Our friends Danielle and Andrew are fantastically experienced travellers (and the great writers behind Little Sherpa Travels) so it was only natural that their wedding would be a destination one. Living in Singapore themselves, and with family and friends coming from the United Kingdom and Australia, they chose Bali as the location for this special celebration. As I mentioned in my previous post, Jason and I were initially reluctant travellers to this Indonesian island, but our experience there with our friends completely changed our minds. Dani and Andrew chose Seminyak to celebrate their Hens’ and Bucks’ parties and what a choice it was. So this post is dedicated to how we think you should experience Bali’s Seminyak – with your mates!
Seminyak is probably the most hip destination in Bali – full of cool people, the hottest restaurants, cafes and hotels, and great shopping. It’s perfect for a group getaway as there’s something to do for everyone. It’s a little labyrinthine but totally walkable if you choose a place to stay well. Otherwise, taxis, Go-Jeks and GrabCars are widely available to get you around to all there is to see and do in Seminyak.
A Place to Rest Your Head
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say there are literally thousands of places you could stay in Seminyak. It’s chock full of hotels at all range of price points as well as hundreds of villas that can be booked either directly or through AirBnB. Dani and Andrew stayed at a beautiful villa hotel called Koenokoeni which had 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas starting from $300 a night. Jason and I had splashed out on a couple other hotels elsewhere in Bali, so decided to find something a little cheaper and stay with our friends Erica, Olly and Megumi in an AirBnB villa nearby to Koenokoeni.
We found a bunch of options and settled on this three bedroom, three bathroom villa with pool and daily housekeeping through AirBnB. For three nights, it cost $690 for all five of us – making it great value for money. It was in a fantastic location a few hundred metres away from super popular restaurants Sisterfields and Motel Mexicola. Each room had its own ensuite, king size bed and television with air conditioning throughout. The open air kitchen, dining room and lounge flowed through to the deck and pool area and was furnished in quintessential but modern Balinese style. We all found it really comfortable and the perfect place to base ourselves as we explored Seminyak and engaged in pre-wedding revelry (aka bucks and hens parties). The pool was surprisingly cold, making for refreshing dips. Meg and Erica were braver than me in jumping in at 2am when we got home from the Hens’ party!
Food, Glorious Food
Seminyak is full of amazing places to eat and drink. The three days we were there, we only ate one average meal – and it was only average in comparison to the other fantastic meals we had there. As a girl who loves to eat, travelling with my friend Erica who also loves to eat (and with our hubbies who can put away considerable amounts of food), we were in our element.
My travel planning saw a long list of suggestions on great breakfast, brunch and lunch locations in Seminyak alone – the village does not disappoint in providing plenty of options. We ate, and thoroughly enjoyed, breakfasts and brunch at Sisterfields, Monsieur Spoon and Revolver – all Seminyak staples. Sisterfields and Revolver are run by Australian expats, delivering up Melbourne style breakfasts and coffee at Balinese prices. Monsieur Spoon is famous for its delicious croissants and other French pastries.
Breakfasts, Brunch and Lunch
Breakfast at Sisterfields had us feeling like we were eating at an Australian café, but with trademark Balinese courtesy and care from our waiter. Our first morning in Seminyak saw Jason join Erica, Meg and I for a very early breakfast at Sisterfields before us girls made our way to the Hens’. Jason devoured his Big Breakfast with plenty of mushrooms, Erica loved her Shakshuka Style Poached Eggs, while Meg and I eased into the day with fresh made mixed juices both getting the Grandpa’s Remedy (apple, beetroot, carrot and ginger) followed by coffees to go. The food was fresh and tasty, the juices invigorating and the coffee smooth. Jason enjoyed the meal so much, he and Olly returned for breakfast later that morning before making their way to the Bucks’.
The next day, Jason and I breakfasted at Monsieur Spoon to see whether the croissants stood up to their reputation. I’m pleased to tell you they certainly did – deliciously light and buttery, and served with a homemade pineapple jam, the croissants melted in our mouths. Unfortunately the coffee at Monsieur Spoon wasn’t great but we would happily eat their croissants again. The outlet in Seminyak was only small, so didn’t do their full menu, but next time we go to Bali we’ll check out one of their full restaurants in Petitenget or Canggu.
Our final morning in Bali saw all five of us roomies enjoy Revolver Espresso’s very good food and very cool vibe. Tucked away down a side alley, everything about Revolver is cool (and pretty hipster). You’re welcomed by a greeter who radios inside to secure you a table, then opens the saloon style wooden doors to Revolver’s cool, dark rooms. The lighting is dim, the walls exposed brick, and the extensive menus feature Leonardo DiCaprio and his Montague gang from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet on the back. Revolver’s food and drinks live up to the cool ambience as well, with a wide variety of dishes that all taste fantastic, and coffee and other drinks that hit the spot. My La Rosa granola, yogurt and fruit bowl was so tasty I practically wanted to lick the bowl clean. All of this, coupled with quick, attentive service made Revolver our favourite breakfast and lunch spot in Seminyak.
