Photo: Late light on the sand.

Introduction

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Seminyak is Bali’s southern pleasure zone, with a distinctly upmarket vibe. This costal enclave just north of Legian is the showy and sassy, the scene to be seen. Yes, there’s a beach, but it’s the chilled beachside clubs, designer boutiques, sumptuous spas and world-class restaurants that draw the oh-so-stylish crowds. This is lotus eater central.


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Although just up the road from Kuta and Legian, this grown-up decedent resort area seems a world apart. Seminyak is home to much of southern Bali’s expat cafe-society. Many are involved in the fashion industry, whether they be designers, exporters or own the chic fashion retail and homeware stores that line Jalan Raya Seminyak, Jalan Kayu Aya, Jalan Laksmana and Jalan Kayu Jati.

Slight chance of monkey business. Photo taken in or around Seminyak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Slight chance of monkey business. Photo: Sally Arnold

Here you could spend days in retail therapy flitting from boutique to gallery, refuelling with a latte in one of the many cafes (at designer prices) or just enjoy a spot of “cuci mata” (an Indonesian term, literally meaning “to wash your eyes”, but can be translated to mean “window shopping”, “have a perve” or just “check out the scene”). Seminyak’s cocktail hour is any hour of the day—it’s artisanal this and bespoke that at the fabulous bars and chilled beach clubs. Evenings pump up the volume but here it’s not quite the throb of Kuta’s nightclub scene.

For gastronomes, Seminyak is full of epicurean delights, and many of Bali’s finest restaurants reside here. Be prepared to try innovative food in sophisticated surroundings, but book ahead, especially during the high season of July and August. It’s not all hoity-toity though; you can still chow down on a nasi campur in a side-street warung, and casual cafes abound. If you’ve indulged a little too much, Seminyak’s top-notch spas offers a sure cure with all manner of treatments and therapies. Prices may be higher than a beach massage, but the therapists are generally much better trained (we highly recommend the lovely Jari Menari).

There are many ways to beat the traffic. Photo taken in or around Seminyak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

There are many ways to beat the traffic. Photo: Sally Arnold

Seminyak Beach is simply an extension of the Kuta-Legian strip, but the sand here is a little greyer than her southern siblings, the golden sand being peppered with the volcanic black sand seen on many of Bali’s other beaches. The waters are more treacherous here, too. Heed the warnings of the many signs along the beach to swim only between the flagged areas and ensure that a life guard is on duty in case you do get into trouble. But you don’t have to actually get into the water to enjoy the beach—there’s plenty of bean bags and beach chairs from which to work on your tan, and the Bintangs here are cheaper than the clubs.

Just near the beach entrance to La Lucciola, Pura Petitenget sits tucked behind a beach car-parking area. Petitenget translates loosely as “a box of mystical things”, and a couple of legends explain this temple’s name. One is that it was home to “mystical treasure” associated with the 16th century sage Nirartha who was instrumental in the spread of Shaivite Hinduism in Bali; other tales of folklore have more sinister overtones. If you don’t plan on moving from the beach or the bar, it may be your one opportunity to step inside a Balinese Hindu temple, however there’s not a lot to see outside of ceremony times, which occur every 210 days. Entry fee is 50,000 rupiah (far pricier than many more interesting temples) and a sarong and sash are required to enter for both men and women.

An endangered species. Photo taken in or around Seminyak, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

An endangered species. Photo: Sally Arnold

The hotels in Seminyak are some of the most luxurious around with plenty to indulge your inner-hedonist. You can easily fork out in excess of US$500 per night, but it’s possible to to find cheaper digs a little away from the beach, although they are still generally more expensive than what can be found in Kuta and Legian. If you prefer a private abode, villa-ville kicks off here, continuing up to Canggu.

Seminyak is a vibrant destination with a lot to offer, if a classy beachside resort with all the trimmings is your fancy, but it’s far from the rice fields and quiet villages of traditional postcard Bali.



Best places to stay in Seminyak

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Seminyak.


Orientation
Seminyak stretches from Jalan Double Six (Jalan Ajuna) in the south and morphs into the villages of Kerobokan and Umalas somewhere north of the Petitenget temple. The main road of Jalan Raya Seminyak is simply an extension of Jalan Legian, while Jalan Kayu Aya turns sharply off Jalan Raya Seminyak, twisting and curving its way towards Petitenget. To confuse matters, Jalan Kayu Aya turns into Jalan Laksmana, but is also sometimes called Jalan Oberoi or even “Eat Street”. Lining these arteries, boutiques, cafes and restaurants abound. Outside of these roads, the area can feel like a bit of a rabbit warren as once tranquil ricefield lanes have become sandwiched between the concrete walls of villas and upmarket hotels.

The sunsets can be a step above just ok. Photo taken in or around Seminyak, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

The sunsets can be a step above just ok. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Where there are shops, there are ATMs, and unlike other parts of Bali, you could easily survive cashless in Seminyak, with many establishments accepting credit cards (although sometimes adding 3% service fees).

International medical clinics, BIMC and SOS, both located in nearby Kuta have good reputations and English-speaking staff. Sanglah Hospital, Denpasar’s main public hospital can treat more serious problems.

BIMC Hospital Kuta: 100X Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai, Kuta; T: (0361) 761 263; (0361) 300 3911; info@bimcbali.com; bimcbali.com.
Rumah Sakit Umum Pusat Sanglah: Jalan Diponegoro, Denpasar; T: (0361) 227 911, (0361) 227 915; sanglahhospitalbali.com.
SOS Medika Klinik: 505X Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai, Kuta; T: (0361) 720 100; bali.clinic@internationalsos.com; internationalsos.com.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Seminyak.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Seminyak.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Seminyak.
 Read up on how to get to Seminyak.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Seminyak? Please read this.





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