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Deciding Where to Stay in Bali

Deciding Where to Stay in Bali

Bali is all the rage on social media right now, so you may find yourself considering planning a trip of your own. Having just returned from my first trip to Bali, I say DO IT! Bali is a beautiful island with a unique cultural experience that should be at the top of the wish list for every traveler. Deciding where to call your home base once you actually arrive is more difficult. Bali is a visually and culturally diverse island, so the different regions offer substantially different experiences.

Of course, the best option is to either extend your vacation and stay in (or at least visit) a few different areas. If that’s not possible for your length of stay or budget, find the considerations below for choosing your home base.


Stay here for: Beach bars, night life, surfing

Price: $$

Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak

Seminyak and Canguu Beach are perhaps two of the most iconic areas in Bali when it comes to social media. This is where you’ll find the cool beach bars with infinity pools, bean bags, and throngs of young, beautiful tourists. Seminyak and Canggu compose kilometres of coastline on the southwest side of the island, just north of the airport. The uninterrupted stretch of brown sand beach makes for good walking, though beware that these areas are extremely busy, especially in high season (late June – October). Your best bet is to hop along from beach bar to beach bar, where you’ll receive a shaded seat in exchange for a few drinks (some clubs have minimum of ~$35 USD for a lounge bed).

If you’re looking to spend your vacation with a drink in hand and go bar hopping until 3am, Seminyak and Canguu are your spots.


Stay here for: Glamorous resorts, serenity, seaside cliffs

Price: $$$

Ritz Carlton, Nusa Dua
Pantai Pandawa Beach, Nusa Dua

Nusa Dua is a quiet area on the southernmost tip of the Island, overlooking the Indian Ocean. This is where you’ll find Bali’s white sand beaches neatly raked in front of giant, glitzy international resorts. If you’re looking for luxury in Bali, Nusa Dua has it. Most of the resorts here are only a few years old, as development of this area has recently taken off. New construction means you’ll have access to modern amenities (heated toilet seats, anyone?) and beautiful, barely used rooms. Most resorts have a few on-site restaurants (off resort food options are limited) and multiple pools (private pools are offered for a price). Notable resorts in this area include The Mulia and Ritz-Carlton Bali.

It’s worth noting that Nusa Dua is the southernmost point of the island, which means it’s relatively far from some of the popular areas (45 mins to Seminyak and Canguu, 1 hour to Kuta, 2 hours to Ubud). If you stay here and get easily bored like me, make friends with a taxi driver to lead some day trips around the island. Fun things to do in the Nusa Dua area are paragliding off the cliffs and exploring uncrowded beaches.


Stay here for: Culture, food, yoga, rice fields

Price: $

Black Penny Villas, Ubud
Monkey Forest, Ubud

Ubud is a quaint town in the middle of Bali’s iconic rice fields and surrounding jungle. For me, Ubud felt the most “real” of the areas I stayed in Bali. While relatively touristy, the traveler that stays in Ubud is seeking culture, not sand. On every street in Ubud, you’ll find art, temples, yoga, traditional Balinese dance, music performances, and authentic Indonesian and Asian Fusion restaurants owned by locals. In Ubud, the accommodations tend to be smaller villas and bungalows overlooking rice terraces or the Ayung River, which cuts through the valley and provides a living for locals and thrill for tourists in the form of white water rafting.

If you tire of Ubud (which will take a couple days, at least), its central location means you have easy access to the beaches on the west and southern coasts, Mount Batur to the north, and the waterfalls north of the mountain range.

Think twice before Kuta Beach:

As you’re completing your own research about where to stay, you’ll likely come across Kuta Beach, which is one of the most popular areas for tourists on the island. All I can say about Kuta is that you should read a few articles before deciding, and do a little digging for real reviews…not just canned articles saying that Kuta Beach is great. I decided not to visit this area as I read that it’s actually quite dirty and overcrowded. While the area might be appealing to backpackers looking to party, honeymooners beware.

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