Updated: Mar 2
There are so many amazing places to visit in Bali. One of the great things about Bali is the close proximity and diversity of experiences on offer. Whether you're interested in a sunrise volcano hike, watching a traditional fire dance set against the backdrop of a mountain top, surfing some fantasic waves or testing out experimental moves on the dance floor everything in Bali is only a short distance away. You will most likely be arriving by plane in Denpasar airport towards the south of the island. What I'll try to do in this post rather than going into detail on each area or creating a specific itinerary is to highlight some of the most popular places in Bali and surrounding islands to give you a flavour of what you can expect from that area to help you create your own itinerary. You're still thinking about your new experimental dance moves aren't you?
Image source: https://www.bali.com/map.html
Seminyak: Seminyak is located approximately 10km from Denpasar airport. It is one of the more up market areas of Bali with beaches including Seminyak and Double Six Beach. Seminyak contains an enviable variety of restaurants, bars and beach clubs. Potato Head Beach Club is located in Seminyak, which given the name, as an Irishman I felt obliged to visit. Accommodation options vary from homestays to private villas and high end resorts. It's reputation is that of being a little more 'bourgeoisie' than it's noisier neighbour Kuta.
Kuta: Just south of Seminyak lies the resort of Kuta. Popular with Australians all year round
and boasting one of the longest beaches in Bali, Kuta is a magnet for party goers and surfers alike. If nightlife is high on your agenda then Kuta is somewhere you may want to pop on your itinerary. Beginner and Intermediate surfing is also popular on Kuta Beach with lessons on offer daily. Accommodation is generally more affordable here in comparison to Seminyak.
Canggu: Spending time in Canggu is comparable to spending time sipping White Russians with 'The Dude' Lebowski. Surreal, hip and above all else laid back, Canggu strikes me as where the rebellious spirit of Freetown Christiania in Denmark meets the aesthetic of Baywatch. Surfing is the most popular activity in the area but there is still plenty for all to enjoy. Independent cafés and excellent restaurants line the streets and some of the best beach clubs on the island also are within touching distance of Canggu. La Brisa and Finns Beach Club being two of the more popular spots. If one thing I'm certain of, Canggu will certainly leave an impression on you. We visited a retired Japanese woman who has created a sanctuary for over 100 rescue cats and a bar owner who following our conversation proceeded to pop his two large huskies on his scooter and drive off into the sunset. The Dude abides.
Uluwatu: Further south than the central spots above, Uluwatu offers a more tranquil experience to Seminyak, Kuta or Canggu. This is where you want to book yourself into a cliff side resort offering sensational views of the sea and get stuck into one of the many books you bought for the trip but won't get time to read. Uluwatu is place to rejuvenate with quieter, more pristine beaches than some of the more popular spots. My personal favourite is Bingin beach. While in Bali you will probably be offered many opportunities to view a traditional fire dance known as Kecak but Uluwatu Temple is one of the only places where you can view one against the backdrop of the sunset on a mountain top. Visually, the views from Uluwatu temple are nothing short of breathtaking. Just be careful to look after your belongings as the resident monkeys will lift them in an attempt to barter them back with the staff for food.
Ubud: At the cultural heart of Bali in the Gianyar region lies Ubud. It is difficult to imagine a trip to Bali without visiting Ubud. Readers/Viewers of the Eat, Pray, Love will be familiar the spiritual smorgasbord on offer. Yoga classes, spas, serene rice terraces, street markets, art galleries, a monkey forest (yes, a forest full of monkeys), coffee houses and excellent local food. Ubud encapsulates the spirit of Bali. For these reasons Ubud is one of the most heavily visited areas of Bali. Traffic congestion and busy streets are a regular occurrence however that won't matter once you've just had your spine realigned in the Yoga Barn and are covered in essential oils still regaining your senses from your 90 minute Balinese massage. Namaste.