Bali is one of my favourite places to travel to. It’s hot, it’s close and the price you pay for luxury is marginal compared to Sydney prices. This was my second trip to Bali, first time with my girlfriend Nicole (Feb in Monsoon season, there was the occasional rainy period but the weather was fine overall) and this time with my boyfriend, Evan last month (May 2014).
For me, Bali is more of a retreat than a party destination (I have however included some nightlife suggestions). I come here to relax, to be pampered, to eat delicious food and to soak up the sun. It’s the ultimate “postcard” holiday.  This Bali Bible is based on recommendations from friends, online research and places I stumbled upon while travelling from Seminyak to Bingin and through to Uluwatu. I’ve also included some interesting general info, tips and advice about Bali below. Enjoy!!

ACCOMMODATION
I used the following sites for our accommodation:
Agoda.com Prices are competitive and the reviews are very helpful. Asiarooms.com. Lists accommodation I didn’t see on other websites. I used Trip Advisor to read reviews on my short list before making a decision.
We stayed at: Villa Seminyak Estate & Spa, Seminyak . We paid $120 per night for a private one bedroom villa, with a private outdoor jacuzzi and a pool outside our villa. The kitchen and dining area were outside, but undercover in the garden, so very romantic. I thought the service was great, the daily breakfast was delicious and the location worked well for us as we were travelling around by foot and a scooter.

ARRIVING AT SEMINYAK 

  • CULTURE SHOCK For some, Bali can be a bit of a culture shock, I was well informed before my trip so I eased into it just fine (hopefully you will be too after reading this). It also depends on where you stay. I personally prefer Seminyak, then Legian for accommodation. I’m not a fan of Kuta it’s full of bogans and quite confronting, however friends of mine have stayed there and they didn’t mind the constant hassling on the streets. Sometimes the accommodation deals are outrageously good so you could be tempted to stay in Kuta. Regardless of where you stay most places are a scooter or cheap cab ride away.
  • TRANSPORT Taxis are insanely cheap. A 45min trip costs between $10-15AUD, however just make sure the “Taksi” has a meter and get out if they say no. This is very important otherwise they can charge you anything. I think it’s worth mentioning the road rules are very different over there. They use beeping as a way of communication and it does seem quite chaotic, even unsafe but they are very mindful of one and other. However, if you do hire a scooter or motorbike, the roads can be unsafe for a foreigner. To be honest though I wasn’t confident to drive our scooter so Evan did all the driving. Do make sure you wear a helmet as you can get an on-the-spot fine from the police (not so much in Uluwatu)
  • OFFERINGS When walking on the streets watch the ‘offerings’ on the ground. These are gifts to the gods, read more about it here http://www.murnis.com/index.php/culture-2/201-balinese-offerings)
  • MONEY DON’T USE CHANGERS ON THE STREET There are boards with rates down every street. You will get ripped off! Use the ATMS (but make sure you don’t leave your card in them like I did!!)
  • STREETS There is a huge division between the rich (tourist) and the poor (locals) so expect a bit of pestering to buy things on the street… bikes, promotions, massages etc.  It may get annoying but remember that for them, selling on the street is their job and source of income.
  • TEMPERATURE It’s hooootttt and sticky!!! A little make up tip – Don’t bother with foundation, your face will get so sweaty during the day. Also lots of mosquitoes at night so be prepared!
  • TIPPING is customary, so carry some small notes with you. Don’t be a tightass! ;)
  • WIFI is available almost everywhere.  Make sure you switch off your roaming to avoid expensive international data charges.
  • COMMON PHRASES:
    • Salamet Pagi (Good morning up until 11am) (pronounced Slumut)
    • Salamet malam (Good night)
    • Selamat Tinggal (Goodbye)
    • Apa Kabah (How are you)
    • Terima Kasih (Thank you) (pronounced Treema kasi)
    • Siapa nama unda (what is your name?)
    • Nama Saya Bangers (means my name is Bangers)

9 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN SEMINYAK 

1. Lazy day by the pool at Potato Head Beach Club. Potato Head is the perfect venue for it – infinity pool, beach front, cocktails, sunshine & beautiful people. This is a very popular spot so you want to get here as early as possible (like 10am early) to secure a cabana or at least put your name down for one at reception.  It’s worth the wait, the Cabaña is yours all day with your own waiter for cocktails and nibbles (they have amazing cheese platters and the passion fruit and vanilla vodka cocktail is delicious). Each cabana comes with a min spend of 500,000 IDR, which is approx $50AUD. You will make more than one visit to this place as the sunset is also spectacular here. Have a few cocktails while enjoying the view, after sunset have a meal at one of three restaurants – ‘Potato Head Bistro’ (Bar food), ‘Lilin’ (serving tapas style East Asian dishes- My pick) and ‘Tapping Shoes’ (French fine dining). The restaurants concave around the 500 square meter lawn in the centre of the venue which extends out to meet the beach-facing infinity pool – love this place!

