Seminyak is the village immediately to the north of Legian with a reputation for all the pleasures in abundance to its south, but with a distinctly upmarket vibe. Here the sunglasses are bigger, the dresses designer and the drink of choice champagne. Seminyak stretches from Jalan Double Six in the south and morphs into the villages of Kerobokan and Umalas somewhere north of the Petitenget temple.
Fashion designers flock to Seminyak in their hundreds and use this area to showcase their wares with little boutiques lining Jalan Raya Seminyak and Jalan Kayu Aya/Laksmana and Oberoi. Consequently, this increases the level of fashion awareness among the crowds that call this place home and you'll notice plenty of people attempting to uphold their image while slamming back cocktails at one of the many chic bars in town.
The beach here is simply an extension of the one further south in Kuta and Legian, but there are fewer patrolled areas for swimming and there are constant rumours circulating of the latest tourist to have drowned due to the treacherous waters. It's best to heed the warnings of the many signs along the beach to swim only been the flagged areas and ensure that a life guard is on duty in case you get into trouble.
The hotels in Seminyak represent some of the best in Indonesia with the likes of the Legian and Samaya showcasing just how well luxury accommodation can be done. At these sorts of places you can easily fork out in excess of US$500 per night — but these prices are bargain when compared to similarly priced rooms in the West. Despite the abundance of top end accommodation, it is possible to find cheaper digs located away from the beach but they are generally more expensive than what can be found in Kuta and Legian.
A big feature of the Seminyak scene is eating. Some truly amazing restaurants call Seminyak and more increasingly Kerobokan home. Eateries such as La Lucciola and Sarong are top notch while cafes such as Café Bali and The Tuckshop do fantastic coffees, cakes and lunches. The inner foodie in many people will delight at the options available here.
Seminyak is home to several yoga studios offering very different styles of classes. Always check a studio’s schedule before showing up, as times can change at short notice. And remember: it’s hot in Bali, so hydrate well before and after class. Jiwa offers Bikram classes in an upstairs mirrored studio with an intricate Balinese wooden door dominating the otherwise white and bright decor. Even if you’re a seasoned Bikram practitioner, prepare to work hard in Bali’s high humidity. Classes are held daily, most mornings and evenings, but check the schedule on their site for the latest times ahead of your visit. Owner Angie is an experienced teacher and either takes the classes herself or brings in certified Bikram teachers.
Bring your own mat and towel, or you can rent them for a session for 20,000 and 10,000 rupiah respectively. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you won’t need water — take a few bottles in. You can leave your stuff in a locker and showers are available. A drop-in class is 187,000 rupiah, weekly unlimited pass is 965,000, or if you’re here for a while, try three months unlimited for 4,550,000 rupiah.
Prana Spa has a small attached yoga studio. We have inspected their enclosed studio but not yet done one of their classes. Vinyasa or hatha classes are offered daily from 07:30 till 08:45, 90 minutes of Creative Power Flow is offered from 09:00 and a few kinds of Vinyasa classes are offered from 17:30 till 19:00. Classes are 120,000 rupiah (or buy 10, get 2 free) and you must BYO towel. The Moroccan-inspired spa here is way over the top and not quite to our taste, but if you’re after an indulgent Bali experience, consider booking in for a massage after your class — it will be memorable, at the least, simply because of the imaginative, sumptuous surrounds. Their Ayurvedic treatments in particular are reputed to be very good.
European- and Indian-trained Olop Arpipi is one of Bali’s best known Iyengar instructors. Due to the timing of his classes, which are held in a studio set in the sprawling grounds of his lush Seminyak residence, we have not yet been able to take one of them, but we are dying to as we’ve heard such great things from friends who attend regularly. Classes are 100,000 rupiah. Currently classes are offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 08:00-10:00 (intermediate/advanced) then 16:15-18:00 for beginners. Tuesdays and Thursdays classes from 08:00-10:00 are for intermediate students.
We’ve so far only stopped at the cute raw food cafe attached to relative newcomer Seminyak Yoga Shala, located at the northern end of Jalan Seminyak. They offer three to four classes daily, including Mysore style at 07:30 daily, then a mix of Ashtanga, hatha flow and hatha for beginners (as well as Qi Gong and Tai Chi) throughout the day. A drop-in class is 120,000 rupiah, inclusive of towel and mat, or an 11-class pass is a million rupiah. See their website for full schedule.
