Kuta – the Bangkok of Bali

An $8 cab ride brought us from the airport through streets choked with traffic to our destination Legian, Kuta in Bali. To see Kuta by daylight is to turn the lights on in a strip club, it’s an unfairness that removes the mystique and intrigue from the place. During the day, Kuta is hot, it’s dusty, motorbikes and cabs zoom by you seemingly in an attempt to murder you, and hawkers sell every sort of item in a manner that seems to intentionally try to provoke annoyance.


Narrow dust filled alleyways

But at night, Kuta transforms. With its flashing lights, bars lining the streets, front men( and scantily clad frontwomen) offering free shots and drink specials, and an abundance of legal magic mushrooms, it is a dead ringer for the Bangkok of Bali. In other words, its yet another place my kids will never be allowed to go.

The night begins to stir

The night begins to stir

It seems most places are geared towards inexperienced kids with endless supplies of money, as most of the bars have some level of enticement to get you in the door, but then have prices to make a New Yorker blush after that. That’s good news for the budget traveler though, as we can simply travel from special to special and actually drink for free, or nearly free. (At the time of writing, Sky garden has free alcohol from 9-10, and they don’t skimp)


When you buy the $5 buffet, you get all you can drink beer from 5-6 as well….it was really just us and these two 18 year old Aussie kids taking advantage of it….


$5 all you can eat buffet.....ok....

$5 all you can eat buffet…..ok….


Free drinks? Don't mind if we do.....

Sharing free drinks with some new Aussie friends we made.


The days in Kuta are largely spent recuperating from hangovers and trying not to eat or drink anything until the evening, when you can take advantage of the deals again. We got lucky and found an amazing place with a pool for $30 a night, so we goofed off during the day.


Way better than Betty Ford


After backpacking for a while, you start to figure people out pretty quickly. Snap judgements usually turn out to be correct, and it becomes easy to pick the awesome people out from the douchebags pretty quickly. On the second night in Kuta and our first night of figuring out how to drink for nearly free, we were in a bar enjoying our two free drinks (that we had pocketed an extra two fliers for -note be discrete and don’t flaunt it or they will flat out deny you the drinks), when we noticed a group of about 10 singaporians seemingly above the average age in the bar (at that moment there were literally 10 shirtless teens with whistles and glowsticks dancing by). These guys were probably in their early 30s-60’s and they were buying bucket after bucket of beer.

Not being one to pass up an opportunity for intercultural exchange, I bought the guy who seemed to be the instigator two shots of tequila and brought it over. Apparently bravado via Tequila is a universal language because the second he shot it down and grimaced, we were in. It was a key that unlocked a night full of cage dancing, conversations about the future, learning how to really do gangam style, and probably some of the most unexpected fun I’ve had in a long time. I mean seriously, picture me and Brittany, a bunch of older singaporian guys and gals surrounded by a bunch of shirtless teenagers drinking booze from squirt bottles, blowing whistles to each of their own frenetic beats, on stage 15 feet above the rest of the dance floor. Oh, screw the mental imagery, here, have the real thing.


For instant friendship, just add tequila


See, it works!



Brittany puts the Voom in Va va voom


I make hats





Boozy juice bottles


And that was just the first night (they were in town for 2). At the end of the second, I had three business cards, and a napkin from the ring leader with his phone number in Bangkok and a promise to get me “fucked up” if I ever visit.  Next stop Candi Dasa.


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  1. liam rymell says:

    went here for 12th-16th of feb 2014 what an awesome place but didn’t see any strip clubs do you know why this is?stay clear of the drugs that are offered every 2 seconds on the streets half of these guys are actually law enforcements tryin to entice foregigners in then when your handed the drugs your arrested and made to pay a fine for you release usually all the money you have on you so be clever about this if you r to do it take a little out with you each night

  2. Great site you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find excellent writing
    like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate individuals like you!
    Take care!!

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