Batur and/or the wonderful temple and watersports at Lake Bratan. Both lakes would certainly appeal to your children, while also offering culture and landscapes to really impress the adults.

      There are several options for a base while in Bali. Yes, Kuta, can be overwhelming and noisy for some, but an easy alternative is Legian, which is within walking distance of Kuta and Tuban (south Kuta), with its malls and world class Waterbom Park (for water slides). Legian offers a range of large, quiet and family-friendly resorts facing the renowned beach. Sanur may seem a little too quiet for the kids, and the swimming isn’t so good at the beach, while Nusa Dua is more sanitised and perhaps too sedate.

      Reply
  13. Family Travallers on Bali

    Hey Dave,

    I’ve been reading your site for hours and it is fabulous! So many great suggestions and reviews! I will be traveling to Bali for 11 days with family this August- myself and my siblings are between 17-24 and our parents. We are looking to explore a lot of the island and often have no problem hotel hopping to see as much as we can. We are planning to visit Ubud, Seminyak, and the Gili Islands, but would like recommendation on one more beach place to relax, possibly surf and enjoy good seafood …Jimbaran, Sanur?

    I was also hoping on researching the Elephant Breakfast and Bath experience outside of Ubud, do you have any suggestions on how to book or if it is worth the drive/ experience? Also would you suggest hiring a driver to take us around the island, is it affordable? Thank you!!!

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      The three bases you are considering are ideal – Ubud offers culture, scenery and glimpses of traditional lifestyles and villages; Seminyak is a classy resort region with jaw-dropping sunsets, trendy bistros and world-class shopping; and the Gili Islands offers snorkeling, relaxing and partying (if staying on Gili Trawangan).

      Jimbaran is a lovely stretch of beach, often almost deserted in places during the day, but becomes busy in the evenings as diners watch the sunset and gorge on fresh seafood. Sanur is a relaxed and spacious resort region, with no sunsets or surf, but a lovely promenade for strolling and cycling. Both places have plenty of seafood restaurants (more so in Jimbaran) but neither have surf. You may want to do your surfing in Seminyak which has the same sort of waves as Kuta, but fewer places to rent boards.

      One beach area worth considering for relaxation is Padangbai, with some small beaches and a lovely village vibe. It is a perfect base for exploration of the east coast, and you would probably go through Padangbai anyway on the way to/from the Gili Islands by boat. Padangbai doesn’t have surf, but is great for diving and snorkeling and there’s plenty of seafood.

      The attraction you are referring to is at the Elephant Safari Park, not far from Ubud, and is offered by the major adventure company on Bali, BaliAdventures. It is a worthwhile experience, perhaps a bit contrived for tourists, but undeniably interesting to those who have never seen elephants, particularly children. It is also reasonably expensive compared to other attractions in Bali. The cost includes a transfer there and back for those in Ubud only.

      For the Elephant Safari Park you wouldn’t need a driver, but chartering a car with a driver is very easy to arrange – best through your hotel, which will recommend someone reliable. The cost (especially if sharing) is very reasonable at about US$40 per day for 10 hours, all inclusive. The driver will be your guide and translator (they always speak competent English), he will take all the hassle out of driving, and he will drive you to gorgeous rice-terrace views and temples (not in any guidebook) or anywhere you want. He will also offer many tempting itineraries. You can also charter the car and driver for several days in a row for longer trips, but you would have to pay for his accommodation and food, so add another US$20 per day. Otherwise, just day trip in and out of Ubud.

      If you are a largish group try contacting hotels directly (along with online booking sites) and ask for substantial discounts. But remember that August is a very busy time and occupancy rates will be high, so you should book ahead rather than ‘hotel hop’ while on Bali if in a largish group and you are keen to get quality accommodation.

      Reply
  14. Which Beach for Calm Water

    Dear Dave, love your site.
    I am going to Bali for my honeymoon, I booked 3 days at Ubud to do temple visits and to be at a peaceful place. Before that we visit Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore. So I want my beach time.
    Which beach/resort would you recommend? I want something with no waves, to just relax with my wife at the beach in a great resort. Budget for the night should be 300ish. Date of travel is mid September.

    I was looking at Seminyak for the nightlife but I read beach isn’t too calm for a chill swim, which is what I want, something like Maldives in Bali, if that even makes sense. Thanks and blessings,
    Naim

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      The best region for your requirements would most probably be Nusa Dua. It is located along a stretch of coastline with no waves, and the beaches there are sheltered and those run by the resorts are immaculately clean and lined with lounge chairs you may never want to get out of. Kuta/Legian/Seminyak is renowned for its surf and not ideal for those seeking a gentle swim, while some get a little tired of the hawkers offering massages etc. But the nightlife at Nusa Dua is rather genteel, but you’re not that far from Kuta/Legian by taxi via the new tollway.

      Nusa Dua has a dozen 4-5 star resorts, all luxurious, spacious and ostentatious. Recommended options include The Laguna, with pools that even have an artificial beach and waterfalls; The Ayodya, with its lush tropical gardens; and St Regis, which overlooks both the beach and golf course.

      Reply
  15. Bali with Large Group

    Hi,
    We are planning on travelling to Bali next October for my husbands 40th birthday. We have roughly 15 adults and 10 kids going. We are trying to find somewhere that’s not too expensive. I was thinking Sanur? I like the idea of it being a bit more laid back and family friendly. Can you suggest anywhere to stay? I have been trying to find somewhere like a hotel with suites (2 bedroom), like the Sanur Plaza Paradise Suites but I think it’s a but pricey. We just want somewhere that is clean and tidy, nice pool with a poolside bar and restaurant.
    Vanessa Shelton

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      The Kuta/Legian region may be a bit too hectic for such a large group, while Nusa Dua may seem a little too sedate for the children. So, yes, Sanur would be the ideal base for your stay. Sanur is spacious, quiet and laidback, ideal for families, but only a short taxi trip from Kuta, with its malls, surf and sunsets, and from Tanjung Benoa, the main centre for water sports. Sanur itself has some modest water sports, while the promenade there is delightful for walking and cycling.

      Sanur offers plenty of elegant 2-3 star hotels where a lovely room costs no more than US$50 per double per night. These include Mentari Sanur, Sativa Sanur Cottages, and Paneeda View Beach Hotel. If you are set on staying somewhere with a poolside bar and restaurant – rather than just a pool – then you are probably going to need a 3-4 star hotel. Reasonably-priced family-friendly resorts include Griya Santrian, Oasis Lagoon, and Puri Santrian, while suites are available at Sudamala Suites & Villas and Kamuela Villas & Suites. But suites are always going to be expensive and, to be honest, not great value unless you positively must have apartment-style accommodation.

      As you probably know, early October is the Australian school holidays and a busy time, so book ahead. And consider contacting your hotel directly (rather than through an online booking site) and seek a substantial discount or upgrade for booking multiple rooms.

      Reply
  16. Luxury Hotel in Kuta

    Hi Dave
    I like your website. I am planning to travel to Bali after New Year on January with my husband and grown up son. We like Kuta but want luxury. Which hotel in Kuta would you recommend? We only stay for 4 days. Thanks
    Nikki Nayoan

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Many people call the stretch of beach along the south-west coast up from the airport as ‘Kuta’. But this 8km-long tourist region is actually subdivided into different areas, each with separate advantages: that is (heading north from the airport) Tuban, Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, and Petitenget, with an area known as Canggu further north. So, in fact, Kuta itself is barely 2km long and 1km wide.

      Within Kuta, you may consider these luxurious places: Hard Rock Hotel, with a prime (read: busy) location and facilities to excite your grown-up son; the sparkling new Harris Resort, part of the magnificent Beachwalk shopping complex; or The Stones Hotel, with its modern vibe and admirable spaciousness.

      Alternatively, you may consider staying in Legian, a few minutes walk north of Kuta, or in Tuban, a few minutes walk south, where in both regions the hotels/resorts are more spacious and face the sea rather than the busy Kuta beach road. In Tuban, try the Discovery Kartika Plaza, attached to the massive Discovery Mall; the Ramada Bintang; or the Bali Garden. In Legian, check out The Padma; Club Bali Jayakarta; or Legian Beach.

      Reply
  17. Stray Cats on Bali

    Hi Dave, this is a wonderful website and very helpful. Me and my partner are planning to go to Bali for our honeymoon in August/September as part of a combined destination trip. We’ll be in Bali for around 5 days. For Bali we’re looking to have a romantic and, nice and relaxing time and make use of the wonderful beaches it has to offer. My partner borders on the point of being terrified of cats – I’ve heard that stray cats are a common site in Bali. Is there any part of Bali that you can recommend where we would we be able to experience the above without coming across any/many stray cats? Thanks a lot for your help. Best Regards, Steve.

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      We are unaware of any problems with stray cats across Bali, but there are certainly issues with stray dogs. In most villages in rural areas – but not in the tourist regions – some dogs live on the streets. Most are semi-domesticated, some are wild, and a few are even rabid, so, obviously, never approach or touch any dog anywhere in Bali. Stray animals – cats or dogs – rare in tourist regions like Kuta/Legian, Sanur, and Nusa Dua because so few people actually live in these areas and ‘own’ or feed any animals; there is simply too many people and too much traffic; and tourist workers would quickly remove any such animals, anyway.

      But in rural areas, stray dogs can be a problem, and this may include quieter regions of Ubud, such as Penestanan and Nyuhkuning villages. And any possible stray cats are most likely to roam late at night when traffic, crowds, and predators (e.g. dogs) are fewer.

      In short, certainly don’t let this affect your holiday in Bali, and if you stay in places like Kuta/Legian, Sanur, and Nusa Dua you will see few, if any, animals – domesticated or not.

      Reply
  18. Bit of an Adventure and Relaxing

    Hi Dave,

    After lots of research and a migraine, I found your website and its very very helpful. Thank you. I still need your help. I am going to Bali with my husband and my 2 year-old daughter for a week. We had been to Phuket and stayed at Crowne Plaza Panwa Beach Resort and just loved the exprience. But this time we want a beach experience plus a few activities like water sports and animals and birds etc… Which place would you recommend? I see you strees on Jimbaran a lot and I like it too. Is it feasible to travel from Jimbaran to Ubud for day tours? Puri Bambu is not available during our visiting time. Any other hotel you suggest?

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      With such a young child it’s best to stay at quieter resort regions with less traffic, crowds and noise, such as Sanur, which has no beachside roads, and shallow calm water to paddle in; Nusa Dua, with its wide footpaths, extensive gardens and spacious resorts; and Jimbaran, which has no surfers, nightclubs or busy malls. Sanur does offer a few watersports, such as parasailing and banana boat rides (but only at Cemara Beach and at the end of Jalan Duyung road), while Nusa Dua is within a 5-minute taxi ride of Tanjung Benoa, where every activity on, above or below the water is offered (except surfing) for very reasonable rates.

      Jimbaran is serene and offers a magnificent stretch of white sand and crystal waters but no water sports. Possible places to consider for a more moderate price in Jimbaran include Keraton Jimbaran Beach Resort; VIDI Boutique Hotel; and Villa Puri Royan.

      The new tollway makes getting around the southern resort regions a lot easier and quicker, but travelling can be tiresome at times (especially with a young child!) and traffic still chaotic. Travelling by a chartered car with a driver (which is cheaper than a taxi for long-distances) from Jimbaran to Ubud would take 60-75 minutes one-way, eating into your day if you did it several times. An option, obviously, is to stay in Ubud or a closer beach area like the charming village of Padangbai. Another reason to stay at Ubud or Padangbai is the proximity to the Bali Zoo, the Bali Reptile and Bird Park, and the Bali Elephant Safari Park. And note that the only ‘wildlife’ any tourist is likely to see anyway on the island is in a park or zoo …

      Reply
  19. Bali for 12 Days

    Hi Dave,

    I have stumbled upon your website and find it very useful! My husband and I have just booked our holiday to Bali for the beginnning of June. We will be there for a total of 12 days. As there are so many different beaches and hotels, it’s so difficult to make a decision. We love white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters, sunsets, enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling, and watersports. We also enjoy really good dining and trying authentic dishes as well. We would like to see some of the ‘real Bali’ and would probably spend some day trips to Ubud. We looked at staying in Nusa Dua and Jimbaran because of the white sand beach but then we worried about the costs associated with the luxury hotels there. Also, is it worth going to the Gili islands? Are there any hotels close to the airport as we are arriving quite late at night so we didn’t feel it worth paying full price for the first night. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    Annie

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Yes, it is really difficult to decide where to stay and what to do; the choices are overwhelming!

      Your preferences for “white sand beaches, turquoise waters” etc exactly describes the Gili Islands, so you should definitely consider spending some time there. Also blessed with perfect sunsets and world-class snorkelling and diving, a visit to these three alluring islets will be a highlight of your trip. Gili Trawangan is the main island and renowned for its party atmosphere, but there are quiet stretches of the island too. Gili Meno is very tranquil, while Gili Air has all the cafés and bars you would need and a vibrant village vibe. The choice of accommodation on the three islands ranges from simple bungalows for US$20 per night to resorts charging ten times that. So, the Gilis would most probably fit your bill, and you could avoid the high costs of resorts that completely dominate Nusa Dua and are mostly found in Jimbaran.

      If you still want to stay close to Nusa Dua but prefer to avoid resort prices, and you’re keen on water sports, consider basing yourself for part of your trip in Tanjung Benoa, where all manner of watersports are available for a fraction of the cost normally charged in the West. And, yes, to experience the “real Bali” you should head inland, and there is no better base from which to explore the extraordinary landscapes and to delight in the island’s unique culture than Ubud.

      The airport is very conveniently located between Kuta (10-15 minutes by taxi) and Jimbaran (5-10 minutes by taxi), so you could try staying at either place for the first night. But with the new tollway, and if you’re arriving late at night (when traffic is less), Tanjung Benoa is only 20-25 minutes by taxi from the airport. (And perhaps book a cheaper place for that first night?)

      So, your 12 days could be split between Tanjung Benoa (3), Gili Islands (5), and Ubud (4), for example.

      Reply
  20. Bali and Day Trip in Late May

    Hi Dave
    You seem to be a Google for Bali. Cheers for really being so helpful. I plan to visit Bali from 23rd to 29th May and after going through all your advice I have shortlisted the Kuta area and Nusa Dua area for staying. Do you think both these places are good for a peaceful and romantic holiday? Also, I plan for a one-day tour to Nusa Penida Island… Is it worth visiting Nusa Penida and what activities and attraction is there on the Island?
    Will sincerely appreciate your quick helpful response.
    Cheers,
    Rochak

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      To be honest, “peaceful” and “romantic” are not two words normally associated with Kuta. People either love Kuta for its endless shopping, massive nightclubs, and Aussie-themed pubs, while others loathe it for the incessant crowds, traffic-choked roads, and (often) unruly behaviour of tourists. In contrast, Nusa Dua is peaceful, with no hawkers, very little traffic, and wide empty streets, while most resorts there can certainly be termed as “romantic”.

      Perhaps instead of Kuta, consider these options.
      (1) Stay at one of the many very romantic resorts along the southern Bukit Peninsula where there is nothing much to do but admire the staggering views and laze about the massive pools, but these places are usually isolated.
      (2) Stay at one of the resorts along the ravines and jungles close to Ubud, where there is plenty to do and it’s easy to arrange trips around the island.
      (3) Base yourself at the more serene Sanur, where traffic is minimal and the beachside promenade is ideal for long walks and cycling.
      (4) Be at Seminyak, if you want to get away from most of the crowds but still be within a short taxi ride of the malls and clubs of Kuta.
      (5) Try Jimbaran, with its perfect beach and seafood dinners on the beach at sunset with wandering musicians.

