— Paradise without persecution

Bali area guides.

Our Balinese vacation area guides are written not just to help tourists find the best location for their holiday in Bali, but also to raise awareness of which parts of Bali will bring them closer to and with it actually support the true Balinese. Bali, despite the claims of its pundits, really can not compete anywhere near with tourist destinations like Thailand for beach holidays, unless you are a surfer or after a cheap bar scene. The beauty of Bali is with its people, the culture, the landscapes, the sights and the sounds. Those statements made our ffollowing area guides should come as no surprise to you. Although we point out the worst aspects of each area, it is fair to say careful selection of the hotel itself is probably the most important aspect of ensuring a great holiday, and knowing the down sides of an area can help you avoid what is bad thereby allowing you to experience more that is good.


Kuta & Legian

Kuta and Legian are busy mass tourism areas generally for the low to middle budget tourist. As the area is open to the Balinese, there are some notably good restaurants and shops, although much is about being loud while devouring beer and chips. Several department and retail stores offer a good selection of goods at low prices for those who need their retail therapy and one could even bargain for vouchers or discounts, however much is about rip-off fakes and tacky Indonesian / Balinese "art". The golden sand beach is sensational but the waters are mostly very dangerous for anyone who is not a very strong swimmer.
Pluses: Some truly Balinese accommodations providers, a great range of restaurants and shops, the occasional authentic cultural show, a very short distance from the airport so a good starting point for people who want to go walkabout. Superb beach.
Minuses: Unbearable numbers of street pimps offering drugs and women, aggressive salespeople both on the street and in shops, a multitude of crooks (from money changers to timeshare sellers), loud often offensive tourists. The Tuban area of Kuta suffers from aircraft noise, open beach sewers and a proliferation of street pimps.



Sanur is generally a middle budget tourism area which straddles a long road lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Less built up and in some ways a little more upmarket than Kuta / Legian but without the range and even quality of places to shop, eat and drink. The beach is generally very poor quality and a haven for persistent "hawkers" (sellers) who absolutely will not leave you alone. The beach has long suffered from erosion when they used the coral for cement, polluted seas from untreated sewerage (although they have improved this a lot, but not 100%) and in areas as a rubbish dump where locals drop litter where they stand. One part of the beach is a haven for young rent girls with their "mamma" on offer to wealthy tourists at the so called "prestigious" beach resort.
Pluses: A generally much quieter area than Kuta / Legian and with fewer aggressive sellers along the shopping areas. Some very nice Balinese friendly hotels operate here and you can still see authentic Balinese cultural shows.
Minuses: One of the worst beaches for a tropical island (dirty, polluted, often smelly and a haven for both hawkers and sex workers). Very close to the noisy, smelly bypass road with some of the filthiest malaria and dengue carrying mosquito heaven drainage ditches you can "hope" to find; although this is craftily classified as "Denpasar".


Ubud Area

Something for everyone including authentic Balinese culture and art, but without a beach. Ubud has everything from backpacker homestays to luxury resorts; though some of the later are at odds with the local populous. Almost nightly cultural performances and some excellent restaurants, a plethora of art with some actually worthwhile and at good prices (recommend the real / western Penestenan village for paintings and Mas for wood carvings). A few hawkers but generally not so aggressive and no drug / sex sellers to speak of. A generally very laid back and friendly atmosphere, a chance to get to know real Balinese.
Pluses: Often described as the "Real Bali" as rightfully so. Prices for cheap tourist art generally much lower here than in the beach areas further south. A good base for getting out to see the often spectacular Balinese countryside and local crafts villages. Plenty of activities, plenty of authentic Balinese food, often much cooler than the resort areas further south.
Minuses: Very few though chose your hotel area wisely as some parts of Ubud (e.g. Monkey Forest Road) may appeal more to young singles and couples. Ubud often "enjoys" sustained torrential downpours during the low / wet season.


Nusa Dua

Nusa Dua is a mass tourism enclave which is about as Balinese as McDonalds. The Balinese are actually restricted from entering Nusa Dua including the beaches, which are meant to be public by law. Most of the hotels are managed by western hotel groups but owned in part or full by members of the Suharto family via anonymous jakarta based proxy companies; their father's regime murdered thousands of innocent Balinese and requisitioned this land and elsewhere at knock down prices by abusing compulsory purchase legislation.
Pluses: The company of thousands of other deluded tourists who believe they are experiencing Bali and the false feeling of comfort all their combined bleating brings.
Minuses: Overpriced restaurants, shops and bars. Overrated accommodations. Bland food "favored" with MSG. The vast majority of your tourist dollars leave Bali. The realization that many of the hotel staff are Javanese. The realization that every Asian guest to a man staying at the same resort as you does so at a vastly lower room rate (probably 50% lower); the real rate before it gets hyped along with the actual quality of the hotels.


Seminyak to Canggu

Seminyak, OK yah! Lots of designer (often illegal) villas, bespoke luxury resorts and lauded restaurants. A bit remote for many given the number of neighbors hardly makes Seminyak a "Balinese get away from it all" any longer. Where Seminyak adjoins Legian, there is some shopping and other tourist facilities, otherwise an over-developed green zone which has lost its sparkle. Great beach but highly dangerous waves and rip tides makes walking a pleasure, swimming suicidal.
Pluses: Generally upmarket with a huge range of accommodation styles and choice, relatively close proximity wise to shopping in Kuta and Legian. Great beach with large waves breaking almost yearly. Some of the more upmarket restaurants in Bali.
Minuses: Pretentious expatriates and visitors frequently spoil the atmosphere in restaurants; some restaurants are pretentious anyway; some upmarket restaurants have hygiene problem allegations (allegedly diners contracting cholera once in one) proving well cooked food is better then many forms of haute cuisine in the tropics. Building zone heaven (villas gone mad). Many villas here have been built illegally and operate without the necessary licenses, so you may come unstuck if you are not careful.



