As projected from an island where tourism industry is skyrocketing, the nightlife in Bali is fantastic. Overall, Indonesia is a traditional island nation—but Bali is the exception. The island steps up as a self-indulgent oasis for revelers from all over the world.
Kuta is possibly the nightlife epicenter for Bali though it can get a little “sloppy” at times, especially in the Poppies neighborhood. Still, you’ll find the largest nightclubs thumping music all along Jalan Legian, the main road. For beach clubs with Instagram-worthy cocktails and sunset backdrops, Canggu is the finest bet. Uluwatu serves a diverse crowd of surfers and sophisticated sunset-seekers. Meanwhile, health oriented Ubud brings up the rear where nightlife in Bali is concerned.
An Urgent Cautionary on Methanol Poisoning
The legal drinking age through Indonesia is 21, but it is hardly enforced for tourists in Bali. Indonesia’s heavy taxation of alcohol (and outright attempts at prohibition) have fuelled a thriving bootleg industry. Local arak is homemade, cheaply produced, and often gets replaced as a clear spirit in cocktails to increase profit margins. Sadly, methanol poisoning due to dirty arak kills or blinds locals and tourists every year. The cases are kept quiet for fear of the impact to tourism. Bali and the adjoining Gili Islands are most disturbed.
Even posh hotel bars have been caught cutting expensive bottles with arak. The only sure way to avoid it is to stick with beer, wine, or buy a bottle of spirits that gets opened in front of you. Though you’ll see arak on many bar and restaurant menus in Bali, you must avoid it completely—just a trace amount of methanol can trigger organ damage.
Bamboo tiki bars playing reggae music on the seashore aren’t as ubiquitous in Bali as they are in the Thai islands. Irrespective, you’ll find no shortage of pubs and bars for grabbing a seasonal drink. There is plethora of choices for budget, atmosphere, and music.
Bars in Bali vary from karaoke pubs and sweaty rugby bars to rooftop bars with views. You’ll also discover European-style lounges with DJs and sanitized environments.
The most popular of Bali’s nightclubs along Jalan Legian don’t get really going until midnight. Several people make an attempt to draw a young crowd earlier with happy hours, buffets, and food specials.
Sky Garden, Bounty, Paddy’s, and Engine Room are the main, busiest venues on the strip. Apache Reggae Bar, set slightly behind Bounty, is a sure bet for discovering late-night dancing to reggae. Lots of other smaller clubs along Jalan Legian post staff in front to attract tourists inside. You’ll see many signs advertising discotheques, but there won’t be any disco.
Entrance: Cover charges typically go into effect around 9 p.m. and might include a free drink or two. The weekend entrance fee at Sky Garden (perhaps the most famous nightclub in Bali) is $20, comparatively expensive for the island.
Security: The Bali bombings in 2002 at famous nightclubs killed 202 people; you can visit the somber memorial right on the core strip. Security is reasonably strict at many of the clubs along Jalan Legian where the bombing happened. Presume to get wanded with metal detectors. Purses and pockets are searched, and you should leave behind the backpack at the hotel. Unfortunately, pickpocketing does occur inside some of the clubs.
Identification: Clubs such as Sky Garden claim to check identification. Bring some sort of ID card (not your passport) with you just in case.
Dress Code: Dress codes aren’t typically enforced; however, the nicest clubs appeal that men don’t wear sleeveless shirts or flip-flops. Wearing a clean T-shirt is typically acceptable.
The greatest beach clubs in Bali are found in Seminyak, Canggu, and Uluwatu. Beach clubs get busy just before sunset, but a lot of people do hang around all afternoon to swim, socialize, and watch over surfers. The clientele are often a mix of tourists and Western expats living in Bali.
Dress is casual, and the settings are social. Though these venues don’t have cover charges, famous places such as La Brisa in Canggu may require a minimum spend if you want to hang around in particular areas (e.g., on the beanbags or in cabanas).
Check out some of these famous beach clubs in Bali:
- In Canggu
La Brisa: This club on Echo Beach uses wood recovered from fishing boats and serves sustainable food alongside innovative drinks.
Finns: Finns is a huge beach club with four pools, 9 bars, 5 restaurants, DJs, and so much more.
Café del Mar: The first Café del Mar was created in Ibiza in the ’80s. Now there are 12 global sites and the Bali one brings a Mediterranean vibe to the island.
Old Man’s: This thatched roof bar chosen after the famous surf break is an ultimate spot to hang out with a drink or have a coffee after a day of surfing.
The Lawn: Enjoy views of the water on a black sand beach at the Lawn relaxing on a couch or enjoy an intimate dinner while watching the sunset.
- In Seminyak
Ku De Ta: Start with Ku De Ta for a drink on the sand or head up to Mejekawi for higher view of the sunset with a delicious meal.
Potato Head: Enjoy two infinity pools, a swim up bar, daybeds, and a bouncy soundtrack at Potato Head.
Tropicola: Jump around in the color block pool or have an excellent meal at this Instagrammable beach club.
- In Uluwatu
Single Fin: Set Off in 2008, this cliffside bar overlooks the Uluwatu surf break. Watch Over surfers with a drink in hand and enjoy music from international DJs.
Ulu Cliffhouse: One More cliffside locale, Ulu also boasts an 82-foot (25-meter) infinity pool, outdoor restaurant and daybeds with amazing views of the water.
Omnia Dayclub: You can party with some of the world’s biggest DJs, have a drink at the elevated bar hanging on a cliff, swim in the large infinity, and more at this large club.
Unlike the flourishing scene in Bangkok, Bali’s gay nightlife is well focussed in one area along Jalan Camplung Tanduk in Seminyak. Bars open in the late afternoon and close at 3 a.m. Bali Joe and Mixwell are two long running favourites with nightly drag shows.
A few of warungs (simple restaurants) and Western eateries target the post-party crowd. Take note when passing eateries publicising 24 jam (“24 hours” in Indonesian). You’ll have the highest success at finding late-night food along Jalan Legian in Kuta or Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong in Canggu.
Bossman in Seminyak is the go-to place for a nocturnal burger fix. Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika is a favourite for spicy food in Kuta. If you’re eating before midnight, Warung Indonesia on Poppies II Gang Ronta can’t be beat. If all else fails and you’re eager, a few fast-food options in Kuta and all mini-marts are open 24 hours.
Tips for Going Out in Bali
Bali is swamped with taxi drivers of all kinds. You won’t have any problem finding a ride back to the hotel. Some drivers may take benefit of the late hours (and your drunk state) by indicting a premium or running up the meter. Even Grab (rideshare) drivers working late often ask for more money than was mentioned in the app.
Tipping isn’t predictable in Bali or anywhere else in Indonesia. That said, being generous with a few rupiah can lead to good quality service from bartenders and pleasant treatment from doormen the next time you return.
Bali’s open-container laws are lax as long as the person in possession isn’t behaving violently. Stay out of the road! You’ll often see people strolling on the beach or sidewalk with a Bintang in hand.