Updated: June 8, 2016
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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 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 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 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
- Alaya Resort Kuta • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 755380)
- Bali Dynasty Resort • Reviews • (Hotel phone: 62 361 752403)
- Kuta Seaview Boutique Resort • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 751961)
- Patra Jasa Bali Resort & Villas • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 9351161)
- Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 8465555)
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 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
- The Legian Bali • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 730622)
- The Oberoi • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 730361)
- The Samaya Bali • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 731149)
- The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 730814)
- W Retreat & Spa Bali • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 3000106)
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
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
- The St. Regis Bali Resort • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 8478111)
- Grand Hyatt Bali • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 771234)
- The Westin Resort Nusa Dua Bali • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 771906)
- The Laguna • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 771327)
- Grand Nikko Bali • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 773377)
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
- Griya Santrian a Beach Resort • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 288181)
- Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 3011888)
- Puri Santrian • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 288009)
- Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 8497000)
- Tandjung Sari Hotel • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 288441)
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
- Chedi Club Tanah Gajah • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 975685)
- Alaya Resort Ubud • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 972200)
- Viceroy Bali • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 971777)
- The Samaya Ubud • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 973606)
- Four Seasons Resort at Sayan • Reviews • (Hotel phone: +62 361 977577)