I tried to make this travel tips to be more easy to read so you can have a quick info on which area to explore and activities to do in Bali, Indonesia.
All info I share here is based on my experience. I’ve been back-and-forth to Bali since 2009, mostly for diving or playing body board or just getting away from the hectic life in Jakarta.
My last update for this post is in August 2018.
Anyway, some info here are based on my last visit to these places, so some might have been different from the present. You will find this tips useful if you have the same type and purpose of traveling like mine (backpacker/flashpacker, budget concern, like beach/underwater/party).
INFORMATION I SHARE IN THIS POST
– The area I’ve traveled in Bali
– Place to visit / eat / stay / snorkel / dive / hangout
– The beach in Bali
THE AREA IN BALI
< I’ve spent at least a nite here >
My fave area to stay : Legian and Seminyak
Kuta is like the center of everything. This is a very touristic area, some called it crazy, some (me) called it awesome.
When hearing Kuta, people immediately think that this is not the best place to stay or it’s too crazy. For me, this area has everything.
If you like quite place, no many crazy ‘new’ bikers around, you can choose the southern part of Kuta along Segara beach. If you wanna have good beach for surfing, crazy party, then northern part is your best option along Kuta beach or Bakung Sari street or Benesari street.
If you are a backpacker and ready for all the actions, Poppies lane is your place 😉 My fave place in this area is Poppies Lane 2. There are many affordable guesthouses here surrounded by a great nite life, cheap food and I can walk to my fave beach (Legian beach). One down side is that most people here respect only foreigners.It’s about 20min drive from airport.
This area is more calm than Kuta. It’s next to each other so sometimes it’s hard to differentiate which one called Legian or Kuta. Thus, if you are confuse, the area where lies Padma Street, Werkudara Street and Arjuna/Double Six street is Legian.
Legian is kind of in the middle of crazy Kuta and exclusive Seminyak. IMO, if I have enough budget, I will stay in Legian whilst in Bali. It’s quieter than Kuta, close to my fave Legian beach, many good restaurant but a bit pricy and I like the environment where the hotel/restaurant staffs respect local tourists too.It’s about 20-25min drive from airport.
Seminyak can be refereed to as the exclusive area since there are many nice boutiques and nice restaurants. It is really quiet (imo), good for family or couple. Everything looks expensive but there are many good restaurants serving nice foods there. You will need transport to go anywhere though.It’s about 25-30min drive from airport.
I stayed in Sanur few times recently. Once I stayed near the Sindhu traditional market, during my diving course in Jalan Danau Tamblingan. I think many divers stay in this area since there are many dive centers. I saw many elderly tourists as well as expats.
The beachfront cafes along Sindhu beach are nice place to hangout. There is a big Hardy’s department store for your daily supply, reachable by taking angkot (public transport) for 10,000.
For me, it’s too quiet and far from the action. It’s about 30-40min drive from airport.
I supposed to visit Candidasa with my friend as a stop for try-scuba lesson in Tulamben. But she cancelled last minute while I’d had my booking. So I spent there for 3 nites in a nice hotel in low season, and in my opinion, Candidasa is too quiet for solo travel but perfect for couples. Many honeymooners.. I hardly see any solo traveler ><” really feel like in the wrong zone.It’s about 2-2.5 hours drive from airport.
This area is the best place to stay if you wanna go diving in Menjangan island. I stayed in Jalan Mawar which is just 20m to the beach where lies many beachfront cafes. The beach itself is not really interesting. I saw many divers and some elderly tourists :)It’s about 4-5 hours drive from airport and a 45min drive from Lovina.
I dunno why, but I like this place. The weather is not too hot, the dive site is just in front of you. The wind can be really cold that you’ll need warm clothes, esp on July. Cheap food is near the entrance harbour gate and so is a nice secluded beach, Bias Tugal beach. At nite, you can see thousand of stars in the sky. The environment doesn’t make me scared to go out at nite. You can cross to Gili islands too from here. I really enjoyed my stay there.It’s about 2-2.5 hours drive from airport.
