Despite the noise, bustle, traffic jams, and smog, Bali's capital,
with its 400,000 inhabitants does have some interesting tourist
options. One of the most popular is the central market--Bali's
largest. Activity in and around this three-storey building peaks
well before dawn, so go early to see everything.
It is well worth taking a stroll around Denpasar if you decide to
venture into the capital. Anyone who hasn't seen an Asian city will
be a little shocked at the smoke and dust, and the general living
and shopping conditions that will be observed, but none-the-less it
is an experience that will be remembered long after the suntan has
Denpasar was rebuilt after the Puputan massacre of 1906, when the
royal family committed suicide rather than surrender to the invading
Dutch army. Today, the public Puputan Square in the centre of town
commemorates the tragedy of that event.
Cross Jln. Surapati from Puputan Square to see the Bali Museum and
Art Centre, which houses many artefacts of Bali's ethnic history.
Destroyed by an earthquake in 1917 when Mt. Batur erupted, the
museum was rebuilt during the 1920's, and its collections were once
more protected from the ravages of nature and souvenir hunters.
Dress respectfully to enter the museum (long pants or modest dresses
must be worn).
The Denpasar tourist office is within a short walk of the square and
the museum, as is Pura Jaganatha. Afternoon prayer times at this
temple are very busy, and so long as visitors are dressed modestly,
they will be welcomed.
Another significant Art Centre is located further east, just off Jln.
Sanur (an extension of Jl. Gajahmada) toward Sanur.
The central market, Pasar Badung trades in the morning (starts very
early, but is still operating during the mid-morning). It is located
in Jln. Sulawesi, only about 200 meters from Suci bus station.
Anyone who takes a bus to Denpasar could catch a local bemo to Suci,
although those who arrive at Tegal bus station (the one that
services the south of the island) will find themselves quite easily
able to walk the 600 or 700 meters to the market.
If you arrive by car, ask to stop along Jalan Gajahmada (the main
road), near to the river. This will place you very close to the
centre of things--the major shopping area and its department stores,
the market, the banks, Asian movie houses etc.
The markets are fascinating with spices, meat, dried fish,
traditionally woven cloth, gold and silver craftwares all traded
from stalls within the shaddows of the modern department stores,
banks, restaurants and apartment buildings. Always bargain for goods
in the markets.
Most shopping complexes, supermarkets and department stores have
fixed prices, and shopping hours are usually between 9:00 a.m. and
9:00 p.m. with shorter hours on Sundays.
Accommodations and restaurants are available in all ranges,
including a very good night market (malam pasar), so those wishing
to experience life in a large Asian city could easily spend a couple
of days here. Truly a different Bali experience!
Denpasar also has some larger hotels but most of the islands resort
style hotels are located elsewhere.
Protestant churches are located in Jalan Surapati and Jalan Kresna (Pentacostal),
and a Catholic church is located in Jalan Kepundung. A Mosque is
located in Jalan Hasanudin.
The city is the central transportation hub of the island, so most
tourists only enter Denpasar to change busses at one of the many bus
stations whilst en-route to somewhere else. View our Denpasar public
bus terminal information, distances and travel times between various
centres around Bali.
The capital city of Bali, Denpasar has many community temples called
"Pura". One is the Museum called Pura jagatnatha which is
dedicated to the Supreme God, Sang Hyang Widi Wasa. The statue of a
turtle and two dragons (prevalent in all temples) signify the
foundation of the world.
The Museum offers a fine variety of prehistoric and modern art,
whereas its architectural design resembles that of a palace. The
government supervised "Sanggraha Kriya Asta" has a wide
variety of handicraft and works of art. The "Werdi Budaya"
presents a yearly art festival between June and July, with
performances, exhibitions, art contest and so on.
Sanur beach has long been a popular recreation site for people from
Denpasar. The palm-lined beach curves from the Bali Beach Hotel
toward the south, facing the Indian Ocean towards the east. Sanur
offers many good hotels, restaurants, shops and other tourist
facilities. It is only a short distance from Denpasar. Public
transportation to and from the city are easily available until well
into the night. Offshore reefs protect the beach against the waves
to make it popular for wind surfing, boating and other water sports.
