Where to stay in Bali
The island of Bali is not huge. In fact, you can get from the southern part of the island in Seminyak to the north in Lovina in about 4 hours. Having said that, each regional area of Bali is as diverse and rich in culture and has it’s very own unique personality and identity. For most newbies or first-timers to Bali this may be hard to decipher so we have picked the most well-known parts of Bali to help you decide where you should stay in Bali.
For more detailed information on where to go or what to do in Bali, read this great article.
Bali can be divided into 5 main areas:
This is the most touristy part of Bali where areas like Seminyak, Kuta, Uluwatu, Canggu, Berawa & Legian are found. This is the tourist hub and if you’re into bars, shopping, nightlife, surfing, Bali villa accommodation, day spas, vegan cafes and hanging with other holidaymakers this is the place to be.
- Key features: Denpasar airport is nearby, Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur, Canggu, Jimbaran, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu are the key destinations
- Our favourite activities: Nightclubbing, eating at amazing cafes, lots of shopping, day spas, surfing, yoga & gyms & local vendors & markets where you can shop
Check out our: where to stay in Seminyak
This is where you come to escape the crowds and enjoy the spiritual side of Bali in Ubud, Gianyar & Bedugul. Ubud is the best-known area in central Bali and is on the tourist map as one of the most popular places to visit. If you’re into yoga, vegan cafes, meditation, spiritual retreats, cooking classes and long walks among the rice fields, then Central Bali is where you should be heading.
- Key features: This is the cultural heart of Bali – Ubud & Bedugul, Munduk
- Key highlights: Arts, jewellery & crafts villages, lots of temples, white water rafting, rice field walks, indulgent day spas
For those that really want to get away from it all and immerse themselves in a rural Balinese villages, then areas like Medewi, Negara & Gilimanuk are the places to be. Gilimanuk is the place you come to get the ferry to Java. Medewi & Balian are laid back surfing villages with a chilled out vibe. Definitely no shopping or nightlife here. Take a good book & enjoy the serenity.
- Key features: About 2.5 hours from the airport: Pemuteran, Menjangan Island, Gilimanuk, Medewi, Balian
- Things to do: scuba diving, snorkelling, walking around West Bali National Park, beach activities such as windsurfing & surfing
Lovina and the old capital city of Bali, Singaraja. It takes time to get here but it’s worth a few days to soak up the sun on the black volcanic sands of Lovina Beach. Very peaceful part of the island but because of this, it is becoming more popular as travellers look for the Bali of yesteryear.
- Key features: About 3.5 hours from the airport: Lovina, Singaraja
- Things to do Snorkelling, beach life, exploring the city of Singaraja
East Bali – a real family destination where holidaymakers come to enjoy the idyllic seaside areas of Candidasa, Amed, Kintamani, Klungkung, Mount Agung, Padang Bai & Tirta Gangga. You can climb Mount Agung or stay in your own private pool Candidasa villa on the ocean. Again, it’s far away from the crowds here.
- Key features: About 2 hours from the airport: Candidasa, Padang Bai, Amed, Tulamben and Kintamani
- Things to do: Snorkelling, scuba diving, luxury villa living, cycling around the coastline, temples and completely chilling out and forgetting all the worries of the world!
Where to stay in Bali for families
Families are going to want to have the convenience of a beach nearby as well as children’s entertainment, family-friendly restaurants & cafes. If you are coming to Bali as a family then ideally areas like Seminyak, Canggu, Legian, Berawa, & Umalas are going to be the best places. If you’re wanting a beachfront holiday Bali villa then there are loads of these throughout the Southern part of the island to choose from. Because these villas are on the beach they can get a bit pricey so make sure you are realistic about your holiday budget before doing your research. Also note, that during peak holiday periods & school holidays villa prices can double compared to other times of the year.
In terms of entertainment families coming to Bali will want to be able to easily take the kids out for dinner and this means again, you will want to be in the main tourist hubs like Seminyak, Legian & Canggu. It makes it so much easier to get a taxi in these areas and most decent family restaurants are easy to spot. If this is your first time in Bali and you need some restaurant advice your villa manager will be able to offer up suggestions. A good place to begin is Seminyak Square. That’s the main hub and has the highest concentration of places to eat.
