Rent an apartment in Bali at the Jayakarta Hotel and Apartment complex in Legian/Seminyak: contact think_tom(at) Three minutes to the sand!

If you’re considering a trip to the incredible island of Bali, Indonesia for your next vacation, have you considered a Bali apartment rental as a cheaper and probably more comfortable alternative to an expensive hotel? As a resident expat on the island I have plenty of Bali tips that I could share with you, but if you take advantage of this idea you might find that you actually get better value for money with your accommodations versus a hotel. And that means more money available for buying sarongs!

Seriously though, when we book our trip months in advance we normally put hotel reservations near the top of our ‘to-do’ list, right up there with airplane tickets. I can tell you from experience that there are other ways of enjoying your accommodations in Bali particularly than simply picking a hotel hoping for the best.

Now first a disclaimer: we do have a Bali apartment rental unit, just three minutes’ walk from the sand on the grounds of the Jayakarta Hotel in Seminyak, but there are many other wonderful options as well. A word on Seminyak too: it has become the preferred place for people of all ages who want more than the loud non-stop part in Kuta, but don’t want to be too isolated in the rice paddies, away from the nightlife, shopping and outstanding Seminyak restaurants that you’ll find between Jalan Legian and the beach.

So why would it be that apartments in Bali are so attractive? As Bali becomes more popular with tourists and ex-pats over the years we are seeing construction building upward, rather than just more new houses and villas. Especially in the areas down by Ngurah Rai International Airport like Seminyak, Legian and Kuta, the geography is such that if you want to be within five miles/eight km or so of the airport and still be near the beach, there is only so much land available for building. Four- and five-story buildings are becoming much more common on Bali than they were even five years ago, and that means Bali apartments and condominiums are spring up everywhere.

The buyers of these units are rarely the local Balinese. (They are lucky enough to have places to live in Bali already…) The apartments are purchased by Jakarta residents who use their units as opportunities for weekend or short vacations. The other major market for these units are ex-pats who tend not to reside in Bali all year-round. I think you can see the point I’m about to make: absentee owners are often very interested in renting out their units when they are away, as a source of cash flow.

If you are coming as a tourist you can use this simple fact to your advantage, in that you do not necessarily have to pay “retail price” to some hotel for a relatively small room. Your alternative is to book an apartment that has kitchen space and many, many more comforts of home than most hotel rooms ever would, right down to dishes in the cupboards and a DVD player with a collection of DVDs! If your idea of a vacation is most certainly not making your own bed and doing your own cleaning, don’t worry. In Bali you can be sure that the owner already has a maid, and she will be very happy to work for you during your visit, I can assure you!

Especially if you’re coming for more than one week or so, it’s very easy to negotiate weekly rates for your Bali apartment rental with the owner or his local agent. You can expect the prices to run between $40 and $70 US per night, and substantially less if you rent by the week or for an entire month. The fact is that for the price of what Bali hotel would cost for a week, doing a little legwork before you leave could land you an apartment for an entire month in Bali. Can you see why apartment rental changes the whole idea of ‘holiday’ for people who are flexible enough to visit Bali for longer than the usual week or ten days?

So how to find deals on good apartment rentals in Bali? Well, naturally the Internet is your friend, and you are just a few clicks away from discovering quite a few apartments for rent. I’ll mention our apartment for rent in Bali unit again. You can also check the Bali Advertiser.

Even if you decide to go with a Seminyak hotel or a villa in the end, you’ll feel better knowing that you at least explored other options for accommodations on your Bali holiday. The fact is though, that especially if you’re coming with your entire family, having multiple bedrooms and much more space could be more attractive than renting a couple hotel rooms or a suite to accommodate everyone.

I just got back from pleasant lunch at Colonial Living restaurant, an inexpensive Bali vegetarian restaurant in Seminyak with excellent hygiene and extremely friendly staff. I would put this in the ‘Bali’s best kept secrets’ Bali Tips category actually because the value for money at Colonial Living was borderline astounding. Take a look at the photo: I got an enormous falafel sandwich, tabouli on the side, a citrus cabbage and raisin salad, and some really stellar pureed carrot and mushroom soup. It was a set meal and it set me back 45,000 rupiah including tax and service, which at current exchange rates is just about US$5 dollars. I wanted to stand up and applaud. A nice fresh pineapple juice on the side, no sugar thanks (‘tanpa gula’), and you have an excellent vegetarian lunch in Bali for under US$7 dollars. Can you eat cheaper in Bali, or Indonesia for that matter? Yes you can, but I can also pay three times this for a similar meal in some cities around the world.