      Nusa Penida is the “next big thing” and slated for major development over the coming years. It is certainly worth visiting on an organised tour from Sanur with a company like CASPLA Bali Sea View, but don’t just turn up on the island and expect to arrange a tour on the spot – the island is (so far) remarkably undeveloped for tourism. Penida offers extraordinary clifftop views, weaving and seaweed factories, tourist-empty temples at Ped and at the cave of Giri Putri, charming villages like Toyapakeh, and probably the most scenic (but still undeveloped) beach in Indonesia at Crystal Bay.

      Reply
  21. Where To Go and Stay on Bali for Twenty-Somethings

    Hey Dave,
    My boyfriend and I will be going to Bali for 2 weeks at the end of July. We’re in our mid 20s and like excitement. We are staying 5 days in Legian and 3 days on Gili T. Where else would you recommend? Would we also have to book our fast boat tickets from now as it will be high season? Also what beaches would you recommend visiting?

    Ally

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      The end of July is a busy time because it’s the school holidays in Australia, from where many are escaping the winter, and the start of the very busy month of August, when many tourists visit from Europe. So, book your accommodation at major hotels and fast-boat tickets to the Gili Islands online as soon as possible. A great source of information about options and prices for the boats is GiliBookings.

      If you are staying for 2 weeks but have only booked 8 nights so far, you may consider these places for the extra days.
      (1) Nusa Lembongan, a charming little island that is different to the Gilis, but very easy to arrange to visit on the way to/from Gili Trawangan. Lembongan offers more beaches, appealing villages, walks/cycling among the mangroves, motorbike rentals (ideal for first-timers as there are no cars on the island) and snorkelling.
      (2) Padangbai, where many fastboats to the Gilis leave/arrive but which almost everyone bypasses. This lovely village is scenic and a perfect base for exploration by chartered car and driver around the east coast, including Bali’s most delightful (and undeveloped) beach at Pasir Putih.
      (3) Toya Bungkah, the village inside the caldera of Gunung Batur volcano. From there, organise hikes around the volcano or walk around the lake yourself, wallow in the luxurious hot springs, and go on bicycle tours of the lava-scarred landscapes.

      For the more adventurous, there is rafting (arranged from anywhere), scuba diving (from the Gilis or Amed), trekking (from Toya Bungkah), water sports (Tanuung Benoa), cycling tours (arranged from anywhere), and surf lessons (Kuta)

      Reply
  22. One Week in Bali – 1 or 2 Towns?

    Hi Dave, You are such a wealth of information! My family and I (3 adults and a 5 year old) will be going to Bali for 7 days. My husband wants to stay at the Hard Rock in Kuta, (or a similar hotel with a more American and lively feel) but I would like to go somewhere more quiet and cultural. I’m not a fan of noise, clubs, and drunks. Unfortunately most places offer one bed or two singles. So Hard Rock is one of the few to offer two double beds. With our length of time, do you recommend we stay in one hotel and commute to see the rest of Bali or break our stay into two places to get the most of all of our expectations of the trip?

    Cindy

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Hard Rock is popular for its facilities as well as its location, but the resort is situated on one of the busiest corners in the single most frenetic region on Bali. While your room may be insulated against the noise, the area surrounding the resort is extremely busy with day-time shoppers and night-time clubbers. To be honest, it may not be the most relaxing place for a 5 year old.

      Don’t forget for the price of one family room in a 4-star resort like Hard Rock, you could get two very comfortable rooms with all the mod-cons in a 2-star hotel in Kuta, where the rooms are adjoining (eg New Arena Hotel – don’t be expecting luxury, but good value) or in a two-storey detached bungalow (e.g. Suji Bungalows). Otherwise, try a family-friendly resort in Legian, the next beach further north and far quieter than Kuta but only 1-2kms from Hard Rock, the fast-food outlets and Beachwalk shopping mall. Beachside resorts in Legian genuinely face the beach (and not a chaotic road like in Kuta), such as the Padma, Melasti Beach Resort, or the Jayakarta.

      Bali is compact, so with 7 days you can certainly spend 3-4 days in a beach resort region like Kuta, Legian, or the quieter Sanur, and another 3-4 days in the countryside exploring the wonderful attractions and extraordinary landscapes while also experiencing Bali’s unique culture and lifestyle. Ubud is the obviously choice, but other places to consider basing yourself are the lovely village of Padangbai on the east coast or the rugged Nusa Lembongan island, only 30 minutes by fastboat from Sanur.

      Reply
  23. Itinerary for Bali Honeymoon

    Hi Dave – Big fan of your site. Was super helpful for our 3 weeks in Greece last September and I stumbled across your thoughts on Bali. We’re planning to spend 19 days for our honeymoon in Bali and are looking for a combination of relaxation and activities. Both of us are active, well versed travellers in our 30s. Currently thinking 4 days in Seminyak (after 30 hours of flying from Toronto), 4 days on Gilli T, 6 days in Ubud, and wrapping with 4 days up in Northern Bali. Thoughts on our itinerary? Any suggestions for mid-range ($50-$125/night) hotels at the North end? Not sure what town to park ourselves in.

    TIA.

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      You should certainly be able to see much of Bali in 19 days! Seminyak is the quieter and more classy alternative to Kuta and Legian and an ideal place to spend your first few nights – also because it’s close to the airport. You may consider spending 1-2 more nights on Gili Trawangan to get the most value for your money, because getting there by fast-boat will cost about US$80 return per person. And you can always visit a few sights around Ubud on daytrips from Seminyak.

      Along the north coast, there are only two regions with a decent range of hotels and western-style restaurants and bars. Pemuteran is the most remote beach resort region (4-5 hours by chartered car and driver from the airport and Kuta area) and ideal for exploring the Bali Barat national park and scuba diving in the pristine waters nearby. It only attracts a handful of tourists, so there is a minimal range of facilities.

      The main resort region along the north coast is Lovina, which is actually a 10km stretch of coastline with hotels dotted along the beach, some 1-2kms from the nearest decent shop or café. The best base is the compact and charming area known as Kalibukbuk, where there’s a good range of mid to upper-range hotels for very reasonable prices such as Rambutan Boutique Hotel or Lovina Beach Hotel.

      But a warning … While Lovina is ideal for daytrips to Singaraja, the island’s second-largest city, and Banjar, with its monastery and hot springs, the beaches are not ideal for swimming. The sand is grey, gritty, and often lined with fishing boats or filled with flotsam and jetsam, but the sea breezes, sea views, and sunsets are as outstanding as anywhere else on the island. And Kalibukbuk offers fun-filled dolphin tours, a delightful village vibe, and the happiest of Happy Hours on the island.

      Reply
  24. 4 Days in Bali

    Hi Dave,

    I am in my late 20’s and am going with my boyfriend to Bali for 4 days. We are not sure about 1) which part of the island is best for us to stay, and 2) if we should stay in one hotel or switch hotels during our time there to get more than one experience. We would like to relax on the beach and also enjoy cultural activities that Bali has too offer. We prefer slightly less touristy of a place (which is why we are avoiding Kuta), but still want to have fun in the evenings going to bars.

    Would Seminyak and Ubud be a nice compliment? Or, would you recommend staying in Seminyak the whole time and doing day trips to Ubud? Do you know how long it takes in taxi get from Seminyak to Ubud and is it expensive?

    Thanks!
    Sarah

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      With only four days, you obviously won’t have much time to see many places, so it’s best to stay in one area to avoid unnecessary travelling between hotels, and the possibility of having to check out of one hotel at 10am and not check in at another until 2pm.

      Seminyak is a quieter and more upmarket version of Kuta – there are many classy cafes, appealing bars with live music and trendy shops but also still plenty of tourists. But without any nightclubs and malls, Seminyak is, for many, considerably nicer than Kuta. Seminyak also offers glorious sunsets, a lovely beach, genuine beachside cafes (almost unique on the island), and is only 5-10 mins by taxi from the Kuta/Legian area.

      Bali is compact, so it’s easy to daytrip to see some of the sights in one day. From your hotel, organise a car with a driver (never drive yourself) for about US$40-50 per day (10 hours, all inclusive). A taxi will be more expensive and would be reluctant to go too far from Semminyak.

      Your driver will offer 10-12 different itineraries for day trips, but for something different try (1) Candikuning – with recreation park and boat trips at Bedugul; lovely Bratan temple, impressive botanical gardens, and eerie lakes of Buyan and Tamblingan; or (2) Batur lake/mountain – with holy temple at Batur, volcano museum and buffet lunch with jaw-dropping views on the volcanic rim at Penelokan, and then drive into the caldera and wallow in the luxurious hot springs at Toya Devasya at Toya Bungkah village.

      You can see Ubud (one hour from Seminyak) and most of the highlights around Ubud in one-two day trips from Seminyak. In Ubud, visit the monkey forest, potter about the souvenir market, explore the Puri Lukisan or ARMA art museums, go to the Goa Gajah temple, and take a short rice-field walk. On another day around Ubud, visit the extraordinary rock sculptures at Gunung Kawi (Tampaksiring), see the sacred springs and temple at Tirta Empul, go to the undervisited gardens and temple at Gunung Kawi (Sebatu) and see the rice-terraces at Tegallalang. And don’t forget to leave enough time to explore the beaches and streets of Seminyak.

      Reply
  25. Sightseeing and Touring in Bali

    Hi Dave

    I have just spent hours reading about Bali and found especially helpful your recommendations. So decided to add myself to your list of satisfied customers!
    I am going to attend 10 days Vipassana Meditation in Kintamani area, ending 15th of May. I persuaded my husband to join me to extend my trip to a 8-9 days holiday together. He is not keen on laying by the pool or on the beach… We are in our 50ties but energetic and fit. My challenge is to arrange those 9 days to make it a relaxing but also interesting holiday for us. We both like sightseeing, touring, diving, visiting stunning sites, sunsets, hikes, good local food. We are prepared to pay for 5 star places but we prefer to pay for beautiful, unusual sites rather then standard luxury. If possible we would like to stay in one or two hotels – one on the beach and the other somewhere in Ubud area and take daily trips around the island. From your earlier advice I have a sense that Jimbaran could be a good base for the beach location but it also need to be totally quiet at night and with rooms overlooking the sea… I also read about Flores islands which I wonder if we could include in our itinerary….I would greatly appreciate your advice on our best itinerary and choice of hotels… Many thanks Iwona

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Bali has so much to offer, so just about everyone will find all sorts of wonderful activities that suit their interests.

      Yes, Jimbaran is a quiet and surprisingly unhurried and undeveloped beach resort region, despite being close enough to the airport to see planes arriving/departing at a distance, but without any aircraft noise. Jimbaran has several quality resort hotels, such as the Four Seasons and Karma, which offer luxury, tranquility and serenity – and sea views to die for. Jimbaran is also an ideal base to explore the southern peninsula with water sports at Tanjung Benoa; the world-class Pasifika art museum at Nusa Dua; the relaxed but stunning setting of Ulu Watu temple; and some isolated beaches such as Padang-Padang. And every evening parts of Jimbaran beach turn into makeshifts cafes offering two of the greatest things about Bali: fresh seafood and sunsets.

      But, of course, total quiet at hotels can never be guaranteed anywhere on Bali: other guests can be noisy, a stray rooster can’t be controlled, locals go to work on muffler-less motorbikes at the crack of dawn …

      If you are feeling energetic, here are a few ideas: (1) Go inside the extraordinary caldera of Gunung Batur (which you will get to know from Kintamani) and go on a hiking or cycling tour around the lava-scarred landscapes and wallow in the luxurious hot springs at Toya Bungkah village. (2) Go on a bike tour down the volcanic slopes and/or join a rafting tour; (3) Do watersports, boat trips and hikes to a volcanic peak at the gorgeous Lake Bratan from the Bedugul recreation park, where you probably won’t see another westerner all day, and visit the impressive botanical gardens at nearby Candikuning; (4) Undertake hikes exploring rice-terraces and waterfalls with guides from Munduk, Tirtagangga or Teganan. (5) from Lovina or Pemuteran, organise diving and hiking trips around the Bali Barat national park, especially the uninhabited but deer-infested Menjangan island.
      Most of these activities (and more) are easily accessible on day trips with a car and driver from Ubud.

      Flores is becoming a little more developed these days, especially along the coastline at Labuanbajo, but getting around the island will always be problematic. There are no tourist shuttle buses or long-distance taxis like on Bali and Lombok, so getting across the island will involve sardine-cans-on-wheels public minibuses along windy, bumpy roads. Not for the fainthearted or the casual visitor.

      Reply
  26. Gili meno or Gili Air

    Hi Dave,

    Love your website!
    My Fiancé and I are going to Bali for our honeymoon in August 2016. (We will spend 10 days in Thailand – Bangkok and Chiang Mai – before getting to Bali.) We are spending another 10 days in Bali and we are thinking about spending most of our time there on the Gili Islands. We definetely want to relax on the beach and eat some great food and drinks. We are not sure if we should pick Gili meno or Gili Air. We have ruled out Gili T. as most people we have spoken with tell us that this island is a bit too much of a party scene. We don’t want a place where it is super noisy all the time, but we would still like a place were we can find some options to go have a drink later in the evening. Which Gili Island would you recommend? Also what would you recommend for the remainder of our stay (probably 3 to 4 days) – we were thinking about Ubud, Seminyak, or Sanur?

    Thanks for your help!! 🙂
    Jenny

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Understandably one of the most popular places in and around Bali (and all of Indonesia) are the three gorgeous droplets off the coast of Lombok known as the Gili Islands. Surrounded by golden sands and turquoise waters, each of the three islands has a different personality. You are right that Gili Trawangan is the party island, but thankfully almost all of the nightclubs that finish just before the call-to-prayer at dawn from the mosques are clustered in the south-east quarter of the island, so there are definitely quieter stretches elsewhere. But the crowds on Gili T in August will be extraordinary, perhaps making it less than pleasant at times.

      In complete contrast, Gili Meno is so laidback it’s almost comatose. This is starting to change as a few boutique hotels are springing up, but Meno is still far, far quieter and less crowded than Gili T. This means, however, that there aren’t a lot of places to stay, eat and drink on Meno. Between boozy Gili T and snoozy Gili Meno is Gili Air. As the closest islet to Lombok, Gili Air has a genuine village atmosphere, but more than enough bars and cafés to satisfy anyone. And each island is within a 10-minute boat trip, so you can easily stay on one island and explore the others on day-trips.

      While the Gilis are superb, they could really be along the coast of Thailand or part of Tonga. They are also officially part of Lombok, so getting a taste of the “real Bali” on your trip is also heartily recommended. And there is no better place to experience the unique culture, lifestyle and landscapes of the island than Ubud. Compared to the Gilis, you may find Sanur and Seminyak unsatisfying, so a combination of the Gilis and Ubud is perfect. And your boat ticket to the Gilis will include a transfer to/from Ubud – and make sure you book with a speedboat company that will continue to Gili Air after Gili T.

      And please note that August is the busiest time (after Christmas/New Year) for tourism on Bali, and even more on the extremely popular Gili Islands. So, book your hotels and speedboat tickets as soon as you can – and expect prices to be higher than at other times.

      Reply
  27. Kuta or Seminyak with Family

    Hi Dave,

    Was googling about Bali and I came across your website.
    Love the comments you posted on this blog.

    I’m visiting Bali from 25th May to 28th May with my parents and family.

    We are indecisive as to whether we should stay at Kuta or Seminyak area?
    Also, since we are Muslims, we would prefer to stay near any halal food shop.
    Any recommendations?
    I understand that there are not much halal food around in Bali.
    Would truly appreciate your help on this.

    Also, any suggestion on how much money to bring for a 4 days trip?

    Thank you!
    Syahirah

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Kuta is unapologetically loud and brash, where the streets are often more crowded at midnight than midday. The two main roads are bumper-to-bumper traffic and the maze of laneways are choked with mini-marts, bars, cafés and massage parlours. While Legian and Seminyak are a little milder, bikini-clad women and public drunkenness are not uncommon anywhere along the streets of the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak strip of coastline. It can be overwhelming at times for some first-time visitors and, perhaps, even a little shocking for anyone from a conservative background with children and parents in tow.

