Last Updated: 01/26/19 | January 26th, 2019
After my visit to Bali, I totally saw why so many expats move there. Bali is a beautiful, cheap, and verdant tropical island worthy of everything that is written about it. If it had better Internet and ended those rolling blackouts, I would move there.
There’s a reason why so many “digital nomads” set up shop there.
I see the appeal.
Except for Kuta beach.
Kuta beach is the tourist mecca of Bali. Once you leave Kuta and the other tourist areas of Ubud and the Gili Islands, there are so few tourists on this island that you might think Bali had yet to be “discovered.” (I was shocked at how few people explored outside the main areas. It’s there’s like an invisible barrier preventing people from getting out of their bubble.)
But then you get back to Kuta beach with its big bars, overpriced clothes, Western (and overpriced) food, large hotels and resorts, polluted beacj, and drunk tourists, and you sadly realize, that yup, Bali has been discovered – and then some.
This place was once a lonely little village where people surfed.
Now is the tourist Mecca of Bali, especially for young backpackers and people who want to party to extremes.
In my opinion, Kuta Beach is not worth visiting.
It’s a good place to start and end your trip as it is close to the airport but, unless you really want to do some hardcore drinking, there is no reason to visit Kuta beach.
In Kuta, the water is brown and filled with things like McDonald’s cups, plastic bags, trash, and god knows what else. That blue tropical water you are looking for won’t be found on Kuta. For that, head to Nusa Lembogan, Eastern Bali, or the Gili Islands. I wouldn’t recommend swimming on Kuta’s beach. I felt dirty and like I needed a shower.
Moreover, the restaurants aren’t great. You’ll find overpriced Indonesian food and mediocre western food in this tour. There aren’t really any good places to eat here. I found a good Mexican place and there is the famous Madam’s Indonesian restaurant but the best food in Bali is not found in Kuta. If you want excellent food, visit Ubud or Seminyak beach. These are where the real award-winning delicious restaurants are.
The shopping in Kuta is decent and slightly cheaper than elsewhere on the island. Southern Bali is the most developed and western part of the island making sense that this would be the best place to shop. I found all the places on Bali offered a lot of the same touristy clothes and knockoffs. I did manage to find some name brand shops but they weren’t as cheap as I thought they would be. The best deals were in the giant department stores. Overall though, I was unimpressed with the shopping in Kuta and would rather shop in Bangkok or Singapore.
So with no good beach, no good food, and mediocre shopping, what does Kuta have?
Resorts, surfing, and bars.
There are a plethora of resorts starting at $50 USD going all the way up to $1000 USD a night. (Bali has the most $1000 USD resorts in the world!)
And if you want crazy bars, giant cups of alcohol, and huge clubs that open until dawn, Kuta beach is the place to be. Moreover, the great surfing here and really cheap lessons but if you want to learn in clean water, like I said, go somewhere else. There’s good surfing all over Indonesia.
If you all want to do party, shop, and hang out with tanned surfers in brown water, then Kuta is the place for you.
But if you want to enjoy Bali, please skip Kuta. Go elsewhere. There’s beautiful Ubud, the Jatiluwih rice terraces, Nusa Lembogan, Lovina, Amhed…the list goes on.
How to Get to Kuta
Denpasar International Airport (DPS) is about 15 minutes away from Kuta by taxi. The standard prepaid fare from the airport costs 50,000 IDR. However, if you walk away from the airport you can find non-airport taxis (that are still metered) that will do the trip for about half of that — around 20,000 IDR. Since that’s only a savings of around $1.75 USD, you might as well just go with the standard airport taxi.
You can also catch a bus from outside the airport for around 4,000 IDR, but again it will take much longer and be much less convenient when compared to what you’re saving.
If you’re coming from Ubud you can take a bus for around 80,000 IDR each way. There are several departures from Ubud to Kuta daily, and the journey will take around an hour (the journey is only around 35km but traffic can be bad the roads sometimes flood during the rainy season).
Book Your Trip to Bali: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Bali?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Bali for even more planning tips!
Photo credits: 2, 3 – xiquinhosilva