Colonial Living restaurant also does an organic fruit and vegetable market every Saturday from 11 in the morning until about 3PM; I will be checking it out and I’ll do a writeup on I’ve been looking for a nice organic vegetable market in Seminyak, as Ubud or the surrounding hills is a bit far for me to go to find an organic market.

I’ve done posts on vegetarian food in Bali before, but Colonial Living is probably right up there with the best of them. Vegans should be aware that it is a lacto/ovo vegetarian restaurant, though as a vegan you’d be accommodated quite easily.

Colonial Living restaurant is located in Seminyak at Jl. Raya Kunti No. 67, across the Sunset road, not too far from Bali Deli. (0361)738919. If you are looking for excellent vegetarian food in Bali and you’d prefer a Seminyak restaurant away from the Kuta crowds, take a look at Colonial living.

Bali Vegetarian food | Seminyak restaurants

Vegetarian lunch in Bali

Seminyak restaurants are one of the real pleasures of visiting Bali, Indonesia. There is outstanding value for money to be had in Bali restaurants generally, with a selection of cuisines from all around the world at incredible prices, but for a lot of frequent visitors to Bali and Bali ex-pats, restaurants in Seminyak are especially noteworthy. It’s one of the lesser-known Bali tips that the guidebooks don’t emphasize enough, in my opinion.

There’s a simple reason for the high quality of Bali restaurants, and it becomes clear the more you speak to restaurant owners here. “I came for a visit and I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t want to leave…” Naturally visitors who are in the restaurant business back home consider starting restaurants in Bali. I’ve always thought that there was a restaurant brain drain coming from around the world to Bali, and I don’t think I’ve ever considered changing my status from ‘customer’ to restaurant ‘owner’ here. The competition is way too fierce for amateurs, and that is confirmed with every wonderful plate of Italian, Greek, French, Moroccan, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Bali vegetarian food, as well as cuisines from a dozen regions all over the Indonesian archipelago.

In 2006 a nice guy named Mark came from Malaysia to Bali with a dream: Malaysian food was underrepresented in Bali, and Mark wanted to share his mother’s inspired Malaysian Chinese dishes with Bali, and the world. Delicious Onion was the name of the dream, inspired by Mark’s mother’s signature onion garnish, a relish of spectacularly deep richness, and life’s magical layers. As critical as it was to get the food right, Mark also aspired to create a space that was equal parts comfortable and homey, as well as a great place to meet friends for some drinks on a night out, or even hold a special event.

Between the stellar food, friendly staff and Mark’s charisma and positive attitude, Delicious Onion in Bali took off. Curious newcomers became regulars and friends. Mark made it look easy, in a place where success does not come easily to restaurants. The dream could not be contained by the original Delicious Onion location on Jalan Legian in Seminyak, and in 2009 Mark moved to a much larger space on Jalan Drupadi, off Jalan Dyanapura in Seminyak.

There’s the new Chandu bar complimenting the restaurant area nicely, and one now has the option of dining under the stars, with laid-back seating on comfy low couches. There are comedy nights, movie nights, art exhibits and Mark is even receptive to ideas patrons might have for events. During the day, the Onion is a relaxed lunch spot with a lots of work also getting done via the blazingly fast free internet.

Where to begin with the food? The blue marlin/coconut/kafir lime ceviche is sublime, as is the spicy basil minced pork. Try authentic Malaysian Nasi Lemak, or Hainan chicken. The butterfish in ginger/white wine sauce over spinach is popular, and so is the grilled 5-spice and honeyed pork ribs. If you have any room left, do not leave without trying the super double chocolate brownie with coconut cream and ice cream, served in a martini glass, just because as Mark explains: “everything tastes better in a martini glass!” Full bar, great coffee, and try the iced ginger tea with pandan on a hot day: so refreshing!

Delicious Onion, Jalan Drupadi, Seminyak, off Jalan Dyanapura, right next to Harmony Hotel. +6281337894243 (081337894243 if you are in Bali)
(prices in Indonesian rupiah, which at the time of this article is about 9,500 to US$1)

Delicious Onion Bali Menu-Mains

If you’re already in Bali why not come by and say hi to Mark and the gang at the Delicious Onion? And, if you’re not in Bali at the moment, be sure to put Delicious Onion at the top of your list of Seminyak restaurants that you don’t want to miss on your next visit!

