The Sunday Six: Places to Stay in Bali that Aren’t Kuta

Sunrise over Mount Batur, Bali.

Lake Batur

The Batur volcano climb is a Bali classic, with stunning views of the sun rising over the twin sacred mountains, Bali’s Agung, and Lombok’s Rinjani. The night before, stay on Lake Batur, looking out at the volcano and the hillside farms of Kintamani.

After the early start and muscle-toning climb, recover with massage and swimming at the pretty hot springs on the lakeside.

We like to stay at:
Lakeside Cottages, with simple rooms and a pool right on the lake. Kids can go fishing in their carp pond. From 400k.


Sitting by an open fire in the evening and picking your own strawberries in the morning is not what most people associate with Bali holidays. Which is precisely why you should consider the hill town of Bedugul.

The botanical gardens and lakeside temples can’t fail to please, while Bali Treetop, an aerial assault course with Tarzan swings and flying foxes, is a must-visit for kids – or your inner child. More things to do in Bali with kids here).

We like to stay at:
Strawberry Hill. Sweet brick bungalows (from 700k) have bathrooms with tubs, an open fire in the restaurant, dazzling views, and you can pick your own strawberries from their patch: it’s a little overprice due to the TripAdvisor effect but still the best option in the area. Or stay in the Botanic Gardens proper, which have rooms at a range of price points.


Surfing beach? Check. Rural tranquility? Check. Yoga retreats? Check. The little town of Balian on Bali’s west coast is one of the island’s less discovered gems, with a good range of accommodation too.

We like to stay at:
Shankari’s. Stylish bamboo bungalows, with balcony daybeds, in spacious grounds dotted with small swimming pools. Juices are great, there’s internet and daily yoga, plus courses and retreats, and discounts can be amazing when they’re not running retreats.


The USS Liberty wreck at Tulamben makes the area around Amed a diving mecca – and EuroDive in Lipah is a great place to learn. There’s plenty of snorkelling off the beaches here – the Japanese shipwreck is famous – while outside Tulamben proper, fishermen’s jukung still line the shore, while cattle graze in the coconut groves.

We like to stay at:
Coral View Villas
, in landscaped gardens leading up to the waterfront, has substantial bungalows, some with gorgeous outdoor gardens and was the original set of villas in Lipah: it shares an owner with EuroDive. Villa Coral has slick two-storey cottages right on a black sand beach with good snorkelling, that sleep up to five people (from 750k).


Your jumpoff point for beautiful diving around Menjangan island, and a great base for excursions to see the deer and wilderness of West Bali National Park, this little north coast strip is very sweet. Beaches are grey and the coral’s not impressive, but there is a turtle hatchery to explore, some wire frame structures to snorkel, while the mood is lovely.

We like to stay at:
Arjuna, with pretty gardens, a pool, a great dive centre and fantastic French food. From 400k. If you’re in funds, Puri Ganesha, the original top-end place in Pemuteran, remains worth a look.


Whether or not you’ve read Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud is an essential stop on most people’s Bali holidays and one of our favourite places to stay in Bali. The town has fantastic restaurants, a great library, several museums, dazzling temples and palaces, rice fields a few metres from many main roads, more yoga courses than anyone can reasonably imagine, and traditional dances nightly.

We like to stay at:
There are so many great places to stay in Ubud that I’ve written an entire post on where to stay in Ubud, from the indulgent Como Shambhala and Hanging Gardens through comfortable bungalows like Sri Ratih and Sri to affordable options like Taman Indrakila and Tu Eka.

Looking for more Bali hotels? Click here.

*This post was last updated on 25 January 2015.

31 Responses

  1. MarkG says:

    “Part of the west coast development around the diving mecca of Amed/Tulamben, Lipah has a great dive store…”

    Lipah is on the east coast!

  2. Megan says:

    Thanks for these tips – am planning a trip to Indonesia sometime in the very near future and I’ve always been a little put off by the idea of Kuta.

    Being Australian, I’ve always equated Bali with seediness but this shows there’s more to the island than Bintang and Bogans 🙂 Can’t wait to check some of these out.

    • Theodora says:

      There is a lot more to it than that. Once you get out of the south, you’re pretty safe.