      Far more sedate and tranquil is Sanur, which has no malls, nightclubs or surfers. And many hotels and cafés face the beach with its appealing promenade, ideal for strolling and cycling, and far from traffic.

      As you probably know about 95% of the island’s population are Hindus, and almost all tourists are non-Muslims, with the exception of a significant number of short-term holiday-makers from Java. There are Muslim communities, with mosques and halal restaurants, at Benoa, at the tip of the peninsula north of Tanjung Benoa and a short taxi trip via the tollway from Sanur; and at Candikuning, with its impressive botanical gardens and gorgeous lakeside temple. Even in Kuta you will find a halal restaurant catering for workers from Java and Lombok – ask around for a ‘warung Muslim’ or ‘warung Java’ (“warung” means “food stall”), or anything selling Padang food. Two halal places in Sanur are Natrabu restaurant on the bypass road; and Warung Mak Beng, along the main entry road of Jalan Hang Tuah, and metres from the chaotic port for boats to Nusa Penida.

      Without knowing how many people in your group, it’s very difficult to suggest how much money to bring, but these prices in (US dollars) will give you some idea: Indonesian food at an Indonesian restaurant $2-3; comfortable 1-star double room $20-25; taxi from airport to Sanur $8; and car hire with driver (10 hours) $40-50.

      Reply
  28. Luxury Honeymoon in Bali

    Hi Dave! I’ve been reading your feedback to people’s questions about Bali – so helpful! My fiance and I are going on our Honeymoon to Bali for two weeks (we might start off in Hong Kong for 2 nights – any suggestions there too, we’d love!) in middle-to-late September of this year. We’re so excited but also a bit overwhelmed with the number of choices for stay. Since this is our honeymoon, we want to go ALL OUT and have the most luxurious time in the most beautiful, luxurious, and romantic places! We love laying out by the beach and vegging out – definitely want to relax in wedding bliss but also love adventure, food and drink, health/wellness – a balance of both is ideal for us. This is what we’re thinking – would love your thoughts and suggestions! Thanks so much in advance!

    • Seminyak (4 nights) – The Samaya (should we look at other hotels?) – relax by the beach; Uluwatu Temple and dinner seaside at Jimbaran Beach; Sacred Monkey Forest and Tanah Lot Temple
    • Ubud (6 nights) – Maya Ubud? (other places we’re considering are Mandapa, Amandari, Hanging Gardens – differences between these hotels? Any other’s you’d recommend?!) – Cooking class, Campuhan Ridge Walk, Bicycle Tour, Water Rafting
    • Gili Trawangan (3 nights) – Ombak Sunset? other hotels or islands to consider? – relax on the beach
    • Sanur (1 night) – Fairmont Beach – relax – does it make sense to do this?

    Are we missing anything critical? Thanks again!

    Natalie

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Bali is certainly one of the most wonderful places to enjoy your honeymoon, and it’s great that you have done some serious research already!

      Bali is compact and easy to get around but to minimise unpacking/packing, travelling between hotels, and annoying 10am check-outs from one hotel and 2pm check-ins at another, perhaps stay an extra night on Gili Trawangan. Also, boat fares to the island can cost up to US$100 return so best to make the most of your money and time, and stay there for four nights.

      A few suggestions:

      Seminyak (4 nights)
      The Samaya is super-luxurious and one of several great choices. Others to consider are: The Legian, The Oberoi and the W Retreat & Spa (in the next beach north of Petitinget). A day or two can be spent strolling among the trendy boutiques and enjoying the classy bistros, and evenings sitting in beanbags on the beach watching a glorious sunset while sipping cocktails and enjoying live music.

      Day trips by charted car/driver include (1) southern peninsula with watersports at Tanjung Benoa, Pasifika Art Museum at Nusa Dua, stunning setting of Ulu Watu temple, swimming in the sublime Padang-Padang beach and finish with seafood dinner at sunset on Jimbaran beach. (2) Sanur beach, with its appealing promenade for strolling and cycling; boardwalk in the mangroves near Sanur; the frenetic produce and souvenir markets, and national museum, in Denpasar; and sunset and kecak dance at Tanah Lot.

      Ubud (6 nights)
      Most resorts such as the Maya Ubud and sublime Hanging Gardens (complete with funicular) are located a fair way from Ubud. Although hotel shuttle buses are usually provided to guests, you won’t be strolling out to cafes and shops from your hotel. Luxurious but more convenient options include Kusuma Sakti (with yoga/mediation facilities), Komaneka at Bisma (within an Infinity pool that blends into the jungle), and the ARMA Resort (in the grounds of the magnificent art museum).

      In Ubud, go on walks, visit museums, maybe do yoga and cooking classes, bike tours and explore the monkey forest. Day trips include: (1) Bedugul/Candikuning, with its postcard-perfect Bratan temple, watersports and lunch at the recreation park, impressive botanical gardens, markets, hikes and rice-terraces at Jatiluwih; (2) rock sculptures at Gunung Kawi; sacred temple/springs at Tirta Empul; cave temple at Goa Gajah; rice-field views at Tegallalang; and eerie daily bird migrations at Petulu. (3) and for something really special … the extraordinary lake and volcano at Batur, with the volcano museum and buffet lunch at a restaurant perched on the volcanic rim at Penelokan; and the afternoon wallowing in the hot springs and cold-water pools at the luxurious Toya Devasa resort alongside the lake and towering peaks.

      Check out the Ubud in a Minute YouTube channel for ideas of places to stay and things to do. Note: you will visit in the depth of the dry season so water levels may be too low for rafting.

      Gili Trawangan (4 nights)
      Ombak Sunset is a good choice, far from the din of nightclubs and mosques but within a 15-minute walk of the main drag. Another quiet but convenient option is the amazing Pondok Santi in a pristine coconut plantation. Or for total relaxation, try the lovely Mahamaya or Seri Resorts on neighbouring Gili Meno island. On the Gili Islands, it’s time to snorkel, stroll and snooze. Also check out the Gili Islands in a Minute YouTube channel.

      Reply
  29. Driving Around Bali

    Dear Dave,
    Our family (2 adults and 2 children: 14 and 16 years) are travelling to Bali for a month in June. We would like to travel around the island, to stay at the beach for some time and maybe visit nearby islands.
    Usually we rent a car and travel by ourselves when on holidays but you mentioned many times not to drive by yourself. Is it because of traffic or other reasons? My husband is very keen on driving a car in different cultures.
    What route would you recommend? We could stay in 3-4 different places. Could recommend some nice villas (Balinese style would be an advantage)?
    What about the west part of Bali? What is worth seeing there?
    Thank you in advance.

    Ruta

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Absolutely, driving around Bali is NOT recommended, particularly for first-time visitors, and two minutes after leaving the airport you will agree. The reasons are many: the traffic in the south is diabolical at most times, with a confusing array of overpasses, poor signs and U-turn lanes blocking roads. In the countryside, roads are often potholed, used by farmers to herd cows and ducks, and have almost no signs – and sat nav equipment probably won’t be fitted in your rental vehicle. You will have to stop constantly to ask for directions, and if you have an accident you will be responsible, whether it’s your fault or not, on the irrefutable logic that the accident wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t there! And if that doesn’t dissuade you major rental agencies such as Hertz and Avis are poorly represented and only available at the airport. Renting a vehicle from a travel agency is just asking for more problems. So, for just an extra US$10 per day, you can organise a car with a driver, who will handle all these hassles, allowing all passengers an enjoyable day out, and he will know of great rice-field views not in any guidebook and a temple ceremony you can watch or even attend.

      Exploring Bali with a car and driver can be organised almost anywhere, but best from your hotel. The ideal bases for exploration are: the charming village of Padangbai (for the east coast) – try staying at Bloo Lagoon Resort; the laidback village of Lovina (for the north) – try Rambutan Boutique Hotel; and the spiritual heartland of Ubud (for the central regions) – try Nick’s Pension. Among the southern beach regions, it’s best to hire taxis between major sights, and you won’t need any vehicles on islands like Nusa Lembongan or the Gili Islands, because there are none …

      Your driver will offer you an array of itineraries for day-trips including all the major sights. If you are all ‘templed-out’, you may want to consider these routes. From Padangbai, (day 1) visit ancient village of Tenganan; bat cave temple of Goa Lawah; Bali’s best beach at Pasir Putih; and resort of Candidasa. (2) water palace at Ujung; remarkable fishing villages and views along the remote far east cost; lunch at Amed; and stunning water palace at Tirtagangga. (3) Head to the extraordinary Mt Batur and into the volcano for hot springs at Toya Bungkah, buffet lunches with views on the rims boat trips and hikes.

      From Lovina, visit the second city of Singaraja; Gitgit waterfalls; and monastery and springs at Banjar. From Ubud, (day 1) cave temple at Goa Gajah; walks at Yeh Pulu; rock sculptures of Gunung Kawi; sacred temple and springs at Tirta Empul; rice-field views at Tegallalang; and bird migration at Petulu. (2) Bedugul/Candikuning with the scenic Bratan temple; lunch and watersports on the lake; impressive botanical gardens; hiking along volcanic slopes; and lakes Buyan and Tamblingan. (3) UNESCO-listed rice terraces at Jatiluwih, lovely Luhur Batukau temple; and scenic Tabanan-Seririt road via Munduk.

      The western part of Bali is remote and offers little in the way of tourist hotels and western-style restaurants. But certainly worth visiting along the southern road of western Bali are Negara for the buffalo races; Medewi surfing beach; gorgeous Rambut Siwi temple; and the remarkable Christian villages of Palasari and Belimbingsari. Along the northern road of western Bali is Bali Barat national park; boat trips and snorkelling at Menjangan island; monkey-infested temple of Pura Pulaki; low-key resort region of Pemuteran; and Banjar.

      Reply
  30. Luxury Splurge for Last Night on Bali

    Hi Dave-
    I am doing a 14 day tour from Sanur-Kintamani-Ubud-Candidasa-Lombok-Gigi Islands and back to Sanur. I have 2 days & 1 night before heading back to the US. I am traveling solo & am in my mid 30’s and would like to stay at a nice beach resort but don’t want something too romantic. I was looking at AYANA resort but I’m concerned that the beach there isn’t ideal for swimming and my only food options would be at the hotel. I’d love a luxurious beach hotel within walking distance of a town with stores and restaurants. It looks like Seminyak may be a better location, however it seems a bit far from where my tour ends near the Grand Bali Beach in Sanur. Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much! Jaimee

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Your trip sounds amazing and you will certainly see the many highlights of Bali and the neighbouring island of Lombok.

      Ayana Resort is remarkable and luxurious, but like many along that part of the coastline it does have a very small sandy beach, which may well disappear completely during high tide. And Ayana is some distance from the main road with other cafés, shops and bars, so you would probably end up eating, drinking, and shopping at the resort. Ayana is certainly romantic (perfect for honeymoons), so perhaps not the ideal choice.

      As you only have one night you don’t want to waste too much time travelling to/from your hotel, and assuming you will be staying at Sanur before you start, you may want to consider Jimbaran. The surprisingly unhurried resort region of Jimbaran boasts a superb crescent of white sand, and is very close to the airport but still quiet. By 4pm parts of the beach become packed with tables of diners relishing the freshest possible seafood and one of the best sunsets on the planet, so that may be a perfect way to finish your Bali trip.

      Recommended luxury resorts in Jimbaran to consider that have superb beaches and are within walking distance of shops, bars and cafés (including those on the beach at sunset) include: The Four Seasons, The Intercontinental, and Karma Jimbaran.

      Reply
  31. Nusa Dua or Somewhere Else

    Hi thank you so much for all the information you have kindly put on your website!
    I am planning to visit Bali in August and I’m really unsure of where to stay. Initially I chose Nusa Dua for its view and peace and quiet as I’m not much of a clubber. However, I want to do water ports such as seawalking, watch the sunset go down, cruise shopping and good local food. Please can you suggest where is the best town for me to stay? I would ideally want a beach front hotel. I am partially sighted and want to make the most of the health I have got.

    Ray

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Bali has many resort regions, each with its own attractions and personality, so choosing your base is important but also difficult.

      Nusa Dua is a purpose-built enclave of 4-5 star resorts with superb facilities and views, and none of the hassles of other resort regions (eg hawkers and traffic), but it does cater very much for couples and families, so it may not suit a single person. And the resort grounds are often so huge that guests need golf buggies to get around. If you’re after the “real Bali” this isn’t it.

      Sanur is probably more suitable. This region stretches about 7km along an appealing beach with a promenade ideal for strolling and cycling, but with traffic jams and vehicle noise a pleasing distance away. Sanur still has enough handicraft and souvenir shops but no malls, and offers a few bars but no real nightclubs, and is also the base for Seawalker trips. (Other water sports can be arranged at Tanjug Benoa, a short trip by taxi across the tollway from Sanur.) Sanur doesn’t have sunsets, so you would have to take a 20-30 minute taxi ride to Kuta or Jimbaran, which is especially good for a seafood dinner on the beach as the sun goes down. Sanur, of course, boasts oodles of cafés and hotels, and with a long strip of sand many of those face the beach.

      And please note that August is a very busy time with many thousands of tourists flocking to the island from Europe, so book far ahead for hotels.

      Reply
  32. Good Location on Bali for Active Family

    Love your site! We are a family of 4 (17 & 19 year old sons) and will be visiting Bali for 2 1/2 weeks late November early December this year. What are you recommendations for accommodation/location for the family if we were to split our time between 2 locations? We are experienced snorkellers and divers, want to experience the culture, be close to activities for the teenagers, car and driver rentals, massages and walking distance to a nice selection of restaurants and bars. Shopping is not a priority and definitely looking for a more authentic experience (i.e. not Kuta area). Is a villa a better option than a resort hotel? Our preference would be for white sand beach if on the coast…and we love the idea of beachfront. Not looking at 5 star, perhaps 2-3 star. But location and experience is more important to us. Appreciate any advice and recommendations.

    Lee Hawkins

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      It’s ideal that you’re splitting your time between two places on Bali. And when you are direct about what you don’t want, it’s easier to make recommendations.

      If you want to avoid Kuta, and crave an ‘authentic experience’ with snorkelling rather than shopping, we can also rule out other southern beach resort regions like Sanur, Nusa Dua, and Tanjung Benoa. One place that fits your bill nicely is Padangbai, a charming village squeezed between hills along the east coast about 2 hours by taxi or chartered car from the airport. Padangbai fronts a cute white-sand beach, but within walking distance are two even better beaches for swimming and snorkelling at Blue Lagoon and Bias Tugel. Padangbai has all the bars and cafes you need and some decent 2-3 star beach-front accommodation (try Kerti Beach Bungalows, Puri Rai Resort, or Bloo Lagoon Resort), and is ideal for daytrips by chartered car/driver to the bat cave temple at Goa Lawah, the stunning water palace at Tirtagangga, the ancient village of Tenganan, and Pasir Putih (probably Bali’s nicest beach and with no hotel in sight – yet?)

      Happily, Padangbai is also a major departure point for speed boats (2 hours) to the Gili Islands, three gorgeous droplets of white sand and turquoise seas off the coast of Lombok. They are perfect for snorkelling and diving, and no cars are needed because there are no vehicles on the islands! Gili Trawangan is more of a party island, though there are lovely quiet stretches of beach, but a more authentic experience can be found on Gili Air, which has a real village vibe with plenty of places to eat, drink, get massages, and organise underwater activities.

      A villa is probably cheaper than two rooms in a 3-star resort, and you can get privacy and maybe your own pool, but rates include use of a fully-equipped kitchen which most guests probably don’t use much – or at all. There are no villas that I know about in Padangbai, really only Seminyak and Ubud on Bali, but the Gilis do have many villas for rent – try Kai’s Beach House (Gili Air); Bamboo House (Gili Meno); or Gili Khumba Villas or Villa Sunset Beach (Gili Trawangan).