Creative Commons License photo credit: akari
One of the first questions I’m asked by friends who are considering a trip to Bali is “When is the Bali rainy season?” It’s a reasonable question, as we all know how much the weather can affect a holiday, when we have a finite amount of time and most likely quite a few outdoor activities planned. What is the best time to visit Bali?

Explaining the Bali wet season is a fairly simple thing, which is not to say that Bali weather is entirely predictable. Bali is 8 degrees south of the equator, and at these latitudes weather is less about temperature than it is precipitation. There are really just two seasons in Bali: the wet season in the dry season. In this short article I’ll focus in the south end of the island since that is where most tourists stay, and it is the part of the island I know best. If you will be in Ubud, in the foothills north of Denpasar, the seasons are similar but you can count on a bit more rain.

The beginning and the end of the wet season in Bali varies considerably. It can start to rain fairly hard in September, though some years (like 2009) the real ‘hujan’, or rain doesn’t begin in earnest until December. At the same time, as far as the end of Bali’s wet season goes, March can start to see quite a few sunny days, whereas some years it will still be raining in late April during the day. The pattern that one notices at the onset of the rainy season is first more and more rain at night with still-sunny days, eventually giving way to rain and wind during the daytime too, with maybe just a couple hours per day of sunshine during the “real” rainy season. In the same way towards the end of the wet season, you’ll notice that the days are sunnier but you’ll still be hearing soft rain sounds at night.

Remember that “rain” doesn’t mean “cold” in Bali, at least not in the way we think of it in North America, most of Europe or the cooler parts of Australia. A rainy day can get a little cool, especially with the wind, but wet season temperatures during the daytime will still hit 30°C or the high 80s Fahrenheit. Not only that, the humidity will make it seem much warmer for a given temperature in the rainy season.

So when would I recommend coming to Bali? If you have a choice as to the time of year I would say between May and August. It is noticeably drier and the nights are perfect. Having said that, any time in Bali is going to be a good time!

Apartment rentals in Bali are great alternative to renting villas, and depending on the length of your stay, might make more sense than staying in a hotel. Certainly if you will be here more than a week or so you should take a look online at options you have in a Bali apartment rental.

If the average mid-range hotel in Bali cost between US $50 and US $100 per night and your stay in Bali is 10 days, you will spend between $500 and $1000 just on accommodations. Did you know that it’s possible to spend in that range for a Bali apartment rental, for an entire month? Well, it is. And assuming budgetary constraints are what has you leaving paradise and they going back home so soon, reducing your nightly expenditure for accommodation might enable you to stay in Bali for a much longer holiday than you normally would.

Look, staying in a beautiful villa with a pool and privacy is a wonderful thing. Everyone should try a villa rental at least once a. If you can afford it for an entire month every time you come to Bali, I would say by all means indulge yourself. On the other hand, the right hotel will make you feel pampered and spoiled. But the retail nature of hotel pricing makes staying more than a couple of weeks pretty impractical if it’s not being paid for with a business expense account.

As for Bali apartment rentals, while they might not have the sprawling luxury of a villa or the “no rough edges” perfection of a good hotel, offer you something else. They give you time- more time for a given amount of money, in a place you may have wanted to come for years. And ask anyone who’s done it: there’s a huge difference between going away for a week or two, and living in a place for a month, or more. This article is really directed toward people with more time than money. You can really transform your holiday by adding a little imagination to your accommodations budget, you just may not know it yet.

Reducing your per-night room cost is one thing, but your savings will be increased versus staying in a hotel room in the area of eating also. Cooking for yourself in the kitchen of your apartment will drive your per day food costs way down. Obviously if you shop in the local markets for fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and fish, you will find it all to be much cheaper than the hotel restaurant. Having said that, even if your apartment doesn’t have a full kitchen, Bali is a place where you don’t have to choose between eating well and spending frugally. If you’ve been to Bali before you know how good the value for money is in local restaurants here. Entrées are in the US $2-$4 range, for a far-ranging variety of cuisines. Lots of ex-pat types who have cooking facilities eat plenty of their meals in restaurants just because the quality is so high and the prices are so reasonable. The bottom line is that having locked in cheap accommodations, food expenses for a longer stay won’t break the bank either.

Certainly if you have come to the party you’ll find that the money spends just as quickly here as anywhere else. But again, if you are motivated to stay a longer in Bali without breaking the bank, renting Bali apartments is definitely something you want to look into.

