Where to Stay in Bali: Advice from an expat in Bali about the best places to stay in Bali, Indonesia! (Plus 21 Bali hotel ideas for your vacation!)
We created this guide in collaboration with Bali-based expat Gina Rubino, and we’re happy she agreed to share her passion and knowledge of Bali as our local destination expert for this Where to Stay in Bali Guide!
When I first visited Bali in November 2016, I had no plans on staying permanently. Fast forward to six months later, and I have no plans of leaving.
The Island of the Gods, as it is commonly referred to, was recently awarded the title of Top Vacation Destination for 2017 by Trip Advisor, and it’s really not hard to see why.
Bali is a magical place, full of beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, amazing cuisine and friendly people. Each area of the island caters to a different crowd, so whether you’re here to work (aside from a holiday destination, it has also fast become a hub for the digital nomads of the world), to play, or to reconnect with your inner-self through yoga and meditation, Bali truly has something for everyone.
Where to Stay in Bali: Our Picks for the 5 Best Areas to Stay in Bali, Indonesia
- South Bali
- Canggu: A surfers’ paradise, Canggu is a popular area with a laid-back and hipster vibe. If you love the idea of breakfasts filled with avocado toasts and acai bowls, Canggu’s numerous cute cafés has you covered. Thanks to its beautiful beaches, nice boutique shops, and relaxed vibe, it’s not only surfers who will fall in love with Canggu. Canggu is north of the much busier Seminyak, but less than 10 km away, making it convenient to visit.
- Seminyak: Seminyak is the busiest area in Bali, and a good area to choose if it’s your first time visiting this beautiful island. The area is filled with plenty of upscale and mid-range hotel, beach clubs with a young and vivacious vibe, and the best restaurants in Bali. If you’re looking to have a good time and party, Seminyak is where the main clubs and cocktail bars are located, making it the best place to stay in Bali for nightlife lovers and first-timers looking for an introduction to this beautiful island. Seminyak is south of Canggu on Bali’s south-west coast.
- Central Bali
- Ubud: Considered the spiritual center of the Island, in Ubud you can find plenty of yoga schools, healing centers, vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and hipster cafès. Ubud is mostly known for its rice terraces and its temples, and makes a great area to be based if you prefer the countryside to the sea. That’s right: Ubud is not on the coast.
- Off the Beaten Path
- Uluwatu: Tourism is growing in Uluwatu, located on the southwest Bukit peninsula of the island, but it’s still a quieter area than Seminyak and Canggu. Offering breathtakingly rugged landscapes with cliffs, and waves that will make surfers happy, Uluwatu is an area with a laid-back vibe and a famous temple perched on a cliff.
- Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Penida: If you are looking for some relaxing time away from the crowds, choose either Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida for a quiet beach stay. These two islands, located a short boat ride away from the main island, offer secluded beaches, silence, and good food. For those who are truly looking to get away from it all, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida might be the best spots to stay in Bali!
South Bali: Canggu & Seminyak
Where to Stay in Bali: Canggu
Great area for: ✓ Hip Cafès ✓ Laid-Back & Hipster Vibe ✓ Surfing ✓ Digital Nomads
Canggu is located about 20km northwest of the airport and just 11km south of Tanah Lot, a very famous temple on the water, accessible only at low tide. Canggu is a lazy surfer town with a laid-back, hipster vibe, filled with cute and cozy cafes serving smoothie bowls and smashed avocado toast for holidayers and digital nomads alike. There are also many open fields of rice terraces as well as ornate temples, which gives Canggu the feeling of ‘Old Bali meets New Bali’.
The are 3 main areas of Canggu: Batu Bolong, Berawa, and Echo Beach.
Batu Bolong is probably the most popular area for tourists. It has tons of surf shops, fashion boutiques, beach bars and local eateries. The Lawn is a great place to kick back and watch the sunset with a cocktail from the comfort of a bean bag chair. Head up the road a little bit and you will find yourself at Deus Ex Machina, a restaurant, bar, music venue, surf and motorcycle shop that combines just about everything that makes up Canggu. If you’re feeling brave, pop in on a Tuesday night and get a free tattoo with the purchase of a taco!
Batu Bolong also has a ton of trendy foodie spots serving up some seriously Instagram worthy plates. A few favorites include Avocado Cafe, Cafe Organic, and Crate Cafe.
