Bali Hotels and Resorts

My guide to the best hotels & resorts in Bali
Last updated: November 23, 2022

My Favorite Hotels in Bali

• Best Legian Hotel: Padma Resort
• Best Seminyak Hotel: W Bali
• Best Kuta Hotel: Hard Rock Hotel
• Best Sanur Hotel: Andaz
• Best Jimbaran Hotel: Four Seasons
• Best Nusa Dua Hotel: Grand Hyatt
• Best Ubud Hotel: Viceroy
• Best New Hotel: Raffles Bali

The best luxury hotel in Ubud, Bali.

The marvelous Viceroy Hotel in Ubud, Bali.

Bali Hotels – Tips & Advice

Where to Stay in BaliBest BeachesHotels for Families

On This Page

The 37 Best Resorts in Bali

Bali Hotel Map

1. Hard Rock Hotel – Kuta

Children play in the long pool at the Hard Rock Hotel Bali in Kuta.
Best Resort in Kuta – Vast grounds, massive pools, and endless family-friendly facilities – yet, remarkably, in downtown.
My reviewCheck prices for Hard Rock Hotel

2. Poppies – Kuta

Guests lounge by a winding pool and hut at Poppies Bali in Kuta.
Best Resort in Southern Bali for Charm and Romance – Built in the 1970s, Poppies still exudes such history, elegance, and class within an oasis in downtown Kuta.
Check prices for Poppies

3. Anantara Vacation Club – Legian

Guests lounge by the pool at Anantara Vacation Club Legian Bali.
Best Apartments in Southern Bali for Families – Very rare collection of huge and well equipped apartments with kitchen, living area, and up to three bedrooms in top location.
Check prices for the Anantara Vacation Club

4. The Bandha Hotel & Suites – Legian

Folks lounge by the pool at The Bandha Hotel & Suites in Legian Bali.
Best New Resort in Southern Bali – Exquisite luxury and fantastic facilities in superb position along the pulsating street and sandy beach.
Check prices for the Bandha Hotel & Suites

5. Padma Resort – Legian

A dragon fountain fills the pool at Padma Resort Legian in Bali.
Best Resort in Legian – Long-established and so central, it has massive gardens and marvelous facilities, especially for families.
My reviewCheck prices for the Padma Resort

6. The Oberoi Beach Resort – Seminyak

Bright lounge chairs line the pool with colorful umbrellas at Oberoi Beach Resort in Bali.
Best Resort in Seminyak – With vast gardens and fantastic facilities, the beachside setting and village-style layout are superb – and in downtown Seminyak.
Check prices for the Oberoi Beach Resort

7. Seminyak Beach Resort – Seminyak

The infinity pool on the beach at Seminyak Beach Resort in Bali.
Best Resort in Seminyak for a Romantic Holiday – Luxurious suites with a Jacuzzi, secluded villas with private pool, and one of the most magical beachside pools imaginable.
Check prices for the Seminyak Beach Resort

8. W Bali – Seminyak

Large pool near the beach at W Bali in Seminyak.
Best Resort in Bali for Pools – With Infinity edges and swaying palms, as well as ‘beaches’, ‘islands’, and ‘waterfalls’, the pools are stunning for their size, design, and position.
My reviewCheck prices for the W Bali

9. Ecozy Dijiwa – Canggu

The sun hits a small pool at Ecozy Dijiwa Canggu in Bali.
Best Boutique Resort in Canggu – Quiet and well equipped rooms with private gardens or private pool in thriving area; also butler service and super-friendly staff.
Check prices for the Ecozy Dijiwa

10. Hotel Tugu – Sanur

Statue with wings in the lobby of Hotel Tugu in Canggu Bali.
Best Resort in Southern Bali for History – With antiques and relics all over, it oozes so much class, charm, and history – but also very convenient.
Check prices for the Hotel Tugu

11. Andaz – Sanur

Rooms line the pool courtyard at Andaz Bali in Sanur.
Best Resort in Bali for Tropical Gardens – Very new, outstanding for families, and some of the most magnificent gardens imaginable anywhere in Asia.
Check prices for the Andaz

12. Hyatt Regency – Sanur

Families play in the pool next to the ocean at the Hyatt Regency Bali in Sanur.Best Resort in Sanur for Families – Newly renovated throughout, the central location, world-class facilities, and vast gardens are adored by families.
Check prices for the Hyatt Regency

13. Segara Village – Sanur

People lounge at tables and chairs by the beach at Segara Village Hotel in Sanur Bali.
Best Resort in Sanur for Facilities – Long-established and so traditional, with adults-only wing of rooms and pool, but also family-friendly with kids club, tennis courts, and playground.
My reviewCheck prices for the Segara Village Hotel

14. Tandjung Sari – Sanur

A man swims in the pool by the ocean at the Tandjung Sari Hotel in Sanur Bali.
Best Resort in Sanur – Since 1962, the ‘Cape of Flowers’ has been oozing serenity, tradition, charm, and romance – all in a top-notch location.
Check prices for the Tandjung Sari Hotel

15. Grand Hyatt – Nusa Dua

A giant rock with flowers growing on it sits in the middle of the pool at the Grand Hyatt Bali in Nusa Dua.
Best Resort in Southern Bali for Beach – Massive, convenient, traditional, and world-class facilities, it faces arguably the most beautiful beach in Bali.
My reviewCheck prices for the Grand Hyatt

16. The Laguna – Nusa Dua

A hut with sheer drapes sits next to the lagoon at The Laguna Luxury Collection Resort & Spa in Nusa Dua Bali.
Best Resort in Nusa Dua for Facilities – Facing a sublime beach, it offers tennis courts, abundant family activities, games room, kids club, and seven pools.
My reviewCheck prices for the Laguna

17. Meliã – Nusa Dua

Lounge chairs line the beach at Melia Bali in Nusa Dua
Best Resort in Nusa Dua – One of the finest settings anywhere in Bali, with marvellous beach, world-class gardens, wonderful facilities, and convenient location.
Check prices for the Meliã

18. Sofitel – Nusa Dua

Swimming alcoves to the rooms at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort in Bali.
Best Resort in Nusa Dua for Location – Stylish design, family-friendly, and gorgeous beach, with definite bonus of being walkable to facilities in neighboring Tanjung Benoa.
Check prices for the Sofitel

19. Westin – Nusa Dua

Chairs line the beach at the Westin Resort Nusa Dua in Bali.
Best Resort in Nusa Dua for Families – Likeably compact, convenient, functional, and luxurious, the facilities are excellent at this self-described ‘luxury family resort’.
Check prices for the Westin Resort

20. Conrad – Tanjung Benoa

Two chairs sit by a private pool at the Conrad Bali in Tanjung Benoa.
Best Resort in Tanjung Benoa – Luxury suites and villas facing gigantic grounds or faultless beach, and with so much offered to families.
Check prices for the Conrad

21. Grand Mirage – Tanjung Benoa

A boy swims toward a ball in the pool at the Grand Mirage Resort and Thalasso Spa in Tanjung Benoa.
Best Resort in Tanjung Benoa for Families – One of two adjoining resorts called Family Paradise has a vibrant design, abundant facilities for children, and five types of rooms for families.
Check prices for the Grand Mirage Resort

22. AYANA – Bukit Peninsula – near Jimbaran

Frog sculptures overlook the pool at AYANA Resort and Spa on the Bukit Peninsula in Bali.
Best Resort in western Bukit Peninsula – With twelve pools and 90 hectares of tropical gardens, there’s so much luxury and elegance across an extraordinary clifftop setting.
My reviewCheck prices for the AYANA Resort

23. Hilton – Bukit Peninsula – near Nusa Dua

A pool with sand like a beach sits next to the ocean at the Hilton Bali Resort on the Bukit Peninsula.
Best Resort in Bukit Peninsula for Facilities – Truly massive resort on a cliff-top with pools featuring ‘beaches’, as well as tennis courts, amphitheatre, and all sorts of family activities.
Check prices for the Hilton Resort

24. The Ritz-Carlton – Bukit Peninsula – south of Nusa Dua

The boardwalk is filled with lounge chairs on the beachfront at the Ritz-Carlton on the Bukit Peninsula in Bali.
Best Resort in eastern Bukit Peninsula – Sheer opulence, absolute extravagance, and breathtaking setting close to Nusa Dua – and ideal for families.
Check prices for the Ritz-Carlton

25. Four Seasons – Jimbaran

A private pool overlooks the ocean at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay.
Best Resort in Jimbaran – Pool villas offering tranquillity, opulence, seclusion, and eye-popping sea views.
My reviewCheck prices for Four Seasons Jimbaran

26. InterContinental – Jimbaran

Mermaid fountains poor water into the pool at the InterContinental Bali Resort.
Best Resort in Jimbaran for Facilities – Being substantially renovated in 2022, it has vast tropical gardens, six pools, tennis courts, and an excellent kids club with abundant activities.
Check prices for the InterContinental

27. Jimbaran Puri – Jimbaran

Visitors lounge by a pool next to the ocean at Jimbaran Puri hotel in Bali.
Best Boutique Resort in Jimbaran – Hidden gem where adorable villas and cottages face the perfect beach, manicured gardens, and palm-lined pool.
Check prices for the Jimbaran Puri

28. Mövenpick – Jimbaran

Tables and chairs sit beside the pool at Movenpick Resort & Spa in Jimbaran Bali.
Best Resort in Jimbaran for Families – Staggering size, mall attached, and amazing facilities for families with children of all ages.
Check prices for the Mövenpick Resort & Spa

29. Raffles Bali – Jimbaran

An infinity pool at Raffles Bali Hotel in Jimbaran overlooks the ocean and grounds.
Best Resort in Southern Bali for Pool Villas – Almost redefining the word ‘luxury’, the 32 very secluded and peaceful villas are spread across an incredible 23 hectares.
Check prices for Raffles Bali

30. Komaneka at Bisma – Ubud

Swimmers enter the infinity pool overlooking the jungle at Komaneka at Bisma Resort in Ubud Bali.
Best Resort in Central Bali for Setting – Unrivalled luxury and heavenly pools in a dramatic setting facing a ravine, forest, river, and rice-fields – yet in downtown Ubud.
Check prices for Komaneka at Bisma

31. Alam Indah – Ubud

Shaggy straw hangs from the roof of the Alam Indah in Ubud Bali.
Best Hotel in Ubud for a Romantic Holiday – Traditional, serene, and charismatic, with adorable bungalows in spectacular ravine setting close to downtown and Monkey Forest sanctuary.
Check prices for Alam Indah

32. Four Seasons Sayan – Ubud

An infinity pool sits next to a river at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan in Ubud.
Best Resort in Ubud for Facilities – Unimaginable opulence in a breathtaking, riverside setting, with stunning pool, world-class spa, and kids club with imaginative activities.
My reviewCheck prices for the Four Seasons Sayan

33. Viceroy – Ubud

Best hotel in Ubud, Bali.
Best Resort in Ubud – Sophisticated and romantic, a family-run and award-winning haven with personalized service and magnificent setting.
My reviewCheck prices for the Viceroy

34. Aquaria Eco Resort – Candidasa

A sculpture of a woman lays next to the pool at Aquaria Eco Resort in Candidasa Bali.
Best Boutique Resort in Eastern Bali – Cute, eco-friendly, and peaceful, with perfect beachside position and lovingly furnished rooms.
Check prices for the Aquaria Eco Resort

35. Hotel Genggong – Candidasa

Two lounge chairs sit by the ocean at the Hotel Genggong in Candidasa Bali.
Best Resort in Eastern Bali for Sea Views – Serene and secluded, with all rooms providing direct views of the ocean dotted with islets and beach lined with traditional boats.
Check prices for the Hotel Genggong

36. Indiana Kenanga Villas – Nusa Lembongan

Sun-bleached blue pillows and umbrellas line the beachfront at Indiana Kenanga Boutique Hotel & Spa in Nusa Lembongan Bali.
Best Resort in Bali for Tropical Island Vibe – Sumptuous and serene villas in idyllic location between genuine village and powdery-white beach.
My reviewCheck prices for Indiana Kenanga

37. Tamarind – Nusa Lembongan

View of the straw rooftops and ocean from the infinity pool at the Tamarind Resort in Nusa Lembongan Bali.
Best Resort on Nusa Lembongan Island – So loveable and convenient, with large, quiet and stylish villas (with up to three bedrooms), and perfect rooftop pool with extensive views
Check prices for the Tamarind Resort

Map of best towns and beaches in Bali.


The 12 Best Places to Stay in Kuta & Tuban

Beach resort in Kuta, Bali.

Pictured above: Sheraton Kuta Resort

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.

1. Hard Rock

Vast grounds and endless family-friendly facilities – yet in downtown Kuta.
This inconceivably massive resort is, remarkably, on the busiest corner of Kuta. The Hard Rock theme continues throughout, e.g., autographed guitars line the walls, and an immense cocktail bar is plastered with gold records. But the main attractions for many are the pools, which never seem to end. They feature ‘islands,’ a ‘beach’ with volleyball courts, lifeguards, a beach club, and huge thatched gazebos. As expected, all types of rooms and suites are luxurious and face extensive gardens nicely distant from the traffic outside. Probably the finest resort on Bali for families, the Hard Rock provides a children’s pool with a playground in the water; two exhilarating kids clubs with extensive activities for different age groups, and a range of other fun things for the whole clan. Yet – incredibly – the main entrance is only 50m from Kuta Beach and just a few minutes’ stroll from the world-class Beachwalk Shopping Center.


Stylish, sophisticated, nicely-located, and fab for families.
With its eye-catching layout and design, this five-star resort offers much more charm and elegance than the old-fashioned and rather outdated rivals nearby. Considerably larger than initially expected, the ANVAYA is popular with those on a romantic getaway, yet also impressively set up for families, with eight pools, plenty of activities, Family Premiere Rooms, and a small but engaging kids club. The elegant rooms and suites feature modern design coupled with Balinese décor rarely seen in the Kuta region, and most of those at ground level provide direct access to the lagoon pool. The onsite spa and restaurants are also as classy as expected. And the location is certainly a major attraction: it faces the finest beach in Tuban (South Kuta) and is easily walkable to two malls (Discovery and Lippo); the world-class Waterbom waterpark; and numerous places to shop, eat, and drink.

3. AlamKulKul

Unique charm, ambiance, and tranquillity in the midst of chaotic Kuta
The name of this adorable hotel emanates from the Balinese kulkul tower at the front and the Indonesian word for ‘nature.’ It is somehow squeezed between two mega-resorts, yet it almost resembles a traditional Balinese village. The low-level buildings are surrounded by lovingly landscaped gardens packed with rattan furniture and dotted with ponds, palms, statues, and fountains. The two pools are adequately sized, and both feature a bar and lovely wooden decking. The standard rooms are very comfortable and contain a veranda/balcony. Accessible along a stone path, the villas are airy, tranquil, and secluded. These feature a Balinese-style thatched roof, a wide veranda, a four-poster bed, and extensive windows that maximize light and views. All rooms are at least 100m from the relentless traffic along the beachside road, and the hotel entrance is, remarkably, within 50 metres of Kuta’s famed beach and sunsets, and its endless cafés, bars, and shops.

4. Bali Dynasty

Superb facilities, terrific location, and extra special for families.
While this resort does not directly face the ocean and, therefore, no rooms offer sea views, guests can still enjoy the private Beach Club very close by. The main pool, with its ‘waterfalls,’ volleyball nets, and swim-up bar, is truly massive. Another caters just to children, and a third pool is for adults only. All rooms are very comfortable, and those specifically designed for families feature bunk beds for up to three children. Most rooms overlook the pools and extensive gardens, but some do face the carpark and entrance road, so choose carefully. The two main selling points are the location – walkable to the Discovery and Lippo malls and the world-class Waterbom waterpark – and all the facilities for families, which include two cheerful kids clubs, a 50m waterslide, and a range of fun activities all day.

5. Aloft Kuta

Perfect position for Kuta’s major attractions: shopping, surfing, and swimming.
The little sister to the nearby Sheraton Hotel (reviewed here), the new four-star Aloft hotel is unashamedly hip and quirky – and instantly likable. With the words ‘SAVVY’ and ‘SASSY’ appropriately displayed, the lobby pulsates with flashing lights and plays what it labels as ‘DNA music.’ It’s quietly positioned 200m down a dead-end lane and adjacent to an entrance to the world-class, multi-level Beachwalk Shopping Center, which is packed with places to shop, eat, and drink. What’s more, the Aloft is only a five-minute stroll to Kuta Beach, renowned for its sand, surf, and sunsets. The rooms, which are compact and feature a colorful décor and innovative design, are dominated by a massive Smart TV that swivels for maximum viewing pleasure. Despite the limited space, the Aloft also provides a gym and outdoor pool overlooking the shopping center below.

