I don't know about you, but one thing that I love almost as much as food is traveling. So imagine getting to eat your way through a new country and experiencing a whole new culture with the person you love the most?! BEST. THING. EVER.
We returned to Portland a few weeks ago after our two week honeymoon in Bali and I am in total bliss. This was my first time going to Indonesia, and to an Asian country in general, and it's everything I hoped it would be and more. Our first stop on our Indonesian adventure was Seminyak. On the west coast of Bali, Seminyak is all about fun in the sun – and delicious food of course. I'm sure my happiness arriving in Seminyak was largely due to being in newlywed bliss, but I LOVED everything about the city from the beginning. The hustle and bustle of the motor bikes zooming by, the smell of satay cooking on a coconut husk coal bbq, being greeted with kindness everywhere we went by the Balinese, and retreating to our incredible villa after a long day of exploring. If this place wasn't on your radar, it should definitely be now. Read on for my guide to this incredible town!
where to stay
We loved our stay at The One Boutique Villa. Everything about it was simply perfect. From the moment we walked down a lush green path to our own private villa complete with a huge swimming pool - I was smitten. The mornings were bliss sitting in the outdoor seating and kitchen area listening to the birds chirp while sipping our coffee. The staff cooked an incredible complimentary breakfast every morning, both Indonesian and western fare, accompanied by fresh tropical juices. It was definitely very hot and humid when we were there, so after a long day of exploring out and about it was so nice to dive into the pool or cool off in the air-conditioned bedroom. And don't even get me started on the bathroom! Right outside our bedroom you walked out into this little tropical oasis where we had a huge tub and outdoor shower. I want an outdoor bathroom in our house someday after experiencing that! And the cherry on the cake was that all of the staff at the villa were some of the nicest people we've ever met! We told them we can't wait to come back on our 10-year wedding anniversary :)
I would definitely suggest The One, but we saw many other beautiful villa's on tripadvisor and Airbnb. Just make sure you read the reviews first!
Where to eat & drink
Okay, so you had to know we were going to stake out the best spots in Bali didntcha? There are SO many great spots to try, but here are our highlights and recommendations!
Cafe Organic - This a very popular and trendy spot in Seminyak -I normally like to find the hidden gems, but Cafe Organic is still a a great spot to grab a really fresh breakfast or lunch and a cup of coffee. I loved the herby feta toast!
Bo & Bun - Our first night in Seminyak we went to Bo & Bun - a Vietnamese spot with a fun and buzzy atmosphere. We tossed back $2 Bintang's and lychee martinis and chowed down on sticky pork ribs, Vietnamese salad topped with crispy pork belly bites, and our first bowl of 'crack & slurp' noodles which were literally crack. Recipe recreation coming soon!
Shelter Cafe/Nalu Bowls - This was our favorite spot in Seminyak! We originally went to try the Nalu smoothie bowls, but then we discovered that Shelter Cafe was a cozy restaurant perched on top of Nalu, so we got smoothie bowls AND great food. YOU MUST get the "shades of shelter" platter to share. It's a harmonious assortment of hummus, dips, whips, and other yummies to snack on. We also got the "big burger" and a smoothie bowl to share. You can't go wrong with anything here - and all of the plants and decor are the best.
Ling Ling's - LL's is kind of a quirky asian fusion spot but I enjoyed it! It's a fun place to grab happy hour and sit at their patio out back. The Korean bulgogi tacos are delish and I was a fan of the chicken Bahn mi sandwich, Thomas not so much. By the time we got to Ling Ling's on this particular day, we had been motorbiking in the sun for so long that I practically held the Bintang to my forehead before guzzling it and I think anything would have tasted good - but Ling Ling's still makes the list regardless!
Warung Eny's - If you're looking for authentic Indonesian food then this is your spot. From inside the restaurant you can see the open kitchen with all of the fresh vegetables piled high, and you can watch the Eny family prepare your meal in front of you. We got the whole red snapper that is grilled on the coconut husk bbq, giant grilled prawns, Tum Ball which is spiced pork steamed in banana leaves, and Nasi Campur which is a bunch of small dishes served with rice on a platter.
Potato Head Beach Club - If you want to splurge a little and have some fun in the sun on the beach then Potato Head is your place. The beach front spot was walking distance from our villa, so before we could check in on our first day we lounged on day beds soaking up the sun sipping spicy mango cocktails. The perfect start to our honeymoon. I loved the fresh ceviche, lobster roll, and romaine salad.
Bambu - Authentic Indonesian food with a gourmet twist! If you're wanting a romantic restaurant in a fine dining setting then I would go to Bambu! I loved the outdoor setting, and when you walk through the entrance you have to walk across floating steps across a beautiful pond littered with candles. We had the huge tiger prawns, crispy soft shell crab, lamb curry, and seafood noodle soup.
What to Do in Seminyak
First things first, rent a motorbike!
It costs less that $5 dollars a day to rent a motorbike in Bali. I was a little confused with the conversion from rupiah's to dollars at first, but 100,000 rupiah's is roughly $7 dollars, so that's a good way to quickly calculate in your head. Driving a motorbike is pretty hectic in the city because there's so many people on bikes AND you're driving on the opposite side of the road. Because we wanted to easily get around and take multiple day trips, a motorbike was a good fit for us, but taxi's are a great option as well. If you go the taxi route use Blue Bird. They have a meter and they won't try and scam you.
Take day trips
I loved taking off on our bike and not really knowing what we would discover. We spent one day driving through rice fields, down alley ways, and winding through the roads surrounding Seminyak. We hung out in Canggu, which is a small village about 20 minutes north of Seminyak where we stumbled across the cutest cafes and shops. We popped into Sunny Cafe, a cozy spot with a vintage feel. I loved the vintage balinese pictures hanging on the wall and the record player playing classic tunes.
My favorite day trip was when we drove over an hour on our bike to Jimbaran and found a secret beach where we soaked up the sun and swam in crystal blue water.
Nourish your body
On every corner in Bali, there's a spot to grab an incredible smoothie bowl, fresh pressed juice or freshly cracked coconut to drink. It's good to indulge on vacation, but in Bali I felt perfectly balanced because of all the healthy fruits and veggies.
If you love finding a good bargain that you're going to love Bali. You can definitely negotiate a good deal with the vendors and boutique owners. They are always going to shoot high, so don't say yes at the first price! We got these incredible set of three handmade wooden bowls, a ceramic coffee serving set and multiple other things for our kitchen. I love buying things like that when we're traveling because now every time we use it we'll remember our trip!
Eat local food
My favorite thing about traveling to a new place is trying the local cuisine. Yes, Bali has amazing cafes and western fare, but it's way more fun to try a dish that you have no idea what it's going to taste like! Try the nasi goreng or mei goreng which is fried rice or noodles, babi guling which is slow roasted pig, or nasi campur which is an assortment of small dishes surrounding rice.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself!
Seminyak is an incredible city. I am so happy we chose it as our first stop on our honeymoon and we will most definitely return someday. Please write a comment if there's anything else you're curious about when staying in Seminyak and I would be happy to help! I can't wait to share our next stops, the Nusa islands and Ubud with you!