When you think of popular gay destinations, Seminyak is probably not at the top of your list but I was pleasantly surprised during my recent trip to Bali with the number of gay friendly and men only accommodation, not to mention the strip of gay bars on Dhyana Pura.
I-Dhyana Pura is the Oxford Street of Seminyak, the Castro of Bali. Commonly referred to as Gay Street, iDhyana Pura is where you will find side-by-side gay bars.
Once the sun goes down, the street comes alive with flashing lights, drag queens, and both locals and visitors alike. Although most bars look the same (Facebar, Mixwell, Bottoms Up), Bali Joe is the most popular.
Staff are outside each bar trying to coerce you in with promises of cheap drinks and amazing drag shows and Bali Joe definitely delivers. Their service is impeccable; as you drink the last mouthful of your cocktail they are handing you another one, they ask you your name and remember it all night and if you are a smoker, they will have a lighter ready before you even reach for your pack (keep in mind you can practically smoke everywhere in Bali).
The drag shows are every 15 minutes and are exceptionally choreographed. I swear Whitney came back from the dead and performed “It’s not right, but it’s ok” at Bali Joe this past June.
One of my favourite things about Dhyana Pura is there are no line-ups because there are no doors, there are only 3 walls so you can freely walk in and out without getting stamped or frisked.
There are a number of gay accommodation on Dhyana Pura but if you are like me, I have trouble sleeping if it’s noisy. Spartacus is a men’s only, clothing optional 12 room hotel located less than a 10 minute cab ride from Dhyana Pura
· Bring lots of small bills for drinks so when it’s busy you won’t have to wait for change.
· Do not make eye contact with the drag queens during their performance or they will pull you on stage and rip your clothes off (don’t ask me how I know).
· It’s much faster to travel by scooter through Dhyana Pura or catch a ride on the back of one for a few bucks.
· Get there early and stay late, you will have the time of your life. Pace yourself!
Larry Mullett has visited Bali twice and is the reservations manager for Chandra Luxury Villas in Seminyak, which he handles from his Sydney office at 8Hotels.