Stefan Arestis | Sep 2, 2017 | 2
Gay Bali: the ultimate LGBT travel guide to the island of the gods
Bali. Our guilty pleasure… Now HERE is a playground for the gay boys!
We were ready to let our hair down. A visit to Bali was calling us…
Bali has a nice mix of luxury villas and spas in Seminyak, culture and scenic lush green rice terraces in centrally located Ubud and of course, a whole bunch of gay bars.
SEMINYAK: GAY BARS, LUXURY VILLAS AND HIGH END RESTAURANTS
Sophisticated Seminyak with its luxury villas and high restaurants is also where you’ll find the Bali gay bars.
We made lots of friends here. And were particularly taken by this beauty:
1. Gay bars in Bali – Seminyak
Indonesia is not really well known as being very gay friendly at all, lacking any comprehensive pro LGBT legislation. But despite this, Bali is the gay oasis of the country.
When we visited in September 2015, there were 4 bars/clubs on the road called: Jalan Camplung Tanduk Arcade:
Each gay bar in Seminyak hosts its own repertoire of drag acts and showgirls (like Karen), throughout the evening.
And of course, look out for the talented go go dancers:
You can guarantee you’ll have a jam-packed fun night out here, as party animal Sebastien found out:
2. Gay friendly hotels in Seminyak
There are many gay friendly hotels in Seminyak and even a few exclusively male only places where your Grindr will probably crash. Here’s the 2 that stood out for us:
W HOTEL RETREAT AND SPA Book online
- The W Hotel is a landmark in Seminyak and popular with gay travellers.
- It’s massive, like entering a mini city in Seminyak with its own long driveway entrance and entire beach section with very large plush pool space. It also has an array of excellent in house bars and restaurants.
- Prices for a room at W start from 5,600,000 rupiahs (£265/$406 ) a night. Check their latest prices and promotions here.
SPARTACVS Book online
- Spartacvs (the v is not a typo) is a male only “clothing optional” hotel with a fun atmosphere centred around its swimming pool.
- Party animal and show star Sebastien dazzled us with his prowess late into the night by the Spartacvs pool:
Prices at Spartacvs start from 130,000 rupiahs (£63/$95) a night but if you book with them directly firstname.lastname@example.org and mention us, they will give you a $10 a night discount.
THE VILLAS BALI AND SPA Read review – Book online
- The Villas Bali is a luxurious and very gay friendly hotel in Seminyak
- Our private villa included a large garden space, sun tanning area, private pool, kitchen and dining area decorated in traditional Balinese style.
- You also get your own private chef who prepares your breakfast in your kitchen each morning.
- Check their latest prices and promotions here.
- The Villas Bali is ideal for a group of friends travelling together in one of the 3 bedroom villas, or for couples in the 1 bedroom villas.
- Prices for a one-bedroom villa start from 5,000,000 rupiahs (£240/$365) a night.
Check out the Flashpacker Family’s blog for more information about where to stay in Bali.
3. Spa heaven in Seminyak
We all love a good spa session and the Nomadic Boys will of course never shy away from one.
This was another reason we loved The Villas Bali, who they have no fewer then 2 award winning spas: Chili Reflexology and Prana Spa.
CHILL REFLEXOLOGY Check on Tripadvisor
- The massages at Chill Reflexology focus on massaging pressure points. We tried The Ultimate Chill, a 1.5 hours treatment (265,000 rupiahs / £13 / $20), which was heavenly for our sore backs and legs after all that trekking on Rinjani mountain.
- Prana Spa offers a more intense 2 hours experience with treatments like the Mystique Bali Package (800,000 rupiah / £40/$60).
- Oh BOY were we spoilt rotten! We started with a relaxing oil massage, followed by skin polishing and scrub, and then, a yoghurt wash!
- Yes you read right: a yoghurt wash! You stand in a shower clad in spa underwear and your body is cleansed with fresh yoghurt by your attentive masseuse. And it feels goooood.
