Night life in Bali starts late, which means around midnight. Many visitors wonder where crowds of expats suddenly come from around 1:00 in the morning - even when all of Kuta has been very quiet during the whole evening, the in-places often become crowded after midnight.
There's a simple explanation: during the early evenings many of Bali's night owls either still work, visit friends at home, or simply sleep. Most of them visit pubs, bars, or discos only in the early morning hours. Therefore, if you plan a night out don't start your dinner too early. Between 9:00 p.m. and midnight there are not many places we can recommend.
Visitors looking for company don't need to worry. Wherever you go in Sanur and the Kuta area, there are many other single travelers with the same problem around - day and night. In Bali's discos you'll meet also many kupu kupu malams ("night butterflies", or working girls) and young boys who compete with the females and service all sexes. All taxi drivers also know the more popular karaoke bars and massage parlors in Kuta and Denpasar, and the various "Houses of Ill Repute" in Sanur's narrow back lanes.
Prostitution is illegal in Bali. However, like in most countries, everyone turns a blind eye. Many girls can be found in nightclubs and bars in most areas. They look usually just like the girl next door, albeit with a bit more make up on, and they usually dress to please the eye. For the most part, they are gentle, easy to be with, and a lot of fun if you want to dance, drink and have a little fun with, beforehand. Most will be yours for the whole night for about Rp. 200.000 although they CAN vary from Rp. 50.000 in Sanur to Rp. 500.000 and more depending upon the time of night and the situation.
Sanur & Nusa Dua
The air-conditioned Koki Pub & Restaurant, Jalan By-Pass 9X in Blanjong (South Sanur), is popular with many expatriates who come here for a talk with the Austrian manager Olaf Aistleitner and his friendly waitresses, large portions of German/Austrian home cooking (better than mother used to make it) at reasonable prices, and a game of Billiard. Open until the last guest decides to leave which can be after 2:00 in the morning. Other popular meeting places in Sanur are the Borneo Pub on Jalan Danau Tamblingan and the Trophy Pub in front of the Sanur Beach Hotel. Both, however, close around 1:00 a.m.
The Jazz Grille, located at the Komplek Pertokoan Sanur Raya No. 15/16 at the By-Pass opposite the Radisson hotel, was opened in February 1999 and attracts tourists and locals alike with live bands (from 9:30 to 12:00 p.m.), a smallish menu, and a billiard table upstairs. Kafe Wayang in the same building has life music with a good local band and jam sessions with foreign guests every Friday - no wonder it's very popular with many residents.
There is currently only one disco in Sanur which is Janger (the former Subec) on the main road. It's mostly frequented by tourists, working girls and their sometimes quite aggressive "boy friends" from Java and the other islands. Many of the expats living in Sanur prefer to go at night to "Kuta".
The discos and pubs in Nusa Dua's 5-star hotels are often rather empty. They are mostly frequented by those visitors who stay in-house and are too tired to make the 30 minutes drive to Kuta. Outside the hotels but in the centre of Nusa Dua's restaurant strip is a branch of Legian's popular Poco Loco Mexican restaurant (well-known for great Margaritas and good music).
The Kuta area
Everybody looking for some action and fun in the evening goes to "Kuta" which nowadays means the area extending about 4 miles or 7 kilometers North from the original village of Kuta and includes now Legian, Seminyak and even Basangkasa. Here are most of the better entertainment places offering everything single male or female visitors as well as couples might be looking for.
Close to the center of the original Kuta village are places such as Casablanca etc. - down-market open-air pubs and very noisy discos full of stoned Aussies courting Javanese kupu kupu malam". Peanuts Discotheque on Jalan Raya Legian near Jalan Melasti (about the border between Kuta and Legian) has been re-opened very soon after it was gutted by a fire. The huge (air-conditioned) dance floor is often crowded, guests are a mix of locals and younger foreign visitors.
The old Bounty is still quite popular, and a new larger branch with a noisy, over-air-conditioned disco in the basement has been opened as well. The mainly Australian guests of both genders and (mostly Javanese) kupu kupu malam keep ordering huge plastic containers full of ice, powdered orange juice and cheap local liquor. When most places close around 2.00 or 3.00 in the morning, night owls of all kinds continue drinking at nearby Mama's until sunrise.