I was here for a snorkeling with my family. It was very dark and quiet at night but the snorkeling site was amazing. In Jemeluk beach, you can just swim a few feet from the beach, you will find an amazingly clear water. corals, and marine life. I cant imagine how can there be so many fish there. Just a few swim from the beach I had wonderful time here and hope can go back again soon.
Finally I visited this island and keep coming back-and-forth. I love how laid back it is. Beautiful scenery of the beach. It is relax, no night life. I like spending my time in Mahagiri Resort private beach and Mushroom bay. Just a note, food, accommodation, and transportation are more expensive than Bali here. Plus do not expect that you will get the same food quality or hotel amenity as in Bali. > click here for Nusa Lembongan area map
Other area I want to visit and stay more than a nite : Ubud
BEACH IN BALI
There are many beaches in Bali. Mostly with wave, even big one and hardly find a calm beach for swimming. Bali is famous for surfing… The beach in west part of Bali has good wave in the dry season and beach in east part of Bali has good wave in the wet season.
My fave beach : Padang-padang beach in Uluwatu and Jemeluk beach in Amed
KUTA BEACH – It’s a white sandy beach full with tourist. It’s best for watching beautiful sunset, surfing and body boarding. There are times when you will find garbage in the water. But amazingly, you won’t find them in the next day..
LEGIAN BEACH – It’s in the end of Kuta beach, a quieter part of it. Sometimes people called it Double Six Beach. It’s half white sandy beach and half is getting darker cause of the mix with black sand from Seminyak beach. This beach is also best for watching sunset, surfing and body boarding. I like it better than Kuta cause lesser tourist here and one thing for sure, the rental for beach bench and body board are cheaper than in Kuta beach..
MAHAGIRI BEACH – Lies in north part of Nusa Lembongan as private beach of Mahagiri Resort. I like spending my time here, looking at the awesome view of Bali island across the water. Not to mention the nice sunset view.
MUSHROOM BAY – Lies in the south part of Nusa Lembongan, it is a relax place. Nice beach where you can swim. The cafes here offer less lower price to go snorkeling to 5 spots around Nusa Lembongan island and the nearby Nusa Penida island.
JEMELUK BEACH – Lies in Amed and offer amazing marine life where you can see after a few feet swim. This is why I love this beach. It is highly recommended for snorkeling with family.
PETITENGGET BEACH – It’s in the end of Legian beach, part of Seminyak beach. This beach is great for chilling out but you cannot surf / play body board cause it’s in sacred area. I saw local family with children playing in the water on the weekend. I like the atmosphere there and it’s cleaner than Legian beach / Kuta beach..
NUSA DUA BEACH – It’s a nice beach to spend the time with your family. You will see the beach on your right and on your left.. If you see Bali map, you will know where this beach located. You can swim here, it is a bit calm and further from the beach, you can surf..
GEGER BEACH – It lies in Nusa Dua area. It’s a long stretch white sandy beach. First time I was there, I think it looked like Kuta beach. But last November (2012), I went there to find that there was a big hotel construction nearby. It doesn’t look as good as my first visit and according to my friend, the water tasted sour. Maybe because of the seaweed plantation there. That’s too bad. This beach is in the left side of a temple. While in the right side, there is a nice place for surfing.
> click here for YouTube video: Geger beach video 1 & video 2
DREAMLAND BEACH – It is in Pecatu area. I think this is the best beach in Bali. Most of my visit there, I see a high wave about 1 meter or so just a few steps from the beach. Crazy.. and Awesome!! I am afraid of high wave so I don’t play body board there, just relax, laying on the beach bench. The water is clear and clean. There is KLAPA cafe uphill where you can watch beautiful sunset. I love it there!!.
SANUR BEACH – This is a great beach for family, calm water but be careful if you swim further from the beach, esp near the canal arean. I had my diving there and the underwater current is pretty strong towards afternoon. There are many cafes along the beach and a jogging track. Great place for chilling out or for jogging/bicycling while watching the sunrise.