6. Bali Garden

Stylish, convenient, unpretentious, and old-fashioned – but in a good way.
The traditional design, with its masses of lotus-filled ponds and trickling fountains, is more appealing than most other resorts nearby. All rooms are spacious and tasteful, featuring contemporary Balinese décor, and face the sea and/or tropical gardens. The main pool with a swim-up bar is very shady, while the adults-only pool is lined with gorgeous gazebos, and a third pool is alongside the sea. Still part of the curved Kuta Bay, the beach in front of the resort is broad, and the sand is white, among the best in Tuban (South Kuta). The Bali Garden is also ideal for families with teenagers because of the excellent beach, pools, and location: adjacent to the Discovery mall (with familiar fast-food outlets), opposite the outstanding Waterbom waterpark, and next to a beachside path perfect for cycling. The resort is also close enough (500m) to walk to Kuta but distant from the comparative chaos over there.

7. Tribe

So new, chic, and convenient – and already so popular.
Opened as recently as early 2022, the Tribe is already setting the standard among a revitalised area of northern Kuta (and not far from Legian). Facing the beachside road, this very stylish boutique hotel is unapologetically hip and caters so nicely to the younger crowds. It offers a range of compact rooms and suites at lower-than-expected rates, but there’s nothing traditional about the design or Balinese about the décor. The Tribe is simply all about two factors: (1) the location – metres from the beach, which is considerably less crowded than just 200m further south or north, and a brief stroll to the world-class, multi-level Beachwalk Shopping Center, crammed with places to eat and shop; and (2) the rooftop, where the sublime, bright-blue Infinity-edged pool almost seems to drip into the sea.

8. Amnaya

Likeable, colorful, and wonderfully hidden from traffic and crowds.
Part of a small chain of luxury boutique hotels spread across Bali, the Amnaya is far more appealing than many other charmless and oversized resorts nearby. The distinctive mauve paint and wood-stained balconies are quite striking and all rooms are spacious. Most face the elongated and inviting pool, while the Family Suites feature two of everything – bedrooms, bathrooms, and balconies. And the villas are concealed behind lofty walls, yet still only a few metres from the pool. Located 150m along a tranquil path from the very busy road through Tuban (also known as South Kuta), the Amnaya is less than 400m from the beach and about 1km from shopping heaven at Kuta. Also, the hotel is close to a cluster of tempting eateries, convenient to the Discovery Shopping Mall, and behind the world-class Waterbom waterpark (which does make the resort a little noisy in places).


Chic, dazzling, loveable, and in a re-energised part of Kuta.
Squeezed alongside the equally adorable Bali Tribe hotel (reviewed here), the MAMAKA is the essence of a boutique hotel: compact, trendy, and so very easy to instantly like. Nothing about the layout or design is Balinese, but it’s so vibrant throughout. The rooms and suites (with names like ‘Swagger’ and ‘Top Gun’) are highly functional and feature all the latest conveniences; some offer two bedrooms and a kitchenette. Bonuses rarely seen elsewhere include a free minibar during certain hours, self-service laundry, and breakfast (included). What’s more, the glorious beach over the road is considerably less crowded than elsewhere in Kuta and rates are lower than probably expected. However, the major attraction is on the rooftop: sparkling pool, heavenly ocean views, lounge chairs, gazebos, bar, and outdoor cinema.

10. Sheraton

Exquisite luxury that could not be closer to Bali’s most popular beach and mall.
The gigantic lobby sets the scene: waterfalls, men playing gamelan instruments, and young ladies in traditional costumes welcoming guests. This contemporary and fashionable resort is, quite remarkably, perched above the upmarket, multi-level Beachwalk Shopping Center and in the midst of downtown Kuta. Every room is opulent, as expected of this international chain, and features a vibrant décor and plush ‘Sheraton Bed’. Many rooms are angled with a balcony offering beautiful views of Kuta Beach and its celebrated sunsets. The upper-level Infinity pool and adjacent gym also boast superb vistas and welcome breezes. And somehow the entire resort avoids most of the noise from the incessant traffic below. Note: in late 2022, the hotel was still undergoing extensive renovations to its rooms, restaurants, and other facilities.

11. Poppies

Historic, elegant, and charming oasis within the chaos of Kuta.
One of the very first hotels built in the region, Poppies just oozes a romantic vibe. The gardens are sprinkled with fountains, bridges, ponds of goldfish, and thatched umbrellas with rattan chairs. The gorgeous cottages feature a corner sofa, thatched roof, open-air bathroom with sunken marble bathtub, and private patio facing flourishing gardens that provide privacy without isolation. The stylish pool is a decent size and lined with shady palms and blossoming bougainvillea, and alongside it are a library, bar, and Jacuzzi. Quietly secluded behind lofty stone walls and directly opposite the equally-renowned Poppies Restaurant, the hotel is – remarkably – only meters from a selection of shops, cafés, and bars, and a short stroll from the renowned Kuta Beach. Breakfast is included.

12. SOL

Newly-renovated and nicely-located, it’s unfussy and terrific for families on a budget.
Far larger than initially expected from the lobby entrance, this four-star resort boasts a vast array of rooms in low-level buildings facing gardens rarely this extensive in downtown Kuta. Almost hidden behind a small arcade, the SOL is pleasingly quiet throughout, and the two bright-blue pools (one with a swim-up bar) are particularly shady from all the frangipani trees. The location is a selling point, too. It’s between Kuta, rightly famous for its beach, shopping, and nightlife, and the northern part of Tuban (also known as South Kuta), which is lined with sports bars and restaurants offering live seafood. And the SOL is also recommended for families not seeking a far more expensive resort with a kids club. At the SOL, there is plenty of space to run around, some games are offered, and rooms with connecting doors are easy to arrange. What’s more, it’s an easy walk to the world-class Waterbom waterpark and rates are very competitive (often including a hearty buffet breakfast).

Map of the best hotels and things to do in Kuta and Tuban Bali.
Hotels on Map: PullmanAlamKulkulThe StonesAkmaniTribeKuta BeachSheratonKuta SeaviewHard RockPoppiesBali GardenAmnayaBali DynastyFebri’sHoliday InnPatra


The 9 Best Places to Stay in Legian

Beach Hotel in Bali.

Pictured above: Padma Resort in Legian.

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.

1. Padma

So massive, traditional, convenient, and perfect for families.
In a gigantic area conveniently within walking distance of Kuta and Seminyak, this long-established five-star resort is based around lovingly landscaped gardens. Of the 13 categories of accommodation, the spacious and comfortable bungalows (called chalets) include a wide balcony/porch overlooking abundant tropical plants. The smaller Deluxe Rooms are in motel-style blocks, but still pleasingly traditional in design and furnishings, and patios on the ground-floor rooms spill out into one of four pools. Some suites have two bedrooms and are ideal for families, while the Presidential Suites, with three bedrooms, a private pool and butler service, are fit for, well, a president. The beachfront pool appears endless and has one of the most enticing swim-up bars imaginable. The younger ones would really enjoy the children’s pool with waterslides, and all the fun activities offered at the supervised kids club and attached Games Center.

2. Anantara Vacation Club

Wonderful apartments ideal for families and long-stayers in glorious location.
This newish four-star resort offers the sort of self-contained apartments rarely found in this part of Bali. Perfect for families and those staying a while, these apartments are huge. Each contains a kitchen with extras like a water cooler and rice cooker and plenty of luggage space for everyone. The extended balcony on the upper levels also adds to the immense feeling of space. For families, some apartments have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and the one on the rooftop with three bedrooms boasts a plunge pool. The shady pool sparkles, although most guests prefer the lovely beach just 50m away. Important extras like free bicycle rental, laundry machines, and free shuttle service to the shops in neighboring Seminyak add greatly to the appeal. Perhaps surprisingly there is also a kids club, which is a reasonable size and certainly colorful. The other attraction is simply the location in the most likEable part of the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak region: facing a very quiet beachside path and among a cluster of top-notch eateries.

3. Bandha

Exquisite luxury, perfect position, and fantastic facilities.
With an ideal location set 100m from the main street and also facing the beach, The Bandha is easy to miss and far larger than initially expected. There are two distinct sections: one area faces the larger Lagoon Pool surrounded by extensive decking and abundant lounge chairs; another cluster of rooms is near the second pool, which is more popular for its Infinity-edges and setting just across from the beach. Most rooms on the ground floors offer direct access to a pool. And the suites are truly magnificent: some with two bedrooms (so perfect for families); many with a spa bath; one on the rooftop with a private pool; and a few provide the sort of direct sea views rarely possible in Kuta, Legian, or Seminyak. Also very appealing is the breezy lounge/café area on the rooftop, and the friendly, attentive service.

4. Bali Niksoma

Compact and classy, with resort-style facilities but not the crowds.
This charming resort faces a serene stretch of beach far from traffic and is within a short stroll of the neighbouring regions of Seminyak (for boutiques and bistros) and Kuta (for bars and surf). Pleasantly compact and not overbuilt like neighboring hotels, the Niksoma features an appealing design of beige and maroon, as well as two pools with sea views and gardens scattered with lounge chairs and gazebos. The range of accommodation is also impressive: Deluxe Rooms are in small three-level buildings facing the gardens and inviting split-level pool; the suites, with a four-poster bed and marble bathroom, are perfect for a romantic getaway; and the (singular) two-bedroom Presidential Villa is the height of seclusion and luxury. A lane starting 50 meters north of the resort leads guests within five minutes of downtown Legian, crammed with places to eat, drink, and shop.

5. Legian Beach Hotel

Vast, convenient, long-established, and popular with families.
The delightful Balinese style and charm starts at the entrance flanked by ponds of goldfish and extends to the lush gardens dotted with fountains. On the edge where chaotic Kuta blends into laidback Legian, one side of the resort faces a traffic-free pathway alongside the glorious beach. The many facilities include, unusually, tennis courts and a surf shop, as well as two very attractive and shady beachside pools. The standard rooms are smallish but comfortable enough, while the secluded and traditionally-designed bungalows have been lovingly renovated. Some villas have two bedrooms and many feature a private pool. The Little Starfish Kids Club offers more interesting activities (eg Balinese dance and squirrel feeding) than most rival resorts, and older children would really enjoy the games room.

6. Bali Mandira

Gorgeous design, expansive gardens, and prime location.
Less opulent and, therefore, more affordable than neighbouring resorts, the Bali Mandira features a pleasant Balinese-style design. Rooms don’t offer sea views, but they do face the beautiful gardens with abundant ponds and statues. All rooms are spacious, and have been lovingly renovated with many Balinese touches. The cottages are nicely secluded and accessible along a village-style path. The extensive lawns are peppered with lounge chairs and palm trees, and the glittering beachside pool features a ‘waterfall’ and sandy ‘beach’ with thatched umbrellas. Another pool is for adults only, and a third for children has waterslides. Other reasons to stay include the modest kids club offering activities in Indonesian culture; the thatched two-level Azul Beach Club, which provides tasty meals and splendid views; and, of course, the glorious white sands and magical sunsets of Legian Beach just 50m away.

6. Ossotel

Stylish yet unpretentious, convenient yet quiet – what’s not to love?
The Ossotel is centrally but peacefully located in downtown Legian. It is also surrounded by places to eat, drink, and shop, and only a two-minute walk via a laneway to a shady beach of white sand. The hotel is instantly likeable – for example, the modern design of the building contrasts delightfully with the old-style photos in each room. Despite the limited space throughout, all categories of accommodation are large – particularly the suites – and they feature a balcony or patio with comfortable outdoor furniture. Most on the ground floor have direct access to the very long lagoon-style pool which is lined with wooden decking and lounge chairs. The Ossotel is also small, so staff are attentive. Other reasons to stay are the favorable rates and smart café/bar facing the street.

7. Pullman

Massive resort with impeccable location and superior luxury.
Along the invisible divide between Kuta and Legian, the five-star Pullman enjoys a prime position with so many shops, cafés, and other facilities in all directions, as well as the white sands of the famous Kuta Beach just across the (busy) road. Most rooms and suites are quietly distant from traffic and all provide a sizeable balcony/patio facing the vast gardens and/or main pool that dominates the resort. However, only accommodation on the third level or above would really enjoy genuine sea views. Although the design and décor throughout is rarely reminiscent of Bali, guests come (and return) for the impressive facilities that also include the gorgeous Infinity-edged pool on the rooftop providing sublime views; the world-class spa; and the two kids clubs offering engaging activities.

8. Three Brothers Bungalows

Charming, traditional, and mid-priced oasis.
Stretching across a vast property and facing a relatively quiet street lined with shops and cafés, this hotel boasts a setting and size envied by five-star mega-resorts. Unlike others of its vintage, the Three Brothers doesn’t look or feel dated, with constant renovations ensuring modern comforts are offered without sacrificing charm and space. Rooms are mostly semi-detached; distant from the noisy pool, lobby, and roads; and in low-level, traditionally-designed buildings. Most also feature ornately-carved doors, a four-poster bed, and high thatched ceiling. The sparkling-blue pool (with a children’s section attached) is almost hidden behind thickets of palms, and the well-established gardens are home to masses of birds enjoying the dense foliage that also ensures privacy among rooms. Staff are particularly helpful, and the street-side café uses organic ingredients. Sometimes, one of the very first hotels in Legian can still be one of the very best.

Map of the best hotels and things to do in Legian and Seminyak Bali Hotels on Map: W BaliPotato HeadSeminyak Beach ResortAnantaraRoyal BeachPuri CendanaBlu-ZeaDouble-SixBali NiksomaMelastiThree Brothers BungalowsPadmaBali MandiraLegian Beach HotelMercure


The 7 Best Places to Stay in Seminyak

Infinity pool at Seminyak Beach Resort.

Pictured above: Infinity pool at the Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa

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).

1. W Bali Seminyak

Luxury and modernity, somehow avoiding pretentiousness. In a colossal block the farthest north of Kuta that’s still accessible from a main road, this resort is airy and welcoming, without feeling trendy or pompous like others. Everything inside and out is ultra-modern, with nothing Balinese. The rooms are in a block facing the sea, while the opulent villas – given monikers like ‘WOW’ and ‘Extreme’ – sacrifice views for seclusion, with high walls and dense foliage also offering privacy. Each villa features a huge pool, gorgeous open-air lounge/dining area, sophisticated stereo system, elongated sofa and even longer desk. The split-level, beachfront Infinity pools are massive enough to contain ‘beaches’, ‘waterfalls’ and ‘islands’ with palm trees. The W is close to a handful of shops and cafés so it doesn’t feel too isolated, although you’ll need a hotel buggy to reach the main entrance.

2. Anantara Seminyak Resort

Ultra-modern boutique resort in prime location. At the end of an access road lined with classy bistros and boutiques, this inviting resort offers a comparatively small number of suites (not rooms). Each either faces the pool, with the ground-level ones having direct access from the veranda, or the smallish gardens – but some actually face the road. The suites are in an unexciting five-level block but very comfortable, spacious and modern, with bright-yellow furnishings, marble touches, a Jacuzzi, separate dressing room, massive sofa and unusual L-shaped balcony/veranda. The Infinity pool faces the beach, which is public and typically grey, but on-beach cafés that scatter beanbags along the sand at sunset are nearby. Considerably less isolated than others in Seminyak, the beachfront location is ideal, although the seaside path and waves can be surprisingly noisy.

3. Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa

Stylish, personal and quiet. Situated where the main road (which is not noisy) comes close to the beach, the rooms are spread along the ‘garden wing’ (on the other side of the road) or ‘beach wing’ with ocean views. Each room is comfortable without being opulent, and features modern Balinese décor, while the suites are far larger and more luxurious, even containing a Jacuzzi with sea vistas. The secluded villas with a private pool are close to the sea but don’t have views of the beach, which is typically grey and shade-less, but still wide and wavy. The delightful Infinity pool is surrounded by palms and traditional-style statues and fountains, and barely 5m from the sand. It can feel a little isolated but is only 500m from the main shopping district and within a stroll of several upmarket bars and bistros.

