The magical island of Bali has so much to offer, from rice fields to volcanoes, to waterfalls, to beautiful beaches, to temples, and amazing restaurants and bars. Traveling to Bali for the first time requires some proper planning because the island itself is huge and it’s hard to choose which area to stay in to fit everything you want to do during your tropical vacation.

After several trips to Bali, I’ve put together an informative travel guide to help you choose where to stay in Bali and the top places to visit. The good news is that you can travel Bali on a budget and still enjoy an affordable luxury vacation.

Best Time to Visit Bali

Bali has warm weather year-round with 2 main seasons, the dry season (April to September) and the wet season (October to March). During the wet season, it rains almost every day, but usually for a couple of hours, after which everything looks even more green. It does, however, get very hot and humid as well.

Avoid a trip to Bali in February, because it rains heavily every day and it can ruin some of your outdoor activities.

The high season is July/August which is the peak of the dry season, but the island gets extremely overcrowded and hotel prices surge pretty high compared to other months. The best months to visit Bali are May, June, and September when you can enjoy the beautiful weather without the crowds.

where to stay in Bali

Best Places To Stay in Bali

This is the most confusing part for first-time visitors, because each area offers a completely different experience than others.

Best Areas to Stay in Bali

1. Kuta – for surfers & party lovers

Where to stay in Kuta Bali

Kuta has become the most popular beach area in Bali and one of the first parts of the island that started development for mass tourism. The area is especially famous for surfing, with several long stretches of beaches and perfect waves year-round. It’s also heaven for party lovers, because it’s filled with lots of bars, clubs, and beach clubs that throw some amazing parties.

Positives: great place for surfing, partying, and finding affordable backpacker style accommodation
Negatives: overcrowded with tourists, lots of construction and beaches have become quite polluted

2. Seminyak – for sunset beach bars, luxury restaurants, and shopping

where to stay in Seminyak

Seminyak is a great area to be based in, because it’s very central and has great beaches, some of the best restaurants in Bali, beautiful sunset beach bars, and loads of accommodations options ranging from budget to luxury. It also has an amazing shopping area with very hip boutiques selling everything from typical souvenirs to trendy clothing, accessories, and beachwear.

Positives: the perfect place for affordable luxury accommodation, amazing bars & restaurants, great shopping
Negatives: a bit overcrowded, pricier than other cities in Bali, very commercialized

3. Canggu – for laid-back boho-chic beach lovers

Where to stay in Canggu

Canggu is the new kid on the block. It’s an up-and-coming area located next to Seminyak and has officially become my favorite area to stay in the South of Bali. It’s still not swarming with tourists vs. the neighboring areas of Seminyak and Kuta but is very central at the same time. The area is home to surfer beaches, rice fields, and gorgeous villas. Don’t forget to pay a visit to one of the many cute and stylish cafes in Canggu.

Positives: stunning views of rice fields, affordable private villas, great cafes & restaurants, not too commercialized
Negatives: a bit calmer than other areas and online taxis or bikes are not allowed

4. Uluwatu – upscale clifftop resorts and beach clubs

Where to stay in Uluwatu

This area is famous for the Uluwatu clifftop temple and has several luxury resorts and beautiful beaches. It is much calmer than other Bali towns and is perfect for spending a night or two.

Positives: Amazing luxury resorts with views of the Indian Ocean, great beaches, peace, and serenity
Negatives: secluded and an hour drive from the main area in Seminyak, pricier than other areas

5. Ubud – for serenity, stunning nature and peaceful getaways

Where to stay in Ubud

Ubud is by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in my travels. It’s also the cultural hub of Bali with so many artists and local craftsmen. It’s the kind of place that will give you a sense of serenity like no other.

In Ubud, you will come across endless rice fields, monkeys, temples, waterfalls, and volcanoes. You’ll see locals dressed in their colorful prayer clothes with baskets on their heads which are offerings to their Gods.  They are the friendliest and kindest locals you can ever meet.

