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A City Guide to the Colorful Streets of Kuta

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Since the 1960s, Kuta has grown from a sleepy fishing village to a thriving, vibrant resort with a hyperactive nightlife. You don't have to look far beyond the party scene to find quiet corners for sunset cocktails, markets stuffed with Balinese crafts and spicy street food, ritual dances, and shadow puppet shows. And Kuta's long beaches are famous for a reason, offering something close to paradise on the Java Sea.

Kuta sand and surf

 

Walk north on almost any Kuta cross-street and you'll wind up at the beach. From expert massage therapists to parasailing and scuba diving tours, the shoreline offers roughly equal opportunities for rest and adventure. Experienced surfers can rent a board and head out into Kuta's curling, foaming breaks, while newcomers can take lessons at a local surf school. To shake off the sand and salt you can also take to the air with a paraglider pilot who will make sure you get a spectacular view from high above the lush, tropical coastline.

 

Quiet drinks and busy dancefloors

 

The streets and beaches of Kuta are lined with pubs and clubs where you can sip a few cocktails around sundown or hit the dance floors until dawn. The nightclub scene is focused along Jalan Legian and Beach Road, where Legian's Sky Garden is home to 8 different alfresco bars. Tucked away from the revelry you can find peaceful oases like Rosemary Restaurant & Bar, a rooftop terrace fringed with cozy Bali huts. It's ideal for a quieter night over tasty Indonesian dishes and tropical drinks.

 

 

Traditional festivals, ritual dances

 

It would be a real shame to visit Bali and not see a traditional wayang kulit shadow play, where elegant puppets and their talented masters act out stories from the Ramayana and other ancient sources. The trance-like Kecak dance is also a pretty essential Balinese experience, and the Hotel Terrace at Kuta puts on regular performances. Down on Kuta Beach in March you can catch the Melasti purification ceremonies, as colorful processions from village temples head to the Java Sea for ritual bathing and make offerings to the gods for New Year.

 

  • Hotel Terrace at Kuta, Jalan Benesari No.2, Kuta; Tel: +62 361 301 2888; Website: Hotel Terrace at Kuta

 

Kuta's retail culture

 

Decades of tourism have made Kuta something of a shopper's paradise. Whether you're in the market for high-end surfwear or knock-off designer bags, you can browse for bargains along Jalan Kartika Plaza and nearby Poppies Lane. The Discovery Shopping Mall is home to brand-name fashion boutiques, while Kuta Art Market is your best bet for Balinese paintings, carvings, and other handicrafts. Feel free to haggle for the best prices at street stalls. It may seem a bit daunting at first, but it's generally expected and makes for a friendly bit of interaction once you get the hang of it.

 

 

Balinese street food

 

You can eat well in Kuta by simply walking down the street and picking from the stalls. Kuta night market draws hungry visitors from across the city with the smell of frying woks, spicy curries, and fresh fruits like papaya and mangosteens. There you can feast on nasi goreng fried rice, rich peanut satay, and gulai kambing, a hot Indonesian lamb curry. If you'd prefer a more leisurely sit-down meal, Kori Restaurant & Bar on Poppies Lane caters to Western and Asian palates with fresh seafood dishes and chef's specialties like bebek goreng bumbu pedas, a spicy fried duck.