Great shopping, fabulous dining, all-night clubs, expansive beaches, dazzling sunsets.
Time for a change of pace. From the laid-back Amed Coast, to the vibrant beach culture of Echo Beach and now, welcome to the somewhat loud and frenetic pace of southern Bali and Seminyak.
Our first destination on the final stage of our Bali odyssey is Seminyak. Often referred to as the ‘glitz capital’ of Bali, Seminyah is home to scores of nightclubs, restaurants, designer fashion boutiques, surf shops, craft shops and galleries.
Unique, unusual and infectious
If you love the more remote locations, those often referred to as the ‘real Bali’, then Seminyak may at first seem a little phoney. Actually, I really enjoy this town as it offers a juxta to Amed and the north of Bali, particularly if you can plan your itinerary to visit the more remote and less populated areas of Bali first. There’s something infectious and really quite exciting about the narrow, crowded streets of Seminyak, lined with a mix of tourist shops selling cheap knock-off brand named t-shirts and stubby coolers alongside up-market galleries and fashion boutiques. There are also some excellent shops in and around the centre of Seminyak selling local art and creative wares. We really like Mapan Special Handicraft at Jl. Raya Seminyak No. 15, Br Basangkasa. The shop sells really unusual resin figurines. It is a habit of ours to take home something that is unique and usually not expensive to remind us of our travels. This shop ticks the boxes and is definitely worth a visit.
Wandering this town is like stepping back in time, with shops and eateries beckoning the visitor and tourist with something new at every turn. The heart of Seminyak is Seminyak Square. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of fashion boutiques, bookshops, and surf shops including Rip Curl and Billabong, as well as a street market selling the usual Bali bric-a brac. On the corner of the Square is one of our favourite eating spots, the Bali Bakery. Offering a huge section of breads and pastries, the Bali Bakery also doubles as a small but significant restaurant with a very good menu. This is a great place for lunch and an ideal way to escape the oppressive Bali midday heat and humidity. Their bruschetta with a side dish of green salad is excellent. Adjacent to the Square is the new Seminyak Village complex with international flagship store, H&M. This modern air-conditioned centre also has a great range of retail outlets, albeit more up-market that the Square. Shops like Bamboo Blonde sell the latest beach and resort wear. Prices are still better than in most major international cities but are nudging the expensive end of the scale for Bali. H&M is a very large store with a huge range of European-style fashion apparel for men and women. Check out the NASA-branded long sleeve fleece hoodies – very practical for the 12 month Bali summer!
Seminyak is also home to a growing number of Bali expats, many of whom own the businesses in the town. World class hotels line the wide expanses of Seminyak Beach. Far less crowded than Kuta, Seminyak Beach provides plenty of personal space for sun-lovers to laze on sun lounges while enjoying the convenience (or should we say the decadence) of simply ringing the bell for waiter service. You can also visit any one of the beach bars and trendy beach clubs that line the foreshore, or simply hail a beach vendor for an ice-cold drink. Unlike Bali’s many black sand beaches, Seminyak Beach is golden yellow and wide, wide, wide. Indeed so wide and so open that on a hot Bali day you need to be careful not to burn the soles of your feet on the scorching hot sand getting in and out of the water. Being on the west coast, this is also a great place to see spectacular sunsets.
While the focus in Seminyak is definitely one of self-indulgence – eating, fashion, beach-front resorts and spas – there are a number of cultural sites definitely worth visiting. Pura Petitenget on Jl Petitenget is an important temple to the Balinese people and is the location of many important ceremonies, in particular the anniversary celebrations of the 210-day Balinese calendar. Pura Masceti, also on Jl Petitenget, is a temple dedicated to agricultural Bali. Farmers pray here for bountiful crops and for forgiveness for any wrong-doings before their next planting.