2. Overindulge in cheap daily massages. There are so many cheap massage places in Seminyak however, they are quite hit and miss. I found ‘Carla’s Spa’ to be very consistent. The massages were great at dirt cheap prices. There is no website but it’s across the road from Seminyak Square (Jalan Kayu Aya, Kuta Utara, Badung). It’s very easy to find so just ask any taxi driver or a local. If you are happy to pay a little more for massages, Bodyworks is a very popular one. Make sure you book in advance; it’s about $26 for a full body 1hr massage.  I’ve also heard really great things about Dancing Fingers, a full body massage cost approx $35 for 75 mins. Lastly, massages on the beach are still good for 50.000 IDR for 1hour (approx $5).

3. Sip on cocktails on the edge of a cliff at The Rock Bar We came here on the Uluwatu leg of our trip but it’s conveniently only a 30 min cab ride from Seminyak. ‘The Rock Bar’ a stunning bar located on the end of a cliff overlooking the ocean and is certainly one of my favourites. The sunset here is spectacular and really takes your breath away.  The Rock Bar is located in at ‘Ayana Resort’ and due to its popularity there is usually a queue for the sunset view. There’s usually a queue especially around sunset, this is mainly because quests of the resort get priority over visitors and the inclinator only takes 8 people at a time. Don’t let the queue deter you, it’s definitely worth the wait!

4. Spoil yourself with the best facial in Bail at The Esthetic Beauty Salon – Jl kayu jati seminyak, Kuta, Bali Tel: (0361) 737361. I love this place! The anti aging oxygen facial is hands down one of the best facials I have in a long time. It is approx $35.

5. Chill out at Ku De Ta (and watch the sunset) This place used to be the most popular spot before Potato Head opened but, this beachfront bar and fine dining restaurant still holds its own.  It has a slightly more chilled out and relaxed vibe but still an amazing venue for watching the sunset, enjoying a few cocktails (Vanilla & Passionfruit Mojitos – Yum!) and listening to some great beats. The restaurants here are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The standards are very high and staff very attentive.

6. Get a customised butter soft leather skirt, jacket, bag… wardrobe!! Such a golden find! Visit Har at Inni Kulit  (Jl Basangkasa No 9X Seminyak Kuta, Bali) for all you custom made to order leather goods. Their quality of work is excellent and their prices are laughably cheap –  so exciting I know! There is also the main shopping district which is easy to find just ask any taxi driver to take you around to the shopping area where all the “expensive shops” are.  Around Jl. Kayu Aya and top of J1.Raya Seminyak (shakuhatchi, Lulu Yasmine etc…)

7. Enjoy qualify food at ridiculously cheap prices. There are so many places to eat at that have high quality, delicious and reasonably cheap food:

La Luciola. Jl. Kayu Aya | Petitenget Beach, Seminyak, Kuta. Good for breakfast, lunch and sunset dinners or just coffee. A relaxing, modern Italian joint with reasonable prices.  It’s right on Seminyak beach with great views from upstairs.  Bookings for dinner are required.

Cafe Zucchini  (aka Zuttion). Jalan Laksamana Basangkasa, Badung. They have a lunch and dinner menu, ranging light healthy contemporary salads to more substantial meals. The food is made using the best quality imported and locally sourced ingredients.  Was one of my favourite lunch spots.

Betelnut Café. Batu Bolong 60, Canggu, Kuta. Breakfast is really light and fresh, great burgers, salads and juices. This place has a really great atmosphere and the service is very friendly.  They also do home delivery which is handy.

Sea Circus. The Oberoi, Bali, Seminyak. Great little fun spot for breakfast, lunch and pre-dinner cocktails. The food is incredibly well priced. Tasty tacos, cheap salads, awesome cocktails and smoothies. Make sure you try the churros if nothing else.