Once a lonely village on the road from Denpasar toward the Bukit
Peninsula, Kuta is now a thriving tourist resort, popular mainly
among the young. It is a beach for surfing although currents make it
less suitable for swimming. Coast guards, however, are on constant
duty during the day. Kuta faces toward the west offering beautiful
Accommodation ranges from international hotels to home stays. The
village abounds with restaurants, shops, discotheques and other
tourist facilities. It is easier to find regular performances of
Balinese music and dance in Kuta, staged specially for tourists,
than anywhere else in Bali. Some performances are staged nightly.
The village is ideal for meeting and mixing with other people,
locals as well as visitors from abroad. Map
Just south of Cangu, and to the north of
Seminyak, this is another area being developed by resort companies
to attract visitors from the overflowing Kuta / Legian strip. Like
Cangu, it's a bit too far from the nightlife scene but would suit
those who wish to spend some quiet days relaxing by the pool or on
The Nusa Dua tourist resort is part of the
Bukit Peninsula in southern Bali. Some of the most beautiful and
luxurious hotels are found here. The resort is known for its clean
white beaches and clear waters. The surf is gentle along the
northern side of the peninsula, bigger along the south. The most
convenient form of transportation to and from Nusa Dua is by taxi. Map
A small fishing village located within a
beautiful sandy bay on the southern Bukit peninsula. The few
accommodations here range from basic losmen to world class luxury
The pristine white sand beach is protected by a reef and has few
waves, making it ideal for families with young children. A
significant part of the beach is lined with restaurants offering the
day's catch at reasonable prices--fresh from the fishing fleet of
nearby Kedonganan. Many day-trippers choose to make this the final
stop of their journey in order to enjoy Bali's best seafood
assortment while lapping up another spectacular sunset. The "must
do" is to get to Jimbaran Bay is to pick a seaside restaurant (some
bargaining is allowed) and watch the sunset while your seafood is
northeast from Denpasar, stone figures on the roadside mark the
village of Batubulan. Divinities and demons are carved from
sandstone for ornaments of houses and temples. Workshops can be
visited to watch artists at work.
An old and famous center of the arts, it
is now known for its dancing, wood panel carving and paintings.
Northeast of Denpasar, the village of
Celuk is noted for its silver and gold works of jewelry in various
The village of woodcarvers, many of Bali's
old masters still live here. Art galleries exhibit some of their
best works. Visitors can wander through the Balinese style houses to
view the carved wooden pillars and the artists at work or
instructing apprentices who work in groups.
The center of Balinese painting, Ubud's
Museum "Puri Lukisan" has a permanent collection of modern
works of Balinese art dating from the turn of the century. There are
also several art galleries and homes of famous artists here,
including that of Dutch-born Hans Snel and the American Antonio
Blanco. The "young artist" style now popular in Balinese
painting was introduced by the Dutch painter Arie Smith. In the past,
other foreign painters inspired Balinese artists to adopt western
techniques but traditional Balinese paintings are still made and
sold. Another museum called "Neka Museum" has a wide
collection of paintings both by Indonesian as well as foreign
artists who used to live in Bali. Ubud has several small hotels.
Located on a higher altitude with a pleasant climate.
Accommodation in Ubud generally offers better value than Kuta, Nusa
Dua and Sanur although the standards are typically lower than the
international hotels of the south- with some very notable exceptions.
Ubudís many comfortable and relaxed homestays and losmen will
however, provide the feel of Bali culture that no high-rise hotel
can ever hope to fulfil. Of course, those who wish to explore the
countryside from a luxurious base will find several options, amongst
them some of the island's newest and best hotels.
The main street, Jl Raya and especially Monkey Forest Road are the
traditional places to look for a low cost place to stay, but
recently many new low and medium cost places have sprung up in Jl
Hanoman and Jl Bima. Map
Peliatan is located between Ubud and Mas.