Seminyak’s clean food scene is also huge with heaps of variety on offer for those who are vegetarian or vegan. We enjoyed a vegan lunch with some other friends holidaying in Bali at the same time as us at The Deck. I had a ridiculously decadent looking super shake which I could hardly believe was vegan. But it was vegan, so it was healthy, right?!
Next time we travel to Seminyak, we’re keen to try breakfast and lunch at these cafes whose reputations precede them:
- Watercress– lunch at Watercress apparently has more than 40 salads on offer
- Café Moka– known for French-style baked goods
- Earth Café and Market – organic vegetarian
- Neon Palms– we walked past this brightly coloured café a couple times. I was taken with all the pink!
- Corner House– funky all day dining venue set right in the midst of Seminyak
Dinner, Seminyak Style
You’re once again spoilt for choice when it comes to dinner options in Seminyak with tons of restaurants to choose from, together with Bali’s quintessential beach clubs. As a haven for groups of friends travelling together, Seminyak’s restaurants also do a great job of hosting large groups. Splitting bills, something so simple but so often (frustratingly) not accommodated here in Australia, was happily catered for in Seminyak.
Our first night in Bali saw us pretty tired after a long day of travel so we looked for a dinner option close by to our villa on Google Maps. Serendipitously for us, the closest restaurant to our villa also had a Google review score of 4.6 out of 5. The name of the restaurant was a little weird – Bikini– but, hey, we were tired and hungry, the reviews were good and they opened in 10 minutes. So we called and made a booking (the reviews mentioned that it was pretty popular so bookings were recommended). I was a little surprised when the woman taking our booking asked if we’d been before, explaining that the dress code was smart casual – ie no thongs, and no boardshorts or singlets for guys, please. Seemed a little at odds with the name of the restaurant and our general understanding of Bali, but it left us intrigued.
When we arrived just as they opened, our interest was further piqued by the neon pink sign on the roof letting us know ‘u look hot in bikini’. We were one of only two occupied tables so were shown to what seemed to be the best seats in the house – along the back wall in a huge booth overlooking the whole restaurant. From our vantage point we could see the sheer number of staff which the low wages in Bali enable restaurants to employ and which make for such attentive and quick service. The restaurant is very sleek with beautiful marble tables, neutral chairs and lounges, low lighting and a huge, fun, bright pink mural. Our waitress explained that Bikini took its food seriously, but in a not serious way, and that the dishes were designed to be shared. The menu was weird in that Michelin starred restaurant type way, so we picked a few interesting sounding dishes with the help of our waitress and waited to see what appeared.
What appeared were gourmet dishes that make you think, “is there enough food on this plate to fill us?” and “this dish looks like a work of art, not something to be eaten”. Jason and I looked at each other, shrugged and dug in. Our bemusement quickly turned into literal moans of delight as the flavours of Bikini’s unique food set our tastebuds alive. We demolished our two starters, ate every last crumb and drop of sauce of our mains, and thoroughly enjoyed the theatrics and taste of our dessert. Jason, who is quite hard to impress and a man of very few words, simply stated “that.was.good” – extremely high praise coming from him.
So, if you have the opportunity, make yourself a booking at Bikini. Our experience there was excellent – the food is utterly fantastic, the service was friendly, quick and attentive, the vibe is very cool, and the prices are incredibly reasonable. It was easily one of the fanciest and best meals we’ve ever eaten (and we’ve eaten at some pretty fancy places around the world) and at less than $100 for two starters, three mains, dessert and drinks, it was amazing value for money for such a high quality establishment.
We learned the next day that Bikini is a sister restaurant of Sisterfields and makes up one of several venues owned and operated under one roof by the 8 Degrees Project group. We didn’t get an opportunity to try Bo$$ Man and Sibling Espresso – the other two venues in the group, but look forward to eating there next time we’re in Seminyak given our great experiences at Sisterfields and Bikini.
With such a high bar set, our two other dinners in Seminyak didn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of Bikini, but one of them was still great, and the other more average. The great dinner was Hens’ dinner at Mano Beach House– a multi course banquet menu that satisfied our group of twelve with lovely food and great drinks (I don’t really drink alcohol, so had some wonderful mocktails, and my girlfriends were pretty pleased with their cocktails). Mano also had a lovely ambience set on the beach with cool relaxed décor, although the sea breeze occasionally sent a not so nice whiff of the canal in front of the club across our table. Because of this, I don’t think the tables set right on the canal and overlooking the ocean would be great – our table was set a little back which we were thankful for.
