Rightly designated as the Island of Gods, Bali is a coastal paradise where sunny beaches, forested landscapes, volcanic mountains, coral reefs and rice paddies reside in complete harmony. Also a rising spot as a tourist attraction in the recent years, this island is a scenic combination of diverse landscapes, raw tradition, Indonesian culture and beaches that offer you untamed beauty along with a platter full of adventures.
I had the chance to explore Indonesia for twenty days and with enough time in hand we chose the towns of Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Uluwatu, Ubud along with the neighbouring Gili Islands. Although I’d heard varied reviews about Bali from travellers, personally, I found it to be an exclusive and upgraded combo of Goa, Sri Lanka and Kerala with added culture, beauty and a better crowd. Far away from the whole European vibe, Bali is etched with its own distinct air laced with tranquility and peace; courtesy to the picturesque panorama, pristine beaches, fierce sunsets and locals who make you feel at home.
Towards the southern end of Bali and just up north of the commercial town of Kuta, lies Seminyak, which was our first stop on this trip. An upmarket beach affair for people who fancy finer things in life, Seminyak is a grooving seaside town with a laidback aura, luxurious hotels and villas, local spas and quaint cafes, streets full of tourists, stunning sunset spots and fun parties. Unlike it’s neighbouring town of Kuta, this vibrant coastal enclave is etched with sophistication and draws a great cosmopolitan crowd. We decided to spend atleast 5 nights here and needless to say, we loved every moment of it. Here’s the ultimate travel guide to Seminyak:
Ideal for/ What to expect:
When visiting Seminyak, here’s what you should expect- Buzzing lanes with tourists, local and international cafes, shopping in street markets, a laid back relaxed scene in the day and a vibrant nightlife, all of this fringed with beautiful beaches, luxurious properties and dramatic sundown spots. If you’re looking for culture, tradition, rice fields, temples, yoga and nature then Ubud is your town. If surfing and good beaches are your priority then Uluwatu is amazing! Seminyak is ideal for relaxing by the pool, enjoying a sundown, chilling in a cafe and partying at night.
Where to stay:
Although the properties in Seminyak might seem super luxurious at a glance but if you look up well you will find a great deal for hotels and villas of all budget types. If you wish to be in the centre of the hustle bustle and you’re comfortable with a touristy area then the properties around La Favela and Motel Mexicola are some worthy picks. There are tons of luxury hotels and villas in the centre and between Ku De Ta and Potato Head which makes it a great pick because of the private beaches and spectacular sundown spots.
Where I stayed: Courtyard by Marriott Bali Seminyak Resort
We chose to stay in Courtyard Marriott Seminyak. The property was luxurious and had an extremely chill vibe. It was so nice to see everyone just relaxing by the pool, laying in the grass and reading a book, sipping a cocktail at the pool bar, playing ping pong, eating pop corn and just wandering around. Once the sun would set, the terrace and the bar would be joyous with a live band and happy hours.
Our room was modern, extremely spacious with a huge deck overlooking the pool. The hotel had one restaurant, three pools and a bar; the staff and their service at every facility was impeccable and absolutely courteous. In terms of location, the hotel was a 10 min bike ride to the centre (Motel Mexicola) but the area right outside was quite charming too. To the right of the hotel was a huge beach with great sundown spots like La Plancha, Anantara rooftop etc and the left was the bustling with local cafes, restaurants and boutiques. A minute away from the Seminyak beach and ten minutes away from the main centre of the town, the hotel was a smooth stay for us and I would highly recommend this property, especially if you have a bike!
Explore/ Things to do in Seminyak
In Seminyak all you have to do is relax, breathe some fresh air, soak in the vibe, enjoy a sunset and sometimes master the art of doing nothing. And if you get bored of this here are a few things you could do:
1) Explore the main market
Walk along and explore the main street of Seminyak that roughly stretches between La Favela and Motel Mexicola and the lanes around it. It is filled with all kinds boutiques, local stores, chic cafes and tons of tourists.
2) Try out the local cafes
Treat yourself to some lip-smacking cuisines prepared by international chefs at the local upmarket restaurants. I simply fell in love with the cafes here. You have all sorts of options from casual to fine dining, Seminyak is a total hub for foodies (see recommendations below).
3) Unwind at a spa
With such affordable spa treatments you’d be missing out on something if you left without a massage. If you’re looking for an economical massage then you have to try Kimberly Spa. Their foot and body massages were the best and costed only 10 $ (Don’t expect luxury here, just a very very good massage). For a more authentic experience try the famous Bodyworks spa but make sure to book it in advance.
