One of the standout islands in Indonesia’s vast archipelago when it comes to tourism, Bali has become synonymous with beautifully varied landscapes, unique heritage and paradise-like beaches.

The southern province, sandwiched in between Java (home to the capital, Jakarta) and Lombok, only began to attract larger numbers of tourists in the middle of the 20th century, but the industry has grown substantially even over the last decade.

With such a dizzying variety of towns, diverse geography and rich cultural history on the so-called “Island of Gods”, it’s easy to see why.

Whether sunning yourself on idyllic beaches, exploring lush rice terraces and rainforest resorts or discovering the island’s religious and cultural heritage, here’s our pick of places to stay on this holiday favourite.


The Tegallalang rice terraces are found just north of Ubud
The Tegallalang rice terraces are found just north of Ubud (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Rice terraces, temples and rainforests adorn the serene area of Ubud in the uplands of Bali. Known as one of the island’s cultural centres, the town itself is famous for its range of traditional markets, galleries and a vibrant arts scene. The inland surroundings are characterised by rainforest and raised rice terraces, through which visitors can hike and cycle surrounded by greenery.

The scenic views of locations like the Tegalallang rice terraces or Tegenungan waterfall are complemented by several manmade attractions. Among them are the Saraswati Temple and Ubud Palace, surrounded by tall trees and giant lotus ponds.

Where to stay

COMO Uma Ubud is found right in the middle of one such area of rainforest, surrounded on all sides by trees, plants and wildlife. Overlooking Tjampuhan Valley, the large pool serves as a focal point for the hotel – though several room options offer private pools – with a large, Balinese-style pavilion hut housing the main reception area. With spacious, open-plan rooms featuring sleek contemporary decor, COMO Uma offers a mix of modern luxury and secluded Balinese nature.


Beach clubs buzz in Canggu
Beach clubs buzz in Canggu (Getty Images)

A coastal town near the southern tip of the island, Canggu is more cosmopolitan and party-focused than Ubud, with its surfing and buzzy nightlife scene a world away from the laid-back tranquillity of the latter. The beaches are picture perfect – from Echo Beach to Batu Bolong – and offer surfing, swimming and relaxation in the day and several beach clubs by night. They’re also near Tanah Lot, a popular rock formation, temple and tourist attraction).

The streets are lined with trendy bars, cafes and restaurants dishing up a range of cuisines. While the coastal beauty steals the show, inland there is much of the tropical beauty of places like Ubud, with the rice paddies at Pererenan among some of the most famed on the island.

Where to stay

Just five minutes away from the town’s closest amenities, The Slow has several suites with their own private pools, surrounded by nature in small, exclusive complexes. The interiors are laid-back chic, with bare stone walls and concrete floors complemented by natural colours and contemporary art. With plenty of indoor and outdoor space, it’s a mini-retreat among the hustle and bustle of Canggu.

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Tulamben is one of the island’s famous diving spots
Tulamben is one of the island’s famous diving spots (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Tulamben is a small fishing village on the northeast coast of Bali. It has become one of the island’s famous diving spots due to the presence of the wreck of the USAT Liberty, an American cargo ship that was sunk during the Second World War. The general area is home to dozens of coral reefs and different marine species, from turtles to reef sharks.

Diving (and related activities) are certainly the most popular thing to do on this part of the island, but the area itself is not short on natural beauty. Imposing mountains and scenic beaches are plentiful, with several of the latter covered in black stones due to previous volcanic activity from Mount Agung, the island’s most sacred mountain.

Where to stay

The town itself has a more calm, laid-back style than Bali’s tourist hotspots, making it a great spot for sampling a more authentic experience of Balinese culture. Relax Bali combines breathtaking coastal views with several diving courses and tour packages. The bungalows and villas are spacious and traditional in style (some have their own private pools), while the restaurant, pool and terrace areas have incredible sea views.

Nusa Dua

At The Laguna, accommodation can be found scattered around the meandering lagoon pools
At The Laguna, accommodation can be found scattered around the meandering lagoon pools (Marriott International Hotel)

This southern enclave of Bali is its own bubble, away from the wonderful chaos of the rest of the island (despite being just 30 minutes from Denpasar airport) and home to luxe hotels, sublime beaches and low-key nightlife. It’s a place where the VIP with an extra V come to get away from it, but the beaches are still public, so the slower pace will suit families as well as holidaymakers looking for a little more paradise than a party.

