A backpacker comes to posh Seminyak

Seminyak, Indonesia

I’ve always wanted to be elegant. But what I have is more like Clumsiness with a capital C.

I’m the one who always spills her food or walks into a lamppost and splits her eyebrow open on the busiest street in town <— That actually happened one time.

So, when I came to Seminyak in Bali where Gucci stores lie side by side with pricey hotels, rooftop bars and fancy beach clubs, I felt slightly out-of-place. It’s not to say that I don’t love luxury and pampering. Hello, I am a lady.

Read next: Where to stay in Bali

So, why go to Seminyak?

Well, I’d heard people squeal about it so I wanted to find out if it lived up to the hype.

For those of you who doesn’t know, Seminyak is an area right next to Kuta beach – a party hub for the young and reckless. As opposed to Kuta, Seminyak is quiet and small.

Also read: 20 best things to do in Bali

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Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia
One of the many street offerings
Seminyak, Indonesia


I stayed at Petitenget beach, which according to most guide books should be the nicest in the area. After three weeks in Ubud, I couldn’t wait to get a tan, try out some new water activities (OH, HAAY SURFING!), and swim in the ocean. So I got my bikini and headed straight for the beach.

The scene was amazing; the sun sparkling in the sky, and the refreshing breeze of salty air whistled through my hair and messed it up. It was the perfect beach day.

But where was everyone? I couldn’t spot a single person. Like, zero. No one there.

Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia
… all by myseeelf. Don’t wanna be…
Seminyak, Indonesia

The closer I got to the shores, the clearer it got to me: something’s not right. Could it be the water? Is it too cold? Too much seaweed perhaps? Do they have SHARKS?!

And that’s when I saw them. The waves.

I might get dramatic on you for a second here, but they were monstrous. Atrocious. I’m not talking about cute little splashes here. I’m talking meter-high waves that slammed onto the beach with a giant roar, each embodying a destructive power nearly beyond measure.

There was NO WAY I was getting in that water, not even for a little toe dipping!

And if I’ve ever tried to convince you that I always take on thrilling adventures, now’s not the time to bring that up.

Seminyak, Indonesia
Of course they look like teeny-weeny waves here. But they weren’t.. Honestly.
Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia

Petitenget, Bali


The next day I went to a rooftop bar for lunch. Now, I tried my best to blend in with my Havaianas and casual tank top.

Easy? No

Possible? I hope.

To my relief, my appointed waiter was really friendly and chatty. We ended up talking about where I came from and that he’d visited Denmark once. Lunching at a rooftop bar actually turned out to be a great experience.

Awkwardness = crushed.

Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia
This is how a $6 salad looks like
Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia
I went for sushi & cocktails afterwards


With me leaving Bali the next day, I decided to spend the evening sipping expensive cocktails, watching the sunset and listening to groovy tunes at a beach club.

I chose Potato Head, one of the most prominent hotspots on the island. The club is not visible from the road and I had to walk for 15 minutes down a lovely tree-lined avenue before getting to the entrance.

When I got there, I instantly looked up…

Towering over my head was a Colosseum-like structure, made from old wooden shutters. The shutters were fashioned in different colours giving the place a rugged look from the outside, but the inside was a whole other deal…

Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia
The bomb squad
Seminyak, Indonesia
Make a reservation for sunset, or be ready to wait in line for 40 minutes.

My immediate thought when I saw this gorgeous infinity pool? I want to get in nowwww!

Don’t you just love this view?

No? Just me?

Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia

So here I was having a great time with lots of people around me.

To be totally transparent, I initially felt a little sad about being there alone. With no one to talk to. While everyone else was having fun with their friends.

But you know what? When I got there, after ordering one of the priciest beers I’ve ever had, I stepped back and saw the big picture: No one was looking at me funny and I didn’t feel awkward sitting by myself. I was actually fine just being in my own company. I was fine on my own.

Traveling alone for the first time? Read how to prepare here.

Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia

Seminyak, Indonesia

As I was watching the sun set over the raging waves of Bali’s shores, I looked back at the three weeks I had spent on this island. Although I didn’t feel completely at home in Seminyak’s posh surroundings, this was the perfect way to bid Bali goodbye. I wondered, would I ever return? And will I smuggle in my own beer the next time?

The answer to both questions is…. absolutely!

What about you, adventurers? Where’s the most posh place you’ve been?

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Seminyak, Bali is an area right next to Kuta beach, but it's quiet and more suited for couples, families and solo travelers who are not looking to party all night. Here's an introduction to Seminyak, including how to enjoy the beach clubs.

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  1. Hey Miriam 🙂

    I don’t think I’ve really been somewhere posh like that!! It looks wonderful though.

    It’s funny your comment about the waves. The first time I saw a beach *without* waves I was so confused. Now I’ve learned in many parts of the world that’s normal, and many people are frightened by waves! Growing up the beaches near my grandparents house were a the sort with 1m-1.5m waves, and playing in them is the best fun. As the waves hit, you jump and turn sideways, and the water pulls you upwards and rushes and bubbles all around you. It’s great! I much prefer beaches with waves. But then, if there was a sign saying don’t swim, I wouldn’t. You never know if there’s a rip, or worse yet, jelly fish or something horrible that stings or kills.


    1. That’s some pretty big waves. We have semi big waves in the Northern Sea, but they’re not anywhere near the ones in Bali. I think the undercurrent was pretty strong in Seminyak… and I didn’t feel like testing it.

  2. A really cool post again, Miriam! And great you felt at ease on your own, I know that can be quite a challenge sometimes when you’re traveling alone! I’m putting Seminyak on my list for next year. We’re planning our second round the world trip, starting with traveling from Istanbul to Beijing overland. After four months of hard core traveling I think I’ll need a place to eat, work on my tan, eat some more and test out many spa’s 😉 First I had Ubud in mind (love that place), but Seminyak sounds even better!

    1. That’s so exciting, Karlijn! I look forward to hearing more about it. If you’re going to Bali though, I’d definitely recommend Ubud over Seminyak any day. Hands down, it’s one of my favorite places in the world.

      1. Hi Miriam, I totally agree with you: Ubud is one of my favorite places in the world too. It’s just that we want to do absolutely nothing and just lay next to a pool for about four days. I think we’ll need it after four months in Central Asia (with many home stays, bad roads and long, long Chinese train rides) ;).
        But maybe you’re right, Ubud is much nicer than Bali’s south coast. Maybe I’ll just find a fancy hotel with a spa there! Shouldn’t be too hard 🙂

        1. In that case, have you thought about Gili Trawangan? This island is absolutely gorgeous and the water is crystal clear – perfect for relaxation. It’s only a few hours by boat + bus from Bali.

          1. Hi Miriam, thanks for your advice! I love the Gili’s, we were there in 2010 and we’ll go there again next year. The plan for our world trip is this: first we’ll fly to Istanbul, then travel overland through Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. Then we’re off to Indonesia. First our relaxing 4 days on Bali, then Sulawesi and the Sunda Islands. After all that traveling, it’s time to hit the Gili’s for some well deserved relaxation. Can’t wait! After that, one week in Japan, three in French-Polynesia, almost for on Hawaii and three in Mexico. And then, back to The Netherlands!

  3. Looks like a gorgeous place to stay! I’m with you on the feeling slightly awkward in posh settings. One of my freelance jobs includes occasionally reviewing luxury hotels and restaurants. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome, but I’m the most un elegant person ever! I always feel rather out of place haha. And I’ve never quite got used to being in these places by my self, it’s fantastic you felt at ease with it!

    1. That’s sounds like a great freelance gig, Charlie! I think I’m coming to terms with not being the most elegant person in the world. In the end, I’d rather feel at easy with myself than try to be something that I’m not.

