Denpasar is the largest city and capital of Bali, with more than 725,000 residents in 2020. Denpasar is a bustling, multi-cultural city and although it can seem a little intimidating the first time you visit, just do not believe those travel guides which say it has nothing to offer.
Denpasar is bristling with temples, palaces and museums and its occupants are outstandingly friendly. You will be off the beaten tourist track here, so bring lots of time for a chat with the locals and a decent map of town. You can see many of the main sights comfortably on foot.
This is also a notable shopping city with options to please even the most jaded of world shoppers.
Where's the airport?
Denpasar is the seat of government in Bali and is, therefore, home to the provincial governor's office as well as the administration of the Regency of Badung.
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- Tourist Information Office, Jalan Surapati 6, ☏ . Daily 08:00-16:00. A source of information for current events in the city and for picking up a free map.
Denpasar is easily reached by car or taxi from the main tourist regions of south Bali. A trip from Kuta, Legian and Seminyak will take 20 to 30 minutes depending on traffic. Sanur is 15 minutes to the east and Ubud about 30 minutes to the north. Tabanan is about 40 minutes to the northwest.
A non-metered taxi from the airport will cost Rp 180,000.
The main bus terminal of Denpasar is 1 Mengwi. The former bus terminal at Ubung is now only a bemo terminal.
Most buses from Java arrive at Mengwi. You should only turn up without a ticket in the morning, as early as possible, when departures are frequent. At other times, check schedules and reserve online.
- From Surabaya, Java: expect to pay Rp175,000 - 200,000 by eksekutif night bus depend on the bus operator (famous: restu, wisata Komodo), including the ferry trip between Banyuwangi and Gilimanuk, mineral water and a meal. Buses leaves from the Bungurasih bus terminal in Surabaya. Duration 10 hr.
- Other services operate from most big cities in Java, including Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bandung and Semarang.
- For high season eid fitri and new year allowing extra Rp50,000 - 100,000 per ride per person.
Local minibuses depart regularly in the direction of Gilimanuk, the ferry terminal to Java, from opposite the bus terminal entrance.
- 3 Batubulan, 6 km northeast, for points central and east: (Besakih, Candidasa, Kintamani, Klungkung, Padangbai, Ubud).
- 4 Tegal, to the west, for southern Bali: (Kuta, Legian,Jimbaran, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Uluwatu).
- Ubung, to the north, for points north and west: (Gilimanuk, Negara, Singaraja, Tabanan).
Always ask a local for the normal price before getting in or expect to be charged a price up to ten times what it should be.
Don't forget that a bemo departs when it wants (usually when it is "full enough"), which can sometimes require a lengthy wait, except in the early morning, where they are rather frequent. In any case, you won't find any bemo after 16:00.
There is no train station in Denpasar because there are no trains in Bali.
At Mengwi bus terminal you can buy so-called "train tickets" to Surabaya, including a bus (air-conditioned) to Banyuwangi, and the ferry between Gilimanuk and Ketapang, and then a train from Banyuwangi to Surabaya.
Price (including a commission to the travel agency):
- Low season: Business Rp190,000 - 235,000, Executive: Rp240,000 - 290,000
- High season (eid fitri and new year): Business Rp255,000 - 300,000, Executive Rp310,000 - Rp360,000
Business: air conditioning, the seat can not be reclined, less leg space. Executive: air conditioning, the seat can be reclined, more leg space, have leg rest.
Online main site: Kereta Api Indonesia
Online travel agency: Tiket.com, traveloka, pegipegi. Usually online travel agency give promotion.
Offline travel agency: ticket booth on train station, Indomaret minimarket , Alfamart minimarket
There are two services in each direction, each day:
- 22:00 from Surabaya arrival 04:15 in Banyuwangi, arrival approx 11:30 in Denpasar.
- 14:45 from Denpasar, train departing 22:00 from Banyuwangi, arrival 04:17 in Surabaya.
Denpasar can be a bit steamy and the traffic pollution a worry, but the centre of this city does lend itself to getting around on foot and walking is recommended.
Buses connect various places around the city and surrounding called Trans Metro Dewata. An electronic money card is required to take this public transport such as Brizzi, E-money, Flazz, and TapCash. The routes and bus stops can be looked at from Moovit app.