Where to stay

The Laguna Resort & Spa, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, is just about to complete a year-long renovation that covered its 287 rooms, suites and villas, as well as its restaurants and other facilities. Accommodation has a slick new look inspired by Balinese tales, and there are nautical elements, too – a nod to the resort’s seven swimmable lagoons. From July, there will also be the new beachfront Arwana restaurant, where cocktails and fresh seafood will keep you content during the most languorous days in the sun.


The pool at Potato Head Suites
The pool at Potato Head Suites (Purple PR)

Seminyak is another beach resort on the south of the island, not far from Canggu and with much of the same attraction for potential visitors. With white sands and azure waters, beaches such as Seminyak Beach, Double Six, and Petitenget stand out (and also offer great opportunities for snorkelling, diving and surfing), though Seminyak’s location means that trips to other hotspots are also easy.

Another location that comes alive after dark, Seminyak is also one of the island’s most popular nightlife spots, with an array of beach clubs, bars and restaurants. Those who enjoy a bit of shopping during their trips abroad can also explore local crafts markets and high street stores.

Where to stay

Potato Head Suites sits just a few steps from Batu Belig beach (and close to several others), with a swimming pool overlooking the coastline. Its restaurant serves a mix of Indonesian, Mediterranean and Italian food (with options for Asian and American-style breakfasts), and features a terrace that also capitalises on the impressive views.

Rooms are modern yet simple, with stone walls, large floor-to-ceiling windows and a mix of tiled and wooden flooring accompanied by local touches such as hammocks or thatched chairs.


A villa at Six Senses Uluwatu
A villa at Six Senses Uluwatu (Six Senses )

The Uluwatu region is located on the southwestern tip of Bali, on a coastline that is equally as famous for its rugged, towering cliffs as it is for its beautiful beaches. The famous Uluwatu Temple is perched on one such limestone cliff, with spectacular sunset views over the Indian Ocean. Another popular surfing destination, Uluwatu has several pristine beaches, including Padang Padang, Dreamland and Bingin, where relaxation and sunbathing are just as easy as catching waves.

There’s an emphasis on relaxation and cultural exploration rather than nightlife and partying in this area. Aside from the Temple, visitors can see local Kecak dance performances and find locally made souvenirs in traditional arts and crafts markets.

Where to stay

The area is also known for its range of high-end accommodations that make excellent use of cliffside locations. Six Senses Uluwatu is one such hotel, with a cliffside spot boasting dramatic ocean views. Its own pool sits excitingly close to the edge, while several accommodation options have excellent views from their balconies, terraces and private pools.

Its two restaurants serve an eclectic mix of Indonesian, Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, with a spa, sauna and 24-hour gym to visit between meals. If you’re still craving being at sea level, there are several beaches within a mile of the hotel.


The gym building and pool at The Samata
The gym building and pool at The Samata (The Samata Sanur )

Unlike its other southern counterparts, Sanur (on the southeast of the island) has engineered a reputation as a relaxed, calm alternative to places such as Canggu or Seminyak. Popular with families and expats, the area has a slower pace of life, with a large range of independent bars and restaurants (read: not owned by resorts), as well as places to stay. Jl Danau Tamblingan is the main street, and while you will find resorts and upmarket bars here, there’s a variety of more laid-back options.

The white sands and clear waters are also popular with families due to the lack of high waves or strong currents thanks to the coral reefs, with Sanur, Cemara and Karang among the best beaches. Many of them also have a promenade, so walking and cycling (especially at sunrise) are recommended activities. The calm waters are also perfect for several water sports.

Where to stay

The Samata is found near one such bit of Sanur coastline, with a postcard-worthy setting of lush greenery and rice fields that sit next to the ocean. Situated on the outskirts of town, the hotel has an on-site restaurant that serves international and Indonesian cuisine.

Rooms here range from suites to two-bedroom villas with a private pool. Suites are simpler, with an industrial feel to them, while villas come with contemporary, large, tiled rooms to go with a private patio and terrace – and all for a price that’s much more affordable than much of the rest of the island.

Read more: The best honeymoon hotels in Bali for a romantic escape

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