  3. Toni says:

    I absolutely adored Ubud and that was before the Eat. Pray. Love stuff came along…the second you get there you feel like you’ve stepped back in time with temples and rice paddies etc – wonderful!

    • Theodora says:

      It has tour buses now. But you still can walk down a side street and be straight in the rice paddies.

  4. Luke McClelland says:

    Hi There,
    Any chance of letting us know how to get in contact with and book at “No. 9 Guesthouse. The best value we’ve found in South Bali, this unpretentious place has clean tiled rooms with Western bathrooms and hot, well-powered showers from 100k. (Gang Bima #3, Seminyak.)”



    • Theodora says:

      Ummm… I will try and call Ned’s Guesthouse, round the corner, who might have a number for them — or you could. Ned’s number is easy enough to find, and they will refer you on to No. 9. Impossible to find any contact info for them online, though I should have made a note of it last time I stayed.

  5. Snap says:

    Like Megan, I’ve been warey of visiting Bali’s Kuta too. Although, this might be our long stop over on the way home in a few months. Won’t be able to move around too much with the large luggage, so will be looking for things to do IN Bali. I’ll be going over your posts with a fine tooth comb 🙂

    • Theodora says:

      I actually need to do more posts on things to do in Bali — I don’t write up a fraction of the stuff we do (verbosity does that to one!), so I’ll try and roll out a few things-to-do type posts. Easy enough to get a house in Ubud if you want it. I think you would hate Kuta. I think it’s even worse for Australians because so much of the madness is Australians on holiday.

      • Snap says:

        Any information, accompanied by a guide for dummies, would be greatly appreciated. I guess I should start looking at a map of the place…might help 😉

    • Kristen says:

      I realise this it outdated now but for others- When we stayed in Bali on the way to England for two years we asked to store our large bags at the first hotel we stayed at and picked them up a month later! Worked a treat!

  6. Max says:

    Very insightful list. Did you stay at all these places?

    I’m planning a trip to Bali, and look for where to stay.
    I’m considering Sanur. I heard it was a more relaxed, upmarket version of its West Coast counterpart Kuta.
    Would you recommend it?

    PS: this this Bali map is helpful to have a high-level view of the different regions

    • Theodora says:

      Yes, I did. I’ve not stayed in Sanur — if you want beach and nightlife but not tourist hell, you might be better heading to Kerobokan (which is north of Seminyak, same side as Kuta), as Sanur’s on the sedate side. Ubud’s the real don’t miss in Bali, IMHO — but, of course, no beach. How long are you going for?

  7. Tiffany says:

    Thanks so much for recommendations (and prices!) on places that you’ve stayed! I’ve been reading the guidebooks for Bali, and I’m mildly concerned over the habitability of some of their recommendations. We’re going to Indonesia in Feb, and my sister will be joining us. I want to make sure she has a good experience, not a scary one!

    • Theodora says:

      Well, I think the first rule of Bali travel is: “Stay out of Kuta”. Once you’ve done that, the island’s a dream.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful info. My bestfriend and I have been planning to go to Bali. And it’s good to check this out before our planned trip! 🙂 I am a Filipino, was thinking to search for place to stay wherein we can feel the Balinese style, not the typical white-coated hotels. 🙂

    • Theodora says:

      Ooh, you’ll enjoy the north and east coasts and the centre of the island. Probably Munduk, too.

  9. Kriti says:

    Hi ! Really appreciate your insights on Bali stay. We are a family of 4 with 2 girls, one is 6 years while the other is 9 months. I would like you to recommend a good resort kind of a thing which has a good pool, recreational activities for kids. We are not looking at a crowded place but a place whic has some good beaches, a closely market, but also not v far off from the other tourist attractions also. the idea is to relax and unwind . Thanks so much !!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Kriti,

      The challenge with Bali is that most of the resort-type accommodations are in the crowded areas of the south. Because it’s a small island, places are easy to reach, although traffic can be a real issue. I think Nusa Dua might work best for you. It’s less busy than Kuta/Seminyak/Legian and has a good choice of resorts – without knowing your budget, I can’t really recommend one, but there are some options here

      There are also some lovely spots on the other coasts which have the quiet that you’re looking for: the place I mention in Balian has several pools, while there are high-spec resorts in Amed/Lipah and Pemuteran. But these don’t have the markets or recreational activities for kids that you’re looking for.