Amed is actually comprised of a number of villages on the Eastern coast of Bali. Once a destination for hippies and backpackers eager for the delights of a thatched bungalow in Bali's hottest (temperature wise) area, now home to a large and often exceptionally good low to middle price range number of bespoke hotels and villas. Very little to do besides relax, dive and snorkel, the land here is very poor which means there are very few palm trees to shade the ground from the scorching sun. Amed is not only the hottest but also driest part of bali, which does make it a good choice for tourists during the wet / low season, although expect humidity.
Pluses: A generally unspoiled area of Bali with very few rowdy tourists and no hawkers, etc. A good base for scuba and trips to some of the more remote areas of Bali, including the Water Palace and handmade cloth producing areas famous for songket and ikat. Very laid back, very quiet. Clear calm sea waters with frequent dolphin pod and whale school sightings. Very good locally caught seafood restaurants.
Minuses: A long way from the shops! For some, too hot and / or quiet. Nondescript, small black sand beaches.



Candidasa is an area of small villages collectively known as Candidasa. Favored by those who want to avoid the excesses of Kuta, the corporate generic nature of Nusa Dua and the hawkers of Sanur and Lovina. Some shopping and a smattering of restaurants mean guests are not totally beholden to their chosen hotel. Most of the cheap beachfront bungalow operations have now been bought out by group hoteliers, so it has lost its once unique status.
Pluses: Much more laid back than Kuta and much cleaner sea water than Sanur. Fairly tranquil if, and it is a big if, you are not on the noisy dangerous main road. Candidasa is an excellent base for one of the most picturesque areas of Bali and where much of the traditional arts, crafts and fabrics are made. As long as you do not require long stretches of sandy beaches, Candi has some very good ocean views if you chose your hotel right.
Minuses: There is not much of anything in "Candi" and it has one of the most eroded beaches in Bali, to the point the beach is nonexistent in most places. Blame this on the selfish construction industry a few years ago who thought it would be a great idea to use the coral reef for cement to build the local oil tanker terminal (thankfully far enough away from Candidasa). If you need an example of why it is important to be pro-Balinese and environmentally friendly, Candi beach (or the void that now replaces it) is it.


Tanjung Benoa

On the peninsula up from Nusa Dua, what used to be a fishing village but has now given over to hotels and water sports while still retaining some balinese authenticity. A long strip of often seriously eroded coastline, due to the fact they stripped the sea of the coral reefs for cement to build hotels only to see the sand wash away as a result. Not a bad place to come and relax by the beach (what there is of it) however.
Pluses: A good choice of hotels many owned by Balinese. Prices generally much lower than Nusa Dua and with some authentic restaurants to chose from. Sea breezes normally make the climate ideal.
Minuses: The other side of the peninsula is a well known illegal effluence dumping ground (together with a huge sewerage treatment plant) which causes problems when the wind is from the wrong direction and also encourages disease carrying mosquitoes. Suffers from aircraft noise.


Jimbaran Bay

Jimbaran has everything from low to super high budget accommodations and a fairly attractive beach / bay. Famed for its beach restaurants, most of the seafood coming from well out to sea (because of pollution issues with local waters) and Java (there is no such thing as lobster from Bali). Still retaining some authenticity, it is very convenient for the airport.
Pluses: Indian Ocean breezes, fantastic sunsets and a laid back atmosphere generally free from the lad / red-neck culture that afflicts Kuta the other side of the airport. Some genuinely good value high quality accommodations.
Minuses: Cheating often dangerously so fish restaurants (putting lead in fish where you pay by weight is common, so is switching from the fish you chose to something a little older), aircraft noise, no worthwhile shopping, everything spread out, not much to do.



Again, a former backpacker destination but now with a good range of middle range hotels and villas. Not the best beach in the world and suffers enormously from dirt, aggressive beach hawkers and a thriving child sex industry; Lovina is an official pedophile black spot although foreign tourist family groups need fear nothing for their children, just the local residents. Lovina has a single central area for shops and bars which can get a bit busy and boisterous, but nothing like Kuta. Outside the center, the line of hotel after hotel along the beach can provide for a very enjoyable and relaxing beach holiday where the hotels have got together with the local villagers to keep the beaches clean and the hawkers polite and gentle going.
Pluses: Generally good value and an excellent base to explore the unspoiled areas of Northern Bali. Some excellent low cost restaurant options including some serving very authentic Balinese and Indonesian dishes, often with local artists performing traditional dances. Generally a good range of facilities and much for for your money, mostly ending up in Balinese pockets.
Minuses: Very annoying people on an insipid beach. Some sections suffer from mosque noise. Long drive from the airport.



Near Menjangan National Park on the North Western coast of bali, Pemuteran is a small village with a limited number of hotels generally adjacent to each other on one section of the bay. Ideal for those who simply want to relax on the beach without being pestered by anyone, for those who want worthwhile off beach snorkeling and those who want a very relaxed holiday amongst everyday traditional and genuinely friendly Balinese.
Pluses: One of the very few beaches in Bali where you can relax and / or snorkel; very safe shallow waters. You walk along the beach at night to whichever restaurant you fancy; the distant fishing boats with their kerosene lamps make an excellent backdrop. Very slow pace of life, very tranquil.
Minuses: No shopping, no bar scene. People who like crowds will not like Pemuteran.


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