Escape from Budapest to Bali - Part 2. Seminyak, Lombok & The Gili Islands

  • 16 May 2024 5:35 PM
Escape from Budapest to Bali - Part 2. Seminyak, Lombok & The Gili Islands
The mere mention of Bali conjures up images of paradise - this famed vacation destination utterly embodies a blissful state-of-mind. Located 8 degrees south of the equator its climate is warm and sunny all year, and it offers diverse holiday experiences to delight travellers of all types. Plus, once there, exotic island-hopping adventures beckon.

So, as with anything, all you need to do is pick what suits you best. Or, as some say, why choose when you can enjoy both - or even more! This sentiment makes total sense in a place like Bali, where you're rewarded for being open to new travel experiences.

That’s where this article comes in - and the partner piece which includes getting here cost-efficiently via Java. This guide focuses on practical info about what to see and do for two weeks or so in total. Included are travel hacks, tips and varied recommendations about where’s a great choice to stay in Bali - and beyond on neighbouring islands - for an inspiring vacation you’ll passionately remember forever.

An alternative to magnificent The Anvaya Beach Resort - or a follow-on resort to experience a different style of luxury holiday - is the smaller yet dazzling jewel of a property called The Samaya in Seminyak. Its name is a Sanskrit term referring to the "proper time, or right moment for doing something". Well, the time is now!

Situated in the heart of Bali’s most fashionable district just steps from Seminyak Beach, it's easy to get to the resort from Ngurah Rai International Airport (14 km away), or for instance it's a nice 10-minute walk from the popular Seminyak Square Mall - a 'premier lifestyle-hub'. Couples particularly like the location, on they rated The Samaya 9.5 for a two person stay.

Situated 10 km from the capital, Seminyak is a vibrant area among the swathes of stunning beaches along the south coast of Bali. The atmosphere here is more sophisticated and laid-back compared to Kuta, with the beach in particular being relatively more peaceful during the day.

Packed with many of Bali’s finest restaurants, several of Seminyak’s streets are recognised as must-visit dining routes. Appropriately dubbed a ‘foodies paradise’, the area is renowned for its glitzy dining scene, showcasing global flavours fashioned by renowned chefs - some of whom are influential figures in the international culinary world.

Seminyak stretches from Double Six Street in the south and morphs into the villages of Kerobokan and Umalas, north of Pura Petitenget temple. Most of the smaller shops line Seminyak's main road called Basangkasa Street, while a collection of trendy boutiques can be found along Laksmana Street and on several corners of Petitenget Street.

Hidden from the shopping hustle and bustle, elevated slightly from the nearby beachside, The Samaya Seminyak delivers high-end Balinese hospitality in a spectacular natural environment.

Since you only live once, this is the place to confidently 'push the boat out' to experience the magic of Bali in an exclusive Beachfront Villa.

Well-appointed with a classic yet chic interior complemented by modern comforts, all villas come complete with a private pool and spacious outdoor area surrounded by tropical gardens - some have both indoor and outside jacuzzies if you really want to splash-out.

This is the place you’d imagine Hollywood royalty come for a beach getaway at a luxury resort in Bali, not least as each decorous villa comes complete with butler service and everything else you'd expect for an opulent sojourn.

The Samaya Seminyak provides a genuine slice of holiday heaven, where lush palms sway, warm waves serenade, and where your precious vacation time is filled with tropical elegance.

Here the aptly named Breeze beachside restaurant overlooks the Seminyak sands, where during the day you can chill-out whilst watching folks frolic on the golden beach. In the evening you can savour picture-perfect sunset views, feel the sea breeze and hear the sounds of waves as you dine outside - it all adds up to give you a natural feeling of multisensory ecstasy.

Just fancy a drink? The stylish outdoor deck area provides an open bar by the beach, complete with comfortable sofas surrounded by an alluring water feature.

The comprehensive wine list gives a choice of over 160 different labels, which you can handpick from the air-conditioned wine cellar to pair with any dish on the inspiring menu.

