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Where should I stay in Bali?

Bali is a large island and it can be confusing deciding on a base for your holiday. It really does depend on what you, your family, and friends, like to do.

Want to party and drink cheap cocktails? Are you looking for nature, peace and quiet? Do you like a spot of shopping, great restaurants? Are you all about the beach? Take a look at our list below and hopefully you will get some guidance.


Where to stay in Bali
Kuta Square

Beach, markets, nightclubs, bars, waterpark


Yes, Kuta is party central – loads of backpackers and Australian students getting drunk. But there is a lot to do and it's much cheaper to stay that Seminyak which is for the more well heeled. There are loads of hotel options and plenty of beachside cafes, spas and markets, plus a couple of large shopping malls where you can relax in air conditioned comfort and even catch a movie. There are loads of hotels and guesthouses at every budget.

(peak hour times)

Airport – Kuta : 20 minutes

Kuta - Seminyak : 10 minutes

Kuta - Ubud : 1 hour 40 minutes

Kuta - Uluwatu : 50 minutes

Kuta - Sanur : 35 minutes


Where to stay in Bali
The Original: KuDeTa Beach Club

Beach clubs, shops, restaurants and cafes


This area is a little more upmarket than Kuta and suitable for families, but it is busy; the traffic is terrible and it’s hard to get around. If you stay here, try and get as close to the beach as possible (which is obviously more expensive) since you can walk to many places along the excellent white sand beach. There used to be fun little warungs (local restaurants) up and down the beach. These have mostly been razed (in some cases, literally) for the beach clubs but there are still a few around especially in Berawa. The shopping is good, with great boutiques a a couple of easy malls.

Airport – Seminyak: 25 minutes Seminyak - Sanur : 45 minutes

Seminyak - Ubud : 1 hour 25

Seminyak - Uluwatu : 1 hour



Where to stay in Bali
Padang Padang Beach and Village

Surfing, big villas, beautiful beaches, spectacular coastline


Uluwatu is on the dry peninsular in south Bali. It’s a little out of the way, but the beaches are lovely (although sometimes a little hard to get to). Also the beaches here are safer to swim at; you’ll find lots of little coves and it’s not as busy as Canggu. Uluwatu is hard to get out of…you have to travel across the isthmus and through the terrible airport traffic to get anywhere. It’s also all about beaches as Uluwatu is not as pretty as elsewhere in Bali. Uluwatu temple is a highlight but there is not much else to do.

Airport – Uluwatu: 50 minutes

Uluwatu - Ubud: 2 hours

Nusa Dua


Beach resorts, and more beach resorts, water sports


Where to stay in Bali
Nusa Dua Beachfront

Nusa Dua is literally a resort village. There is almost nothing else there; in fact, you have to go into a gated enclave to which your average Balinese isn’t really welcome, so I find it immensely fake. The hotels are spectacular, there are many good restaurants within those hotels, and you can walk up and down the beach easily on a good path. The beach is beautiful but often polluted by water sports noise. This place is for when you need a luxury, relaxing holiday and don’t feel the need to see any of the real Bali. There is an excellent art museum though, and this is a great spot for families to relax and the beach is particularly safe and pleasant. Many of the hotels here have kids clubs.

What to do: Swim and snorkel on the beautiful white sand beach, catch a show at the Bali Nusa Dua Theatre, have a fancy spa day, indulge in one of the buffet brunches (try the Sofitel, Mulia, St Regis or the Kempinski), get cultural at Museum Pacifica, play golf at Bukit Landawa or Bali National, wander through the little temple of Puja Mandala.

Airport – Nusa Dua: 35 minutes

Nusa Dua - Ubud: 1.5 hours

Nusa Dua - Canggu: 1 hour 10 minutes



Where to stay in Bali
Sanur Beach

Beach, easy travel, cafes, perfect for kids


Pretty Sanur is the best place for families, especially small children – and it’s popular with retirees. It’s quiet and super easy to get around. The beach is lovely but not great to swim in, so those who like waves should go elsewhere.

Also Sanur is easier to get into and out of than other towns, so you can do day trips more easily, including to the islands. You might like to look at my guide:

Airport – Sanur: 35 minutes

Sanur - Ubud: 1 hour 10 minutes Sanur - Canggu: 1 hour



Where to stay in Bali
Monkey Forest Ubud

Balinese Culture, nature, restaurants, boutique shopping


The spiritual heartland of Bali is now the wellness centre of Asia with yoga studios and all sorts of other ‘healing modalities’ (many bordering on quackery).

If wellness is not your thing, there is still plenty to do; great museums, the large and ancient monkey forest, temples, and plenty of eating options. The setting is also very beautiful; a few minutes out of Ubud and you are in the Balinese countryside with its lustrous green ricefields. You can check the guide linked above for where to stay and what to do. Ubud is really all about nature and culture, but there are many great restaurants and cafes.


Airport – Ubud: 75 minutes


Where to stay in Bali
Amed with Mount Agung in the background

Scuba, snorkeling, quiet

Way over on the eastern coast, Amed has a very pretty setting at the base of Mount Agung. Scuba divers are fond of Amed, and there is a thriving community of divers in the village. It's very relaxed and apart from diving there isn't a great deal going on. There are some very pretty places to stay, and you might like it as a place to get away from the tourist hordes. I'm not fond of Amed as there is no real village centre, the beaches are rocky and its miles away. If you don't drive a scooter it's also very hard to get around. This is a more relaxed place and if you love diving, you shouldn't miss it.


Airport – Amed: 3.25 hours


There are of course places further afield, but these listed below are the popular towns, mostly because they’re closer to the airport and there are western facilities. Also accommodation is better and easier to find at any budget, in the main tourist areas.

For somewhere out of the way, you might like Lovina, Sidemen, Candi Dasa, and Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan. A side trip to the Gilis might also be on the cards.






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