Taxis are widely available for hailing. If you have a group of people, you may want to negotiate a bemo (small van) for a set rate to your destination. Remember that pricing is negotiable. Indonesians are great people, however, they won't think twice about overcharging you if they can.
Bemo routes in Denpasar are extremely complicated. In addition to the three terminals described in the section above which operate longer distance bemos, there are three more which handle the local routes (as do the long distance terminals!) - Gunung Agung, Sanglah and Kereneng. Unless you are very patient and somewhat adventurous, bemo transport within Denpasar is best left to the locals to figure out. As a rule of thumb though most routes in the city seem to come through Kereneng Terminal on Jalan Kamboja at some stage.
To go from one bemo terminal to another within the city, the fixed price is Rp7,000 although non-Indonesians may be asked to pay much more. A taxi can work out cheaper, is certainly faster and is indescribably more comfortable.
As elsewhere in Bali, motorbikes can be rented, although it is more normal for a visitor to arrive with a bike rather than rent one here.
When visiting any of the temples in Denpasar, remember to bring a sarong and sash with you. These temples receive relatively few foreign visitors and are unlikely to have temple dress available for hire or loan.
- 1 Alun-Alun Puputan (Puputan Square), Jl Gajah Mada/Jl Suprati. The huge four-faced, eight-armed Catur Mukha statue is situated here at the centre point of the city. Representing the Lord Brahma and it serves as a guardian of each cardinal point. The square is a key point of orientation for the whole city. If you get lost, find your way back here and all will be clear.
- 2 Bali Museum (Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali), Jl Mayor Wisnu (eastern side of the Alun-Alun Puputan), ☏ . Sa-Th 08:00-15:30, F 08:00-11:00. A much under-patronised place by visitors which offers an informative introduction to all things Balinese, both historical and modern-day. It was opened in 1910, but the building was brought down in the 1917 earthquake and languished until 1932 when resident German artist Walter Spies sparked a major revival. The grounds and architecture are quite charming, and the museum is housed in four separate pavilions. The main pavilion has a great collection including ancient stone, bronze and wooden artifact. The southern pavilion houses many textiles, the northern pavilion concentrates on the history of Balinese performance art, and the central pavilion is devoted to Balinese Hinduism and ritual. If this place was in Kuta or Nusa Dua it would be swamped with tourists. Rp 11,000.
- 3 Lapangan Puputan Margarana (Puputan Park), Jl Raya Puputan. This rather grandiose park is home to the huge Bajra Sandhi monument (literally Balinese People's Struggle). The design of the grey stone monument symbolises the date of Indonesian independence, August 17th 1945. There are eight entrances, 17 corners and the height is 45 m. The monument is most significant though for its commemoration of the various puputans (suicidal fight to the death) of the Balinese in the struggle against the Dutch in the early 20th century. At the northern edge of the park you will find the governor's office and other government buildings.
- Palace of Satria and the Royal Temples, Jl Veteren (about 300 metres north of Alun-Alun Puputan). 08:00-16:00 daily. The palace and temple of the royal family of Denpasar which is beautifully kept. It is open to all residents of Denpasar for worship. Some wonderfully ornate carvings, even by Balinese standards. Donation.
- 4 Pura Agung Jagatnata (Jagatnata Temple) (Adjacent to the northern boundary of the Bali Museum). A state temple which was built in 1953. Dedicated to the supreme being Sanghyang Widi Wasa, this temple is open to all worshipers without any restriction as it is a government building and not a village temple. There are large ceremonies here twice a month at full moon and dark moon. Ask at the tourist office for a detailed schedule.
- 5 Pura Maospahit (Maospahit Temple), Jl Sutomo. An ancient temple with a long and glorious history thought to originate in the 14th century. This is a temple typical of the peak of the Majapahit period being constructed largely from red brick. Sadly, much of it was destroyed in the early 20th century earthquake but there are some original remnants including the guardian statues in the inner courtyard. This is a charming temple and one which is seldom visited by tourists, and so there's every chance you will have it to yourself.
- 6 Sidik Jari Museum (Finger Painting Museum), Jl Hayam Wuruk 175, ☏ . 09:00-17:00 daily. Small, private fine art museum established and owned by I Gusti Ngurah Gede Pemecutan and which exhibits his own work as well as that of other artists. Also has facilities for public dance and other performances.
