Bali offers a huge variety of different environments, sights and experiences and we know that sometimes it can be hard to decide where is the best place to base yourself in Bali for your trip.
So to maybe help you here are a few brief descriptions of each main area that visitors like to stay at, and as you will see they all offer something quite different.
The best thing though is that if you want to experience more than one area, that is no problem. Our villas are located all around Bali, and many of our guests stay at multiple different villas when they come.
The most common itinerary is for guests to combine a stay in a central location like Seminyak or Canggu or Jimbaran, with a stay near the beaches in East Bali, or up in the hills near Ubud, or the mountains near Munduk.
In any case just send us a message, and we will work hard to find an itinerary that works best for you.
(Closest Villas: Orchard House/Istana Semer – Best Alternative Villas: Villa Rusa Biru, Villa KakTus)
Seminyak was for many years the most popular location for visitors to Bali, and many still come back year after year.
Seminyak (and Kuta/Legian that are just to the South) is the most built up area of Bali, with the widest selection of restaurants, bars, and shops all topped off with a huge wide flat beach that stretches all the way up to Echo Beach. The beach is great for walking and surfing and good for kids to go paddling at the flatter areas, particularly during low tide.
Seminyak is the place for sitting back and watching the sunset while enjoying some great drinks and food, and enjoying the vibe at one of the mega beach clubs such as Ku-De-Ta, Samaya or Potatohead or one of the simpler “bean bag beach warungs” that can be found almost everywhere in Seminua.
It is also the place for shopping with loads of innovative independent clothes and art and craft and furniture shops all along Jalan Petitenget / Jalan Laksmana and Jalan Legian.
For families Seminyak (and nearby Kuta and Legian) is the place for water parks, paintball, sports and surfing/boogie boarding or catching a film at the cinema, and also for useful services like child-care, indoor play areas.
On a more sober note, Seminyak also has access to the best doctors and hospitals, as well as supermarkets. And because Seminyak is so well established, it is also usually very easy to arrange tours to almost any other location in Bali.
The downside of all this popularity of course is traffic and crowds and noise, which can make the centre of Seminyak busy during the summer and Xmas/New Year seasons, and also costs, with some of the most expensive/striking places to have a beer being in Seminyak.
Seminyak however now has a young upstart on the block, with Canggu taking Seminyak’s crown now as the most popular location for guests, with a slightly younger vibe.
On the plus side Orchard House is really centrally located in lovely quiet back street, and is just yards from many great bars and restaurants, including Chaiba one of our personal favourites. Istana Semer is just to the North of Seminyak in a more laid back area called Umalas/Semer, but is still just 10 minutes drive from the centre of Seminyak.
(Closest Villas: Villa Wiljoba/Villa Rusa Biru/Villa KakTus/Istana Semer – Best Alternative Villas: Orchard House)
A few years ago, Canggu was a sleepy backwater with a few laid back traditional hotels, surf shacks and pleasant rice field views, that guests basically used to go to when they could not afford or find a place to stay in Seminyak.
How that has changed, and is changing now!
Canggu is by far the fastest growing area of Bali, and now has whole streets with shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, where 5 to 10 years ago there was nothing but rice fields and cow pasture. This gives Canggu, and particularly the Batu Bolong area of Canggu, a buzz that now makes it indisputably the most popular area of Bali.
There are now a huge variety of interesting and varied places to shop, eat, drink and increasingly go out as well, particularly around the rapidly expanding Batu Bolong area (Villa KatTus and Villa Wiljoba are located here).
The original surfing scene is still strong though, with Batu Bolong one of the best beaches for beginners, and there are still laid back beach side surf bars and BBQs at Echo Beach, but now increasingly people head to the ever increasing variety of beach bars varying from the laid back and local to the mega such as famous Finns Beach Club.
For families apart from the beach (which connects all the way to Kuta), there is horse riding, and a great range of indoor and outdoor sports and activities at the Finns Rec Club, including Splash Waterpark, Bounce Trampolining, Strike Bowling and Cubby House kids soft play area. More actvities are being added all the time
The downside of Canggu is that the road infrastructure is inadequate for all the development that has happened, and so expect to take longer than expected to get around, particularly if travelling by car instead of a bike. Also there are obviously still regular building works in this area.
