A few weeks back I wrote about my experiences in Ubud on the isle of Bali, Indonesia. Long story short? I loved it there. It was a peaceful respite after all our various misadventures in Vietnam.
I did not however love it in my next destination: Kuta. While I did get some good pictures (it's hard to mess up the sunset), overall I found Kuta, Bali to be wholly underwhelming.
The reality is that I got lazy.
I knew of Kuta. I knew it was convenient and easy to get to, and I figured since it was the last few days of our trip we would just be beach bumming anyways. Now having been there I can definitely see why people were warning me against it, and I'd like to add my own voice to that chorus.
If you're going to Bali, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by going to Kuta. Bali has so much more. If I ever return I'll definitely be following the advice listed below. But before we get to alternatives, let's start with...
Why should you avoid Kuta?
First and foremast, it is essentially a playground for Australian university students. Imagine a university bar-street, combined with island fever, and a general consensus that your actions lack consequences. Imagine all that and you'll be in the ballpark of what Kuta is like.
It's not that I have a problem with partying, because I've certainly enjoyed a bucket or two in my time, but if all you're looking to do is getting wasted - you don't have to take an international flight to do it. Also, maybe it's that I'm approaching my mid-twenties, but somewhere along the line I stopped being interested in warm beer, the miniest of mini-skirts, and clubs that only play Top 40.
There's a classier way to party... and Kuta falls far short of that mark.
More significant than the lack of class, was the lack of culture. Unfortunately, this is a mistake I have made more than once throughout my travels in Southeast Asia (another good example being Phuket, Thailand) but when people say touristy, they don't just mean that there are other tourists. They mean that the local culture has been wiped out.
In it's stead are modern restaurants such as McDonalds, Western shopping such as Billabong, and what natives you do see are generally trying to sell you something - whether it be knickknacks, clothing, transportation, and sometimes even drugs.
Kuta is no exception. When walking the avenues it's hard not to notice that essentially all traces of authentic Balinese culture have been totally eradicated and replaced with establishments that cater specifically to the mass of tourists that dominate the area. It's sad, unnecessary, and if it sounds like an ugly situation, that's because it is.
It's not that I have a problem with Western amenities on their own, but rather that they seem to follow the tourist mass and when they do they leave little room for the culture that came before. If I learned anything from a degree in International Affairs, it's that "West" has a problem with staying within it's own borders. Though this is a trend I read about over and over in university, having actually seen it with my own eyes is quite sobering.
Authentic Balinese culture is kind, warm, and deeply spiritual - a far cry from what can be seen on a daily basis on the streets of Kuta.
Part of me feels kind of bad writing about a place so negatively. I try to keep things on this blog more or less upbeat, because I believe that every situation has an upside. However, I've had several people ask me for suggestions about Bali, and I feel I should be honest.
The bottom line? Bali has so much more to offer (and it's all so much better)
Alternatives to Kuta
- Seminyak: Though this is just the next beach North of Kuta, from what I've heard Seminyak is worlds away. Classier and cleaner than Kuta, Seminyak is that glossy older sister who has her act together. I would suggest this destination for people who want to enjoy their Balinese vacation in style and aren't looking to get too far off the grid. Seminyak is still pretty touristy, but in a much more positive way.
- Ubud: This place was Yogi heaven. If you've ever been to Boulder, Colorado, it's just like that... but on a tropical island. Ubud has a very new-world, good-vibes-only energy. There's not much in the way of partying, but there is lots of good food, unique shopping, and endless opportunities for relaxation and serenity.
- Lovina: Located in the Northeastern section of Bali, Lovina is a sleepier, smaller, and significantly less crowded beach town. When staying here you can take tour the many sites on the less-populated Northern part of the island, enjoy a dolphin watching cruise, or just relax in a town that has not yet been trampled by the tourist hoards.
Seminyak, Bali - Hither & Thither
Bali Bible: 9 Things You Must Do in Seminyak - Love Bangers
Unwinding in Ubud, Bali - A Beautiful View
Blissing Out in Ubud, Bali - Alex in Wanderland
The London Foods Goes to Lovina, Bali - The London Foodie
Lovina and the North of Bali - A Traveller's Journey
Have you ever been to Kuta? What did you think? If you have any other great alternatives in Bali please do comment below! I hope to head back someday, so I would love to hear your input. And always remember, sharing is caring :) You can also find me on Facebook or Twitter.
Enjoy the beautiful view!