The average meal was eaten at La Plancha, one of the most popular beach clubs in Seminyak. You’ve probably seen Instagram photos of La Plancha’s colourful bean bag chairs and umbrellas set right on the beach and it certainly does make a fun and scenic pit stop. Erica, Olly, Jason and I loved relaxing on the bean bags watching the sun set, and laughing as the waves rolled up the beach and right under us, washing away several bean bags as they receded. Our drinks were really good, and, don’t get me wrong, the food certainly wasn’t terrible. It’s just that, having eaten so much great food in Seminyak, La Plancha’s food was just… fine. Given the many fantastic food options you do have in Seminyak, we’d recommend La Plancha for a sunset drink and chill, rather than a meal.
Our stay in Seminyak was devoted to having a good time with our friends to celebrate their Bucks’ and Hens’ parties. Seminyak (and Bali generally) offered enough to fill an entire day and night of activities for the parties, together with opportunities to relax at day spas and do a spot of retail therapy.
Dani and her bridesmaids organised the most epic nautical inspired Hens’ party I’ve ever been to, including by hiring the amazingly talented Edo Saputra as our personal photographer for the day. But these activities would suit any group of friends out to have fun in Bali. First off, we enjoyed a day sailing to Nusa Lembongan, a small island off the south-east coast of Bali. Cruising the azure blue waters of the Bali Sea lounged across the front of a catamaran with ten gorgeous women, music pumping, is an excellent way to while away the day.
Anchoring off the beach at Nusa Lembongan we exhausted ourselves jumping off the boat, snorkelling and generally bobbing in the island’s warm waters.
Famished from our exertions, lunch at crisply cool The Beach Club at Sandy Bay went down a treat. If you go, make sure you try their delicious Virgin Colada which is served with a paddle pop!
The two hour return trip to the mainland slipped by in a lazy, contemplative mood as we basked in the late afternoon sun, eyes on the horizon and with an occasional shriek of delight as waves sprayed through the catamaran netting.
That night, we feasted at Mano, before heading to popular Motel Mexicola to dance, dance, dance. Mexican restaurant by day, Motel Mexicola transforms into a heaving club by night. And, because it’s Bali, there’s an unspoken rule that around 9pm, food will be cleared from its picnic tables, to be replaced by exuberant patrons dancing on the tables. 😉 Meg, Erica and I arrived back at our AirBnB at 2am, faces aglow from a day spent with good friends, eating good food, and feet sore from dancing. Good times indeed.
The boys got up to equal fun, but a little outside Seminyak. The Bucks got the adrenaline pumping at go-karting, before chilling at mega-popular OMNIA Dayclub at Uluwatu, then seeing what Kuta and Seminyak had to offer by way of nightlife. Naturally, what happens on the Bucks, stays on the Bucks, so beyond this, I can’t give you any more information!
With such a huge day for the Hens and Bucks, our final day and a half in Seminyak saw us undertake much more relaxed activities, centred around checking out the shopping and day spa scenes. From designer clothes to handmade markets, there are all sorts of interesting places to shop in Seminyak. You can check out beautiful designer wares in stylish mall, Seminyak Square. Try walking circuitous Jl Kayu Aya for a mixture of trendy clothing shops, local handmade accessories, and art galleries. You’ll also find The Flea Market on Jl Kayu Aya where you can bargain to your hearts content. There are also several artisan tailors and leatherworkers on Jl Kayu Aya. I got some beautifully made leather sandals from a bespoke leather store opposite The Flea Market – they were a little more expensive than sandals you could find at The Flea Market, but vastly superior in quality with full leather soles. As you shop in Seminyak, keep in mind though that many of the bags and shoes you see can probably be purchased at half the price from the markets and factories in Ubud where they are made. Day spa wise, there are literally hundreds of places to choose from. We ducked into Cool Spa (right opposite Sisterfields) for an hour long massage at $15 each and left feeling refreshed and a little sleepy. Take your pick of spas – most advertise prices outside the store, and you can generally walk straight in and onto a massage bed because there are so many staff. Some are very cheap, other more expensive but with more of an exclusive, luxe feel.
Interest Very Much Piqued
Well, if you’ve made it to the end of this post, well done you! I had originally planned to include Canggu in this write up, but given how much there was to say just about Seminyak, I think Canggu is better saved for another post.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas about where to stay, what to eat and what to do on your Seminyak vacation. We barely scratched the surface in our three nights there. We look forward to exploring more of what Seminyak’s sprawling streets have to offer on our next trip to Bali – more cafes to try, more beach clubs to lounge at, and more shops to peruse. We’re also keen to check out more of the local culture which we unfortunately missed on this trip, including through a visit to Pura Petitenget and Pura Masceti, Hindu sea temples set side by side on the beach. And, with so much variety on offer, Seminyak was a great place to holiday with our large group of diverse friends.
Oh yes, Seminyak, we’ll definitely be back.