A world famous touristic hub, Bali offers a gigantic panel of activities and attractions for travelers to visit and enjoy. There is so much to do in the Island that most of travelers don’t even bother preparing their journey as they intend to simply go with the flow. But landing in Ngurah Rai airport, which way will you head to get the best experiences that will make your Bali vacation one to remember? Are you certain to know what is the best place in Bali for you to stay? Let’s get organized and analyze what the Island of Gods has to offer region by region, so that you end up in the right spots!
Hectic and fun South of Bali
As crowded as it gets, the South of Bali can be at times a caricature of mass tourism in South-East Asia, especially if you end up in Legian street on a Friday night. Bali’s reputation as a party island comes from the hundred of bars, clubs, and restaurants that you will find around Kuta and Seminyak. From the cheap, and sometimes creepy, local bars of Sanur, to the trendy, and often pricey, new clubs in Oberoi, it would take you years to try them all but you might want to stop in some of them to get a sense of Bali nightlife. Although the south coast nowadays tends to be monopolized by clubbers, the legendary vibe surrounding the iconic Kuta Beach is still alive and the place remains a pilgrimage for surfers as well as a place for beginners to take a surf lesson. However, experienced surfers will rather follow the coast to Canggu and enjoy much more testy spots in Echo and Berawa Beach. Kuta is also the place for family recreational activities in Bali, and the likes of Waterbom, the biggest water park in the Island, keep them fresh and entertained.
Yet a realer facet of Bali is within reach as a little further west is situated the scenic temple of Tanah Lot, while the local charm of the capital city’s streets is unveiled in this Half Day Denpasar City Tour. Jimbaran and the Bukit Peninsula are also attracting tourists southward to Uluwatu Temple. Standing off scenic cliffs it remains a big time favorite for travelers in Bali as the area is also famous worldwide for being a surfing paradise.
Wild wild West of Bali
Mainly covered by a protected reserve, the western part of the Island is the least populated and the least visited region of Bali. Unless you are taking the southern route leading to Gilimanuk, the departure point for ferries to Java, you shouldn’t be bothered by fellow visitors while hanging in the greenest area of Bali. On the south coast, the challenging waves of Medewi and Balian offer great playgrounds for surfers, while in the North, small towns like Pemuteran feature a relaxing scenery of beaches and a rather placid sea to snorkel or dive. Divers will want to go further north and reach the uninhabited Island of Nusa Menjangan, one of the best diving spots in Bali. The Island is part of the West Bali National Park (Bali’s only national park), where protected species and animals are kept in good shape in their natural environment, and going for a Jeep Expedition will bring you right in the middle of it.
Artistic, zen and traditional Central Bali
The geographic centre of Bali is also its cultural hotspot. Once a relatively quiet town, Ubud has become a hectic market place for arts as well as the vibrant capital of the Balinese culture. Many tours bring you to visit its Galleries and Museum or to enjoy its Balinese Dance shows. West of Ubud is located the UNESCO Cultural Landscape site of Jatiluwih and its picturesque rice terraces that inspire both the artists and the travelers willing to relax or looking to reconnect with their body and soul. No wonder that you find in this area a handful of Spa facilities providing Pure Balinese Massage and refined body cares. The region also features Bali’s Monkey Forest where long-tailed macaques are having fun with the tourists, so make sure to pick one Private Ubud Tour that brings you there. Driving north of Ubud you will find strawberry fields along the way to Bedugul, where the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple (situated on a mountain lake) is waiting for you. The place is also home of the largest botanical garden in Indonesia and even offers fun adventures in the trees.
Underrated North of Bali
Have you heard of Munduk, Seririt, Singaraja or Dencarik? Not the more obvious destinations that come to mind when picking the best place in Bali to spend your vacation time. Don’t cast them aside too quickly though: these spots could offer off-the-beaten-track opportunities, starting with the charming town of Munduk, unveiling a splendid early morning view over the eastern part of Java and its volcanoes. From this quiet and typical village you will reach the capital city of Buleleng regency, Singaraja, passing by the natural waterfalls of Gitgit where plenty of local guides offer to bring visitors deep in the tropical forest.
Singaraja is not your average touristic destination but is worth your interest if you’re curious to see the imprint of the Dutch colonial era that remains palpable in the city. More famous along the coast is the site of Lovina. Lovina is a name that speaks to diving and snorkeling lovers and also offers great dolphins show in the calm sea of northern Bali. Finally, the Buddhist temple of Braham Arama Vihara in Dencarik is an unfairly forgotten monastery with architecture reminiscent of the Borobudur temple in Central Java.
Authentic and volcanic East of Bali
The Eastern region of Bali might be the most diverse one. First and foremost, it is the best place to meet the original inhabitants of Bali. They are around 3000, speak their own dialect, and are the descendents of the original people of Bali (while other Balinese are in fact coming from Hindu-Javanese migration waves). Their name is “Bali Aga” and you will witness their way of life by visiting the village of Tenganan. Between Ubud and the coast, the city of Klungkung was the capital of the most powerful kingdom in the whole island and the place still showcases a palace as a testimony of this great past. Another facet of East Bali is the sea-coast made of charming and peaceful villages like the fishing port of Candidasa, a few kilometers north of Padang Bai, the main harbor gateway to Lombok and the trendy Gili Islands. Further north, the coastal road will lead you to a spectacular strip of fishing villages called Amed. In there you can have quality relaxing time, but also dive and discover the beautiful coral formations. From the beaches of Amed you will face the huge mountain Agung, challenging you to discover yet another aspect of Eastern Bali: active volcanoes. The two main volcanoes in Bali – Agung and Batur- are located in the Eastern region and offer impressive sceneries for trekkers eager to climb on top of them. While Mount Agung trekking is an extremely challenging experience that will lead you to the highest peak of Bali, witnessing the sunrise on top of Mount Batur is a more accessible goal and will reward you with amazing views of the caldera and the crater lake.
From the highest mountain peak down to the lowest sea bed and from crowded bars to quiet temples, Bali offers a unique mix of nature, culture, well-being and entertainment. Travelling in such a diverse island and immersing into the rich local life will make your journey a very personal and fulfilling one, across the regional borders of the Bali map.