Also Canggu is not a great place to base yourself if you are looking to explore all that Bali has to offer as it is to the West of the city of Denpasar, and most other places people want to go are East of Denpasar, such as the main diving and snorkeling locations,
Still with a great beach, great sunsets, and a merging of laid back surfing culture merging with an innovative cafe and restaurant culture, Canggu has a lot to offer.
(Closest Villas: Villa Rosita/Bougain Villa/Villa Prinsessa (coming soon) – Best Alternative Villas: Villa Anjani/Villa Talia Vashti)
Tegal Besar Beach is a black sand beach that stretches for several miles from the North of Sanur, most of the way to East Bali. If you want to fall asleep with the sound of crashing waves, enjoy some fantastic views out over the ocean, swim in a spectacular infinity pool, and then enjoy some great food at the villa with friends and family then this is the location for you.
This is also a really good location to base yourself and explore all that Bali has to offer, as it has quality road links (a dual carriageway runs close by linking all the way from South Bali to East Bali) and so it is easy to get in a car and go to enjoy the 14km beach walk at Sanur, or the restaurants and culture of Ubud, or the snorkeling, diving and white sand beaches of Padang Bai or Candidasa. All these locations are within an easy 30 minute drive from Tegal Besar. Some of the most famous attractions of Bali are even nearer, including the Bali Marine and Safari Park, and surfing at Keramas, and some Bali’s most popular waterfalls – all within 15 minutes of Tegal Besar
However this area is almost the complete opposite of Seminyak. While there are some really nice cafes within a short drive of Tegal Besar, locally there is just a local village in Tegal Besar itself, making this a location to sit back and relax with family and friends, enjoy everything our great villas here have to offer, and just get away from it all.
Jimbaran lies on a lovely sweeping bay, directly south of the airport, with wide white sand beach, and lots of laid back seafood restaurants with chairs and tables right on the beach, and at the far Northern end there is still a working fish market, giving Jimbaran a very different feel to Seminyak.
Further south from Jimbaran lies the cliffs and beaches of the “Bukit” (literally “hill” in Indonesian). Here there are some great public beaches all with their own flavour such as Balangan Beach (laid back and local); the picturesque Padang/Padang beach (from Eat, Pray, Love fame) and the calming and warm waters of Geger beach with its 5 star hotels and restaurants.
There are many idyllic pure white sand beaches (some with expensive but great beach clubs) and smart hotels and cliff top restaurants and bars (similar to Seminyak but with views) and also some great cultural attractions including the spectacular Uluwatu temple (complete with atmospheric kecak dance at sunset on the cliff top) and the GWK cultural centre with he towering Garuda statue, and all types of Balinese dance, set in a striking location in an old quarry.
For golfers there are the world class New Kuta Golf Course (host of the European Open) and Bali National Golf course down at Nusa Dua. For the more adventurous there are waterparks, great paragliding off the cliffs, water sports at Benoa and of course all the attractions of Nusa Dua and Kuta are only a short drive away.
Similar to Canggu area, there has been a lot of development recently in this area, particularly around Uluwatu and Bingin, which now boast restaurants and beach clubs to rival those found anywhere else in Bali – and all with the added bonus of having cliff top views.
The Bukit area though is nowhere near as green as the rest of Bali as it is made of limestone, and so the water runs away easily, and so walking is not recommended, and it is better to get around by car or taxi. Also, similar to Seminyak, Jimbaran/Bukit with a couple of exceptions, has less of the Balinese culture that can be experienced more readily in other areas of Bali, such as Ubud.
Ubud is known as the cultural heart of Bali, and for good reason, with some of the largest and most spectacular ceremonies taking place in and around Ubud, and some of the most significant temples and palaces close by including Tirta Empul; Gunung Kawi and Goa Gajah as well as in Ubud itself, the Monkey Forest Temple (great for the kids to see monkeys – but be careful) and Ubud Palace. There are also there are cultural events and dances in Ubud every evening. Close to Ubud there are beautiful rice fields and walks, and all of these attractions have bought artists, and art galleries to Ubud, as well as notable restaurants and interesting shops and most recently the fascinating eco-built Green School. There are also increasing numbers of modern attractions with Bali Zoo, Bali Bird Park and the Elephant Park at Taro all close by to Ubud. Like Seminyak though, central Ubud can suffer from traffic and crowds, and for me the real attractions of the area actually lie outside of Ubud, particularly around Villa Kalisha where traditional village life (and all the staff at Villa Kalisha come from local villages), and beautiful scenery combine to make it feel like you are stepping back to a more relaxed, simple time.
