Seminyak was our first destination when we landed in Denpasar, and we spent 4 days here exploring the area and the surrounds. Spending longer here wouldn't have hurt, but I recommend staying somewhere close to where all the main food places are. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, but it'll save some trouble if you can just walk to wherever you want to go.
We stayed at Taman Mesari Villas which was lovely. Good location, extremely polite and friendly service, gorgeous, spacious villa but next time, I'd definitely find somewhere within walking distance of food and more modest (aka cheaper). Our villa did arrange for free pick up from the airport though, which made things a lot easier once we landed.
P.S. Not many pictures to share from Seminyak because I kept falling asleep as soon as we got back to our villa, and couldn't fully charge my camera at night :( My body was not handling the change well.
Things To Do
Prana Spa: 10/10
This place was divine! I'm not normally one to enjoy massages or facials but my attitude towards skincare and pampering completely changed after this experience! Sounds dramatic, I know, but I felt incredibly relaxed and radiant afterwards. (Ever since Bali, I've been enjoying my morning and evening skincare routine much more and really take the time to nourish my skin and notice how it feels.)
It isn't cheap by Bali's standards, but it is significantly cheaper than the standard treatments here in Sydney. I can't remember the exact prices but it was around AUD$100 for the 2 hour Mystique of Bali package and AUD$180 for the 3 hour Pampering of Prana package.
Tip: book ahead via email! We were wary about sending credit card details over email so we ignored the confirmation email but they still had us down for a booking, which was good. I don't recommend sending card details over email.
Uluwatu Temple: 9/10
I can't remember the entrance fee for this one (note to self: write it all down next time and not rely on sketchy post-holiday memory) but it was maybe $1-3 pp.
Our driver Putu tried to talk us into watching a popular 1 hour sunset dance at the temple but we already had our heart set on enjoying the sunset at a clifftop bar. Plus, tickets were $10 each. I have mixed feelings about this as some reviews loved the dance, others think it's a scam. I don't regret our decision to leave despite feeling guilty for choosing food and alcohol over a cultural experience.
Padang Padang Beach: 6/10
There was an entrance fee, it was packed and there was lots of floating seaweed and rough rocks in the water. It might be a lovely beach if it wasn't so crowded, but it's hard to imagine it's ever quiet in the summer. Avoid this one if you're not a fan of small, overcrowded (and dirtier) places. It's also a steep walk to and from the beach.
Single Fin Beach Club + unknown place below: 8.5/10
Like I mentioned earlier, we left Uluwatu Temple in time for sunset drinks at Single Fin, a clifftop bar, around 6pm. Getting in and ordering drinks was easy enough, but all the tables were taken and obviously weren't going to be vacated until the sun had set. Most people seemed happy enough to stand around the stage area (performance later that night) with their drinks. There was also a resort right next door with a pool overlooking Single Fin - with a perfect view of the sunset. Damn.
With deflated spirits, we were about to leave when we saw a path at the entrance that led down to a much quieter warung filled with tourists. We were lucky enough to get the last seat overlooking the water!
Tip: go early if you want to secure a table, otherwise head downstairs to watch the sunset.
Jimbaran Bay "seafood dinner": 2/10
This was the moment we realised that drivers will take you to a restaurant if you don't already have somewhere in mind. We checked the reviews afterwards and they all mostly say the same thing: their driver took them there and the food wasn't great. It was mediocre and expensive.
And dinner on the beach sounds divine, right? Not when it's windy. At least bring a jacket if you do plan to go. And do your research beforehand!
Tip: Gili Air beach dinners are actually much nicer.
Potato Head Beach Club: 7.5/10
I'm sure you've heard that this is the place to go to watch the sunset while sipping cocktails by the beach when you're in Bali. It's a gorgeous, upscale venue, the cocktail menu is extensive (with cups ranging from a Tiki mug to giant seashell) and the sunset did not disappoint.
But trying to find a seat or even somewhere to stand was near impossible. There were just so many people. We ended up wandering down to the beach (also crowded) to watch the last of the sunset, which was lovely, before heading back for our second attempt at finding a seat (we found one).
Overall, it was a nice place, but I wouldn't be in a rush to return. The music was inconsistent, the drinks were on the pricier side and the overall vibe was a little dull.
Motel Mexicola: 8.5/10
Food and drinks were delicious and portions were decent. On the pricier side for Bali, but comparable to prices in Sydney. Will set you back around $3 a taco and $11-14 a drink.
A fun, relaxed place to visit in central Seminyak. We went around 5pm so getting a table wasn't difficult - we would have stayed around longer if the drinks were cheaper.
I would rate this place highly for the toilets alone. Forget the standard open stalls with communal sinks. These were actual standalone bathrooms with quirky, nonsensical phrases on the mirror, Aesop soap and marble countertops. Fancy.
But in all seriousness, the food was delicious too. Prices are reasonable - around $14 a dish and $10 a drink (if I remember correctly).
Sea Circus: 7.5/10
Colourful, relaxed vibes here. Also an Insta-famous spot. Great juice and healthy meal options. Poke bowl wasn't amazing but it's a generous size - I was stuffed.
Pronounced 'Ch-ung-goo'. We only visited Canggu very briefly in the afternoon before our flight back to Sydney. But boy, oh boy, did we kick ourselves for not visiting earlier or spending longer here.
'Ooh-ing' and 'aah-ing' from the car as we drove down the main streets, it was already obvious how much quieter and relaxed this coastal village is in comparison to Seminyak and Ubud. The streets are lined with trendy stores and cafes, and filled with a surprisingly small amount of people.
We were on our way to The Lawn Canggu. It was love at first sight. We must've arrived at the right time, because we were escorted straight to the last free spot (but no umbrella for us) where we wasted no time ordering a jug of rosé sangria.
The next time I'm back in Bali, I'll definitely spend a few days exploring and eating my way through Canggu.
...And ordering the other two sangria jugs I didn't get a chance to try.
Other things YOU SHOULD KNOW
Taxis are cheap and easy to find in Seminyak - you'll probably get used to their honking every few seconds! The drivers that we had were friendly and loved to talk.
Your villa may be able to call a taxi for you, but take note that the minimum fee for a trip might be higher (around $3, as opposed to $1)
- When you get in the taxi, make sure you ask them to use the meter. It's often a lot cheaper than what they try to negotiate.
- Tipping is not required. Restaurants already charge you a Service Tax on top of your food bill. With that said, we did tip some drivers and porters if they were extra helpful or accommodating.
- Menu prices usually don't include the Government and Service Tax. Look for this amount written somewhere on the menu so that you know what to expect when you get your bill.
- The plus signs at the end of a price indicate that it'll be additional for Government Tax and Service Tax e.g. Rp.100.000++ means 100,000 Rupiah plus Government and Service Tax.
I haven't really written a travel post like this one before, but I hope you found it helpful for your next trip, or as part of your research! (The ratings are just for fun and to give you an idea of my own personal experience.)
Gili Air and Ubud posts are up next - stay tuned.
If you have any questions, or if there's something I missed, just leave a comment below! If you've already been to Seminyak or Canggu, I'd love to hear your experiences! Did you have the same experience? Complete opposite?!