Bali: Shopping Till You Drop in Oh, So Sophisticated (and NOT So Expensive) Seminyak

Culture Wars

Seminyak has been called Bali’s answer to Beverly Hills. Both cities have palm trees, fabulous restaurants, and stylish boutiques. But what about the merchandise on sale in the boutiques – and what about the prices?

Seminyak is one of Bali’s most sophisticated travel destinations. It has everything a traveller could want – restaurants, boutiques, sophistication, and great value.

If Seminyak is Bali’s answer to Beverly Hills, is Jalan Laksmana Seminyak’s answer to Rodeo Drive?

Perhaps Seminyak is Bali’s answer to Beverly Hills, as the guide books promise  … except … there are fewer boutiques selling designer labels, more authenticity, some very cool merchandise, much lower prices, and some very friendly sales people (and not as much landscaping and the sidewalks aren’t as even).

Otherwise, the places have a lot in common.

I left my hotel  in search of a short-sleeved black linen shirt to replace the one I bought in Bangkok a few years earlier.

It had  a frayed collar because I got lazy and threw it into the washing machine rather than washing it by hand – live and learn, pay attention to the washing instructions on labels.

The first main street I came across was Jalan Laksmana. If you don’t speak Indonesian, “jalan” means “street” in the local lingo.

Animale for Men

I found the exact shirt I was looking for in the first men’s clothing shop I entered. It wasn’t on display in the window of Animale for Men, but there was something else on display in the window that had attracted my attention and lured me into the shop.

Once inside the oh, so stylish menswear shop, I remembered that my mission was to buy a black short sleeved linen shirt (and not whatever it was that had attracted my attention).

To my satisfaction, I found one, the price was right, I tried it on, and it fit perfectly. I ended up buying a pair of black linen jeans, as well! Both were made by hand in Bali, the friendly staff informed me.

After paying my money – and talking the sales staff into posing for pix with me (believe me, it did NOT take much persuasion) – I continued on my way down the street.

Mission accomplished! I had no intention of buying anything else. I had my black linen shirt, and my suitcase was already bulging at the seams. I didn’t need anything else … until … until … until …


Until I reached the end of Jalan Laksmana and continued to the left unto Jalan Oberoi, where I saw of a shop across the street called Quarzia.

A mannequin in the window was wearing a pair of the coolest short pants I have ever seen in my entire life!!!

They were silver and black, my favourite colours (in case you didn’t know, I’m an Oakland Raiders fan, and those are my American football team’s colours).

And they were imprinted with an over-sized herringbone pattern. Now how cool is that???

I went inside, and – again – the price was right. I asked to try them on. The first pair was too tight, but the second pair I tried on fit perfectly!

The saleswoman told me that all of the goods in the shop were made by hand in the city of Ubud, which is considered the cultural and artistic hub of Bali, which is a.k.a. the Island of the Gods.

I googled “quarzia” to check the spelling of the name of the shop and discovered that quarzia is a type of batik clothing crafted from a hand-woven, hand-printed silk fabric, which is made according to a traditional Indonesian artisanal technique.

Lunch time was approaching: where to eat? I ambled over to Jalan Petitenget, trying my best to avoid looking in shop windows.

Following a yummy lunch of nasi goreng, or Indonesian fried rice at an unpretentious little warung that I had eaten at on my last trip to Bali 20 months earlier, I decided to head back to my hotel.

Saint Tropez

I spotted a boutique called Saint Tropez. There was a wall hung with tank tops in the most exquisite cotton fabric, and the colours were very sophisticated.

Again, the prices were reasonable, and – since I live in a subtropical climate and usually travel in tropical climates (and the selection of tank tops in Hong Kong is not only boring, but limited) – I can never get my hands on enough tank tops when I travel.

I tried one on. It fit perfectly, so I bought two – one in the colour of my favourite tank top, which I had left in the room of a hotel or resort on a previous trip, and another in a different shade of the same colour.

And I like them … and I like the other things I bought, too – the linen shirt, the linen jeans, and the batik short pants …

And on my next trip to Bali, I will pack less stuff and leave more room in my luggage to pack more stuff …

Because bringing clothes to Bali, if I can be forgiven for using a cliché, is like taking coals to New Castle. Except the clothes are much more sophisticated (and a bit more expensive) than the coals.

And they are also very stylish and VERY good value!!!


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