SOMEWHERE IN SEMINYAK
Bali – Indonesia
Written by Chris Andre
Seminyak is Bali’s most sophisticated playground where hip restaurants and clubs stay next door to fancy shopping boutiques and modern beach resorts.
Having lived in Bali for two years has given me a great opportunity to know and see the island through and through. Having lived in Seminyak, to be precise, for most of my time on the island has been remarkably enjoyable. For one, it’s presumably the island’s downtown, the place to see and be seen. And secondly, it remains right at the heart of everything—a beautiful beach for sunsets, fabulous retail counters, fine eateries, eclectic clubs and fantastic accommodations.
Where is Seminyak?
Seminyak is ten minutes away from Kuta, where the international Ngurah Rai airport is also located. It stretches along the Seminyak Beach, which actually remains part of the long strip of the west coast of Bali. Seminyak can also be a great spot for you to take a break before continuing your journey to Canggu or Ubud or even Menjangan at the west end of Bali.
How to get there?
Bali can be a little bit trying when it comes to transportation. From the airport, you can get a taxi to drive you there, although an island’s insider would advise you against getting on any taxis other than BlueBird taxis. The typical scene is that as you arrive at the airport, a pack of taxi drivers will approach and even come to the point of hustling you. Simply ignore them and walk straight through to the taxi stand. There’s a booth there showing the flat rates according to the destination you’re going. The BlueBird taxis I mentioned earlier may sometimes pass by the taxi stops, but if not, you can fetch one outside the airport, that is five to ten minutes walk. They all use taxi meters and normally the cost is comparably cheaper. Mind you, there are other taxies copying the BlueBird logo and color, though. So make sure you pick the right one. You can, otherwise, have the hotel’s driver pick you up at the airport. If you’re in for an adventure, go out to the motor parking area to find “ojek,” motor taxis, that will take you to Seminyak for a bargain.
Taxi ride from Bali airport to Seminyak is a short drive, the airport taxi fare is Rp60,000 or USD$6. If you don’t have a lot of luggage and you don’t mind trying to catch a blue bird taxi outside of the airport it will cost half price.
For more information, check out: Bali Airport Guide (Transportation)
What to find in Seminyak?
On Jalan Seminyak Raya, you’ll see a lot of clothing retails as well as inviting restaurants. A great pit stop would be the Bintang Supermarket, smack bang between Legian and Seminyak. Here you can either stock up on local Bintang beer or purchase exotic items the island has to offer—frangipani massage oil is a must-buy! From there, you can saunter at ease and head north to discover so much more.
The Bar Street :
At the crossroad of Jalan Camplung Tanduk (also known as Jalan Dhyana Pura), you’ll see Warung Ocha that’s usually packed with surfers and flip-flopped ladies sampling Balinese and international meals. Jalan Camplung Tanduk is infamously known by the islanders as the bar street, where round-the-clock diners and a bevy of bars crowd together on one long lane leading to a stunning beach. Before the coastline though, there is a string of four gay bars that will give French cabarets a run for their money with drag shows and sometimes a pole dance. Some nearby accommodations vary from reliable three-starred lodgings such as FaveHotel Seminyak, to upscale hotels like Courtyard Seminyak by Marriot Hotel, The Breezes Bali and Anantara Seminyak.
The Eat Street :
Further down north, you’ll hit an intersection where the Shampoo Lounge—a hair salon attached to a bar—resides on the right-hand side. Take the left road and you’re bound to meet another intersection where Will Meyrick’s super-delicious MamaSan Restaurant is snugly nestled on the right turn. But take the left turn instead and get ready for a culinary adventure through Jalan Laksmana or Oberoi (the frequent changes of the roads end up in road-name confusion). It’s not much of Balinese cuisine, but Italian, Greek and Japanese fares are running this traffic-laden lane. Strolling on your feet is much more advised, as there’s tons of awesome shopping outlets you don’t want to miss. By the way, the Eat Street is also packed with wonderful hotels: The Ize Hotel, U Pasha Hotel, The Legian, The Seminyak and The Sentosa Seminyak. All these are within walking distance from the must-visit Ku De Ta beach restaurant and bar.
The Petitenget Street :
It’s not Seminyak yet if you haven’t been on one of the island’s best kept secrets: The Petitenget Street. Literally meaning “Sacred Chest,” Petitenget is marked with a stunning, incredible landmark that is Petitenget Temple. It is glorious in stone carving and located a stone’s throw away from the beach. You can dine at Petitenget Bistro next it to while admiring the temple’s magnificent presence. But Petitenget’s claims to fame are these three must-visit venues: Hu’u Bar, Potato Head Beach Club and W Resort Bali-Seminyak. But as you trot along the winding road of Petitenget, you’ll discover many hole-in-the-wall eateries and boutique accommodations, such as Alila Seminyak, Hu’u Villas, The Samaya and The L Hotel.
