After over 5 weeks in Bali, we're finally settling down from the buzz of a long trip. Bali is truly filled with such a vast variety of choices, catering to almost every kind of tourist. But, as a result, it can be hard to navigate where you should be for the type of trip you want to have.
Having had the chance to reflect, we would have spent less time in some areas and more in others during our trip.. So we made a comparison guide to the areas of Bali, helping you choose which one is the best for you.
To help get a grip on how one area compares to another, we've outlined how much there is to do, how walkable an area is and whether it's more a budget or luxury destination.
A good starting point if you're arriving on a late flight, as it's a convenient 20 minute ride from the airport. About 2 nights here would suffice to see everything, plus any time that you're planning on just chilling at your hotel and pool.
Top things to do here include having a grilled seafood dinner on the beach and chilling at your hotel. Jimbaran does serve as a nice base if you're planning on exploring the southern tip of Bali (Uluwatu area), done best by scooter or hiring yourself a driver.
Jimbaran has one main high street, from which you can access the main attractions, the beach, and grilled seafood restaurants. Where you stay will depend on your budget.
Overall this area of Bali is well priced compared to its cousins on the southern tip of Bali, and you can find the likes of trusted brands here like the Intercontinental, which is located right on the beach.
Or save a bit of money and stay at the Sintesa Jimbaran Bali, which offers 4* comfort at good prices and has a free return shuttle bus to the center of town and the beach.
A luxury resort stay vacationer's dream, Nusa Dua is the go-to if you want to escape the chaos of Bali and lock yourself in the St. Regis or any other world-class resort, all of which are plentiful here.
There is not that much to do overall, unless you're planning on spending all your time at a great hotel (which is awesome too) you can give this one a skip.
In this area of Bali, things like taxis, drivers and excursions here will be more expensive, due to local rules that prohibit apps like Grab.
Probably our favourite area of Bali, Seminyak boasts in all things to do.
From world class restaurants and beach clubs (our fav!), to budget friendly hostels and local warungs for food, the place really has it all.
The "center" is compared to other parts of Bali relatively walkable, which makes for a nice change. You can walk around, enjoy some shopping and stop at multiple awesome cafe's.
Plus, there is good connections between the airport and other parts of Bali to do tours, so it's a good place to base yourself for a while.
The accomodation options are plentiful, meaning you can get a pretty good deal on your stay.
The hotel we stayed during our trip unfortunately didn't have great service, which is why we won't be recommending them, but here are a few other great options:
The W Bali Seminyak - a tried and trusted luxury brand, with exceptional grounds right on the beach.
Seminyak is also full of private villas, so this might be a good option too.
The cultural capital in the mountains, go to Ubud for spa time, eating, shopping, exploring the jungle and the north of Bali. If you have the time, stay in the village, from which you can walk the center. It is also good for getting tours like cooking classes or for exploring the north of Bali and its volcano. If you have the budget, splurge on a luxury resort to receive the best spa treatment's you'll ever experience. This area of Bali is also known for yoga retreats overlooking the jungle.
Between staying in the village, doing tours and staying at a spa resort anywhere from 4-7 nights here is good.
Places to stay in this area of Bali:
The Udaya Resort & Spa - The place to splurge on 5* experiences and pamper yourself. The hotel is far in the jungle, so go here if you intend to spend time at the hotel.
Element by Westin - an excellent choice if you want comfort at affordable prices. The hotel has recently opened (2019) and has free shuttle service to the center of Ubud you can schedule.
Artotel Haniman Ubud - a budgeteers dream, the hotel has excellent clean, modern, new facilities for what you're paying, and is located central in the village, meaning you can walk most places and explore on foot. Plus, the hotel serves breakfast at the hip coffee roasting cafe next door (somewhere you'd probably choose to eat at anyway!)
A true getaway tropical vacation spot, Nusa Lembongan will have you feeling like you're on your own island. It has way less tourists than mainland Bali, but still enough infrastructure (compared to the other islands) to make your travel and stay comfortable.
You can rent scooters, explore some on foot, or use the hotel's provided shuttle services to get around.
Apart from a few larger hotels, its more of a relaxed island vibe, so most accommodation options are little beach cabins dotted throughout the island.
We had such a great experience staying at Mamamia Island Vila, which is a small family run business. They have about 10 villas which are new and have all the amenities you need. The breakfast is AWESOME and you'll be locating yourself on a convenient part of the island, being able to walk to the main attraction the Devil's tear or Dream Beach.
If you're planning on exploring the neighboring islands like Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida, stay here for 3-4 nights for total relaxation!
For those looking to disconnect - this area of Bali is perfect for you. Still relatively undeveloped, most people come in on day trips to see the stunning landmarks the island has to offer.
Roads are a nightmare (by car or scooter) so unless you're an adrenaline junky, we recommend sticking to getting a driver. Even then, you'll be hanging on for life in the car as it bumps along the narrow rough roads.
(Sorry, it's true)
But, if you're comfortable on a scooter and undeveloped roads don't scare you, you can opt to stay overnight here with mainly budget options available.
The island is very much on the up though, which means in a few year's time, this might be a different story.
Still, there are definitely things worth seeing here, and I have a feeling it won't be the same in 2020...
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