It has been known as the center of traditional music, and dances.
The fine art of local woodcarvers started a new style of wood
carving producing such things as fruits, flowers and trees in their
real shapes and colorings.
The Cave, dates back to the 11 Th. century
and is believed to have been built as a monastery. Carvings on the
wall show a demon's head over the entrance, flanked by two statues.
The cave contains a statue of Ganesha. Escavations have uncovered a
bathing place with six statues of nymphs holding water-spouts.
The ancient bas relief carvings on the rock
wall within walking distance of Goa Gajah, was rediscovered in 1925.
Follow the trail that runs parallel to the main road, via a tiny
village, then through the fields to be among the small percentage of
travellers who visit this worthy sight.
The temple of Pura Tirta Empul is built
around the sacred spring at Tampaksiring. Over 1000 years old, the
temple and its two bathing places have been used by the people for
good health and prosperity because of the spring water's curative
powers. Regular ceremonies are held for purification. Specialties of
the area are bone and ivory carvings, and seashell ornaments.
The villages of Kintamani and Penelokan
give a fantastic view of the active Mount Batur and Lake. The
caldera of Batur is impressive: 7 miles in diameter and 60 feet deep.
From Penelokan, a road leads to Kedisan on the shores of the lake
where boats can be hired to cross over to Trunyan. This ancient
village is inhabited by people who call themselves "Bali Aga"
or original Balinese who have maintained many of their old ways. The
Puser Jagat temple has an unusual architecture and stands under a
massive Banyan tree.
Pura Kehen is situated in Bangli, Bali's
second largest temple. Three terraced courtyards are connected by
steps, and their balustrades are decorated with carvings and statues.
A large Banyan tree with a tower shades the lowest and second
courtyard, while in the third courtyard several shrines for the gods
and ancestors are found.
The former seat of the Javanese Hindu
Kingdom in Bali from where Balinese royalty draws its blood line,
Klungkung was the oldest kingdom on the island and its "Raja"
the most exalted. The Kerta Gosa or Royal Court of justice built in
the 18th century, is specially known for its ceiling murals painted
in the traditional wayang style, portraying punishment in hell and
the rewards in heaven and other aspects of moralities. The floating
pavilion, garden and lotus ponds in this walled-in complex, located
on the main intersection of town are a reminder of the former glory
of this kingdom.
Nine km from Klungkung is Goa Lawah or bat
cave. The roof is covered with thousands of bats and its entrance is
guarded by a temple believed to be founded by a sage nine centuries
Known as the "Mother Temple of
Bali", the sanctuary of Besakih on the slopes of Mt. Agung is
the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temples. Over a thousand
years old, steps ascend through split gates to the main courtyard
where the Trinity shrines are wrapped in cloth and decorated with
flower offerings. Around the three main temples dedicated to the
Trinity: Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, are 18 separate sanctuaries
belonging to different regencies and caste groups.
To the Balinese, a visit to the temples sanctuaries is a special
pilgrimage. Each has its own anniversary celebration or "Odalan".
The sight of the temple against the background of the mountain is
impressive and during festivals, colored banners add a touch of
This little island off Bali's west coast
is known for its beautiful coral reefs found nearby and the wealth
of tropical fish inhabiting the waters around it. The island itself
including Terima Bay, are by themselves worth a visit because of the
beautiful sceneries they offer.
Ten hectares of nutmeg trees in the Sangeh
forest abounds with monkeys. The forest is considered sacred, so no
wood is allowed to be chopped here. Two temples stand in the middle
of the forest and another at the edge. As they live in this sacred
forest, the monkeys are also held sacred and are rather tame, but it
is advisable not to play with them.
One of Bali's most important sea temples,
Tanah Lot is built a top a huge rock which is surrounded by the sea.
Built by one of the last priests to come to Bali from Java in the
16th century, its rituals include the paying of homage to the
guardian spirits of the sea. Poisonous sea snakes found at the base
of the rocky island are believed to guard the temple from evil
spirits and intruder.