4) Relax on the beach
Since it’s a beach destination, this is something you just can’t skip. Everything I had heard about the beaches was so true. Just rent one of those wooden beds for 10$, stroll along the shores, feel the sand in the toes, catch the awe-inspiring sunset and sip on a Bintang.
5) Enjoy the sunset
Home to the best sundown spots, enjoying a sunset at one of the beach clubs here is what you won’t be able to resist. See the list below for the best sundown places in town.
6) Shop from local markets
From local designers to Australian brands, Seminyak has something to offer every traveller. Explore the local markets and you’ll find yourself drawn to the amazing designs and affordable prices.
7) Spend the day at a beach club:
One of the most popular things to do in Seminyak is to hit the beach club around 12 noon, laze around on the bean bags, take a dip in the pool, enjoy the music and watch the sunset.
8) Visit the Petitenget Temple
Known for it’s spectacular beachside ceremonies, this temple is a good option incase you don’t plan to see the rest of the Bali. As for me I still preferred exploring the temples in Ubud and Uluwatu.
9) Take day trips
If you are not planning on visiting the other parts of Bali then you can opt to take a day trip to Ubud, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua or Jimbaran.
Getting around Seminyak
The most feasible way to explore Seminyak would be on a two wheeler. You have an option to rent bikes from your hotel concierge or the street outside. However, as much as you’d like to experience the thrill of riding a scooter you have to be sure of your road skills first. Hence, it’s advisable to rent one only if you know how to ride it or the same can prove to be unsafe. Alternatively, you can explore the town on foot or call for a blue bird taxi. Besides these options, there are Uber cabs, grab taxis and grab bikes but these might not be allowed in some tourist spots, so check before you order them. The price for the bike rental is approximately 50,000 IDR outside and 80,000 IDR from the hotel (approx 3 to 6$)
Where to eat and party?
Seminyak caters to an international and highly sophisticated crowd which has has framed the high standard of food and nightlife over the years. With local cafes serving organic, healthy meals and posh restaurants serving fine dining delicacies, Seminyak is a hub of terrific assortment of global eateries. However, that’s not where it ends. The beach resort town is also known for its hip nightlife with buzzing beach clubs and bars, restaurants that turn into parties et all. It’s a perfect combination of chilling and partying. Since there is a café in every corner of the town make sure to stick to the list below for a tried and tested experience. On the first day we landed up eating some really bad Thai food right outside the hotel and after that we made sure to stick to all the places that we had found out about.
– Nalu Bowls: My favourite breakfast spot in Seminyak! The smoothie bowls are simply amazing.
– Down to Earth Cafe: Their Falafel roll is the best.
– Coffee Cartel: Try the Avocado Toast, smoothie bowls, salads and if you’re in the mood to experiment then the pink/charcoal coffee.
– Kynd Community: Their smoothie bowls with wholesome toppings and avocado toast is definitely a must try!
– Sisterfields: One of the most popular eateries in the centre of Seminyak. Try their Avo Smash, Polenta fries and Acai bowls.
– Shelter Café: Situated right above Nalu Bowls, this bamboo set up is worth a try.
– Sea Circus: The place is a visual delight and everything on the menu is fabulous!
– Strawberry fields: Amazing smoothie bowls and a very cute set up
– Char Char Grill: A fun bar set up on a staircase facing the main street of Seminyak. The place is not cheap but would recommend to go there for the vibe, I think it’s damn cool!
– Sarong: An award winning restaurant that I didn’t get a chance to try but it was recommended by every single person.
– Ultimo: A cute Italian restaurant right in the centre. Take a seat outdoors and enjoy the live band.
– Merah Putih: Authentic Indonesian meals
– Mama San: A Pan Asian menu with an Indonesian touch.
– Revolver Espresso: Their homemade Tiramisu is the best
– Expat Roasters: Best Black coffee
– Motel Mexicola: U just can’t leave Seminyak without checking out this place. It’s great in the day for lunch but even better at night. Post 9pm the restaurant turns into a mad dancing spot. People are swaying to Macarena and literally dancing on their tables. This is a must visit, just book your table in advance.
– La Favela: While the staff might not be the best, the club surely is.
– OPIVM: This two storey nightclub should definitely be on your list.
Other restaurants that I didn’t get a chance to try but I’ve heard they’re amazing:
Bikini, Hanks Pizza, KILN, Chandi, Da Maria, Teatro, Frestro, Ling Ling’s, AYA Street, Café Kim Soo, 1/15 coffee, Café Organic, Corner House, Nebula, Pison Coffee.