For a somewhat more civilized evening out, you can have a couple of drinks after an early dinner at either TJ's in Kuta, at the bar in Poco Loco in Legian, at the open street side bar at Nero Bali right opposite Aromas Restaurant in Kuta, or at Made's Warung in Basangkasa. Something more outrageous and only for open-minded people is Hulu Cafe between Jalan Padma and Jalan Melasti in Kuta/Legian, a place which calls itself the "only real gay bar in all of Bali" with drag shows starting at 10:30 p.m. three times per week. The performances are so bad that it is actually kind of funny!
You'll find a large and quite popular Hard Rock Cafe right at the beginning of Kuta's beach road with live music from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Expect to find many singles of all kinds here looking for company. If you think this is too noisy, too crowded, or the air-conditioning too cold for you, try the center stage at the Hard Rock Resort located in the back of the cafe. As the name implies, the band performs on a raised stage in the middle of the huge round lobby bar until 11:00 p.m. In mid-1998 they had excellent musicians, nowadays you'll see often bored locals playing their instruments until they are allowed to get on their motorbikes and go home. Both Hard Rock outlets are expensive by Bali standards.
Around midnight it's time to join the crowds at the large, open-air Goa 2001 which has two bars, a sushi counter, a coffee bar, tables, and excellent music. There is also a (air-conditioned) Cyber Cafe open until 2:00 am. GOA is one of the best places in Bali for meeting (or just watching) often very strange people from after midnight to 2:30 in the morning. Join the party - during the peak season guests are dancing on top of the tables!
Nearby Café Luna (two bars, indoor and outdoor seating, Italian menu, many gay customers) used to be crowded until some time ago. Now a new owner has taken over and tries to attract new customers with live music. The Jaya Pub near Goa 2000 attracts with live music many Indonesian customers who don't mind the chilling air-conditioning and the sometimes horrible bands and singers.
Crusoes is located right next to Double Six on the beach in Seminyak and was opened in December 1997. Tables outdoors, several bars on different levels indoors (no air-con). The whole place is designed and decorated quite well, however, it never has become really popular.
A place which - in spite of the not very friendly Swedish owner - has managed to become "in" with a number of expats is the small, open-air "A" Bar at No. 10 Jalan Dhyana Pura (Gado Gado Road) not far from the main street. The "A" stands for Absolut, and the trendy hang-out specializes in Vodka cocktails. Open until 3:00 in the morning. Other popular night spots in the Abimanyu Arcade in the same road are Q Bar ("for the alternative lifestyle") and the stylish Antique Bar & Restaurant. The open-air Aina Bali at the beginning of Jalan Oberoi (next to "Bintang Lima") calls itself "The Ultimate Fully Unconditioned Cocktail Bar". It's not as unique as the Austrian owner/manageress would like you to believe but attracts recently quite a number of regular guests. Open until 2:00 am, closed on Mondays.
Later, from 2:00 until after 4:00 a.m., it's party time at Double Six, a large open-air disco with several bars, big dance floor, and many tables. It's located on the beach in Seminyak and charges an entrance fee of 30,000 to 50,000 Rupiah (depending on the day) for which you get a voucher for a free drink. Here you'll find most of Bali's night owls drinking and dancing the night away until 4:30 a.m. or so.
Other late night venues - only listed for real emergencies - are the shabby scandals disco in Jalan Dhyana Pura, Santa Fe in the same road, and Mama's in Kuta which is open around the clock.
If Double Six is quiet after 1:00 am., there must be a party somewhere. Therefore, watch out for notices and small posters announcing special events such as Full Moon Parties, House Warming Parties, Body Painting Parties, etc, etc. If these "parties" are announced to the public (even if only by word-of-mouth), they are open for everybody. You'll have to pay for your drinks, therefore, don't be shy.
Don't expect too much here. Names frequently mentioned include Putra Bar, Jl. Monkey Forest (every night live music ranging from Reggae to rock), Magic Bar, Jl. Monkey Forest (live music and sometimes great atmosphere), Jazz Cafe, Jl. Tebesaya (live music and jam sessions on different nights), Exile Bar (Saturday nights only, great music), and Funky Monkey (early hours cafe).