Hungry?  Breeze offers quality local and international cuisine, be it for a hearty à la carte.breakfast, a fresh seafood platter, or a romantic dinner. A special feature here is that breakfast is available anywhere in the resort, and at anytime to suit you.

In-house activites include an excellent cooking-class experience, and free of charge daily resort guided fun includes yoga, kite painting, fruit carving and coconut leaf art.

Overall, The Samaya in Seminyak defines Balinese luxury and service at it’s best, and is more affordable than you may think.

Travel Hack: In case you’re watching your budget, you can still enjoy the gorgeous pool and other beachside facilities here by staying across the road at the Royal Courtyard.

This traditional Balinese village inspired setting on the other side of the street from the beachside resort complex is merely two minutes away by golf cart.

Book a 'One Bedroom Royal Courtyard Villa' for a great-value and spacious getaway - complete with an outdoor wooden gazebo, and a seating area in the bedroom for extra comfort.

Further enhancing your luxury villa experience here are several daily ‘Royal Category’ benefits which elevate the overall stay. Such perks include a flexible breakfast served at any time and location of choice, whether in your villa or at any of The Samaya’s main restaurant.

Additionally, you can enjoy a complimentary afternoon tea service each day, and free activities to keep you busy in between relaxing in your private pool or down on the sands by the sea. Plus, there’s a complimentary shuttle service within the Seminyak area.

You won’t go thirsty as the complimentary minibar is restocked daily, you get main pool and beachside free-flow iced mineral water and a one-time refreshment a day, plus the bottle of sparkling wine upon arrival adds another delightfully indulgent touch.

Top Tip: After all the relaxation here an enjoyable natural excursion within reach of the resort is the Sangeh Monkey Forest. Not nearly as well known as Ubud’s 'Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary', it has its own features that make it a worthwhile addition to your Bali itinerary. It's much cheaper, less crowded, and it’s bigger too - set within 14 hectares (35 acres) of jungle.

Fancy a beautiful spiritual activity during your stay here? Then go to see Tanah Lot, the magnificent Balinese Temple in the open ocean, built to worship Bhatara Segara the Sea God.

While Bali is famous for being dotted with thousands of temples, each with its own unique architecture and spiritual significance, this is one of the most famous and is well worth a trip.

Top Tip: Go to Tanah Lot at sunset and get fab photos - as by way of recommendation for this 'spiritual activity' let’s just say they’ll be some of your most liked pics from your whole trip.

Back in Seminyak, lovely sandy beaches stretch in both directions as far as the eye can see - the most notable being Seminyak Beach and Petitenget Beach with its fantastic views at sunset.

Seminyak Beach is favoured because of some perfect waves, which naturally surfers love, and this beach also features beautiful panoramas over the Indian Ocean.

Browsing around the diverse Seminyak shops is an activity many choose here, with designer boutiques set alongside funky local stores, plus wholesale emporiums and various artisan workshops are among the retail therapy options.

Seminyak is also known as the high-end spa capital of Bali with indulgent options available in sophisticated settings, The Spa at The Samaya being a prime example.

All in all, Seminyak is highly recommended place to stay for a high-class and carefree Balinese escape. It's a joy to wander around the town of Seminyak to see the eclectic mix of world-class restaurants and local eateries surrounded by ethnic-chic designer boutiques.

You'll also find surf shops near top brand outlets, mixed between handcrafted souvenir stores and an array of health spas, all within easy reach of the dazzling natural beach.

Another excellent option for a stay in Bali's trendiest district is at The Kayana Seminyak. Located next door to W Bali, that fact tells you something about this chic location.

Compared to any extravagant neighbours, it's much more of an authentic and intimate affair at The Kayana, with 24 individual villas positioned along a winding pathway flanked with frangipani trees and tropical foliage.

Rich in the rewards that open-air living brings, a key point here is that a stay at The Kayana offers guests personal luxury with privacy and tranquility.

All villas have their own entrance and pool, spacious outdoor living and dining areas, lush natural surroundings, and the well-appointed interiors and contemporary decor make for a deluxe home away from home.

