Not sure where to stay in Bali for your upcoming tropical holiday? We're here to help. A gorgeous location with charm like you won’t believe, Bali’s an island that will keep you coming back for more. The waters that flow from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean are doing wonders for the climate, as it has one of the best climates in the world. Its popularity has only been on the steady increase since the 80s, with today being one of the most popular tourist destinations from all around the world, but despite that, the land’s still has a deep-rooted spirituality which invariably adds to its already irresistible charm. Here is our where to stay in Bali guide, to help you pick the right accommodation.
Where to stay in Bali [2020 Guide] For first time visitors - Contents
Where to stay in Bali
The island of Bali isn’t a very large place but it never feels cramped. Staying on holiday in Bali never feels cramped and like there are too many people around you, but if you’re there to party you’ll definitely find a lot of like-minded people. Bali is split into several parts each with its own unique locations, so there are definitely things to consider when picking a location to stay at. But still, the island offers plenty of choices, so wherever you go you’re bound to have a lot of fun.
Often considered the most premium location in Bali, and often hailed as the place to be, Seminyak used to be a small fishing village that has now turned into one of the largest attractions in all of Bali. After a big investment and a significant redesign of the place, it now offers a wide variety of activities and locales each better than the last. With boutiques, health spas, a long stretch of white sandy beach, Seminyak is an amazing location to stay in Bali.
Why stay in Seminyak
Seminyak is designed to be filled with people. That means that parties are a regular thing, and that the boutiques and shops are bustling, or that the premium spas will offer fantastic and competitive service. An amazing place if you’re looking for excitement and activities because there’s always something going on, and the beach itself is in pristine condition, no different than the water.
Why avoid Seminyak
The downside to a busy place like Seminyak is that it might feel cramped after a while. It’s not recommended for people that prefer to be a little isolated from crowds and large happening, or for divers that seek to explore the waters near the coast. And because it’s also very modern there’s little in the way of local culture that feels unique and genuine, at least compared to other parts of the island.
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Meditation, spirituality, and culture are the main draws of Ubud. It’s not only a place of breathtaking nature, because of the lush forests that surround the valley, but also a location that’s dotted with many unique temples filled with people and ceremonies of the local Balinese culture. A place to feel immersed in the local culture, Ubud is a place to get lost in.
Why stay in Ubud
Ubud as a whole feels like it’s locked in time, which is downright amazing for people that want to explore the culture and surroundings. The locals are warm and welcoming, and they greet many of the tourists as they go about their day. There are ceremonies and traditions happening in the temples constantly, which are opened almost entirely to the public, and offer plenty of spots and opportunities for yoga and meditation.
Why avoid Ubud
As it’s a very peaceful place it’s not a location that’s made to party at. It’s a very cultural place with museums and peaceful restaurants so events are very sparse and rare, and there are no beaches since it’s not near the water. It’s not recommended for people that want to actively do something because there’s very little in the way of excitement and opportunities for adventure. Ubud is the ultimate wellness destination.
Kuta is a little town whose beaches offer a little glimpse into heaven. Perfect waters and soft sand, it’s the surfer's dream come true. The town itself is great too, with affordable accommodations and decent restaurants, it’s also a place with one of the best nightlife scenes in all of Bali. Quick and busy, it’s a great place to drop an anchor at and just experience that magic that happens around Kuta.
Why stay in Kuta
Perfect for the person that loves watersports in general. Surfing is definitely the biggest draw of Kuta, as the waves can get pretty menacing at times, but not truly dangerous. With decent diving and snorkelling spots nearby, as well as the pristine beaches, the sea is the biggest attraction here. The nightlife is also great as there’s always something happening, and it’s a great place to be surrounded by people.
Why avoid Kuta
Not really a place for a family vacation, because other than the beach there’s not really a lot of activities for children. The beaches themselves get really busy and crowded often, so it’s not a place to just kick back and relax, or to just feel a bit secluded. While the accommodations and restaurants are decent and cheap, they’re nothing to write home about, and the local culture is slightly replaced with a modern global feel.
Legian Beach, Bali
On first glance, it might appear that Legian Beach is just another Kuta, but is not quite the case. Unique and refreshing, as it’s a suburban beach, with beach bars all vying for your attention, and a place with nonstop parties and activities. Surfing is the go-to activity here, as well as relaxing in spas, Legian Beach and its adjacent beaches are also crammed with shops that offer a huge amount of goods, from things like local crafts to latest designer clothing.