  4. WOW this looks amazing!! I also feel awkwards in posh settings – like we don’t belong there lol – which is funny because I always dream of what it would be to liv that kind of lifestyle, like Emily in revenge – but when we do get the odd opportunity to experience it we feel out of place!!

    Sounds like you had a fantastic time though and OMG that sunrise photo is AMAZING!

    1. Haha, exactly Meg! Feeling posh once in a while is fun, but at the end of the day, I’d rather just have a beer at the local pub in unpretentious settings. And I’m okay with that.

  5. I’ve heard so many great things about Seminyak! That sunset and infinity pool shots look incredible! Glad you had a great time and treated yourself AND didn’t feel awkward relaxing by yourself, big plus!

    I’m thinking about where to go next year and Bali is looking like it would be a good option for a nice, relaxing holiday. How long would you recommend to stay there for? x

    1. Bali is the perfect place for relaxation, Kelly. How much time you need there depends on what you want to see. I’d say 1 week is fine, but 2 would be even better. Then split them up between Ubud and the coast (Kuta area, but not Kuta beach). Let me know if you have any further questions.

  6. That sunset shot is beautiful, I can see why it makes you happy 🙂 We looked into going to Seminyak when we were in Bali but it seemed really expensive and we couldn’t find cheap hotel options (maybe we were there at the wrong time?) we certainly would have given it a go if we’d found your $16 place!

    1. Oh, really? I found that prices in the Kuta area were the cheapest in Bali. I was searching via Booking.com. If you ever come back, Amy, you should give it a try. It’s a nice little getaway.

  7. Oh man, this looks amazing!! I need to go there, like YESTERDAY! I can’t believe I still haven’t made it to Indonesia after living in Asia for 3 years. 2015 is going to change that!

    1. Beth, that sounds like a great idea! I’ve been traveling in SE Asia for many years and this is my first time in Indonesia too. Now, I don’t understand why I haven’t visited sooner. It’s amazing!

  8. This post made me laugh out loud. I first wen to Kuta and HATED it, so my friends and I decided to escape to Seminyak. Let’s just say we felt similarly out of place, haha.

  9. I too love the Seminyak and Petitenget areas… cool bars and beach clubs ahoy! Isn’t walk into The W really cool? Although i did actually pay IDR350k for an infused water there which is normally free in most other restaurants! 🙂

  10. Wow that’s good photo shoot moment, I like that. The infinity pool looks very cool. But I do not agree with the statement that Seminyak is opposite of Kuta, cause I think Seminyak feels same like Kuta with their crowded population haha. Seminyak is also a cool place to see sunset, right?

    1. Sure, Seminyak is touristy, too, but you don’t see the same amount of drunken travelers or garbage on the beach for that matter. It’s not completely different, but still much better in my opinion.

  11. Hey Miriam, your post was really informative & looks amazing. We’re a family of 4 booked to stay in Legian for 10 days. Is it possible to get to Ubud with a driver for a day and if so, what would be your “must do” family activities in a day (kids are 14 & 11).

    1. Hi Marie, I booked a driver from Ubud to Seminyak so I’m sure you can find one, too. I’d ask at your hotel, they might have a driver or recommend a good one.

      For Ubud, you should visit Monkey forest (just beware of the little buggers). I also recommend going to the rice fields, and there’s a butterfly garden not too far from Ubud – you still need to drive though. You could also visit a coffee farm in the area, it’s quite popular and fun because you get to taste the coffees and teas, and there are a few animals. I’d think it’s a fun activity for kids and parents.

  12. Hey Miriam! I’m new to your blog, I found it looking for tips for my upcoming Bali trip. I’d love a blog on the best beaches to swim/snorkel at in Bali. Seems to be hard to find a swimming beach or even a review of one. Any info would be amazing!

    1. Hi Lauren, welcome to my blog! The thing with Bali is that while it’s an amazing island, the beaches aren’t that wonderful. They’re great for surfing because the waves are huge, but if you’re looking for that turquise blue and clear water, you have to go to the Gili islands. It’s a 1 hour ferry ride away and well worth the trip!

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