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Dummy Guide: Different Parts of Bali

If it’s your first time planning a trip to Bali, you will soon realised that you got to pick the area you want to be in before starting to find your accommodation. So I did a bit research for my virgin trip to Bali and found lots of useful information. I will summarise for you from these links:

www.vilondo.com/where-to-stay-in-bali
www.bali.com/accommodation.html
www.baliguide.com/balihotels.html

░ Overview of the areas in Bali  ░

There are 6 different areas in Bali, North, South, East, West, Central and Southeastern Islands.

South Bali is where you get most of the tourists hanging around – flocking to world renowned Kuta Beach and chic Seminyak. My guess is, the area is developed because it is near the international airport and thus a shorter traveling time for the tourists.

South Bali includes Kuta, Western Bukit and Uluwatu, Canggu, Denpasar, Jimbaran, Legian, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Seminyak, and Tanah Lot.

Central Bali includes Ubud, Gianyar, Bedugul, and Tabanan. This region is the cultural heart of Bali and the central mountain range.

bali-map-tourist-areas

░ The more popular areas in Bali  ░

Seminyak, Kerobokan, and Canggu areas (South Bali) ▶ In-Style

Recommended for the well-heeled tourists who want to enjoy the nature and yet indulge and pamper themselves. Also for people who want to be close enough to the action (but not too much), and have easy access to shops and restaurants. Families can venture further up north.  

Highlights: Enjoy the most luxurious spas in Bali and high end shopping. Access to miles of sandy beaches. 

Seminyak and Kerobokan area is famous for luxury and style. The area is upmarket with mostly luxury accommodation, fashionable boutique shops and high-end spa, restaurants and bars. Fast increasing number of hotels and villas, great but reasonably priced restaurants and Bali’s most interesting clubs, pubs as well as shops selling casual wear, furniture, antiques, decorative items and handicrafts. Area a bit north of it are great for families, with many affordable restaurants and shopping, clean beaches. Kids’ clubs and indoor play areas are also available, as are nannies at very reasonable prices.

You can also find good, off-white, sandy beach with powerful waves and some strong currents. The atmosphere is much more sophisticated and laid-back than Kuta, and the beach in particular is quieter during the day.

Accommodation: Hotels are slightly more upscale, ranging from affordable and stylish to luxurious and opulent.
Seminyak also has an incredible number of private villas available for short and long-term stays. The hotels and villas in this area are often tucked away from everything else, offering serenity, calm, and a unique Balinese aesthetic.

Kuta Beach & Legian (South Bali) ▶ Fun and Party

Recommended for action, excitement, or night out, but not for a family vacation or romantic honeymoon.

Highlights: Learn to surf, Watch Bali’s famous sunsets, Party/Nightlife

Kuta Beach has high waves and currents good for people to learn surfing. The beach is crowded day and night by tourists, vendors, masseuses, and beach boys. Yet the beach is so huge that it doesn’t feel too crowded even if there are so many people.  The beach is worth a visit as it gives you some of Bali’s most amazing sunsets that signal the beginning of Kuta’s famed nightlife.

Kuta and Legian are the centers of Bali’s night life with a great number of restaurants, pubs, open bars, discos, and all kinds of shops, ranging from handicrafts to departmental stores to supermarkets. We do advise you not to run too wild. Bali is a very safe place but it can also be dangerous and can show its dark sides – like any part of the world, where gangs, alcohol, drugs, prostitution come together.

Daily traffic jams and many, sometimes quite insistent hawkers, are nightmares for many visitors.

Accommodation: It’s an ideal place to find accommodation on a budget and is within easy reach of most of the southern parts of Bali. Prices here depend whether hot water, a/c, or a pool is offered, and bargaining is common in privately run homestays. A few upper class hotels are available for the traveler who likes to party and want to stay in comfort.

Sanur (South Bali) ▶  Classy and Quiet

Recommended for people who loves traditions or seek a retreat to rest the body, mind and soul. Also recommended for families. 

Highlights: Clear waters and clean beach, Tranquility, Bali Traditions

Sanur beach lures you with crystal clear waters and is ideal for a tropical paradise vacation. It is ideal for families, with a peaceful white sand beach fronting a calm section of the Indian Ocean that allows for all types of water sports, including diving and snorkeling.

