The lure of the sunny beaches, the +30 degree heat, temples, culture and the parties, who wouldn’t want to visit the island of Bali, Indonesia. But what is it really like? How ‘touristy’ is it? What is there to do? Is it really paradise? So to answer all those questions, here is my review and what to expect from Seminyak and Bali as a whole.
White, flour-like sand and turquoise clear water. Secluded beaches and shaded bamboo huts. This is what I dream of for an idyllic beach holiday, and if you want that too, don’t stay in Seminyak, Bali (go to the Gili Islands instead). When you visit Seminyak Beach, it is packed with bean bags and loungers, parasols and people. The sand is brown and the waves are crashing. It’s not quite the secluded paradise that you’d expect. At night, the bars have a singer on a small stage, each one fighting for your ears. The music overlaps and clashes, you can’t listen to a cover of Ed Sheeran for the umpteenth time without a bad cover of Adele playing in the background. There are quieter parts but this depends on where in Seminyak you wish to stay. The beach is so long (approx 7km) that it takes forever to walk to a different area. Saying that, it is the perfect place to sunbathe or to chill at a cafe/restaurant. You can even try surfing, or just watch others try and fail.
‘Expect the nagging to be multiplied.’
I mentioned earlier how
far the beach stretches from Seminyak right through to the other resort of Kuta. These resort towns merge into one massive, sprawling mass of tourist shops, restaurants, bars and more shops, all found along Jalan Raya Seminyak. As you go from Kuta to Seminyak you’ll see the numerous shops slowly ranging from cheap tourist tat (I’m talking beer slogan T-shirts and penis bottle openers) to more up-market boutiques, selling high-end clothes, brand name goods, and one-off pieces. The same goes for the bars on the beach. At the Kuta end, there are more shacks, with ice boxes and plastic chairs, whereas in Seminyak you’ll find the bean bags, the fairy lights and the fancy bars. So as you may be able to tell, Kuta is cheaper, but has plenty more party points, huge clubs and cheaper beer. So the choice as to where to stay is yours.
‘Transport?’ ‘Massage?’ ‘Sarong miss?’
‘No, no thanks, no thank you, no!’ As Bali has boomed in tourism, so has the hassling. One woman, as I was lay on a sun-lounger on the beach, even touched my feet asking if I wanted a pedicure. You get any closer to my foot love, I’m going shove it in your mouth! You’ll also be asked if you need transport as you walk along the street. The drivers do this action with their hands, suppose to symbolise a steering wheel, instead it looks more like they are milking a cow. Everyone will be asked if they want a massage, but any men out there, if you walk anywhere by yourself, be warned! Expect the nagging to be multiplied. The offer of a massage is accompanied by a stroke of the arm or a grab of the hand. Sunglasses, fruit, kites even, all get offered to you if you are chilling on the beach. Every other minute, we had to politely, but firmly, decline. Unless you actually do want a kite, then by all means haggle!
Bali has so many attractions to visit, from Ulun Danu Beratan Temple on the river, to climbing up Mount Batur at sunrise, to jumping off rocks into GitGit Waterfall. A few of it’s attractions are amazing and 100% worth visiting. We loved Tegallalang rice terrace, exploring this was so much fun and its great for photographs too. Ubud is a fantastic city, with art and craft shops, a Monkey Forest and quirky cafes. However, most of the attractions don’t stand up against similar attractions across the rest of Asia. The temples are nice, but not as grand as Cambodia or as detailed as Thailand. The beaches are fun, but not as much fun as the Philippines. Bali just doesn’t win any awards.
‘…people say Bali is to the Australians, what Tenerife is to the British.’
None of these places to visit are near Seminyak. And expect up to an hours drive if not more, between each attraction! The island itself isn’t huge (approx 153km wide and 112km from north to south) but the roads are crazy and it take ages to get anywhere. Whether you are dodging mopeds or dogs, it’s never an easy ride. We hired a driver to take us to four attractions, The GitGit Waterfall, Tanah Lot temple, Temple in the river and Jatiluwih rice terraces. We started at 9.30am and didn’t get home till 7.30pm! Bearing in mind we only spent 30 minutes to 1 hour at each place and stopped 30 minutes for lunch. There are no speed limits, so when the road is clear, expect your driver to rag it. However, when he does reach a slower driver, he will do anything he can to overtake. It seems the Indonesian drivers have no patience when it comes to being on the road, they don’t want to wait behind anyone. Even when the overtake seemed unsafe to us British drivers, they are going to hit the accelerator and go for it anyway. Odd, because they are also usually late for everything!
After writing this post I’ve realised that I have come across pretty negatively about Bali, and that is a shame. It’s just sad that it is so tourist driven now, all the attractions are rammed with people and everyone has something to sell. Everything is really fast-paced and busy, there is no down-time. I’ve heard many people say Bali is to the Australians, what Tenerife is to the British. I guess it all depends on what you’re comparing it to really. I’m spoilt after travelling for so long, and perhaps if we came to Bali earlier in the trip, I’d feel differently about it. If it is your first stop on a tour of Asia, then it will probably be perfect. It’s Asian enough to feel far away from home, but English enough for it to be easy.