Why stay in Legian Beach
One of the best party-focused places you can visit in Bali, it’s chockfull with people all partying and enjoying their time. Despite all the hustle of Legian, it has a very relaxing feel – in an active sort of way – and is a great social hub where people from all around the world gather to have fun. The waters are perfect for surfing, and if mingling with people is something you’re looking for, then Legian is the perfect place.
Why avoid Legian Beach
It can often get very crowded on the beach, and everyone is always coming and going, which can sometimes lead to it being a very busy place. There’s little in the way of typical relaxation, and there’s practically no sign of local culture since it’s not a town or a village, but only a suburban beach. Even though the waters are warm and fine, it’s not a place suitable for extended swimming, and due to its location there aren’t many affordable nearby accommodations – it’s mostly hotels in the region.
What was once a modest fishing village now has transformed into what many call the Beverly Hills of Bali. With its unique blend of calm and active, there’s something for everyone in equal measure. The beaches are perfect and relaxing, watching the sunset or rise can be magical, and the nightlife is also amazing.
Why stay in Jimbaran
Good both for a relaxing family vacation and for a party-filled holiday for the young, Jimbaran is a place filled with restaurants that offer freshly caught fish, and bars and clubs with high-octane parties. It’s a luxurious town with plenty of spas and chic boutiques, so shopping is a big part of the appeal.
Why avoid Jimbaran
Because of its luxurious nature, Jimbaran can get pretty expensive and is not for people that have a stricter budget. Although the beaches are fantastic, when it comes to partying they’re the main draw of the place, as they’re more like places for family gatherings and the like. Accommodations aren’t that affordable mostly since the villas overlooking the town are pretty extravagant at times.
Nusa Dua, Bali
This east-facing complex is a lavish retreat whose main appeal is its five-star rating. A place where local meets international, Nusa Dua is ideal for those that want to experience Bali without haggling with the locals for the prices or accommodations. With superb restaurants with nightly shows and live music and tropical gardens ideal for sipping cocktails, Nusa Dua is completely superb.
Why stay in Nusa Dua
Because everything is focused around the complex everything is easy to reach and convenience is the primary draw. There are both large shopping malls and smaller local markets, there’s always something nice and interesting to purchase, both local and international. The atmosphere is very calm and relaxing, and because it’s facing east, Nusa Dua is quite comfortable and calm when it comes to the climate.
Why avoid Nusa Dua
There are no nearby accommodations outside of the hotels, so that is a negative for those that want to find more affordable local accommodations. There is also very little in the way of nightlife because there are no typical bars to speak off, but rather lavish cocktail parties and nightly shows. Because of this, it can get pretty expensive because it’s meant to be a five-star retreat, rather than a typical relaxing place to stay.
Arguably Bali’s top surf spot, Sanur is a little town whose quality is highly curated as it offers a superb atmosphere and ambience. The town is perfect for walks and views, as there are plenty of vistas, and is one of the best spots for a calm, relaxing vacation. The town is very accommodating to tourists with plenty of shops and restaurants, with some unique choices among them, Sanur is great to just kick back and relax.
Why stay in Sanur
Besides it being the ideal place for a family vacation, water sports like surfing are some of the biggest draws of Sanur. The beaches themselves are pristine and perfect, especially due to Sanur being in the south-easy corner, and because the town is rather small everything is within walking distance, but accommodations are plentiful.
Why avoid Sanur
The town of Sanur is highly maintained so while being topnotch, the accommodations can get pretty expensive, especially because most of them are top villas and hotels. There’s also almost no nightlife to speak of because the focus is on more relaxing vacations, so it’s not for those seeking different types of thrills other than watersports.
Tanjung Benoa, Bali
This resort area and little town are like a more affordable version of Nusa Dua. Tanjung Benoa offers an interesting mix of relaxation and adventure with the main focus being on excellent cuisine and watersports. There’s an interesting middle ground between partying and family-friendly vacations, and the long stretches of beach are perfectly maintained so they’re ideal for anyone that wants some water-based action.
