Category Archives: Bali

Kuta nightlife: the Cancun of Asia. Surf, Get Drunk, Get Laid.

Bali nightlife guide – Kuta nightlife

This post is about the Kuta nightlife experience in Bali. I came to Bali expecting relaxing beaches, but that’s apparently not why people go to the place I ended up, Kuta.

If you’re going to Bali, why Kuta?  People go to Kuta to

  1. Surf
  2. Get drunk.
  3. Get laid.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

If that’s what you’re looking for – winner! If you’re looking for a relaxing beach, as I was, you’ve chosen wrong.

Kuta nightlife in Bali

Partying is far from being a primary goal of my travel, but meeting twenty and thirty-somethings from around the world is awesome.

Kuta is the Bali nightlife capital, and it might be the equivalent for Australians of Cancun for Americans.  Bali nightlife for singles is in Kuta.

What do people like about Kuta?

It’s easy to get to (for Aussies), cheap once you’re there, and great parties with other travelers. Spring break is 24/7/365.  If GTL is the motto on the Jersey shore, then Surf-party-surf might be the equivalent here. Surf, nightlife, surf, meet travelers, surf, get faced, get laid in Bali. Welcome to Kuta. It’s not the experience I was looking for but it was fun. Considering I didn’t know anybody upon arrival, it was a great transition to begin my trip.

Bali Nightlife starts in Kuta with new friends
This is just the pre-game – it’s like this for 12 hours per day in Kuta, the nightlife capital of Bali
Photos of Kuta nightlife in Bali. Bali nightlife for singles starts in Kuta with parties like these
The nightlife starts in Kuta with parties like these.
Best Bali nightlife for singles – your Kuta nightlife guide
  • Happy hour in Kuta includes unlimited vodka red bull drinks.
  • Bounty” has 6 bars, a live music area with cover bands, and 2 clubs.
  • Two doors down is 61 Legian / Sky Garden Lounge/ ESC  and it might be bigger.
  • Another place I went to had 2 hours of free drinks with unlimited tapas.

You can see how this can be a crazy place. Bali nightlife, particularly Kuta nightlife, is crazy. Travelers come looking to surf and get laid in Bali – and they find plenty of both.  The Kuta beach experience is mediocre (recommendations on where in Bali to actually go for beaches below), but if you’re looking for craziness, come to Bali, head to Kuta, and come ready to party.

While at times it seems like most people visit Kuta for drinking, partying, and sex with other travelers, Bali nightlife isn’t the only draw in Kuta. Many travelers go to Kuta for surfing. Surfing is popular all over Bali, and particularly in Kuta.

Who goes to Kuta?

The bars in Kuta in Bali are a filled with Australians, Germans, British, Russians, and more, up for crazy parties, meeting other young people, and post-game after-hours adventures.

After a crazy night of hedonism in Kuta, for many, the mornings often start with the “walk of shame” for a lot of travelers, before hitting the beach for surfing and starting the cycle over.

Top Bali nightlife bars/lounges

Other Kuta nightlife options that I heard good things about – District Club, Pyramid Club, Hypnotized Club, Centerstage at Hard Rock Cafe Bali.

Photos from Kuta nightlife

Below are some photos from one of the nights when my new friends from Russia met up with me.  You’ll meet people from all over the world – these new friends below are from Siberia!

Kuta nightlife in Bali, Indonesia - at Sky Garden, 61 Legian, & Bounty. nightlife in Kuta photo
Bali nightlife party photos taken from Sky Garden, 61 Legian, and Bounty, all in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Kuta: the most popular beach in Bali

Kuta is also where nobody relaxes on the beach – this is the first place I’ve ever been to that’s known for their beach where nobody actually relaxes on the beach. Everybody’s surfing, and nursing their hangover, and there’s locals hassling nearly everybody on the beach to buy something. It isn’t the most beautiful of beaches, but that could just be my impression. I’m told it’s not overcast and raining every day (that’s just my trip) through Bali. I made the best of it – learned to surf and got SCUBA-certified!

Bali nightlife isn’t just about Kuta. Nightlife in Bali is also big in Semynak too.

Nearby in Semenyak, Bali, Indonesia, there’s bars and clubs just like in Kuta, perhaps a tad classier (and more pricey but it’s relative), and nicer restaurants. If I went back I’d consider staying in Semenyak instead. I actually tried to move to a hotel in Semenyak but upon arrival they acknowledged that I had a reservation but told me that they’re full and can’t accomodate. Whaaaaaat? This happened twice so I eventually gave up and stayed in Kuta. Ahhhh!

When the hotel in Semenyak Bali said they had my reservation but no rooms, it reminded me of the Seinfeld clip when he’s renting a car (below):

Where’s the best beach in Bali?