Berawa Beach is a short drive away and home to a growing number of beach bars and even more cafes. For an epic sunset, head over to Finns Beach Club or the boho-themed La Laguna. Another Berawa favorite is Berawa’s Kitchen, a nice sized grassy courtyard that is home to 10 different stand-alone food stalls and a bar. I highly recommend trying Dorami Teriyaki and grabbing a bucket of Bintangs (a local beer) served by their incredibly friendly bar staff. There’s also a weekend market on Saturdays and live music 3 times per week.
Echo Beach is home to a beautiful temple next to the water and offers some of the best waves for advanced surfers. Along with a variety of beachside bars and eateries (Echo Beach House is a favorite), there is also a black sand beach, and it’s a great place to watch the sunset.
Want to Give Surfing a Try? Sign up for a 2 hr Surf Lesson! Hotel pick up and drop off included.
Theanna Eco Villa and Spa
Theanna Eco Villa and Spa Hotel – Combining the convenience of a villa with upscale resort luxury, this place marries sleek and modern with traditional Balinese design! Each of the 22 villas has its own outdoor dining area and kitchenette, as well as a private pool and either an outdoor/semi-outdoor shower. The villa has a spa, and guests can explore with the free shuttle to Canggu’s restaurants and beach. Located outside of Canggu’s main touristy area, Echo Beach is a 20-minute walk or 5-minute scooter ride.
Aston Canggu Beach Resort
Aston Canggu Beach Resort – A modern and spacious resort, this isn’t the place to come for traditional Balinese architecture, but don’t let that keep you away! Rooms are clean, bright and contemporary, and the sun terrace is the perfect spot for evening sunset views. Past guests mention the upstairs swimming and eating area, and friendly staff, but street-facing rooms can be a bit loud. Batu Bolong beach (2 minutes), Echo Beach (6 minutes), Berawa Beach (10 minutes) are all within walking distance.
Surf Lodge Canggu
Surf Lodge Canggu – Offering both private rooms and shared dorms, this property caters to surfing fanatics that want to ride Canggu’s waves during the day, and then relax in super comfy rooms or by the outdoor pool. Past guests seem to appreciate the small kitchen for cooking meals, clean rooms, comfortable beds, and friendly and knowledgeable staff. With the nearest beach less than 10 minutes away on foot, this property has a great location for anyone who wants to surf or chill in Canggu.
Where to Stay in Bali: Seminyak
Great area for: ✓ Upscale & Trendy ✓ Dining and Nightlife ✓ Beach Clubs
Seminyak is located just south of Canggu, and is a bit more lively and upscale than its relaxed neighbor to the north. From world class restaurants to high-end spas and luxurious night clubs, Seminyak is the spot for those looking to experience the finer things in Bali.
Potato Head Beach Club and KuDeTa are hot-spots for beachside drinks and dining. I also quite enjoy MamaSan for its social atmosphere and delicious food, as well as Motel Mexicola for lively nightlife and tasty tacos.
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The Legian Bali
The Legian Bali – A stunning and luxurious beachfront resort property, the Legian gets outstanding reviews for service, food, and all-around luxury. Relax on the beach or at the 3-tiered outdoor pool, or make use of the yoga lessons and gym to stay active. Right on the beach, you can also walk to Seminyak Square is just 4 minutes, and Petitenget Street in 10 minutes, known for its abundance of cafes, restaurants and shops. Great choice for a romantic break!
The Oberoi, Bali
The Oberoi, Bali – This property features stylish rooms, tropical gardens, open air massage pavilions and an outdoor pool. The hotel grounds consist of 74 thatched-roof villas with private balconies, and are equipped with hair dryers, satellite TVs, and sunken bathtubs. Restaurant on site includes themed buffet dinners and live entertainment; there is also a bar and cafe on site. The shops, bars and restaurants of Seminyak Village are less than a 5-minute walk.
Astana Seminyak Villas
Astana Seminyak Villas – Air conditioned villas with nicely equipped kitchens, large comfortable beds, modern bathrooms with bathtubs, robes, slippers and toiletries. Past guests mention the rain shower, welcome drinks and the complimentary platter as highlights. This property is an 8-minute walk to the beach, and 15 minutes to Petitenget St. There are many bars and restaurants in the immediate vicinity as well.
Dash Hotel Seminyak
Dash Hotel Seminyak – A colorful and lively spot located just a 5-minute walk to the famed Potato Head Beach Club. A sunset rooftop terrace, pool, an impressive interior filled with personality and comfortable rooms with everything you need. Each contemporary room is fitted with flat screen TVs, electric kettles, minibars, and bathrooms with hair dryers and toiletries. Past guests mention the staff are friendly and accommodating, offering great service. Petitenget St is 5 minutes from the hotel, and is filled with cafes, bars, shops and restaurants.
