Seminyak is on the west coast in South Bali. This is THE tourist place of the island with all pros and cons only mass tourism offers. Crazy traffic jam, luxury resorts and shops, insecurity, expensive restaurants and beaches are the keywords we will memorize from Seminyak.
Staying at Capsule Hotel New Seminyak
We left our hostel in Medewi at noon and took a bemo (local public transport) to Ubung. The travel last two hours and cost us 100 000 Rp. Then, after 10 minutes of bargaining with drivers (you have to keep in mind that bargaining prices is quite a local sport here, but do not exagerate and also remember how little it actually costs for you), we took another bemo for 75 000 Rp which drove us directly to our hostel.
Capsule Hotel New Seminyak is a friendly hostel in downtown Seminyak. We booked a private room for 7 nights with air-con. The room was clean, with a private bathroom and a TV. Capsule Hotel is a good hostel to stay at if you want to meet a lot of young travellers from around the world and party. The shared lounge/TV area is pretty cool with a bar and a full-equipped kitchen (with free water, free coffee and tea all day long). Plus, you have free wifi everywhere in the hostel. The bartender serves you alcohol until 10:30 pm and the international music out loud in the hostel the whole evening stops at 11 pm. It can be quite frustrating when you feel good partying with people there, but at same time, you have to think about people who’d like to sleep. Anyway, it forces everyone to continue the night in one of the numerous bars and clubs around. The staff is rather helpful and you can wash your laundry there, have some food delivered, book a taxi, rent a motorbike and have a special agent rate for Fast Boat to Gili Islands and Nusa Lembongan (including free pick-up and transfer).
If we had to mention some negative points about Capsule Hotel, we would first speak of the lack of organization of staff time to time. After Seminyak, we spent a week in Nusa Lembongan island, and before leaving the hostel we booked two more nights in a private room for our return. When we came back to Capsule Hotel a week after, they only had registered one night, so we had to spend the second night in a dorm (which was not unpleasant anyway, as they have cool dorms). We also hated the fact that there are no rooms with windows, which is a bit oppressive.
I would actually say that Capsule Hotel reflects exactly Seminyak : lot of tourists, noisy, crowded and everything is made for you to be happy if you want to party and spend money. This is a good hostel if you want to meet a lot of people to hang out. We actually met several very interesting backpackers from different nationalities and stories to share. Moreover, the hostel is close from some popular bars.
Why we think you should avoid Seminyak
The worst face of mass tourism
First of all, it depends on your way of travelling. If you like being abroad and feeling out of your comfort zone, enjoying the local life and discovering a different culture, then yes you definitely should avoid Seminyak. If you are happy with walking streets full of international shops, meeting only tourists and eating in western restaurants, Seminyak would be the best place for your holidays.
The region of Seminyak-Kuta-Legian is where you get your shot of mass tourism. Most of the tourists around being Australians. We were quite shocked to arrive here after one month in Java, where it was empty of tourists. Here, you walk through streets which are crowded with luxury shops and hotels. Everything has been built to satisfy the wealthy tourists lifestyle. According to us, there is no identity (anymore?) in those places. You are in Disneyland, you benefit rides and leave the place. When you leave, you realise that you just spent a lot of money to no avail. Because yes, the prices are definitely higher here than all places we’ve been before in Indonesia. It may still be cheap for Western people, but…when you see how much you pay to eat in a warung and how much you pay in a western restaurant, you really feel bad to be part of that tourism business.
Seminyak is an unsafe place
Moreover, this is not as safe as it may look like. You should be very careful while driving your motorbike here, and even more while walking in the streets (the roads are not built AT ALL for pedestrians). As a woman, you should also pay a lot of attention to your handbag. Whether you are walking or on a motorbike, always have a close eye to your purse and wear it as a shoulder bag. We had a very bad experience in Seminyak as I have been snatched while i was sitting behind Pierre on the motorbike, while we were driving. Two guys arrived on their motorbike and started to take my leather purse with strength until it broke. Yet, I was wearing it as a shoulder bag. It was a very violent moment and fortunately we did not fell from our motorbike. If we had, we could have been badly injured ! Consequently, they stole my mobile phone and my passport… In a future article, we will let you know how to deal with the authorities after your passport has been stolen or lost and how I could get a new passport rather quickly. As we felt very unsafe in the city after this issue, we did not dare going out too often with our SLR camera, which explains the few number of photos on this post.