It’s not in Kuta! If you’re looking for the best beach in Bali, people said me that Dreamland is the class of Bali. And Ubud is Bali’s most chill area; I heard around two dozen reviews and every one of them was positive. One of my friends went to a yoga retreat there for the final week of her trip and loved it.

My hotel in Kuta Bali Indonesia added this during my stay. After some Bali nightlife I came home at 4am and as I turned the corner coming home from the bars after a few drinks I saw this.
My hotel in Kuta added this during my stay – imagine first noticing it at 4am as you turn the corner coming home from the bars after a few drinks

Drugs in Bali

Warning – The Bali Nine – if partying for you often includes pot or other more serious drugs, you should know that Indonesia takes drugs VERY seriously, especially when it comes to drug trafficking. Nine twenty-something Aussies (actually 18-28 years old) were caught smuggling illegal drugs (18 pounds of heroin) and were sentenced to the death penalty. The group ringleaders, Chan and Sukumaran, were sentenced to death via firing squad. Their story is ongoing and is infamous at this point – they’re known at the “Bali Nine” smuggling gang. The Australian Prime Minister asked they give clemency and was denied, and in July’11 they lost their appeal. They were sentenced to death by the Indonesian government for smuggling heroin into the country. Death by firing squad – I didn’t know countries still did that.

Full story in this article here, on the Bali Nine wikipedia page, as well as in the book, One-Way Ticket : The Untold Story of the Bali 9.

Also check out my post on the party scene in Panama

Saving money in Bali – a “fancy” $29 hotel?

** Update: now that I’ve traveled around Asia. Looking back I can hardly believe I spent $29 on a hotel for a single night. Eventually I’d be finding places of similar caliber for $12 in Vietnam.

Saving money on my first hotel in Bali

My first hotel was adequate and at ~$29 USD. It cost less than any hotel I’ve ever stayed in.  It’s clean, safe, centrally located, had a pool, and came with free breakfast (choice of banana pancakes, eggs, or an Indonesian rice and noodle mix).

From there I headed to Semynak (the town on the island of Bali), where I had a reservation.  Apparently that doesn’t mean much.

Despite my reservation and confirmation, they said they were full (picture Seinfeld saying “anyone can TAKE a reservation. but the key is HOLDING it…”) but suggested I “come back in a few days to see if it opens up.”

In a few days?? Yeah sure, look out for me.

I had checked out of my other hotel already, and had plans to meet up with some new friends in a town called Kuta, where I found my new hotel.

From Semynak to Kuta

Kuta’s a beach town but nobody goes there to just lay in the sun. I don’t think I’ve seen more than a dozen people reading on the beach. People go to Kuta for the surfing and the Bali party scene with other travelers (half of which are Aussies).

The new hotel I went to was just built. It has a pool and free breakfast like the other place, plus a/c, hot showers with water pressure, and wifi in the room, and features brand new rooms that look like this:

bed in bali hotel

bathroom in my cheap hotel
The shower is part of the bathroom (no stall, no curtain, no tub) – drain right beneath it with a slight slope in the floor. I actually liked it.

It’s located on a side alley, which they call “gangs” in Bali, and “Poppies Gang 2” is a bit closer to the beach. As a solo traveler, less than a week from starting my trip, I certainly wasn’t comfortable yet, but this is where all the hotels are, besides luxury ones on the beach (which are nice, but pricey and more importantly private. I wanted social).

The “Obama discount”

I should mention, the price listed at the desk was much higher, around the equivalent of $48 USD, but everything’s negotiable. We agree on the equivalent of $29 USD (I’m of course paying in IDR), and he announced to the team behind the desk that he was giving me what he called an “Obama discount.”

Negotiating cheap taxis

When I mention which hotel I’m staying in, the guy I’m talking with refers to it as a “fancy” hotel.  This is surprising to me.  I provide directions and an address to my cab driver. After a brief pause – “oh, the fancy hotel.”

Is it really that fancy?  It won’t take long to realize that’s how they’re sizing you up, determining how much you can afford to pay. This certainly impacts negotiations for goods.

Soon you realize telling them the exact hotel means it’ll be more expensive. It means they think there’s a good chance you’ll pay way more than other people.

You can often still get the price you want, because there’s a gluttony of supply compared with the demand for nearly everything. However, it’ll just take a little longer to negotiate.

If you’re Indonesian, or apparently look like you could be, the negotiation is much different. One of my new friends is from Singapore, and this seemed to be an advantage here. The negotiation starts at a fraction of where it would if I asked the price. They’re more likely to provide a higher price before you say you’re interested, as compared with someone that looks more local.

Dinner – English with English subtitles –

We had dinner at the Swell Cafe in Bali. My dinner cost about $4 total. Besides great food for cheap prices, people come here for free wifi and movies on their big screen projector.  It’s funny watching Hollywood movies in english but with english subtitles. They’re translated to the broken english the way the local Balinese that are still learning English often speak.