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Wednesday 27 March 2024

How to enjoy an authentic Bali experience on a budget

Finding a locally owned and operated place to stay can be one of the keys to an authentic - and affordable - stay in Bali.

If you want to avoid noisy bars and night clubs stay away from international chain hotels and destinations like Nusa Dua, Kuta and Canggu, and opt instead for a quieter resort area. Like Sanur.

Fellow travel writer Christine Retschlag recommended Bumi Ayu Bungalows to me for a recent two-night stay - and it proved a delightful choice, tucked away down a quiet laneway but just a short stroll to the main street, and a slightly longer walk to the beach.

There are several local eateries and massage options within five minutes of your accommodation, but there are hardly any annoying touts and the vibe is totally chilled.

Sit by the pool and order some satay sticks (above) and fresh juice and enjoy Bali as it used to be.

Bumi Ayu Bungalows has been operating for over 20 years and offers a variety of accommodation - from poolside villas to hotel rooms.

There's an excellent pool, with a jacuzzi, wifi, a library and on on-site eatery that serves excellent breakfasts (both tradtitional and western).

My bungalow was older style, but very comfortable with a large bed, air con, fridge, bathroom with amenities and a lovely deck with garden views. I paid around $50 a night - which is ridiculously good value.

The property is very well maintained, and the staff are charming. The front desk can arrange tours and transfers around the island. 

Within a five-minute stroll of the Bumi Ayu Bungalows are several warungs offering cheap eats - Lilla Waring was excellent - as well as a Japanese restaurant and steakhouse.

You can walk along the beach via a laneway from the Griya Santrian hotel.

So what, exactly, is Sanur like? 

As the coastal area closest to the capital, Denpasar, Sanur predates Kuta, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu as the oldest destination for beach tourism in Bali.

The waters of Sanur are protected by a string of offshore reefs, creating large, warm shallow, safe lagoons that are clear and excellent for swimming and water sports. 

Accommodation prices drop dramatically if you are willing to stay a few blocks away from the water.

Sanur has a quiet and relaxed feel to it and tends to appeal most to middle-aged and older groups. If you want to party you've definitely come to the wrong place.

Jalan Danau Tamblingan, the main street in Sanur, has a number of outlets for car, motorbike and bicycle rental - and also hosts a night market.

Sanur is a 20-minute taxi ride from the Ngurah Rai International Airport - unless it is raining - and around 30 minutes driving time from Kuta or Legian. Your taxi driver might not be familiar with it, so take a map with you. 

Bumi Ayu Bungalows designed in Balinese style and surrounded by lush tropical gardens tucked well back from the road. 

Search the internet for deals (the prices on the website are inflated) and see for property details.

Qantas flies Sydney-Denpasar with daily direct flights operated on an Airbus A330 aircraft, fares start from $414 one way. Melbourne-Denpasar direct flights operate five times per week using a Boeing 737 aircraft. Fares start from $415 one way. See

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