Where to Stay in Bali – 2018 Guide to Bali’s Neighborhoods + Beautiful Villas

First time visiting Bali? Here’s a handy neighborhood guide and recommended hotels to help you determine where to stay in Bali., whether you’re looking for nightlife, relaxation, romance or luxury

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Where to Stay in Bali, a first timers guide to planning a trip to Bali with hotel reviews


Where to Stay in Bali


The magical island of Bali has something for everyone. This small island in Indonesia draws the bulk of the country’s tourism and for good reason. With sandy white beaches, waves begging to be surfed and warm Balinese culture, it’s no wonder that visitors all over the world flock to Bali again and again.

Before I visited Bali, I remember being overwhelmed by the different neighborhoods and sheer number of hotels, so I wanted to put together a comprehensive guide to the best places to stay in Bali. The island offers everything from luxury 5 star hotels to simplistic, minimalist yoga retreats so I’ve organized this accommodation guide by neighborhood and interest type and also listed some of my favorite Bali hotels for you to check out.


Quickly jump to each section:

A Guide to Bali’s Different Neighborhoods


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First time visiting Bali? Here’s a Overview of Bali’s Neighborhoods

Bali has many different ‘neighborhoods’, each with their own unique features. Here’s a quick overview of the main areas to help you figure out where you want to stay when visiting Bali:

South Bali | This is the most developed section and touristy area and home to Kuta, Canggu, Denpasar, Jimbaran Bay, Legian, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Seminyak and Tanah Lot. Chances are, if you’re a first timer visiting Bali you’ll want to stay here to be close to the action.

Central Bali | This is the cultural hinterland and quite mountainous. It’s known for gorgeous rice terraces, Balinese art and a great place for cultural souvenirs & shopping. Most visitors will visit here on a day trip or stay at one of the many yoga retreats in Ubud.

West Bali | This area is relatively unexplored and home to West Bali National Park. Other popular places to explore include Negara, Gilimanuk, Medewi Beach, and Pemuteran

North Bali | This was once the old capital city and today visitors to Bali come here for its volcanic, black sand beaches. Stay at Lovina and Singaraja.

East Bali | This part of Bali is home to the active volcano Batur and Mount Agung.

Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan

Finally, there’s a trio of islands southest of Bali (Nusa means ‘island’ in Bahasa Indonesia). These are incredibly gorgeous places and growing in popularity for nature lovers but they are not yet developed for tourist infrastructure and there’s few, if any, hotels or accommodation options. Visit for a day trip or diving excursion by catching the ferry from Sanur.


Read more: The Ultimate Indonesia Travel Guide


Alila Villas Uluwatu Bali Hotel Review

Alila Villas Uluwatu Bali Hotel Review


Where to Stay in Seminyak

Known as the style mecca of Bali with hip restaurants, upscale shopping, and premier resorts, Seminyak offers a reserved yet refined island experience.


Recommended Seminyak Accommodation

W Hotel Bali

Check out the W Hotel Bali for an experience blending Bali’s natural beauty with the amenities and services of a global upscale hotel.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa

With its expansive property featuring curated rooms, suites, and villas interspersed with lily ponds and authentic Balinese pavilions, the Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa offering is reminiscent of traditional all-inclusive resorts.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor


Where to Stay in Ubud

Made famous by Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love, Ubud represents the epitome of Indonesian self-discovery and inner peace.


Recommended Ubud Accommodation

Viceroy Bali

With 25 private pool villas isolated in the Bali region known as the “Valley of Kings” for its Balinese royal residents, the Viceroy Bali defines luxurious seclusion.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Maya Ubud Resort & Spa

With villas made of thatched roofs and local timber and a resort layout in accordance with ancient village design guidelines, Maya Ubud represents an architectural and cultural marvel among modern resorts.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor


Where to Stay in Nusa Dua

Nusa Dua is known among Bali neighborhoods for its concentration of five-star resorts and white sand beaches – I can think of worse places to be.


