Being the home of Bali’s provincial governor’s office and the administration of the Regency of Badung, Denpasar isn’t really a tourist destination but more of a central business district. Even so, the city has notable shops and attractions that you can visit comfortably on foot. Denpasar is an active multi-cultural city in South Bali. It is filled with temples, museums, palaces and a good bunch of friendly people. Feel free to interact with the locals and immerse in the Balinese culture. Contrary to what most people say about the boring yet intimidating town of Denpasar, this bustling city has much to offer.
Denpasar is centrally located and can easily be reached by taxi or car. Depending on traffic, you can reach Legian, Kuta and Seminyak in 20-30 minutes from Denpasar. Fifteen minutes to the east of this busy city is Sanur and 30 minutes to the north is the town of Ubud. The bemo (small van for rent) center of Bali is located in Denpasar. Because Denpasar is an active and busy city, expect traffic and pollution.
What to See in Denpasar
Visit the temples in Denpasar. Bring your own sarong and sash when you do as these temples have few foreign visitors so it’s unlikely that they have temple dress for hire. At the centre of the city is the Puputan Square where you can find the enormous four-faced and eight-armed Catur Mukha statue which represents the Lord Brahma. Another palace to visit is the Palace of Satria and the Royal Temples which is the palace and temple of the royal family of Denpasar. The Jagatnata temple is a state temple built in 1953. The Maospahit Temple is also an ancient temple destroyed by an earthquake in 20th century; you can find some original remnants like statues at its inner courtyard.
The Bali Museum is another must visit in Denpasar. This was built in 1910 but an earthquake in 1917 brought it down. The museum was restored in 1932 and it now showcases artifacts, textiles, and other significant objects that represent historical and modern-day Balinese culture.
There is also the Sidik Jari Museum which is a small, private art museum that exhibits the work of owner, I Gusti Ngurah Gede Pemecutan. If you wish to know more about Balinese art, visit the Taman Wedhi Budaya Cultural Centre where you can find classical paintings and sculpture as well as contemporary Balinese art.
You can find the Bajra Sandhi monument, which is the grey stone monument that symbolizes Indonesian independence, at the grandiose Puputan Park. The government buildings are at the northern edge of the park.
For entertainment like exhibitions, cultural activities and traditional dance, you can visit the Taman Budaya or Bali Art Center.
What to Do in Denpasar
When you’re in Denpasar, make sure you immerse in the Balinese culture by watching or attending different cultural events. Dance shows, puppet theatre shows and art exhibitions are commonly held in Denpasar.
There’s the Bali Art Festival that is celebrated for a full month. Expect daily musical and dance performances, cultural activities, handicraft exhibitions and more. This is the cultural event of the year and all villages participate in the celebration.
The DenFest or the Denpasar Festival offers a memorable year-end celebration. DenFest features art and handicrafts sale, Balinese dancing, best of Bali food contests, and local award ceremonies.
While there are no water-related activities that you can do in this city, you can keep yourself busy with learning more about Balinese culture. To relax, Denpasar can provide you with an exceptional shopping experience. The best place to shop in Bali is in Denpasar.
Check out the Badung Central Market where you can find fresh food, dried spices, and handicrafts. Beautiful silk fabrics can be found at Duta Silk while the store named Gold offers world-class jewelry pieces. You can find small stores selling handicrafts and more fabrics in Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Thamrin.
Among the notable shopping malls in Denpasar are Ramayana, Matahari Duta Plaza and Robinsons.
Where and What to Eat in Denpasar
Restaurants in Denpasar offer different regional Indonesian cuisines. The diversity of culture in Indonesia is quite evident in Denpasar. There are Chinese restaurants specializing in seafood and restaurants serving Sundanese cuisine.
If you wish to enjoy 100% authentic Indonesian food, check out the Kereneng Night Market. Good food at good prices are also available at Warung Nasi Bali. For those who love Indonesian coffee, head to Bhineka Jaya Kopi Bali and try their coffee from Central Java, Sumatra, and Toraja from Sulawesi.
The nightlife in this city is active although it isn’t as interesting as those in Legian, Kuta and Seminyak.
Things You’ll Love in Denpasar
The business-like atmosphere of Denpasar may appeal to only a few people. However, being the capital of Bali, Denpasar is a good place to start one’s Bali journey. Almost all of Bali can be accessed easily from Denpasar. As the hub of public transport in Bali, you can find buses and mini vans that can bring you to all corners of Bali island. You can have a safe and comfortable stay here too given that there are many budget hotels offering relaxing yet affordable accommodation.
The markets remain to be the main attraction in Denpasar. The Pasar Kumbasari which features arts and crafts products offers affordable placemats, figurines, souvenirs and textiles. The Pasar Badung, Denpasar’s central produce market, offers you really cheap vanilla beans and other quality spices. Pasar Barun, on the northeast, has small markets selling birds, rabbits, baby monkeys and other pet animals. The fabric quality and prices in Jalan Sulawesi remain to be commendable. Those looking for batik cloth can find a wide array of choices at Denpasar.
At present, there is a growing range of restaurants in Denpasar offering a variety of dishes. Most of these cafes and restaurants are geared towards the middle class market.
Since Denpasar is the metropolitan city of Bali, major domestic banks are represented in the area. Major hospitals as well as educational institutions of Bali are also located in Denpasar.