Umalas is one of the best kept secrets in Bali. Ideally sandwiched between popular Seminyak and hip and happening Canggu, Umalas has been long favoured by long-time Bali expats. The laidback area is still streaked by green rice fields and offers a relaxing change of pace from busy Seminyak (along with amazing villas!) but watch this space – more and more restaurants and cafes are popping up in this relaxed neighbourhood.
Umalas offers a charming mix of rice fields, boutique cafes and local life. Umalas is hidden in plain sight between Seminyak and Canggu which attract huge crowds, making this relaxed neighbourhood something of a hidden gem. The area is a long-time favourite of expats partial to the area’s relaxed ambiance, rice paddy views, cafes and understated charm. Overshadowed by the massive changes constantly taking place in neighbouring areas, Umalas has been saved from mass development (for now).
Umalas is often only mentioned in conjunction to its more well-known neighbours, Seminyak and Canggu, but this relaxed area definitely has its own charm, too. The area has long been favoured by expats, French nationals in particular, and if you look closely, there definitely is a certain je ne sais quoi about the area. Umalas has its own French school and cute little cafes and restaurants offering croissants and foie gras, all framed by quintessentially Balinese rice paddies.
Planning Your Trip to Umalas
Umalas is a relaxed destination which exudes an understated charm throughout the year. Our Umalas travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Umalas, provide more information on locations you want to visit, and finish with some inspiration from our travel writers. For more information on events and festivals taking place throughout the year, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
Bali is pleasant all year round! May through September has the best weather (drier, less humid) and is the best time for many activities including diving and surfing. November though March is rainy season – though rainfall is never excessive so you can do most activities except volcano treks.
The temperature ranges from 24 degrees to 31 degrees all year round.
Rainfall ranges from 0cm to 140cm during the wet season.
Things to See & Do in Umalas
The laidback ambiance makes Umalas the perfect place to simply relax and enjoy life in the tropics. When you’re not busy exploring the local cafes and restaurants, much of your time will likely be spent simply lounging by your private pool. There are some amazing villas hidden down these rice paddy framed streets, offering exceptional value for money. If you don’t feel like venturing out, you really don’t have to. Many villas come with a fantastic personal chef and when you book through Ministry of Villas, our concierge team can organise massages and other treatments in the privacy of your villa. Bliss!
Tours & Activities
Besides offering its own understated charm, Umalas also works as a great home base for exploring other parts of South Bali. You can zoom over to Seminyak in about 10-15 minutes and visit all the cool beach clubs and restaurants this area is so well known for. Canggu is also close by and here, you can rub shoulders with style savvy surfers and health conscious hipsters.
Eating & Drinking in Umalas
While Umalas is not a world famous dining destination in the same way as neighbouring Seminyak, the area is home to more than a few hidden gems. Thanks to an influx of international expats, the area offers a surprising variety of cuisines – you just have to know where to look.
You will find a bourgeoning cluster of restaurants along the winding street of Jalan Bumbak. Along with humble local warungs, you’ll find relaxed cafes and restaurants serving Thai, Vietnamese, French and even Middle Eastern cuisine. You’ll can also grab a great cup of coffee at one of the cute little cafes dotted along this two-kilometre long street. There are also a few dining options, both international and local, nestled along Jalan Umalas 1 and 2.
Umalas is by no means a lively nightlife spot, but the area does have its own “no beach, beach club” – Jungle Bali. Surrounded by rice fields, the venue is a relaxed pool club during the day and hosts wild parties on Friday nights. Other than that, you can enjoy a relaxed drink at one of the local restaurants or hop in a taxi and head for livelier parties hosted in Seminyak and Canggu.
Umalas is a widely spread out area located between Seminyak, Canggu and Kerobokan. Streets like Jalan Umalas 1 and 2 and Jalan Bumbak are dotted with restaurants and cafes, allowing for easy access to your next great meal. That being said, the area is well spread out and dotted with rice fields, so more often than not you will need a car or scooter to get around. Another perk of staying along winding Jalan Bumbak is that you’ll be close to the shortcut to Canggu which brings you straight to the trendy street of Jalan Pantai Berawa.