4. Puri Cendana Resort

Small, traditional mid-priced option – a rarity in Seminyak. Certainly not a ‘resort’, despite the name, this family-run hotel offers a small number of rooms with far more seclusion and privacy than some five-star resorts. Although recently renovated, it still retains traditional old-fashioned charm in design, setting and service. The rooms feature genuine Balinese décor, with ornately-carved doors, high thatched ceilings and wooden balconies, as well as plentiful arts and crafts, four-poster beds and rattan furniture. The gardens are well-established and the pool is inviting, although both suffer somewhat from road noise. It is located along a dead-end street lined with elegant bistros and boutiques, and only 100m from the beach, which is, however, characteristically grey and less appealing than Kuta’s.

5. Royal Beach Seminyak

Tradition and charm – differing from the mega-resorts nearby. This hotel faces an expansive stretch of public beach (although greyish) at the end of an access road lined with stylish cafés and boutiques, so it’s not as isolated as other resorts in Seminyak. The rooms are in three-level blocks but don’t feel huddled together, with plentiful lawns and shady gardens to admire. With views of the gardens and/or pool from the wide balconies, all rooms are impressively spacious, with appealing dark wood and even traditional art in the sparkling bathrooms. The villas are separate, accessible along a cobbled-stone path, and hidden behind ornate doors and high stone walls. Each is luxurious and traditionally-designed, with lush gardens and a large private pool.

6. Double-Six Seminyak

Uber-modern with faultless position, but lacks warmth and charm. Incorporating the former name of the access road, this resort oozes opulence, but nothing is remotely Balinese or even Asian. The design is all stone, glass and wood, almost futuristic rather than modern, and staff seem dressed like extras from a Star Trek episode. The luxurious suites in a five-level block feature funky furnishings and uninterrupted views of the sea, while the ground-level verandas have direct access to the beachfront Infinity pool. The resort faces an extended public beach, which is typically grey, and is very close to endless classy cafés and shops along the road and beachside path. The waves can be surprisingly noisy, but not as loud as the constant music from the Cocoon Beach Club next door.

7. Blu-Zea Resort by Double-Six

Inviting and unpretentious mid-range option in heart of Seminyak. Only 200m from the beach, and flanked by numerous bars, bistros and boutiques, this resort is deceptively large. All rooms are in a block that faces the pool and is distant from the busy road. Although the furnishings are modest, but certainly comfortable, the Balinese décor is stylish and plentiful traditional art adorns the walls. The balcony/veranda also offers views of the tropical gardens, which are small but tastefully-designed. The two huge connecting lagoon-style pools are surrounded by distinctive striped chairs and even boast a sandy ‘beach’. Other welcome attractions include a sunken pool bar, cinema, billiard table and tennis court, while there are also some limited facilities for children, and onsite parking.


The 6 Best Places to Stay in Jimbaran

Beach hotel in Jimbaran.

Pictured above: The fantastic beach at the Jimbaran Puri Hotel.

One of my favorite beaches in Bali though it could be a little too quiet for some – if you want shopping, nightlife, or trendy bars this isn’t the place for you. Jimbaran is minutes from the airport so makes a perfect spot for the first few days before heading off to explore the island. At night the beach is lined with seafood restaurants that serve some of the best food on the island.

1. Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay

Tranquillity and faultless opulence in one of Bali’s best locations. Cascading down an extensive hillside facing the sea, the villas are only accessible along cobbled-stone paths through ornate tropical gardens. The inside of each villa is spacious and sumptuous, with subtle Balinese décor, a stunning bathroom and plenty of windows to maximize the sublime views of the curved Jimbaran Bay and its famed sunsets. Each villa has a private pool with extensive wooden decking and a gazebo, and the edges of these and the main Infinity pool somehow blur into the horizon. Although only five minutes on foot from Jimbaran, the access road and paths around the grounds are steep, so buggies are available and can also whisk guests to the immaculate, private Jimbaran Beach Club and the renowned seafood cafés.

2. Jimbaran Puri

Hidden gem with angled palms across expansive beach frontage. At the end of a quiet road and fronting a magnificent stretch of powdery-white sand, this is designed like a Balinese village, with villas dotted among manicured gardens with Balinese statues. The cottages are spacious and old-fashioned (in a good way), but the smallish windows don’t maximise the views and breezes. The secluded one and two-bedroom villas feature adorable Balinese décor and a gorgeous wooden decking around a largish private pool, while the main pool boasts an ideal tropical setting. And it is only 300m from the main street with all its shops and a short stroll to the beachside seafood cafés.

3. InterContinental Resort

Massive resort offering luxury, convenience and traditional design. Although the grounds are vast enough to house eight restaurants and a helipad, the rooms seem huddled together. Inside, they are spacious, however, with likeable, modern Balinese touches and views of the gardens (not the sea) from the sizeable balcony – and the corridors lined with Balinese art and photos add to the charm. The villas are distant and separated, and boast individual private pools and their own beach. The extensive gardens are packed with statues, fountains and ponds choked with lilies. The resort fronts a public beach, which is narrow and sloping (so not ideal for sunbathing), but most guests laze about one of the three pools. The Kid’s Club is impressive, while tennis, water sports and other fun activities are also offered. And it’s all within a few minutes’ stroll of seaside cafés and shops along the main street.

4. Le Meridien Jimbaran

Sparkling-new and functional, with chic design and ideal location. Newly-built and necessarily squeezed into a compact space, this resort does not, however, feel cramped, but is remarkably breezy and welcoming. The design is very unusual – with nothing reminding guests of their location – but nonetheless appealing. The rooms are in a four-level motel-style block, while more luxurious and spacious units are in a five-storey column, with only two units per level. The saltwater pool spreads out expansively, so ground-level rooms have direct access via a ladder on the veranda, and the rooftop pool has striking views. The chic villas are secluded and split-level, and feature unusual blue/green colours. There’s no direct ocean frontage, but is only metres from a fine public beach at Muaya, with its multitude of seafood cafés, best enjoyed at sunset.

5. The Open House

Funky and budget-priced, close to shops and beachside cafés. This low-key, but modern and convenient, boutique hotel has a genuinely affable vibe, which is unusual in this region filled with resorts. All rooms – which are a bit cramped and in a two-level motel-style block – face the pool, which is long and inviting. Some might find the lack of a wall between the bathroom and bedroom a little disconcerting, but the décor is appealing, with colourful tiles and a commodious balcony. The delightful open-air yoga shala (studio) also offers massages and a library with hangout cushions. Along a quiet access road to the beach, it is 200m from the noisy main road with all its shops and only 100m from a cluster of seafood cafés.

Map of the best Jimbaran hotels and things to do.
Hotels on Map: The Open HouseJimbaran PuriInterContinentalLe MeridienFour Seasons Jimbaran Bay


The 5 Best Places to Stay in the Bukit

Ritz Carlton in Bali.

Pictured above: The beachfront pool at The Ritz-Carlton.

The peninsula south of Kuta and the airport is known as the Bukit Peninsula. ‘Bukit’ means ‘hill’ in Indonesian. The area is dry, hilly and rocky, with lots of scrubby bush – not good for growing rice, so there are no real villages. Outside of the beach areas of Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa (described separately below), there is little shopping and the beaches (such as Padang-Padang and Dreamland) are mainly for surfing. The cultural highlight of the Bukit is Ulu Watu, the isolated sacred temple on the south-west tip. In the middle of the peninsula is the rather odd Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, designed for Indonesian tourists, with traditional dances, souvenir stalls and massive religious statues; and awesome views. There is no public transportation at all or tourist shuttle buses, so the only way to get around is by taxi – or rented car or motorbike (not recommended). Anywhere in the peninsula, taxis would normally have to be pre-ordered by your hotel.

1. AYANA Resort and Spa

Luxury and elegance in an extraordinarily spacious setting. The Ayana is about 10 minutes’ drive from Jimbaran, with its seafood cafés along a perfectly curved beach. The resort boasts one of the largest grounds on Bali (the main entrance is over 1km from the lobby), so golf carts are provided. The ‘deluxe’ rooms in a four-level block facing the gardens (not sea) are elegantly furnished with exquisite Balinese furnishings and carvings, and not modern and bland like other resorts. The lawns are vast enough for putting greens, while the lush gardens are comparable to some city botanical gardens. The cliff-top Infinity pool is connected to the renowned Rock Bar on the tiny beach below by a funicular. Regular shuttle buses to the private beach club at Jimbaran and the mall at Nusa Dua help offset the isolation.

2. Hilton Resort

Luxury with extraordinary cliff-side setting and family-friendly facilities. This massive resort, only 4km from Nusa Dua (and accessible by hotel shuttle bus), is somehow carved from a cliff facing a lovely white beach (with dangerous waves at times). All accommodation is in four-level blocks and the cliff-top layout ensures minimal gardens. The ‘family’ rooms feature two bunk beds and a colourful Balinese-style décor, while the ground floor ‘deluxe’ rooms have access to a pool from the veranda and the villas have private pools. The lagoon-shaped pools are grand enough to feature ‘beaches’ and ‘waterfalls’, and the resort offers amenities rarely found elsewhere, eg a medical clinic and amphitheatre for traditional performances. With a water slide, and the Jungle Camp playground, it also caters quite well for families. (Formerly the Grand Nikko Resort.)

3. The Ritz-Carlton

Impossibly immense and implausibly luxurious, with vast beach frontage. The sheer opulence and utter extravagance commences at the lobby, which is perched on a cliff. From there a ‘window lift’ hurtles down to sea level where the spread of villas among lush tropical gardens is so extensive that guests wait for transport to their rooms at the ‘Buggy Meeting Point’. The superlative Cliff Villas with pools are designed as New York-style apartments, with every inch modern and lavish; there’s even a TV above the Jacuzzi. The suites in the four-level block are comparatively modest, while those at ground-level have direct access to the Infinity pool from their veranda. The resort caters extremely well for families, and is connected by shuttle bus to Nusa Dua, with its cafés and mall, about 4km away.

4. Asmara Residence Nusa Dua

Spacious, secluded villas with gorgeous views – even butlers provided. Dotted along the cliffs about 6kms from Nusa Dua, this trio of villas contain three or four bedrooms (each with an en suite bathroom). They all feature a walk-in closet, home theatre, extensive kitchen/dining area and sizeable Infinity pool surrounded by wooden decking, while the largest offers ultra-luxurious extras like a Jacuzzi and games room. The bathrooms are truly open-air, with the toilet even offering views of the lovely gardens. Everything about the Asmara (which means ‘romance’ in Indonesian) is spacious, airy and bright, maximizing the breezes and views from the cliff-top setting. Some might regard it as too remote; others may consider the isolation is part of the attraction.

5. Ulu Segara Luxury Suites & Villas

Contemporary, intimate and elegant, with endless sea views. Far smaller and less pretentious than neighbouring mega-resorts, the Ulu Segara faces a narrow private beach that disappears at high tide. The Ocean Villas are massive, with a modern décor, garden inside and out, and plenty of windows. They also contain a bathroom as large as the bedroom, plunge pool with a gazebo and wooden decking, and a comfortable living/kitchen/dining area. In the curved six-level block overlooking the cliff-top infinity pool, the Ocean Suites feature a stylish Asian décor, kitchenette, huge lounge area and broad balcony from which the sea views are sublime. The constant crashing waves can be loudish, and the regular shuttle bus to Nusa Dua (5kms away) compensates for the isolation.

Map of the best hotels in Bali's Bukt peninsula, Nusa Dua, and Tanjung Benoa
Hotels on Map: SakalaGrand MirageHotel NikkoConradHoliday InnSol BenoaClub MedSofitelNusa Dua Beach HotelWestinThe LagunaMeliaGrand HyattMerusakaNovotelSt. RegisThe BaleMuliaHiltonThe Ritz-CarltonUlu SegaraThe Asmara Heavenly ResidenceAYANA


The 13 Best Places to Stay in Nusa Dua

Best resort in Nusa Dua.

Pictured above: The Laguna in Nusa Dua.

Nusa Dua is home to more 5-star resorts than any other beach town in 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 area has benefits unheard of elsewhere in Bali: minimal traffic, wide roads, flat footpaths, zero hawkers. The world-class Museum Pasifika showcases arts and crafts from across Indonesia and the region. A lovely pathway lines the beaches at Nusa Dua and extends to Tanjung Benoa; the path is ideal for strolling and cycling – rent a bike from your hotel. There are also two world-class golf courses in the Nusa Dua area.

1. Grand Hyatt

Massive, convenient and long-established, with arguably Bali’s best beach. Within strolling distance of the mall, world- class Museum Pasifika and golf course, this resort faces probably the longest beach on the island; curved, sheltered and shaded, it is also one of the loveliest. The lobby sets the tone, with its lotus ponds, traditional thatched roof and welcoming staff. Rooms are in ‘villages’, gigantic traditionally-designed blocks spread over an inconceivably vast area of lawns, gardens and ponds. The rooms are spacious, and feature a stylish, modern Asian (not necessarily Balinese) décor, with wide balconies facing the sea or gardens, while villas offer more seclusion and privacy. Other attractions include the shady pools (with swim-up bars), tennis courts, arcade-cum-market and water-sports centre. The young ones would adore the endless activities on offer, playground on the beach, children’s pool, water slide, and welcoming kids’ club.

2. St. Regis

Five-star excellence, with opulent villas facing a perfect beach. This improbably vast resort offers all the amenities expected, with many pleasing Balinese touches, such as gamelan players in the lobby. The main lagoon-style pool is extraordinarily large and the extensive gardens are bursting with coconut palms. Fronting one of the longest and most postcard-perfect beaches on Bali, all villas boast a perfect seafront location. Tranquil, private and secluded behind walls and foliage, they feature the most modern appliances and furnishings imaginable, as well as a plunge pool and thatched gazebo. In a block facing the sea, the suites with ornate furnishings, walk-in closet and sunken bath are also stunning. The Kids’ Club offers more cultural and engaging activities than most resorts. The resort is just outside the gated complex of Nusa Dua, but still within walking distance of the golf course and affordable shops and cafés.

3. The Laguna

Faultless luxury among vast tropical gardens in superb location. The grounds, substantial enough for guests to be provided with buggies and maps, are crammed with lotus-choked lagoons that dominate every view from every place. Few rooms are angled towards the sea, but all are spacious and superbly furnished with subtle Balinese touches. Balconies overlook the shady gardens and/or extensive lagoons, while verandas in the ground floor rooms open directly to a pool. Some of the seven pools even feature ‘islands’, ‘waterfalls’ and ‘beaches’, while the real beach is perfectly curved and immaculately groomed. Plenty of family activities are offered, such as tennis, yoga and water-sports, while the young ones would adore the kids’ club, special pool and games room. And The Laguna is within walking distance of the mall, golf course, headlands (after which Nusa Dua is named) and world-class Museum Pasifika.

4. Ayodya Resort

Balinese design and ambience with one of Bali’s finest gardens. The Ayodya is old-fashioned (in a good way), tastefully designed and oozing tradition and charm. The lobby bursts with Balinese carvings and statues, while the gardens are exceptional, with seemingly never-ending ponds, swaying palms and lawns edging to the sea, as well as an amphitheater for live performances. The wide beach lacks shade but most guests congregate at the vast Infinity pool with ‘islands’ and fountains. The rooms are stylishly furnished with lovely Balinese-style cushions and lampshades, and balconies facing the gardens and pools. (None have sea views.) Plenty of activities are offered, such as squash, yoga and cycling, and the young ones would certainly enjoy the playground and kids’ club. Unlike most others, this resort is also within walking distance of affordable cafés and shops.

5. Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa

Tasteful and traditional. The reminders of Bali around the grounds are numerous: carvings, tropical gardens of swaying palms, dragon spouts among ponds of lilies and goldfish, an ancient Banyan tree, and stone amphitheatre with nightly performances of traditional dances. All rooms face the shady gardens sprinkled with Balinese-style thatched ‘bales’ (gazebos) for afternoon tea, which is included. Among the usual luxuries inside are extra seating, a decent-sized balcony and subtle, pleasing Balinese décor. The pool is particularly inviting, with extensive sheltered decking and a bar in the middle. The beach is lengthy, curved and immaculately-groomed, and the resort is ideal for families, with two children’s pools and the colourful and airy Gecko Kid’s Club offering many activities.