LOVINA BEACH – I didn’t go to this beach in the morning/noon but in the afternoon, there are many local boats. The sand is kinda black, if I am not mistaken. There are cafes along the beach, mostly the tourist are elderly or divers.
TULAMBEN BEACH – Hardly sand here, mostly rocks with great underwater!!.
CANDIDASA-BEACH – My only memory about this beach is that there are many rocks there LoL!.
BLOO LAGOON BEACH – It’s in Padang Bai area. I only saw it from a distance. It’s so small and not interesting but the underwater is great. Best for snorkeling..
PADANG BAI BEACH – It’s a white sandy beach but many local boats there and many garbage. Maybe because it’s in the harbor area??.
PADANG-PADANG BEACH – It’s a nice beach, you can swim here. Guess the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” made this beach popular ^^.
BIAS TUGAL BEACH – It’s in Padang Bai area and it’s the best one!! I went there in the afternoon and in the early morning for sunrise. It’s like a small private beach that time. I love it there. Just watch this video I took there (Padang Bai Video 1)
Other beach I want to visit : Secret beach in Candidasa
DIVING / SNORKELING SITE
For diving, I would recommend to go to Tulamben and Menjangan Island.
For snorkeling, I would recommend to go to Amed and Nusa Lembongan.
It’s the best for diving since you can see many kind of marine life here. Awesome!! I think it’s best to go there on November, no much people dive and the shore entrance is not difficult (no wave). No big current. For snorkeling, I think the visibility is not as good as diving. The water is a bit greenish.
I was there on February and the water was clear. It’s best for snorkeling and also diving. You better go there in the morning because the current is getting stronger towards afternoon.
My fave place to dive/snorkel : Menjangan Island
Other site I want to dive/snorkel : Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Amed
You can check my post for diving: A week for relax and diving lesson (sanur, kuta, tulamben)
THE FOOD IN BALI
The price range for food in Bali starts from USD 1. In cheap place or warung (local restaurant/street vendor), it is around USD 0.5~3. More than that is categorized as expensive or good restaurant 😀
My fave meal : Nasi Campur Bali in Bambu Sari Resto and Babi Guling Pak Malen in the corner of Seminyak-Kerobokan-Sunset road
My fave place to eat : Warung Indonesia in Gang Ronta Poppies Lane 2 Kuta. It’s cheap and tastes good.
Best food I’ve had : Bambu Sari Restaurant in Jl. Kahuripan Kuta, Mozzarella Restaurant in Padma Street Legian
BEST PLACE TO HANGOUT
When I go to Bali, I seldom chill-out in café so I only had few experience.
My fave : La Planca in Legian / Double Six for sunset
THE CLUB IN BALI
My fave : Sky Garden in Legian street, Kuta
Craziest club I’ve been : Bounty Club in Legian street, Kuta used to be the one. Now I consider Sky Garden for this criteria.
BUDGET HOTEL IN BALI
My fave :
– on a very limited budget, I prefer staying in Poppies Lane 2 Kuta. Beneyasa I, probably my fave cause I stay there many times :p
– but on a slightly higher budget, I love Fave Hotel in Seminyak. You might need to rent a bike to go to the beach but I had the most comfy bed ever here and 101 Legian for their superb hospitality
The cleanest budget place : Little Pond guesthouse in Sanur
My worst experience : Fat Yogi Cottage place has been replaced with Villa Coco in Double Six, Seminyak. Staying here totally ruined my new year holiday in 2018. I would recommend to stay away from this hotel, especially if you are local with a western partner. You can read more about it in my post “Think Twice Before Staying Here“ or my tripadvisor review “Great Manager“. I am still emotional every time I think of this place and what they did to me. Her response in tripadvisor is not 100% real fact of what happening.
Honestly I hardly visit their tourist attractions. So far, the place I think interesting is Ubud and Tanah Lot. I would recommend you to see traditional dance like Kecak dance on sunset at Uluwatu Temple and Barong Dance in Batubulan. Besakih Temple is worth a visit too.
Well, I hope you get a better picture now about my favorite island, Bali.