      Reply
  33. Girls Trip to Bali

    I have a choice! Girls trip to relax, spa, culture, spa, wildlife, relax … did I mention spa? Not interested in clubs or shopping or families! We are all in our mid 40’s and FUN. Flying into Singapore we have three options. Bali for 8 days, Bali for 4 Phuket for 4, or Phuket for 8 days. And we love luxury boutique hotels/villas. Fortunately, we are not on a budget. All of this happening in July 2016 — Help Dave!

    Stephanie

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Bali has all that you seek – and more! But it is worth noting that some places calling themselves a ‘hotel & spa’ really only offer little more than massages, manicures, and pedicures. Only the more upmarket (and expensive) places have genuine hot-tub-style spas. And while Bali has loads of culture and beautiful scenery it doesn’t really have too much obvious and accessible ‘wildlife’, although all sorts of wild animals can be seen in the Bali Zoo, Bali Elephant Safari Park, and Bali Bird Park.

      Spending 4 days at one destination and 4 days at another will involve wasting the best part of a precious day in taxis, checking in, waiting at airports and flying, so it’s probably best to spend all of your 8 days on one island.

      To avoid the multitude of shops and clubs along the most popular resort region of Kuta and the family resorts around Legian, it’s best to base yourself in Seminyak, the next strip of beach to the north. This is an area of classy boutiques, bars (including live jazz venues), and cafés. There are plenty of chic resorts in Seminyak to help you relax, such as the extraordinary W Retreat & Spa (which does have a real spa), The Oberoi, The Legian, and The Samaya. Another option for a small group is to rent a villa in Seminyak, which may be cheaper overall than several rooms in an upmarket resort, and you have your own kitchen, pool and, maybe, even a personal butler!

      Reply
  34. Bali for Solo 40 Year Old Seeking Tranquility / Yoga

    Hi Dave
    I’m travelling to Bali in April. I’m looking to stay at two places. I’m looking to stay first near gorgeous beach where nice atmosphere to get cocktails etc. I’m 40 and travelling on my own. Where would I find similar age group people to meet? Then I’m wanting to go to Ubud for tranquility and do meditation and hoping to find somewhere spiritual for healing mind and body.
    What can you recommend?
    Thank you Dave,
    Sarah

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      It’s great that you are dividing your time between a beach and Ubud, the spiritual heartland of the island.

      Bali has no shortage of beaches, most offering different things to different people. The most popular resort regions are Kuta, which attracts mostly younger budget-minded travellers, including surfers, and the adjoining Legian, which caters more for families.

      So, your best option may be the next beach further north, Seminyak. More classy and relaxed than Kuta and Legian, Seminyak offers plenty of bars and cafés facing the sea, including some with beanbags strewn across the appealing sand and live music during the famed sunsets. Seminyak is only a short taxi ride from the malls and clubs of Kuta/Legian, and a good base for daytrips by chartered car and driver to the islands’ attractions. It also boasts many stylish bistros, boutiques and live-music venues where you may meet like-minded people of a similar age.

      Ubud can get busy during the afternoon with day-trippers from the southern beaches, but is fairly relaxed at other times, especially in charming villages such as Penestanan and Nyuhkuning, which are separate to, but part of, Ubud. In Ubud, you have a choice of staying at a specialised yoga retreat (such as One World Retreats); a hotel that has yoga and meditation facilities (such as Naya Ubud); or staying wherever you like and simply joining a walk-in class of yoga, meditation, and everything else in between at places like Ubud Yoga House (in the rice-fields) or Intuitive Flow (in Penestanan).

      Reply
  35. 8 Days on Bali

    Hi Dave-

    I love your site its very helpful! I am planning a trip to Bali for 8 days. Do you think that is too much time to spend there? Should we try to include some time in Thailand? If you think 8 days is a good amount of time, do you suggest we stay in different parts of the island? If so, which ones and how do we get around? Thank you!

    Melissa

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      8 Days is enough time to have a nice visit on Bali (perhaps stay in two different towns for 4 days each) but is certainly not too much. One could easily spend a month exploring Bali and never retrace their steps. Thailand is a 4 hour flight away so you’d be spending two of 8 days to travel with very little benefit. Some great spots to think about staying are Seminyak, Jimbaran, Sanur, and Ubud. The best way to get around Bali is by hiring driver (basically a taxi).

      Reply
  36. Rebecca

    Hi Dave,

    I’m headed to Ubud the beginning of April for a 13 day yoga retreat in Ubud. Following the retreat, I will have three days to explore on my own. In that very limited time, I would like to see Tanah Lot and Uluwatu and perhaps take a surf lesson. Given that the majority of my trip will be in the rice fields of Ubud, I would like to stay on a sandy, accessible beach. I plan to hire a driver to take me to the temples, but would prefer to spend more time exploring than driving, so location will be important. Do you have recommendations for an excellent four or five star hotel with character?

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Bali offers many different types of beach resort regions, but perhaps you would prefer one near Ubud (and the airport) to avoid too much travelling, and one that is relaxing. The noise, traffic and crowds of the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak strip of coastline may be unsettling after a 13 day yoga course in the rice-fields of Ubud, so consider staying in Sanur.

      Sanur is only 30-40 minutes from Ubud; it boasts a 7km stretch of beach with a promenade lined with hotels, cafés, and bars facing the sea, all far from the busy main roads; and is a good base for daytrips around the island. While Sanur has no surf, it’s also only 20-30 minutes by taxi from the beaches at Kuta/Legian, which is the best place to organise a surf lesson, as well as rent gear.

      From your hotel, it’s easy to organise a car with a driver (never drive yourself) for about US$50 per day (10 hours). Tanah Lot is spectacular, especially at sunset, and spectacularly busy, especially at sunset. If you visit during the morning, you may have the whole complex to yourself. Ulu Watu has another extraordinary setting, although the temple itself is fairly underwhelming. It is worth being at Ulu Watu at sunset (the crowds are far less than at Tanah Lot) for the remarkable traditional Kecak fire-walking dance.

      There are a number of great hotels in Sanur, and you’ll probably want one facing the sea. The Tandjung Sari is exquisite. One of the first built on Bali, it’s is designed like a Balinese village. Others offering all the mod-cons as well as character, sea-views, space, and tranquility include Griya Santrian Beach Resort (good value compared to others in that range); Maya Sanur Resort (with a stunning seaside setting); and Puri Santrian (in a quieter part of Sanur).

      Reply
  37. Highlights of Bali

    Hi dave! You’re site was really helpful when I went to Santorini. So I’m back to ask about Bali. It will be my first time in Bali and I will be staying in the Seminyak area. I will just be travelling from July 26-30. Limited number of days. What do you think is the perfect itinerary to explore the best of Bali? Thanks!

    Kristine Umale

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      It’s great that you want to spend some time exploring this paradise island, although it is tempting to spend much of your days lazing by the pool or on the beach.

      Seminyak is an ideal base and it’s easy to organise through your hotel a car with a driver (never drive yourself) for about US$50 per day (and that’s a full day of 10 hours of exploring). Taxi drivers double as informal tour guides and most can offer you some 10-12 itineraries for daytrips including all the temples, markets, and rice-field views you could possibly see. They might not be well informed on the history and significance of different sights (or at least not be able to communicate it in English) but most know where the highlights are and what tourists want to see.

      That said, I’d suggest these four itineraries in central and southern Bali to avoid too much travelling and most of the crowds, and to see the “real Bali”. Start early (preferably by 8am) to beat the traffic and crowds at major temples and other sights.

      (1) Explore Ubud, the cultural heart of the island, with its magnificent art museums, rice-field walks and monkey forest; and then visit the stunning rock sculptures at Gunung Kawi and the sacred temple and springs at Tirta Empul.
      (2) Go to the capital, Denpasar, to see the renovated national museum and marvel at the chaos at the produce and souvenir markers; then go to Sanur, with its lovely café-lined promenade, ideal for cycling, walk the boardwalk trail at the nearby Mangrove Center, and drive around Pulau Serangan island.
      (3) Head south along the Bukit Peninsula, visiting stunning surfing beaches (also great for swimming), such as Padang-Padang; drive around the sanitised enclave of resorts at Nusa Dua with its Museum Pasifika art museum; visit the scenic Ulu Watu temple; enjoy water sports at Tanjung Benoa and explore the charming village of Benoa; and finish with a seafood dinner at sunset on the beach at Jimbaran.
      (4) Explore the hills at Candikuning, along the chilly volcanic slopes, with its markets and impressive Botanical Gardens; have lunch at a lakeside restaurant (your driver will likely be able to recommend something) and take a boat trip at Bedugul, with no tourist in sight; finish at the magnificent Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple.

      Reply
  38. Bali for Twenty Year Olds

    Hey, Dave,
    I’m planning a trip with five 23 year old friends in July to Bali. We still don’t know which place to choose, Kuta or Nusa Dua. We would like to have both nice beach where we can swim and nightlife. What do you recommend? Also, I would like to know if we stay in Kuta, can we find everyday trips to some beaches worth visiting? And in the end, do those trips have reasonable prices? Thank you in advance.

    Marija

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      As you probably know Bali has many resort regions, most of which offer different things to different people. Nusa Dua is a purpose-built enclave of 4- and 5-star resorts. With most resorts facing a lovely beach with a long promenade, the area appeals to families and, perhaps, older tourists, who spend much of their time soaking up the sun on a lounge chair. There is an outdoor mall but no other shopping or nightlife. In short, Nusa Dua probably wouldn’t suit a group of 20-somethings.

      In contrast, Kuta can seem overwhelming to first-time visitors and anyone who hasn’t been to similar places like Phuket in Thailand. Kuta offers endless shops, bars, cafés, and hotels along a maze of lanes choked with taxis and wandering tourists. The resort regions north of Kuta, i.e. Legian and Seminyak, are more relaxed and tranquil, but still within minutes by taxi of the nightclubs and malls of Kuta.

      From Kuta/Legian/Seminyak, several beaches in southern Bali are easily accessible by chartered car with a driver. (Never drive yourself.) Six of you can squeeze into a comfortable SUV for a total of about US$50 per day and visit gorgeous beaches like Sanur (relaxed, with no traffic and a promenade for bicycles); Tanjung Benoa (for watersports); Jimbaran (seafood dinner at sunset), and Padang-Padang (for an extraordinary setting). And just north of Seminyak are delightful surfing beaches (also worthwhile for swimming) with beachside cafés such as Echo Beach and Berewa.

      Two other options worth considering: rent a villa in Seminyak, which may end up being cheaper than renting 3-5 hotel rooms, and you often get your own pool and even a maid; or head to Gili Trawangan island, only 2 hours by speedboat from Bali, which has perfect sand and sea, and a party atmosphere enjoyed by so many.

      Reply
  39. Great Beach on Bali

    Hi Dave,

    This probably won’t be my first time asking you these questions but I need your help! My boyfriend and I have booked a hotel in Ubud for 11 nights. He wanted a more relaxation trip and I do as well but along with some exploring and fun in the sun. We have decided to maybe spend half the time by the beaches. I want crystal clear water, white sands, and I am interested in doing some shopping before I leave. Please advise which beach you recommend and a hotel near there to stay at. So far I have seen Belitung Island, Balangan Beach, Padang-Pa, Lombok. Please help! Your opinions matter.

    Natalie Cuba

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      If you’re based at Ubud visit beaches along the nearby east coast. Padangbai, which is a village more known for ferry trips to Lombok and speedboats to the Gili Islands, faces a lovely curved harbour of white sand, but for swimming, the Blue Lagoon and Bias Tugel beaches are ideal and within walking distance of the town. But the most appealing beach on Bali – and still without a hotel in sight (so don’t tell anyone!) – is Pasir Putih, not far from Padangbai, with beachside cafés and snorkeling gear for rent. Padangbai offers a small range of hotels from the funky Topi Inn to the luxury Blue Lagoon Resort.

      Otherwise, Nusa Dua has a range of luxury resorts, all facing a perfect beach with those ‘crystal clear waters’ and ‘white sands’ you want, including the highly-recommended Laguna Resort and Nikko Bali Resort. Adjoining Nusa Dua is the busier and more authentic Tanjung Benoa with several kilometres of perfect beaches and many lower-priced hotels, such as Rumah Bali and Ombak Puith Bungalows.

      But the best place for magical waters and sand is not on Bali, but easily accessible from there. The three Gili Islands are a couple of hours by boat/bus from Bali and tick all the boxes: they are relaxing (even on the party island of Trawangan), loads of fun, and offer plenty of activities. On Gili Trawangan, recommended hotels include Alam Gili, Villa Ombak, and Gili Teak Resort. If the Gilis are too far, a closer option from Bali is Nusa Lembongan island.

      The best shopping is available in the Kuta/Legian area, to which you could easily day-trip from Ubud, Nusa Dua, and Tanjung Beno. Or, perhaps, leave your shopping to the last day as the airport is only minutes from Kuta beach.

      Reply
      1. Location of Pasir Putih Beach

        Hi Dave,

        Thanks for your input. I searched how far Pasir Putih Beach was from our resort in Ubud (Puri Gangga) and it says it is 6hrs 45min. We then checked how far Pasir Putih is from Pandangbai because you said it is not too far and it says 8hrs. Am I checking something wrong here?

        Natalie Cuba

        Reply
  40. White Sandy Beach on Bali

    Hi Dave, I really appreciate your comments and articles about Bali and its culture, your work is very generous and talk very good about yourself. I’m from Peru, South America, and will travel with my fiance to Bali in october (honeymoon, it will be our first time in Asia). There is not a lot of people around here who knows the island, so I have been researching in internet about it. We will stay 8 days, the first 4 days will be in Ubud. I would like you to recommend us a real white sandy beach (preferentially for swimming) to stay the other 4 days, not too noisy or crowded and with options of fun, relax, water sports and romance.

    Thank you in advance for your recommendations.

    Jose

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      It’s great that you’re dividing your time between a beach and Ubud, with its many temples, rice-field walks and art museums. Perhaps not too surprisingly most ‘real white sandy beaches’ are popular and, therefore, (potentially) busy and crowded. Bali is an island dotted with volcanoes, so some visitors are disappointed that the sand on a few beaches (eg Lovina and anything north of Seminyak) is greyish – still perfect for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, but not so appealing for some.

      However, there is one beach resort region that fits your requirements perfectly. Close enough to the airport to see (but not hear) planes coming and going, Jimbaran is astoundingly undeveloped … so far. With no malls, surfable waves, or nightclubs Jimbaran is mostly ignored by tourists, so for much of the day you may have parts of the extended crescent of bleached-white beach to yourself.

      However, from 5pm every day some sections of the beach are crowded with candle-lit tables where diners indulge in the freshest possible seafood as the sun sets. Later everyone is entertained by wandering musicians, fireworks, and traditional dances on makeshift stages. This will be a highlight of your visit and is certainly one of the more romantic things to do on the island.

      Jimbaran has many cafés and mini-marts, but for better daytime shopping and serious nighttime clubbing, the Kuta/Legian area is only 20 minutes away by taxi, while Tanjung Benoa, a little farther away on the eastern part of the southern peninsula, is where every conceivable type of watersport is available.

      Reply
      1. Jose

        Thank you very much for your time and advice. You are the best! I will recommend your travel guide to every one around here. Keep doing this excelent work.

        Best regards!

        Jose

        Reply
  41. Five Star Hotel in Kuta

    I wanted to know your opinion about the Karthika Plaza Hotel in Kuta. Is it a good option? Or are there better hotels in that range? Our main concern is we want a five star hotel with good rooms, good food, and a pool to relax.

