Seminyak, Bali: A Welcomed Tourist Trap

At last we arrived in Bali! After a horrific and miserable flight from Kuala Lumpur we finally made it to the island we’d only seen or heard about in movies. Bali is one of those places you hear about while growing up that just sounds so perfect. The great beaches, low-key island vibe – the stereotypical tropical paradise. And the town of Seminyak, although very touristy, did not disappoint.

We arrived at the airport in the city of Denpasar and had our driver, that we’d arranged through Airbnb, waiting for us with a giant smile and sign in hand. It was such a great first impression of Bali being greeted by warmth and friendliness – something we didn’t get much of in Malaysia. The airport was quite beautiful – lots of Indonesian style statues and architecture. You can definitely still feel that “Asian” element to everything but there’s something very unique and different about the Indonesian style.

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Leaving the Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, Bali

Our driver took us to our Airbnb located in the city/town of Seminyak. It’s a very touristy town located on the southwest side of the island. Our host had his “helper” named Peter greet us when we arrived. He was so sweet, so excited and super quirky. He showed us to our little studio  and we settled in. The warm energy that Peter gave out was just another positive indicator of how wonderful Bali would be.

We decided to walk down to the grocery store to stock up our little kitchen. The small and narrow streets of Seminyak are buzzing with people, lined with souvenir and clothing shops and scooters whizzing by constantly. We immediately noticed just how flooded with tourists this little town was – and after feeling like complete aliens in Malaysia – we were okay with that. It was even a bit relieving to feel like we were just part of the tourist crowd after feeling so far removed from it for a few weeks. But even with the tourists, all of the locals would smile and say hello as you walked by.

Even the grocery store was a godsend. They had products and ingredients we were familiar with (and of course some we didn’t) so we were able to finally buy some food to cook back in our studio. Bali was feeling so good.

We had a week to spend in Seminyak so most of our days were spent wandering the little streets – checking out the shops, eating as much food as possible and relaxing at the beach which was only a 15 minute walk away.

Our beach, called Double Six Beach, was much different than any beach we’d spent time at so far in Asia. It was huge, wide, lined with bars and restaurants, and busy with people. Another thing is that the there’s much more of a surf going on – not surprising considering how famous Bali is for its surfing.

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Double Six Beach

We quickly learned that Bali is not the typical “cheap” SE Asian destination. Compared to American standards? Yes – it’s crazy cheap. But compared to Thailand? It’s double or even triple the price for things. As mentioned many times – we’re budget travelers so after a couple beers at beach bars we knew we couldn’t keep doing that. At around $2/USD for one bottle of local beer, we’d go broke. It was fun while it lasted but we were back to making our own food as much as possible and keeping the partying to a minimum.

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Drinking Bintang beer on the beach

Since Seminyak caters to tourists there’s tons of restaurants on every street throughout the town. But being the penny pinchers we are – we sniffed out the cheap food stalls called “warungs.” And as always – it was some of the best food we’d ever had. The food here in Bali has been nothing short of incredible. Again – you can definitely sense the Asian flavors but there is something so specific about these Indonesian flavors that had us melting. Between the sambal, chilies, garlic and scallions – our taste buds were in heaven. And we could generally always keep one meal between us under $9 or $10 USD.

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Grilled fish
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Standard dish of Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) served with a prawn cracker, sambal and pickled veggies

We fell in love with all of their local food – the grilled skewers of meat (called sate), the fried rice (called nasi goreng) and their very local dish called babi guling. It’s basically a suckling pig that’s been roasting for hours. They serve you a plate with rice and about 5 or 6 different pieces of the pig cooked and prepared in different ways. We weren’t sure what half of the things were that they gave us – we decided we wouldn’t ask in fear that it would gross us out – and just eat it anyway.

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Not sure what this is but…I’ll clear my plate anyway!

We didn’t rent a scooter or anything (because driving in this area is absolutely insane) so we walked a lot. I love walking because it allows you to see so much – things you wouldn’t otherwise see if you were whizzing by in a car or a scooter. The architecture and style in Bali is so cool. Everything just screams culture. We tried to see a temple on the beach but since we had come directly from the beach – we weren’t allowed in because of what we were wearing.

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The major perk about being on the south west side of the island are the sunsets. It was the absolute perfect spot to watch the sun set every evening over the Indian Ocean. We splurged one night to sit at one of the beach restaurants to just relax and watch the fiery orange ball sink beneath the horizon. It was perfection.

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The moment we arrived in Bali we knew we’d love it. It has been such a breath of fresh air. The people are wonderful, the food is fantastic and the island itself is just gorgeous. Seminyak is the 1st of 4 areas we’ll be staying during our 3 weeks on Bali. We’re very much looking forward to exploring more of less crowded areas and seeing what else this incredible island has to offer.

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