Recommended Nusa Dua Accommodation

Grand Mirage Resort & Thalasso Spa

Suites and villas facing the Indian Ocean. Golf and watersports. Spa and fine dining. Shopping and nightlife. Even a free airport transfer. In other words, Grand Mirage Resort & Thalasso Spa sets the Bali all-inclusive standard.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Mulia Resort Bali

When your two options are beachfront all-suite accommodations along the Nusa Dua Bay or secluded villas with private pools, private gardens, and butler service, your two options beat all other two options.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor


Where to Stay in Jimbaran Bay

When your loved one asks why Jimbaran Bay and you explain it’s most famous for luxurious and romantic beachside dinners, you have accomplished the Indonesian vacation planning equivalent of the mic drop.


Recommended Jimbaran Bay Accommodation

AYANA Resort & Spa Bali

When private pool villas are the second coolest thing about a resort, you know you’re in the right place. The AYANA Resort & Spa Bali is home to Rock Bar Bali, one of the world’s most famous bars featuring everyday normalcies such as 18 semi-private villas overlooking the Indian Ocean and a DJ booth literally carved into the cliff.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Four Seasons Resort Bali

The Four Seasons Resort Bali understood that the five-minute walk from its villas’ private plunge pools to the white sand Indian Ocean beaches could be emotionally and physically taxing. Luckily for you, they designed the resort so that this walk passes through Balinese flower beds and ancient temples. Crisis averted.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor



Where to Stay in Uluwatu

Uluwatu is known as the indisputable surfing capital of Bali. Conveniently, it’s also known as a premier destination for upscale resorts. Surfing and upscale resorts – many are fans of both, almost all are fans of one, and the rest are people who like to vacation in Boca Raton.


Recommended Uluwatu Accommodation

Bulgari Resort Bali

When a high Italian fashion brand ventures into the luxuriant world of Bali hospitality, the commonplace choice of suites or the nicer villas is considered lowbrow. The Bulgari Resort Bali starts at villas and prefers to offer mansions as its premium product. Enough said.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Alila Villas Uluwatu

The Alila Villas Uluwatu somehow offers conglomerate-level facilities and amenities from a boutique ownership that highlights authentic Balinese culture and architecture. Oh, and the private pools in each villa aren’t bad either.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor


Where to Stay in Kuta and Legian

Much like Nusa Dua is known for its exceptional resorts and beaches, Kuta is known for its exceptional nightlife and backpacker culture. If you go to bed early and/or wear a satchel, this may not be place the for you.


Recommended Kuta and Legian Accommodation

Hard Rock Hotel Bali

Being the first Asian Hard Rock Hotel is righteous enough. Throw in a location at the center of Bali’s entertainment and nightlife district, and the Hard Rock should appear on every Kuta hotel shortlist.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Bali Garden Beach Resort

With a spa, 3 swimming pools, and 14 restaurants and bars on its property, the Bali Garden Beach Resort brings an amenity breadth typical of secluded resorts to the bustling Kuta neighborhood.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor



Where to Stay in Canggu

Canggu is very much the Goldilocks of Balinese neighborhoods. Its surf, beaches, and natural surroundings are all considered above-average if not most well-known. However, Canggu is relatively inaccessible, creating a quaint seclusion responsible for Canggu’s reputation as the up-and-coming Bali neighborhood.


Recommended Canggu Accommodation

Hotel Tugu Bali

Tugu Hotels are famous for showcasing the fine Indonesian art and antiques from the Tugu founder’s storied and expansive collection. Part-hotel, part-museum, and all right by the beach? Count me in!

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Villa Berawa

Villa Berawa pairs convenient access to Berawa Beach with authentic villas designed as traditional Javanese wooden structures and furnished with artisan handmade materials.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor


Where to Stay in Sanur

As the elder statesman of Bali resort neighborhoods, Sanur blends the conveniences of modern development with a relaxed atmosphere particularly attractive to families.


Recommended Sanur Accommodation

Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali

Featuring lush tropical gardens, a full-service spa, multiple restaurants and bars, and an infinity pool overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali is the quintessential Bali resort.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Mahagiri Villas Sanur

Determined to capture essential Balinese culture, the secluded Mahagiri Villas Sanur constructs its villas from locally-sourced materials including wood, stone, and traditional thatching for roofs.

Check rates on: Booking.com and Hotels.com

Read reviews on TripAdvisor



What are the best places to stay in bali?