    Viyaya

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      This is one of many large resorts in the area more formally known as Tuban (or, sometimes, South Kuta). Still within walking distance of the shops, bars and cafes along the southern end of Kuta, this resort is, however, a long walk to Legian and a taxi trip to the trendier bistros and boutiques of Seminyak. But this may not matter because The Kartika is located next to (and owned by) the enormous western-style Discovery Mall, which boasts almost everything you may need. The resort features 7 restaurants and bars and a magnificent seaside setting, but the ‘private beachfront location’ (as described on the website) is not as grand as it sounds; in fact, the beach along that part of Tuban has mostly concrete barriers or thin grey sand that disappears in high tide. But many guests hang around the Kartika’s sumptuous pool or walk to the beach in Kuta.

      Kuta is mostly a collection of narrow lanes with homestays and cheaper hotels built for surfers in the ’60s and ’70s and, more recently, budget travellers – although a few resorts have been built along the very busy beach road in Kuta. Most five-star resorts/hotels are located south of Kuta in Tuban and to the north in Legian and Seminyak. Among the many popular luxurious resorts with genuine beachfront locations in Legian are the Padma Resort; the Bali Niksoma Boutique Beach Resort; and the Bali Mandira Beach Resort. In Seminyak, check out these resorts: The Samaya; The Oberoi; or The Legian.

      Reply
  42. Good Area to See Lots of Temples

    Hi Dave,

    I am planning to visit Bali with my family (2 kids) for 4 days in mid March… We are Hindus and would like to visit as many temples as possible but also have some time at the beach.

    Any suggestions on where to stay (Area) and possible places to visit, etc… Please guide.

    Regards
    Ashok Kudva

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      As the inside of many temples on Bali are off-limits to non-Hindus, you will have greater access than most tourists and gain a far better insight into the island’s unique form of Hinduism. However, before you would be allowed into a temple that is off-limits to tourists (i.e. non-Hindus), you should bring with you a letter of introduction from your temple in English and translated into Indonesian (just use Google translate) on official letterhead.

      These are a few of the temples you should visit: Pura Tanah Lot, spectacular but impossibly crowded at sunset, but you would be able to cross the water (if the tide is out) and go inside the temple; Tirta Empul, where you could also pray and bathe in the holy springs; Pura Luhur Batukau, set in a gorgeous forest and off-limits to non-Hindus; and Pura Pasar Agung, with a magnificent setting way up the Gunung volcano and completely off-limits to non-Hindus, but involves some steep steps.

      Perhaps not surprisingly, there are very few temples of note anywhere near the main resort regions, such as Kuta or Nusa Dua. The best temples are located inland and often near or on the slopes of volcanoes, so the best bases for visiting temples would be Ubud, the cultural and spiritual heartland of the island and close to Tirat Empul and others; and Padangbai, a delightful village with appealing beaches and close for day trips to Pura Pasar Agung, the renowned but touristy Pura Besakih, and Pura Goa Lawah, with its cave full of bats.

      And remember: the best advise will always come from a local. So, hire a car with a driver (never drive yourself as the traffic is absurd and roads often abysmal). He will be a Hindu, too, and be able to escort you into the inner sections of the temples normally off-limits to tourists and know of ceremonies, which you can always witness and, perhaps, even join if invited.

      Reply
  43. Destination Recommendations

    Hi Dave,

    This is one of the most spot on reviews I have come across. We are going for out second trip to Bali from our beautiful home of Cape Town, so we are very spoilt, but the exchange rate makes it a very expensive trip for us. We all loved Canggu and stayed last year at the amazing Tugu Hotel, this time we are looking at villas on AirBnb. I am looking to pick your brain for two or three other suggestions for destinations. We are traveling as parents with a 22 and a 19 year old. Where would you recommend? I have also looked at the Menjangan but seems so far to travel for a few nights.

    Many thanks,
    Alison

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      As you stayed previously in Canggu and are now seeking ‘similar destinations’ I assume you’re familiar with the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak region and looking for something different. Sanur may be a little too docile for your children and Nusa Dua may be out of your budget, so I suggest two other options.

      Firstly, Tanjung Benoa, along the thumb-shaped part of the southern peninsula, with a charming village at the tip. It offers a 4-5km stretch of sand with the usual type of hotels, cafes, bars etc, but is also the epicenter for Bali (and all of Indonesia) for watersports. Jet-skiing, para-sailing etc (but not surfing) are available for a fraction of what it would cost back home, and is only 15-20 minutes by taxi from the airport and Kuta, with its malls and sunsets.

      A second option is the mostly-overlooked island of Nusa Lembongan, only 30 minutes by speedboat from Sanur (US$10 one-way by Perama). This gorgeous island has no cars, so it’s perfect to explore on foot, bicycle or motorbike – and ideal for new or inexperienced riders as people who rent motorbikes don’t worry about international licences, or even registration papers, number plates or helmets because there’s no traffic police! There are pockets of sand with appropriate names like Dream Beach and Sunset Beach, mangroves, villages, superb snorkeling and diving, and surfing 200m off-shore. And, perhaps, best of all, it is very good value.

      You refer to Menjangan, which is actually an uninhabited island with no tourist facilities in a national park, so you probably mean Pemuteran, the nearest beach resort. It’s rather spread out, has minimal facilities, offers a scruffy beach and, you are right, a long way from the airport (4-5 hours by chartered car).

      BTW: a rash of villas have been built recently across Bali. While they offer privacy and some seclusion, they (usually) also provide a fully-equipped kitchen, which very few guests use because there are so many good-value restaurants nearby and who wants to cook on holidays anyway? You’ll probably find that renting 2 or 3 separate rooms in a comfortable 2-star hotel with air-con, pool etc will be cheaper than getting a villa anyway.

      Reply
  44. Beach and Hotels for 2 Women in Forties

    Hi Dave
    Two women, mid- forties 1 week in Bali. Twin accommodation around $100 – $150 per night. Priorities are: relax, cocktails, massage, and beach (for at least half the time there. Looking at Ubud for a few nights too)
    What advice for beach accommodation and area to stay? And where in Ubud would you recommend?

    Tess

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      With so many great resort regions to base yourself and a plethora of fantastic hotels to choose from, it’s hard to make recommendations, but let’s try ….

      Assuming, you are too mature to be dedicated night-clubbers and as you want to ‘relax’, I’d suggest ignoring the very busy Kuta/Legian/Seminyak region, which is full of surfers, shoppers, and clubbers. And with only a few days, you don’t want to waste time travelling to/from the north or west coast. And you want somewhere with a range of bars and spas, so I’d suggest Sanur. It’s still close to the airport, and to Kuta/Legian if you need malls and sunsets, but Sanur boasts a 7km beachside promenade lined with endless hotels, cafes and eateries, with enough shops, bars, and spa/massage places to satisfy.

      And in Sanur, I’d suggest these places in the range mentioned. They have all the mod-cons expected of 3-4-star resorts and front the beach: Besakih Beach Hotel, with its superb location and appealing swimming pools; Griya Santrian, also with a perfect setting surrounded by lovely shops and cafés; or Mercure Resort Sanur, if you prefer a little isolation in southern Sanur but crave the facilities offered by a brand-name resort.

      In Ubud, consider Alam Indah which offers traditionally-designed bungalows facing a jungle-clad ravine near the Monkey Forest, but – deliberately – no TVs; ARMA Museum Resort, which costs a little more but worth it for the garden setting of the renowned art museum; or Ubud Heaven, a new set of villas in the delightful village of Penestanan, an easy walk from downtown Ubud.

      Reply
  45. Volcano Hikes / Favorite Temples

    Thanks for your site. Best info I’ve found on Bali so far. Do you have any recommendations on which would be the best volcano walk to do in Bali? And what are your 3 favourite temples?

    Frances Martin

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Bali is dotted with volcanoes, many over 1.5km high, but there is no real place on the island for a ‘volcano walk’ if reaching the peak is the aim in a couple of easy hours. There are several ideal places, however, for walks from 2 to 4 hours along volcanic slopes. These include: (1) Around Tirtagangga, a gorgeous water palace, where it’s easy to hire a guide and explore the cascading rice-terraces and traditional villages; (2) Along the road from the ancient Bali Aga village of Tenganan to Candidasa; (3) Along the road from Putung village to Manggis in the east; and (4) From Bali’s only monastery to the village at Banjar in the north.

      If you want to hike (as opposed to walk) and reach a volcanic peak, the best and really only place on Bali is Gunung Batur mountain, which erupted as recently as 2000. Within its caldera, there’s a superb lake, hot springs resorts, and several quaint villages with basic but comfortable accommodation, including Toya Bungkah. From there, it’s easy – but not cheap – to arrange a hike to the peak of Batur through your homestay. (Everyone in the village is a guide or related to one!) The easiest hike is 3-4 hours, while the toughest is 7 hours, commences at 3am, and timed to relish the sunrise from the peak.

      Bali has literally thousands of temples, but many are remote, crowded with tourists, or not open to non-Hindus. One favourite is Pura Goa Lawah, which is easy to reach along the east coast, has a scenic coastal setting, is host to frequent ceremonies and has a eerie cave choked with bats. Get there before midday to avoid the tourist buses, and before 9am you may have the place to yourself.

      Another is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, the postcard-perfect temple often seen in brochures and even on the 50,000 rupiah note. Although overrun by western and Indonesian tourists from 10am to 4pm, the setting alongside Lake Bratan cannot be beaten, and you can stay nearby and visit at other times. And, finally, Pura Luhur Batukau, is perched high on the slopes of Bali’s third largest volcano, and surrounded by a serene forest. Visited by only a handful of tourists each day, you can combine it with oh-my-god views of the UNESCO-listed rice terraces at Jatiluwih.

      Reply
  46. Luxury Hotels in Bali

    Hi Dave,

    You did a great job helping me with my recent trip to Santorini and Mykonos. I ended up proposing to my fiancé at the Mykonos Blu and it was amazing. We are considering going to Bali for our honeymoon and we would like your recommendation on two hotels. One in the mountains and one on the beach. 5 star accommodations. Budget is not a concern.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
    Javier

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      The popular beach area of Kuta/Legian is too hectic and touristy for some, and not ideal for a serene romantic getaway. Seminyak has more of a honeymoon vibe but since it’s really indistinguishable from Kuta/Legian it’s still going to have a busy feel. A better choice is Jimbaran, a quick taxi trip from the airport and to the shops and bars of Kuta. Jimbaran offers a superb stretch of swimmable sea and empty beach, and there is no more magical moment than a seafood dinner on the sand at sunset with wandering musicians, fireworks and traditional dancers. You can admire the extraordinary sight of hundreds of candle-lit tables along the beach and of fishing boats bobbing in the bay from the Four Seasons Resort. This cliff-side resort offers spacious bungalows and villas among a forest of frangipani trees, a luxurious spa, an art gallery, and the associated Beach Club for relaxing on the private stretch of sand.

      Staying in the “mountains” involves lengthy (1-2 hours one-way) taxi trips from the airport or resort areas. If you want seclusion and views, but also be within a short trip to temples, markets and the other wonderful things that Bali can offer, consider staying in or near Ubud. The cultural and spiritual heartland of the island also offers superb art museums, rice-field walks and a wide range of restaurants. Within 15-20 minutes of Ubud by chartered car, you can stay somewhere with sublime views of jungle-clad ravines, postcard-perfect rice paddies, and one of those Infinity pools that seem to extend forever. One hotel that fits the bill, and is perfect for a honeymoon, is Hanging Gardens, which is spread around a steep jungle with a funicular lift. (1 minute video of Hanging Gardens Resort)

      Reply
  47. Good Beach with Bars and Restaurants

    Hi Dave

    My husband and I are doing our first trip to Bali at Easter. We are going for 7 nights, staying in Ubud for either 3 or 4 nights – then want to go to the coast but don’t know what area to go. We like nice beaches – ones that don’t have hawkers, with cheap beach restaurants and nice bars. Not into the raging night scene – would also like some good shopping.

    Laurie

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Bali has several different beach resort areas. The most popular is, of course, the chaotic Kuta and the northern extensions of Legian and Seminyak – with all the bars and shops you could possibly need. But to get away from the surfers and night-clubbers while remaining in the convenient southern region of Bali, stay in Sanur. It is uniquely situated along a 7km beachside promenade lined with cafes, shops and hotels. There are a few bars, and some shops – but for malls, you can head to Kuta in 30 minutes by taxi.

      Better still is Padangbai, a village on the east coast and easy to reach from Ubud. It offers a genuine village vibe, delightful beaches (especially at Blue Lagoon), and is a perfect base to explore the region. There is very little nightlife and even less shopping but these are blessings for many who have ‘endured’ Kuta/Legian. Padangbai gets a little chaotic for 1-2 hours a day as island hoppers to the Gilis come and go by ferry but it’s reasonably quiet otherwise, with plenty of restaurants (which double as bars) facing the curved beach lined with jukung fishing boats. If staying there, you can also can easily daytrip by chartered car or local transport to Goa Lawah temple, Klungkung royal capital, Ujung water palace, and the secret beach paradise of Pasir Putih.

      Reply
  48. Jimbaran or Seminyak in October

    Hi! Looking for recommendations for our honeymoon in October. Current plans included longest stay in Jimbaran, then to Lombok and finally to Gili. Looking for relaxing beaches with options for great food and outdoor activities. Would you say Jimbaran is too touristy? I noticed you recommended Seminyak often and debating switching locations. Lastly, if you have any favorite hotels, it would be greatly appreciated!

    Laura

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Jimbaran is the most underrated and under-visited beach resort area on Bali. It’s convenient to the airport but far from the relative chaos of Kuta (30-minutes away by taxi) and offers a superb crescent of vacant sand and sea. A seafood dinner on the Jimbaran beach at sunset will is a highlight of a trip to Bali. In contrast, Seminyak has become a trendy extension of Kuta and Legian – full of shops, cafés, clubs and tourists, and (on average) higher prices.

      In the Seminyak area (technically Petitinget, the next beach to the north), the W Retreat & Spa is quite extraordinary – vast enough to offer a buggy cart to reach the main road from your bungalow. And in Jimbaran, it’s hard to beat the Four Seasons for sheer elegance and views to die for.

      Reply
  49. Things To Do in Jimbaran, Seminyak, and Ubud

    Hi David,

    I have 3 Questions for you. We will be in Bali for 2 weeks starting April 3. Jimbaran for 3 nights, Seminyak for 4 nights, Ubud for 3 nights and then probably to Gili Islands for 3 nights before back down south for the remainder of the trip.

    1) What are some day excursions you’d recommend? These can be nature filled or hiking etc.
    2) Ubud is obviously overrun now, but what are some top spots?
    3) Do you recommend a scooter rental and are there plenty of Dual rentals to put my girlfriend on the back?

    Daniel

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      It’s great that you’re staying at different places and having a good look at what Bali has to offer. From Jimbaran, I’d suggest daytrips to the south, including Ulu Watu temple; Nusa Dua beach and shops; Tanjung Benoa for beach and watersports; and isolated surfing/swimming beaches like Padang-Padang. From Seminyak, head to Tanah Lot temple (best at sunset but also very busy then); check out the markets in the capital, Denpasar; and maybe zip over to Sanur beach and nearby mangroves. Ubud is an ideal base and places to visit on daytrips include Goa Gajah temple, Tegallalang rice-fields; Petulu village with the daily migration of birds; stunning Gunung Kawi rock temples; and the sacred Tirta Empul temple and springs.

      However, your best idea is to hire a car with a diver (it’s cheap, convenient, and much safer than driving yourself or renting a scooter). The driver will offer you up to 10 different itineraries for daytrips from wherever you are. These trips include everything you should see and some possible extras, such as a temple with a ceremony or some rice-field views with no tourists around. I’m sure your hotel can offer some drivers they know or just walking down the street should garner a number of offers for a driver and tour.

