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The biggest city on Indonesia’s island of Bali, Denpasar is a major gateway to the place nicknamed the “Island of the Gods”. The lively city has plentiful cultural sites and is within easy reach of the island’s famous beaches and nightlife. Be inspired and plan your trip with this Finnair travel guide to Denpasar.
Sights in Denpasar
Culture lovers are sure to be enthralled by Denpasar’s temples. The major religion on Bali is Hinduism; in contrast to most of the nation’s other islands, which are mainly Muslim. Local temples in Denpasar include the remains of the ancient Pura Maospahit and the state-built Pura Agung Jagatnatha. Every month, large ceremonies take place here for the full moon and dark moon. The Palace of Satria and the Royal Temples are among the city’s grandest buildings. The gigantic statue of Catur Mukha takes pride of place in Puputan Square at the heart of the city. Bali Museum takes visitors on a journey through Bali’s past and up to the present day. Spread across four buildings, the museum’s collections include religious artefacts, textiles, ancient archaeological finds and traditional clothing. Learn more about the significance of the small spirit offerings that can be seen on the floor and in small shrines scattered all around the island.
The Sidik Jari Museum is an intimate fine art museum and the Taman Wedhi Budaya Cultural Centre is dedicated to Balinese art. It features a large collection of both paintings and sculptures. Taman Budaya (Bali Art Centre) is a top place to see a traditional Balinese performance. Visit Lapangan Puputan Margarana to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and relax in the impressive park. Within the park you’ll find a large monument that celebrates the independence of Indonesia. Towards the end of each year, the city hosts Denpasar Festival, often shortened to DenFest. The festivities showcase the city’s cultural diversity and creative spirit, with traditional food and dancing, competitions and awards, and stalls selling local handicrafts.
Things to See and Do Near Denpasar
- Sanur – A short drive from the city, soft golden sands await visitors in Sanur.
- Kuta – One of Bali’s most popular tourist resorts, known for beach life, surfing and plenty of nighttime entertainment.
- Ubud – A relaxing town with an arty vibe, highlights include the Monkey Forest, numerous small and independent art galleries and walks through the nearby countryside.
Shopping in Denpasar
Home to some of the island’s best shopping opportunities, Denpasar has a variety of stores, shopping centres and markets.
- Jalan Gajah Mada – Home to numerous small shops, this is an ideal place to pick up local souvenirs and colourful textiles.
- Jalan Hasanuddin – The city’s gold central, many jewellers and goldsmiths can be found along this street.
- Badung Central Market – This multi-level market sells fresh produce and dried ingredients, spices, clothing and handicrafts.
- Ramayana – One of the major shopping centres in Denpasar, visitors can browse and buy a wide array of fashions here.
Food and Drink
- Pisang rai – This popular local snack is made by coating boiled banana in rice flour and then covering it with finely grated coconut.
- Laklak – Another Balinese sweet treat, this traditional cake is made from coconut milk and rice flour. Suji and pandan leaves give the cake a green tinge, and it is typically accompanied by a sauce of jackfruit and sugar or grated coconut.
- Be siap sambal matah – A dish that is rare off the island of Bali, consisting of strips of chicken in a flavourful uncooked sambal sauce. The sambal contains shrimp paste, ginger, lime, coconut, lemongrass, chillies and shallots.
- Babi guling – Although this was traditionally a dish eaten only at celebrations, it has become so popular that it can now be found on everyday menus and from street vendors. It is roasted suckling piglet coated with various spices.
- Bebek goreng – A duck-based delicacy, the duck is seasoned and either boiled or steamed and then deep fried to give it a crispy coating.
- Coffee – A favourite drink around Bali, Denpasar has many cafes where you can enjoy local coffee.
Transport in Denpasar
Home to Bali’s airport and the largest city on the island, Denpasar’s transportation links to the rest of the island are excellent.
- By foot – Many of the city’s sights are within easy walking distance of each other.
- Bemos – Bemos are small vans that operate on fixed routes around the city. There are three bemo stations around the city and, unless you have local assistance, it can be tricky knowing which route to take.
- Taxis – Widely available and easy to obtain on the streets, it is likely that a taxi driver will find you before you find them! Taxis are generally cheap, though you should negotiate the price before starting your journey. Be clear too that the price is the total for the trip, and not per person.
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