Kuta

For other places with the same name, see Kuta (disambiguation).

Kuta is the best known tourist resort area on the island of Bali in Indonesia.

Understand

Kuta

With a long broad Indian Ocean beach-front, Kuta was originally discovered by tourists as a surfing paradise. It has long been a popular stop on the classic Banana Pancake Trail backpacking route in South East Asia. Back in the 1980s they used to talk about the three Ks: Kathmandu in Nepal, Khao San Road in Bangkok and Kuta. Today Kuta still attracts some hardcore backpackers as well as families and tourists from all over the world, and is most notably a playground for young visitors from Australia.

Due to the ever increasing popularity of Bali, Kuta is continually developing, and is not short of unsightly, poorly planned buildings. It can come across at times to be chaotic, overcrowded and congested. However, amongst all the mayhem this place somehow works, and hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy their time in Kuta every year.

Infrastructure has come a long way in Kuta, although it is still insufficient for the amount of visitors who stay in the area. Some side alleys still have significant potholes and road rules still don't mean very much. Most roads are constantly busy with motor scooters, metered taxis and private cars. Instead of using signals, locals and the seasoned travellers honk their motor vehicles to signal overtaking or squeezing into a tight spot near you. Cars often fold in their side mirrors when negotiating narrow single lanes with parked vehicles. Now you can access free Wi-Fi in local convenience stores, restaurants, cafes and hotels. There are half a dozen prepaid mobile phone sim cards available everywhere with competitive top up plans. Touts will persistently try to get you to buy something from them, whether you're walking on the streets or seated in a restaurant.

The five km long sandy stretch of Kuta is arguably the best beach front in Bali. The beach is safe, partially clean, well-maintained, although the beach vendors remain annoying pushing massages, hair braiding, cigarettes and surf boards. The long wide stretch of sand is often full of sunbathers and although most of the serious surfers have moved on to newer pastures, there are still plenty of surf dudes around at most times of the year, and especially so during peak season. As you move north along the beach to first Legian and then Seminyak and Petitenget it becomes progressively quieter and less frenetic.

The area of south Kuta closest to the airport is more correctly known as Tuban, but this name is rarely used.

Once the sun goes down, Kuta is the rough and ready party zone of Bali, even after the tragic events of 2002. Even the most hardened of party animal will find something to please them on Jalan Legian at night.

Tourism Information Offices

Get in

Map of Kuta

By plane

Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport (DPS), is in fact directly south of Kuta, about 15 minutes away by taxi. More information about the airport is in the main Bali article.

The prepaid fare from the airport to Kuta is around Rp 120,000. If you don't have too much luggage, you can save some money by walking 200 metres out of the airport area, and take a metered taxi (taksi berargo) from a company that does not pay service fees to the airport authority and is therefore not allowed to enter the airport to pick up customers. For example, a metered taxi from Bali Taksi (+62 361 701111) will run to about Rp 20,000 for the same trip. Before putting yourself through all that though you might wish to ask yourself whether it is worth it to save just a few dollars. You could book a fixed price taxi via a smart phone app such as GrabTaxi or Go-Jek. You can also catch a bemo from outside the airport to Kuta for Rp 5,000-10,000. If you can find one.

By car

Kuta is reached by the main Jalan Ngurah Rai bypass from points north (Denpasar, Sanur and Ubud), and south (Jimbaran, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu. If you are coming in from Seminyak be sure to take the Jalan Sunset bypass and not the congested beach route along Jalan Raya Seminyak and Jalan Legian.

By bus

Kuta is connected by bus routes from all areas of Bali. There are various scheduled shuttle services including Perama . Perama shuttle buses to Kuta leave from Sanur, Ubud, Candidasa, Padang Bai and Lovina.

By bemo

As elsewhere in Bali, bemos are rarer and far less important in Kuta than they used to be. This reflects both the increased number of Balinese who are wealthy enough to afford their own transport, and the huge upscaling of the very nature of tourism in Bali in the past 10 years. Bemo Corner, in the heart of Kuta at the junction of Jalan Legian and Jalan Raya Kuta, used to be an institution on the backpacker circuit. These days it is almost irrelevant, but the little blue buses are still there albeit in greatly reduced numbers, and they will still try to charge you five times the real rate.

Kuta is served with some regularity from Denpasar's Tegal bemo terminal.

By boat

Benoa Harbor not to be confused with Tanjung Benoa is around 20 min northeast of Kuta, and speedboats and cruises from the Gili Islands, Lombok and Nusa Lembongan arrive here. Most companies operating from Benoa offer free pick-up and drop-off in and around Kuta.

Get around

Kuta Beach front

Kuta stretches along the beachfront all the way from the airport to Legian, and small lanes lead from the beaches into the densely populated accommodation zone. To avoid traffic-related frustrations, the best option is a combination of walking in small lanes and using metred taxis or a rented motorbike for longer excursions.