- 7 Taman Wedhi Budaya Cultural Centre, Jl Nusa Indah, ☏ . 08:00-15:30 daily. A museum that covers the history and essence of Balinese art. The classical schools are well represented by both paintings and sculpture and there is a large section featuring contemporary Balinese art. Gamelan orchestra performances are also held. Rp 3,000.
- 8 Bajra Sandhi Monument (Bajra Sandhi), Jl. Raya Puputan No.142, Panjer, Kec. Denpasar Sel (in front of the Bali Governor's Office). A monument to the struggles of the Balinese people throughout history. The monument was built in 1987, inaugurated by President Megawati Sukarnoputri on June 14, 2003.
It is very much worth finding information from the official tourism office about scheduled cultural events in Denpasar. These are many and varied and include, dance, puppet theatre and art exhibitions.
Otherwise, apart from the numerous sights and excellent shopping, there are not really any specific activities to recommend in Denpasar.
Contrary to what you might read in many guide books, the best shopping in Bali is in Denpasar.
- Badung Central Market, Jl Gajah Mada is best visited in the early morning. The ground level is devoted to fresh foodstuffs, dried food and spices are on the second level and handicrafts can be found on the top level.
- Duta Silk, fabulous silk emporium located at Block 1, Komplex Duta Permai (next to Matahari Department store) on Jalan Dewi Sartika.
- Gold, competitive jewellery prices abound in Jl Hasanuddin and Jl Sulawesi.
- The myriad of small stores selling fabrics and local works in Jl Gajah Mada and Jl Thamrin will keep happy even the most jaded of world shoppers.
- There are several shopping malls in Denpasar, the most notable being Ramayana on Jl Diponegoro, Matahari Duta Plaza on Jl Dewi Sartika and Robinsons opposite Matahari. These malls have a huge range of stores selling everything from clothing to arts and crafts as well as more everyday shops such as pharmacies.
Denpasar is a melting pot of different cultures from all over Indonesia. There are few places where the results of the government trans-migration policy are more evident than here. For that reason it is a wonderful place to eat with restaurants specialising in different regional and ethnic Indonesian cuisines. Sometimes this can all seem a bit inaccessible and hard to find for visitors, so do not be shy to ask your driver or at your hotel.
- 1 Kereneng Night Market (Pasar Malam Kereneng), Jl Hayam Wuruk/Jl Kamboja. This market starts up at sunset every day and is open until dawn. All manner of Indonesian food served from dozens of stalls. It is rough and ready, but the food is excellent and 100% authentic.
- 2 Atoom Bara, Jl Gajah Mada 106-108, ☏ . Chinese restaurant specialising in seafood. It appears unimpressive but the food is fantastic.
- 3 Warung Ayam Betutu Bu Ferdi, Jl. Gn. Cemara Raya No.16, Tegal Harum, West Denpasar, ☏ . 07:00-17:00. A halal Balinese cuisine such as Ayam Betutu, Nasi campur and Tum ayam. From Rp15,000.
- 4 Warung De Rujak, Jl. Pulau Misol No.4, Dauh Puri Kauh, West Denpasar, ☏ . 07:00-17:00. Serves Balinese dish, Rujak kuah pindang and Tipat cantok. From Rp10,000.
- Kak Man, Jl Teuku Umar 135, ☏ . This place is an absolute institution. Truly excellent Balinese food including bebek betutu (smoked duck).
The foodcourts on the upper levels of Denpasar's department stores all serve surprisingly good food at excellent value prices. Try Ramayana on Jalan Diponegoro, Matahari Duta Plaza on Jalan Dewi Sartika, Tiara Dewata and Robinsons opposite Matahari.
- 5 Ayam Goreng Nyonya Suharti, Jl Gatot Subroto 109, Ubung, ☏ . Famous fried chicken cooked with an old family recipe from Java. A bit out of the way but definitely worth the effort in getting there.
- 6 Ayam Taliwang, Jl Teuku Umar, ☏ . A restaurant noted for the Lombok speciality of Ayam Taliwang (grilled or fried young chicken). Spicy and delicious.
- 7 Bali Bakery, Jl Hayam Wuruk 181, Tanjung Bungkak, ☏ , email@example.com. 08:00 to 21:30. Long established bakery and bistro/cafe. Very good quality bread, pastries and cakes produced fresh every day. Large lunch and dinner menu which includes local favourites and some well chosen international dishes.