Jiwa Yoga Bali: Jalan Petitenget 78, Seminyak; (0361) 841 3689; www.jiwayogaanddance.com
Prana Yoga at The Villas: Opposite Bali Deli, Jalan Kunti, Seminyak; (0361) 730 840; www.thevillas.net/yoga.html
Olop Arpipi: Jalan Drupadi 1 No. 7, Basangkasa, Seminyak; (0812) 381 1507; firstname.lastname@example.org
Seminyak Yoga Shala: Jalan Raya Basangkasa 1200B; (0361) 730 498; seminyakyogashala.com
As much as many a traveller may sneer at it for being the tourist enclave it is, many a weary tourist ends up here for a night or two at the start or end of a Bali trip; some may even spend their whole time here, exploring the beach, cafes, bars and nightlife. But for those who are here just for 24 hours… here’s what we wouldn’t miss.
Breakfast is most likely included at your hotel or villa, but did you know breakfast dessert is also an important meal of the day? Now, we know Ku De Ta has been around forever and if you’re a Bali regular you’ll know it, but breakfast remains our favourite time of day to head here. It’s peaceful, the view is stunning, and it’s easy to avoid drinking alcohol at 08:00 — which means you’ll have a relatively affordable experience. FYI: we love the pork and fennel sausages with caramelised onions and scrambled eggs.
All the big Bali names are along Laksmana — traditional lace at Uluwatu, resort wear at Saba and Mist, surfwear at Drifter, fancy threads at places like Milk & Roses, Lulu Yasmine, Magali Pascal, casual wear at Buddha Wear, kids’ clothes at Kids Agogo and homewares at every other spot… Make a lunch stop at Cafe Bali, smack bang in the middle of the street, Revolver, home to possibly Bali’s best coffee, or breezy Sisterfields. If you’re after something seaside and a bit fancier, there’s always La Lucciola down to the left of Petitenget temple.
Early afternoon you’ll be needing a pick me up, so consider a massage -- Jari Menari on Raya Basangkasa offers the best massages on the island.Bodyworks has been around for years and offers an array of spa services, as well as massage. They are a bit pricey, but the therapists are usually very good.
Once the sun’s down, head back to your hotel to freshen up. But which hotel? If you’re on a budget, what the Mutiara lacks in personality is more than made up for by its central location — it’s a three-minute walk to Eat Street, and suits families. If you’re happy to head a little further north to Petitenget, Fave Umalas (Agoda) is a solid budget choice. Again, not much soul, but it’s a clean, funky little place to lay your head. A big step up in both style and personality is charming Brown Feather, on Batu Belig, an area really coming into its own these days (check out Watercress for a great breakfast or lunch if you stay here).
Street-level massage joints are a dime-a-dozen in Bali, and so too are the high-end US-dollar priced ones. The market in between, where you pay just a little more and get something a little different is where there’s a bit of a gap, but that’s where Cozy, just near Simpang Siur (ten minutes from Kuta on a good day), steps in. It’s luxury on the cheap, if you like, and indeed over the past two years as they’ve been building a new branch up the road (which remains unopened), the place has got a little long in the tooth and frankly, a bit shabby. Nevertheless, the quality of the treatments and strength of the massages make this worth overlooking.
My favourite treatment is their “scalp sensation”, a cream bath (head/neck/shoulder massage) plus foot massage. It goes for 90 blissful minutes and is 121,000 rupiah. Bookings are pretty much essential at the three-storey shophouse venue, as this place is so popular. Call ahead, they’ll give you a booking number, and make sure you show up on time. You’ll be asked to select what sort of product you want used on your hair as well as what sort of music you’d like — they’ll give you a programmed iPod to chill out to during your treatment.
You’ll then be ushered into their small waiting area, which doubles as a juice bar. I recommend ordering their hot ginger, lemon and honey tea, which will be delivered to you while you’re having your treatment. They’ll come around to unobstrusively take an order at some stage if you don’t have time before you’re whisked upstairs.
The lounges used for the cream baths and reflexology sessions are comfortable and placed on either side of fish tanks running up the centre of the large room — last night I went and the fish tank in front of me was empty, a sign of the direction maintenance here has been taking, unfortunately. Mobiles are to be turned off and there’s strictly no talking. If you’re going for the “Scalp Sensation” you’ll have to get your hair washed and rinsed at some stage, which does involve a bit of squeezing past other chairs, but this isn’t the end of the world.