By car

Traffic jams are a constant hassle here and especially so when it is raining. It is often best to park your car before you reach central Kuta, and then walk in. The centre is only about one and a half kilometres in length and half a kilometre wide but when stuck in traffic you might easily spend 30 minutes or more to travel these short distances.

There are some designated parking areas in the middle of Kuta (usually Rp 5,000 for an unlimited stay) including a large one on Jalan Legian near the top of Poppies II. There are also public parking bays on Jalan Pantai Kuta right beside the beach, but these can get very busy.

Finding a rental car company is easy in Kuta, especially in Poppies I and Poppies II. A small rental car starts from Rp140,000 with third party insurance. Add another Rp100,000 or so for a comprehensive cover. Check your rental contract for specifics before signing. The rental car can be driven to your accommodation for pick up.

By shuttle bus

South Bali now has a new public local shuttle bus service called Kura Kura Bus. The bus service connects popular tourist areas daily from 8:30 until 22:00 (depending on the line). Flat fare rates for a single journey. Rates vary for each line. Kuta, Legia, Seminyak are all Rp 20,000. Jimabaran and Sanur are Rp 40,000. Nusa Dua and South Nusa Dua is Rp 50,000. Ubud is Rp 80,000.

By taxi

Metered taxis (taksi berargo) are ubiquitous on the streets of Kuta and are a relatively cheap and reliable way to get around, especially at night. Avoid any taxi where the driver refuses to put the meter on. This is increasingly rare but you will still find the odd taxi driver who is stuck in a 1990s timewarp. It's still a common problem at night time along the main bar and club stretch of Jalan Legian.

The largest, most reputable and most reliable taxi operators are Bluebird and Bali Taksi. Sometimes these taxis are not available at night in the immediate vicinity of discos and bars as other smaller companies may have exclusive arrangements with these businesses. However, the more reputable and reliable taxis can be found easily by walking a little up the street. It would be in your interests to seek out a Bluebird taxi in this situation.

Be aware that, since BlueBird and Bali Taxi have the best reputations, a number of other drivers have started to try and make their taxis look very similar, using blue vehicles with names like Taxi Bali, or a logo that's similar to the BlueBird. Look very carefully, sometimes at first glance the imitators can be quite convincing.

If you wish to use a taxi ensure the destination is clear with the driver before you enter the taxi and that the driver will be using the meter.

If the driver does not agree to use the meter seek an alternative taxi.

Having entered the taxi ensure the driver understands the destination requirement and turns on the meter (argo). At the end of the journey pay the amount showing on the meter. Do not accept any requests from the driver for extra payment or surcharges of any kind other than the payment of tolls or parking fees, these are the responsibility of the passenger, not the driver.

The driver may not provide change if you only have large notes, ensure you obtain smaller notes prior to travel or stop on-route, otherwise you will most likely have to round-up the payment and not receive any change.

To avoid paying too much or to avoid the haggling, try using a smart app booking service such as GrabTaxi. You are more likely to find a driver if you position yourself at an easy and convenient location for pick up on a major road and by a well known place such as outside a KFC or mini mart and not down a narrow alleyway.

By motorbike

Those with a sense of adventure should try hopping on the back of a local scooter. They are always looking for a passenger, making negotiation easier and more successful. This type of informal transport is called an ojek and is fast and cheap. It is now possible to download booking apps for finding ojek drivers at fixed rates, including insurance. For example Go-Jek.

You can choose to rent a scooter for your stay. There are literally thousands of scooters available for rent: these should cost no more than Rp 35,000-50,000 per day rental, and between Rp 30,000-45,000 per day for rental of a week or more. Insist on a helmet for the motorcycle, for both your own safety and because wearing a helmet is a legal requirement in Indonesia; you will be stopped by the police and fined for riding without a helmet. It should be understood that the streets can be chaotic and dangerous for inexperienced riders so consider carefully before renting a motorcycle. If you intend to surf, there are plenty of specially modified motorbikes with surfboard hangers.

By bicycle

You could hire a bicycle to get around on, it would save on too much walking or needing to pay for taxis. Sadly there are not many places to rent bicycles in Bali anymore except in Sanur. If you want a good quality bicycle to rent the try Bali Bike hire. They can deliver bicycles to you if needed.

See

Bali Bomb Memorial on Jalan Legian, Kuta

Surfing, shopping & partying are the three main events in Kuta, and interesting attractions are very thin on the ground. The beach is of course very scenic here, if nearly always crowded.

Do

Surfing

Kuta is a well known destination amongst surfing enthusiasts. A long sandy beach with a lack of dangerous rocks or coral, makes the area attractive for beginners.