Tevana – Looking for a value option somewhere between budget and luxury? This 3 star has a pool, offers free bicycle rentals and comfy rooms. Well-appointed rooms feature flat screen TVs, electric kettle, minibar, and complimentary toiletries. The quiet location set away from the busy main streets is just a few minutes’ walk to the beach. The Potato Head Beach Club is a 10-minute walk, and while there is no restaurant/bar on site, you’ll find lots to eat and drink around the hotel (past guests recommend La Lucciola).
Hi Villa SooBali
Hi Villa SooBali – Offering a private outdoor saltwater pool, and an uninterrupted view of Bali’s traditional rice fields, the villa is fresh and breezy, with a rustic decor. The villa includes a fridge, TV, Wifi, hair dryer and toiletries. Of note, this is not a hotel, but a privately owned villa, so expect some differences in services and check-in procedures. Don’t worry: instructions will be sent. Airport pick up can be arranged, and the villa is in the center of town, a 3-minute walk to Petitenget St.’s bars, restaurants, shops and cafes.
Central Bali: Ubud
Where to Stay in Bali: Ubud
Great area for: ✓ Meditation & Yoga ✓ Vegetarian & Vegan Food ✓ Cultural Travel ✓ Rice Terraces ✓ Cooking Classes
Ubud is Bali’s cultural center, sitting about 30km north of Canggu in the heart of the island. It is full of yoga studios, vegan cafes, spiritual healers and of course, temples. There is also a forest where you can interact with monkeys, and an outdoor market where you can easily spend a day bartering to get the best deals on a variety of local products. In addition, Ubud is also home to Tegalalang Rice Terrace, which is perhaps the most famous on the island.
One of the most unique temples in the area is Tirta Empul, which gets its name from a holy water source within the temple itself. The water is used in various cleansing and purification ceremonies. Participating in one is a truly unique experience.
One of my favorite places to eat in Ubud is Fair Warung Bale. Aside from the fact that the food is delicious, the restaurant prides itself on giving 100% of its profits back to its foundation which not only provides free health and medical care, but also aids in helping young adults within the community to learn a skill.
Balinese food has fast become one of my favorites in the world. If you’re looking to get a true taste of both Balinese culture and cuisine, I highly recommend attending a cooking class with Tresna Bali Cooking School. Located just 7 minutes outside of the center of Ubud, you’ll pick your own ingredients and learn how to cook up some of the most delicious Balinese dishes in a beautiful environment.
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SenS Hotel and Spa
SenS Hotel and Spa – Modern hotel featuring clean, comfortable, well appointed rooms with flat screen TVs, minibars, an electric kettle, and toiletries. There is a spa, fitness facility and outdoor swimming pool, and a cafe and bar on site. There are many restaurant and bar options just a few minutes walk from the hotel. The Ubud Palace and market are just a 10-minute walk, the Sacred Monkey Forest is about 20 minutes, and the hotel offers a shuttle to the center.
Alaya Resort Jembawan
Alaya Resort Jembawan – A 4-star with a focus on health and wellness, it features a yoga studio and onsite mostly veggie/vegan restaurant, The Herb Library. You’ll also find two infinity pools, spa services, large rooms with flat screen TVs, air conditioning, cozy beds, and a big bath tub. This property is conveniently located a 6-minute walk away from the Ubud Royal Palace and Ubud Market, and about a 15-minute walk to the Monkey Forest.
Putu’s Paradise Guesthouse
Putu’s Paradise Guesthouse – A small, well-loved and highly rated B&B just a 3-minute walk to the Monkey Forest. Each room has a seating area and modern private bathrooms, and some rooms have a small terrace. Previous guests mentioned Putu’s warm hospitality and attentiveness to guests needs. A daily breakfast is served in the immaculate, well kept garden. The hotel is located a 10-minute walk from Ubud Market and the Royal Palace.
Natya Resort Bali
Natya Resort Bali – Surrounded by lush tropical greenery, with an amazing swimming pool. Some villas even have their own private pool and terraces. All rooms have air conditioning, flat screen TVs, toiletries and hair dryers. The hotel has spa facilities, a bar and restaurant on site, and an outdoor barbecue by the pool. The hotel offers free scheduled shuttle service into the town center, and scooter and car rental as well. Both the Monkey Forest and Ubud Palace are a 15-minute scooter ride.