6. Sofitel Nusa Dua

Convenience, contemporary elegance and family-friendly. Villas feature a stylish modern (but not Balinese) décor with a corner sofa, private pool and balcony/veranda with a rocking chair overlooking the gardens and ponds. Rooms flank a massive lagoon-shaped pool that connects all the four-level blocks, so those on the ground level have direct access to the pool from the veranda. The gardens are comparatively modest, but still immaculate, while shady lawns creep right up to the beachside cycle path that meanders through Nusa Dua. It caters well for families, with a Kids’ Club offering many activities, and a spotless private beach protected by a reef, so it’s shallow and calm. There are also several huge pools, one for children with a slide, and another with a swim-up bar. The Sofitel is within walking distance of Tanjung Benoa, thereby offering a wider selection of shops, cafés and water-sports.

7. Novotel Nusa Dua

Unpretentious, well-designed and welcoming for families. Although part of an international chain, this resort is truly Balinese, with traditional gates, ponds and statues, and a tasteful brown-and-white overall design. The comfortable rooms feature wide balconies with views of the gardens or pool (but not the sea). The spacious suites, with two or three bedrooms (each with attached bathroom) and a massive lounge/kitchen/dining area, contain a modern but pleasing Balinese-style décor. Lack of beach frontage is compensated by lagoon-shaped pools covered by vine-smothered pergolas and shuttle buses to the modest 2.28 Beach Club on a powder-white (but shadeless) stretch of sand. The commodious Kids’ Club adjoins the children’s pool and playground, and offers plenty of activities. It is accessible from two main roads, so many affordable shops and cafés are within walking distance.

8. The Westin Resort Nusa Dua

Compact, understated luxury and excellent for families. Smaller and more personal than neighbouring mega-resorts, plenty of activities for the whole clan are offered, while the Kids’ Club – with a playground with rock-climbing, trampoline and spa – is probably the best in Nusa Dua. (And, unusually, it accepts those aged under four.) Rooms in unexciting motel-style blocks offer views of the gardens or pools from the disappointingly undersized balconies, while only some enjoy genuine vistas of the ocean. The lagoon-style saltwater pool is shady, and has curved waterslides and even a ‘beach’, and the gardens are dotted with waterfalls and ponds packed with fish and flowers. It fronts a very scenic sheltered bay with immaculately raked sand lined with enticing lounge chairs. And The Westin is within a short stroll of the mall, golf course and excellent Museum Pasifika.

9. Merusaka Nusa Dua

Affordable and convenient. The layout is pleasant enough, but a little odd, with the lobby/café jutting out on a higher level so pylons are inside the split-level pool underneath, and the four-level motel-style blocks 150m from the sea are unappealing. The rooms, however, are stylish, compact, and hidden behind some foliage, while those on the ground floor feature a veranda that leads directly to the main pool. There are no tropical gardens – only lawns which are immaculate, extensive and alongside the sand, but lack trees. The beach is also short of shade, but guests can shelter under the funky, colorful lounge chairs. Perhaps best of all are the rates, which are less expensive than most, and location: within walking distance of the mall, golf course and many affordable shops and cafés at the gate and along the public beach.

10. Meliã

Perfect location, sublime beach and world-class gardens. Boasting one of the finest positions in Nusa Dua, the Melia is within walking distance of the Bali Collection mall, golf course, magnificent Museum Pasifika and twin headlands which lend Nusa Dua its name. The curved beach is also glorious: shallow, shady and sheltered, with, unusually, a café on the sand. Perhaps even more impressive are the landscaped tropical gardens of ponds and fountains with trickling water reminiscent of the wonderful water palace at Tirtagangga in eastern Bali. Although traditionally and tastefully designed, the outside of the buildings do need a facelift, but all rooms are comfortable and spacious, offering a broad balcony with views of the lovely gardens or lagoon-shaped pools large enough to have little islands. The convivial Kid’s Club offers plenty of games, while the whole family can revel in numerous activities.

11. Club Med

Luxurious and vast, with all-inclusive packages ideal for families. Part of the renowned international chain, this is the closest resort to Tanjung Benoa, thereby offering more cafés, shops and water-sport facilities within walking distance. The welcoming lobby is traditionally-designed, while the rooms are functional and lavish, with garden views, walk-in closet and a modern décor lacking any hints of Bali. The Club Med is perfect for families, with four types of Kids’ Clubs (depending on age) offering a wide range of activities, such as the very popular Bungee Bounce, as well as an extensive playground and children’s pool. The three pools are crowded, but the glorious beach, which is curved, private and protected by a breakwater, is empty. With passes available inclusive of all meals/drinks, activities and entertainment, some guests have no need to venture out during their entire holidays.

12. The Balé

Secluded villas with pool in a remote and uninspiring setting. Outside the gated complex of Nusa Dua and distant from any cafés and shops, this cluster of 28 villas immediately fails to impress with its lobby designed with pillars and dripping pipes. The villas – which feature a modern décor, outdoor shower and private pool – are called ‘retreats’, with ‘wellness packages’ and 24-hour butler service also available. But there is more concrete and bricks than grass and trees, evidenced by the shade-less main pool. It lacks any ambience or charm, and nothing about the design or décor is remotely Balinese or even Asian. It also faces a busy main road and not a beach, but is within 300m of the Balé Beach Club. There is a ‘no children’ policy.

13. Mulia

Pretentious and contentious mega-resort in remote location. Built controversially on the pristine Geger Beach and close to a sacred temple, Nusa Dua’s latest resort is vast, opulent and ostentatious. The spacious one and two bedroom villas feature a jacuzzi on the patio and wonderful ocean views, while the private-pool villas with up to six bedrooms are back from the beach but also boast vistas of the sea. The beach is curved, shady and well-groomed, and the pools are massive, but lack shade and are spoiled by huge meaningless statues. The overall design is bland and unappealing, because so much space is taken up with pools that can’t be used for swimming, gardens that aren’t particularly tropical, and restaurants under the lobby that are dark and uninviting. The remote location with almost no cafés or shops nearby is offset by regular shuttle buses.


The 7 Best Places to Stay in Tanjung Benoa

Luxury beach hotel in Tanjung Benoa.

Pictured above: The beachfront pool at the Conrad Hotel in Tanjung Benoa.

Tanjung Benoa is the entire ‘thumb’ that protrudes northwards from the Bukit Peninsula and is located directly north of Nusa Dua. It is about 6km of long straight coastline with constant white sandy beach – almost no shade but plenty of stalls and cafés to sit at. Tanjung Benoa is a more affordable option than Nusa Dua, and has a good range of mid-range to top-end hotels, with several places catering well for families (but very little in the budget range). The area is the centre of water sports on the island and the best place to arrange jet skiing, parasailing, or banana-boat rides. Worth exploring is the likeable village of Benoa at the northern tip of the peninsula, which has the usual market, streets of local shops, and a mosque, Chinese temple, and Balinese Hindu temple within 200m of each other. The beach at the village is a good place to organise water sports at cheaper prices, as this is where most Indonesian tourists go. No waves for surfing but very calm for swimming (though you do have to watch out for jet skis).

1. The Sakala

For beach worshippers, with luxury inside and hedonism out. Straddling both sides of the noisy main road, this resort is ultra-modern, with nothing traditional at all. The main attraction is the Sakala Beach Club facing the sea, with an elongated Infinity pool, gym, spa, pool bar and Sky Deck with wondrous views. All accommodation is across the road, offering little or no genuine sea views, but is very comfortable and contemporary, if a little dark, while rooms on ground level have direct access to the lagoon pool from the veranda. The secluded two-bedroom villas feature a private pool but can suffer from traffic noise. There are no gardens and the beach is surprisingly ungroomed, but it is close to numerous shops, cafés and water sport kiosks, as well as the charming village of Benoa. The Kids’ Club is modern and large, but indoors and not ideal.

2. Conrad

Modern, luxury suites and rooms in prime location. The Conrad boasts three massive wings – one of suites, the other two of rooms – in four and five-level blocks with an appealing brown-and-white design. All accommodation is ultra-modern and immensely comfortable, with superb views of the garden and pool, while the suites are more likely to offer genuine ocean vistas. The gardens are extensive, with a beachside pool lined with swaying palms and another featuring its own sandy ‘beach’. The private beach is wide and immaculately-groomed, with plentiful shade provided by thatched umbrellas. It also caters very well for families, with an excellent kids’ club and activities for the family. Located along the southern part of the peninsula, plenty of shops, cafés and water sports kiosks are within a short stroll and Nusa Dua is a quick shuttle bus ride away.

3. Holiday Inn Resort Benoa

Familiar, compact and functional, in a top-notch location. Part of a renowned chain, this comfortable, sparkling-new and low-key resort is close to Nusa Dua, thereby offering a wider range of cafés, shops, beaches and water sports. The overall design is not traditional, but still an appealing brown and white, with all rooms in a four-level motel-style block. Views from some balconies are unexciting, but the furnishings, with a long desk, comfy sofa and entrance lobby, are pleasing. Slightly larger and more likable are those with ocean views and direct pool access from the veranda. The sectioned-off swimming area along the curved beach is tiny and lacks shade, but is compensated by the inviting pool, while the bright and colourful kids’ club, next to the children’s pool, would please the young ones.

4. Hotel Nikko Benoa Beach

Family-friendly with traditional design in terrific location. With staff dressed in Balinese clothes and corridors lined with traditional sculptures, this resort is truly appealing, with the block of rooms and tropical gardens more tastefully designed than others. The spacious ‘Deluxe’ rooms feature a modern Balinese décor, as well as a Jacuzzi, but the balconies are surprisingly undersized, with views of the gardens (or even the resort next door); only the pricier ‘Ocean View’ rooms offer any glimpses of the sea. The beachside lagoon-shaped pool with swim-up bar is enticing and the young ones would relish the colourful Kids Club. About halfway up the peninsula, Nikko Bali is surrounded by shops and cafés, and adjacent to a major water sports centre. This does, however, affect the peacefulness of the beach, but a section of the sea is cordoned off for swimming.

5. Sol Benoa

Family-friendly with all-inclusive rates, adjacent to Nusa Dua. Part of the Melia chain, this resort offers three types of rooms with rates including meals/drinks, entertainment and a myriad of activities. Along the invisible border with Nusa Dua, guests have a wider range of cafés, shops and water sports, and quick access to the enjoyable outdoor mall. The beautifully landscaped gardens are packed with ponds and fountains, while the lagoon-shaped pool also offers plenty of shade. The private beach is inviting, with a cordoned-off swimming area along a curved bay. The overall design and décor in the rooms were recently renovated to a very appealing nautical theme of blue and white. Although there’s no real kids’ club, the location, pools, activities, beach, package deals and special suites make it ideal for families with teenage children.

6. Rumah Bed & Breakfast

Charming, affordable, and traditional. Part of the renowned Bumbu Bali Restaurant and Cooking School, the handful of rooms and villas are individually designed and positioned around delightful gardens like a Balinese village. All feature elegant traditional décor, with an open-air bathroom, marble floors and teak tables, but also contain mod-cons expected of a resort costing twice as much. All accommodation faces the tropical gardens, shady pool or enchanting courtyard bristling with busy kitchens, while secluded two- and three-bedroomed villas with a private pool are accessible along a cobbled-stone path. It is located about 100m west of the main road, far from traffic and jet skis, but close to a myriad of cafés and shops. Other attractions include a tennis court, cooking classes and off-street parking.

7. Grand Mirage Resort and Thalasso

Family-friendly with massive gardens, traditional design and genuine views. Halfway up the peninsula, and surrounded by cafés, shops and water sports centers, this resort is bright, unpretentious and immensely appealing. The massive tropical grounds have been lovingly crafted, with seemingly endless lawns and lagoon-sized ponds. All rooms are spacious, feature an elegant traditional design, and face the sea – with most boasting genuine uninterrupted ocean vistas. Catering very well for families, it offers tempting all-inclusive packages, with meals/drinks and nightly traditional performances in its own amphitheater. There’s also a bright and airy kids’ club, children’s pool, playground and games room, while other activities, such as tennis, yoga and cultural lessons, are also available to all guests. The beach is narrow, but it is free of jet-skis, and the beachside pool features an inviting swim-up bar.


The 15 Best Places to Stay in Ubud

Hotel in Ubud, Bali.

Pictured above: Komaneka at Bisma near 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.

1. Four Seasons Resort at Sayan

Unimaginable opulence in dramatic, riverside setting. From the main road, a 200m path leads over a footbridge floating above a yawning valley to the lobby, which is shaped like a space-ship and seemingly suspended in mid-air with 360-degree views. The split-level suites with separate lounge/dining rooms face the river and jungle-clad ravine, while the villas with private pools are hidden behind high walls, sacrificing views for seclusion. All accommodation is spacious, luxurious and immaculately furnished, with ultra-modern touches like an expresso machine and sunken bath, but nothing looks or feels Balinese. Wide balconies and abundant windows maximise views, although the split-level Infinity pool with edges that seem to blend into the forest has arguably the best vistas in Ubud. And quite rare for Ubud, it also offers a kids’ club. It’s in Sayan, a 10-minute drive from central Ubud, but doesn’t seem as isolated as other resorts nearby.

2. Viceroy

Romantic, award-winning boutique resort in pristine tropical setting. This classy resort offers truly personalised service, with the owners living on site and their children helping to run it. All 25 villas (with one or two bedrooms) are perched along a hillside, offering uninterrupted views of rice-fields and the valley. The spacious, airy villas feature a subtle but evident Balinese design and décor, with luxuries like a plunge pool, marble bathroom and expresso machine. The main Infinity pool seems to blend into the ravine facing it, while the spa and elegant bistro, with its imported chef and home-grown vegetables from the greenhouse, both share the same extraordinary views. The Viceroy is isolated, however, with no shops or cafés within walking distance, but only 15 minutes from Ubud by free shuttle bus.

3. Tanah Gajah

Like an art museum, with individually-designed accommodation in vast gardens. Formerly a private guesthouse owned by a Balinese art collector, this is one of the largest, oldest and most memorable hotels in Ubud. The grounds contain statues, rice-fields and ponds packed with swans, and are extensive enough to feature an organic vegetable garden, tennis court, temple and art gallery. But there’s only 20 suites and villas (with private pools), each separately designed and traditionally furnished by the previous owner, with carved bed stands, an outdoor sunken bath and even a fireplace. The rooms are spread out, offering genuine privacy, while the elongated main pool is surrounded by lotus ponds and immaculate lawns. It is a 15-minute drive from downtown Ubud, but some shops, cafés and the Goa Gajah elephant temple are within walking distance.

4. Komaneka at Bisma

Almost unparalleled luxury in the midst of Ubud. Facing pristine jungle spread across a ravine, and surrounded by rice-fields, this resort feels remote but is only a 10-minute stroll from all the shops and cafés along Monkey Forest Road. The two Infinity pools, lined with palm trees and surrounded by rice-fields, appear to blend seamlessly into the environment, while a 5km jogging track meanders among the wilderness. The one- and two-bedroom suites are all opulent and feature a modern décor that is not particularly Balinese. Extraordinary 180-degree views of the forest, ravine and rice-fields are available from a balcony extensive enough to easily fit a table, chairs and sofa. Even the bath offers remarkable views. The villas are more secluded, but equally luxurious, with a private pool and gorgeous kitchen/dining area.

5. Kamandalu Ubud

Individually-designed villas in pristine valley, ideal for honeymooners and families. About 10 minutes’ drive from downtown Ubud, but within walking distance of some shops and cafés, this sophisticated resort boasts a traditional, rural setting. Sort of designed like a Balinese village, the chalets and villas (with one, two or three bedrooms) face rice-fields, lagoons, private gardens or the valley. The vast landscaped gardens are sprinkled with palms, gazebos, fountains and statues, and the Infinity pool facing the ravine features an inviting swim-up bar. All accommodation is traditionally designed, with a massive bathroom containing an outdoor shower and sunken bath, four-poster bed, and plentiful luggage space, while some also have a private pool. Although actively promoting romantic getaways, it also caters pleasingly well for families, with a wide range of activities for kids and the whole clan, and a children’s pool.

6. ARMA Resort

Luxury and unique setting in exquisite grounds of museum. Set among the gardens of the internationally-renowned ARMA Art Museum, this hotel oozes tradition, charm and elegance. The spacious rooms are in a traditionally-designed stone block facing the pool, gardens or flowing creek, and surrounded by a convivial corridor lined with rattan furniture. The décor is modern but Balinese, with ornately-carved doors and a marble bathroom. The secluded split-level villas are the essence of luxury, with plentiful Balinese arts and crafts, a massive private pool, outdoor Jacuzzi and corner sofa overlooking the greenest possible rice-fields. The main pool is enclosed by chequered stone decking and flanked by a thatched open-air lounge area, while the gardens are bursting with carvings, lily ponds and cobbled paths. Elsewhere on the grounds, there are three stylish cafés and plenty of facilities just outside the entrances.