Beach bars and clubs
When you think “Seminyak”, you may well think “beach bar”. Seminyak is where you pop on your kaftan, sunnies and strappy sandals to get comfy on a lounger or a bar stool for the show that happens each dusk along the west-facing beach. Be warned that the more expensive places will often have a minimum consumption charge for using their daybeds.
Though it’s more than just a beach bar, Ku De Ta is Seminyak’s sunset-spot par excellence. Stunningly situated overlooking an enticing stretch of beach, in the right light, it’s close to unbeatable. Drinks aren’t cheap but they are imaginative, and service around those iconic red umbrellas is always swift. Linger for dinner, too, if you like, at their main restaurant or cutting-edge Mejekawi.
A little further north and more ostentatious still is Potato Head Beach Club, which also offers a sublime beachfront setting, comprehensive array of cocktails, a large pool with swim-up bar and several great options for dining into the evening. Enjoy the dramatic entrance through the semi-circular building by architect Andra Martin comprising old louvred, mismatched shutters from Java, a delightful mixture of whimsy and cleverness. DJs and concerts occasionally take over the green lawn, with restaurants flanking the sides and the foam of Seminyak beach’s waves frothing just metres away from the infinity-edge pool. The cocktail list is comprehensive and compelling.
One of our favourite spots is 2016-renovated but still classily modest Frangipani Bar, attached to La Lucciola. Gliding waiters with flowers tucked behind their ears serve up delectable cocktails with finger food as you sit facing the sprawling lawn, waves crashing along the beach over the gentle rise at the front.
Back towards Kuta, Cocoon boasts an inviting pool with day beds and deck chairs outside, while the two-floor restaurant inside is all smooth concretes, curves, natural materials and gleaming mirrors under twirling fans. The Western menu lives up to the flash expectations the decor creates.
Don’t have loads of cash? Don’t fear: Seminyak offers plenty of beach bars where you can sip a drink while your feet are actually in the sand, including ma and pa businesses with perhaps a dozen deckchairs and a half-dozen umbrellas rented out by the hour or day. As the sun drops, trade shifts from deckchairs to drinks. We’ve had a beer with Ketut and Wayan, who’ve been working the same stretch of sand, where Kuta morphs into Seminyak, since 1997. With at least a dozen “bars” in rapid succession heading north into Seminyak proper, the vibe is “let’s chug the beers down and have a good time”.
Raymond’s, not far from where busy Jalan Double Six empties out onto the beach, is wedged in among a mass of deckchair-cum-dives. Raymond is indeed a nice guy and was near mortally offended when we got up to leave after one drink. Further along again are more Raymondesque “bars”, each with its own distinct crowd and vibe, and eventually you’ll find Crystal Palace, where the live bands are usually really good. Excellent staff, good prices and an ideal people-watching position make this a super spot as the sun really sinks.
Brightly coloured bean bags are all the rage along the sands here, and Champlung adds Balinese-style umbrellas with dingle dangles making for great sunset photos. Drink prices are moderate and staff friendly. Spanish La Plancha is a beach-bar fave, and is generally always packed. Service can be lacklustre, but the setting is pretty and the food a higher quality than most joints along here (with higher prices to match). Juice Park has most of its seating off the beach, but you can grab one of the lazy pillows out front. Cold drinks and a less hectic feel than its more famous neighbour, make this an appealing option, though we didn’t love their calamari.
- Cocoon Beach Club: Jalan Double Six, Seminyak; T: (0361) 731 266; http://cocoon-beach.com/; open daily 10:00-24:00.
- Frangipani Bar, La Lucciola: Jalan Petitenget (behind the temple, on the beach); T: (0361) 730 838; open daily.
- Juice Park: Seminyak Beach: T: (0361) 361 5900; open daily 10:00-23:00.
- Ku De Ta: Jalan Kayu Aya 9, Seminyak; T: (0361) 736 969; open daily.
- La Plancha: Seminyak Beach; T: (0878) 6141 6310; https://www.facebook.com/planchabali/; open daily 07:00-01:00.
