When planning a trip to Bali, the most important thing is choosing the correct area in which to stay. Your location is as important as the hotel you decide on, and can either make or break your holiday. The resort areas of Bali are divided into six areas, each with a distinct style and feel.
It's good to have a clear idea of what you're looking to get out of your holiday, and to then choose your location accordingly. For example, if you're looking for peace and quiet or a more relaxing type of getaway, Ubud and Nusa Dua might be a good choice. Likewise, if you're looking for the buzz of vibrant nightlife with a bit of hedonism thrown in, then Legian or Kuta may be a better bet.
The location of your hotel is also important in terms of the places you want to visit. For example, Ayung River rafting is a very popular activity in Bali. It is 20 or 30 minutes by car from Ubud, however if you stay in Nusa Dua it will take about two hours by car. Similarly if you'd like to enjoy water sports in Benoa, it is only 10 minutes from Nusa Dua but takes two hours from Ubud.
This is why deciding where you stay is important for enjoying your Bali trip.
Click to enlarge Bali 6 Major Resort Area
Nusa Dua is a clean and safe resort area that was designed by the government in the 1970s. The gated compound of resort hotels include the Mulia, Hyatt, Conrad Bali Resort & Spa, and the Nikko.
International conferences are also held in Nusa Dua, with APEC scheduled to be held in October 2013.
The resort area of Jimbaran, located near the airport, has evolved from a small fishing village and is now home to such 5 Star hotels as the Four Seasons, Intercontinental Hotel Bali, Ayana Resort and Spa, and the luxury Kayumanis Private Estate & Spa.
With a slightly less chaotic feel than say Kuta or Legian, Jimbaran is most well-known for its beachside seafood restaurants that set up their tables right on the sand each evening.
The crowded areas of Kuta and Legian are not for everyone, however if you're after fun in the sun, then this is the place to be. The area is popular with backpackers and young Australians, and seems to never sleep.
The bustling Jl. Legian is lined with cheap restaurants, local vendors, spas, surf shops and night clubs. Surfers from around the world gather at Kuta Beach to catch a wave, followed by a night out at one of the many nightclubs and bars.
For those looking for some retail therapy, Kuta's "Beachwalk" shopping center was opened in 2012 and offers a lovely respite during the heat of the day.
Located just north of Kuta and Legian, the stylish area of Seminyak appeals to those with a more refined sense of style. Luxury spas, designer boutiques and 5-Star hotels make Seminyak a haven for both expats and locals alike.
Besides offering some of the best shopping on the island, Seminyak is also well known for its selection of amazing eateries ranging from fine dining establishments to cute little cafes.
The calm waters off the coast of Sanur make it an ideal choice for a family beach holiday with the kids. It's also a popular location for the more mature crowd and Europeans on long-term stays to Bali, hence the Italian cafes and Western restaurants that seem to pop up everywhere.
Sanur was once the main resort in Bali, however it now holds fourth or fifth place. The area has been loved for many years by those who appreciate the atmosphere of a good old beach resort, and the paved walkway that runs along the beach is a pleasant walk to soak up the vibe.
Ubud's surrounding natural beauty and more gentle pace of life have made it a popular choice for nature-lovers, yogis, healers and artists.Known as the "cultural heart" of Bali, visitors can take in traditional Balinese dance performances, attend wood carving workshops and watch local artists at work.
The countryside also offers incredible scenic places of interest, including the rice terraces in the village of Tegallalang, a 20-minute drive from Ubud, and the Hindu temple at Tirta Empul.