Kuta is the best known tourist area on the island of Bali in Indonesia and offers a decent surfing beach, despite being chronically overdeveloped. Visitors who feel overwhelmed by aggressive hawkers, American fast food and traffic jams should base themselves further along the coast towards nearby Seminyak.
Kuta is still a fun destination for a big night of bar and club-hopping along several dozen low-end nightclubs and 50+ dive bars within walking distance of the main strip.
With a long broad Indian Ocean beach-front, Kuta was originally discovered by tourists as a surfing paradise.
Kuta has long been a popular stop on the classic backpacking route in South East Asia.
It has long been a popular stop on the classic backpacking route in South East Asia. Back in the 1980s they used to talk about the three Ks: Katmandu 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.
Often cars 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 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.
Kuta Bali just 4.4 Km From Ngurai Rain International Airport
Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport (DPS), is in fact directly south of Kuta, about 15 minutes away by taxi.
How to comfortably get around in Kuta
Kuta stretches along the beach front 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 metered taxis or a rented motorbike for longer excursions.
It is often best to park your car before you reach downtown Kuta, and walk in.
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 downtown Kuta, and walk in.
The area downtown 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.
Find the largest and most reliable taxi operators
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 time warp.
The largest 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 which 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.
Guide to Sleep in Kuta Bali
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.
Find Interesting Activities in Kuta Bali
Kuta is a main area for scuba divers to base themselves for diving courses and day trips around Bali. There are lots of world class dive sites within driving distance or a short boat ride from Kuta. Normally these trips start at 7am and get back around 3-6pm. Some of the more famous sites are the USAT Liberty WW2 shipwreck, the manta rays & mola mola (giant sunfish) of Nusa Penida and The Jetty or Blue Lagoon at Padang Bai.
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.
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.
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 5:30PM, for a sunset between 6:15 and 6:45.
The area in front of McDonalds 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.
Best Shopping malls in Kuta
Large, western-style shopping malls are hardly a typical Bali shopping experience, but the best ones on the island are in the Kuta area.
Bali Mall Galleria
Bali Mall Galleria is on Jl Bypass Ngurah Rai right beside the huge Simpang Siur roundabout. Galleria is home to number of well known brand stores, a food court, Planet Hollywood and the best cinema in Bali.
Carrefour Plaza is on Jl Sunset, just north west of the Simpang Siur roundabout.
As well as being anchored by an enormous Carrefour supermarket on the top floor, this is home to an excellent Periplus bookshop, numerous small designer stores and the best authorised Apple Mac retailer in Bali.
Discovery Shopping Mall (Centro)
Discovery Shopping Mall (Centro) is located across from Waterbom Park on Jl Kartika Plaza in Tuban.
A big western-style mall with plenty of international brand stores on the ground and sub-ground levels, including Guess, Marks and Spencers, Sogo and Top Shop.
The second level is occupied fully by the Centro department store, and there are many cafes and a large electronics retailer on the 3rd level. The waterfront cafes on the ground level have excellent ocean views.
BeachWalk Mall (Kuta Beach)
BeachWalk Mall (Kuta Beach) is located on Kuta Beach, right off Poppies 2.
This new mall is very nice. It is high tech, and There is a big movie theatre, tons of shops, tons of places to eat, it has many famous restaurants, brands, even a few night clubs. Try Johnny Rockets, great burgers and shakes. If you are in Kuta, you must check out this indoor/outdoor mall.
Hardy’s Shopping Center (Jl Raya Kuta)
Hardy’s Shopping Center (Jl Raya Kuta) is located 10 minute walk from the top of Poppies 1, Jl Legian side, walking south east. Hardys Supermarket very cheap. Good for buying toiletries, power adapters (from 6,500Rp) and bits and pieces.
Gelael Dewata Supermarket (Jl Raya Kuta 105)
Gelael Dewata Supermarket (Jl Raya Kuta 105) is located 15 minute walk from the top of Poppies 1, Jl Legian side. Gelael Supermarket (8 am to 10 pm, daily, Tel: +62 361 751082) Good for cheap food, toiletries, power adapters and some books.
Also located here are Dominoes and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). This building is near Nav (a karaoke club) and Toko Central. It is across from Hotel Santika and the Chinese restaurants: Feyloom and Golden Palace.
Best Restaurants in Kuta
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 here. For true luxury dining head 15 minutes up the road to Seminyak.
- MaxEat Traditional Corner
☎ +62 87780547276.
A taste of Original Indonesian Traditional Food.
- Amino Cafe
Poppies 2 (a short walk from JL Legian).
Best Coffee in Kuta, a welcome relief from the espresso chains like Starbucks and Gloria Jeans.
If you miss coffee this is the place where you can get a taste of home.
- Bamboo Corner
Poppies I (Opposite Circle K, near the middle).
Large Menu of Indonesian and some Western Food
- Hamburger Lady
Kuta Beach (on the side of the tourist police station).
As food can no longer be made at the beach, this hamburger stall owner walks around the beach with a menu and takes orders.
She makes the burgers on the side of the tourist police station next to the shopping mall on the beach.
- Kedai Nasi Uduk, Kuta Galleria
Jl Patih Jelantik
☎ +62 361 769192.
Small warung serving the Jakarta speciality Nasi Uduk (rice cooked in coconut water and various aromatic spices, served with chicken or beef and vegetables).
Well prepared, authentic food.