Sapodilla Ubud – One of the top-rated hotels in the area, this small boutique offers an outdoor pool and restaurant, and gorgeous air-con rooms with four-post beds and mosquito nets. Expect coffee/tea making facilities, flat screen TVs, minibars, balconies, safes, and bath tubs plus showers. The hotel is just a 10-minute walk to the Monkey Forest and town center. Past guests mention the little touches, like complimentary bottled water, free shuttle, and the use of a mobile phone for hotel pick ups.
Kiskenda Cottages – A new-ish 3 star facility with an outdoor pool, restaurant and bar. The large air-conditioned rooms are well furnished, have tile/marble floors, flat screen satellite TVs, and modern bathrooms with toiletries. Rooms options range from basic to family suites with kitchenettes, with either rice field, pool, or garden views. Located just 5 minutes to the Monkey Forest, 10 minutes to the center of town, and 15 minutes to the Palace on foot. Scooter rental is also available from the hotel.
Compare Flight Prices to Bali
Find awesome flight deals to Bali on Skyscanner. Use it to compare all the major airlines, and find the best day to travel. We suggest setting the search to ‘view whole month’ so you can see when the cheapest days are. Make sure you download the app so you can compare prices on the go.
Bali Off The Beaten Path: Uluwatu, Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Penida
Where to Stay in Bali: Uluwatu
Great area for: ✓ Surfing ✓ Rugged Landscapes ✓ Laid-back and Off-the-Beaten-Path ✓ Great Beaches
Uluwatu is located on the Bukit Peninsula, south of the airport and the more touristic areas. The area is characterized by limestone cliffs, gorgeous beaches, and a water temple bearing its namesake. Uluwatu is a mecca for surfers and sunbathers alike, who can catch a wave or some rays at one of the area’s many beaches. Padang-Padang and Dreamland Beach are among the favorites, and Single Fin bar is home to the biggest balcony on the island, making it one of the best spots to sit outside and enjoy the (stunning) view.
Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort
Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort – Overlooking the majestic cliffs of the Uluwatu Temple, this luxurious resort offers elegant rooms with hot tubs, and some with private pools. Other features include flat screen TVs, safe, mini bar and coffee/tea making facilities. The hotel has one of THE best outdoor infinity pools you’ll ever see, and daily activities such as yoga and ceramic making, a fitness facility, two restaurants, and a bar are sure to keep you busy. 15 minutes from Uluwatu Temple and Nusa Dua Beach by scooter; there’s a free shuttle from the hotel.
PinkCoco Bali – A small, friendly, and very well-liked hotel just a 5-minute walk to the beach. Each room has a fridge, safe, electric kettle and gorgeous, semi-open-air bathrooms. The hotel has an Italian restaurant and bar on site, and a lovely swimming pool. Surfing, snorkelling tours and bike rental can all be arranged at the hotel if you’re up for some activities. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes up and down the street, and are very close to the hotel.
Villa Hari Indah
Villa Hari Indah – A 4-star with wonderfully clean and comfortable rooms and a bar, cafe and restaurant on site offering a daily breakfast. The property features private villas and bungalows, in addition to standard hotel accommodation rooms, and an outdoor swimming pool. You’ll find large comfortable beds, coffee/tea making facilities, modern private bathrooms with toiletries and a hair dryer in the rooms. There are many bar and restaurant options in the immediate area, and its just a 5 to 6-minute walk to the beach.
Where to Stay in Bali: Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida
Great area for: ✓ Secluded Beaches ✓ Away From the Crowds
If you’re really looking to get off the beaten path, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida islands are just a short boat ride away. Much quieter and less inhabited than Bali, yet still within its province, these islands are home to secluded beaches, stunning scenery, and savoury local food. The terrain is more rugged, and therefore geared towards the more adventurous souls, but a trip is well worth it if you’re looking to discover some of the area’s most undisturbed beauty.
The Cubang Hut’s Lembongan
The Cubang Hut’s Lembongan – 3-star accommodation featuring private luxurious huts, and an outdoor pool, bar and restaurant. The air conditioned huts have minibars, kettles, and modern bathrooms with open air showers! Airport pick up and many other activities can be arranged by the hotel. The restaurant serves a daily breakfast, and has both Indonesian and western menu items. The property is located just steps to Dream Beach and a 5-minute walk to Devil’s Tear, and you’ll find some nice restaurants and cafes within walking distance.