My advice is to rent a scooter and get lost in the area. Don’t just stick to the main tourist areas, but just take a map and chase some of the lesser-known waterfalls and temples.

Positives: one of the most peaceful places you can visit, rice fields, temples, monkeys, waterfalls, kind locals
Negatives: 2 hours away from the beach areas, not much to do at night

6. Nusa Dua – for family getaways and water sports

Where to stay in Nusa Dua Bali

Nusa Dua is the perfect place for a family getaway with loads of all-inclusive resorts. It’s also one of the best regions of Bali for water sports and activities, such as diving, snorkeling, and parasailing.

Positives: a great family spot and perfect for water sport lovers
Negatives: far from the main areas in Bali and more difficult

7. North Bali – for a quiet escape surrounded by stunning natural landscapes

How to Get to North Bali

If you’re looking to discover the less touristy areas of Bali, then North Bali is heavenly. The most beautiful waterfalls, rice fields, and volcano views are actually in North Bali. The locals are even nicer in this region and there are really affordable hotels with private pools. I highly recommend staying in Munduk and visiting Sekumpul Waterfall.

Positives: Untouched nature, friendly locals, little to no tourists
Negatives: Far away from everything else

8. Sanur – for a relaxing beach getaway

Sanur has some very relaxing beaches that are great for families. There isn’t much to do in the area other than hanging out in your beach resort. The town itself is pretty small, but you can still find lots of spas and restaurants.

Positives: Relaxing atmosphere
Negatives: Not much to do other than laying on the beach

How Many Days to Spend in Bali

Spend 4 to 5 nights in either Seminyak or Canggu, followed by 3 to 4 nights in Ubud.

Seminyak & Canggu are located right next to each other and from these 2 areas, you can visit Kuta, Uluwatu and Nusa Dua.

Ubud is quite far from everything else, so it’s best to spend a few nights there instead of just doing a day trip, because there is so much to see and do in the area. The best waterfalls and the most stunning temples are closer to Ubud, so it would be easier to base yourself there to discover other areas on your Bali trip.

North Bali is great if you have more than 10 days in Bali and have the time to spend at least 2 nights there. It usually takes around 2-3 hours to get there from either Ubud or Canggu/Seminyak.


Affordable Hotels In Bali

The next big decision on where to stay in Bali is choosing a hotel, but don’t worry I’ve done the research for you and I’ve put together the best hotels to stay in Bali with a private pool for under $150 a night.

Bali Hotel Guide

You can travel to Bali on a budget and take advantage of the affordable accommodation options. Enjoy luxury hotels in Bali with stunning views without paying the high rates in other destinations.


Where To Go in Bali

Top Bali Temples

Tannah Lot, Uluwatu, Saraswati (Ubud), Purah Besakih (The Mother Temple), Ulun Danu Beratan, Tirta Empul Temple

Tanah Lot Bali
Tanah Lot
Pura Besakih Bali
Pura Besakih
Ulun Danu Beratan Bali
Ulun Danu Beratan
Saraswati Temple Bali
Saraswati Temple

Most Beautiful Rice Fields

Tegallalang Rice Fields Ubud, panoramic views from Mahagiri Restaurant, Jatiluwih, Belimbing

Tegelalang rice terraces
Tegelalang rice terraces
Mahagiri Bali
Mahagiri Restaurant

Top Waterfalls

Tegenungan (Ubud), Secret Waterfall (Tukad Cepung), Aling Aling, Gitgit, Sekumpul

Tegenungan Bali
Tegenungan Waterfall
Secret Waterfall Bali
Secret Waterfall

Yoga classes

The Yoga Barn, Radiantly Alive (try the swing yoga here), Seminyak Yoga Shala

Shopping Areas in Bali

Seminyak is great for trendy boutiques and stylish finds. Ubud Market has an amazing selection of local arts, crafts, souvenirs, and cheap finds for clothing and accessories.

