In the previous article, we launched the Bali story series with 25 images that will make you fall in love with the beauty and complexity of the island. This time, you will find out about one of the areas where I lived in Bali for 5 days, the most touristic and most populated on the island. It’s Kuta, a region situated just 15 minutes drive away from the airport on which you will land when you visit Bali, Ngurah Rai International Airport or Denpasar International Airport (DPS).
Kuta is the partying part of Bali, so if your holiday plan does not include clubs, traffic jam, and crowds, you should probably avoid coming here. However, even though through my description, as well as other bloggers who have been here, may seem a little crazy, there are some good reasons to book a few days of your itinerary for the most touristy part of the island, which you will learn by continuing to read the article.
Kuta was the first stop in the island’s exploration for a month, so this area gave me the first impressions of Bali, and I liked it, although I hadn’t seen Ubud yet. Even the taxi driver who took us from the airport and tried to lie to us that he is part of the Blue Birds taxi company (with whom I advise you to travel while in Bali) didn’t bother me too much, thanks to his welcoming attitude. However, when he realized he couldn’t fool us so easily, he reduced the price of the race considerably. Anyway, he lost some of the money on excess fuel, while he was trying hard to find the hotel we were staying at. Looks like we were among his first clients. Karma!
Let’s recap: If you’re surf lover, fun, shopping and crowds, Kuta is the perfect place for you. Otherwise, you’ll have to get here anyway because it’s kind of a New York Times Square, and Bali experience would not be complete without ticking this place. So, now that we know the visit is inevitable, let’s see what you can do and see here:
1.Try traditional food
Perhaps Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Sate, or Lawar will tell you nothing if you haven’t tried Balinese food before or haven’t visited Indonesia. Well, all these names will become extremely common in your vocabulary after spending a few days on the streets of Bali. These dishes are traditional, and you will find them in every restaurant, every corner of the street, and even to the strolling vendors. The food is cheaper as you buy it from the street, and not from a fancy restaurant overlooking the ocean, and sometimes it can be even tastier and more authentic, being prepared with great skill by locals.
Although after a month of eating almost every day rice with chicken or noodles with chicken, I thought I didn’t want to see anything like this again in my life, now I would give a lot so my taste buds could be spoiled again by specific Balinese dishes. Noodles I had tried before, but they couldn’t compare at all with what I tasted in Bali. When it comes to prices, they can vary a lot depending on the area, and the way they are prepared. They can be found for a dollar and even for $10.
2. Go shopping on the streets or at the BeachWalk Mall
One important thing to note is that in Kuta you will find a kind of heaven for shopping, and the best part is that absolutely everything is negotiable, except for malls or stores where it is specified that the price is fixed. So before you get here, you should make a few visits to the market in your neighborhood, and practice your negotiating skills, as training is absolutely necessary.
The streets of Kuta are filled with all kinds of kiosks, shops and stalls where you can find everything from clothes, jewellery, cosmetics (most often copies of famous and trendy brands), art objects, essential oils, soaps, candles, but also dream catchers, some decorations with different shapes and colors that, according to the legend, protect you against unpleasant dreams.
The Balinese are extremely skilled in wood sculpture and the making of extremely complicated but particularly beautiful works of art, and I assure you that you will seriously think about decorating your entire home with objects found on the island. Still, while you will admire the beauty of the handicrafts exhibited all over the streets, the inevitable will happen, and you will be amazed when you will notice with stupor and indignation some sculptures in the shape of a penis (no joke here!). If you’ve been traveling to Thailand, then surely these talismans, as local people call them, are already familiar to you, otherwise, you will wonder how they are here, among those gorgeous paintings and splendid bibelots. Well, these objects represent the symbol of fertility in the Balinese culture and are also called palad khik. They are worn by men to help them look more attractive in the eyes of the women, to enhance their luck, and to avoid dangers. They can also be worn by women to protect them from rape and theft. In short, they are common among the superstitious Balinese, and for you, they can represent special souvenir.
I insist with the negotiation talent! Don’t forget that whenever you want to buy something, start by saying a price at least 3 times smaller than the one originally told by the seller, and ask about the same article in several stores. However, be polite and respect the vendors who ensure their daily living from what they manage to sell.
If you are looking for brands known as Zara, H & M and Bershka, you can go to BeachWalk Mall, a few dozen meters from the beach, a shopping center with an open space design and very green that will make you remember you are on an island.
