In the south of Bali lies Denpasar, capital since 1958 and also the largest city on the island. In Balinese, the name Denpasar means something like “new market”, which may be understood as a reference to the density of colorful markets in the city. The city, which now has more than 600,000 inhabitants, is also home to modern administrative buildings and around a dozen shopping centers and malls.
In addition to the three main markets, Badung, Kreneng and Sanglah, there are numerous specialized shopping streets where fabric dealers, jewelers and fruit stands offer their wares. Among the most famous sights are magnificent palaces, countless Hindu temples and historical monuments. Denpasar is considered the gateway to Bali and is an important starting point for round trips.
What activities are available in Denpasar?
You can get a first impression of the capital of Bali and the way of life of the locals by strolling through the markets.
The Pasar Badung Market
Denpasar’s largest market is open daily and is located about one kilometer from the city center. Offered is a wide selection of fabrics, clothing, housewares, crafts and accessories.
The four-story building, which houses the Pasar Badung Market, is built in traditional Balinese architecture.
Shark Island Serangan
On Serangan Island, also known as Shark Island or Shark Island, sharks can be observed and fed in a guarded environment during ecotours lasting several hours. There is also the possibility to visit the adjacent Turtle Conservation and Education Center for reptiles.
Ngurah Rai Mangrove Forest
The Ngurah Rai mangrove forest is considered a model of mangrove rehabilitation and a model for other provinces in Indonesia. Nursery land for educational and conservation purposes is cultivated on an area of 1,373.05 hectares.
In the huge mangrove forest there are about 13 different species of mangroves and 28 species of associated mangroves. About 62 species of birds and 10 species of reptiles have found a new natural habitat in the Ngurah Rai mangrove forest.
The most important sights in Denpasar
Pura Jagatnatha Temple
Pura Jagatnatha Temple is dedicated to the deity Sanghyang Widi and is one of the most important shrines in Indonesia. The walls of the largest temple in Denpasar are made of white coral and the wall surfaces are painted with traditional stories and religious scenes of the god Sanghyang Widi and other gods of the Hindu religion.
At Pura Jagatnatha Temple, two major festivals, the Full Moon and New Moon festivals, are celebrated every month. Visitors have the opportunity to watch the ceremonies or participate in the activities.
Puputan Square reflects the history of the city. The large green area in the center of Denpasar is located near the place where once stood one of the most magnificent palaces of Bali. During the Dutch conquest in 1906, a mass suicide occurred in the square, killing about 4,000 Balinese, including the royal family.
The Puputan monument shows a man, a woman and two children bravely resisting the conquerors. Today, Puputan Square and the surrounding park are popular places to relax from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Negeri Propinsi Museum
Opened in 1932, the Negeri Propinsi Museum of Ethnology and Natural History offers an overview of Balinese art and architecture. The collection displayed there consists of more than 10,000 exhibits. On display are, among other things, historical and cultural artifacts of the island, valuable textiles, dance costumes, masks, everyday as well as ceremonial objects from different eras from early times to the present.
The building that houses the Negeri Propinsi Museum is built in the style of Balinese architecture and is completely decorated with stone carvings. In the adjacent tropical garden there are many statues that remind of art and history of the island.
St. Joseph’s Church
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church combines Christian and Balinese style elements. Built in 1936 in Hindu style, the church is recognizable as a church by the white cross on the spire. Church services are held regularly in the church known by locals as Gereja Sang Yoseph.
Bajra Sandhi Monument
In the heart of Denpasar is the Bajra Sandhi Monument, dedicated to the struggle of the Balinese against the foreign rule of the colonial masters. Built in 1987, the monument aims to represent the various cultural aspects of Bali and preserve the unique Balinese culture for future generations.
Local features in Denpasar
In the capital of Bali there are a variety of markets. It is common to negotiate prices when shopping. Haggling may be unfamiliar to the Western mentality, but it is part of everyday life in Indonesia.
The warmest month in Denpasar is January. During this period, daytime temperatures are around 28 to 30 degrees Celsius, while in July the maximum is 25 or 26 degrees.
Denpasar is the venue for numerous festivals. The most important event is the Bali Arts Festival, which is held annually in June and is the biggest cultural event of the year in Bali.
Who is Denpasar suitable for?
A stay in Denpasar is especially suitable for travelers interested in art, culture and history. Those who want to experience the local atmosphere, discover colorful Asian markets and stroll through tropical parks are also in good hands here.
Near the Balinese capital are numerous interesting destinations as well as beautiful beaches. Therefore, Denpasar is considered the perfect location to discover the island.
The most beautiful beaches around Denpasar
Three world-famous beaches are within easy reach of Denpasar.
Kuta is Bali’s largest resort and is known for its eponymous five-kilometer-long bright white sand beach and perfect surfing conditions. On Kuta Beach there are numerous restaurants, clubs and stores.
Sanur Beach was among the first beaches in Bali to offer beach services, dining and shopping. An offshore coral reef protects the approximately three-kilometer-long white sand beach from high waves and undercurrents.
Unlike other beaches in Bali, Sanur beach is also suitable for swimming, for non-swimmers as well as for families with children. Since the water recedes at low tide, swimming is only possible at high tide.
Seminyak Beach is about 1.5 kilometers long. At low tide, the beach, consisting of fine sand, reaches a width of more than 100 meters. Due to the often high waves, swimming is only possible to a limited extent. Surfers will find ideal conditions here. For miles of beach walks, Seminyak beach is excellent.
Weblinks for further reading
More information about Denpasar can be found on the Internet and on the following websites:
Denpasar is mentioned only briefly in many travel guides, but the capital of the island of Bali is still worth a visit. At least one day should be planned to explore the city with its numerous markets, temples, museums and parks.
The city of Denpasar is easily accessible from the beach resorts in the south of Bali and is a great destination for a day trip.