Seminyak and Kuta may as well be the same city for how close they are located proximity-wise on the map. However, they really couldn't be more different in terms of overall vibes. Kuta is an unkempt airport and party city, whereas Seminyak was a luxe and bougie version of Bali's local splendor.
Given their proximity and the overall small amount of time we spent in each, I decided to lump them together in this post. Read on for practical tips on how to get to Kuta, places to stay in each town, and things to do if you pass through.
Getting To Kuta
I arrived in Bali first - alone and around midnight - to the beautiful Denpasar airport. Note that because I booked my trip so much later than Kevin, our arrival and departure times differed by about 12 hours. Before arriving, I learned that “Ngurah Rai Airport Taxis” are the only cabs you can get from the airport. They wear iconic blue patterned shirts and charge on a ‘fixed price’ basis. Thus, the trip's negotiating began.
Pro Tip: Ask your hotel ahead of time how much a fixed price from point A to point B should be, and walk away from drivers who will not accept that price. I think I paid 100,000 rupiah (IDR) for a ten minute cab ride, which was entirely too much.
When we were finishing out our trip & heading back to Kuta to catch our flights home, we got a taxi from Uluwatu for a whopping 400K IDR. Again, this was a ridiculous price to pay, but we didn't really know any better. We should have called the hotel in Kuta to see if they could have sent a car.
Where To Stay In Kuta
Kuta is a very popular tourist area in Bali, but it is certainly not the cleanest or nicest. Driving through the streets at night was definitely a little unnerving, and I was a little worried to step out of the cab when we pulled up to the hostel.
I was crashing in a place called H-Ostel, doing my first shared dorm room (female only though, baby steps). But the cab driver was perfectly respectable and I was delivered to my door without trouble. Time to crash and start forcing my body to adjust to the 15 hour time difference.
What To Do In Kuta
In the morning, I woke up to a free breakfast of toast, jam, and coffee. I always look for accommodations with free breakfast, because I feel like it’s such a cool opportunity to “eat like a local.” I wandered a little around the hostel, and frankly was even less impressed with Kuta. It’s very commercialized, but in a dingy way. As Kevin was landing around 9am, I was indulging in my first foot massage of the trip, which was 30 minutes for about $4 (!).
Upon our return to Kuta at the end of the trip, we walked around, shopped a little ($6 tops!), and had our most expensive meal in Bali on the sort of Vegas-like strip that is Kuta’s main street. Quality does not match price here, so again, you might want to avoid.
Where To Stay In Seminyak
Kevin and I initially met up at our hotel in Seminyak, called Amalfi Hotel. This was hands down one of our favorite accommodations from the trip - beautiful building, nicely decorated, very clean and modern, comfy bed, pretty rooftop bar and hot tub, the most incredible free breakfast.
Things To Do In Seminyak
After settling in, we swimsuited and sunscreened and headed toward the beach. We stopped into a restaurant for lunch - it was called Organic Cafe and had all the trappings of LA’s trendiest lunchtime eateries and the prices to match. I was obviously smitten. Much to my surprise, the meal ended with me finding a small LIVE worm in my Earth Bowl! Earthy indeed, and Kevin had a nice laugh at my expense. I did get it off our bill though so...worth it?
From there, we headed to the famous Potato Head Beach Club. Since all the day beds were currently in use, we laid out on the beach for a bit and then had a few overpriced drinks and snacks in the loungey part of the bar.
Pro Tip: If you want a daybed here, you have to come early in the morning and reserve one in person, or get put on a waiting list. The beds require a 500,000 rupiah tab, but that’s very easy to rack up and is only about $37 USD.
As the sun began to set, we wandered over the the W Hotel, where we’d heard there was a happy hour special that included free pizza. This ended up being true, which was fabulous, but perhaps not our smartest bargain, as we ended up paying a silly amount for our drinks. The sunset deck was beautiful though, and we even happened to sit next to a girl who was currently at USC! Small world.
We had a somewhat forgettable meal near our hotel and passed out a 8 pm, the time difference absolutely tanking us.
Kuta & Seminyak In A Nutshell
Boiling it down, Kuta was pretty lackluster. I don't think anyone needs to stay there. Seminyak was ritzy and expensive and very touristy, which might be great for a less adventurous type of traveler, but it was a fairly generic experience for Kev and I. While waiting for his departing flight, Kevin rode out to Canggu, which many people had told us was the “new” up and coming version of Kuta or Seminyak. We probably would have enjoyed staying in that area a little more. Next time.
Luckily, the next stop on our trip was a three day stretch in Ubud. Read about finding the magic of Bal in Ubud.