- 8 Cianjur, Jl Cok Agung Tresna, Renon, ☏ . Named after a town in West Java, its dishes are influenced by Sundanese cuisine. A little out of the city centre in the suburb of Renon. The grilled and sour-sweet Ikan Gurame is especially recommended.
- 9 Warung Wardani, Jl Yudistira 2, ☏ . Excellent Indonesian cuisine. Look no further than the Nasi Campur (rice with various spicy side dishes) which is what everyone comes here to eat.
- Kereneng Night Market (Pasar Malam Kereneng), Jl Hayam Wuruk/Jl Kamboja. This market starts up at sunset every day and is open until dawn. All manner of Indonesian food is served from dozens of stalls. It is rough and ready, but the food is excellent and authentic.
- Kopi Bali, Jl Gajah Madah 80, ☏ . An absolute must for coffee lovers. Indonesia produces some of the best coffee in the world and here you can order your favourite brew as well as buy the beans. Products include coffee from Central Java, Toraja from Sulawesi, Mandailing from Sumatra, and of course the very best of Bali coffee. The outlet of the famous Butterfly Globe brand.
There are many small budget hotels in Denpasar which are primarily aimed at domestic business travellers as few foreign tourists stay in the city here. These are reasonably priced and comfortable enough. Within a 500 m walk of the Alul-Alun Puputan there are many options which will nearly always have availability. Shop around.
- Aston Denpasar Hotel and Conference Centre, Jl Gatot Subroto Barat No 283, ☏ . 3/4 star hotel from the Aston chain. Probably the best standard hotel in Denpasar but very much aimed at the conference and business travel market. from about Rp 800,000.
- Genesis Hotel and Spa, Jl Bypass Ngurah Rai 888, ☏ . 4-star hotel & spa with 5 suites and 71 rooms, including 9 sets of interconnecting rooms for families. Easy access to the main Jl Ngurah Rai bypass. Rates start at US$ 85.
- Inna Bali Inn (Natour Bali Hotel), Jl Veteren, ☏ . Mid-market hotel owned by the government and designed principally for hosting conferences. Good city location though. Has an interesting colonial past and a few nice historical touches remain. Rp 400,000.
- Merta Sari Hotel, Jl Hasanudin 24 (2 minutes walk south from the Alun-Alun Puputan), ☏ . Simple clean hotel.
- Nakula Familiar Inn, Jl Nakula 4, ☏ . Huge, modern rooms, WiFi, each with a balcony and choice of fan or A/C, and a welcoming family-style. From Rp 130,000 single, Rp 150,000 double.
- Taman Suci Hotel, Jl Imam Bonjol 45, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 45 room hotel in a strategic city position. Popular with domestic travellers. From Rp 325,000.
- Tirta Lestari Hotel, Jl Nangka 62 (1 km north of the city centre), ☏ . Simple clean hotel which will appeal to travellers on a budget. From Rp 120,000.
Several nations have a consulate in Denpasar:
- Australian Consulate General in Denpasar, Bali, Jalan Tantular, No. 32, Renon, Denpasar (PO Box 3243), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. For emergency contact: Call +62 361 241118. Follow the instructions (press 4, wait for the information recording to begin and then press 6), this will connect you to the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra. The Australian consular service in Bali also provides a limited range of consular services to Canadian and New Zealand citizens.
- Austrian Representative for Consular Affairs in Denpasar, Bali, Jalan Ganetri 9 D, Gatot Subroto Timur, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-13:00, closed on Austrian and Indonesian holidays.
- Japanese Consulate General Branch Office in Denpasar, Bali, Jl Raya Puputan No 170, Renon, ☏ .
- Consulate of Switzerland in Denpasar, Bali, Jalan Ganetri 9 D, Gatot Subroto Timur, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. M-F 09:00-13:00, closed on Swiss and Indonesian holidays.
- United States Consular Agency in Denpasar, Bali, Jl. Hayam Wuruk 310, ☏ , (After hours emergencies), fax: , BaliConsularAgency@state.gov. M-F 09:00-12:00 and 13:00-15:30, closed on American and Indonesian holidays.
Virtually all of Bali can be accessed easily from Denpasar.
- After spending time in the crowded city, head 45 minutes north to Ubud for clean air and spiritual refreshment.
- The golden beaches of Sanur are 15 minutes drive east.