Where to Eat?
Although Seminyak is practically restaurants galore, my three favorites would start with Revolver Coffeehouse that’s located hidden behind a fancy boutique called This Is A Love Song. Revolver is run by an Australian surfer girl who embodies a modern hippie lifestyle. She has a Melbourne-esque coffee recipe that definitely is at par, if not better, with that of Starbucks and the like. And, oh, the sandwiches are to die for; order Holster or Double Barrel that will make one breakfast to remember.
Mexican foods are not scarce in Petitenget. While you can find the uber-artistic Motel Mexicola on Jalan Kayu Jati—an architectural landmark on its own—my choice of Mexican eatery is Taco Casa, five minutes passing W Resort Bali-Seminyak to Canggu. It serves a spicy enchiladas and hefty tacos although it tends to get pretty busy in the evening. But for a South American-styled bar, go back to Jalan Laksmana and ask around for La Favela bar. It’s tucked away across the Coco Mart next to the Champagne Lounge, and it’s actually a spacious bar bedecked with creepy-and-quirky ornaments, drawing inspiration from Brazilian shantytowns. The place’s normally packed at midnight.
For a little bit of splurging, both W Resort Bali-Seminyak and Potato Head Beach Club have troves of culinary treasures to uncover. FIRE at W Resort Bali-Seminyak rolls out mouth-watering steaks and has wicked cocktails to sample—ask for the secret cocktail topped with cotton candy, which has won a number of bartending recognitions. Meanwhile, Tapping Shoes at the second floor of Potato Head Beach Club is totally unique. It brought in Osaka-born chef Take who presents a mind-blowing fusion of classic French and innovative Japanese culinary offerings. Slurp in some avant-garde foie gras while soaking up the breathtaking views of Petitenget Beach; life simply cannot get any better than this. Potato Head Beach Club will have a hotel on its own soon, called La Katamama.
Where to Stay?
Although Seminyak is never short of great accommodations, those who want to make the most of their first time visit to the island could perhaps use some of the recommended places here.
For starters, single or couple travelers who want to soak up the real vibe of Seminyak should definitely check out W Retreat Bali-Seminyak. The Spectacular Ocean-Facing Retreat rooms couldn’t get more spectacular. Perched on the top floor—in Bali, buildings may only be six floors high maximum—the rooms offer a sprawling view of the beach, which at night send gentle white noise to your sleep. The bathtub is even more spectacular with an optional “open” rooftop that looks at the beautiful Bali moon at night.
If you’re traveling with the family, The Legian is hard to beat. Not only was the hotel previously booked by international celebrities including Tyra Banks and British singer M.I.A., The Legian has rooms, suites, villas, gardens, swimming pools and, best of all, direct access to the beach. And for some unknown reason, I personally think that the sunset here is among the best out of the Seminyak stretch (you can walk down from here to Ku De Ta and complete the experience with a glass of cool mojito!). The neighboring resort, The Seminyak, is also recommended and comprises relatively similar facilities.
For a selfishly satisfying stay, hotels standing right on the Jalan Laksmana or Oberoi Road are excellent picks. The Ize and the U Pasha are surrounded by great restaurants and bars and shops. You can simply laze around for a few days, whiling the days with venturing into nice clothing boutiques, such as Somewhere, Uluwatu Lace, Bamboo Blonde and Body & Soul, and letting the nights go by peacefully as you down Bali’s signature Bintang Beer. You can alternatively walk through a small alley beside the Ultimo Restaurant and find beautiful Bali-styled villas. There’s B Villas, K Villas and the sophisticated I/II (called One Eleven).
When to Visit?
There’s no actual timing as when to visit Bali or Seminyak best, since it’s summer all year round there. But spending a year-end in Bali is simply unforgettable. You can catch a fantastic firework show at Potato Head Beach Club during the countdown to the New Year or enjoy a string of DJs pumping the W Retreat Bali-Seminyak’s floor. Seminyak also throws a great deal of parties during mid-year, such as Ku De Ta’s white party and Potato Head Beach Club’s summer party—where global entertainers including Ellie Goulding, Fat Boy Slim, Snoop Dog and more have performed here. However, like most beautiful places in the world, the sooner to visit is always the better.
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