Sanur is one of the oldest tourist regions in Bali, and yet has remained calm and quiet, run according to traditional principles by a tight-knit group of Balinese villages. Tradition is strong in the area, which is known as a centre for magic, meaning that visitors get a true taste of Bali while still having access to modern amenities.

Sanur is now more focused on tranquility and relaxation. The area is rather quiet compared to Kuta and Nusa Dua but is still popular with old-time visitors and some foreign residents.

Accommodation: A great place to find mid-range accommodation, an affordably priced yet stylish beachfront hotel, or a house or villa for a longer stay.

Ubud (Central Bali) ▶  Art, Body Mind & Soul

Recommended for people who loves traditions or seek a retreat to rest the body, mind and soul. Also recommended for families. 

Highlights: Mountains, Spirituality/meditation, Traditional arts, and Culture

In Ubud, you will be relaxing in green lush forest among rolling hills. Because of its location at the base of the mountains, temperatures are slightly lower than in the lowlands. Families can also enjoy plenty of activities among the rice fields and rivers in the area. Ubud is also a great place to start day trips to visit temples, the zoo and bird park, hot springs.

One can also find yoga schools, meditation centres and psychic readings at Ubud. After sunset, the shops start to close and Ubud becomes more quiet. Tourists like to come here at night to watch Balinese Dance performances. Many accomplished painters, dancers, musicians, carvers and weavers live and work here, and there are a number of very good museums and art galleries.

The centre of Ubud, though focused on meditation, traditional arts and culture, is lively with restaurants and shopping options for all. Ubud is also what one could call “Green Bali”. You can find vegan, vegetarian, and even raw food restaurants. Detox smoothies, green juices and organic food are also commonly found on menus. Many shops are environmentally conscious here, with a few banning plastic straws and bags.

Accommodation:

  • Long term: No shortage and variety of vacation rentals, regardless of your budget.
  • Backpackers: Stay in comfortable “losmen” (inn) that have been run by local families for decades, and get a true feeling for rustic traditional life in Bali.
  • Yoga retreats and other spiritually focused accommodation can also easily be found.
  • Mid-range hotels offer families comfort and style.
  • Luxurious: Some of the world’s most luxurious hotel chains have created havens in the surrounding mountains, offering incredible style and world-class comfort for travelers seeking peace and serenity.

Jimbaran & Uluwatu (South Bali) ▶ Beaches, Surfing

Recommended for lovers of beaches, surfing and sun. 

Highlights: Watch Bali’s famous sunsets, Eat Seafood and Relax

Jimbaran…

has a beautiful beach and coastline. Its waves not too high for swimming, wind surfing, and sailing (no motorized water sports activities) and not too many tourists. Enjoy some seafood at seafood restaurants right on the water front. Located just a few miles south of the airport.

Accommodation: Probably Bali’s best beach with decent hotels and accommodation: Backpackers accommodation for surfers available a bit off the coast, otherwise you can finda few up-market hotels and resorts.

Uluwatu…

have some world-class surf breaks on this cliff-lined stretch of coast.

Accommodation: Surf-hungry backpackers traveling on a shoestring can find the most basic accommodation here, but those who want to enjoy their time out of the water can also find many mid-range choices, often owned by local families. Main beaches are Balangan, Padang Padang, Dreamland, Bingin Beach.

Nusa Dua, Tanjung Benoa & the Bukit (Southern peninsula) ▶  Beachfront Resorts

Recommended for people who don’t like surprises.

Highlights: Cookie-Cutter Experience

Bali’s southern peninsula is where you find today most of the island’s international 4- and 5-star Bali Hotels and Resorts – set in Nusa Dua’s manicured and not very Balinese garden environment. Nice beach with shallow water, no high waves. All kinds of water sports, 18-hole golf course.

Nusa Dua Galleria center with a variety of rather expensive restaurants, shops, and department stores. Some more reasonably priced restaurants are located in adjacent Tanjung Benoa and Bualu village. No night life to speak of.

An increasing number of private villas is being built on the Bukit, the hill South of the airport. Many of these offer spectacular views of the sea, Kuta, Denpasar, Sanur and Bali’s mountains. The climate is much cooler and much more dry – even if it rains in most parts of Bali you can expect sunny days here.

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Updated January 2015

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