To keep the kids entertained (and if it’s raining in Bali), you will want to take them to the beach. For more excitement definitely head to the Finns Recreation Park in Canggu and the Waterbom Park in Kuta. Bali is jam-packed action for kids and there is no shortage of things for them to do. Don’t stress about keeping them busy & entertained.
We find that the majority of families will prefer the tried, proven & well-known areas of Seminyak & Canggu. For families that want to escape the crowds & have a more private setting for their holiday areas like Jimbaran, Candidasa, Uluwatu, Ubud and Sanur are on the menu. These areas are a lot less frenetic and noisy than Seminyak and offer families a choice of villa accommodation among the rice fields or beach. Again, don’t expect too much nightlife or excitement in these areas. For family activities in these areas, it’s going to the beach, surfing, swimming, hanging in your villa & enjoying the facilities or spending time touring the island and seeing all the great sights, temples and immersing yourself in the culture.
Where to stay in Bali for couples
Couples who want adventure can head off to Ubud and do some white water rafting or do the Campuhan Ridge walk. They can also learn Yoga or how to cook at the many schools & studios throughout Ubud. Ubud is famous for its homestays where couples can rent a room for less than $30 per night, right through to romantic holiday villas that are close to cafes & restaurants in central Ubud.
For couples that like their shopping, cafe culture, enjoy a few sunset drinks on the beach, like going to day spas & want to try the latest vegan restaurant then Seminyak & Canggu is a must. These areas offer a plethora of accommodation types to satisfy and holiday budget or style for the two of you.
For the couple who want a romantic escape and want complete privacy then you really have a huge choice as Bali is definitely a place for romance and honeymoons. We do recommend areas like Seminyak, Canggu, Batu Belig and Berawa where there are lots of lovely 1 bedroom Bali villas to rent that offer an exclusive private pool ambience. Great for a honeymoon!
Where to stay in Bali away from tourists
This is actually getting a lot harder as Bali’s popularity increases year on year. Our recommendation is to either try the East Coast areas of Bali like Keramas, Candidasa where you can have a beach style holiday far removed from the crowds. Alternatively, you may like to head all the way up north to Lovina where you get glimpses of what Bali was like 20 years ago. If the beach is not your thing and you want a more cultural holiday then inland areas of the island are probably more suited to you. Try Gianyar, Besakih & sideman. Here you may have to compromise on accommodation and keep expectations low as these places are off the tourist trail. For a cultural experience, we do suggest Ubud but this is very much a tourist hot spot. Perhaps go there for the day and take a look around.
Where to stay in Bali for seniors
Most seniors want to relax by the pool and be in a convenient location where they can go for a meal at night. They also like a bit of shopping and enjoy a nice cafe latte with their lunch. For seniors heading off to Bali the best areas for them are Seminyak, Legian & Sanur. In terms of accommodation, there are many 5 star resorts and luxury Bali villas that offer the type of service and facilities to satisfy even the most demanding of seniors; chefs, butlers, housekeeping, airport transfers, air conditioning, wifi and if need be doctors can be arranged.
Where to stay in Bali if you want to party
Bali is definitely a party island if you want it to be. The main areas for a big night out are Seminyak, Kuta, Legian & now Canggu. There are loads of bars & clubs in these areas that cater to those that want to mix, socialise and dance the night away. There are also many hip day clubs that offer a party-like atmosphere.
The popular ones include; Ku De Ta, Potato Head, Miss Sippy, La Brisa, Cafe Del Mar, La Laguna & Tropicola. There are also many inexpensive bars that have a really casual vibe where you can still walk around in a t-shirt and thongs if you like. Canggu is now increasingly popular with ex-pats and hipsters looking for a cheap night out whereas Seminyak offers a more upmarket party experience. Legian & obviously Kuta (with Aussies & young backpackers) is definitely for those that like to party hard to the small hours of the morning.
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Seminyak is the centre of all the action in Bali and is well known for the range of hi-end luxury villas and trendy, very fashionable boutiques, restaurants and bars. If you want to really experience all that Bali has to offer and throw in the nightlife as well, then Seminyak is your destination. You will find that the atmosphere is sophisticated, classy and the beach is quieter than other tourist areas. The Seminyak area is also the Spa and shopping capital of Bali.