      Ubud seems overrun with tourists during the day, but quietens down when day-trippers and buses leave. In fact, Seminyak will feel more touristy than Ubud. In Ubud, visit the Monkey Forest; the Museum Puri Lukisan art museum; the ARMA art museum and gardens; take a rice-field walk behind the Puri Lukisan; and stroll around Penestanan village. These and other places are featured in short clips on the YouTube channel Ubud in a Minute.

      Reply
  50. Great Beach and No Party

    Hi Dave.

    Thank you for all your info, it’s priceless!!

    I’m headed to Bali end of January, beginning of February for about two weeks, traveling solo. Ubud is definitely on my list and I’ll probably stay there for a week.

    The second week I’d like to spend on the beach. Here is what I’m looking for:
    – ideally a beach bungalow right on the beach, so I can wake up to the sound of the waves :-); basic and inexpensive (I’m on a budget :-))
    – nice, clean beach; possible to swim in; the more secluded the better (but still close to some places to get great street food or grab a drink). Still beach bungalow would be my priority over the more/less secluded beach.
    – time to relax; party’s are the last thing on my mind 🙂
    – beach or other places to go for a longer walk or a jog

    I can stay on Bali or go to Gili’s, I don’t mind moving, as long as I know I’ll find what I’m looking for.

    I read through your posts but it is hard to say which beaches are fine for swimming and which should at the same time be clean this time of year. So any recommendation is more then welcome.

    Thank you in advance.

    Marija

    Reply
  51. Budget Place with Fresh Seafood

    Hi Dave, what are the best choices of hotels for solo travelers with fresh seafood dining? thanks

    Reply
  52. Best Dive Spots near Beach on Bali

    Hi Dave,

    I will be planning to go to Bali in July when I am 28. I plan to spend half my time in Ubud and half my time near a beach but I am having trouble deciding where. This will be for my honeymoon so I would like a nice hotel with a nice (white sandy) beach, clear water, and not too strong of a current. I’m fine with just staying around the hotel and the beach for this part of the trip. However I would love to go scuba diving and since I don’t really know the area I can’t tell which beaches these dive sites are close to. Any suggestions?

    These are the links I was using to find good dive sites:

    Dive World and Dive Zone

    Thanks!
    Olivia

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      There are no great dive sites near the best beaches of Bali. The two best diving spots on Bali are in the east near Amed (this is where you’ll find the Liberty shipwreck site) and in the northwest near Pemuteran. These would be best visiting as day trips from Ubud. If you really want to stay on a beach but be close to good diving spots then look at Nusa Lembongan. Nearby are the Manta Point, Blue Corner, and Crystal Bay dive spots (but these are not for beginners). Nusa Lembongan has great beaches and is a short ferry ride from Sanur.

      Reply
  53. Budget Towns in Bali

    Hello Dave

    Your blog is very helpful for bali traveling seekers.

    But I need more specific advice please.
    My boyfriend and I (25 years old) are planning to go to Bali end of January from January 31 till February 2 (maybe less as we have another option to go explore Yogyakarta). We are budget travelers, seeking to explore Bali and do activities as well as not exhausting ourselves and give some time to enjoy the beauty and relax.
    Can you recommend which we can stay in it and from it move around EASILY to others? I’m confused about where to stay UBUD/SEMINYAK/SANUR….
    thank you in advance 🙂

    Mai

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Ubud and Seminyak are generally pretty expensive (though as you move away from the central trendy areas it gets less so). Kuta has lots of cheap hotels and Jimbaran has several inexpensive good value hotels. Sanur is in the middle (and better if you want to explore central and north Bali on day trips).

      Reply
  54. Beach on Bali with Cheap Hotels

    I’ve been teaching in China for the last year, working way too hard. I get some time off in February, and I want to spend a week of it lying on a beach doing nearly nothing. I did a search for low-cost flights to “everywhere” and Bali looks like a reasonable choice. I want to spend as little as possible on accommodations, and my objective is just to relax… I’m not a drinker, and I don’t want to go on any tours. Can you recommend the best area for me?
    Veronica

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Look at Kuta or Jimbaran – both have some very cheap hotels ($30 to $50) that are still nice and have pools. Kuta has more cheap hotels but perhaps not great if you’re looking to relax as it’s pretty hectic. Jimbaran is quieter with great cheap seafood restaurants. (Puri Bambu is my favorite budget hotel in Jimbaran.)

      Reply
  55. Beach Town and Culture Town

    2 ladies, mid 50’s travelling first time to Bali. Would like to stay in 2 places. One for beautiful beach to
    relax but with good restaurants, without too many children and also somewhere with some culture, shopping, and great restaurants that are within walking distance to hotels. Night life not a big priority but somewhere to have a drink in the evening. Thanks. Deborah

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      For beach I’d recommend Seminyak (good beach, lots of restaurants, nightlife, shopping), Jimbaran (good beach and great seafood restaurants), or Nusa Dua (great beach, large resorts, not a lot around that’s very interesting). For a cultural town nothing beats Ubud (great restaurants, shopping for local arts and crafts, good local shows/performances, beautiful walks through the rice paddies and villages).

      Reply
  56. Getting Around Bali

    Hi there, amazing site, so much time and effort gone in so thanks for all the help! I have seen above you mentioned taxis are fairly easy but we want to really explore the island. Thinking (based on what you have said above) of going to Seminyak, Nusa Dua, and Ubud as our bases and then visiting the little towns and sights from these locations. Daft question, but how do most get around? Should we hire a car? A Scooter? Or can we solely rely on taxis? Lastly we’re on a 6 month trip (long honeymoon) how long do you think you need in Bali to feel like you’ve experienced the main sites? Are we seriously missing out if we don’t make it to Gilli Islands?
    Thanks, Naomi

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Taxi, hired car, chartered bemo (minivan) are all sort of the same thing – find someone willing to drive you and negotiate to get a fair price. Hiring someone for the day is the way to go if you have multiple stops planned. 2 to 3 weeks in Bali is a good compromise (lots of places to see in the world but you could easily spend a month or two here and still leave a lot undiscovered). I’d use Jimbaran, Seminyak, and Ubud as your bases.

      Reply
  57. Nice Resort, Not Expensive, for Couples

    Hi Dave
    I wanted to ask your opinion as to which area in Bali would be best and if you would recommend any resorts/accommodations.

    The trip would only be for 3 days 4 nights for 3 couples all married – good friends all in late 20s. Ideally three separate bedrooms would be preferred. One couple is starting their honeymoon through this trip. One couple would be 7months into their pregnancy.

    They just want to have a good time having a holiday together, good food maybe some nice massages and nice pools/beaches.

    Would be great if you can recommend some areas and resorts that you know that are good quality but not too expensive.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  58. Hotel/Resort near Hiking and Wildlife

    Starting honeymoon planning for mid-to-late May. Looking for, if possible, a combination of quiet, beautiful beaches with reasonably easy access to good hiking and wildlife. We’re not committed to a hotel; would be OK with a resort.
    Ben

    Reply
  59. Best Beach for Solo Traveler

    Hello David,

    So glad I came across your page and would really appreciate any tips.
    I’m a 28 year old solo female traveller looking to relax on a beautiful beach but at the same thing me close enough to areas where I could possibly get to meet people.

    I’m looking at spending about two weeks and would like to check out Bali as a whole as its my first time there.

    Thanks
    Faiza

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      It’s easiest to meet single travelers in the Kuta/Legian area. In general, the restaurants, bars, and nightlife as you head from Kuta north to Seminyak get more expensive, older, and trendy. That’s not to say you’d feel out of place in Seminyak as there are plenty of solo travelers there too.

      Reply
  60. Seminyak Beach Resort or Westin

    Hi David,
    Could really do with some advice, amazing site found by accident.
    I want to book a holiday for my sister (big birthday coming up). She loves long walks on the beach and loves to sleep to the sound of waves. As she will be travelling on her own, she needs to be close to restaurants, shopping etc. I have been looking at Seminyak Beach Resort & spa and also the Westin. But what would you recommend for a single female who loves both beaches and interactions with local amenities? thank you
    Nina Merchant

    Reply
    1. DaveDave Post author

      Definitely the Seminyak Beach Resort if she wants to be near amenities, a large choice of restaurants, and shopping. The beach is also more suitable for long walks.

      Reply
  61. Where To Go with Kids in Bali

    Hi David,
    Next July we are going to spend 11 nights in Bali with our kids aged 19 and 17. We would like to stay in 2 different places during that time. Where would you recommend? We would like a bit of beach, shopping, food and culture.
    Thanks
    Suze Shannon

    Reply
    1. DaveDave Post author

      I would do Seminyak and Ubud. Ubud is not a beach town, but has lots of culture and interesting things to do in the surrounding area.

      Reply
  62. Gili Islands

    Hi David

    We’re traveling over to Bali in late April and are planning on spending 3 days in Ubud before moving on to some surrounding islands for 6 days, We’re looking to be in a good location to do things in the day whilst in Ubud and then finding something nice and secluded whilst on an island. We’re looking for a little luxury in Ubud, nothing too extravagant and then something a little simpler on the islands, I’ve had a look at the Gilis and I think Meno sounds like what we’re looking for but any info or tips would be greatly appreciated about Ubud and Bali’s surrounding islands.

    Thank you
    Adam & Hannah

    Reply
    1. DaveDave Post author

      The Gilis are great – Gili Trawangan has a fair bit going on (bars, restaurants, nice hotels), Gili Meno is much slower and quieter. It will take almost a full day to get to Gili Meno from Ubud – ferry to Gili Trawangan and then small boat to Gil Meno. Same thing on the way back. Nusa Lembongan has a similar vibe to Gili Meno (no bars or nightlife), good snorkeling, and relaxing but is much closer to Bali. It might be a better option.

      Reply
  63. Beach Towns on Bali

    Hey David,

    I’ve read most of your replies and appreciate your unpretentious style of travel.

    We’re spending New Years in Seminyak, skip off to Gilli T (not booked so I’m considering Gilli Meno for the BEAUTIFUL places that keep cropping up on my Booking.com searches). BUT…. To end the 2 week trip (the remaining 4 nights are open). I’m looking for a remote, peaceful place to ooh and ahh over the views and vibe. At/under/around/ish $50 a night. Canggu?

    Travelling with my 31 yr old boyfriend and I’m celebrating my new decade of 30. Appreciate any recommendations for this extremely exciting trip happening in 4 weeks. Thanks David!

    Ondine

    p.s. Coming from our home on the beautiful beaches of Cape Town so Bali has a lot to live up to.

    Reply
    1. DaveDave Post author

      Canggu is a great place with a quiet vibe and some fun restaurants/beach bars. The one caveat is that you’ll probably end up in Seminyak most of the time to eat/drink/party – and you might end up thinking, “Why didn’t we just stay in Seminyak?” But if you’re really looking for a secluded location still close to the sea then Canggu might be it.

      Reply
  64. Great Beach on Bali

    Heading to Bali from Singapore with my sister to get some sun and have a few days away from the kids. We want to sit on a nice beach, get some spa treatments and not spend a ton of cash. We are heading over in the beginning of Dec and will only stay a long weekend. I don’t want to risk being on a beach that isn’t great for swimming and relaxing. Thoughts?
    Monica

    Reply
    1. DaveDave Post author

      I would recommend Seminyak with the only caveat being that it’s not cheap. Look for a hotel back from the beach and more to the north and that should save you some money.

      Reply
  65. Good Hotel near Bali Airport

    Hi David

    My partner and I are going to Bali on 23/Dec and flying out on 25/Dec.
    Can you recommend someplace nice and away from the hassle and crowd areas. We love food, especially local.
    Our main concern is to make it to the airport on time on Christmas Day, around lunch time.

    Thanking in advance.

    Cheers
    James Rao

    Reply
    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Stay in Jimbaran. Nice beach and great local seafood restaurants along the beach. Very close to the airport. The best luxury hotel on Jimbaran is the Four Seasons. The best budget hotel is Puri Bambu.

      Reply
  66. Non Touristy and Interesting Area of Bali

    My husband and I are looking at going to Bali in December for 6/7 nights. I must admit my reluctancy at visiting Bali based on its reputation of being a tourist filled night haven for the young but research shows that it has far more to offer (I certainly want to give those tourist areas a wide berth). We are in our 30’s and are really looking for a trip away from tourist/overly-commercial areas or resorts. We are looking for somewhere to experience Balinese culture and also to spend time strolling through local markets with handmade local items. We also love great food and spending our evenings in restaurants and bars with an enjoyable fun atmosphere including some live music, staying in luxury accommodation. Any adventure sports like white-water rafting or diving would definitely be a plus but certainly not a must. We like the beach but an inland water spot or even a nice pool would suffice and so not a priority. We are not interested in the nightclubs or tourist-filled bars and restaurants.

    Based on our interests, it is likely we will need to split the holiday to two locations and Ubud did catch my eye. Your recommendations on areas and also hotels and restaurants in those areas would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Sarah

    Reply
  67. Best Dive Beach in Bali

    Hi David,
    Will be in Ubud for Christmas holiday. Want to spend a couple days at a beautiful beach where my my boyfriend can dive. Staying as far away from Kuta as possible, as it is not my scene. Willing to drive a ways out for the beauty and good diving experience. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks!
    Vernice

    Reply
    1. DaveDave Post author

      If it needs to be a beach then Bloo Lagoon near Padangbai (and not too far from Ubud) is probably your best option. Another dive site is to take a boat from Sanur to Nusa Penida island (40 minutes) and dive there.

      Reply
  68. Boutique or Resort Hotel

    My husband and I are debating where to stay in Bali. I want to stay in a small boutique hotel with lots of character. He wants to stay in a resort with American chain restaurants nearby. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  69. Canggu, Sanur, or Lombok

    Hi David, We (family of 5 = parents with our 3 older teenagers / young adults). Heading to Bali 15 days in early January. Staying in Ubud 3 nights, then a 6 night window which I’m uncertain of where to go. We finish with 5 nights in Seminyak. We like high end, villa accommodation, culture, low key adventure, with a bit of beach thrown in, (shopping can be saved for Seminyak leg), basically things we can do as a family unit. Thinkign Canggu, Sanur, or go across to Lombok beaches? Open to suggestions, but want simplicity – have done complicated logistical OS trips, we kind of want a break from that and just stick to day trips. Many thanks 🙂
    Nat

    Reply
    1. DaveDave Post author

      Canggu, Sanur, and Lombok are all great places and could easily suit your needs. Sanur is better for day trips. Canggu and Lombok are both great for chilling. Going to Lombok introduces another 2 days of travel. It’s really just flip a coin if you’re still uncertain.

      Reply
  70. 2 Best Towns on Bali for Honeymoon

    Hi David. This is very helpful. I am travelling to Bali in January for my Honeymoon. We will be staying for a week. Please suggest 2 ideal places (Seminyak/ Ubud/ Jimbaran/ Padangbai/ Sanur) for hotels. Looking to have a great romantic experience along with sightseeing and adventure activities. Also where can we get quality seafood who dont charge a bomb in the name of fresh catch of the day. Thanks 🙂
    Amit

    Reply
    1. DaveDave Post author

      Of those towns I’d go to Seminyak and Ubud. Both great places with lots of great food. At Seminyak it’s mainly about the beach. In Ubud it’s more arts and cultural and also very easy to do day trips to inland Bali’s wonderful sites, mountains, villages.

      Reply
  71. Sanur for a Couple

    Hi David,
    Just found your website and its great. This will be hubby and mine 4th trip to Bali, have stayed Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, Lovina (bit too quiet for us) and Lembongan and loved them all. This time we are thinking Sanur – hubby loves to sit at a beach bar and chat with locals and people watch whilst I lounge on the beach reading and swimming. Will Sanur allow us to do this. Also any tips on where to stay on beach within walking distance of local warungs? Many thanks, Carmel

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Sanur is great. It’s quiet compared to Kuta but still lots of restaurants and good hotels and has much more going on than Lovina. Beach is good (not incredible, but good) and many hotels have really nice pools that are just back from the beach so you get a bit of both – which I like. Many good warungs about and nothing too far of a walk from anything else. Check out Warung Blanjong if you’re in need of something specific.

