To those living in Australia it won’t come as a surprise to see the Indonesian island of Bali described as a cheap party destination but to many people in the Northern Hemisphere, Bali is seen as a luxury honeymoon spot for newlyweds to enjoy their start to married life. If you are considering Bali as your next holiday and want to avoid drunk Australians then you need to pick carefully when deciding where to stay on the island.
The main area which has been developed to suit the Western clientèle is Kuta. Think Mcdonalds and other fast food outlets on every corner, chain stores such as Topshop, New Look and even Mark and Spencers and bars and restaurants serving every cuisine imaginable. Not exactly what you picture when you think of this island. If you don’t want to experience any Balinese culture and just want cheap food and alcohol then Kuta is perfect for you. This is where the Australian TV programme What really happens in Bali is based. The programme is fairly similar to the UK’s Magaluf Weekender and depicts young Aussies in a bad light. Kuta offers no culture apart from Bali souvenirs sold on the hundreds of market stalls. The place is crawling with teenagers on their first mates holiday and adults on family holidays still getting just as drunk.
A short taxi ride away from Kuta you have the slightly more upmarket resort of Seminyak. Seminyak is home to lots of little boutique shops. Some of these are owned by Indonesian designers so you feel a little better browsing these stores rather than the same shops you go in every weekend at home. The beaches are also much quieter than Kuta beach. You still get locals trying to sell you jewellery, fruit etc but as this happens all over Asia I think it is to be expected. In general, Seminyak is more expensive than Kuta for food and accommodation. The hotels which line the beach are incredible 5 star resorts so the whole area is suited for a certain class of person.
Have I put you off Bali yet? Have no fear, away from the rowdy party spots there are still places to visit in Bali which stay true to their culture.
The most popular of these is Ubud. This inland town is home to the famous monkey sanctuary and plenty of inspiring temples. The hotels seem to be more in keeping with Indonesian style and this gives you a better experience overall. You can definitely relax more in Ubud and take in the beautiful culture of the island. Take a visit to a temple or just watch the locals go about their daily lives. If you’re still desperate for a beach escape then try the nearby island Gili Trawangan. I loved it there and I’ll write a full blog post on this tiny paradise soon. This is what Bali is really about, not a cheap Bintang vest and an Arak cocktail.
What do you think? Have I judged Kuta unfairly or can you recommend anywhere else to visit in Bali?