Bali Travel: Things to do in Kuta and Seminyak
As soon as you step out of Denpasar Airport you immediately feel all your pores open up and then the signature smell of burning cloves hits you. Welcome to Bali.
This is your introduction to Bali travel you will learn the best things to do Kuta, Seminyak and Legian Bali
I adore the Island of Bali in all its tropical humid glory, and while I’m at it, I’m also fond of the smell of Gadang Garums (I’ll explain what these are later in the post). Bali is on my travel list every year or at least every second year. It’s a place where you can relax and really feel like you are somewhere culturally diverse without being too ‘difficult’. Bali is very touristy, yes, however its accessible and convenient, with good organization for travelers as locals speak English yet its possible to still have a unique cultural experience. These elements make Bali a great introduction for virgin travelers wanting to explore South East Asia.
In this blog post I will introduce you to Bali. This post is for those planning to visit Island of Bali for the first time. The connecting series of posts in Guide to Bali will delve deeper into the other areas of the Island. In this post we will explore Kuta, Legian and Seminyak and discover where to eat, stay and play.
You can click through the links below to explore all areas of the Island.
Cliche as it may be: an Aussie that loves Bali, but this place is not what is used to be. Yes, the Bintang singlet-wearing revelers are still there, but Bali is a changed Island. The new Bali has become a foodie destination, with world class restaurants, fresh juice bars and Italian pizzas that could rival pies of Naples.
Arriving in Bali:
*Insider tip: Have Rupias INR ready upon arrival just in case you need a visa on arrival. There is no need for a visa for most travelers now but this may not be an umbrella change- As of 2016 there is no need for visa on arrival for Australians and Americans.
*Have your bank card handy: If you’re flight is getting in late you will need to arrange you’re own transport. There are literally dozens of taxi drivers hawking outside of the airport. For first-timers, forget the haggle and chose a registered means of transport just inside the airport it will cost around. There are cash points of ATM’s in this area so if you forgot your Rupias then you can get some cash out here.
*take out at least 200,000 INR if you don’t have cash already. You will need it.
The Bali taxi Seminyak to Denpasar costs around 80,000 INR – about $6 USD. You may pay up to 200,000 INR from Denpasar to Seminyak at night- that’s just the way it goes.
1 USD = 13,000 Rupias (INR)
This area is ideal for: Singles, Girl’s Trip, Boy’s Trip, Couples.
The area of Seminyak, Kuta and Legian (all situated side by side) is an ideal starting point for first timers to Bali. Beach front resorts, great restaurants, hip boutiques, bars and of course Double Six Beach.
It’s highly recommended to rent/hire a scooter in Bali. At $10 USD a day, It’s a cheap and convenient way to get around the areas of Seminyak, Kuta and Legian just wear a helmet, obey the rules and have your wits about you. If you’re not into bikes, the area can be covered by foot and taxis are cheap and abundant so no biggie. I prefer the freedom of having a scooter as you can explore more.
Bali offers International cuisine from all corners of the world to suit all tastes. Seminyak Bali has every cuisine imaginable on offer. Jamie’s Italian and a sushi train are even in the area now! There is quite a strong organic, vegan and raw food movement going on as well.
Seminyak street snacks can be found after dark, street vendors fanning chicken skewers and roasting BBQ corn on the cob over charcoal can be found emerging at night in the little alley road that runs parallel to the beach.
Chez Gado Gado- Located right on Double Six Beach. This restaurant is slightly upmarket (compared to street food) yet offers some great well-priced deals. Chez Gado Gado offers a varied International menu and is set right on the beach with some of the best dinner views in Bali so will please everyone’s tastes. An easy choice for dinner in Seminyak.
Tapas, steak, spaghetti, crepes, cappaccio and yes, you guessed it Gado Gado (classic Indonesian vegetable salad with peanut sauce).
Mama San- Escape the heat for an elegant night lounging with great cocktails and fresh pan Asian dishes at a good price. Interesting retro decor with an old-Shanghai feel. If you are tired of Mie Goreng* but craving a dumpling, Mama San has you covered.
Ku De Ta- Is the epitomy of ‘beach to bar’. In my opinion the best place to spend an evening in Seminyak. Chill on the grass with a cocktail and watch the sunset as vendors sell their wares from the beach. Ku De Ta has an extensive menu with good quality food and the bar turns into a nightclub with live music and DJ’s after dark.
