This is Part 2 of my Bali Travel Overview which started here.
For some people, these villages situated along a large stretch of beach in the South of the island represent everything that Bali has to offer. The beach, cheap food, cheap accommodation and most importantly, cheap booze. These elements combine to give Kuta, Legian and Seminyak a distinct party feel.
Kuta is the cheaper end of town and consequently has a grungy edge – alleyways with cheap eateries home to local surfer culture, big bars home to Australian football teams on a mid-season break and innumerable shops catering to those shopping on a budget. Large numbers of families visit Kuta on the cheap and there is plenty of accommodation to cater specifically for this demographic. Large sprawling hotels with nice swimming pools, kids’ activities and a bar for Mum and Dad. Catering to the surfer/backpacker market, guesthouses are located in the vast maze of alleyways bounded by Jalan Pantai Kuta (Kuta Beach Road) and Jalan Legian. All of these places are cheap and usually come with a breakfast of fruit and omelette/pancake.
Food choices in Kuta can be a bit of a disappointment given the opportunities that must abound for proprietors. Many menus look identical, trying to serve up every option imaginable, both Western and Asian. Sometimes these menus have several hundred items and one must wonder how any chef could do any of the dishes justice and how on Earth any of the food could be fresh! With that said, it’s worth putting some effort into finding places that serve more limited selections and sticking to those places that have good numbers of people in attendance.
Kuta itself does not have a whole lot to offer in terms of tourist activities. There is the beach and there is shopping. That’s about it. You might spot the odd cockfight in a side street, but you’d have to be lucky.
I view Legian as just an extension of Kuta. And in reality, it is. Most people don’t even know where Kuta ends and Legian starts because development merges the two into one big mass. With that said, the eating options tend to get a little better when entering Legian with some more cosidered operators serving up country-specific cuisines. You’ll also find some of the better local Indonesian foods in Legian – Warung Melati on Jalan 66 being just about the best I’ve ever had. Accommodation options tend to start increasing in price and quality as do the shops giving the area an ever-so-slightly more refined vibe.
Seminyak is the place you go if you like the beach, partying, hedonism and have a bit more money. Plenty of expats live here and life can be one big blur of parties, social engagements and living it up. So it goes without saying that this is where all the best hotels are located. Names such as the Oberoi, The Legian and a selection of some of the best villas in the world are all here. THE BEST. I mean it.
With the party scene so dominant in this area, there is of course a range of upmarket bars to be seen at, serving imaginative cocktails and mean beats. The atmosphere in some of these places can be intoxicating but for the uninitiated, intimidating. Without some measure of self-confidence, you will feel like everyone is just too cool for school.
Eating options in this area and further North in Kerobokan change frequently due to the cut throat nature of the business and the price of rent. There are some mainstays that never fail to serve up world-class fare at prices that are almost always less than what you would pay in the West – usually about half the price. If you’re in the Kuta, Legian, Seminyak area and you are a foodie, this is the lace to get world-class food at half the price you’d pay anywhere else. Bliss!
Again, the sights in Seminyak are few and far between. The beach and the bars – and maybe a massage. That’s not to say it isn’t a great place to relax, but tourist activities all lie further afield and will require some form of transport.
So why go to this area if there is nothing to see? Well, some people love the beach, eating and drinking. And if that is you, at least just for a few days, this is the place to go. Your budget will determine the area you stay in and the people you socialise with as is the case in the West. Just choose your place and go for gold. There is much fun to be had!