- Our Mystique Massage concluded with a romantic flower bath and tasty fresh herbal tea. We highly recommend it.
4. Culinary highlights in Seminyak
Seminyak has its fair share of high-end restaurants. We particularly loved the Sunday Brunch at Fire and the Royal Rijstaffel experience at Husk, a truly unique Indonesian tradition.
A ROYAL RIJSTAFFEL DINNER AT HUSK RESTAURANT Check on Tripadvisor
- The Royal Rijstaffel is a Balinese tradition dating back to the Dutch colonial era of the 19th Century and literally translates as rice on table.
- The rice is served with a variety of accompanying local dishes by a group of female waitresses who dance their way over to you, accompanied by traditional music.
- The Husk Royal Rijstaffel dinner is every Monday 6:30-9:30pm (part of the Royal Beach Hotel) and costs 350,000 rupiahs (£17/$26) per person.
SUNDAY BRUNCH AT FIRE (W HOTEL) Check on Tripadvisor
- The Sunday Brunch at Fire is a lavish affair based on hawker street food. It costs 455,000 rupiahs (£22/$34) per person and includes a welcome drink of bubbles.
The cheeseboard at the Fire’s Sunday Brunch got a cheese deprived Frenchman dead excited: 17 months travelling in Asia without any cheese, started to take its toll on him…
BAMBU RESTAURANT Check on Tripadvisor
Bambu is a highly rated restaurants and you need to book in advance. The food is traditional Indonesian, on the pricey side but well worth every penny.
Our favourite was the Gohu Ikan Tongkol (yellow fin tuna ceviche starter) and the Bebek Betutu (slow roast duck with galangal, lemongrass, toasted coconut and green bean salad).
They also do really innovative tasty cocktails like Ginger Honey Sling (rum based), Lychee Cooler (with vodka) and Pomelo Julep (also with vodka).
UBUD: IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE BALINESE HINDU CULTURE
Ubud is known as the cultural capital of Bali. It is around 1 hour’s drive away North from Seminyak towards the centre of the island.
1. Gay friendly hotels in Ubud
SAUDARA HOME Book online
- This guest house has excellent reviews on Tripadvisor and is based in the middle of the rice fields of the Pakudui village.
- Prices start from 600,000 rupiahs (£30 / $45) a night and includes breakfast, but you need to book a minimum of 3 nights.
- Check latest prices and promotions here.
AWANG AWANG Read review – Book online
- Awang Awang is a high-end gay friendly villa retreat in the countryside just outside the main town.
- Each villa has its own private infinity pool overlooking the surrounding tropical jungle and is great for taking in the Balinese countryside.
- Prices start from 3,000,000 rupiah (£145 / $220) a night. Check their latest price and promotions here.
2. Awesome restaurants in Ubud
Ubud has many decent restaurants. Check out Tripadvisor’s 10 best Ubud restaurants list for some of the highly rated options like Luxe Cafe or Swept Away at the Samaya.
We picked 2 culinary experiences that particularly stood out for us:
FRESH RESTAURANT Check on Tripadvisor
Fresh is a newly opened raw vegan restaurant. As vegan virgins we were pleasantly surprised: it was not only filling, but everything we tried was bursting with flavour.
But inevitably, the usual food fight broke out…
Our favourite dish was the vegan answer to lasagne, called Living Lasagne, which consists of zucchini, sundried tomato, marinara, almond pesto and served with citrus salad.
ROOM 4 DESSERT Check on Tripadvisor
This is cheeky! You enter a darkroom of pleasure (!) where Chef Will Goldfarb hosts his 50 Shades of Grace desserts. Look out for desserts like the Coco Beware or the Chocobubbles Too with its mouthwatering raisin and kluwak crumble…
As our fellow travel blogger Mar Pages of Once in A Lifetime Journey nicely put it, “Now boys, when in Ubud, make Room 4 Dessert!” :
3. Things to do in Ubud
Ubud has plenty to keep you busy, whether you want to explore the countryside, do a cooking class or see a unique style of dancing.
