Brianna Glenn is the owner of Milk + Honey Travels. She helps people discover new destinations by providing tailor-made itineraries based on the experience they’re hoping to have. You can follow her on Instagram at @briannaglenn.
Where to stay in Bali?
Of over 30 destinations I’ve had the privilege of experiencing in my lifetime, Bali is certainly one my favorites.
I never realized just how much I would fall in love with this place, or how deeply it would speak to my soul until I experienced it firsthand. It was Eat, Pray, Love that really put this place on the map and took away its anonymity, but even with its popularity, the magic remains.
This relatively small Indonesian island really packs a punch and gives you a wide array of experiences to choose from, with each experience being drastically different from each other.
So, when people ask me which places they should visit in Bali, I start by asking them what type of experience they’re after.
The following descriptions are from what I gathered from my exploration and research of the different parts of Bali, and from chatting with all the wonderful travelers I’ve met throughout my time there.
The spiritual, soulful artist: UBUD
If you’re looking for a spiritual experience, I recommend traveling to the outskirts of Ubud. There is plenty of art and culture to make you feel like you are experiencing real Balinese life. Tons of authentic, yummy food, and just about any type of accommodation you would desire. It’s beautiful and slightly cooler than the beach areas, and if you stay outside of the crazy touristy center, you will really feel at peace here.
The party animal: KUTA/LEGIAN
If you want to be surrounded by a bunch of tourists and drink beer all, this may be the place for you. It’s incredibly crowded, with a lot of choices when it comes to accommodations, restaurants, and shopping, but there is nothing about this area that will give you “relaxing”. The beach is always close by when you stay here as well.
The disconnected diver: AMED
There is very little to do here besides relax, dive, and snorkel. If that sounds like an absolute paradise, then this area of small villages would be just perfect. This area is for the laid-back folks who don’t want to encounter a bunch of other tourists. It’s also the hottest and driest part of Bali.
The surfer enthusiast: ULUWATU
Lovers of beaches, surfing, and the sun will be right at home in the south of Bali. These beaches have some of the world’s most famous surf breaks, and people stay here expecting to spend most of their time in the water. There are many basic accommodations here, along with some luxury options mixed in with amazing views.
The upscale diva: SEMINYAK
Slightly quieter and certainly more upscale than neighboring Legian and Kuta. You will find great restaurants and a variety of beautiful villas to choose from. There are some good beaches, but they are not the best for swimming. A lot of expats choose this area, so it’s not quite as “authentic” in these parts, but it will give you a bit of luxury while still being close to the action.
The laid-back beach-goer: JIMBARAN BAY
A nice beach area lined with fresh seafood restaurants each night that are usually framed by a nice sunset in the background. There is a good mix of accommodations, and it’s pretty laid-back atmosphere. There is not a ton of things to do here, but it’s located near the airport and it’s a good way to see the south part of Bali.
The generic imitator: NUSA DUA
Nusa Dua doesn’t have the same authenticity as other parts of Bali. It’s more commercialized and generic with a bunch of upscale resorts lined up next to one another behind a gated compound. It does it’s best to be wholly inauthentic. The Balinese aren’t even allowed on the beaches. Here you will overpay for everything. You could get the same experience by flying a couple of hours to the nearest beach instead of twenty. Not worth it, in my opinion.
The escapist: GILI ISLANDS OR LOMBOK
Admittedly, it took me talking to people in Bali to learn more about the draw of these places. Not a lot of tourists, no motorized transport, and endless beauty to just explore at your leisure. These quick escapes from the main areas of Bali seem like a great addition to a holiday.
These are just a few ways you can experience Bali!
Here are some photos from my most recent trip to Bali.
Hallway leading to Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak – this is the place to see and be seen!
Enjoying a quick dip in the pool before lunch on Gili Island.
A visit to Tanah Lot temple was complete with a special holy blessing.
Exploring Uluwatu Temple.
Exploring Tirta Empul temple – where the holy water flows.
I’ve never picked a place to stay based on the shower until now.
The pools in Bali are unreal. They have the ability to transport you to total paradise.
The sunset experience at Legian Beach.