Finding Traditional Bali in Kuta & Denpasar
Finding Traditional Bali in Kuta & Denpasar
WRITER: Elwin Chan PHOTOS BY: Alvin Toh
Finding Traditional Bali in Kuta & Denpasar 03. October 2019, by Elwin Chan, Photos by Alvin Toh
Discover a lesser-known side of Kuta, beyond its beautiful beaches and mesmerising sunsets. Wander through winding lanes, learn about traditional dance and puppetry, and fill your tummy with the best eats on the island.

Bali. Island of Peace. Morning of the World. The Last Paradise. And at the heart of this legendary isle, Kuta.

Kuta has been the centre of Bali’s tourism boom since the 1970s. Within just a few years, the area had transformed from a sleepy seaside village to a bustling town. Its once quiet beaches and back lanes are now filled with guesthouses, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Some of the island’s most popular hotels also call Kuta home, including the legendary Hard Rock Hotel Bali.

Take a walk around Kuta and you’ll feel a sense of boundless energy. From the odd to the kitsch, from beer on wheels, horse carriages, and golden sunsets to surfer dudes, beach manicures, and cheap alcohol, Kuta seems to be the party town. Yet, Bali’s most popular beach town isn’t just for backpackers and hippies. Families enjoy great entertainment here as well. There’s even culture and tradition to be discovered if you just wander around and let yourself get lost.

A wonderful place to start is the area between Poppies Lanes 1 and 2, just minutes’ walk from Hard Rock Hotel Bali. Both these lanes are narrow, and the web of alleyways and back lanes between them, even more so. It’s a strangely reinvigorating experience to just wander into this labyrinth, zagging in and out of what seems like an endless and fascinating network of cottages, warungs, tattoo parlours, workshops, and homes. The joy is not knowing what and whom you might encounter – an ibu hanging out her laundry, schoolboys on their way to class, a family making offerings to their gods in their home shrines. It just takes a little imagination to dream of what life might have been in a simpler, older time.

When you’ve done enough walking, the best way to get around Kuta is on a set of wheels. Better yet, the Kura-Kura bus, also known as the “turtle” bus (that’s what kura means in bahasa). Don’t let its namesake fool you though. These public shuttle buses, the only ones in Bali, ply several very useful and popular routes around the island, including within Kuta itself. All in a most efficient, fast, and economical way. For example, the route that takes passengers from Kuta to Ubud costs only 80,000 Indonesian Rupiah, which is just under US$6. Other than single trip tickets, there are also 1-, 3-, and 7-day passes, which make getting to Bali’s most popular destinations a whole lot easier and more affordable. For guests of Hard Rock Hotel Bali, there is also a bus stop conveniently located just outside the hotel. More information can be found at

In this story, we share with you some of the best traditional crafts, food and culture that Kuta and the often overlooked capital, Denpasar, have to offer.