Don’t get me wrong; Bali’s Kuta is BAD. But I found a few redeeming qualities.
First of all, Kuta is terrible. The place has gone down the deep end of tourism sludge and I fear there may be no saving it. Kuta today is that horrendous Beachwalk mall, commercialized big brand stores, raucous nightlife, and with that, the relentless touting and blasé attitudes of usually hospitable Balinese. GET. ME. OUT.
My last trip to Bali, I stayed in Kuta for a couple of days. I had to use up a couple of free hotel nights and Kuta’s was the only one I didn’t have to top up cash for. Shockingly, I didn’t end up cooping myself up in the hotel – which was fab since I snagged myself a beach-facing room.
Thanks to Kuta’s, uh, reputation, a lot of informed tourists have simply stayed away. This gives so much room for people like me, to bargain hunt. Of course, I’m referring to your local shops, not the big brands such as Quiksilver and Polo Ralph Lauren that have set up shop in Kuta.
The shopping here has been the cheapest I’ve ever come across in Bali in a long while – and this is pre-bargaining. When I was there, 50k Rupiah is the standard price per beach frock. The standard “Buy more, Bargain more” rule applies here too. In some locations, they just give up on wanting to bargain with you and put up price tags with their lowest offer. And it’s all very low.
I took a walk on my first day there, not expecting much, but I ended shopping pretty much everyday. I took home lots of tops and dresses that would be perfect for the beach and lazy casual weekends. Tie-dye is huge here, but you get your share of solid colours too.
Fat Chow Restaurant
This restaurant proclaimed itself to be the best Asian fusion joint in Kuta… and I have to agree. I found this place using my trusty Tripadvisor app and went down for early dinner one time… And kept going back… and back.
The must-try is the Nasi Campur and Satay – because Bali – and they were very good. On my other trips there I tried the Tom Yum Noodles; it’s comparable and maybe even better than what I’ve had in Bangkok, and the Mama’s Chicken Noodle, a simple but tasty noodle dish.
I especially LOVE the container of fried garlic/onion crisps that they put at every table. It goes amazingly with the Nasi Campur.
Do not expect cheap local prices, each visit was about 100,000 IDR for me. But the portions are good, the quality is consistent, and I’ve never been disappointed here.
Smart Salon and Day Spa
It took me a couple of ok massages to finally find this spa. The massages here were good, consistent and the pricing was decent. I highly approve of the foot massage and full body Balinese. I recommended this place to my friend with a bad back, and the male therapist was able to skilfully untangle the knots on his back. So impressed was he, that he booked another massage the very next day.
This beach is ideal for beginner surfers. Not that I did any surfing; my plan was straightforward – I’m going down there early, get a lounge chair with a brolly, and read. If I’m not reading, I’m zoning out. Since it is a surf beach, swimming is not exactly the most comfortable. However, you will have fun either surfing or bodyboarding. Quick tip for the ladies: you might want to wear a secure bikini for this one. One time I was body boarding and the waves were so strong it knocked my pretty tube bikini right off.
The Balinese Sunset
And of course, nothing can mar the beauty of a Balinese sunset.