A short guide to Seminyak, Bali

Seminyak Beach

Seminyak is fast becoming one of the trendier places to stay in Bali.  Situated north of Kuta on the coast, the village of Seminyak used to be a rather sleepy place, but now it is gradually becoming cluttered with boutique hotels, private villas, good restaurants and some very trendy shops.

When I first started going to Seminyak, nearly thirty years ago, Seminyak was, more or less, at the end of the track.  It was still possible to see rice fields, and Seminyak still had a casual and laid back village atmosphere.  Some of Bali’s top hotels, such as The Legian, were built there simply because there was still plenty of prime waterfront land available for development, and it was well away from the crass Kuta.

I stayed in Seminyak recently, and the developers have been having a field day turning it into a more upmarket Kuta.  From a conversation that I had with a local, there is some consternation that the Javanese have been buying the land and moving in to erect buildings without much regard for local culture.  There is really not much respect between the Javanese and the Balinese, and those views are held possible because the Javanese are mainly Muslim whereas the Balinese are mainly Hindu, and there are differences of opinion regarding many aspects of day-to-day life.

The beach at Seminyak is typical of this part of Bali, and it is a continuation of the same beach that begins at Tuban just south of Kuta.  It is a very wide, sandy beach but the sand is a dull grey colour and not an attractive yellow.  Although you do get quite a few people on the beach, it doesn’t get crowded.  You do get a few board riders catching waves; the waves don’t appear to be too overpowering, so swimming in the surf shouldn’t be too much of a problem for anyone with surf beach experience.  They do seem to follow the Australian tradition of have flagged areas which indicate where it is safe to swim, but many people ignore the flags and do their own thing anyway.  It is normally warm and humid in Bali, so the weather is generally ideal for the beach.    Funeral procession along Jl. Raya Seminyak

The main street running through Seminyak is Jalan Raya Seminyak, but despite its name, it is just a continuation of Jalan Legian, which leads down to Kuta.  There are many shops along the main street.  Most of them are boutiques, shoe or jewellery shops, but there are also a number of restaurants and cafes as well.  Until recently, the footpath was quite difficult to walk along because the pavement was broken and there were great gaps in the concrete everywhere, meaning that tripping and falling was a common occurrence.  The pavement has been re-made and is now quite easy to walk along, which is good because before, when you had to step onto the road a lot to avoid great chasms in the pavement, you had a fair chance of being hit by any of the mad motorcyclists who hurtle along the street kamikaze fashion in a constant confrontation with death.

The southern boundary of Seminyak is where Jalan Arjuna intercepts Jalan Raya Seminyak/Jalan Legian. Jalan Arjuna leads down to the beach, and it is also known as Jalan Double Six.  There are a number of tattoo shops along Jalan Arjuna, as well as the usual hodge podge of boutiques and souvenir stores.  The street also boasts a number of restaurants, one of which Nooodles I heartily recommend.  At Nooodles you can get almost any dish that has noodles or pasta in it.  Prices are reasonable and the food is great.

At the end of Jalan Arjuna , right next to the beach, is the A.J. Hackett Bungee Jumping Tower, but I’m not sure if it still operates as I didn’t see anyone take the plunge whilst I was watching.

Making offerings on Seminyak Beach

The northern boundary of Seminyak is the Petitenget Temple.  There is a car park there and one of Bali’s best known and most highly-regarded restaurants La Lucciola Italian Restaurant.  La Lucciola has been in this spot for many years, and you do get some spectacular sunsets as you sip on a drink.  Sadly, the road is now wall-to-wall shops, but there was a time when you would pass many rice fields on your way to La Luciola.  You won’t get a cheap night at La Lucciola, but you will get a memorable experience.

The beach here is also very popular with locals, and they tend to congregate here at sunset to enjoy the same view as you get a La Luciola for a substantially cheaper price.  There’s a little bridge that crosses a stream just before you reach the beach, and there’s a lady here that sells the most delicious satay chicken – ten sticks for 10,000 rupiah, or about one dollar for the lot.  There’s also a small beach bar and cafe right next to the temple which seemed to be reasonably priced.

As mentioned before, Seminyak has many upmarket places to stay, from five-star hotels to private villas.  The area is not as crowded as Kuta, so is ideal for the non-party crowd.  As you would expect in this area, it also has many good restaurants.  There are a couple, such as Ku De Ta, Cafe Moka, Chandi, Ultimo, Trattatoria, Antique and Lemongrass which offer very good international food.  If you hanker for traditional Indonesian or Balinese then the best restaurants are Made’s Warung, Warung Ocha’s and Gado Gado.

To get around, use Bluebird Taxis as they are the most reliable and the most honest, and they always use their meters.  You can hire a driver and vehicle (they’ll find you) and negotiate a good price if you want a longer journey, or hire a car or motorbike (if you are barking mad).  I have driven around Bali, and it is not too bad, but it can get tiring as you really have to concentrate because those motorcyclists come out of anywhere and don’t mind riding at speed the wrong way down a street.  These days I prefer to hire a driver.  It helps that I know a couple of very good, safe and honest drivers who really look after me.

Seminyak is an ideal location if you want to be near the action in Bali, but not in the centre of party town.  The trend now is to hire a private villa, and Seminyak has plenty.  Obviously, that is more expensive than staying in a hotel, but if you enjoy luxury and privacy, then it is a very appealing way to enjoy Bali.

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