The best time to see Tanah Lot is in the late afternoon when the
temple is in silhouette.
The mountain resort of Bedugul, 18 km
north of Denpasar, is known for its excellent golf course. Located
besides Lake Bratan, it is surrounded by forested hills. A beautiful
sight is the "Ulun Danu" temple which seems to rise out of
the lake. The area offers good-walks. Boats are available for hire.
Water skiing, and parasailing is done as well.
Protected for centuries from the outside
world by its surrounding walls, the village of Tenganan has
maintained its ancient pre-Hindu customs through a strong code of
non-fraternization with outsiders. Here unique rituals offering
dances and gladiator-like battles between youths take place.
Tenganan is famous for its "double ikat" woven material
called gringseng, which is supposed to protect the wearer by magic
Candi Dasa is a romantic and peaceful seaside resort area with
lovely ocean views located two
hours drive east of Denpasar. The local villages and rice fields
offer an insight into the Bali of old
and new and offers an enjoyable days outing from your hotel. Candi
Dasa is quiet, so for those
seeking this type of holiday and wanting to recharge their batteries
this is the place to be.
A little further east on the coastal road
is Yeh Saneh, an idyllic spot few people know of. Only a few meters
from the splash of the surf is a cool freshwater spring, around
which has been built a large pool and gardens for bathers and
The Werdhi Budaya Art Center was started
in 1973 and finished in 1976: the largest and most complete in a
series of cultural centers built throughout the archipelago by the
Indonesian Government over the last decade. Designed
by Bali's foremost architect, Ida Bagus Tugur, (also architect for
Indonesia's new National Art Gallery) the vast complex is, apart
from its very real cultural function, a showplace for Balinese
Temple and Palace Architecture at its most opulent. The open stage
Arda Candra with its towering candi gate and the almost rococo main
Art Museum, a sprawling park, Balinese pavilions and follies, have
become a regular architectural attraction. Built on one of the few
remaining coconut groves in central Denpasar, the center has quickly
become a busy forum for the performing and fine arts. With three Art
Galleries and a host of stages, the Center is only rivaled by
Jakarta's Taman Ismail Marzuki as a venue for diverse and rapidly
changing cultural programs. Since 1975 the Center has been home to
the island's Dance Academy (ASTI), a tertiary level Conservatorium,
Dance and Drama School for traditional Balinese Performing arts.
With the island's Art School situated next door, the center's
seminar halls and exhibition space are devoted to the encouragement
and education of local art students.
The most important institutions in Bali,
temples reflect the important role religion plays in the life of the
Balinese. A temple is a place for communicating with the divine
spirits through offerings and prayers. On holy days, when the
deities and ancestral spirits descend from heaven to visit earth,
the temples become centers of activity.
Temple festivals are guided by purification of the sprinkling of
holy water. Whole communities take part in these festivals, bringing
baskets of food and flowers for offerings. While pura means temple,
a puri is the residence of the local prince, which may function as a
Music, dances, food, flowers, and fruits sacrificed began as part of
temple rituals to please the gods and to placate evil spirit.
Following the caste system of Hindu and some of its other rites and
beliefs like reincarnation, one of the greatest ceremonies are
cremations, meant to liberate the souls ready for rebirth. Burial is
only temporary to give the family time to prepare or wait for others
to arrange for a common cremation within the community.
Bali is world famous for its spectacular surfing beaches and golden
sunsets. The reefbreaks at Uluwatu, Padang-Padang, Kuta, Nusa Dua
and Sanur offer some of the very best waves in the world, with long
tuberides breaking over pristine coral reefs. You're virtually
guaranteed to get the best barrels of your life! For those less
experienced, or who just want to try learning to surf in Bali, there
are many safe beachbreaks and fun intermediate breaks scattered all
around the island (many in the south). No matter what time of year
you come, there is always good surf with off-shore winds. Bali
really is "a surfer's paradise".