We have a rental unit in Bali, in Seminyak on the grounds of the Jayakarta Hotel complex.

It’s a one bedroom apartment, 45 m² (about 450 ft.²), the front door of which is a three minute walk to the beach. Our maid Komang comes every other day. There is a nice balcony overlooking the hotel grounds, 24-hour security, cable TV, free parking, and full use of all hotel facilities. That includes three pools, tennis court and a workout room. The best part is the location, as you don’t have to get on a motorcycle or into a taxi every time you want to come to the beach. Traffic is getting worse in the tourist areas of Bali, but you’ll be blissfully unaware of it walking through the hotel grounds for a sunset walk. Below are a few photos, and if you’re interested in a short or long-term rental we would love to hear from you at think_tom(at)

Bali Apartment Rental
Apartment Rental in Bali
Poolside at Jayakarta
Apartment Rental Bali
Apartment in Bali
Bali Vegetarian Food

If you are vegetarian or vegan, or if you enjoy meatless meals from time to time, Bali will not disappoint you. It’s very easy to be a vegetarian or vegan in Bali, as most restaurants here have generous veggie selections on offer. The Indonesian menu certainly has plenty of often exotic veggies that you won’t find if you don’t live near the equator, and tempe and tofu are used a lot.

But to treat yourself to a magnificent meal that just happens to involve ‘nothing with a face or mother’ do NOT miss the restaurant Zula. I’m a (non-militant!) vegetarian and I visit Zula probably five times a week. It’s in Seminyak on Jalan Dyanapura (or Jalan Abimayu, or Jalan Caplak Tanduk – just tell the taxi ‘Jalan Dyanapura’) about 20 meters from Jl. Legian. (Hit the little globe, just before the link, for a Google Map) For strict vegan in Bali it’s at the top of my list.

My photo won’t do the food justice, but this is the Mediterranean platter, with hummous, tahini, baba ganoush, matabucha, falafel and other veggie goodies. Scoop it all up with a pita if you like. Also pictured is the corn & coconut milk soup– absolutely stunning, with the coconut milk giving the corn a wonderful rich taste. The juice is carrot/apple/ginger-the ‘liver cleanser’ (can’t imagine why one would need to give the liver a good cleaning in Bali, can you?…). Great juices and smoothies at Zula.

Look on the blackboard for the day’s macrobiotic Planet Platter, small portions of healthy goodness, different almost every day.

The soups are all tasty– I love the gaspatcho, made from fresh tomato, basil, olive oil, etc. pureed right there when you order it. Hows that for fresh?! I sometimes ask to have heated up. Miso, split pea, & pumpkin ginger are other choices.

You probably won’t ‘need’ desert after your meal, but I’d suggest ordering it anyway! Zula has wonderful desserts like the cashew soy custard with carob topping or the apple crisp, but my favorite might be the coconut-apple kanten: it’s a light agar-agar based treat blended with coconut and apple with a not-too sweet strawberry sauce on top.

Zula also has a breakfast selection that is the perfect healthy alternative: try the oat porridge with fresh papaya and banana, pumpkin seeds and raisins. There is the tofu omelette with sauteed spinach, and if you feel like buckwheat pancakes you will find some of the tastiest in Bali here.

There’s seating outside or in the quieter non-smoking air-con section inside if you prefer.

Friendly staff, friendly guests
Over the years, Zula seems to me to have gotten more popular, which is no surprise considering the quality of the food and service, but it has enhanced the experience. I always seem to fall into a conversation with an expat engaged in an interesting business or someone who has just gotten off an airplane from somewhere exotic like India or New York City!

I could go on and on, but for now you’ve got enough to go on: on your next visit to Bali, get up to Seminyak and enjoy Zula!

Double-Six Bali, special offer

Double Six– come for the spirit, stay for the illusion!

By the way, if you have a motorcycle you are really attached to, you can do a bungy jump with it at the Double Six bungy tower. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself, and one of these days on my sunset walk I’m going to have my camera with me and get some video of it.

Sometimes when things get just a bit slow around here we get a big ol’ Bali papaya and have a great time. If I’m feeling ambitious I cut up a Bali banana and spoon some local yogurt into it. Squeeze some lime in there—mmmm. On this particular day I was not feeling ambitious, but it was a magnificent papaya nonetheless.

Our Bali Cat. I wish Dian wouldn’t encourage him. [click to continue…]


Bali Tips for the day: Having one bike between three friends shouldn’t prevent a nice ride down the beach in Seminyak at sunset!