Why stay in Tanjung Benoa
Not quite as expensive as Nusa Dua, it’s great for you people that want to experience as much of Bali as possible. What’s unique about Tanjung Benoa is there are plenty of temples, as well as bars, so it’s very possible to experience the local culture and traditions, and have a nice tourist adventure too. Because the town is home to one of the best cooking schools in Bali food has a large part of the appeal, as it offers arguably the best cuisine on the island.
Why avoid Tanjung Benoa
While it is significantly cheaper than Nusa Dua it’s not the most affordable part of the island. It can get really crowded, especially during the tourist season so it’s not the ideal place to simply relax. For some, it might feel like there’s either not enough nightlife, and for others like it’s too much, so it comes up as a mixed bag to some people.
A gorgeous little pocket of Balinese culture, Candidasa offers plenty for every visitor. It’s not a place with a busy nightlife, but rather a place where culture and history play a large part in its appeal. The surrounding nature is absolutely breathtaking, with lotus lagoons and winding pathways into different parts of the area having the biggest draw of the place. The locals are more than welcoming, and little independent shops scattered around the place with very unique items for sale, all made by the local community.
Why stay in Candidasa
If you want to experience the history of the Balinese culture then Candidasa is by far the most ideal place. You can bathe in the royal pools of the ancient water palace, or experience the geography of the land by exploring the volcano. The locals’ way of life is also quite intriguing, so those seeking to witness the day-to-day life of the Balinese it can be amazing.
Why avoid Candidasa
The nightlife is extremely limited and partying is practically nonexistent, so other than having a cold drink in a hot afternoon there’s little else to do. Because history and culture are the main appeals, adventuring is not the focus, so don’t expect thrill-seeking action here. Other than the quaint little cafes and some local accommodations there aren’t any other more high-class places to stay.
The capital of Bali is a busy, bustling, multi-cultural place, and it’s only natural that things get a little hectic. Visiting Denpasar means experiencing as much of the real Bali as possible, especially if not you’re not staying for long. It’s a beautiful, if not daunting, city, with lots of history and plenty of attractions. Just make sure that you spend as much time as possible exploring its streets because there’s plenty to see.
Why stay in Denpasar
There’s something for everybody, meaning that it doesn’t matter if you prefer nightlife or just a casual stroll through the city, Denpasar can offer it. It’s where the government is seated so that’s where the most cultural events are happening, and the sheer range of activities to do makes it even better. From shopping malls to authentic local restaurants, Denpasar is a great place to visit at any time of the year.
Why avoid Denpasar
Because it’s a busy place it can get pretty chaotic at times, and due to its big growth in the past few decades, it can get pretty confusing pretty fast. While the locals are generally receptive and welcoming, the occasional scam and con can happen, or a thief might try to steal something. Because Balinese culture is quite unique it might be troublesome dealing with merchants trying to haggle or with the persistence of locals offering cheap accommodations.
One of the most charming and relaxing places in all of Bali, Keroborak feels like a slice of heaven. With tranquil rice terraces, coconut trees, and luxurious villas, Kerobokan is both a place for relaxation and a social hub. Due to its proximity to Seminyak, there are a lot of happenings going on, so there’s no shortage of activities. The beaches are also quite stunning and offer both high-octane parties and some solitude when needed.
Why stay in Kerobokan
It’s great to simply relax in Kerobokan. While there are plenty of activities, there’s also ample space to relax and get away from the bright nightlife of the rest of Bali and to just enjoy the view and calm sea air. It’s great for families that want a quiet time, but also perfect for people that like to party because of its close proximity to Seminyak and its busy bars.
Why avoid Kerobokan
The villas in Kerobokan are all high-class and outfitted to the brim so it’s not as affordable as some places. It does feel a bit secluded, but there are still plenty of people coming through and for those seeking some time away from civilization it might not appear to be the ideal place. Other than the restaurants there’s not much in the way of fine cuisine, and the shopping malls are mostly international stores and there aren’t that many local shops.
Bali is a fascinating place to spend your time at. Nightlife, partying, or a calm vacation – it has it all. To top it all off, the scenery is constantly gorgeous and its prices are mostly affordable. It’s great for a visit at any time of year, so once you’ve picked your ideal spot, make sure to visit it as soon as possible.
Now that you know where to stay in Bali, tell us what location did you pick and why. Safe travels!