We've been to Bali a number of times before. I (Tanya) have enjoyed the Bali tourist route six times now. Andrew, three. The difference, this time, is that we are here as potential long-termers. We have sixty days to explore what Bali has to offer for someone like us, long term travellers looking for a place to stay from one month to one year (or more!).
We are hoping to come back to Bali in the future to spend more time so instead of what we normally do when we come to Bali, which is, stay in a fancy(ish) place, lay by the pool ordering room service, and buying way too much touristy crap for our liking… we have walked the streets of Legian checking out what this region has to offer us.
Legian is on the south west coast of Bali, in between Kuta and Seminyak. It is quite a condensed area of Bali with very little trees or gardens on the streets. In resorts, hotels, residences, etc, there is still a lot of greenery to enjoy. Legian is very popular with travelling families of multiple generations. It is not uncommon to meet an Australian extended family of ten hogging the pool bar drinking Bundy and Coke with a chaser of Bintang.
The multitude of Australians aside, (which can be good and bad depending on the situation), Legian has a lot to offer a long-term traveller.
There are many warungs, which are local Indonesian restaurants which offer a variety of food options for the fraction of a hotel restaurant's price. Bars are too easy to come by, some bars are more Australian than ones in Australia, claiming “Bloody Icy Cold Beer” is served. I wonder how they get their beer so cold. I guess they keep their Bintang in the freezer…
Shops are also plentiful. Along with the normal Balinese tourist stuff that you can buy all over the island there are many boutique stores, leather tailors, jewellery shops and more to keep the shoppers happy. Oh, and there are plenty of dvd stores offering very cheap movies or tv show dvds for next to nothing. You can even buy an external hdd full of the movies and shows that you enjoy. How cool is that!
Depending where you are staying, Legian Beach can be very close by. It is a reasonably nice beach but has it's share of rubbish, stray dogs, beggars and hawkers competing for your attention. If you headed down to Legian Beach early enough, the beach would be fairly empty and would be a lovely place for a morning jog and swim.
The main problem we have with Legian is that the place really is busy. All the time. When walking, we were constantly asked if we wanted taxis, private cars, motorbikes, push bikes, girls, dvds, t-shirts, massages, sunglasses, bags, “to look in my shop, yes?”. After a while it can get very annoying when it's every day and everywhere you go. We are always polite and say “tidak, terima kasih” or “no, thank you”, but when you have cars beeping behind you wanting your attention it can get a bit much.
We even had a taxi driver throw an Indonesian coin at us while yelling something along the lines of “here's some money to get a taxi”. How nice of him, really.
This brings me to thinking that if you were to stay in Legian, you would really need a motorbike or a car and driver. If you do go down the motorbike path, please make sure you have the correct drivers license from home and an International Drivers license that says you can ride a motorbike AND you wear your helmet at all times. You really don't want a fine or, if you have an accident, a broken head.
For your more typical grocery shopping Carrefour is quite close to Legian. Carrefour is one of the biggest supermarkets in Bali. You can buy all things Indonesian and from the lands of the Americas, Australia, and Europe. It's a great supermarket to check out even if you are not hanging out in Bali long term. Clothing, footwear and furniture can be purchased here along with all the food items you could ever want. I love supermarket browsing. So many awesome things to look at and so many prices to compare with home!
The suburb, Legian, is very close to the party zone of Bali – Kuta. If you don't know of Kuta, this is where the young people of the world come to stay, drink, and get laid. Not necessarily in that order. It is a fun area, but not if you are like us and you like your quiet time. So, staying in Legian, gives you the opportunity to walk, ride or catch a taxi a few kilometres to party with the masses of scantily clad tourists. (I did say it was fun after all).
In the other direction, Legian is not too far from Seminyak, at least the Double Six end of Seminyak. If you wanted to head down to Seminyak Beach or Seminyak Square you would probably have to take a scooter or car. Still, Seminyak is in walking distance. Here, you can find very tasty restaurants, fine bars, and classy stores to take a lot of your money. Seminyak is one of the main-expat areas of Bali so you will meet people like yourself.
I haven't been able to find a lot of long-term rental options in Legian in our price-range which is up to IDR 6,000,000 / month. This amount is around AUD $600 / month. We tend to look for rooms in a villa, a studio apartment, or a hotel room. The place has to have air conditioning, wifi, a kitchenette area, a dining table and two chairs, electricity and a pool for that amount.
There are plenty of rooms available for under AUD $600 mark but they are generally just a fan room without pool access. Why miss out on the good things in life?
To get an idea of what rooms you can find in Legian beyond hotel stays, which you can normally find good daily deals on Agoda for up to 30 days at time, check out the Facebook Fan Page – Bali Rooms For Rent – this page is awesome. So many very current listings to choose from. Bali Advertiser also has a rental listing. Generally they are a bit more pricier.
So, all in all, Legian really isn't a place we want to settle down in. Or even spend a whole month in. That's ok, there is the rest of Bali for us to explore!