Lembongan Beach Club & Resort
Lembongan Beach Club & Resort – A highly rated property with large, air conditioned villas containing flat screen TVs, electric kettles, and bathrooms with bathrobes, slippers and toiletries. There is a large outdoor pool, but many of the villas have their own private pool! Guests have access to the modern fitness facility, spa services, and easy beach access less than a minute away. The restaurant offers buffet and a-la-carte breakfast, and is open for lunch and dinner as well. You’ll find a nice selection of bars and restaurants very close to the hotel as well.
Coco Resort Penida
Coco Resort Penida – Private thatched-roof bungalows with TVs, mini bars, air conditioning, walk-in showers and toiletries. The property has an onsite bar, convenience store, coffee shop and restaurant, and offers spa services and has a lovely outdoor pool. Bicycle, scooter or car rental can be arranged by the hotel, Crystal Bay Beach is a half-hour hike, or a quick 5-minute scoot from the hotel. There are a handful of restaurants close by the hotel. Lots of great hikes and bike rides in the area.
Frequently Asked Questions
So Where Should You Stay in Bali?
Bali is one of the most beautiful places in the world, offering a wide array of landscapes, food, and recreational activities that will fit any personality and itinerary. Where you stay in Bali really depends on your personal preferences. Whether you prefer lounging in hipster cafes and catching waves in Canggu, spending your days at the spas and your nights at trendy restaurants and bars in Seminyak, or zenning out and getting your yoga on in Ubud, you will undoubtedly fall in love with Bali!
- If you’re looking for a laid-back, beachy vibe, but still want the convenience of lots of shops, restaurants, and bars to choose from, Canggu might be the best place to stay in Bali for you.
- For something more upscale, vibrant and busy, and still with plenty of gorgeous beach, Seminyak might be for you. Seminyak is the best place to stay in Bali for those who want a luxury experience and plenty of nightlife.
- For spiritual and cultural travellers who are less concerned about a beach vacation, Ubud might be the best place to stay in Bali. It’s here that traditional Balinese culture meets yoga holidays meets a healthy eating scene, and there’s plenty of gorgeous scenery to enjoy as well.
- For those looking to get off-the-beaten-path, Uluwatu (on the Bukit Peninsula) and the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida might have what you’re looking for. Expect quiet, solitude and gorgeous scenery if you choose to base yourself in one of these off-the-path locations in Bali.
How to Get Around Bali
Once you get to your hotel, you might want to consider renting a motorbike. They are the preferred method of transportation for locals and tourists alike, and getting around the island can be difficult without one (although, you should check your travel insurance to ensure it will cover you if you’re in an accident). Unfortunately, there isn’t really much of a public transportation system in Bali. If you’re uncomfortable driving a motorbike/scooter, you can rent a car with a driver for a day (see below) or book private tours for each of the attractions you want to see.
How to Get From Bali Airport to Your Destination?
Bali has one airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport. There isn’t really much of a public transportation system in Bali, so it’s best to organize your airport transfer ahead of time, otherwise you risk overpaying for a taxi. Though Uber is technically available, it is frowned upon and nearly impossible to get from the airport. Many times the drivers will refuse to pick you up from a location if there is a taxi service available there.
The safest option for transportation is to book a taxi via the BlueBird app, or to hire a private driver to take you around. If you do take a taxi, see if you can agree on a price ahead of time for long distance rides, and always watch the meter!
A Note About Our Hotel Recommendations In This Bali Neighbourhood Guide
Our hope with this Where to Stay in Bali Guide (and our Where to Stay in Shanghai, Where to Stay in Beijing, Where to Stay in Hanoi, Where to Stay in Taipei Guides…you get the idea!) is to make it easier to find the best area to stay in Bali for your particular travel style, goals and budget. Bali is such a beautiful island and it’s worth understanding where you want to base yourself and where you want to explore!
As we hired a local expert to write this guide and tell us all she knows about Bali, we’re a bit limited in terms of hotel knowledge…because, of course, locals don’t live in hotels! So, what we’ve done is go through and choose some of the highest rated hotels in each area, and when we couldn’t find a hotel, we listed a villa. Basically, we put in the research for you, and chose the places we personally would choose to stay, and the places we felt we’d be comfortable recommending to a friend or family member, across different budget ranges.
Really, we want to help you have a fantastic vacation to Bali, and we want you to be able to do so without spending hours on the internet, reading hotel reviews and cross-checking locations on a map. Hopefully we’ve succeeded…but please don’t blame us if we haven’t – at the end of the day, we expect you’ll check the most recent reviews and specific conditions in the island, using our listings as a starting point and framework, and choosing then selecting the best hotel and area to stay in Bali for your own trip!
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