Have also in mind that you should be very careful while driving a motorbike in Seminyak (and throughout Indonesia). The streets can get totally congested ! In Indonesia, driving is about the law of the strongest and the rules can be very disconcerting for unaccustomed people. For instance, motorbikes are used to driving on sidewalks to go faster. One advice : wear a helmet while driving in Seminyak. Indeed, it looks like there are some days when the police goes in the streets to arrest people as much as they can. Needless to say that tourists are the number one target. Once, Pierre drove to the nearest ATM without a helmet and was arrested by a policeman. To let him go, the policeman asked Pierre to pay 200 000 Rp (around 17 €). As Pierre only had 100 000 Rp on his wallet, the policeman accepted it and let him go. If you did not know about it, Indonesia is ranked as one of the most corrupted country and it is not so rare to experience it.
What to do in Seminyak
The only interests in Seminyak are to party, go to the beach and do some shopping. If this is your way of living holidays, you will get served ! We do not have plenty of places we really appreciated in Seminyak, but here are some places we can recommend you.
Restaurants in Seminyak
- Warung Kultur
Our favorite indonesian-western restaurant was Warung Kultur. It is located 2 minutes from Capsule Hotel with motorbike and less than ten minutes walk. We ate there four times during our time in Seminyak.
- Hog Wild in Bali
This is THE place were local tourists eat. Indonesians from Java and Chinese tourists queue to get in. It is the most expensive restaurant we ate in since the beginning of the travel. Our dinner cost us 650 000 Rp for two (around 43 €) ! The specialty here is the pork ribs that you definitely should try.
- Try any warung in the city
Otherwise, as usual we recommend you to eat in local warungs. It is clearly cheaper and according to us tastier. We really appreciated one warung located in the same street as Capsule Hotel, just two minutes walk from the hostel on the other side of the street. We are sorry that we cannot recall the name of it. It is run by a daughter and her mother, and they are so kind ! They made us discover a local juice called Temulawak. If you have the opportunity to do it, do not hesitate to taste it. It cost us 27 000 Rp for two persons (less than 2 € !). On the first day we ate there, they were so happy to serve some tourists that they even offered us some local chips they normally sell. Indeed, it is crazy to realize that in such a busy place, we never encountered any tourists when eating in warungs. How come people travel in a country and do not even try to eat the local food in local restaurants ?
Bars and clubs in Seminyak
We discovered three very different kind of places to party out that we can recommend you.
- Bahiana Bali
Bahiana Bali is a salsa bar. As I am a salsa-addict woman who pushed her boyfriend to try dancing too, we had no choice but go to this place. It was a very pleasant discovery ! We both had a blast here. The staff is pretty amazing and very friendly. They give some dancing lessons and everytime they see you sitting alone, they would come to you to dance with you (if you are intermediate or advanced) or teach you some steps (if you are a beginner). Plus, the cocktails were good ! If you are more into cuban salsa like me, it could be a bit disappointing as they mainly propose LA Style salsa. For those who have no idea about what I just wrote but enjoy some latin music, do not hesitate to visit ! 🙂
- Sky Garden
Sky Garden is a huge club in Bali which was awarded Bali Best Club 2015. It belongs to a huge complex with seven different areas, Sky Garden being on the rooftop. You’d better be in your 20s to get inside, as you may feel very old if you don’t. There are mostly Australians (as everywhere in Bali by the way). If you like international or electro music and crazy messy vibes, you should definitely enjoy the place. Just be careful with some asian prostitutes grinding around…
- La Favela Bali
This is one of the trendiest bars in the heart of Seminyak. La Favela looks like a small exotic jungle. You can eat there during daytime but we did not try the food. We have been at La Favela twice to enjoy the party at night. It is not exactly a club at night, it is more like a big private party at a friend’s house or a bar where you can dance like crazy. Some backpackers hate the place, others love it. We recommend it because the place is beautiful and it is a very cool place to hang out with friends or backpackers you just met at your hostel. Moreover, if you stay at Capsule Hotel, La Favela is only 10 minutes walk.
We can also recommend you Potato Head Beach Club if you want to enjoy a swimming pool with a view on the beach. Be careful with the budget at is rather expensive to eat up and drink here. We also heard about famous places like Ku De Ta and La Lucciola, but we we did not try. And of course, we recommend you to go relax on Bali beach, even though this is not the most beautiful beach ever. We discovered more interesting beaches afterward that we will tell you about shortly.
At first, we hated Seminyak. Then, we thought that it was an interesting place to see for mindfulness of mass tourism. Apparently, a lot of people enjoy being in Seminyak, but the “Touristland” atmosphere just did not fit us. It did not fit our vision of travelling. One day, some girls at the hostel told us about a city called Canggu, appreciated by surfers and close to Seminyak. At the moment we discovered the place, we swept a backhand Seminyak. We will tell you about this city we almost fell in love with in a future post.