Umalas & Surrounds
Umalas is a relaxed neighbourhood nestled by rice fields, located inland from the popular coastal areas of Seminyak, Petitenget and Canggu which offer an endless selection of restaurants, beach clubs, cafes and spas to choose from. Umalas blends in with Kerobokan and Batubelig, two laid-back neighbourhoods housing beautiful villas offering great value close to the action. Driving up the coast from Canggu, you will reach the serene region of Pererenan which offers a relaxed coastal escape surrounded by rice fields.
There are over 20 Ministry Approved villas in Umalas. As Umalas is not as popular as other south-western locations in Bali, villa prices tend to be lower than in other parts of Bali. The area offers stunning villas with large gardens surrounded by serene rice fields, just moments from the trendy buzz of Seminyak and Canggu. Villas in Umalas offer great value for money and usually are more spacious with larger gardens than villas in more densely built areas.
Umalas villas range from around USD $200 per night for a two-bedroom villa to over USD $1,500 per night for a five-bedroom luxury villa. All of our villas come with professionally trained staff. Many villas offer personalised services including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and other services you won’t find in a hotel.
There is one airport in Bali and this usually works as the entry point for most travellers heading to Bali. Ngurah Rai International Airport is located in Tuban in South Bali and serves around 20 million passengers a year. Needless to say, this busy airport is well connected to international destinations, with direct flights to Bali offered from Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai, Melbourne, Sydney and beyond. Carriers offering direct flights to Bali include Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Air Asia, Jetstar and more. There are some early plans to build a second airport in North Bali.
You can also reach Bali by boat. This would usually entail landing at an international airport on one of the neighbouring islands (Java or Lombok) and then crossing over to Bali by boat or ferry. From Java, ferries arrive in Gilimanuk (about three hours from Umalas) and from Lombok, boats arrive in Bali in Benoa, Sanur, Serangan, Padang Bai and Amed (Benoa, Serangan and Sanur are all located about 40 minutes from Umalas).
Nationalities from over 160 countries are eligible for visa free entry into Indonesia. This means your passport will be stamped on arrival at the airport, allowing you to stay in the country for 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a visa which will require further arrangements. Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia.
There is no public transport to get you from the airport to your accommodation, so the only option is to use a private driver or a taxi. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa. This service is included for most villas when booking more than four nights. To avoid queuing at the immigration counter, we can also arrange a VIP airport service for guests. This service includes lounge access, allowing you to relax while waiting for your luggage.
If you haven’t organised transfers prior to arrival, you can also get a taxi at the airport. The is an official taxi stand located close to the international arrivals exit, next to the information desk. The taxi counter offers fixed price and metered fares across Bali. The rates are updated frequently, making it very challenging to find up to date pricing before arriving in Bali. There are also countless freelance drivers floating about the arrivals hall, offering rides at varying rates. To make landing as smooth as possible, we highly recommend arranging your airport transfers before landing in Bali.
There are a few options for getting around Umalas, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers.
Umalas is well spread out, so hiring a car and driver is a great way to explore the area. Having a private chauffeur at your disposal also makes accessing the neighbouring areas of Canggu and Seminyak easy. Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. This little luxury is remarkably affordable and we can also help you arrange an itinerary, instructing your driver in advance.
Taxis are a good way to get around South Bali. In Umalas, you won’t have an endless stream of Blue Bird taxis cruising down the street as you do in Seminyak. This means that getting a taxi usually entails ordering one rather than hailing one off the street. You can order a Blue Bird Taxi (the most trustworthy company on the island) through their app or by calling +62 (0) 361 701 111. Ordering a taxi through the app or over the phone will incur a minimum fare of IDR 30,000 (USD $2). You can also ask your villa staff to call a taxi for you to avoid things getting lost in translation. Blue Bird Taxis always use a meter, which other drivers might refuse to do. If the taxi has no meter and you really need the ride, always make sure you agree on the price before getting in.
