Bali: Where NOT to go

Tourist trap: Kuta (Photo: Dennis Jones / Lonely Planet Images)
Tourist trap: Kuta
"The monkeys at the Padangtegal Monkey Forest in Ubud will boldly snatch fruit and shiny items like specs and hair clips off you."
Bali Insider

Don't waste your time when you're on holiday in Bali. Find out the over-hyped spots to avoid (and where to go instead).

Padangtegal Monkey Forest in Ubud

The temples on the site are considered sacred, but the place is marketed as a 'monkey forest sanctuary' due to the presence of the Balinese long-tailed macaques. There was a time when it was accessible only to the locals, but now it's a major tourist attraction, and the monkeys will boldly snatch fruit and shiny items like specs and hair clips off you. Even the locals have difficulty dealing with them. The monkeys venture off the grounds, so save the cost of the entrance fee and catch the critters outside if you really want to.

Nusa Dua

This area on the south-east peninsula of Bali was constructed as luxury resort enclave and could be anywhere in the world. If you're after any old Hilton, than this is the place for you. But for similar levels of luxury in a more natural, Balinese setting, head to the rice fields, valleys and tropical gardens, of Ubud's accommodation options.


Boutiques selling labels such as Billabong, Quiksilver and Just Jeans wrestle for the tourist dollar with shops selling Indonesian-made products, bars that blare loud music, and booths selling local tours. This entire scene is no different from similar tourist streets in Bangkok, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur or Koh Phangan. Once you've seen one, you've seen them all.

Ubud market

Originally a produce market for locals, these days the stalls inside are stocked with souvenirs, clothing and handicrafts priced more than 10 times the original cost. Everything spills out on to the walkways, obstructing the airflow and making it difficult to browse without breaking out in a sweat. It's now more of a colourful spectacle that caters to tourists — look for your traditional market experience elsewhere, like at Badung Market in Denpasar or Sukawati Market in Gianyar. But if you really must have that "Bintang" T-shirt, buy it from the stalls outside the main market — there you'll get a much better price.

Dolphin tours in Lovina

While it sounds thrilling to spot dolphins at the break of dawn, you're sure to find yourself sharing one of 30 traditional wooden fishing boats with two to five other travellers, the lot of you chasing after every fin or tail that breaks the surface. A much better option is to go snorkelling in the clear waters of Lovina on your own where you can check out the colourful, healthy coral (and perhaps even one of the famed finned ones).

Made's Warung

Established in 1969, Made's Warung has lost its authenticity as a local warung, or eating place, and boomed into a gathering point for tourists, locals and expats who simply want to be seen. Head here if that's for you, but you can find more authentic warungs elsewhere.

Got any more places to avoid? Have your say using the comments form below.

Next: Near the beaten track

User comments
Our party of seven adults and four kids and a baby were really well looked after during our private tour. We had three kids on their own bikes and one in a cycle seat on the back of his Dad's bike no problems with any of the bikes. We enjoyed the coffee plantation stop, the kids got to grind coffee and we tasted all the different varieties before buying some in the shop. Then it was off to the volcano area Mt Batur for a breakfast at a wonderful little restaurant with a balcony giving us great views of the volcano. We got on the bike after breakfast and then the fun really started, 30km of down hill action! Our kids aged 10, 8 and 7 were able to cope with the forest rides and down the back streets of Bali to the village compound where we got to see a traditional style house and meet the family living there. It was an amazing trip and we all agreed one of the best things we did. Rebecca (Bristol, United Kingdom)
We recently travelled to Bali for the first time and we done all our Hotel bookings, tours and activities thru a company called Bali Hotel Finder ( online. These people were GREAT!! They are locals and have great knowledge of places to go for what you want to do and see. Highly recommended for all those wanting to visit Bali and not get taken to just the usual tourist places. These guys gave us their contact numbers to call at any time should we have problems and made sure we went to places we wanted to visit. Give them a go...all I did is submitted a request, they gave their recommendation, I checked it out online before confirming...everything went GREAT!! Thank you Anung and Bali Hotel Finder team...great work
Just like to reply to sounds silly about 21.12. We are also going away on this date and what will be will be, i also think about that, but my oldest son just laughs at me.(he is 16) Just go and enjoy yourself, make sure you go to sanur, we were there last year and the kids loved it, better than kuta especially for families.
Australia is the *** people
Having very good experience on this trip. The journey passed by bamboo forest, local village and temple. Along the journey, you feel safe as the tour guide always do their good job, block the way while crossing the road. The end of trip, we are having the delicious local food near rice *** restaurant.I am surely recommend this trip. Great job Bali Hai Bike Team!
Excellent activity for all the family. We were picked up from our hotel and went to the volcano. Stopped off at coffee plantation. There was a short car trip after breakfast and we got on our bikes. Mostly it it down hill. Very happy that we went through a bamboo forest as it is something you do not see usually. Went to temples and residences. Cycling is not hard and is easy for both young and old. Mostly it is off the main roads which was good. There is a car which follows so if you want to stop you can. The guides are full of knowledge and are excellent.
Hi, this is going to sound sooooo silly but i hv booked a trip to bali for xmas this year, i watched a doco about dec 21 2012,(the suns particles will cross with earth and cause chaos esp in places where earthquakes and tsnuamis are active plus loads more info) even though i don't believe the predictions that the mayan calender which has been predicted for over 500yrs....i am so confused as whether to change my dates, i still want to go with my hubby & 2 kids, but why risk going on THAT date, should i change my dates??????????
Another place that should be avoided unless you are prepared to deal with very agressive vendors and "tourist guides" is the Mother temple of Besakih. The temple it self is beautiful, but the hawkers can ruin the experience. Luckily Bali is scattered with great places without the hassle. This "Where to stay " guide is great when deciding where to stay in Bali - (in the top menu) See the table at the bottom
This is a fantastic bike tour through stunning Bali landscapes and a real insight into the culture and traditions of the wonderful Balinese people. Decent bikes and a competent and friendly tour leader. Best way to see Bali is on two wheels. Highly recommended.. check out
I have lived in Ubud now for well over a year and yes I have heard all of the stories and experienced quite a lot of what NOT to do . One of the main reasons people get bitten by monkeys is that when we humans smile or monkeys showing your teeth is a sign of aggression, I have watched a small little monkey sitting quietly on my sister-in-laws lap playing with her fingers...she looked down and smiled at the monkey...with that I saw the monkey's whole demeanor change, he bared his teeth back, then nipped her arm, so it basically comes down to having some knowledge of's about what we as humans should NOT do. I have travelled and lived overseas for a long time now, Ubud Bali is where I am going to stay, it is paradise. Bali has it's problems, but hey so does the rest of the world and every morning I wake up to Mt Agung smiling at me, the butterflies dancing past my windows, the cicadas singing to me, the squirrels frolicking in treetops, I am HOME and love it..