About 600 mi/965 km east of Jakarta, Kuta was one of Indonesia's first tourist towns, and the years have taken their toll. Kuta appeals to travelers whose main interest is good nightlife and an ample supply of bars. Kuta is not our favorite place in Bali, although it is understandably popular with young people who enjoy the round-the-clock action.

The beach still retains its beauty, and the waves and sunsets are impressive.

At night, there are plenty of bars to hop or crawl between, but on your way you'll pass all the trappings of urban squalor: drug sellers, prostitutes and beggars (seldom seen elsewhere on Bali).

The streets are choked with motorcycles and exhaust. A better idea is to skip Kuta and stay in nearby Legian or Seminyak (both are near the nightclubs, but away from most of the noise). Other quieter alternatives include Sanur and Nusa Dua.

If you do stay in Kuta, be sure to save some time to visit the countryside—day trips can be easily arranged by your hotel.

There are several temples near Kuta. Our favorite is Ulu Watu, which is perched on a sheer cliff over the ocean on the island's southern coast. Other trips can be arranged to see temple dances or to visit the craft villages on the way to Ubud.

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