7. Hotel Tjampuhan & Spa

History and ambience in a dramatic but central location. Built for Balinese royalty in the 1920s, this colonial-style landmark oozes tradition and charm. It’s spread across two jungle-smothered valleys and faces a 900-year-old temple – but, remarkably, is within a 15-minute stroll of downtown Ubud, three major art museums and numerous classy cafés in Penestanan village. Around the grounds, paths zigzag past lotus-filled ponds, an open-air yoga shala (studio) and the lovely spring-fed swimming pool to the raging river below. All rooms boast uninterrupted views of the forest, valley or river, and feature an adorable Balinese design (eg thatched roof and ornately-carved doors) and exquisite traditional paintings, woodcarvings and cushions. The bathrooms do need some updating but the entire hotel – complete with library and movie lounge – is delightfully old-fashioned, and in a good way.

8. Pita Maha Resort & Spa

Ambience, seclusion and tradition in stunning valley setting. Designed by the local royal family to resemble a Balinese village, steep mossy paths meander past lotus ponds and trickling fountains to secluded villas spread across the slopes. The gardens are so lush that the foliage sometimes spoils the views, while the finest vistas are at the Infinity pool with edges that seem to drop off into the valley below. The 24 palatial villas feature a charming Balinese décor, with a four-poster bed, thatched roof, Jacuzzi, Balinese art, and open-air bathroom. Each is truly private, hidden behind stone walls and secure gates that do affect the views, however, although plentiful windows face the immaculate private gardens and pool. It’s only 5 minutes by shuttle bus from central Ubud, and within a short stroll of many classy shops and cafés, as well as the Bintang Supermarket and Neka Art Museum.

9. The Samaya Ubud

Opulence without indulgence, but isolated. Facing the (surprisingly noisy) Ayung River in Sayan, a 15-minute shuttle bus trip from central Ubud, there is nothing much Balinese about the overall design. But the setting is dramatic, with views in every direction of ravines, rice-fields, hills and the river – and even the sacred Agung volcano on a clear day. The villas have one, two or three bedrooms, a private pool large enough for several more guests, dining table on the patio and floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides to maximise light and views. Villas are huddled together, however, to share the optimum panoramas. Other than the Balinese-style gazebo, all accommodation is ultra-modern, even with Picasso-style paintings above the marble bath. No cafés or shops are within walking distance, so it feels isolated, and the paths are steep (but offset by golf carts).

10. Royal Kamuela Ubud

Tranquil, classy boutique resort in central location – and no children allowed. As the brochure states, it is ‘exclusive, private and luxurious’ – and, remarkably, only metres from the main road, with its numerous shops and cafés, and 200m from the renowned Monkey Forest. The Kamuela only offers 12 villas scattered across either side of a creek and secluded behind high walls among gardens dotted with Balinese carvings and shady palms. Each boasts a pool large enough for four and surrounded by wooden decking. The décor is modern, with a few subtle Balinese touches, and there’s a delightful open-air lounge/kitchen/dining area, loads of luggage space, and sunken bath large enough for two. And everything – particularly the elongated desk and even the bath – overlooks the private pool and tropical gardens.

11. Hanging Gardens of Bali

Extraordinary luxury in a jungle setting, still reasonably close to Ubud. The grounds stretch from a village street to the river below, so some rooms and facilities are only accessible via a remarkable funicular (sort of an outdoor elevator on rails). And the setting and views are sublime, yet it’s only 10 minutes by shuttle bus to downtown Ubud. The bright, airy villas, with one, two or three bedrooms, face the river or cascade down the slopes, and feature wooden balconies facing the jungle-covered ravine and overlooking the private Infinity pools. These villas offer sheer elegance and luxury, with an expansive bathroom, bedroom(s) dotted with classy Balinese arts and crafts, separate living room, and even a personal massage area. The edges of the main Infinity pool seem to hang over the valley and are surrounded by vast wooden decking.

12. Alam Indah

Traditionally-designed and mid-priced in perfect garden setting. Close enough to Monkey Forest that some of the pesky macaques occasionally visit, this cluster of only 10 bungalows is perched along the edge of a ravine, with a creek 100m below. Meaning ‘lovely nature’ in Indonesian, this charming hotel feels wonderfully isolated with only the sounds of trickling fountains and grateful birds. But it is located in the woodcarving village of Nyuhkuning (an extension of Ubud), with plenty of delightful shops and cafés. Each bungalow is bright, airy and individually designed in a traditional way. They feature enchanting Balinese-style furniture, a huge bathroom and many openable windows offering jungle views and valley breezes – but no ‘distractions’ like telephones and TVs. (Also, the cheaper one have fans, but this is often all that’s necessary in Ubud’s cooler climes.) The cobbled-stone path meanders down past ancient banyan trees to the pool overlooking the ravine.

13. Alaya Resort Ubud

Roomy, tranquil, central with rice-field views. Recently renovated, this deceptively large boutique hotel offers spacious rooms with some charming Balinese décor. The newer and larger rooms in a block further from the busy road feature a free-standing bath, elongated desk and plentiful luggage space. The appealing bamboo-lined verandas/balconies of all rooms overlook the sparse gardens or pools, and are easily wide enough for a table and chairs. The two lagoon-shaped pools are shady and peaceful. Remarkably, some rooms genuinely face rice-fields, yet the main entrance is so central: at the junction of Monkey Forest Road and Hanoman Street, with its array of classier shops and cafés.

14. KajaNe Mua

Tranquil, traditional and tropical in central location. The overall design is a pleasing mix of modern and Balinese along the narrow grounds stretching from the busy main road to unspoilt rice-fields and coconut plantations. The rooms are in a motel-style block, with some facing the road and the rest fronting the pool and gardens, but all are spacious and airy, with wide balconies. Most of the more appealing bungalows, which are separated and face the creek, feature vine-covered stone walls raised above the cobbled path for maximum seclusion, privacy and views. The pool (with bar) is smothered with shadows from a neighbouring resort, but the hotel’s location is superb: mid-way along Monkey Forest road, with its plentiful shops and cafes, and walkable to the market and Monkey Forest.

15. Nick’s Pension Hotel

Traditional mid-priced option, oh-so-convenient yet oh-so-serene. Arguably boasting the prime location in downtown Ubud, the bungalows face verdant rice-fields alongside a quiet suburban street or front a creek with a bridge and temple, yet it’s only 100m from all the shops and cafés along Monkey Forest Road. One of Ubud’s oldest and most affordable, Nick’s offers so much charm, shade and serenity. Most rooms are bright and airy (but a few are dark inside), and all are traditionally designed but modestly furnished – within nothing trendy like sliding doors or open-air showers. The gardens, with mossy paths meandering past Balinese statues, are glorious, while the decent-sized pool alongside the café overlooks the rice-fields.


The 13 Best Places to Stay in Sanur

Best hotel in Sanur, Bali.

Pictured above: The brand new Andaz Hotel on Sanur Beach.

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.

1. Segara Village Hotel

Delightful, traditional resort in first-rate beachfront position. Family-owned for about 60 years, this hotel has been significantly modernised without sacrificing any charm. The sprawling gardens are well-established with paths, ponds, fountains and even an ancient banyan tree. The ‘deluxe’ rooms are compact and comfortable, with Balinese touches and a broad balcony overlooking lush grass or one of three pools. More appealing are the bungalows shaped like Balinese rice barns and concealed behind tropical foliage. Pleasing extras like a library and tennis court are also offered, while part of the spotless beach has been sectioned off for the private beach club. It caters reasonably well for families, although there’s no Kids’ Club. Plenty of cafés are along the beachside path, and it’s only a 1-wood drive from the golf course.

2. Besakih Beach Hotel

Traditional design with modern comforts facing excellent beach. Conveniently located half-way along Sanur, this resort is long-established and back from the main road, so the tropical gardens, with Balinese-style fountains and statues, are extensive and tranquil enough to hear birds singing. The rooms are unusually designed: some are shaped like Balinese rice barns, with separate rooms upstairs and down; and others are like an old-fashioned homestay with doors facing a common veranda. All rooms are spacious and comfortable, however, and feature traditional furnishings, but many seem huddled together. In contrast, the single-storey villas are spread apart and some are hidden behind walls with private gardens. The beach is broad and shady, and there is a kids’ pool and enticing games area, but this resort would be more suitable for families with older children.

3. The Oasis Lagoon Sanur

Contemporary, with pools instead of gardens in an unbeatable spot. Squeezed into a space next to the popular Hardy’s Supermarket, this place boasts a prime location for shops and cafés, although it is pleasingly set back from the busy road. All rooms are in four-level blocks overlooking the pool that takes up all ground-level space between blocks. Inside, the rooms are compact and functional, without being overly spacious, and feature a lovely wooden décor that extends to the undersized balcony that, oddly, feels like a cage. Considerably more appealing are the ground-level rooms with wooden decking for verandas that open out directly to the pool, which can often be busy and noisy. The resort doesn’t face the beach but is only 300m from the sea.

4. Griya Santrian

Modern design and traditional décor in tropical setting and central location. This hotel has been family-owned for over 30 years. The entrance is about 100m from the main road, so it’s quiet, while still being in the midst of Sanur’s best shops and cafés. The rooms are in modern but tastefully-designed three-level blocks among lovingly landscaped tropical gardens with Balinese-style statues and fountains. Each room faces the pools and/or gardens from wide balconies and feature colourful Balinese décor. The suites are even more spacious and boast four-poster beds and a sunken bath. The three pools are sizeable and shady, with unusual designs, while the beach is powdery-white and well-groomed, although not entirely private.

5. Peneeda View Beach Hotel

New and older-style villas in central but tranquil location. This hotel is in a narrow block stretching 200m from the beach to the lobby, which is 100m from the main road, so it’s quieter than others. It only offers villas, with the older ones separated by high walls and accessible along a village-style path. With lush private gardens, old-fashioned furnishings, plenty of windows and decent-sized balconies, guests can enjoy privacy without feeling isolated. The newer villas are in two-storey buildings shaped like Balinese rice barns, with sloping roofs, and less secluded but more modern inside. Although named after Nusa Penida island, no villa has views of the sea, let alone that distant island. The beach is a bit unkempt and has no shade, and the main pool is, unusually, near the lobby and not facing the beach.

6. Prime Plaza Suites Sanur

Fully-equipped apartments in unappealing location offset by facilities galore. Although facing the very busy Bypass Road, this resort is somehow remarkably quiet – and certainly huge (like its sister, the Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel). The spacious, bright and modern suites-cum-apartments offer functionality over tradition. Each contains a fully-equipped kitchen, spacious lounge/dining area and one, two or three bedrooms, each with separate bathrooms. The main pool is truly massive, shaped like a lagoon and sparkling blue. A vast amount of activities (water slides and kids pools) are offered at the extensive Camp Splash! Kids Club. No shops or cafés are nearby so hourly shuttle buses ferry guests around the main shopping district and to the private, luxurious Sand Beach Club.

7. Puri Santrian

Modern, quiet, but isolated – also with members-only facilities. This resort is massive but feels less impersonal than others of similar size. Although at the far southern edge of Sanur, with enough shops and cafés nearby, it is isolated – but also quiet. Among the expansive lawns several wings of rooms feature traditional design or colonial-style features. The bungalows are old-fashioned with an ornate Balinese-style door and plenty of traditional paintings and furnishings. These are secluded and spacious, with garden views, but also a little dark. Rooms in the members-only Santrian Club are modern, with a four-poster bed, walk-in closet and bathroom offering garden views, but no Balinese décor or design. The four Infinity pools are dazzling, while numerous gazebos face the beach, which is calm, sheltered, mostly private and perfectly curved.

8. InterContinental Bali Sanur

Ultra-modern, with emphasis on room luxuries rather than gardens. Bordering on futuristic in design, this gigantic resort seems stark, with far more concrete than lawns. Some swaying palms do provide limited tropical ambience but the multi-tiered ponds and non-swimmable pools seem pointless. All rooms feature a walk-in closet, massive bathroom with free-standing bath, and long enclosed balcony. The secluded villas contain one, two or three bedrooms, and some feature a spa, steam room and private pool. The main Infinity pool is raised, offering superb views of the curved beach which is partitioned from jet skis. The resort is where the mid-section of Sanur with its many shops and cafés blends into the tranquil southern part, so it doesn’t feel isolated. For the young ones, there’s a water slide, playground and Kids’ Club with many activities offered.

9. Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar

Not beachside, but modern, luxurious and surrounded by pools. Although not facing the sea, it is in a prime location for shops and cafés, and only a five-minute stroll to the beach. All precious space in this new resort is occupied by blocks of rooms that are ‘connected’ by swimming pools, so there are no gardens. The ‘deluxe’ rooms are so packed with furniture, appliances and features (such as a Jacuzzi) that they seem crowded, and not all balconies overlook the pools. Better are the ground-level rooms with a veranda leading to a tiny private pool that opens out to the main shared pool. This pool is split-level, fringed with palm trees and large enough to feature bridges to ‘islands’. The lounge chairs that seem to float in the shallow end are particularly inviting.

10. Tandjung Sari

Oozing tradition and charm in top-notch location. Built way back in 1962, the ‘Cape of Flowers’ is one of the very first hotels in Bali, let alone Sanur. It was designed to resemble a Balinese village so all buildings are on one level, and mossy paths meander past ponds of voracious goldfish and stone bowls choked with lotus flowers. With all rooms 100m+ from the main road, it is serene but also within a brief stroll of endless cafés, shops and the golf course. The villas are separate and secluded behind lofty stone walls, and feature an elegant and, often, individual design that is traditional (eg with a four-poster bed) and modern (e.g. a sunken bath). The only two-level structure onsite contains a reading/viewing area overlooking the captivating seaside path and divine beachfront pool.

11. Prime Plaza Hotel Sanur

Convenient, comfortable and also suitable for those on business. Although on a very busy corner about 800m from the beach it somehow seems to avoid the relentless traffic noise. The rooms are squeezed into an unappealing motel-style block without balconies but are certainly comfortable and spacious, with bright and modern Balinese décor. Those on the ground floor have direct access from verandas to the shady lagoon-shaped pool. While convenient to renowned fast-food outlets, the golf course and speedboats to the Gili Islands, it is in northern Sanur, a fair distance from the region’s best shops and cafés. However, a shuttle bus ferries guests around Sanur, to the private Beach Club, and to the Paradise Plaza Suites, with its water slides, kids club, and huge pools.

12. Maya Sanur Resort & Spa

Opulence and luxury in ultra-modern resort. Opened in early 2015, there is nothing remotely Balinese or even Asian about this place, with an entrance resembling a Mayan temple from Central America, but it does offer state-of-the-art facilities. In a narrow block stretching from the busy road to the beach, it’s in a prime location surrounded by classy shops and cafés. But there are almost no gardens, with all ground space taken up by elongated pools. The rooms are spacious and cheerful with modern but tasteful design, while the suites with private pools are even more chic. All rooms face the ‘lagoon’ (i.e. pool), with those on the ground-level having direct access from wooden verandas. The beach has no shade and is surprisingly scruffy, but the beachfront family pool is gorgeous.

13. Prama Sanur Beach

Massive family-friendly resort, but isolated and motel-like. It is at the southern edge of Sanur, a classier area with fewer (but enough) cafés and shops – but also with far less traffic and crowds. The unusual enclosed lobby opens out to the expansive lawns dotted with swaying palms and stylishly-designed gardens. Despite all the space, however, the rooms seem clustered together in uninspiring four-level blocks too far from the sea for any worthwhile ocean views. The standard rooms also appear cramped inside, although certainly comfortable, while the Deluxe Rooms are more spacious. The beach is immaculately-groomed, wide and virtually private, and the pool is large and sparkling blue. For families, the Kids’ Club is bright and inviting, with many activities offered; the children’s pool features a slide and playground inside; and the numerous gazebos are large enough for four.


The 11 Best Places to Stay in Eastern Bali

Best place to stay in Eastern Bali.

Picture above: The fantastic setting of the Griya Villas & Spa.