Massages

You can get cheap massages literally everywhere in Bali. There are loads of spas on every street and prices start from as low as $8 for a 1-hour massage.

Monkey Forest Bali

Get ready to be surrounded by hundreds of adorable monkeys! You do however need to be very careful because these little cuties are very cheeky and can get quite aggressive if provoked.

Here’s a quick monkey forest survival guide:

a) Remove all food and drink from your bag

b) Don’t touch the monkeys

c) Don’t look them in the eye

d) If you see them fighting don’t get close to them

e) If you decide to feed them bananas (which you can purchase inside) they will most probably climb on you, so don’t touch them. Just let them eat their banana and leave.

f) If they sit on you there is a slight chance they might pee (it happened to me!), so go with an open mind and enjoy!

2022 update: you are no longer allowed to feed the monkeys inside. The number of monkeys you can see is significantly lower than before. If you’re looking for that perfect photo with a monkey on your shoulder, it is not even more difficult to get it. Because the food supply is now much lower, monkeys have become quite aggressive. Enter the forest with caution and follow all the rules to stay safe. 

Monkey Forest Bali

Volcano trekking in Bali

Watching the sunrise from Mount Batur is an incredible experience. The hike will take approximately 2 hours uphill and another 2.5 hours downhill, but it’s well worth it. You will also have to wake up in the middle of the night at 2 AM to start your journey and catch the sunrise on time. It’s best to book a tour ahead of time.

Top beaches in Bali

Kuta, Canggu, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Seminyak, Jimbaran, Benoa Beach (for water sports)

best time to travel to bali
Benoa Beach

Bali Beach Clubs

Potato Head Beach Club, Finn’s Beach Club, Sundays Beach Club, Kudeta, The Lawn

Bali travel guide
Potato Head Beach Club
travelling to bali
Sunday’s Beach Club

Bali Swing

There are 2 spots where you can ride a swing with epic views in the background and both are located quite close to each other in Ubud.

There’s one located in an Airbnb property called Zen Hideaway and you will have to message them directly to make sure you can pay a visit on your chosen day, because if the property is booked, they don’t allow outsiders to come inside just for the swing. The other one is called Bali Swing and there’s a small entrance fee of $2 plus a $20 fee to try 3 different swings. It’s quite pricey, but definitely a cool experience.

2022 update: there are now swings pretty much everywhere in Bali, including the Tegelalang Rice Terraces (several swings) and a really nice one in Tegenungan Waterfall. 

Bali Swing
Bali Swing
Bali Swing other activities

Bali Food Guide

Bali breakfast spots & cafes

Revolver, Sea Circus, Nalu Bowls, Bali Bowls, Strawberry Fields, Milk & Madu, Livingstone, The Loft

Bali Travel guide for first timers
Revolver Coffee Shop
Where to eat in Bali
Strawberry Fields
Where to eat in Bali
Milk & Madu
Livingstone Bali
Livingstone
Best Cafes Bali
The Loft Bali

Bali’s Best Lunch Spots

Nook, Peloton Supershop (Vegan), La Finca, Deus Ex Machina, Betelnut, The Bistrot, Sari Organik, Cafe Pomegranate

Bali Rice fields nook
Nook Restaurant
Peloton Bali
Peloton
visit bali
The Bistrot
Ubud Rice Fields
View from Sari Organik

Top dinner restaurants in Bali

Mamasan, Bambu, Merah Putih, Sardine, Ginger Moon, Motel Mexicola (book in advance for these popular dinner spots)

Motel Mexico Bali Restaurant Bar
Motel Mexicola

Sunset bars

Watch the sunset in Bali from these trendy bars: La Laguna, Woobar, Old Man’s, Rock Bar, Single Fin, Seminyak Beach (several beach bars with bean bags).