      Reply
  72. Good Bali Beach in November

    Wow, what a great resource! Just like the others I’d love your advice: I’m a female solo 25 yo traveller, spending one week in Ubud and then I want to split my second week between two places – I’ve been thinking Seminyak and Sanur and perhaps do a day trip to Uluwatu just for the view.

    Criteria are: scenic beaches where I can swim in November, ok hotel prices (20-35 euros/night) for walking/biking distance to the beach and lots of cafes. Not too crazy night life but not too dead either. Since I’m splitting my time, one could be calmer and the other one more happening. What do you recommend? What about Canggu? Geger? Nusa Dua?

    THANKS in advance!!!
    Emma

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Out of Canggu, Geger, and Nusa Dua I would go with Canggu – not a lot of nightlife but a few bars and beach restaurants where you can meet people. A short taxi ride to Seminyak where there is lots of nightlife. The beaches at Geger and Nusa Dua are calmer and more idyllic but there is not much (certainly not nightlife) nearby.

      Reply
  73. Best Beach Towns for Kids in Bali

    Hi David, thanks for your help.
    We are a family with 2 young kids (age 6 and 8). We hope to have:
    1) nice beach that is fun for the kids
    2) family shopping
    3) nice and reasonably priced restaurants

    Any advice on where and which hotel?
    Thanks again!
    Alvin

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      This sounds like Sanur to me. It’s not the absolute best beach on Bali (it’s narrow in parts) but it’s still nice, good shopping (less than Kuta area but not as busy), lots of good restaurants. Very nice, relaxed town.

      Reply
  74. Bali and Gili Islands in January

    Hello, great article, didn’t know if you could help. Spending 6 nights in Bali and the following 3 in the Gilis in january, looking to go with a beach resort with cheap prices and some nightlife followed by a couple of nights in Ubud to see the scenery. Would it be beneficial to stay in a beach resort such as Kuta or Seminyak (or any suggestion) with a day tour to Ubud or spending a couple of nights in Ubud (or any suggestion) before heading to the Gilis, this taking in consideration the beach weather in January? Any advice on a 7day beach/culture trip considering logistics and weather would be really helpful. Tom

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      The beach weather in Bali can be a little iffy in January but the Seminyak area is still the best place to base yourself – great beach and restaurants but not as busy as Kuta. Definitely do a few days in Ubud as a day trip won’t capture the magic of the area.

      Reply
  75. Sanur or Seminyak

    Hi David! Just found your page and I really hope I can get a quick answer. I’m going to Bali with my boyfriend for his 30th birthday tomorrow!!! I’ve booked a hotel in Sanur for 5 nights, and we are going to do 1 night in Ubud and 2 nights in Jimbaran. I am wondering if Seminyak would be a better choice for us. We dont like heavy partying but we enjoy having nice drinks and dinners. We want something between wild and calm. What is your opinion? Best regards, Nilo.

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      It’s hard to say what anyone will prefer, but by the sounds of it I think you’d like Seminyak better. Sanur is pretty subdued. Seminyak has some party but it’s easy to avoid and find more trendy/chill nightlife and dinner spots.

      Reply
  76. Quiet, Beautiful Beach on Bali

    Hey David 🙂
    In Nov/Dec I am planning to go to bali with my boyfriend. Our priorities are: a beautiful beach, quiet, zen-mode, cute restaurants, culture, and romance.
    Do you have any suggestions where we could find these combinations not to expensive in Bali?

    Looking forward to your reply,
    Zorica Malic

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I love Padangbai. Small town with a quiet feel. Great beaches a short walk away (but not right in town). For culture, you’d have to go elsewhere though.

      Reply
  77. Where To Rent House on Bali

    Love the site. Question going to Bali for 3 weeks want to rent a house near beach great restaurants and night life. Any suggestions on what area I should be looking at?

    David

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      It’s easy to rent a house close to great restaurants (Jimbaran, Canggu) but if you need to be near nightlife then that draws the circle a little tighter, so the best area would be Seminyak and just north of there.

      Reply
  78. Best Town in Bali for Beach and Nightlife

    Hi David, my boyfriend and I are going to Bali in mid-October for the first time. We’re only there Fri thru Mon. Our priorities, in order, are: Amazing beach, nightlife, hiking/cultural activities. We are currently booked at the Grand Bali Nusa Dua which gets good reviews but I’m worried it’ll be too touristy or kid-friendly. I’d love something more romantic and character-filled. Also, should we just stick to one place or can we do beach in the mornings/afternoons and take a taxi somewhere at night for clubbing?

    Thanks so much!
    J.E.

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I would not stay in Nusa Dua for nightlife or anything romantic. Seminyak is where you’ll want to be. Great hotels, nice beach, and good nightlife. Kuta is a short taxi ride away if you want something a little wilder.

      Reply
  79. Beach Town for Mountain Climbing

    Hi David, I need your help!
    My husband and I will be spending our honeymoon in Bali on November. We’re planning to climb 2 mountains there in our 6 days stay. The plan was to climb 1 mountain on our second day, on the 3rd day, relax at the beach and 4th day another mountain (Mt Agung) maybe. We like a good and clean but not so expensive place to rest at night. Thanks for your help in advance.

    Ann

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I’d stay in Padangbai – a quiet, inexpensive town with nice nearby beaches. And Amed as a second choice. Both good for accessing central/north Bali while avoiding the traffic of the Ubud/Denpasar/Kuta area.

      Reply
  80. Where Should We Stay for 1 Month Stay in Bali?

    Hi David!
    I’m traveling with a friend in april (older teens), we are staying for one month, we really want to do as much as possible, see the best spots and we like diving/photography/swimming and he also likes climbing. We want to live near a beach (clean one) and we were thinking about renting a car and drive around to see ubud and other places. Do you think it sounds like a good idea? and where would you suggest us to live? or is it better to live in two different places?

    Nicole

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Staying in one spot for the duration is nice – you really settle in and get to know the area. I’d probably stay 3 weeks in the area north of Seminyak up to Canggu – very popular with long term residents. Use this time to explore the immediate area and everything south of Ubud down through the Bukit Peninsula. For the final week do a trip around the eastern and northern shores of Bali. Perhaps 3 nights in the Amed area and 3 nights in the Lovina area (and do day trips from each of those bases). Return to southern Bali and stay your final night in Jimbaran. It’s close to the airport and has wonderful beach restaurants that serve awesome (and cheap) fresh seafood – it’s the perfect way to end a trip to Bali.

      Reply
  81. Bali Weather in Late December and Early January

    Rainy Season

    Hi David, I’m loving the advice on your page! We’d like to travel to Bali over Christmas/NYE but read that it’s the rainy season. Does it actually rain that much or are we talking 1hour a day of rain? I love the beach so gutted if it rained all day.

    Cheers!
    Charlotte

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      No guarantees with the weather but rain storms tend to be short lived on Bali and the sun comes back out after an hour or two.

      Reply
  82. Seminyak vs Sanur for Beach and Nightlife

    Hi David,

    I will be going to Bali at the very beginning of September with my bf. We are staying in Ubud for 4 night and want something different for the 5th night. We are back and forth between Seminyak and Sanur. We would love a nice beach and a bit of a nightlife as we won’t have one in Ubud. Would you have any recommendations on location? We are willing to go somewhere completely different as well.

    Cheers,
    Sheena

    Reply
  83. Sanur Beach

    Love your site! We have booked a week away in September to Sanur. We chose Sanur as we wanted to stay on a nice beach with access to restaurants and bars, but didn’t want the noise of a resort (kids screaming in pools! ) or a busy city . We are staying at the Elora Villas which look lovely and a short walk to the beach. The issue is I’ve had a family member this week tell me that the beach in sanur is “not nice” and more for kite surfers and fisherman rather than swimming. Can you please let me know whether there are nicer parts of Sanur beach than others? If so where are they located? We have paid for accomodation so can’t change it. But is be keen for another opinion! We are after a relaxing holiday with perhaps a day trip or two plus a nice swim everyday. Thanks in advance /)
    Carey

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      It was probably the time of year that they visited. There can be times (due to the currents) when the beaches of Bali become less-than-pristine. But you should be fine in September.

      Reply
  84. Nusa Dua, Seminyak, Kuta, Jimbaran or Ubud?

    Hi David, great article 🙂
    I want your advice, me and my fiance will spend our honeymoon at Bali next November and we planned to visit two areas of Bali, so what’s your recommendation? We want very clean beach and nightlife. Should we go to Nusa Dua, Seminyak, Kuta, Jimbaran or Ubud?
    Miriam Moheb

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Nusa Dua – Great beach (very calm), not much nightlife
      Seminyak – Great beach (with some surf), trendy nightlife
      Kuta – Great beach (with some surf), boisterous nightlife
      Jimbaran – Good beach (calmer than Kuta, not as calm as Nusa Dua), not much nightlife
      Ubud – No beach, mature easy going nightlife

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
      1. How To Get from Kuta to Nusa Dua

        Thank you David for your quick reply 🙂
        We can stay 8 nights at Kuta, then go two nights to Nusa Dua, is it easy to go from Kuta to Nusa Dua? How can we go to Nusa Dua?
        Miriam Moheb

        Reply
        1. DavidDavid Post author

          Taxis are easy to find and the best way to around. Blue Bird are reliable and more likely to use a meter – but sometimes you’ll be forced to use whoever drives by and will take you. If you travel late at night you can sometimes be forced to take whatever is available. It costs about 100,000rp to 150,000rp ($8 to $12). The ride from Kuta to Nusa Dua takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

          Reply
  85. Family Resort on Beautiful Beach

    Amazing and unique website!
    My question is fairly easy but the answer may not be!

    I love the Bali resorts and want this aspect for a family of 4 but we are also looking for it on a picture prefect beach with picture perfect water – does this exist?

    Thanks very much, Susanne

    Reply
  86. Quiet Beach with Nightlife

    hi David ,
    I am planning to have my honeymoon in Bali starting December 20 (high season, very busy time).
    I plan to stay in a villa with private pool in ubud for 3 days as I noticed there are a lot of tours and activities to do in Ubud (please tell me whether I’m right or not because that’s what i understood from tripadvisors research).
    And then I want to go to a nice beach not very busy though. I want to have fun at night (restaurant or bars with walking distance) – which beach do you recommend in Bali?
    Hana

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      That’s a bit of a contradiction: you either get a busy beach and nightlife, or a quiet beach and no nightlife. But, Sanur and Seminyak come closest to having it both ways. And yes, Ubud has lots of activities and tours to keep visitors busy (if they wish).

      Reply
  87. Ubud and Nusa Dua

    Hi David. Your site is really a big help for first timers in Bali. My husband and I will be spending our first wedding anniversary in July for 4 days. We’re planning to go first to Ubud and then Nusa Dua. Is this plan wise or better to go to Nusa dua first? Also, is the beach in Nusa Dua clean or we rather go to Jimbaran? Thank you Lorie

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      The order of your visits doesn’t matter. Nusa Dua is closer to the airport so you just have to decide whether you want a short drive after arriving or a short drive before departing. (The trip from the airport to Ubud goes through the heart of Bali traffic so can be quite slow.) Nusa Dua has a nice beach than Jimbaran but Jimbaran is much more interesting (fish market in the morning, beach restaurants in the evening).

      Reply
  88. Sanur for Teens

    Sanur – is it going to excite 2 older teens?
    What besides biking along the water & water sports is there to do there?

    Reply
  89. Clean Beaches in Bali

    Hi David,

    Heading to Bali in early Dec. Heard the beaches around Kuta are very unclean that time of year. Are they cleaner on the east coast that time of year?

    Cheers,

    Trish Cornish

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Yes, the clean and dirty beaches do tend to alternate based on the time of year and the direction of the currents. That said, I would not agree that the beaches are very unclean in December. After a storm they will tend to have some rubbish for a few days (if you’re staying at a 5 star resort they’ll usually have workers out there cleaning the beach) but it’s rare for it to be dirty enough for a long stretch that it will ruin your vacation.

      Reply
  90. Jimbaran or Nusa Dua

    Great website and after reading everything I have narrowed down my week stay in Bali to either Jambaran or Nusa Dua.

    I will be travelling with my bf and my parents (50s). We are looking for a place that has a few bars / restaurants etc within walking distance so we can stoll around of an evening. Which of my 2 choices would you recommend for this?

    Last year we took them to Sanur and whilst everything was great and within walkign distance if I am honest we did feel a lttle let down by the beach!

    Suggestions welcome

    Thanks
    Faye

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Jimbaran is great at night with restaurants set up along the sand at night – lots of fun. You can walk up and down the beach with a beer, kids and families are playing in the surf, it’s wonderful. Not much nightlife there but Kuta is a short taxi ride if you want to hit some clubs one night. The beach is good though surf can be “active” some times, other times quite calm. Nusa Dua has far less to do but the beach is more idyllic and almost always calm and inviting. So it just depends what you prioritize: the beach or the vibe?

      Reply
  91. wisa

    Thanks for the info, we went to Bali last week and we stayed at Nusa dua, it was a great fun trip, thanks again 🙂

    Reply
  92. Travel Agent for Bali

    Thank you for the amazing advice.
    Can you recommend a good tour operator who could help me plan and organize my holiday in Indonesia.
    Iqram

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Sorry, I don’t use travel agents. You’ll get much better rates and airfares by using booking.com (for hotels) and kayak.com (for flights). With travel agents they have pre-arranged package deals with hotels and resorts and try to push you into booking there whether they are good or not. You also tend to end up staying with a lot of other people on the same package tour – and it can feel rather cookie-cutter. Doing the planning on your own (while a little more work) makes for a much more rewarding holiday for most people. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  93. Day Trip to Nusa Lembongan

    Hi there David,
    Just wondering if you knew any companies that did a day trip from either Legian/our hotel to Nusa Lembongan for a adventerous young couple looking for a fun day?

    Many thanks,
    Chloe

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I don’t. But even if I did I’d still recommend waiting to arrange it after your arrival. It’s easy to find tours and there are quite a few details that are always changing with tours it’s best to talk to someone in person a day or two before you go and pick the tour that works best.

      Reply
  94. Sharlynn Ng

    Hi David! Your beach overview is fantastic! I plan to go to bali end of next month and will be staying in Kuta and then Ubud. This might be a slightly dumb question but I was wondering if there are public areas on the beaches such as Legian/tuban/sanur? I’m sure some of the best stretches are taken up by hotel properties but would you say there are also good areas open to the public? I’m interested most in beaches around Kuta!

    Reply
    1. Public Beaches in BaliPublic Beaches in Bali Post author

      All of the beach along Kuta, Legian, and Tuban is open to the public and unrestricted by the beach hotels. The Four Seasons has a private beach and there are resorts in Nusa Dua that completely take control of the beach area in front of their hotel but for the most part beaches in Bali are free to use for non-guests – though there will be a charge if you use their beach chairs and umbrellas.

      Reply
  95. Honeymoon Beach in Bali

    Hi David!
    Thanks for this great article! I would love advice about where to stay in Bali! My husband and I are going to Bali for a week in April for our honeymoon. We’ve already booked 4 nights at a private villa I’m sesah village because we wanted to immerse ourselves in the Balinese culture and plan to take day trips to Ubud and Tanah Lot, etc. But for our second half of our honeymoon, we’d like to just completely relax on white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water in a quiet serene place (with option to snorkel and beginner level surfing), preferably away from lots of tourists though and not a crowded beach. What town would you recommend me look for a resort or luxury villa? I’ve been debating between Nusa Dua (beaches look perfect but I feel like it’s a bit too touristy for us), Jimbaran and Uluwata, or maybe even Gili islands?? Are there beaches just as beautiful as Nusa Dua but not in the gated tourist area?? Any advice would help! Thanks so much!
    Bonny

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Both Nusa Dua and the Gili islands will have the white sand beaches you’re looking for. Yes, Nusa Dua does have a resort feel to it. The Gilis are more laid back and low key with both attitude and accommodations. Gili Trawangan is the busiest with the most nightlife (though nothing crazy like Kuta). Gila Air is quieter and more upscale. Gili Meno is somewhere in between.