Food, glorious food
Eating out in Bali is pretty-much a national pastime. And there is no shortage of places to eat in Seminyak. In fact, I’d venture to say that there are hundreds of restaurants, eateries, and ‘warungs’ (local food stalls) to choose from offering both international and local Indonesian cuisine. Two of our favourite places to eat are the Junction House and Tokyo Skipjack. Located in a beautifully presented two storey white art deco-style building on the Seminyak Square intersection opposite Seminyak Village, the Junction House is stylish but not too expensive and offers a concise but rather excellent selection of international and Indonesian dishes. Wine in Bali is very expensive, but by the glass it is reasonably priced here. Where the Junction House offers a more refined dining experience, Tokyo Skipjack is quite the opposite. Climb the red industrial-style checker-plate steel staircase from the street and you’ll be greeted by an expansive open-air eatery. This is very much a casual dining experience with easily the best steaks in Bali. So, if you are hanging out for a barbeque-style steak meal washed down with an icy cold Bintang or Mojito, this is the place for you.
And speaking of eating, when in Bali… Cooking classes are a great way to learn the traditional Balinese way of preparing food and a skill that you can enjoy and impress your friends with when you return home. Classes cost in the region of IDR 600,000 and you can arrange a class and time to suit you as well as a pick-up from your hotel. You can find out more about class times and locations and book at: www.cookly.me/Seminyak/Cooking-Classes
Where to stay
There is a huge range of accommodation options in Seminyak. At the expensive end of the scale, there are the 5-star resorts that front directly onto Seminyak Beach such as the Royal Beach Seminyak Bali or the Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort Prices here can set you back in excess of AUD$800 a night. At the other end of the scale, inexpensive villa-style accommodation up one of the many ‘gangs’, or un-named alleyway style streets, can cost as little as AUD$20 a night. And then there is everything in between. We opted for a low to mid-range villa resort costing AUD$38 per night. This is incredibly cheap by Australian standards, where we wouldn’t get an un-powered tent site in a camping ground for this amount. Our accommodation, the Bali Reski Hotel was clean and comfortable with friendly staff, a great swimming pool and a warung (restaurant) in the complex. It was well located up a ‘gang’ from the main road and nestled among other similar villa-type complexes just a 10 minute walk from Seminyak Square and about the same from Seminyak Beach. There was a Circle K convenience store almost directly adjacent to the entrance making it easy for us to buy cold drinks and other basic essentials. If you are looking for a well-located villa resort on a budget, check it out on any one of the numerous online booking sites.
Almost a week in Seminyak and we had an enjoyable time. Next stop, Jimbaran on the Bukit Peninsular in South Bali.
Tips for the Trip
The best way to see any city or town is to walk it. This certainly applies to Seminyak where the narrow streets make traditional vehicle traffic challenging. Hence, there are thousands of scooters and mopeds on the road (and on the footpaths)! You can hire a scooter (being careful to check that this does not void your travel or medical insurance), or walk. The footpaths are narrow and uneven and every now and again you’ll come across an open drain or large hole. While most people wear thongs, if you are planning longer walking expeditions, bring ‘sensible shoes’, walking shoes or sneakers. At the end of the day it will save sore feet or even injuries.
The temperature and humidity are high here and it is easy to become dehydrated. Carry and drink plenty of fluids – water preferably. And only bottled water. Do not drink the local tap water.
If you decide to take a taxi, the recommended taxi company is Blue Bird. The cars are light blue. Make sure that it has Blue Bird both on the side door and on the rooftop sign as a number of other taxis brands are varying shades of blue. And insist that they turn the metre on at the start of your journey to avoid any dispute over costs when you arrive at your destination. Try also to have the appropriate change for the driver.
Finding your way around the maze of streets and ‘gangs’ can be challenging, particularly as the ‘gangs’ are unnamed, usually taking their designation from the nearest cross street. Tourist streetmaps are available but Google Maps is the easiest way to navigate your journey.
Main picture: Sarong seller on the main beach at Seminyak. For her, life really is a beach!
- Beautiful Seminyak Beach. Fishing, surfing or just relaxing in the sun
- This beach is very wide and the sand is very hot. Wear thongs
- There a hundreds of great hotels in Seminyak
- The Junction House at Seminyak Square. One of our favourite restaurants
- Looking out over Seminyak Square
- Deus Ex Machina is big in Bali
- A little touristy, but a great sentiment
- Dinah relaxing at the Bali Reski Hotel
- A private temple at our hotel
- Cooking classes are a great way to take a little Bali home
- Great galleries are everywhere in Seminyak.
- A Greek restaurant in Seminyak? Takes us back to our Mykonos days
- Travel writer doing some serious research