Biku. Jalan Petitenget No.888, Seminyak Kerobokan. It’s a gorgeous tea lounge serving an amazing English style High Tea and great lunch and dinner.

The Junction. JL.Laksmana , Seminyak square, Seminyak. Good for a breakfast, brunch or lunch spot. Really affordable prices for a filling, quality and decent sized Italian meal. Grocer and Grind. Jalan Kayu Jati no 3X, | Petitenget Beach, Seminyak. Serving very modern meals – food and service was great. The prices are low and the juices are BIG!!  Definitely recommend for breakfast.

Revolver. Jl kayu aya Seminyak Bali, Seminyak. Best coffee in Bali. Period.

8. Pool party at Cocoon. ‘Cocoon’ has hosted some of the Island’s hottest poolside events. It’s a glamorous and sleek venue, offering a fine dining restaurant, a stunning bar and a pool side beach club complete with cabanas, palm trees and frangipanis. There’s always something exciting on here. Check the site for all upcoming events or if there’s nothing good on, pop in for a Sunday session. Other great clubs & bars to check out while you’re at it:

  • Potato head – it’s a 24hour type of place
  • Rock Bar and Ku De Ta (Mentioned above)
  • La Pancha Beach Bar & Restaurant – Great vibe, colourful bean bags everywhere and perfect sunset – must try!
  • W Retreat & Spa – A Must – See site for event list!

9. Dine like royalty – TOP 3 RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DINNER. It’s restaurants like these that contribute to my love for Bali. Here are my top dinner suggestions in Seminyak. I was very impressed with each and would definitely go back on my next trip to Bali.

MAMA San Jalan Raya Kerobokan, Badung, Bali. This modern two storey loft style venue is definitely worth the hype! The main restaurant is on ground floor with the waiting area/ sexy bar is upstairs. It’s a very sophisticated and on trend joint yet slightly informal. The food is fantastic, inspired by South East Asians regions such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and China with a hints of Indian and Balinese flavours – a MUST try! Everything we ordered was delish but the slow braised short rib beef is just something else.
Dress code: It’s a fancy place and they have a dress code, so dress like you’re going to dinner not to the beach. No beachwear, no thongs and no singlets.
Booking: Book in advance online

Metis Jalan Petitenget No.6, Kerobokan, Kelod, Kuta. A beautiful two storey French restaurant, overlooking the stunning rice paddy fields of Seminyak. The menu is extensive, surprisingly affordable and extremely delicious. It’s the perfect restaurant for a romantic lunch or dinner. For an extra romantic experience, book into Metis’s exclusive bale (Balinese pavilion) for the best rice paddy views. Also a great spot for sunset cocktails (make sure you sit right up the back to really take in the view).
Dress code: Smart casual. Refrain from wearing thongs, singlet or alcohol branded T-shirt
Booking: Book in advance online

Sarong. Jalan Petipenget No. 19 X, Kerobokan. Chef & owner of Sarong and Mama San: Will Meyrick, formerly chef at Sydney’s Jimmy Liks (Potts point). Sarong is an opulent and luxurious open structured restaurant situated in a gorgeous garden, serving an impressive range of cuisines inspired by India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. It’s a very romantic dining experience setting, the food is superb and the cocktails are divine.  I loved everything we ordered; the chicken betel leaves and seared scallops were the perfect entrees. For our main we shared the slow cooked Sri Lankan lamb and the tandoori jumbo prawns – really freaking good! We ordered the carrots and green vegetables for sides and they were big servings and under $5! Also make sure you try the Spirituality cocktail – yum!
Dress code: It’s a fine dining restaurant so dress up for the occasion. Guys in sleeved shirts and dress shoes, girls you know what to do
Booking: Book in advance online

Another dinner option: Ultimo Jalan Kayu Aya, Badung. It’s not the same standard of fine dining as the above venues but the food is excellent and the menu is extensive, I think it has earned a mention. The restaurant is also a lot nicer inside than it appears on the outside. There’s a glass-enclosed area and an intimate garden dining area with tiny fairly lights intertwined into the tree branches. It’s a great spot for some Italian food in a casual environment and the complimentary bread and garlic butter is sooooooo good!
No dress code
No booking required