(Closest Villas: Villa Talia Vashti/Villa Anjani – Best Alternative Villa: Villa Rosita and Bougain Villa)
East Bali (and its main town for tourists – Candidasa) is one of the less developed areas of Bali, and it still retains a relaxed, easy going feel. This is the place to get away from the crowds; relax, and enjoy the calm clear blue waters that make this area of Bali the best for diving and snorkeling, and also for kids for playing on the beach, swimming and paddling. Candidasa is pleasant town, with some laid back, ocean front bars and restaurants, many of which let the kids play in the pool while you eat, and it is a good jumping off place to experience all that East Bali has to offer. Some of the foremost of Bali’s cultural attractions are close by, including the Besakih Mother Temple and Goa Lawah (the “Bat Cave” temple, and second most important temple in Bali) as well as the Tirta Gangga Water Palace (take your swimming costume to swim in the beautifully ornate public swimming baths with the fish in crystal clear water) and the interesting walled medieval village of Tenganan. All around in the countryside are beautiful rice field views and walks (Kastala to Tenganan is a personal favourite) and of course views of the largest volcano in Bali, Gunung Agung. Increasingly there are more modern attractions as well, including of course Bali Marine and Safari Park (which also has a good but underused waterpark and a great cultural show) and the Odyssey Submarine trip (a real submarine trip down to 30m around the bay where Villa Talia Vashti / Villa Anjani are situation – great although it is expensive).
(Closest Villas: Munduk Mountain Estate – Best Alternative Villa: Villa Kalisha)
Munduk is the next star in Bali. It boasts spectacular mountain views, cool temperatures, volcano trekking, canoeing in idyllic lakes, plantations with coffee, fruits and much more.
Its location means that you can easily fit in a quick visit down to the beaches and bars of Lovina (about one hour away) and in the afternoon you can be back sitting in a hot tub watching the clouds rolling in over you, before gathering around the fire pit to enjoy toasted marshmellows and a hot drink in the evening.
Munduk waterfalls are spectacular, and surprisingly easy to explore, even for families with kids or the elderly.
Handara golf course is our favourite golf course in Bali, with wide fairways lined with pine trees. It can feel almost Scottish as the clouds roll in over the lip of the volcano crater.
Munduk is still developing, so don’t expect anything like the number of tourists that are found elsewhere in Bali. But, on the other hand the range of services is far less as well – there is for example one supermarket in an area of several hundred square kilometers – but in some ways that is of course Munduk’s attraction!
Basically Munduk is the place to go to if you don’t mind a bit of rain and cold occasionally, if you like to get away from everything and do your own thing, and you are quite happy sitting back and just enjoying being in a wonderful location.
(Closest Villas: Munduk Mountain Estate – Best Alternative Villa: Villa Talia Vashti/Villa Anjani, Villa Rosita and Bougain Villa)
Lovina is a laid back beach resort, stretched along the main road West from Singaraja on the North Coast of Bali with a black/sand and pebble beach . It is a pleasant laid back place, with some nice restaurants and bars looking out over the sea, and an easy going charm. There is some diving and snorkeling, but it is rather limited compared to East Bali or Menjangan (another 75 minutes drive to the North West).
There are regular trips out to see the dolphins, that can be found easily in the waters just off the coast.
However the main attractions for us around Lovina, are up in the mountains, where there are some really spectacular waterfalls, great hikes, volcanoes, lakes and so much more. Given the climate is also really nice and cool as well, personally if we were to explore the Lovina area we would stay at Munduk, and then do it as an day trip one day, which is very easy to do as it is less than an hour away.
if you are looking for beaches, diving and snorkeling, however then in our view East Bali and Candidasa are a better bet, as the beaches are better (calm and white sand), and the diving more varied and interesting (Mola-Mola’s anyone swimming with Mantas at Manta Point).
Also East Bali offers much more besides (particularly culturally and beneath the waves) and also has a much shorter, and easier drive from the airport.
As a result we do not at the moment have any villas listed on our site in the Lovina area, and would recommend that if you are interested in this area you either stay in Munduk, and visit from there or if beaches are your thing, have a look at our villas in Candidasa, Villa Talia Vashti/Villa Anjani.