Visiting Bali as… Recommended Area Best Hotels to Check Out
Where to stay in Bali for honeymoon Nusa Dua, Uluwatu Alila Villas, FS Jimbaran Bay
Where to stay in Bali for couples Ubud, Uluwatu Tugu BaliAYANA Resort & Spa Bali
Where to stay in Bali for singles Kuta, Canggu Bali Garden Beach Resort
Where to stay in Bali for families with kids Nusa Dua Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali

Read more: When is the best time to visit Indonesia?


Some final advice and tips for travelers planning a visit to Bali:

  • Bali has a modern, large international airport called Ngurah Rai International Airport. It’s also called Denpasar and the airport code is DPS
  • Be prepared for a massive traffic jam arriving and departing to the airport. Actually be prepared for traffic throughout all of Bali – it’s a good idea to rent a scooter motorbike!
  • Leaving any airport in Indonesia, you’ll be quickly greeted by crowds of vocal drivers wanting your business. DPS is no different Taxi fares are fixed based on your destination.
  • To avoid haggling, arrange with your hotel for an airport transfer.


Visiting Indonesia – Travel Checklist

Flights // From New York City, there are no direct flights to Indonesia but you can grab reasonably priced flights  if you book early. Check often for routes and fares here. I’ve transferred in Doha and China and prefer prefer Doha’s modern airport via Qatar Airways.

If flying to Jakarta, fares will be slightly cheaper and from Indonesia’s capital you can explore Bandung, Yogyakarta and Sumatra on short domestic flights. If your focus is Bali, note that flights from the USA will be slightly more expensive and typically will involve a 2nd stopover in Jakarta anyway.

Hotels // I highly recommend ‘hotel hopping’ Bali – the island is quite large and different neighborhoods have their own characteristics. You can rent a motorized scooter to get around or book a tour to handle transportation if you’re not comfortable. Taxis and Ubers will work in some areas, but prepare to be stuck in gridlock traffic. AirBnBs are a great way to stay in luxurious Balinese resorts for discounted rates – especially if traveling with a group. Bali is also a fantastic place to splurge on a luxury resort – the options are endless, the views are unbeatable and the food is divine. We loved both Alila Villas Uluwatu and the Sofitel Nusa Dua.

Packing // Bring light fabrics and traditional summer wear for Bali along with mosquito spray. If you intend to visit Indonesia’s other cities and famous temples, bring modest clothing. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and can view short shorts and mini skirts as impolite. You can read my complete Bali packing list here.

Insurance // Lastly, be sure to visit Indonesia with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, or your phone gets stolen, or an injury forces you to cancel all or part of your vacation, travel insurance will help when you need it most. I ended up getting seriously ill and visiting the hospital while in Solo, Indonesia and being taken care of was a lifesaver. I use and recommend Allianz travel insurance.


 You Might Also Enjoy: 


Indonesia Vacation Planning Articles

Quick Guide: The Ultimate Indonesia Travel Guide

When is the Best Time to Visit Indonesia

At a Glance: 50 Incredible Things You Can Only Do in Indonesia

An Off the Beaten Path Itinerary: 2 Weeks in Indonesia


Indonesian Cities, Sights & Tours We Especially Enjoyed

Jogja: 10 Highlights from Java’s Cultural Center

Bandung Don’t Leave Without Seeing These 7 Sights

A Raja Ampat Travel Guide: Scuba Diving, Hiking & How to Get There


Bali, Indonesia Articles

Bali Packing List: What to Wear in the World’s Largest Muslim Country

Where to Stay: Decoding Bali’s Neighborhoods

Luxury Resorts in Bali with Epic Swimming Pools

Hotel Review: Alila Villas Uluwatu



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Liam SmithNovember 28, 2018 - 4:01 am

Hi all,

Truly a great blog you have here.

I am in the middle of planning my second Bali trip, and I found your blog. I was truly amazed by the amount of great advice and information you’ve provided.

I usually stay close to Bingin beach, but this year I thought I might change that.

All in all, thank you for this useful article.

Wish you all the best in your future travels.

SherNovember 28, 2018 - 11:55 am

Hi Liam – so glad it’s been helpful and thank you for the kind words!

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