Kuta: The Worst Place In Bali
Don’t let these pretty pictures fool you –
Kuta may be the most vile place on Earth.
If you’ve researched Bali tourism, you may have heard that – but for me, I found that guidebooks mostly glossed over this fact. However, many travel bloggers wrote eloquently about this, none of them better than Wandering Earl.
Kuta is Bali’s primary resort town and it’s particularly popular with Australians. But don’t come here expecting culture, temples and quiet beaches. Kuta is a mess, a lost paradise, a great opportunity twisted into a burned-out shell.
It’s the bumper stickers and t-shirts sold on every block that read “UP THE BUM NO BABYS” and “WHAT PART OF DEEP THROAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?”
It’s the fact that come nightfall, the streets are filled with vomiting holidaymakers who wouldn’t think twice about pouring beer on nearby onlookers.
It’s the trash-filled beach, making swimming in Kuta akin to wading through a watery landfill.
If it weren’t for the spiritual offerings placed on the ground in front of each business, the streets of Kuta might as well be part of Cancun or the sleazier areas of Las Vegas.
Now, I have no problem with a debaucherous weekend in Vegas or Cancun. God knows I’ve done my share of them. So why did Kuta bother me so much?
The Balinese people.
The Balinese people are the nicest and friendliest people that I’ve met in Southeast Asia. They’re inquisitive, helpful and incredibly polite. They’re gentle. They’re intensely family-oriented. Their spiritual beliefs shape their lives, and many aspects of their lifestyle haven’t changed in centuries.
So to see the home of such wonderful people turned into a disgusting tourist ghetto really saddened me. I do know that this environment brings in jobs and revenue to many Balinese people, but it upsets me nonetheless. Why here? Why Bali?
I honestly believe that Kuta is past the point of no return. As long as they continue catering toward these kinds of tourists (and as long as Kuta remains right next to the airport), I genuinely believe that nothing is going to change.
So if I knew that Kuta was this bad, why did I even go in the first place?
Kuta is an ideal place for a beginner to learn to surf, and Rip Curl School of Surf generously offered me a surfing lesson to take place a few days after my arrival. I’d have a few days to kill, but I can usually figure out how to enjoy places I hate.
And I did.
I stayed in the Kuta region for four days. During that time, I learned to surf in the nicer, cleaner beach of northern Legian. I enjoyed cocktails in ritzy Seminyak with Theodora of Travels With a Nine Year Old. I made more Indonesian girlfriends that I ever imagined and hit the clubs with them.
These were all great experiences – and they are proof that if you look beyond the obvious vile aspects of Kuta, you can still enjoy yourself here. Go to fancy Seminyak or low-key northern Legian. Just don’t expect much from Kuta itself.