      Reply
  96. Calm Beach on Bali

    Hi
    I needed advice about beaches in bali. I’m not really into surf and was looking to some relax time wit a peaceful beach like maya bay in phi phi. Would I find such a beach in bali?
    Alka

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      There are a couple beaches just outside of Padangbai that are wonderful. Padangbai itself is relaxing and low key. Nusa Dua has a great stretch of calm beach as well. Nearby Lombok also has its share of peaceful beaches.

      Reply
  97. Bali with 3 Kids

    Hi David – great site!

    We will be in Bali around 3 weeks in July with 3 kids (10-15). They like to surf and do the usual (pre) teen stuff so Legian/Kuta would be good – but mom and dad like to be in a hipper -more happing area ( a la Seminyak beach clubs). I think we’ll split the trip into beach and Ubud – staying in 3 or 4 different places (maybe with a few days Lombok thrown in).

    What would you recommend?

    Erik

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I think you’ve got it right. Split your time between Kuta (around waterbom), Seminyak, and Ubud. Throw in Jimbaran (as a base to explore the beaches of the Bukit) if you need a 4th.

      Reply
  98. 3 Weeks in Bali – Where To Stay

    Hi there, We are looking for some advice. Our family is heading to Bali for 3 weeks (late March/early April). Our kids are 13, 11 and 8. We are looking to try some surfing, see the sights of Bali and relax. We originally had planned on staying in the Amed area but have swayed toward Kuta recently. We would like to be within walking distance to a beach and a village/amenities. The more research I have done on Kuta seems like it is just so busy with tourists and not as relaxed as other places. But we also want to be able to go on an adventure if we get restless. We are also contemplating staying at the same place or breaking it up.. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!

    Stehanie Henry

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I would definitely break up those 3 weeks. Kuta is good for shopping (which kids tend to like) and taking surf lessons – but after a week there you’ll be ready to move on. To explore the Bukit Peninsula I’d use Jimbaran as a base. To explore central and eastern Bali I’d have Ubud (my favorite), Sanur, Padangbai, or Amed as a base. If you wanted to explore the north then Lovina is great. I’d probably choose 3 or 4 of those towns and see as much of the island as possible.

      Reply
  99. Bali with a 7 Year Old

    Hi there,

    i really need some advice. I am looking to travel to Bali, just my 7 year old son and I. We are flying in from London for 2 weeks and was originally looking at Sanur, however i have found Sanur to have a lot of mixed reviews. In your experience, where is the best place to stay in Bali with children? I don’t want the typical 5 star, all inclusive experience as i want him to experience the culture, but at the same time i do not want him to become bored- especially as we are staying for 2 weeks!

    Many thanks

    Zara

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      First off, I would say with 2 weeks you should stay in a variety of places – certainly more than 1. Sanur is on the quiet side but is also close to central and eastern Bali where there’s lots of great stuff to explore. Good day trips from Sanur are easy. Ubud is a great town (and the surrounding area) if you’re looking for Balinese culture. Seminyak and Jimbaran are 2 more ideas.

      Reply
  100. Affordable Hotel in Jimbaran

    Dear David, would you please advise me some hotels (range $50-$60/night max) in Jimbaran for a week stay. Me and my husband would like to spend holidays but not have that big budget. Would there be any such hotel within this range with beach/bay view? Alternatively, suggest me some hotels which are walking distance from beach coz I love beach.

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hotel Puri Bambu in Jimbaran is great. It’s a 3 minute walk from the beach, has a good pool (with swim-up bar), free breakfasts (or did when I was last there), and super friendly staff. Great seafood restaurants are at this section of beach so cheap delicious food is available too.

      Reply
  101. Good Hotel (not too expensive) in Jimbaran or Nusa Dua

    Hi David, my husband and I are Bali newbies. We are heading there for 11 nights in May/June. We are hoping to pamper ourselves by staying somewhere luxurious with a gorgeous pool, but without the luxury prices! – maybe $250-300/night rather than the $650/night you have to pay at places like St Regis or Four Seasons Jimbarin. We want to be on a beautiful, sheltered beach, not too crowded but still with easy access to great places to eat etc … Not asking for much, am I! Thinking about Jimbarin or Nusa Dua, but are open to other areas not overrun with the party crowds. Your opinion/hotel recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

    Nicole

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      The Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran is a nice hotel with a good pool but not right on the beach – it’s a 2 minute walk away. Lots of great seafood restaurants are a very short walk away. You’ll find much better food in Jimbaran than Nusa Dua.

      Reply
  102. Hotel with Great Beach

    Hi there and thanks for great info. we are heading back to bali next year. We stayed at The Padma in may/june this year however were very disappointed with the beach there (hotel was fantastic ). Can you suggest a place that has a great child friendly and clean beach and a great hotel for young children.
    Thnks

    Reply
  103. Where To Stay in Bali

    Hi we are a family with 2 small kids, age 3 and 4.. Want to go Bali for 2 weeks.. Where should we stay.? I am confused, really don’t want to stay at kuta.. We from the Gold Coast and live near beach however the beach is definately very important to us. We want to experience Bali and see it all.. I thought Seminyak but people said, no.. Want things to do but also chill out. Should we split out trip and stay in 2 different areas , or maybe somewhere that is close to everything!

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Sanur is a great choice. It has a good beach (not great) and is close to many things to see and do (the “real Bali”) in the interior of the island. When you’re in the Kuta and region and try to get north you have to deal with Kuta traffic and then Denpasar traffic. When you’re Sanur you’ve bypassed most of the congestion. But there are many places. Jimbaran, Ubud (no beach), Padangbai, and Amed are all great.

      Reply
  104. One Month in Bali

    Hello!

    Just wanted to say thank you for the great advice!

    My wife and I are taking a sabbatical and spending one month on of it on Bali.

    Thank you for the information you provide. I find it useful because of my not being so general but specific and opinionated.

    Thanks,

    Ville

    Reply
  105. Bali in November

    Hi, you seem to have a gret knowledge and hoping you can help. We’re travelling to Bali for the first two weeks of November – splitting our time between Sanur, Gillis and Ubud.

    Conscious that it’s the raining season and hoping to find a beach which is clean for sunbathing/swimming and quite calm – we’re considering the Jimbaran/ Ulu Watu area for our final three days and hoping to pay around £100 a night – do you have any suggestions, and is this the best place for relaxation/ luxury to finish off the holiday? Not planning on hiring a car, so preferably nowhere too isolated.

    Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Rain shouldn’t be too bad in November. Perhaps a big downpour once a day but sunny before and after. It’s sort of fun actually. Puri Bambu in Jimbaran is great. Friendly, inexpensive, and a nice pool. Short walk to the beach.

      Reply
  106. Bali for Surfing and Family

    Hi,
    We are planning to go to Bali in early October for 10 days. We’ll spend some days in Ubud and then we want to spend some time at a nice, not too crowded beach, where my partner can surf and I can hang around with my 4 year old son.
    We’ve been looking at Balangan but I’ve read you need to get on a car to get anywhere and might be a bit too isolated? Otherwise I was looking at Jimbaran.
    Can you recommend one over the other one? and also, any good suggestions for accommodation? we are happy with a simple nice villa, rather than resorts 🙂
    Thank you,
    Ines

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Balangan has better surf but not a lot of places to stay. Jimbaran has many hotels and resorts, tons of places to eat, but the surf is for beginners at best as the bay is protected and the waves very calm compared to Kuta and other beaches. Canggu (north of Kuta and much quieter) is great for advanced surfers and lots of villas though they are very spread out. Padang Padang to the south might also be a good choice but then you’re back to being somewhat isolated like Balangan.

      Reply
  107. Villas in Jimbaran

    I am planning to celebrate my 40th in Bali and would like to rent a four bed villa close to Jimbaran beach. There are so many villas to choose from and getting rather confusing as all of them have wonderful photos and descriptions. Do you have any villas or information sources that you would recommend. Many thanks.

    Reply
  108. A place to hang with small kids for a day at Jimbaran Beach

    We are staying on Bukit in the south and wondered about a place that you can hang out on Jimbaran Beach for the day, hire loungers, eat and let the kids play in the surf and sand.

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Shouldn’t be a problem. There are lots of restaurants and several hotels where you can sit as long as you purchase food. Just walk along the beach until you find a place you like.

      Reply
  109. Bali in December and January

    Love your website, found amazing advises.
    Please advise me, we are a family of four, six nights in Bali, wanting to split our stay between resorts on good beaches, luxury resorts but reasonably priced too. And not very far from touristy places too. And traveling in December-January
    I was thinking of Jimbaran beach or kuta or nusa dua, any resort ON BEACH not near beach but beach front, suggest any villas too as we re a family

    Thank you,
    Sid

    Reply
  110. Bali in November

    Hi Dave!

    Just wondering if you have any recommendations for me? I’m planning to take a trip to bali late november but am not looking for the hotel resort type. More the Eat, Pray, Love coastal bungalow type? It’s supposed to be a relaxing escape but we also don’t want to be too far from the touristy places either. Wat accommodations can you recommend and what location? Your expertise would be greatly appreciated!

    Kelly

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I’d try in and around Amed (on the coast) or Ubud (in central Bali – and where Eat, Pray, Love is set). Both have some great hotels. Ubud in particular is loaded with fantastic little hotels set out in the hills and surrounded by rice paddies and thick forest. The town is still close but you don’t feel like you’re near a major tourist center. If you have the time the best way to find them is to spend a day driving between a few places, looking at the rooms and checking the rates. Hire a car for the day – it’s a great way to see the country side too.

      If you’re short on time or want something booked in advance then these links might help:
      Hotels in Amed
      Hotels in Ubud

      Good luck.

      Reply
  111. Beach in Candidasa

    Great inspiration – just wanted to get your take on Candidasa in later March…? Is there any beach, can you swim there or is it hard with currents? Are there anywhere else you would suggest to take my wife and four year old son? We will spend some time in Ubud, but also have days to spend at the sea beach…
    Kuta is most likely too touristic, are we are looking for an quiet place.
    Looking forward hearing from you and once again thanks
    Ole Just

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      It’s not so much the currents around Candidasa, it’s that the beach has been eroded and the sand is very narrow. Padangbai is a good choice in eastern Bali. Several good beaches nearby (some just a short walk). Sanur has a very kid-friendly beach but it’s pretty touristy.

      Reply
  112. Hotel Villa in Seminyak

    Thank you for your brilliant site. Very useful and interesting.
    We are going to a wedding in Seminyak next April and would like to make a 10 day holiday out of it. We would like to find a family friendly yet moderately luxurious resort/hotel/villa in Seminyak that has a warm pool for the kids and is close to a beach. I have looked at Semara resort but am slightly concerned by lots of negative reviews. We welcome any suggestions…Thanks.
    Emma

    Reply
  113. Bali in October

    Hi David! My husband and I are thinking about heading to Bali in early October and friends already have reservations just north of Nusa Dua in Tanjungbenoa. How are the beaches in Nusa Dua and Tanjungbenoa? I’ve read mixed reviews, and I really want to stay at a decent hotel where I can lay on a beautiful beach and swim in the water. Any good beaches for this and hotel recommendations ($150 or under a night) would be so welcome and appreciated.

    Great advice on this website, thank you!

    Rachel

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hi Rachel. Tanjung Benoa has more character than the rest of Nusa Dua. Nice beach too. The Grand Mirage Resort Bali is very family friendly. It might be a bit over your budget but in October there should be some great deals. Good luck.

      Reply
  114. Cheap Hotels in Bali

    Really great articles you have here!

    Me and my sister are going to bali mid august for 2 weeks and im trying to find best hotels and things to do. I read so many articles on lonely planet that my head is just spinning now. Since you’ve visited bali several times could you give some tips where to stay and what tours to take without being ripped off. We are looking for amazing beaches and to get the best experience as its our first big/far away trip. we want to try snorkeling and surfing too and can spend up to 80$ a night for hotel and can change a few since we want to go to Gilis etc. Your advice would be highly appreciated.

    Rita

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hi Rita. In many ways Kuta is the best place to organize tours from as there are so many companies there and such a wide range of activities. On the other hand, getting out and seeing the island on your own (or at least hopping between 3 or 4 different towns) is a great way to see “beyond the tours” and the other big tourist towns (Ubud, Lovina, Sanur, Nusa Dua) will have plenty of different options for arranging tours.

      In general the surfing and beaches are best in the south; the rice fields and beautiful balinese countryside is in the central part of the island; the mountains in the north,east, and far west; the dolphins in the north (by Lovina); the scuba diving in the west and north of the island.

      Jimbaran makes a good place to explore the south. Ubud is good for exploring central, north, and west Bali.

      As for hotels, if you’re just looking for the best deals for the money then use this website.

      If you need a recommendation then I love this hotel in Jimbaran and this one in Ubud.

      Hope that helps. Good luck.

      Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Kuta is great for beginners. Many places to rent gear and take courses, and lifeguards on duty if you get into trouble. Uluwatu probably the best for advanced surfers, though lots of choices on the Bukit for great breaks.

      Good overview here on the different surfing spots in Bali: http://www.baliblog.com/surfing

      Reply
  115. Hard Rock Hotel in Kuta

    We loved Kuta and thought the beach was fantastic. I’d heard so many negative things about Kuta that I wasn’t going to spend anytime there but found a great hotel (the Hard Rock with an amazing amazing pool and slides) and couldn’t drag ourselves away.

    We found the other towns sort of boring in comparison. Different strokes suppose.

    Reply
  116. Booking Hotels in Kuta

    How would you book a hotel in Kuta for a week? We’re looking for a mid-range hotel with a pool in a central location, other than that we’re not fussy.

    Are there good websites that you can recommend for booking? or should I find a hotel in a guide book and phone them?

    First time to Bali and a little confused.

    Ayia

    Reply
  117. Hotel for Honeymoon in Seminyak

    Could you recommend a splurge hotel (for our honeymoon) in Seminyak or that general area? Great pool is the most important.

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      The BIMC hospital (http://www.bimcbali.com) is very good quality. We’ve used their emergency-room care when our son was bit by a dog and had to get a series of rabies shots. They were very professional and I’d highly recommend them. It’s located on the eastern edge of Kuta and you can get there in less than an hour from anywhere south of Ubud. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  118. Getting a Taxi from Jimbaran to Kuta / Shopping Malls in Bali

    How hard is it to get between Jimbaran and Kuta? I’m not big on shopping malls, but are they easily accessible from Jimbaran? Thanks.

    Glenn

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Very easy. Taxis are easy to get and it takes about 10 minutes. There’s the Bali Mall Galeria and the Discovery Mall that are fairly easy to get to from Jimbaran in that there on the south and east side and you can avoid central Kuta to get to them.

      Reply
  119. Best Beach Town in Bali

    So hard to pick one. Jimbaran has been recommended to us by friends. We have 10 days and would like to stay in just one area. Maybe do some day trips but don’t want to switch hotels. What beach and could you recommend a hotel there? Thank you.

    Wen

    Reply
    1. DaveDave Post author

      Go with Jimbaran. I love it. Quiet. Great beach. Some really awesome and cheap beach restaurants that serve fantastic seafood dishes. It’s a short taxi drive to Kuta if you want to shop or do some night life yet you don’t have to deal with the crowds of tourists like when you stay in Kuta.

      My favorite hotel in Jimbaran is the Four Seasons at Jimbaran. It’s great.

      Good luck.

      Reply

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