Motel Mexicola- Like stepping back in time. The whole vibe is 1960’s Acapulco. Motel Mexicola does real Mexican and after living in California it’s pretty hard to get good Mexican. This place does the job. Great cocktails hard core ‘real’ Mexican food.
Bambu- in the famous Banyan Tree. Bambu is an up and coming restaurant in Bali. Being in the Banyan Tree, the quality is some of the best you will find in Bali. Sushi station, grill station and a selection of local cuisine. Like with Gado Gado, you can’t go wrong with Bambu. It’s normally busy, make sure to book in peak season.
These are just a handful of local restaurants in Seminyak. There are dozens of great eateries in the area. The food is Bali and this area in particular is high quality with great turn over. Look for spots that are busy.
W Hotel Bali: Fab pool, great service, suburb location. If you are treating yourself and you feel like splurging stay at the W. I stayed there this last trip to Bali and loved it. The location is great, the pool is awesome however it’s not a ‘real’ Bali experience as you’re in a bubble and you won’t spend much time at the hotel and I would recommend going for something a little more cost effective if you’re on a budget. I personally find when in Bali I am never in the hotel. Rooms start at about 5 000 000 INR equivalent to$380 USD
Cheap and Cheerful:
*Grandma’s- Highly recommended. For an easy no-hassle stay in Seminyak or Legian there’s a new chain that’s cheap and funky and very well situated (a few mins walk from the beach, shopping and nightlife). Grandmas is built around a pool, restaurant and bar. My absolute fave thing about Grandma’s is the tapas restaurant ‘Pintxos’, don’t miss their happy hour with great sangria.
Mid Range Resort:
Padma Resort- situated right on the beach in Legian and features clean well equiped rooms (all the comforts you would find in a 5 star hotel), an oversized pool and pool bar and is set on well-manicured grounds. Padma is ideal for first timers to Bali and couples. It’s a 5 star resort, however I would say it’s mid-range as it’s a very ‘vanilla’ kind of stock standard hotel with good facilities, kind of like something you would find in Fiji. Padma is a safe bet and suits most.
Home stay/Guest House: I love staying in guest-house style accommodation there’s nothing better than waking up to a morning prayer ritual/offering followed by some fresh banana pancakes. If you’re a budget traveler keep in mind these can actually be dearer than newer budget hotels like Grandmas. Google home stays Bali or check Booking.com. They generally range from $30-80 a nights. I like that at Grandmas hotel chain for a budget stay as its clean, convenient and you have the amenities and safety you would in a 5 star hotel, except its very affordable for budget travelers/backpackers.
Ku De Ta and Potato Head have great beach bar vibes and a great selection of cocktails and food. If you’re more of a hard core party reveler check out Sky Dome Super Club in Kuta. Personally, I prefer La Plancha the beach bar on Double Six Beach with brightly colored umbrellas and bean bags for lounging while enjoying a cold beverage.
Bali is vast and varied. Day trips are a great way to explore a different part of the Island, I will introduce you to all the various areas of Bali below. In Seminyak, Kuta and Legian the best day time activities are around the beach: surfing (there are many board hire places and surf lessons available), beach horse riding (pictured) and yoga are my favorite things to do when staying in this area. If you’re interested in shopping and boutiques check back for my post shopping in Bali. There is a lot of variety with shopping in Bali and haggling may be intimidating for first-timers so I have devoted an entire post to shopping in Bali.
*Insider tip: Avoid going on a ‘day trip’ at the recommendation of your friendly driver or hotel concierge. These ‘day trips’ are generally to places that you will not want to go unless you enjoy tourist traps and wasting your day. Drivers get kick-backs from taking you to these places for you to buy ‘souvenieres’. The best option is to carefully plan your day trip and do the things you want to do using my guides, then book your own driver and direct them to where you want to go!
Learn the local lingo:
Salam Milam: ‘Good Evening’
Salam Pagi: ‘Good Morning’
Gadang Garum: Local tobacco that smells like cloves or cinnamon when burned.
Gaddo Gaddo: local Indonesian vegetable salad with peanut sauce
Mie Goreng: local noodles (Indonesian version of ramen)
Nasi Goreng: local stir-fry rice dish
‘Kiss me Katut’: What Rhonda says when she meets Wayan’s brother Katut and has a holiday romance…. 😉
I hope you enjoyed this post and your introduction to Bali travel and things to do in Kuta and Seminyak. In the next posts in the Bali series I’ll take you to these five areas:-
UBUD ULUWATU NUSA DUA CANGGU GILI ISLANDS