- Kedin’s Cafe
Poppies Lane I (in front of Kedin’s Inn)
☎ +62 361 756771.
Good, typical local Indonesian food.
They occasionally show Hollywood movies in the evenings.
Jl Patih Jelantik 1 (opposite the western end of Kuta Galleria).
Indonesian noodles in large portions at very good prices.
Excellent budget option.
- Tree House Cafe
Poppies Lane I
☎ +62 361 756771. A busy and crowded budget restaurant.
Their specialties are Dutch snacks, such as kroket and frikandel.
- Warung Indonesia
(Between Poppies I and II).
Popular with locals and long-termers and is packed most nights, a good sign.
The best food is not on the menu but laid out behind a glass display from where you can pick the food you want.
- Gabah Restaurant
Jl. Bakung Sari Kuta
☎ +62 361 751864 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The restaurant provide international daily buffet breakfast while for lunch and dinner serve all day dinning menu; Balinese, Indonesian, Asian and Western cuisines and featuring daily live entertainment during dinner time.
- Cafe Romano
141 Jl Legian (10 meters south of the Junction of Jl benesari, Jl patimura and Jl legian)
☎ +6282145329692 (email@example.com). 9AM-12PM.
Traditional authentic Italian using fine Italian imported ingredients. The Italian owner stands by his excellent pizza.
- Blue Fin
Jl Kartika Plaza
☎ +62 361 764100, .
Good quality Japanese food at reasonable prices.
Tempura is especially good as is the Salmon salad.
- Havana Club Bali
Poppies I (150m down from Jl Legian).
Restaurant on two floors and the upper level can be reserved for private parties.
Good & tasty food.
- Mojo’s Flying Burritos.
Mexican restaurant serving California-style Mexican food and juices.
Open kitchen where you can watch the cooks making tortillas and salsas.
- Kafe Batan Waru
Jl Kartika Plaza (Right by the entrance to Lippo Mall),
☎ + 62 361 766303 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Batan Waru has been an institution in Ubud for many years and their foray into Kuta has been no less successful.
Great regional Indonesian cuisine, inventive cocktails and top class coffee.
Jl Legian 109
☎ +62 361 754209 (email@example.com).
A truly superb Indonesian restaurant which is highly recommended for any visitor who wants to sample and understand real Indonesian food in a truly fabulous environment.
- Kuta Plaza Restaurant
Jl Bakungsari 9 (At the Jl Raya Kuta end of Jl Singosari),
☎ +62 361 751833.
Very popular restaurant serving Chinese Indonesian food.
It is a typical Chinese restaurant – loud, bright and brash – but the food is excellent. Seafood is chosen live from tanks in the window.
- Maccaroni Club
Jl Legian 52 (almost opposite the bomb memorial)
☎ +62 361 754662 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Restaurant & lounge with good Italian food and some Asian fusion.
Excellent service and luscious desserts.
- Ma Joly
Jl Wana Segara, Tuban (At Kupu Kupu Barong Resort)
☎ +62 361 753780, .
Alfresco dining in a great beachfront location in a quiet part of south Kuta/Tuban.
Sunset is magnificent from here so cocktails before dinner are a great idea.
Large international menu but fish is recommended.
Please Stay safe when Holiday in Kuta Bali..
- Swimming safety
Swimming safety is extremely important in Kuta. It is prohibited to swim near the special flags, that are placed where currents are especially strong. Always swim between the red and yellow flags, where the lifeguards have deemed it safest.
Do not swim out too far as the waves and currents here are stronger than you might expect and change very rapidly.
The sea water in Kuta can be filthy and you should be aware of this potential problem and try not to swim in the obviously polluted areas.
- Lifeguard Station
Lifeguar Station (Bala Penyelamat Wisata Tirta), JI Pantai Kuta, tel: +62 361 755660
- Watch your belongings at the beach
Better yet do not bring your valuables to the beach if you intend to swim or surf.
- Touts and scammers
Touts and scammers will constantly look for their chance. Be wary of deals.
If its sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
When walking alone (especially down Jl Pantai Kuta and Jl Legian) you will be hassled by touts offering transport on motorbikes.
Generally this is harmless and can be used as a means of getting around, although the shear volume of touts offering transport can be an annoyance. Remember to stay calm and don’t be pressured into buying anything you don’t want.
- Drunk driving
At night, drunk driving & big potholes in the streets are a problem, so be very aware of road safety after dark.
Durgs should be avoided in Kuta (and all of Indonesia). Punishments for possession are harsh and there have been a number of arrests of tourists over the years. Beware of unsavoury touts offering drugs (often after initially offering transport). These “dealers” are often working with the police in order to get small payouts for arrests. Say “no” and walk away.
Pickpockets have been known to be a problem recently outside bars, specifically on Jalan Legian (Sky Garden, et al).
One common method used against drunk tourists leaving bars and clubs is for a large group of boys and teenagers to block the sidewalk.
As the target attempts to squeeze through, the thieves attempt to reach into their pockets and/or bags and take whatever they can get. Be very aware of this.
- Foreign Currency Scams
Foreign Currency Scams are fairly common, especially down the Poppy roads. Make sure you count out the rupiah yourself before you leave the shop (even if they count it out in front of you) and you also calculate how much you are owed yourself. Some of the shop owners will make you count out the rupiah, and then with a sleight of hand will remove one of the large piles of cash. Double check you have the right amount of money as you leave the shop.