1. Bloo Lagoon Village

Genuine eco-village resort with some of the finest views on Bali. The one, two, and three bedroom villas are tiered along the cliffs, each offering jaw-dropping views of the rugged coastline along eastern Bali. Each villa is comfortable, but a little rustic, with a kitchen, open-air bathroom and high thatched roof – but no real walls, with windows, a balcony and empty spaces maximising the vistas and breezes. The villas are separated and secluded behind walls and/or private gardens. The indescribable views are equally shared with the yoga deck, art gallery, spa and restaurant, while plenty of activities are also on offer. It is within a short (but steep) stroll of the charming village of Padangbai and only 200m to the Crusoe-esque Bloo Lagoon beach.

2. Griya Villas & Spa

Opulent and secluded villas with arguably the best views on Bali. Each one-, two- and three-bedroomed villa features a modern, classy interior, and a private pool, charming kitchen, vast bathroom with a free-standing bath and open-air shower, and plentiful luggage space. And indescribable views from all windows. Squeezed between the coastal road and mountains, the villas are tiered up a steep cliff, so a golf cart is offered to get around. The whole place, particularly the lobby with its Infinity pool and bistro, is spacious and open-aired, offering welcome breezes and constantly striking panoramas of the ocean and hills. It is located in the less developed Bunutan village, so the beach and shops and cafés are a short, but flat-ish, walk away.

3. Ramayana Candidasa

Serene and spacious, with plenty to offer families. The Rama is one of very few large and modern resorts along the east coast, but it somehow manages to seem compact and personal. The lack of adequate beach is massively compensated by the gorgeous palm-fringed pool. The expansive gardens, with immaculate lawns, swaying palms and trickling fountains, are quiet enough to hear birds. The ‘superior’ (standard) rooms are sizeable and noteworthy for the Balinese photos and carvings, while the one-bedroomed suites are secluded with perfect sea views as far as Lombok. The resort is a peaceful 200m from the main road but an inconvenient 1.5km from central Candidasa, but it does offer varied activities (often for free) for families, such as yoga and cultural classes.

4. Palm Garden Amed Beach & Spa Resort

Classy and convenient lower-priced resort with genuine beach frontage. The tropical gardens are choked with palm trees, and it’s built at sea level, so walking to nearby cafés and shops is not too strenuous. The bright and airy bungalows, which are distant from the main road, feature chic Balinese décor, with an extensive balcony, open-air bathroom and a king-sized bed dominating the room. Those with ocean views (more like glimpses) boast a private pool and sliding doors to maximise views and breezes. It is located at an upward bend along the main road, so the pool, gardens and café (but not rooms) can be noisy but it does face a beach that isn’t rocky – although the sand is lined with fishing boats.

5. The Watergarden Hotel

Cottages among gorgeous gardens offering serenity amidst the action. A meandering mossy path from the main road leads up into the hills where a small number of cottages offer remarkable tranquillity under the dramatic backdrop of Mt Agung. With bubbling fountains and trickling water drowning out the traffic, genuine seclusion and privacy is created by thickets of flowers and shrubs rather than brick walls. Each cottage is separate, secluded and designed to face elegant private gardens and ponds choked with goldfish and lilies. The cottages are bright and airy, with plenty of windows offering 360-degree garden views. The attached café is classy but along the main road, while the pool is small but inviting. The entrance is along the main drag and barely 100m from the sea.

6. OK Divers Resort & Spa

Taste of colonial splendor in a charming village. Despite the modest moniker, this new resort oozes colonial charm with its whitewashed walls and wood-stained doors in a three-level block. The tropical feel is enhanced by the sloping palms flanking the main pool, but only rooms on the top floor can boast sea views. Each room features a lovely tiled bathroom, and shares an extensive balcony overlooking the pool, but some are a little cramped inside. The location is ideal, however: facing the village beachside street, with its delightful cafés, and only metres from the jetty for the Gili Islands. And the appropriately-named Colonial Restaurant faces the curved bay and second pool, which is often used by on-site diving classes.

7. Bali Seascape Beach Club

Affordable and convenient resort catering for families. With its low-key but welcoming beach club atmosphere, this place offers a range of rooms, apartments and villas in a tranquil location only 200m from the main road with all its cafés and shops. The all-round views of the hills, coastline and islands offshore from the pool and upstairs rooms are superb, while a breakwater creates a tiny beach with safe and sheltered swimming. The standard rooms are comfortable and functional, and the apartments offer a separate lounge/dining area, kitchenette and enough room for extra beds for children. All accommodation is huddled together, however, so rooms could be noisy, especially if facing the pool. Plenty of interesting activities are offered for the family, such as cooking classes and snorkeling.

8. Blue Moon Villas

Secluded villas with tasteful Balinese décor, only metres from crashing waves. Most villas face the sea, and are pleasingly not huddled together. All are quietly located away from the main road and front an Infinity pool that somehow blends into the azure horizon and is surrounded by palm trees. The villas are spacious and feature lovely wooden décor with Balinese touches, as well as an extensive balcony. The cheaper rooms layered up the cliff on the other side of the road also offer superb views, while the roadside café is breezy, popular and lined with comfy cushions. There is no beach below, however, and there aren’t that many shops and cafés nearby.

9. Ida Beach Village

Traditional, exquisite and affordable, in a serene location. Along a laneway in the tranquil eastern end of Candidasa, but only a few minutes’ stroll from shops and cafés, each cottage is hidden behind a stone wall, so it genuinely feels like a Balinese village. Each cottage is cheerful and spacious, and traditionally designed and furnished, with thatched roofs, ornate carvings and Balinese rugs, arts and crafts. Other accommodation is built like traditional ‘lumbung’ rice-barns, with sloping roofs, and sea views from the second level. Meandering stone paths lead to the lagoon-shaped pool, which faces the dramatic coastline and alluring islets just offshore. Like most others in Candidasa, the beach is typically grey and undersized, and often unsuitable for swimming.

10. Santai Hotel

Traditionally-designed bungalows with genuine beach frontage. Facing a clean – but very rocky – beach with no boats to spoil the views, the Santai can offer perpetual views and refreshing breezes. The spacious two-level bungalows are away from the road and alongside a rocky path lined with bougainvillea. Designed like traditional houses found in the Sulawesi province of Indonesia, these bungalows feature a high thatched roof, stylish rattan furniture and an open-air shower, but the design does ensure the need for constant air-conditioning. The lower level contains a futon mattress for relaxing, which can double as a bed for a child. From the delightful tropical gardens, which are dotted with gazebos, is the continuous sound of crashing waves. It’s located on a flattish road flanked by cafés and shops.

11. Discovery Candidasa Cottages and Villas

Amid the action, yet tranquil and relaxed. The cottages offer agreeable garden views from expansive verandas, as well as a separate lounge/dining area and massive bathroom, but they are a bit dark inside, clustered together in a narrow block, and contain unfitting marine photos on the walls. More appealing are the two-storey, three-bedroom villas, which are secluded, airy and spacious, and boast sea views. A curved terrace covers the classy bistro, while nearby steps lead to a sheltered swimming area. But most guests prefer to relax on the sunbeds, lounge chairs and gazebos among the tropical gardens or on the raised sandy area with dramatic ocean views. The lobby with its welcoming Balinese décor is only 50m from the main road with endless cafés and shops, but rooms are sheltered from the continual traffic noise.


The 7 Best Places to Stay in Northern Bali

Beachfront hotel pool in Bali.

Picture above: The beachfront pool at the Adi Assri Beach Resort & Spa.

1. Amertha Villas

Spacious resort with traditional design and lush tropical setting. With extensive beach frontage, and a stunning mountain backdrop, this resort boasts one of the most expansive grounds on Bali. The one- and two-bedroomed villas, each with a private pool, open-air kitchen/lounge/dining area and charming gardens, are not totally secluded or entirely private, but the Balinese-style design and modern furnishings are impossible to fault. The ‘suites’ are more secluded in a two-storey block, and feature a kitchenette. The beach is typically grey, but immaculately maintained, and the vast gardens are dotted with Balinese-style statues and fountains. The massive pools are framed by palms and face the enchanting coastline. The resort is located 300m from the main road, with a limited selection of cafés and shops nearby.

2. The Lovina

Luxury, tranquillity and convenience, and ideal for families. This resort is set in a massive block facing the sea and 300m from the main road, with its relentless traffic. The suites open out to the main pool but are a bit dark inside, while the secluded villas feature a massive kitchen/dining/lounge area, sizeable private pool and sea views. The palm-choked gardens are spacious and the two beachfront pools are very enticing. It caters particularly well for families, with a range of activities offered free to guests, such as yoga and dance lessons. The Lovina is only a 10-minute stroll along the road or beach (or on a free shuttle bus) from Kalibukbuk, with the region’s best selection of shops and cafés.

3. Lovina Beach Hotel

Convenient and unpretentious mid-priced option that welcomes families. First built in 1953 but extensively renovated and extended since, it still retains some genuine charm. The rooms are distant from the constant traffic and many face the sea, while the gardens are delightful and the decent-sized pool would never feel crowded with guests. The ’standard rooms’ only offer fans, but the more comfortable and secluded ‘cottages’ feature air-con, traditional rattan furniture and appealing balconies. The family-sized bungalows are bright, surprisingly spacious and particularly good value. The beach is typically grey, but unusually clean, shady and picturesque with swaying palms. The hotel is only 200m from Lovina’s best selection of shops and cafés in Kalibukbuk.

4. Adi Assri Beach Resort & Spa

Delightful tropical setting and traditional design with mountain backdrop. Stone paths flanked by palms and bougainvillea meander through gardens so extensive that even staff can get disoriented. The villas are semi-detached but secluded, and feature a private pool, but none of the accommodation offers real sea views. The ‘deluxe’ rooms are spacious, with an open-air bathroom, tasteful Balinese décor and largish balcony overlooking the alluring gardens. The three main pools are so enticing that guests ignore the typically grey and gritty beach, which is also surprisingly scruffy. The resort is located along the busy road, with its modest selection of shops and cafés, but well sheltered from traffic noise.

5. Villa Teman Lovina

Luxury villas – new, secluded and convenient. Probably the nicest of its kind in Kalibukbuk (which has the best selection of shops and cafés in Lovina), these villas are located along a quiet country lane used more by cows than tourists. Each of the three sparkling-new villas is bright and airy, and offer absolute privacy and seclusion behind high walls. They feature a gorgeous open-air (but undercover) lounge/kitchen/dining area and two separate bedrooms, both overlooking a private pool large enough for five people. Little touches, like a modest library in the lobby and umbrellas for guests, are part of the personal service often not found in large resorts.

6. Lilin Lovina Beach Hotel

Cluster of villas – chic, convenient and popular. These one- and two-bedroom villas are cosy and secluded behind rather stark grey walls. Each features a private pool, while many also face the sea, and the décor is fashionable and tasteful. The gardens and beach can be noisy from the incessant traffic but the villas are sheltered from the noise. Although the sand is typically grey and gritty, the views, especially from the café facing the sea and main pool, are superb. Lilin is located where the main road almost touches the sea. It is barely 700m along the road or beach from Lovina’s best range of shops and cafés at Kalibukbuk, and a short stroll to the classy Spice Beach Club.

7. Aneka Lovina Villas & Spa

Luxury without extravagance in an irresistible setting. This is one in a chain of luxury resorts across the island and sort of designed like a Balinese village, so none of the accommodation faces the sea. The Deluxe Cottages look over genuine rice-fields or dense foliage, which offers some limited privacy. They are attractively designed with Balinese-style carved doors, thatched roof and tiled balcony, but a little dark inside. The Superior Rooms are designed like an old-fashioned homestay, with rooms facing a shared but partitioned veranda, but are still appealing inside. The beach is typically grey, but the seaside pool is sizable and inviting. The resort is 150m from the main road, with its relentless traffic, and within a 10-minute stroll of Lovina’s best selection of shops and cafés at Kalibukbuk.

Bali Hotels with Private Swimming Pools and Plunge Pools

Private plunge pool at Bali hotel.

The private pool at the Griya Villas & Spa.

Hotels that offer suites, villas, and rooms with private pools are common in Bali. They’re a wonderful experience and highly recommended if they fit within your budget.

Bali Hotels with Private Pool

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My Travel Newsletter

  1. 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 for a long weekend. 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!

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  2. 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.

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  3. 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.

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  4. Where To Stay in Bali?

    My boyfriend 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?

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Get a new boyfriend.

      1. Kristin


  5. 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.

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  6. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Based on your interests I would recommend splitting your time between Canggu and Ubud.

  7. 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.

    James Rao

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  8. 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?

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  9. 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 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!


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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  10. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  11. 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.
    Suze Shannon

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  12. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  13. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  14. 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.

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      The Menjangan has an amazing location in West Bali National Park. Great hikes nearby and excellent snorkeling and diving. This is a nature-lovers dream.

  15. 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.


  16. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  17. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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).

  18. 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?

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.)

  19. Budget Towns in Bali

    Hello Dave

    Your blog is very helpful for Bali travelers.

    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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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).

  20. 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


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  21. Budget Place with Fresh Seafood

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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Look in Jimbaran and Canggu.

  22. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Nusa Lembongan is what you’re looking for. It’s a short ferry ride from Sanur.

  23. 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?


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  24. 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!


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  25. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  26. 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.

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  27. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  28. 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?


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  29. 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,

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  30. 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.

    Ashok Kudva

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  31. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  32. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

      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!


  33. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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 – 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.

      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

        1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

          Pasir Putih is about a 1.5 hour drive east of Ubud. (You must have brought up the wrong beach somehow.)

  34. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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 water sports); 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.

      1. Marija

        Thank you, this helped us a lot!

  35. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  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?

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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).

  37. 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!


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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).

  38. 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,

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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).

  39. 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 – Help Dave!


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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!

  40. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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).

  41. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  42. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  43. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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 organize 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 organized 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.

  44. 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!


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

      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.

  45. 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!

    Looking forward to your reply.

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  46. Gili meno or Gili Air

    Hi Dave,

    Love your website!
    My Fiancé and I are going to Bali for our honeymoon in August. (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!

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  47. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  48. 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?


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  49. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  50. 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?


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  51. 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?


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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)

  52. 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.

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  53. 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!


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  54. 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?

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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 …

  55. 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.

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  56. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  57. Bali with Large Group

    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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  58. 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,

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  59. 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!!!

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  60. 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. 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.
    Mary Cunningham

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  61. 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!


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  62. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  63. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  64. 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.
    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,

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  65. 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 🙂

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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

  66. 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

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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

  67. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  68. 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!!


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  69. 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.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      You can see the planes in the distance but there is very little plane noise in Jimbaran.

  70. 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 to 12th January. 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 about 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 a 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 fast boat do you recommend any suggestions?

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

    Thanks & TC!
    Saadain Lari

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

  71. 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!

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      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.

      1. Ozzy

        Thank you so much Dave, I will take this information away and now have greater confidence about our plans!

  72. Bali and Gilli Islands

    Hi Dave,

    First of all, I would like to thank you for this amazing page and all the information you provide.
    I just booked my tickets to Bali with my boyfriend for 16 days. I am struggling to plan my itinerary. We both want to chill but also to discover. After reading your page for the last 2 hours I was thinking staying 4 or 5 nights in Seminyak, then move to Ubud for 3 nights, and then to the Gili islands for 5/6 nights. And to finish maybe the last 2 night close to Jimbaran to be safe and close to the airport. What do you think? Is it not too much moving around?
    We chose to go to Gili island because my boyfriend wants a really nice crystal-water beach, but at the same time a nice resort with good food. We booked the Pearl of Trawangan with option to cancel because we’re not completely sure. What are the best beaches in the Gili islands, or the best island to stay? Is it easy to go to another island for a day trip?
    Sorry for all those questions but I am a bit lost and I want to make the best of it.
    Thank you again

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      The choice of places to stay and things to do can seem overwhelming, and it certainly pays to organise some (but not all) things before you go.

      With 16 days, it’s probably best to base yourself in three different places, such as Seminyak (for beach, shopping, cafes); Ubud (for culture, landscapes, scenery) and the Gili Islands (for relaxing, island life, snorkelliing). If you move bases too often, too much of your precious holiday is spent packing up, moving hotels, waiting to check in, etc. So, there seems little need to also stay in Jimbaran, just because it’s close to the airport. Seminyak is only 20 minutes from the airport; Ubud is 60-75 minutes (depending on traffic); and it’s easy enough to go straight between the Gilis and Bali airport (depending on the time of your arrival/departure) because boat tickets to/from the Gilis includes transfers to and from your hotel or airport.