Spa/Massage

There are Spas by the dozen, and as Kuta is the most competitive place in Bali, prices are the lowest (as is the quality of experience). Shop around and ask for package discounts. Take a look at the place first and do not allow yourself be talked into something by touts. A well known spa is Villa de Daun on Jalan Legian. Many hotels have their own in-house spas or partner with a local operator. Reborn and Cozy are two excellent spas on the outskirts of Kuta, on Sunset Road just before the roundabout. The price is around Rp 120,000 for 2-hours, but have "happy hour" specials.

Beware of the women offering massages on the beach. They are seasoned at ripping off tourists: be sure you have agreed to a price and a duration, or you'll find yourself with a 10-minute massage.

Other

Sunset at the temple of Pura Luhur Uluwatu above the cliffs

Enjoy the sunset. In the evenings plenty of people head down to the beach or seaside cafes to watch the wonderful sunset. Be in place by about 17:30, for a sunset between 18:15 and 18:45. The area in front of McDonald's and the Hard Rock Cafe can be a bit hectic with touts selling spearguns, henna tattoos and massages. Going north, the hassle drops exponentially, with the Legian/Padma Beach area being a wonderfully relaxing place to watch sunset.

Learn

Buy

Shopping malls

Large, western-style shopping malls are hardly a typical Bali shopping experience, but the best ones on the island are in the Kuta area.

Eat

Great balls of fire

Bakso (meatball) soup is cheap and tasty any time of the day. Vendors wander the streets with their steaming wooden food carts and are easily located by the 'tink-tink-tink' sound of a spoon hitting a soup bowl. The soup is a small-ish bowl of MSG-laden meaty broth with some thick yellow egg noodle, meatballs and the optional extras of fried wanton, fried tofu, hard-boiled egg and some vegetables. Add some mild chili sauce and sweet soy for a bit more flavour.

Bakso

You can find any manner of international and local food here. Restaurants are usually either very cheap or in the mid-range. Exclusive restaurants are rare but there are some gems. For luxury dining head 15 minutes up the road to Seminyak.

Budget

Beach-stall food is delicious, filling and very cheap. These are dotted along Kuta and Legian beach beneath the trees or road-side awnings.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Kuta is the low end party centre of Bali. It has recovered well from the bomb blasts in 2002 & 2005 and tourists still flock to the bars where alcohol is served freely and excessively. Many of the bars have a house cocktail with a local arak (rice spirit) base. These go by charming names like Jam Jar and Fish Bowl, pack a huge punch and make customers very ill.

Jalan Legian bars

Jalan Legian between Poppies Gang I & II is the main party area and things tend to get going around midnight and go until 03:00-04:00. The biggest venues are:

Poppies Lane II bars

Closer to the hotels and eateries and having a more laid back sort of atmosphere, Poppies Lane II is where many of the younger crowd go to start their night off before hitting the dancefloors at the clubs on Jalan Legian. Gets busy from 21:00 until midnight. The more popular places are:

Kuta waterfront bars

Along the waterfront on Jalan Pantai Kuta there are some slightly more sophisticated bar and lounge options. Most are lounges that offer food and entertainment afterwards. Definitely an option to explore and not so overrun by the Australian party groups.

Sports bars

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under US$25
Mid-range US$-100
Splurge Over US$100

Kuta has a huge range of accommodation mostly in the budget and mid-range markets. Private villas are few and far between as Kuta just lacks the space for expansive private properties. Prices are often negotiable especially outside of the peak seasons (July/August, Christmas, New Year and other obvious holidays). During peak seasons, always book ahead.

Budget

There are a lot of cheap guest houses in the Rp 120,000-250,000 range on Poppies II, but you can often find nicer places on the small lanes between Poppies I and II. Visitors should be aware that a lot of the budget accommodation in Kuta is very tired. Always see the room first & haggle. It is becoming difficult to find budget accommodation if you arrive late in the day. Budget places (under US$10) may not take reservations, so trying to arrive around noon or 13:00 as people check-out is a good strategy to try and find cheap accommodation.

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

The safety advice given here applies more in Kuta than anywhere else in Bali. Take heed, have fun, but be sensible.

Connect

Free Wi-Fi for customers has become very widespread in cafes, restaurants, hotels in Kuta - look for the signs.

You can easily buy a prepaid mobile SIM card at a local sundry shop for about Rp 25,000, which will come in handy when making hotel reservations or booking tours. They are also available at Circle-K and other convenience chains, but will cost more for the same deal. Get the seller to activate the SIM card for you unless you understand instructions in Bahasa Indonesia fairly well. There should be no need to top up the card, as text messaging and short local calls will cost you next to nothing. If required, top up plans are competitive and sold at the same type of outlets.

There is a post office in a small lane off Poppies I which is also home to several 'wartels' (phone shops) which provide public IDD and fax facilities.

Cope

The following nations have honorary consulates in Kuta, though the names of the consulates confusingly include the words "in Denpasar":

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, November 11, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.