3.Inspire yourself from the surfers talent on Kuta Beach
Bali is a destination with a reputation amongst the surfers. On most of the beaches on the island, the waves are perfect for practicing this sport, so you can see them in great numbers everywhere. If you are a good communicator and want to try surfing, Kuta Beach is the perfect place to do that. You can enroll at a surf school, or you can choose an experienced local resident, and pay him for the hours spent instructing you on how to rule the waves. I can’t give you more details because I didn’t go down in this direction.
4. Admire the Balinese architecture
Of all the places in South Asia, the tropical-style architecture of Bali is by far the most famous and recognizable. This is probably due largely to the talent of the island’s inhabitants, highlighting the materials and details. Exploring the streets, you will notice that there is no construction that breaks the harmony of the general landscape, all being built in the same characteristic style, using organic materials such as teak, coconut, bamboo, bricks, and stones.
Even though they are similar to each other, each has a unique and extremely sophisticated design that includes floral patterns and sculptures, portraying deities and dragons, characters of major importance in Balinese culture. I was also very impressed by the gardens, which are very beautiful and nicely decorated, with many tropical plants, artesian fountains, and artificial mini lakes, where multi-colored fish are swimming.
Overall, the architecture of Bali seems to me extremely solid and very nice shaped, unforgettable … It is a pleasure to walk on the streets and photograph the fences, roofs or sacred places where women lay flowers for the deities they believe in.
5.Test the most exotic fruits you can meet on the island
One of the things I had to check on the Bali trip was to taste as many exotic fruits as I could not meet elsewhere, or if I found them, they would be exported, so the experience would not be the same. So, I went to a supermarket and bought the weirdest fruits I found. I filled the basket with red dragon, manggis, rambutan, guava, different types of mango, star fish, durian monthong, and others whose name I probably forgot.
I did not find anything having a particularly good taste, but for sure the melon durian was an experience I would certainly never repeat. It has a very nasty odor and a texture that is not at all my taste. Red dragon and star fish seemed totally devoid of any flavor, and bananas had an incredibly high price. However, I recommend you not leave Bali until you test these fruits. Even though I was not impressed by their taste, you may find something to please you.
6. Help release the baby seaturtles in the sea
The only regret I had when I visited the island was that I didn’t synchronize with the moment the baby seaturtles are released in the ocean. The phenomenon is extremely popular on the island and takes place on the beach in Kuta, where the Bali Sea Turtles Society headquarters is located. It takes place every year, between April and October and can be attended by anyone who would like to participate. Learn more by reading the posts on the official Facebook page of the event.
It is very easy to identify the address of the headquarters. Walking on the beach of Kuta, you will notice a giant statue of a turtle. If you are in Bali in the immediate period after incubation, I recommend you get involved in saving the babies and help them take the first steps towards their underwater life.
7.Try the rolls ice cream
A culinary experience to check in Bali is the ice cream rolls. This is not the only place on the planet where you can find the ice cream prepared in this way, but it is definitely a great place to try it. I recommend the one with Oreo. It’s absolutely delicious!!!
8. Have fun in the pubs and clubs on Legian Kaja Boulevard
It is no longer a secret that the nightlife of Kuta is one that is rightly incendiary. With the evening, Legian Kaja Boulevard is filled with tourists coming especially from Australia, eager to spend an evening with lots of music and drinks. The atmosphere is very jolly, the music echoes in the speakers, and you just need the energy to have fun. I recommend you go to a restaurant to have dinner, then head to a pub with live music where you can meet new people or to one of the most famous clubs in the area, Sky Garden. In short, the fun is at her home in Kuta.
- Be careful when making a currency exchange. There are very many people who put your money under their sleeve in milliseconds. It happened to us, but fortunately, we were fast enough and insightful so he couldn’t fool us.
- Also, be careful with those who will insistently try to sell you drugs. These are strictly forbidden, and the penalties are extremely high.
- Always swim only in the areas marked by lifeguards, so you don’t put your safety in danger.
- I recommend you to use Uber. Although the app is still not officially approved there, many locals are earning their money that way and is one of the cheapest way to travel long distances.
- Street food is very good, and I recommend you try it, but first of all, make sure that the place where you buy your food is completely hygienic.