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 faded.
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)
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
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
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. Map
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 sunsets.
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
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 beach.
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.
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 hotels.
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 being BBQ'ed.
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
old and famous center of the arts, it is now known for
its dancing, wood panel carving and paintings.
of Denpasar, the village of Celuk is noted for its
silver and gold works of jewelry in various styles.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 ago.
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 gaiety.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 picnickers.
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
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 cultural center.
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