Discreet yet attentive service from friendly staff takes care of your every holiday need. The sincere smiles and eagerness to help cultivate a warm and inviting atmosphere, making travellers feel like cherished guests rather than just passing tourists.

They acknowledge the individuality of every guest, and consequently the resort provides a diverse array of activities to suit different interests. Whether it's a leisurely beach walk or an exhilarating day-trip, The Kayana ensures your every moment is filled with exploration, relaxation, or both!

Top Tip: Ask the resort staff to arrange a trip to see the impressive Tegenungan Waterfall, it’s an awesome natural sight really worth the drive to explore and then relax.

After a good walk to get next to the 40 meter high beauty you can chill-out in the cool pools while you soak in the sun's warmth. Great photo ops are guaranteed all around along with memouries to cherish.

Adventure enthusiasts can enjoy nearby water sports and island excursions, while those interested in culture can partake in traditional Balinese experiences like temple visits and cooking classes.

Top Tip: To indulge or ignite your passion for cooking take a hands-on class led by The Kayana’s friendly chefs. They honour the ingredient’s journey from farm to table, and you can even pick some fresh from the resort’s garden.

Showcasing local recipes, the chef and her team help you learn new skills and produce truly delectable and authentic dishes that you’ll want to share with friends and family back home.

Dining here is a voyage of flavours and memorable moments. Dauh, the resort's acclaimed restaurant invites guests to take a culinary adventure to explore authentic Balinese cuisine, plus you can savour well-prepared international dishes.

Set in an open-air environment surrounded by lush greenery, every meal becomes a sensory delight. Whether it's a hearty breakfast or a romantic candlelit dinner, The Kayana's culinary offerings cater to every taste and occasion. For a special treat in your villa try the Floating Breakfast.

Top Tip: If shopping is your thing then the designer boutiques near the resort in this high-lifestyle part of Bali will surely inspire you to add to your suitcase, so when packing do save some space for shopping as quality and great value meet here.

A good starting point for shoppers is the multitude of small boutiques and designer stores on Jalan Laksmana, it's within walking distance or you can get there in 5 minutes by taxi - which are easy to catch right outside the resort.

Nestled in the heart of the resort, Ayur Spa at The Kayana is a haven of tranquility and renewal. Offering a variety of holistic treatments inspired by Balinese traditions, guests embark on a wellness journey that revitalizes mind, body, and soul. Skilled and friendly therapists deliver transformative experiences, while the spa's soothing chic ambiance creates a blissful escape from the outside world.

The resort's personalised butler service distinguishes it by offering an exceptional level of care and attention. These dedicated villa attendants go above and beyond, from arranging transportation and flight reservations to providing insider information about local attractions, ensuring that your stay is stress-free and totally tailored to your preferences.

Given such a great guest experience, it's worth knowing that there is one more Kayana resort in the world - it's located on the neighbouring tropical island where you’ll also find luxury infused with captivating local culture and service, and it's situated right by a beach in Lombok.

Although a far lesser-known travel destination than Bali, Lombok has impressive features of it's own such as an outstanding natural pink beach, a massive active volcano and super luscious landscapes, along with unique Sasak heritage and traditions.

Most travelers opt to stay in either Senggigi or Kuta in Lombok. The former, situated in west of the island, is a favored base for those planning to trek Rinjani Volcano and enjoy a cultural holiday not far from the capital. The latter Kuta, located in the south, attracts surfers and beach enthusiasts seeking the island's scenic coastlines – as is not to be confused with Kuta in Bali

Located to the east around 100 miles or so away, it’s easy to reach Lombok from Bali via one of the various fast boat companies, or you can fly over for not too much more money in around half an hour.

The choice between these two methods of crossing is strongly influenced by the location of your planned accommodation. For those staying in Senggigi taking the fast ferry from Bali is recommended for efficiency, and conversely flying is faster if you choose to stay in Lombok's fast developing Kuta area.