Down to Earth Cafe
Revolver Cafe & Char Char Grill
Shelter Cafe and Nalu Bowls
Sisterfields and KYND Community
Motel Mexicola by night
There are stories about the Balinese sunsets, that they heal you. And they really do! They are glorious, beautiful, powerful and all that I’ve heard about them is indeed true. It’s literally like living in nature’s canvas. Fortunately the place is abundant with amazing sundown spots that you need to experience every single evening you’re there. Here are my favourite places:
– Woo bar at W: The deals and the staff here is fabulous. They gave a complimentary flat bread and water on ordering cocktails and sheesha. The set up is just like the vibe, so lively and romantic
– La Plancha: One of my favourite casual spots for sundown, they serve sheesha too
– Just head down to the beach opposite Ku De Ta and you can rent one of the beach beds from the locals. Just grab a beer and enjoy the sunset without any obstruction. (This was the best sundown I’ve ever experienced)
– Potato Head: A little hyped, always crowded but very buzzing. If you don’t mind a crowded sundown then this is the place to be. Dip in their pool or grab a table, just make sure to reach by 12 noon to get a good spot.
– Ku De Ta: A very upscale and modern beach bar where you can sit and sip on cocktails whilst enjoying the sunset.
Some other amazing sundown spots on the list were:
– Mrs Sippy
– Finns Beach Club
– Rooftop bar at Double Six
– La Laguna
Woo Bar at W
Where and What to Shop?
Filling your shopping bags up to the brim is what you will be doing here. From high end fashion brands and boutiques to local street shops, the options for shoppers here is unimaginable.
If you love street shopping just like me then this place is heaven for you. Just wander around the main street of Jalan Raya and Jalan Kaya Ayu towards the Seminyak Square, you will find tons of store selling great local stuff. What caught my eye the most were the primitive dresses, loose pants, dream catchers, cane furniture and the insane variety of the bamboo, wooden and cane bags. One can’t leave Seminyak without splurging on these famous Rattan bags that come in all shapes and sizes and are sold at every nook and corner. The further you move from the centre the cheaper it will be. I bought the round cane bag for 1,50,000 IDR (approx. 10$). It’s an absolute must have in your wardrobe. Also expect to find some really good wooden bags (inspired by the brand CultGia) for a throwaway price. All these local bags are sold between 1,50,000 to 4,50,000 IDR. Just make sure to bargain really well. Also if you have a bike just ride around the radius of the main market to find cheaper deals on bags and furniture.
I bought the round bags from this stall: Google Map
If you’re interested in checking out some fancy boutiques then hit the stores of Uma & Leopold, Auguste The Label, Bamboo Blonde, Magali Pascal, Seafolly and the Mrs Sippy Bazaar. The street of Jalan Kaya Ayu has most of them.
If Seminyak is your first stop in Bali then make sure you explore the rest too. Spend a minimum of 3 to 4 nights in Seminyak to experience different things and soak in the vibe.
– If you want to see the real Bali then head to Ubud. I stayed there for 7 nights and couldn’t get enough of the place.
– The South of Bali has it’s own charm. Fancy cliff bars, temples and gorgeous beaches, spending a few nights in Uluwatu is a must! You can easily skip Nusa Dua (I stayed there and wouldn’t recommend) and do a day trip to Jimbaran, go to the fishing village and also the Rock Bar at Ayana.
– Since you’re in Indonesia I would recommend exploring the different islands around Bali too – Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Komodo Island, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembogan.
12 days Itinerary for Bali
Day 1: Land in Denpasar and head to Seminyak
Day 2-4: Explore Seminyak
Day 5: Head to the South, stay in Uluwatu and enjoy the cliff top bars, temples and cliffs.
Day 6: Explore the beautiful beaches of Uluwatu
Day 7: Drive to Jimbaran and see the Rock Bar at Ayana and the Jimbaran Fishing Village
Day 8-11: Spend the next 4 nights in Ubud.