      Each of the three Gili Islands is a tiny droplet of golden sands surrounded by crystal clear waters. Each is completely circled by sand, so just walk around and find a spot that suits you. Gili Trawangan is the party island, so be careful where you stay because of all-night noise. The Pearl of Trawangan is just out of earshot from the nightclubs but less than a 5-minute stroll to the main drag of cafes, clubs and bars. The hotel has a wide range of rooms, some better than others; the ones at the back are quieter, while those with ocean views at the front are also lovely but face a surprisingly noisy coastal path.

      Gili Meno is sleepy and less visited, while Gili Air is in between: with more than enough cafes and shops, while also having a genuine village vibe so it’s not too touristy. It is very easy to visit one island by public boat from another island in one day, but the boat schedule doesn’t allow you to visit two islands in one day, unless you charter a boat which is comparatively extortionate.

  73. Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons in Ubud

    Hi Dave :

    We are heading to Bali in January. We would like to stay around Ubud area. I’m wondering if you can give us your recommendation between Ritz Carlton Mandapa and Four Seasons At Sayan. This is supposed to be a relaxing trip with some cultural activities. Thanks.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Both the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton in Ubud are extraordinary, and there is virtually no difference in services and facilities, as expected of these internationally-renowned five-star resorts. The main differences will be price and location. Obviously, check out rates online and if staying for more than 5-6 nights, contact the hotel directly for a discount. But January is peak season so there likely won’t be wiggle room for negotiating rates.

      Both resorts overlook the beautiful Ayung River, and boast sublime views of rice paddies and pristine forest, in an area known as Sayan. The Ritz-Carlton is about 10 minutes by taxi or hotel shuttle bus to central Ubud, while the Four Seasons is another 3-4 minutes farther away. So, the overwhelming difference is that the Four Seasons has virtually no cafes, shops, or bars within walking distance; you will have to eat/drink/shop in the hotel or use the shuttle bus or a taxi to find somewhere else. In contrast, the Ritz Carlton is at the start of Sayan, and within a easy stroll of a range of classy bistros, bars and bakeries, and is within 2km of the Neka Art Museum and Bintang Supermarket. In short, the Ritz Carlton doesn’t feel nearly as isolated as the Four Seasons.

  74. Villas at Ayana vs The Four Seasons in Jimbaran

    Hi Dave, great site. I am planning our anniversary for next year and cannot decide between the Villas at Ayana and The Four Seasons both in Jimbaran. We will have our 7 yr old daughter with us. I am also considering doing a few nights at the Four Seasons in Ubud also. Any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    thanks so much, Troy

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Both The Ayana and Four Seasons Jimbaran offer an extraordinary setting, facilities and views, with five-star service and total seclusion, as well as tropical gardens with Infinity pools that seem to blend into the horizon. The main – and possibly significant – differences, however, are the location and beach.

      You – and perhaps, especially, your daughter – would probably like to be close to Jimbaran, which has a gorgeous curved beach of powdery-white sand and plenty of shops and cafes along the main street. At about 4pm every day, the beach comes alive as cafes spread tables across the sand for candlelight seafood dinners at sunset.

      The Ayana boasts possibly the largest hotel grounds on Bali, with the main entrance about 1km from the lobby. It overlooks the dramatic coastline of Bukit Peninsula and is famous for the Rock Bar, only accessible on a funicular down the cliff. But The Ayana is a windy 10 minutes by hotel shuttle bus or taxi from Jimbaran and does not have a beach, but guests have access to a private beach club in Jimbaran. It does, however, cater well for families, with a games area and playground but no dedicated Kids Club.

      The Four Seasons is along a quiet stretch of southern Jimbaran, and – unlike The Ayana – is within an easy stroll of the beach, shops and restaurants, as well as the seafood cafes on the beach (though there are also hotel shuttle buses). This resort also has an exclusive beach club, and the JimbaClub (for 4-12 year-olds) is the best Kids’ Club in the region, with loads of activities, and there’s also children’s menus, baby-sitting services and lessons/activities for the whole family to enjoy.

      The Four Seasons Sayan in Ubud is also extraordinary, with a lobby that seems to be suspended in mid-air and a row of villas and suites facing a jungle-clad ravine. The emphasis is on scenery and setting, rather than any beach, of course, but is about 10-12 minutes by taxi or shuttle bus from central Ubud, and there are no cafes and shops within walking distance. And like most resorts in Ubud it does not cater well for families, though children are certainly not discouraged. More family-friendly resorts in Ubud include Kamandulu (with a kids’ pool and activities) and Alaya Ubud (with a children’s pool and Kids’ Club currently being built).

  75. Beach Hotel near Nightlife

    Hi Dave. Just came across this gem of a website. Thank you for the awesome insight. Hubby and I are planning an anniversary trip to Bali for March. Kindly advise on the following places for accommodation :
    1. Kuta Beach Club
    2. The Rani Hotel and Spa
    3. The Bene Hotel
    4. White Rose Hotel

    We are looking to be at a lovely clean enough beach with an option for some fun at night as well. These options fall within our budget.

    Your advice will be greatly appreciated.

    Kindest regards,


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Kuta is a busy (some say chaotic) region of bars, shops, cafes and nightclubs, with world-famous surf and sunsets, and several world-class malls within walking distance. It is, however, possible to be within walking distance of what Kuta has to offer, but to stay in quieter Legian or the more sophisticated Seminyak – and be away from Kuta’s constant traffic and nightclub noise.

      Kuta, of course, has hundreds and hundreds of places to stay. The places you mention offer comfortable 3-4 star hotels with pools, some Balinese character and commendable service. If the difference in the rates of these hotels is not important, the location may be:
      1) the Kuta Beach Club – is a little south of the main action in Kuta, which means it is marginally quieter but 10-15 minutes walk from the best shops and clubs along Jalana Legian street. It is very close to the Matahari and Discovery malls, but 3-4 minutes walk from the beach
      2) Rani Hotel & Spa (different to the Bali Rani Hotel) – is in a similar area, close to the Discovery and Lippo Malls, as well as Waterbom (for water slides), which is as popular with adults as it is kids! The Rani does boast more authentic Balinese design than the other three.
      3) The Bene Hotel – a definite boutique hotel, with all rooms overlooking the pool and those on the ground floor with direct access from verandas to the pool. It is more central to Kuta than the previous two and along a quiet street
      4) White Rose Kuta Resort – certainly the classier of the four options, it is about 15 minutes walk from the beach but boasts large tropical gardens (almost unheard of, where space is so precious). It is within 200m of the main drag, Jalan Legian, but also probably within earshot of nightclubs such as the SkyGarden.

  76. Itinerary for Bali, Lombok, Gillis

    Hi Dave – your website is outstanding (for both Bali and for Santorini when we went earlier this year!).

    My fiancée and I are looking to go on honeymoon next August as follows:
    – KL (3 nights)
    – Bali / Lombok / Gills (18 nights)
    – Singapore (3 nights)

    For our Bali leg, we are looking for relaxation, a bit of culture, beach resorts, activities, restaurants, high end bars etc (the usual stuff) – we were thinking the following:

    – Seminyak (5 nights) – either the W, Samaya or the Legian. Which would you recommend as the best one – we don’t mind spending more if it is value for money e.g. the Legian is currently double the price of the W for similar types of rooms (e.g. one bedroom villas) but is it twice as good?
    – Fly to Lombok (4 nights) – either Lombok lodge, Oberoi or Tugu (idea being a couple of day trips to Gillis but a nicer resort to come back to in Lombok rather than staying on one of the Gillis)?
    – Fly back to Bali, Ubud (5 nights) – Viceroy or the Komaneka at Tanggayuda. Viceroy is about 40% more expensive but do you think it is worth the extra for similar rooms (deluxe terrace vs premier one bed villa)?
    – End with beach resort (either Jimbaran or Nusa Dua) (4 nights) – which one would you recommend for a memorable honeymoon? We are thinking either the Anaya Villas or St Regis? I am struggling to choose between the beach cafes and sunset bars versus the better/more relaxing beach?!

    Some additional questions:
    – Do you think we should cancel one of the locations if they are overly similar (e.g. is it worth doing Nusa Dua or Jimbaran as the final leg or better to do more nights in Lombok / Seminyak and Ubud)?
    – If you do recommend doing the 4th location, which would you pick between jimbaran and Nusa Dua (we want relaxing but option of doing something in case we get bored) – I feel like we might get bored in Nusa Dua?
    – What is the best way (for honeymooners) to get to Lombok (we are currently thinking of flying rather than speedboat as reviews on trip advisor have been somewhat mixed)?
    – Would you recommend staying on one of the Gillis instead of Lombok?

    Really appreciate any help / advice you have!

    Thanks so much.

    Am and Terri

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Bali looks compact and is to some degree, but traffic (especially in the south) and windy, mountainous roads elsewhere can increase traveling times considerably. For this reason, it’s best not to change bases more than once every 4-5 days to avoid too much packing up, moving hotels, waiting to check in etc during your precious holidays (so 3-4 different bases over 18 days is doable). And remember that August is the ‘peakest’ season and prices – especially in the Gilis – will be higher than normal and crowds substantial in places.

      This is a classier and quieter alternative to the hectic Kuta, and an ideal place to start/finish your trip as it’s also only about 20 minutes from the airport. The three places you mentioned are all extraordinarily luxurious. The W is very modern, but with nothing remotely Balinese about the whole place. The Legian is elegant and boasts some authentic Balinese design and style, while The Samaya is sophisticated and elite. In essence, there is very little difference except for the rates (which you have researched) and the location. While The W is the most northerly of the three, and the entrance is 500m from the main road, it doesn’t feel nearly as isolated from nearby cafes and shops as the Legian and Samaya, which both face a beach without any stalls or shade and front a main road that has very little to offer either. With better rates, the W is probably your best choice.

      Flying to Lombok only takes 45 minutes from Bali. But adding hotel transfers (especially in Lombok, because the airport has recently moved to the south and is far from the Senggigi area) and waiting for the flight can add considerably to your traveling time – about half-a-day one-way. And day-tripping to the Gilis from Sengiggi is not as easy as it sounds, and you may end up having to charter a boat yourself at great expense at Bangsal, a chaotic public port to be avoided at all costs.

      The Gilis
      In short, it may be better to stay on one of the Gili Islands, which is only 2 hours or so including bus transfers from Seminyak (with departures to/from Pulau Serangan). And despite a few recent safety issues with the cheaper boat companies, traveling to the Gilis is still safe with major companies such as Gili Getaway. From one Gili island, you can easily day trip to the others using public boats. Quiet, classy and romantic places to stay on Gili Trawangan include the Pearl of Trawangan and Pondok Santi. On Gili Meno, try the Mahamaya or Seri resorts and on Gili Air, Slow Villas is excellent. Gili T is the party island but for honeymooners, Gili Meno is ideally peaceful and romantic.

      For some culture, and as a base for extraordinary sights and landscapes nearby, staying in Ubud is also a must. There are plenty of classy resorts, but most are 10-15 minutes by taxi from central Ubud. The Viceroy and Komenaka at Tanggayuda are both amazing, with sublime views, but both do feel isolated. Otherwise, the Komaneka at Bisma and the Komaneka at Monkey Forest are just as extraordinary as the sister resort at Tanggayuda but both are right in the middle of Ubud, and within walking distance cafes, shops, temples, the Monkey Forest, market, nightclubs etc

      Jimbaran or Nusa Dua?
      Both places are special for honeymooners – and a candlelit seafood dinner at sunset in Jimbaran is a must even if you’re staying in Nusa Dua. Both places are quieter and different to Seminyak and worthy options as your fourth (and final) base, and both are close to the airport. Nusa Dua is a purpose-built complex of resorts, so it lacks any genuine Balinese atmosphere and has very little nightlife, but is very clean, green, spacious and there’s no hawkers. The beaches at both are wonderful, with Nusa Dua being close to Tanjung Benoa for water sports, and Jimbaran being so undeveloped in parts that you may have bits of the beach to yourself.

      The Ayana is a windy 10 minutes by taxi from Jimbaran, and on probably the largest grounds on Bali. It does boast the renowned Rock Bar, only accessible by funicular down a cliff, but is remote and isolated – and feels like it, too. St Regis is one of the most extraordinary places on Bali, but is also outside of Nusa Dua, so not within walking distance of any shops or cafes. And the beach there can be too rough at times for swimming. In Jimbaran, the Four Seasons Resort is convenient and luxurious, while inside Nusa Dua proper, the Laguna or the Melia may be more suitable for your needs.

  77. Where To Stay in Bali for 3 Nights

    Hi Dave,

    My friend and I are planning to visit Bali in December. Though we’ve only got 4 days/3 nights to stay there.. Do you think we can still enjoy Bali in that short period of time? Can you recommend which place/beach is the best place to stay where we can enjoy for 4 days? We just want to run away, relax and leave the busy streets of Hong Kong for a while.
    thank you!

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Lots of great places to stay but my first thought is Jimbaran: great hotels, great beach, great food – and minutes from the airport so you won’t waste time in a taxi and traffic.

  78. Seminyak or Canggu

    Hello, I noticed you don’t have much info on Canggu. I am traveling solo for 10 days and plan to do Seminyak/Canggu, Ubud, and Gili T. Do you have a recommendation between Seminyak and Canggu? What are the differences? I will probably stay at a 1br Villa or Airbnb to meet people. I also want some nightlife bars, but nothing too cosmopolitan and touristy like Waikiki Beach.


    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Canggu is a generic term referring to the beach area from Seminyak to Tanah Lot. The region is home to thousands of expats who have moved north from Seminyak to avoid tourists heading north from Kuta. It is an upmarket area with hundreds of massive villas and many trendy bistros along roads that meander from the Tanah Lot Road to the beaches. But Canggu caters for those with their own transport because taxis are very infrequent and residents may need to walk 1km to a shop and 2km to the beach. The other downside is that the beaches are increasingly grey and unappealing. On the other hand, it is far less crowded and rice-fields still remain. If staying in a villa in Canggu, make sure you are close to shops, cafés, and the beach.

      Far better beaches and facilities can be found at Seminyak. Your hotel will be close to a beach, the roads are choked with classy shops and cafés, taxis are frequent and it’s close(ish) to the airport. In Seminyak, there’s also plenty of nightlife (particularly live music), while the nightclubs of Kuta are 5-10 minutes by taxi.

      AirBnB in Bali is very often used by hotels as an alternative to the usual online booking agencies. It is very rare that you can use AirBnB to stay at a family home; if so, facilities may not be to western standards (eg no hot water or air-con) and the home could be in a remote area. And AirBnB is not really useful for meeting other travelers. For this, try staying at inexpensive hotels in Bali that cater to solo travelers such as Captain Goose in Kuta and The Happy Mango Tree in Ubud.

  79. Best Stopover on Trip to Bali

    Hi Dave

    Been reading your article on Bali with great interest as it is one of the front runners as a destination for our honeymoon next year.

    One thing we were looking at doing but are lacking information on is extended stopovers to bookend the trip to Bali and breakup the flight time.

    Do you have any experience of this and/or could you recommend the best stopovers? Flying from London so I believe the options are Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, HK and Bangkok.


    Craig Smith

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      All of those are wonderful cities so can’t go wrong. Bangkok is my favorite of those 4. Would be nice to hit one on the inbound and a different one on outbound. All have amazing food and good sightseeing. Singapore and Bangkok are the best for shopping. Singapore is the only one with access to beaches. Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are the cheapest.

  80. Bali, Lembongan, Gill Air

    Hi Dave, thank you for your website, it is EXTREMELY helpful!!!

    We are meeting friends in Seminyak and then have a week for ourselves. My kids are 5 and 8 years old and they love playing in the sea and snorkling from the beach. I would love to go somewhere quiet, more Balinese, with a beautiful beach with calm sea where we can potter about happily. It would be great if its near some cafes etc as we do not want to eat in the hotel all the time – it would be great to be able to explore a little!!

    After reading your posts, I think Lembongan would suit us well, but was worried the sea might be too rough as lots of surfers head there. Gili Air also sounds great, but it would be a lot further for us to get to and from. What do you think? Are there bungalows on a beach you can recommend? We can spend around $70-90 per night.

    Thank you very much for your help!!!

