Backpackers and budget travellers will find plenty of affordable accommodation in Bali. Hostels are common in the popular tourist areas; they offer beds in shared dorms or, for a higher fee, a basic private room with either an ensuite or a shared bathroom. Low-cost rooms can also be found in 'losmen' – small, family-run guesthouses which are a particularly good option in the more rural areas.
Hotels and resorts
There's no shortage of these in Bali. The only question is your budget, needs and taste. There are plenty of choices from affordable through to five-star, and if you're looking for the luxury experience at a cheap rate (or at least a cheaper rate than you could ever find in Australia) then Bali is a great place to find a bargain.
Staying in a private villa is a truly lavish experience, if you've got the money to spend. Many are tastefully decorated in traditional Balinese style, some with a small private swimming pool and some even come with their own staff. Private chef anyone?
Private rentals and homestays
These are becoming easier to find online thanks to websites like airbnb.com and HomeAway.com. They can be a great way to grab a bargain or meet locals, but exercise caution and do your research when it comes to private rentals. Read our guide to all the holiday rental sites.
The most popular tourist area, Kuta has plenty of budget and high-end accommodation as well as restaurants, shopping and non-stop night life. The beaches are great for surfing and water sports and there's plenty here to keep both kids and and adults entertained. Conveniently, Kuta is just a short drive from Denpasar Airport.
Just outside of Kuta is Legian (to the north) and Tuban (to the south). These beachside areas are also popular with tourists, but a little more laid back. They can be a good option if you prefer not to be right in the thick of the action – but just a tuk tuk drive away from it.
Further up the coast from Kuta is the more peaceful (and somewhat posh) Seminyak. The beaches are clean, the bars are classy and the shopping is more boutique than bartering. This is where you'll find a lot of luxury hotels and private villas, although there are still some cheaper accommodation options around.
One of Bali's oldest tourist towns, Sanur has managed to retain its relaxed atmosphere and traditional culture despite offering plenty of modern and comfortable places to stay, eat and shop. Sanur's white sand beach can be a peaceful alternative to crowded Kuta, and its mostly mid-range accommodation can be an affordable alternative to the more luxurious Seminyak.
The Bukit peninsular
At the south of the island, the Bukit peninsular has something for everyone. The relatively undeveloped west coast is perfect for nature lovers and surfers. The stunning Jimbaran Bay is home to some of Bali's most exclusive five-star resorts. Tanjung Benoa is the place to go for water sports. Nusa Dua is where you'll find big-name beachfront hotels, many of which host conferences. And Tanjung Benoa is a family-friendly area with plenty of mid-range beachfront hotels to choose from.
If sunbaking on the beach isn't a holiday must-have for you, consider Ubud. A world away from the hustle and bustle of the beachside tourist haunts, this relaxed mountain town is known for its art, culture, architecture, cooler climate and stunning surroundings. Accommodation ranges from cheap and cheerful losmen through to tasteful luxury lodgings. Ubud is also home to a number of health and yoga retreats.
If Bali isn't enough of a tropical island for you, consider the tiny island of Nusa Lembongan, off Bali's south-east coast. Described as "Bali 30 years ago", you'll find none of the traffic, crowds or chaos of the mainland in this tranquil holiday spot.
Going off the tourist path you're likely to find peace and quiet, traditional culture and the "real" Bali, not to mention affordable accommodation. Lovina and Singaraja on the north coast are known for their remote beauty and tranquillity. Amed and Tulamben on the north-east coast are great for diving and snorkelling.
Plenty of Indonesian accommodation providers accept reservations through online booking sites, or through their own websites (it's always worth comparing the two, as you'll often find the rates are different).
Hotels, resorts and hostels are easy enough to book using sites such as wotif.com, lastminute.com and hostels.com (tip: check customer reviews on tripadvisor.com before you book) but if you're looking for bespoke accommodation like homestays, beach shacks or B&Bs, you might not find them as easily online.
Check airbnb.com for homestay options, as well as guide books and review sites such as tripadvisor.com and lonelyplanet.com. Sometimes you'll find great recommendations that won't show up at all in booking site searches.
If you're looking for a private villa, there are a number of websites dedicated to just that. They include balivillas.com, balivillaescapes.com.au, thevillaguide.com and many more.
Packages to Bali are a low-stress and often cheaper option for travellers who want to organise their flights and accommodation all in one go. For package deals, check airline websites as well as expedia.com, tripadvisor.com and local bricks-and-mortar travel agents.
Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia (except in Aceh Province, where it's banned under Sharia law), but it's not widely accepted. Most major hotels in Bali are unlikely to have a problem with same-sex couples, but to avoid a potentially unfriendly reception you can search for gay-friendly hotels using filters on wotif.com and lastminute.com or on travel sites such as travelgayasia.com. Or if in doubt, ask before you book.
If you're travelling with kids, ask whether your accommodation is child-friendly and consider whether it's suitable for children. If you're in need of some parents-only time, look for a resort with a kids' club. Smaller hotels and private rentals may be able to organise a nanny, or put you in touch with a nannying service. Read our article about holiday resort kids' clubs.
Note: The booking sites listed in this article have not been investigated or trialled by CHOICE and are intended as resources rather than recommendations.