- Potato Head Beach Club: Jalan Petitenget 51B, Seminyak; T: (0361) 473 7979; www.ptthead.com/#bali; open daily 10:00-02:00.
Modern Indonesian is the absolute flavour of the month in Bali, as of 2016. Stunning Merah Putih is among those that kicked off the trend honouring Indonesia’s fabulous cuisine, and remains an essential stop if you want to get to know the archipelago’s cuisines. They offer traditional dishes from far-flung islands, as well as modern takes on them, in a unique glass cathedral-like setting — though don’t miss a drink in their sleek bar to begin or end the night. Try the Sulawesi prawn and snapper curry, the Lombok spring chicken and the Sumatran duck leg to cover just three of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands. In 2016 executive chef Kieran Morland opened Sangsaka, an intimate 40-seat restaurant focusing on modern Indonesian — we’re yet to try it but we can’t wait.
For a more intimate vibe, head to classy Bambu, set over a pool and in a two-storey open-air building right on Petitenget, though you wouldn’t know it once you’re inside. From the people behind La Lucciola, the standards are just as high, and the modern take on Indonesian classics simply delicious.
Mejekawi, upstairs at Ku De Ta, is a sort of laboratory-cum-tasting kitchen, with five or 12-course special tasting menus focusing on local produce. The menus are genuinely interesting — bring your molecular gastronomy fan here for a real treat at the lovely beachside setting (though tables are inside). Famed American pastry chef Will Goldfarb is the brains behind the avant-garde desserts. Prices are high for Bali, but for the amazing, world-class quality on offer, they remain very reasonable.
Teatro Gastroteque offers an imaginative degustation menu from Indonesian executive chef Mandif M. Warokka, who makes no secret of the fact he wants his restaurant to win a Michelin star. We reckon he’ll get it one of these days. Prices are a little high and the setting is not quite as smoothly finished as the other spots mentioned here, but he did outfit the place himself! Service is impeccable.
Chandi too takes its inspiration from traditional Indonesian dishes, but puts their own spin on them. The focus is on organic, locally produced food and they work closely with Big Tree Farms. This is a stylish spot, with good-value tasting menus available as well.
Moving towards the more traditional Indonesian joints, where point and pick is the norm: One of our favourite Seminyak warungs is Warung Sulawesi. The rustic garden-set restaurant offers a range of yummy point-and-pick traditional Sulawesi and Javanese dishes at bargain prices. Choose from red, yellow or white rice then simply point at what you’d like to try: curries, stir-fries, sate, fritters, noodles and so on, in combinations using fish, squid, prawns, beef and lots of tofu and tempeh. It’s a comprehensive selection if you’d like to try a range of dishes in one sitting — and it’s really cheap. Pull up a wooden seat and enjoy your meal surrounded by blooming purple, pink and white orchids. (Nearby Kolega, another of our faves, closed as of late 2016.)
- Bambu: Jalan Petitenget 198, Seminyak; T: (0361) 846 9797; open daily 18:00-23:00.
- Chandi: Jalan Laksmana 72, Seminyak; T: (0361) 731 060; www.chandibali.com; open daily 12:00-24:00.
- Mejekawi: Jalan Kayu Aya 9, Seminyak; T: (0361) 736 969; www.kudeta.com/mejekawi.html.
- Merah Putih: Jalan Petitenget No.100x, Seminyak; T: (0361) 846 5950; merahputihbali.com; open daily 12:00-15:00, 17:30-01:00.
- Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku: Jalan Kayu Jati No. 12, Seminyak, Bali; T: (0361) 308 3008; open daily.
- Sangsaka: Jalan Pangkung Sari 100x, Seminyak; T: (0812) 3695 9895; sangsakabali.com; open daily 18:00-24:00.
- Taman Bamboo: Jalan Plawa No. 10, Seminyak; T: (0361) 888 1567; open daily 09:00-22:00.
- Teatro Gastroteque: Jalan Kayu Aya; T: (0851) 0170 0078; teatrobali.com; open daily.
- Warung Aneka: Rasa Jalan Laksmana/Kayu Aya 21, Seminyak.
- Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen: Sunset Rd, Seminyak; T: (0361) 745 2968.
- Warung Ocha: Jalan Raya Seminyak No. 52; T: (0361) 736 222; open daily 07:00-22:30.
- Warung Sulawesi: 200 Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak; T: (0361) 746 3052.