The Indonesian archipelago may include more than 18,000 islands but most international visitors don't make it beyond Bali. There are lots of reasons why this small island commands such appeal for new and returning visitors, among them its sheer diversity.
This mix reveals itself from the bustling streets and white-sand beaches of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak to the upscale resorts of Nusa Dua, the cultural charms of Ubud and the cool highlands of Bedugul. Wherever you're staying in Bali, you'll be close to many of the island's top attractions – and at just 140 kilometres from east to west, it's easy to get around.
Kuta has been an international gateway to Bali since the 18th century but its modern history began in the 1960s, when it became a badly kept secret among the surfing community.
Today, Kuta is the busiest and liveliest part of Bali, teeming with shopping opportunities, nightlife and international restaurants catering to all budgets. The legendary white-sand beach is one of the best places to learn to surf in Bali.
Nestled between the larger and louder Kuta and Seminyak, Legian is defined by an uninterrupted stretch of beach that gets busy only at sunset.
Its comparatively quiet high streets are the ideal places to pick up souvenirs and designer goods away from the crowds of neighbouring districts, and hotel and restaurant prices tend to be more affordable here, too.
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Seminyak is Bali's most fashionable district, an upscale alternative to nearby Kuta, where you'll find some of the island's trendiest nightspots, fashion and jewellery boutiques, and exclusive restaurants and hotels.
Even if you're just visiting, Seminyak Beach is worth the trip to catch the sunset and visit historic Pura Petitenget temple.
Bali's purpose-built enclave for up-market travellers, Nusa Dua is perched at the southernmost tip of the island and boasts the highest concentration of 5-star resorts, golf courses and pristine beaches.
If all that luxury gets too stifling, you can escape to the surrounding villages for a taste of traditional Balinese life. Art lovers shouldn't miss the local artworks on display at the Museum Pasifika.
Bali's original beach resort, Sanur today offers a quieter and more laid-back alternative to the west coast. Famous for its five-kilometre white-sand beach, Sanur has no shortage of beachfront views when you’re staying at local hotels. It’s also a major hub for scuba diving.
If you're drawn to Bali by its spiritual charms, Sanur reputedly has a long history of black and white magic.
When you've had your fill of beaches, head to Bali's hilly heartland to discover the capital of Balinese art and culture in Ubud. This small village has long been a magnet for international travellers due to its cool climate and wealth of cultural attractions.
Ubud’s proximity to temples, palaces, mountains and lakes makes it the perfect starting point for tours of the interior and highlands.
Sheltered from the waves that make nearby Kuta Beach so appealing to surfers, Jimbaran Bay is the ideal place to take a dip in the Bali Sea. Jimbaran's beachfront seafood restaurants are second to none on the island, and the peaceful atmosphere makes it a leading destination for spa retreats.