Lombok is surrounded by the renowned Gili Islands - more details on them later. In short, these iconic small islands are notorious for their surrounding crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs, as well as snorkeling with turtles and a generally laid-back atmosphere.

To get to these three Gilis couldn’t be easier than from the Kayana Beach Resort in Lombok, which is positioned by equally clear waters beside a beach looking towards those paradise locations - thus making it a top choice for accommodation when venturing beyond Bali to experience the neighbouring islands.

A fast boat is the most cost and time effective way to get here from Bali, but if the weather looks uncertain play it safe and fly as the airport is mearly 60 km from the accommodation - the property provides a paid airport shuttle service which is recommended not least due to the helpful resort driver.

This adults-only private pool villa style resort is both elegant and expansive, offering a combination of unparalleled exclusivity, perfect tranquility, and beautiful seclusion. Quite recently built adjacent to a quaint fisherman’s village, this 5* villa resort is nestled in a secluded bay close to pristine offshore islands and in the shadow of the awe-inspiring Rinjani volcano.

Situated in the area of Pemenang, the Kayana offers a peaceful setting away from the more crowded tourist areas - if you fancy visiting Senggigi’s attractions, including many eateries and nighlife establishments, they're accessible after a reasonably short 20 minute drive down the coast.

At the resort you can dine inside your villa or visit The Blues Restaurant, the hotel’s primary all-day restaurants, which also acts as the property’s ‘Outdoor Bar Lounge’ for drinks. The airy open design comfortably fits both aspects nicely.

Maybe most importantly, The Blues features spectacular views over the turquoise Bali sea and lovely-looking Gili Trawangan – a perfectly ‘instragramable’ spot to shoot your profile picture for social media.

Popular points of interest near The Kayana in Lombok include Kecinan Beach, Mentigi Beach and Padanan Beach. Mount Rinjani, the active volcano, as the second-highest peak in Indonesia is a popular destination for trekkers – well worth the climb to see stunning views of its crater lake.

Top Tip: 'Meet & Greet an Elephant' in Lombok! You can also help give an elephant a mud bath, and see baby Komodo dragons at Lombok's Wildlife Park. This well established sanctuary conforms with all animal welfare guidelines, and here it feels more of an intimate experience than seeing animals in a zoo.

It's an immersive experience as under guidance you get close-up moments to interact with the exotic animals around the park. The English speaking guides do an excellent job of sharing a deep love of the animal kingdom with you, and they're happy to take photos of your journey around the landscaped park. Allow around two hours for the walking tour.

Back at the resort the beach in front of the property has a private area for guests, swimming is safe in the calm shallow waters, and after a refreshing dip you can relax and recharge at the resort’s spa center.

Active types can discover the rich underwater world nearby with a snorkeling or diving trip to the nearby Gili Islands, where you can spot a diverse range of marine life, including colorful reef fish, even manta rays and sea turtles.

Among Lombok's 20 or so Gilis - the local name gili means ”small island” in the Sasak language - three stand out as hot spot destinations: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. From experience it's a better choice to visit these than Gili Nanggu, Gili Kedis, and Gili Sudak, the three islands that lie south-west of Lombok

* Gili Trawangan or Gili T for short, is the largest one and travellers flock here to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere during day and to party outdoors at night under the moonlit beach. You can enjoy snorkeling all around here, and easily circle the island by bike.

* Gili Meno is defined by long stretch of pearly white beach that gives a more secluded feel. Famous for honeymooners, the island provides accommodation of all types ranging from budget bungalows to luxurious resorts with amazing panoramas.

Around this paradise island are three top spots for divers, called Meno Wall, Sea Point Turtle, and Point Coral Blue. Besides, there is a seawater lake and a bird park that comes complete with homestay facilities.

* Gili Air is a cheerful mix of these two vibes, where you can party in hip hang-outs or find a peaceful nook to just listen to the ocean breeze. Families love Gili Air, exploring the island on the horse drawn carts and swimming in the shallow waters before sun down.