Day 12: Denpasar Airport or explore Gili Islands
9 days Itinerary for Bali
Day 1: Land in Denpasar and head to Seminyak
Day 2- 4: Explore Seminyak
Day 5: Take a day trip to the South of Bali. Explore the Uluwatu cliffs, beaches and temple. Spend the evening at Rock Bar at Ayana for sunset and eat dinner at Jimbaran Fishing Village. Head back to Seminyak
Day 6-8: Spend 3 nights in Ubud
Day 9: Drive back to Denpasar Airport or explore Gili Islands
7 days Itinerary for Bali
Day 1: Land in Denpasar and head to Seminyak
Day 2- 3: Explore Seminyak
Day 4: Take a day trip to the South of Bali. Explore the Uluwatu cliffs, beaches and temple. Spend the evening at Rock Bar at Ayana for sunset and eat dinner at Jimbaran Fishing Village. Head back to Seminyak
Day 5-7: Spend 2 nights in Ubud
Day 8: Drive back to Denpasar Airport or explore Gili Islands
Day trips from Seminyak (Incase you’re only visiting Seminyak)
If you don’t have too many days in hand then make sure you do these day trips from Seminyak
-Ubud: (I would recommend staying here) Visit the rice paddies, monkey forest, lotus temple, traditional market and the vegan cafes
– Uluwatu : See the temple, cliff bars for sunset and the beaches (The Edge, Omnia Bali, El Kabron are some great cliff bars)
– Jimbaran: Rock Bar and the Fishing Village (Can be combined with Uluwatu)
– Canguu 20 mins by taxi
Uluwatu Temple & Cliff
Left: The Lazy River at Courtyard Marriott Nusa Dua
Right: El Kabron in Uluwatu
– Do not visit or stay in Kuta. Would not recommend it at all
– Also, I found Nusa Dua extremely boring. There’s not much to do so wouldn’t recommend it at all.
What to pack
Since you’ll be basking under the Indonesian sun and lounging around after a swim for the most part of your trip, make sure to pack tons of swimsuits, bikinis, cover ups, flip flops and shorts. In the day, you can lounge around in breezy casual dresses, boho pants, crop tops, off shoulder and tube tops, denim shorts. Since the heat is scorching there make sure to pack hats, scarves and a sunscreen. A beach bag for the day and a cross bag for the night would be the perfect arm candy while in Bali. Also I suggest you to carry lesser bags because you can shop some Rattan Bags there. Keep the accessories simple, basic hoops, fringe earrings, dainty necklaces, nothing too chunky or uncomfortable and of course pack tons of cool sunglasses too. Pack more vibrant colours and prints and steer clear from black. The overall vibe is super casual and most of the tourists are roaming around in flip flops all day.
You’ll find a cosmopolitan crowd: Tourists, A-listers, celebrities, surfers and laid back hipsters.
Best time to visit:
Bali has the same kind of weather all year round, tropical and warm. April to September is definitely the best time to visit since it is less touristy. We went in June and the place wasn’t overcrowded, the weather was so good. Perfectly warm in the day, good enough to swim and chill on the beach and very pleasant once the sun set. November to January is extremely busy so expect sky rocketing prices.
The Ngurah Rai International Airport is located in Southern Bali, 13 kms south of Denpasar. It’s about 30 to 45 mins from Seminyak. You can either opt for an airport taxi or a hotel pick up.
We flew Jet Airways from Mumbai to Singapore (5.3 hours approx) and Garuda Airlines from Singapore to Bali (2.4 hours approx.). I was super impressed with Garuda – comfortable seats, easy check in, good food and a great entertainment system.
Indonesian Rupiah is the main currency (IDR). Very few places accept US dollars there, I would recommend you to carry local currency only. Debit and Credit cards are accepted in most restaurants and cafes.
Check www.xe.com for the current exchange rate
If you hold an Indian passport then the visa is on arrival and is free for the first 30 days.
Overall, Bali is quite cheap compared to other holiday destinations.
This is an approximate amount spent for two people:
-Bike Rental: 50,000 IDR per day from outside or 80,000 IDR from the hotel (4$- 6$ per day)
– Breakfast at places like Kynd Community and Nalu bowls costed us 160,000-170,000 IDR for two (10$-12$)
– Foot Massage Kimberly Spa: 30 mins approx 110,000 IDR per person (8$)
– Lunch used to vary from 165,000 to 500,000 IDR for two depending on where we chose to dine. (10$- 35$)
– Coffee + Dessert was approx. 130,000 IDR for two (9$)
– Sundown was approx. 100,000 to 500,000 IDR (7$ – 30$)
– Dinner with alcohol was approx. 500,000 to 10,00,000 IDR (30$-60$)
Don’t leave without
– Trying the smoothie bowls at Nalu and Kynd Community
– Partying at Motel Mexicola
– Trying the local cafes mentioned above
– Buying a local cane bag
– Experiencing a good sundown
– Getting a foot massage
There’s no place better than Seminyak to enjoy nature, laze around the charming beaches and witness wild sunsets that almost seem surreal. Serving up to a diverse crowd from all around the world, the town holds an air of grandeur and poise while also blending into the laid-back life. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Seminyak and if you guys have any other recommendations please leave a comment below and let me know 🙂