BALINESE KECAK MONKEY DANCE Check official website
The Balinese Kecak monkey dance is one of the most popular attractions in Ubud. The dancers use their own body as percussion along with pieces of bamboo as stamping tubes.
You can watch a live Kecak fire and trance show in Central Ubud, every Wednesday and Saturday evening for around 75,000 rupiahs (£4 / $6).
EXPLORE THE COUNTRYSIDE ON A QUAD Book online
We set out to explore the scenic paddy fields and numerous little kampongs (villages) around Ubud by quad and buggy tour with Bali Quad Discovery Tours, which also included guided tubing down the Siap Stream in the Payangan area.
Prices start from 1,200,000 rupiahs (£59/$89) per person for just the tubing and 2,300,000 rupiahs (£112 / $169) for both tubing and quad/buggy driving. Prices include lunch buffet and hotel pick up.
They offer a 15% discount to all our readers if you quote the promotional code of NOMADICBALI.
We recommend it as a way to experience the Ubud countryside in quite a unique way.
COOKING CLASS Check on Tripadvisor
We did a class with Be Bali Day (350,000 rupiahs / £17 / $26 per person, minimum booking of 2), a family run venture led by the really cute husband/wife team, Kadek and Made.
Kadek and Made taught us to make a variety of local specialties like sayur urap (blanched vegetable salad with shredded coconut dressing), satay lilit (chicken satay served in a lemongrass stick) and perkedel jagung (sweetcorn fritters).
All was going so well until greedy Sebastien tried to steal all the freshly made perkedel jaguns…
For more adventures from Ubud, check out Wanderlust Chloe’s excellent post about her Mount Batur sunrise hike.
NUSA DUA: THE ULTIMATE ROMANTIC GAY GETAWAY
Nusa Dua is located right on the southern tip of Bali, around 30 minutes taxi ride from Seminyak. This is the place for that ultimate honeymoon retreat, where all the high end luxury hotels of the island are based.
And when Sebastien announced to Stefan we would go there, Stefan started to get flutters of excitement…could this finally be THAT moment he FINALLY gets THE ring??!!
The hotels of Nusa Dua are designed so you do not need to leave them. Each one has a variety of excellent restaurants, spas, private beach and other in house activities.
Let’s face it, everyone loves a bit of pampering once in a while right? We love adventure travelling and discovering the local life, but after 17 months non stop travelling in Asia, we welcomed the idea of just relaxing and taking a few days break from travelling and sightseeing.
There were two gay friendly resorts in Nusa Dua that stood out for us:
1. The St. Regis Bali Resort Read review – Book online
We stayed at the St. Regis Bali Resort and bloody hell, wow!
You’re blown away from the moment you set foot into the St Regis and are met with your Butler (yes you read right, your own Butler!).
The St Regis is so huge, you need a buggy to go from one end to the other. We particularly enjoyed many peaceful, relaxing moments by the private beach.
If that wasn’t enough, the St Regis Bali has a massive 3,668 squared metres salt-water lagoon pool and you can rent a private villa which leads directly into it.
A night in a basic Suite at the St Regis Bali starts from 5,700,000 rupiahs (£275/$420) a night. Check their latest prices and promotions here.
2. The Grand Nikko Bali Book online
The Grand Nikko Bali is a more affordable exotic getaway hotel in Nusa Dua also with a private beach front. Prices start from 2,000,000 rupiahs (£100/$150) for a double room with garden view and private balcony.
It has no fewer then 8 in house restaurants, 4 inter connected swimming pools, water slide, 3 tennis courts, fitness centre, spa and much much more…
The Grand Nikko welcomes gay couples and got its gay reputation after hosting the second not for profit G-slam gay Tennis Tournament in 2012.
Oh and for the record, Stefan didn’t actually get his engagement ring in the end at Nusa Dua 🙁
But despite this we loved our time in Bali. It has a bit of everything: culture, spa, romance, luxury and of course some super cool gay nights out in Seminyak.