Finding Balance in Seminyak: Day Spas, Nalu Bowls and Swim-Up Bars
If it’s your first time to Bali and you happen to arrive in Seminyak, you will be greeted with the bustle and chaos of the city, which somehow manages to run seamlessly. Moreover, you’ll also be greeted by 100% humidity and the realization that you can sweat in places you never even knew existed on your body.
Sounds like: “Taxi? Taxi?” on every corner, honking horns, and the hum of an approaching motorbike.
Looks like: Complex intersections with no rules, old crumbling buildings juxtaposing new resorts, or an entire family on one motorcycle, making their way home after a day of work.
Tastes like: Tempeh and peanut sauce, smoothie bowls, Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng.
Smells like: Car exhaust, burning garbage, and strong incense (honesty is the best policy!)
Where to stay:
You will have endless choices of hotels, hostels, resorts, or homestays, depending on your budget. Accommodation in Seminyak is widely available, but remember to always look at Trip Advisor for reviews before you book—pictures online can be incredibly deceiving. Travel tip: Book accommodation through Booking.com. For the most part they don’t have any cancellation fees or hidden costs.
Where to Relax:
Head over to Spa Bali for the day and splurge on a 4 hour, $60 spa package. Included will be a flower bath, body scrub, hour-long body massage, manicure and pedicure. Spa Bali is a very reputable company and will do an exceptional job. This isn’t a cheap Asian massage place, per se, but it is a one way ticket to relaxation in a beautiful space.
Where to Drink:
This is an outdoor bar with a pool on the beach in Seminyak. You will only find tourists here, and it’s a fun place to drink during the day and swim. If you buy any drink you can use the pool and other facilities. Be wary through, because the security guards will check your bags before you enter the property and will take away/pour out any water bottles. Although comfortable looking, most lounge chair seating requires a minimum 50$ purchase to use with a reservation. Beer: $6 CAD with tax. Virgin blended drinks: $5 CAD with tax.
This beachside outdoor bar is a great place for watching the sunset. They have awesome bean bag chairs with Asian style umbrellas. Small beer: $3.
We never actually made it to the W Hotel (picture courtesy of my sister), but we heard that it’s a great spot if you’re craving a non-salty swim set amongst a luxurious hotel setting. The best part? You don’t even have to order a drink to swim in the pool.
Hotel Mexicola and La Favella:
If you’re in search of a night-life fix, these two bars are probably the best time you’ll find in all of Seminyak for travellers.
Where to Eat:
Means “local food”. Even though many of Seminyak’s side street “restaurants” look sketchy, they’re not, so long as you order the local food. Stick to vegetarian if you want to be on the safe side. Tempeh was invented in Indonesia and is a good thing to order if you’re unsure of what the other options are (I almost ate meat on many occasions because you can never really tell when it’s covered in sauce and the locals don’t speak English). Look for tempeh marinated in a red sauce; it’s slightly spicy, flavourful, and a good source of vegetarian protein.
This little hole in the wall is a bit out of the way, but it was near our hostel, so we went for dinner one night after walking by. The family that owns it is very friendly, and you can tell they take pride in serving good local food. It’s wise to avoid ordering western food at a place like this, since common western ingredients are hard to find in Bali, and they might not know how to cook your favourite go-to from home. Vegetarian Nasi Goreng: $2. Small Bintang: $2.5.
This warung has raving reviews on trip advisor. They are known for their local food and large share plates. Great quality and great cheap prices.
The Spicy Coconut:
This is one of Seminyak’s few vegan restaurants. They offer a wide selection of sweet and savoury breakfasts at a slightly higher price tag. Their pancakes are to die for, but if I ever go back, I will either order the tofu scramble or the chia pudding. Price range: $5-10.
This side street eatery is purely dedicated to making delicious smoothie bowls with granola and fruit toppings. Choose from approximately 8 bowls and if you’re nice enough to the staff, they might even add an extra topping to your smoothie. Regular bowl: $6-7.
This restaurant offers a large selection of local dishes for a fair price (approx $4-5 CAD). It’s located along the main drag so if you’re unsure of where to go for Balinese food, this place is a safe bet and has quality wi-fi.
Buying a Phone Plan:
There’s no reason for you to have to buy a sim card. Wi-fi is almost everywhere that you eat, drink, or make a purchase at. So long as you are a customer, the owner of the shop will gladly give you the password. Pro travel tip: Download the app “maps.me”. This is an offline navigation app that does not need ANY internet connection or data to use. Once downloaded, also download the local map of the area you are staying in. The app will give you walking and driving directions to any address or location with a name.
J-walk carefully, because there are no traffic rules in Seminyak and motorbikes travel really fast—even along narrow roads and alleys. Cars will usually weave around you though if you make a move into the intersection.
Taking a taxi:
Prior to getting in any taxi, either barter for a set price of your choice or ask your taxi driver to put the meter on. Shorter journeys in Seminyak will cost around $1-3 and longer ones outside of Seminyak will cost about $10-20 depending on where you’re going. Always barter if you’re unsure of the price because you will probably be ripped off regardless. If they won’t budge, try another taxi. In some situations, if you stand outside the taxi and talk to the driver, the driver will become anxious about blocking traffic and they will eventually give into your requested price.
Book everything through your hotel or hostel:
Rather than trying to arrange ferry rides, transportation, etc. by yourself or out on the street, purchase all of these arrangements through your hostel or hotel. They will always get a better price for any kind of tour or transportation because they have relationships with other companies, which companies are reputable, and they speak the local language.