A scooter is one of the most popular ways to make your way around Bali – it’s also a great way to explore Umalas. Though you’ll see many a tourist and expat riding around fancy free, you should only hop on one if you have previous experience driving, as the hectic streets of Bali are not the ideal place to start learning (though the traffic in Umalas is far less congested than in busy Seminyak). You can usually rent a scooter at around IDR 50,000 (USD $4) per day. You should always wear a helmet and carry a valid international driver’s licence when driving. Driving without either will result in a fine if you get pulled over by the police.
Umalas is well spread out and there are no sidewalks, so walking is often not the best option for getting around. That being said, the traffic here is far more relaxed as compared to neighbouring Seminyak, so if you’re up for it, you can walk from your villa to the nearest restaurant. If you’re walking after dark, it’s good to bring a headlight as many of the streets have limited to no street lights.
The Balinese are among the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. This is all the more reason to return the favour and be respectful towards the local culture. Like anywhere else in the world, common sense and basic human decency goes a long way. For more detailed information about local culture, language and safety in Bali, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
SHOPPING & BARGAINING
Umalas is hardly a shopping destination with only a handful of convenience stores and standalone boutiques scattered across the area. If you’re visiting a market and or a local stall, bargaining can become an enjoyable part of the experience… or it can be frustrating! To ensure a smooth exchange first decide what the item is worth to you, then ask the seller for their price – your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price. They are likely to respond with a counteroffer, which you can either accept or negotiate further. If you don’t like the price and you walk away there is a good chance the vendor will call out to you with a better (usually final) price. Keep in mind, if an agreement is reached, you’re committed – you should buy if your offer is accepted.
In late 2018, Bali’s governor banned single use plastic on the island, meaning shops, boutiques and supermarkets no longer give out plastic bags. When out and about, it’s best to carry a reusable bag with you.
Most restaurants and villas include a service component already so tipping is not expected, but if service is good, an additional cash tip is appreciated.
Indonesia’s country code is +62. Data speeds of 3G and faster is the norm across Bali. Local prepaid SIM cards are sold everywhere; any modern mobile phone will work. As of 2018, all prepaid SIM cards need to be registered which you can usually do with a copy of your passport directly at the shop where you purchase your SIM card. Prepaid SIM cards come loaded with pulsa (credit) or mobile data which you can later easily top up at other outlets. Most if not all minimarts and local phone shops can top off your SIM card when needed. Most villas provide broadband Internet and free Wi-Fi is common in cafes, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
Health & Safety
It’s important to note that compared to many places in the world, Bali is fairly safe. There have been some high-profile cases of visitors being injured or killed on Bali, but in many cases these tragedies have been inflamed by media sensationalism.
Many of Bali’s beaches are subject to heavy surf and strong currents – always swim between the yellow flags. Trained lifeguards are on duty in neighbouring Seminyak. Be careful when swimming over coral and never walk on it. It can be very sharp and coral cuts are easily infected. In addition, you are damaging a fragile environment. Lastly, water pollution is a problem in busy neighbourhoods. Avoid swimming near open streams flowing into the sea as they are often contaminated by run-off from built-up areas.
Violent crime is uncommon in Bali, however bag-snatching from motorbikes and petty theft does occur. Take extra care with your phone if riding pillion on a motorbike as phones regularly get snatched from unsuspecting tourists using a navigation app. Otherwise, take the same precautions you would in any urban area and secure your money before leaving an ATM (and don’t forget your card!), don’t leave valuables on a beach while swimming, and use in-villa safes to store your valuables.
Tap water in Bali is not safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and cheap, however Ministry of Villas encourages visitors to keep a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Relaxed Umalas strikes the perfect balance between serene rice field surroundings and easy access to world-class restaurants, beach clubs and spas waiting in neighbouring Seminyak and Canggu. Check out our latest Umalas blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.