Motor vehicles are banned on all the Gili islands, transport is either by bike or on a “cidomo” the local horse-drawn carts. It's easy and cheap to island-hop by boat to see what's on and around the other Gilis.

Top Tip: If you don't make it to the Gilis, back in Bali arguably the best dive spots are located up north by Menjangan island: with its reef flat, anchor wreck, eel garden and caves to explore.

If you prefer to explore on land in Lombok, it's interesting to visit local villages to see the islander's traditional way of life. The majority of Lombok's population is Sasak, an ethnic group with unique traditions, language, and customs. You can immerse yourself in Sasak culture by witnessing traditional ceremonies and by sampling the local cuisine in specific traditional villages.

Sade and Rambitan are two of the most well-preserved Sasak villages, known for their thatched-roof houses and unique cultural practices. You can learn a thing or two about weaving from the wonderful women there who produce fine quality textiles.

Sasak culture is rich in music and dance, with traditional performances featuring rhythmic music, elaborate costumes, and intricate choreography. The Sasak Gendang Beleq is a traditional drum ensemble that is often performed during special ceremonies and celebrations, ask the resort team about where you can experience this local musical wonder.

When it comes to souvenir shopping, Lombok is known for its traditional handicrafts such as intricate woven textiles, pottery and wood carvings. The village of Sukarara is famous for its handwoven songket fabrics, while Banyumulek is known for its fine ceramics.

Top Tip: It's recommended to visit and explore the stunning Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep waterfalls. Also of interest is the Kerta Gangga waterfall where you can enjoy the lovely natural panoramas and take a fresh spring water shower. Surrounded with coffee, chocolate and fruit plantation it’s also an ideal area for a tropical island bike ride.

Of petty unique interest, Lombok is home to Pink Beach, a rare natural occurrence where the sand has a pinkish hue due to the presence of microscopic red coral fragments. There are only a handful of pink beaches around the world, therefore Tangsi Beach in Lombok is totally worth the trip to enjoy this exceptional setting for snorkeling and relaxation.

Top Tip: An extra special trip is to cross the sea to Sumbawa Island from the harbors in East Lombok, as if you love beach life you'll find the black sand beach of Obel-Obel to be entrancing.

Countless travellers say that a magical energy envelopes Bali and its surrounding islands, giving a feeling which can’t be found anywhere else – and whilst you can’t easily put this blissful state into words, you could go to experience it for yourself.

Maybe this phenomenon is connected to the unique spiritual rituals practiced by most locals, multiple times per day, and the positive effect it has when interacting with visitors - who can openly witness such enchanting devoutness and who may also feel inspired to act accordingly.

Maybe the best compliment you can give any place you visit is to feel and say afterwards that you want to live there. Well, that’s the case for many with Bali. You may well find it’s also true for you, perhaps for Lombok too, quite probably for the Gili Islands.

Undeniable the beauty of Bali is world famous, its name resonates internationally as a vacation sensation – it was voted as the ‘Best Island in Asia’ by Corde Nast readers in 2023 - and accordingly it’s on many bucket-lists. If you haven’t done already, it’s wholeheartedly recommended to add Bali to yours.

If you’ve been before, Bali's natural allure is beckoning you to return. And when you do, be open to visiting lesser-known but lovely Lombok - known affectionately as the 'Brother of Bali' - and the gorgeous Gilis too.

See the part 1 of Escape from Budapest to Bali here

Follow this link to read about a great escape to Java in Indonesia

Photos by the author with some courtesy of the venues, Flickr and
- unless otherwise specified.

All the properties featured in this series are part of Santika Indonesia Hotels & Resorts
- the largest local hotel chain in Indonesia.

Related links

Escape from Budapest to Java in Indonesia - Part 1: Jakarta, Eclectic Capital of Contrasts

Escape from Budapest to Java in Indonesia – Part 2: Cirebon, Linggarjati, Yogyakarta

Escape from Budapest to Bali - Part 1. Holiday Heaven: Sun, Sea & Spirituality

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