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Seminyak is a lovely spot and far better for kids than Kuta. The beach is fantastic, but waves can be too high at times for young swimmers and there is no snorkeling.

      Nusa Lembongan island covers all your needs, but the 30-45 minute speedboat ride can be quite rough any time of the year and there is no jetty either end. So, getting on/off the boat means wading through waves that are often knee-high to an adult – obviously, not ideal for youngsters. The sea is calm where most people stay, with the waves that attract the handful of surfers about 200m off-shore. Mushroom Bay is the preferred beach, with a protected cove of white sand, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

      Gili Air is also great, with a genuine village vibe, but involves a longer speedboat ride from Bali (plus minibus transfers) which could be even rougher and, again, there are no jetties for boarding. You could fly from Bali to Lombok and get a taxi to Bangsal and a boat to Gili Air, but getting to Gili Air from Bali any way will still take up most of one day one-way.

      Somewhere that fits your needs perfectly is Padangbai, about two hours by taxi, chartered car with a driver (about US$25) or shuttle bus from Kuta. It is a charming genuine Balinese village, with temples, a market and school, all facing a lovely beach. It is appealingly undeveloped, untouristed and quiet – except when speedboats to/from the Gilis arrive and depart.

      Your kids can splash about the calm beach in the village or the sublime Blue Lagoon beach, only 5 minutes’ walk over the hill. Snorkelling is good at both beaches, with gear available for rent from beachside stalls. There are more than enough cafés and bars – but only a few mini-marts for shopping and no real nightclubs, which suits many visitors. And Padangbai is a perfect base for exploring the east coast by chartered car with a driver, eg the eerie ‘bat cave temple’ at Goa Lawah; the ancient village of Tenganan; arguably Bali’s best (and most undeveloped) beach at Pasir Putih; and the remarkable water palaces at Ujung and Tirtagangga.

      In Padangbai, there are several places right on the beach in the village that are more than suitable. These include OK Divers Resort & Spa, a sparkling new place with a colonial feel; and the resort-style and family-friendly Pura Rai Hotel. The stunning Bloo Lagoon Village resort, near the beach of the same name, may be out of your range, while decent bungalows cheaper than $70-90 and facing the village beach include Kerti Beach Inn and Billabong. In fact, you could easily just turn up at Padangbai and check out a few places before deciding – everything, except the Bloo Lagoon, is along the 300m-long main street facing the beach.

  81. Luxury Secluded Hotel for Honeymoon in Bali

    Hi Dave,
    My fiancé and I are planning a honeymoon to Bali. We will be staying at COMO Shambhala in Ubud for 5 nights, then we will be heading south to stay somewhere along the coast for the remaining 6 nights. Our original plan was the Bulgari or the Banyan Tree, but after doing some research we are unsure if we will be too remote. The views from the hotels in the Ungasan region seem un-beatable which keeps drawing us back to those resorts. We are definitely looking for a 5-star luxury resort. We will be looking for a mix of relaxation and exploring. We are very active, we enjoy the beach, we love to explore new restaurants, and we definitely want to experience some of the local culture. Since it will be our honeymoon, somewhere that doesn’t attract a lot of children is also preferable. We also do not want a “Miami Beach” strip of hotels or restaurants. We would like to feel somewhat secluded but have the option to go out at night or explore places like Seminyak and Jimbaran without it being too difficult. Seminyak and Jimbaran look like great places to explore, but we are concerned we may feel like we are lacking privacy if we stay there. All in all, will we be too secluded if we stay at somewhere like the Banyan Tree, and are there resorts in the Seminyak/Jimbaran area that might also fit what we are looking for? We just need a better understanding of each area. Thank you so much for your help. Erin

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      You are right, resorts along Ungasan (the southern edge of Bukit Peninsula), such as Bulgari and Banyan Tree, are isolated, which means hiring a taxi just to find one shop, and a 20-minute taxi trip for any semblance of shopping or nightlife at Jimbaran or Tanjung Benoa – however modest. While the views are extraordinary and the rooms/amenities luxurious, none of the resorts in Ungasan have beaches; or the tiny strip of sand they claim disappears at high tide. And even in a remote resort, you could be in a luxurious villa only 20 metres from three other villas; and rooms are often squeezed along 4-level blocks. In short, isolation doesn’t necessarily mean privacy.

      Seminyak is becoming increasingly popular, including with families, as Kuta and Legian are bursting at the seams. There are pockets of Seminyak that offer some seclusion and tranquility, but Seminyak may be worth visiting for the sunsets, shopping and waves, rather than for staying.

      Instead, you may consider these three options if you want a luxurious resort with privacy but not isolation; a glorious beach that isn’t too busy; a convenient base for exploration of Bali; and an acceptable array of bars and cafés, some with live music. And without too many boisterous children …

      1) Nusa Dua – most resorts cater very well honeymooners, with packaged deals and special suites, but they also cater just as well for families. To ensure ultimate tranquility, privacy and luxury, try one of the secluded villas at the St Regis or Ritz Carlton. All resorts in Nusa Dua are huge, so some privacy is usually possible, and there is some limited shopping and cafés at the Bali Collection Mall. All beaches are sublime and those used by the St Regis and Ritz Carlton are also very quiet, away from jet skis. Otherwise, clusters of villas just outside of Nusa Dua, such as the Ulu Segara, are superbly located for views and don’t feel like resorts, but have limited beaches and are still a little isolated.

      2) Jimbaran – vastly underrated and surprisingly undeveloped, Jimbaran is ideally located for daytrips around southern Bali and elsewhere. Renowned for candlelight seafood dinners on the beach at sunset, many parts of the Jimbaran beach are astoundingly empty during the day. None of the resorts specifically cater for families, so they are quiet, and there’s a decent range of places to shop, eat and drink. It is very hard to go past the Four Seasons, with luxurious villas offering views as superlative as those in Ungasan, as well as a private beach, and shops, cafés and bars only 10 minutes away on foot.

      3) Nusa Lembongan – for something different, consider Lembongan island, only 30-45 minutes by speedboat from Sanur. There are numerous very comfortable 3-4 star resorts, such as Batu Karang, with extraordinary clifftop views, while the most luxurious and romantic place is the villas at Indiana Kenanga. Lembongan has a more down to earth feel, and is not a contrived resort region. It has a genuine village vibe and plenty of beachfront cafés and bars for sunsets, but very limited shopping and nightlife, which suits many visitors. The beaches are glorious and occasionally Crusoe-esque (eg Selegimpak), and you can enjoy snorkeling, hiking, and biking through eerie mangroves.

  82. Honeymoon Travels to Bali and Gili

    Hi Dave!
    I am so very thankful to have stubbled upon your website. My husband and I just booked 11 nights at the end of April for our honeymoon. I have felt overwhelmed with planning this as we both have different views of how to vacation. He likes luxury, at a reasonable price, and relaxing on the beach. As much as I enjoy a relaxing beach day, I find too many days like that prohibits one from seeing everything a place like Bali has to offer. I have spent the past two hours reading your site, and was wondering if you could give me a little insight.
    I have narrowed down a tentative itinerary … upon arrival travel to Ubud for 2 nights, Gili Air for 4 nights, end trip in Nusa Dua for 4 nights as it is close to the airport. Upon arriving in Nusa Dua take day trips to Seminyak and the surrounding areas near Uluwatu Temple.
    Can you recommend a ferry service from/or around Ubud to the Gili Islands? Should the ferry only go into Gili T, is there an easy way to get to Gili Air? Any recommendations for lodging on Gili Air, preferrably at a budget friendly rate?
    I have been advised from friends who have traveled Bali to see Padang Padang Beach, Bingin Beach, Balangan Beach – are any of these worth missing? Would you recommend renting a car, hiring a driver or taking Uber?
    Thank you for providing such a detail oriented website.

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Most first-time visitors can be overwhelmed by the choices, so you are not alone.

      Your itinerary seems quite doable, but bear in mind that travelling to/from the Gili Islands from Bali can take virtually half a day one-way with travelling by minibus to the port, taking the boat, and waiting about. And if you arrive in Bali late by plane, and/or keen to experience some Balinese culture, you might consider 3 nights in Ubud and one less night in Nusa Dua.

      Nusa Dua is an ideal place to organize daytrips by a chartered car with a driver, which is very easy to organize through your hotel. From there, you could visit Ulu Watu temple; Jimbaran, where a candlelit seafood dinner on the beach at sunset is a pre-requisite highlight; and the beaches you mention, especially the scenic Padang Padang. Seminyak offers a great beach (which is only as good as the beaches at Nusa Dua), and a sunset (which you can enjoy at Jimbaran and Gili Air), so the only reason to go to Seminyak from Nusa Dua would be for shopping.

      There is no ferry between Bali or Lombok and the Gili Islands – the only transport is by ‘speedboat’ (ie quick boats that hold 50-80 people). Numerous companies offer several services a day from various places on Bali. If staying at Ubud before Gili Air, leave from the nearest port to Ubud, which is Padangbai, and your ticket will include a pick up and transfer from your hotel in Ubud to Padangbai. Return speedboat from Gili Air will include a minibus transfer to your hotel in Nusa Dua.

      All speedboats from Bali stop at Gili Trawangan and most (but not all) also go on to (and pick up passengers from) Gili Air. Companies and schedules are listed, and bookings are available, online. This is the best website. And the most reliable and safest companies are Gili Cat and Blue Water Express.

      There are plenty of quality budget and mid-range places to stay on Gili Air. The most remarkable is Gili Air Lagoon Resort, with individual villas all facing a circular lagoon pool, only metres from the sea and the main drag with all the cafés/bars/shops. If that’s out of your range and you’re really on a budget of say US$25-50 per night, try Villa Karang, very close to the harbor; the quaint family-run Elephant Bungalows inland; and the friendly Aza Zil Bungalows, close to Elephant and also a little inland. Otherwise, just spend 20 minutes looking about after you arrive – there is so much to chose from.

      The beaches you mention are almost exclusively for surfers and not easy to reach. Padang Padang is very scenic and fairly accessible, with some swimming possible, but Balangan and Bingin are remote, only accessible down steep steps, and have little or no beach – just waves and more waves. Don’t forget: you will see some wonderful beaches at Nusa Dua and all over Gili Air.

      Less than 30 seconds after arriving, you will be thankful you didn’t organize a rental car. For daytrips, always charter a car with a driver, which is best done through your hotel. For shorter trips, taxis are very cheap and plentiful, except in Ubud. A militant taxi union has virtually outlawed Uber and others like it. In any case, chartered cars and taxis are very cheap, driven by reliable English-speaking people, comfortable and air-conditioned.

  83. Bali Honeymoon Hotel in September/October

    Hi Dave- my fiance and I are huge fans of your site. We took all your recommendations for Greece and had a great time! We are now headed to Bali for our honeymoon in late September-early October and looking for some guidance. We are currently booked for 5 days at the Viceroy for the first leg of our trip, but we are wanting a villa with a direct beach view for the following 5 days somewhere south of Ubud. We were leaning towards AYANA but it doesn’t look like there’s a direct view unless we spring for the most expensive villa. We were so impressed with our view at Canaves in Oia- hoping to be able to wake up each morning and look out at the water. Any suggestions?

    Tess Alberts

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      The Viceroy Bali Resort is a wonderful choice: romantic and luxurious, with an extraordinary setting and truly personalized service. It’s also a good idea to then spend the rest of your honeymoon at a beach resort.

      Located in probably Bali’s most spacious grounds, the Ayana is also amazing. But like every other resort along the west and south coast of the Bukit Peninsula, it has no beach. Resorts in this region are built on cliffs, offering sublime ocean views, but any stretch of sand is tiny and disappears during high tide.

      Your best option is to stay in Nusa Dua, a spacious and tranquil complex of 4 and 5-star resorts. Most face superb white-sand beaches, and many cater for honeymooners with special suites and package deals. For a private villa with direct views of, and access to, the beach, try these opulent resorts:
      St Regis – remarkable setting and traditional design throughout, the pool villas are secluded, face a postcard-perfect beach, and guests have their own numbered lounge chairs on the sand.
      Ritz-Carlton – with the lobby perched on a cliff, the pool villas are spread among lush tropical gardens at sea level; some face the ocean.

  84. Bali – Where To Stay

    Hi Dave,
    This is the most detailed website I have ever come across on a particular destination! Desperately need your help to sort this out for us. My husband and I (late 20’s) are travelling to Bali from 12th September to 27th September this year. We’d love to do a mix of pub and spa hopping, a couple of good and worthy temple visits, volcanic sunrise trek, river rafting and of course – live for a few days bang on the beach of crystal waters and probably go snorkeling too. I understand that we must not be staying in more than 3 places to avoid wasting time on traveling – hence my idea was – 5 nights in Lombok, 4 nights in Ubud, and 6 nights in (please suggest) Seminyak/ Sanur/ south Kuta/??
    Our budget is an average of 90 USD per night for 10 nights and we don’t mind spending more for the remaining 5 nights – about 200Usd per night. Where should we splurge? Where should we stay?
    Also, how’s the Waterbom park? Never heard any of my friends going there.
    From Lombok, is it easy to do a day trip to Gili trawangan or Gili Air? And if we can, I think it makes sense not to spend too much for accommodation in Lombok since we might be going around a lot?

    Thanks in advance!
    Dhwani Shah

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      With about 15 nights, it’s a good idea, as you suggest, to stay in three regions: for example (1) a beach resort region for the sand, sun, surf, sunsets and shopping; (2) somewhere for exploring the magnificent landscapes and to delight in the unique culture; and (3) somewhere different again, perhaps a remote village or island.

      If you’re a first time visitor, Kuta, the most popular beach base, can be overwhelming with constant traffic, crowds and street hawkers, and Sanur may be a little too quiet for you. Seminyak is a few kms north of Kuta, and still enjoys the same sunsets and surf, but the shops, bars and cafes are most sophisticated and the crowds considerably smaller. The beach is excellent, if a little greyer than at Kuta, while there’s more enough places to grab a meal, drink and spa, and catch some live music.

      Ubud is the obvious place to enjoy the ‘real Bali’. With markets, temples and palaces in town, and plenty more within short day-trips by chartered car with driver, Ubud is a delight. From Ubud, it is also easy to organize outdoor activities, such as volcano hikes and white water rafting. (Bear in mind, that by September the rivers may be too low for rafting.)

      Almost the size of Bali, Lombok boasts only two resort regions on the mainland: Kuta, which is an overgrown village nothing like its namesake on Bali; and Senggigi. Both face superb and often empty beaches, but with no night-clubbing and mall-hopping on offer they disappoint some – while delight others for the same reasons.

      With a short holiday, you’re advised to spend the other third of your trip on one of the Gili Islands: Gili Trawanan, the ‘party island’; Gili Meno, which is the complete opposite and too laidback for some; and Gili Air, the perfect compromise. Easy to reach from Bali by speedboat, Gili Air is completely surrounded by golden sands and turquoise waters, with world-class snorkeling often within metres off-shore.

      In the range of US$90-100, you will find plenty of great accommodation in Seminyak (eg Royal Beach Seminyak or Seminyak Beach Resort) and Gili Air (eg Gili Air Lagoon Resort).

      The place to splurge on accommodation would certainly be Ubud, because some upmarket places are uniquely built among jaw-dropping rice-terraces and ravines. (But bear in mind, that many are an inconvenient 10-15 minutes by taxi or shuttle bus or taxi away from central Ubud.) In downtown Ubud among the US$150-200 range, try: the wonderful ARMA Resort & Villas, set in the lush gardens of the world-famous art museum; the remarkable Komaneka at Bisma, wonderfully set among rice-terraces but oh-so central; or the imperial Tjampuhan Hotel, cascading along a series of ravines and one Bali’s first hotels.

      Waterbom Park in southern Kuta (also known as Tuban) is a water-slide theme park primarily for families, although parents seem to enjoy themselves as much as the young ones. It is primarily a family attraction, and often rowdy and crowded, but there is no reason why you couldn’t enjoy yourself there too.

  85. Amed Hotel

    The best hotel in Amed? Try to find Mejore Hotel. It has the best location in the central of Amed, Bali. The Mejore Hotel has 16 rooms, all with modern standard amenities, outdoor swimming pool, bar and restaurant, very good internet access, rooftop bar with amazing view of the ocean and Agung Mountain.

    Gege Witak

    1. Bali Dave The Bali Expert

      Thanks Gege. Will take a look next time I go through Amed. Appreciated.

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