      Hope this helps…

  10. Lakesha says:

    My husband and I are planning a trip to Bali for 7-10 days in February. We are in our late 20’s. What are your recommendations? We like:
    -Food (restaurants & shopping)
    -Beautiful scenery (sightseeing, culture)
    -Maybe a little hiking or outdoor activity
    -We enjoy water sports but not laying around on the beach so prob wont spend too much time at the beach but would love a villa with beautiful beach view
    -A little night life (bars)

    Basically we want a little of everything. What places would you recommend? Thank You!

    • Theodora says:

      For beautiful beach views, your best bet is Nusa Dua — but the Ayana in Jimbaran has a world class spa, an amazing rooftop beach bar and stunning sunset views. For shopping and bars, Seminyak’s a good choice — and if you stay somewhere beachfront like the Oberoi you get beach views too. Ubud has stellar restaurants, like Mozaik, and isn’t a bad base for walks out into the country, although Munduk is better for hiking. In terms of water sports, the main ones for Bali are surfing and diving — Amed/Lipah’s best for diving, and Seminyak’s a good place to learn to surf.

      All of this, of course, depends on your budget…

  11. Neema says:


    I’m planning a trip to Bali with my parent’s (both are in their 70’s), sisters and two kids (age 10 and 9). We would like to stay away from big crowd also like to enjoy sightseeing and explore Bali. We are looking to rent a villa with food service or good hotels. Can you help me to find a good/safe area in Bali? I heard Kuda is one of big area but too crowded for me. I’m willing to pay around 400$ per night for 3 rooms.

  12. Stephen says:

    I’ve just found myself with a total of ONE evening and ONE morning in Bali coming up (passing thru to Manado). I know nothing : ) So … how can I do this. Here’s what I’m thinking. I find myself a cool, basic digs out of town somewhere. Don’t care about beaches. Hire a bike in the morning, meet some locals and soak in the atmosphere. hmmm flight leaves midday. I guess what I’m asking is suggestions for location where I can get away from the chaos, even in the limited time available! And how I’ll get there. Can I get away from the chaos given that the place will need to be reachable in say less than 60min? Hire motorbike? Probably not worth it, as I’ll waste half my time organising that when I arrive?

    • Theodora says:

      Oh boy oh boy, that’s a tough one, Stephen. You’ll need to be at the airport at 10am, so there’s no time to explore in the morning, and it’s hard to hire bikes at the airport – although you can pick up a motorbike taxi (ojek) at the airport (head out of domestic departures and follow the signs to motorbike parking) or use Gojek (a motorbike taxi app) to take you around. You could probably get a good sense of tranquility if not local life at Bingin, in the Bukit, or Pererenan, in Canggu…

  13. Lulú Marin says:

    Your Blog is absolutely wonderful. I am very excited to have just bought my ticket to Indonesia. I will be staying for a month on a VERY VERY tight budget. I read your hilarious stories about your time in Kuta, Lombok, which is where I’m more attracted to going….. I would love a relaxed learning to surf obsessed holiday. I realize how tough it is! I feel your pain and excitement all at the same time. I just got back from Brazil and learned to love the process and the crashes, and the ever so seldom triumphs of simply standing for 2 seconds, or maybe even 5. So where would you recommend I spend most of my time. I would really just find one budget place to call home and learn.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Lulu, Kuta, Lombok, can work well on a budget, particularly if you look at getting a cheap deal on a room for a month. Surf season is, roughly, April to November, so you’re coming at the right time of year. If that’s where’s calling you, I suggest that’s where you go! theodora

  14. Tony says:

    Hi Theodora
    Came across your sites today. I’m planning to visit very soon. Traveling with a tight budget, but like feel comfortable. I want be able to walk around and explore. Also, find access to off the radar location without being too touristy.

    • Theodora says:

      I would suggest Ubud for walkability but that fails your touristy criterion. Sidemen and Munduk are both relatively off the radar and good for walking.

  1. January 25, 2015

    […] Any of your favourites missing here? Do let me know — if I haven’t been I’ll get down there and add them in. And, if you’re looking for more Bali travel information, check out this post on places to stay in Bali […]