La Plancha Bali
La Plancha
Sunset Spots Bali
La Laguna
Travel Guide Bali
Old Man’s

Others: Tukies Ice Cream shop in Ubud for the best coconut ice cream, Anomali Coffee for coffee blends from all over Indonesia

travel to bali indonesia
Tukies Ice Cream Shop

Is Bali Safe to Visit?

I’ve traveled alone all over Bali and I never felt unsafe. The Balinese are very kind and helpful in case you face any issues during your trip. As the island has become more popular over the last few years, there are some people trying to take advantage of tourists. You can easily avoid these common tourist traps by being aware of them.

Make sure to exchange your money only in “authorized” money exchanges that have cameras installed inside, because there are loads of unauthorized places that can scam you right in from of your eyes. The exchanges all look similar, but authorized ones have cameras and will always give you a receipt.

There is a very popular money scam in Bali, where the person in the exchange would be counting your money in front of you, but secretly throwing a few bills into their drawer. They do it so fast that you cannot see it.

It has happened to me before and thankfully I realized what they had done right after I left. I came back to the exchange and demanded my money back. After half an hour of arguing, I dialed the police number on my phone and they were so scared that they gave me my money back.

What to do in case you get scammed on your Bali trip: take a local with you back to the money exchange. It could be a driver or someone from your hotel that can speak the language. Demand to get your money back and tell them that you will call the police. In case this doesn’t work, you can file a report at the station.

Bali Travel Tips

Currency

The main currency in Bali is Indonesian Rupees (IDR) and it’s best to always have cash with you because lots of places don’t accept credit cards (mainly in the markets). More upscale restaurants and boutiques do accept credit cards, but a lot of them might charge you a 3% fee for paying with your card.

You don’t need to carry a lot of cash while travelling to Bali. There are loads of ATMs on almost every street. You can also find them in most 24-hour supermarkets.

Language

Indonesian is the main language in Bali, but lots of people speak English in tourist areas. It’s generally very easy to communicate with the locals, especially because they are so welcoming and helpful.

Transportation

Motorbikes and Scooters

Bali is a very crowded island and traffic jams are unbearable sometimes. The best and most affordable way to get around is on the back of a scooter. There are several transportation apps that you can download and the best ones are: Go-Jek and Grab. Both of these have the option of ordering a scooter. The driver will arrive and give you a helmet to wear. Rides normally cost around only 1$!

You can also rent a scooter if you feel confident enough to drive in the madness. Scooter rentals cost 50,000 IDR ($3.3).

Taxis in Bali

There are 3 different types of taxis:

a) Local taxi drivers: these are drivers that you can find pretty much on every crowded street. They will try to charge you a very overpriced fixed fee, which you can negotiate most of the time. do not like the transportation ap

b) Transportation apps: Go-Jek and Grab both have taxi options, but local taxi drivers do not like the online apps and have banned them in a lot of areas such as central Canggu or Seminyak. The online apps are so much cheaper (usually 1/3 of the price), so you might see signs in different places saying “No Grab or Go-Jek”. You can still try ordering the taxi but the driver might call you and tell you to avoid looking at your phone when he’s picking you up so that the local drivers don’t notice what you’re doing.

2022 update: Some of the drivers might call you and ask for an additional fee (on top of the rate you see on your phone). If they do that, cancel your ride and order a different car.

c) Metered taxis: these are blue cars that you can find on the street with the name “Bluebird”. Just make sure the drivers turn on the meter, because a lot of them will try to ask for a fixed price which is usually much more than what you would pay for a metered fare.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where is the best area to stay in Bali?

The best areas to stay in Bali are: Ubud, Seminyak, Canggu, Uluwatu, and Kuta. It’s best to divide your time and stay a few nights in the top 2 to 3 areas to visit the most beautiful places in Bali.

What is the safest place to stay in Bali?

Uluwatu, Sanur, and Ubud are the safest places to stay in Bali. The more touristy Bali towns like Kuta, Seminyak & Canggu are less safe mainly because of petty crimes and theft.

Where to stay in bali