15 Top Things to Do in Denpasar, Bali Indonesia (No.14 is Super Beautiful)
As the provincial capital of Bali, Denpasar possesses a rich cultural and historical heritage from the past. It is the reason why there are so many temples, museums, and palaces sprawling all over the city. Because of this, Denpasar becomes a very popular tourist destination in Bali. Its position is also very strategic, transforming it into a central hub to other major cities in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Visitors could enjoy a lot of sightseeing while traveling on foot in this city.
The blooming business activities triggered by the rapid tourism growth attract new residents from all over Indonesia and foreign countries. This makes Denpasar as the highest growth rate city in the province. The name Denpasar derives from two words, Den and Pasar, which means north and market, respectively. It signifies that Denpasar originally starts out as a market-town, at a site now called Kumbasari Market in the northern part of the modern city.
Due to this fact, you can do an extensive amount of shopping in Denpasar up to this day. The number of shop and market are always growing extensively in all parts of the city. All of them provides the options that would surely please every shopper from all around the world. Basically, this city is the best spot to see some cultural destination and do some shopping. In this list, you will find the various main destinations in this cultural center that we have compiled for you. Indeed, here are all the things to do in Denpasar, Bali Indonesia.
Temples and Palaces
As said before, Denpasar is full of historical and religious places such as temples, palaces, and monuments. A trip to these places should be in your itinerary when visiting the city. Most of these temples are considered sacred by the Balinese. That is why there are several regulations concerning attire when visiting these places. We recommend you to bring your own sarong and sash with you while visiting these places since most of the temples do not provide a sarong or sash for hire. As visiting Bali temples is on of the best things to do in Denpasar Bali.
1. Sakenan Temple
Locals refer to this temple as Pura Sakenan. It is an old Hindu Temple in the vicinity of Serangan Village, an island that is a sub-district of Denpasar. The temple’s master plan divides it into two main districts, which is the east and the west wing. According to some ancient sources, the name Sakenan derives from the word Sakya, which means “unite the mind directly”. Usana Bali ancient text said that Mpu Kuturan, a high priest of Majapahit Kingdom, built the temple during the tenth century. He wants to re-arrange the social and religious aspect of the Balinese people using the temple. There are three main yards in the temple complex. They are the Utama Mandala, Madya Mandala, and Nista Mandala. A fully constructed wall along their periphery separates these yards.
Balinese people use the temple to held the Pujawali festival every Kuningan Kliwon Saturday, according to the Balinese calendar that only has 210 days per year. The date usually falls around 10 days after the Galungan festival. The festival lasts for three days, and the climax of the events should fall on Sunday. There are lots of performance, such as traditional ritual dances and traditional processions during the day of the event. The best time to visit the temple is during said festivals, as it will provide you with lots of amazing photo opportunities. Please remember to wear proper attire when visiting the temple, especially during the festival. Also, visitors should note that women on their periods are forbidden from entering the temple.
2. Jagatnatha Temple
This temple is built in 1953 to worship the supreme being Sanghyang Widi Wasa. Sanghyang Widi is the one true god, according to the old belief of Balinese people. A lot of ceremonies have held in this place ages ago, and the temple was not open to the public. Nowadays it is open to all worshippers and tourists regardless of religion without any restrictions. The main temple shrine or padmasana has the shape of an empty throne on top of a turtle, guarded by two nagas (a humanoid and snake hybrid mythical creature). The shrine was constructed using pearly white corals, with the throne and turtle represents heaven and earth, respectively. There are a lot of carvings from the popular Ramayana and Mahabharata myth decorating the walls.
The temple is quite different from the majority of temples in Bali in terms of ownership. The Jagatnatha development committee, taken from various Hindu community leaders, oversees any major development plan or event that takes place in the temple, instead of the Pengempon.
3. Denpasar Grand Palace
Puri Agung Denpasar or Denpasar Grand Palace is the main seat of power for the royal family of Denpasar in the past. The palace signifies the domain that borders the Plase Kuta Village to the south, Tukad Mati area to the west, Sumerta Village to the east, and Lemintang Village to the north. The palace complex itself borders the Gunung Semeru Road to the north, all the way from the Intan Sari Hotel up to the Lokitasari shopping complex. There are four main palaces in Badung Area, which is: Puri Ukiran Pemecutan, Puri Kaleran, Puri Agung Tegal Jematang, and Puri Oka. These four puris or palaces is commonly known as the Catur Agung Puri Denpasar by the local populace.
The architecture of this palace is the typical architectural style that greatly influenced by the Majapahit Kingdom. The material for the roofs of this palace is made from a palm-fiber substance called ijuk. Most of the walls are 3.5-meters high and 50-centimeters thick, presenting a solid and tough look.
4. Maospahit Temple
Maospahit is an old and ancient temple that predates back to the 14th century. The temple is a typical Majapahit architecture, which made obvious from its construction that mainly uses red bricks. As such, the temple has a high archaeological value.
It also reflects the strength and depth of the spiritual belief of Balinese people. In the early 20th century, a large earthquake destroyed a large part of this temple. However, the remnants of this temple that survived the earthquake are still intact to this day, due to the Balinese government effort in preserving and repairing the site. The temple’s most popular feature is the large statue of Garuda and Batara Bayu at the entrance.
Markets and Museums
What’s the things to do in Denpasar Bali Indonesia? There are quite a significant number of markets and museums in Denpasar, considering that it was once a thriving market town in the past. You can do an extensive shopping for unique traditional trinkets and mementos in these markets. As with the other Southeast Asian countries, a haggling skill is good to have when buying from the locals but is not necessary.
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5. Pasar Badung Market
Pasar Badung is the biggest market in Denpasar, portraying the traditional Balinese culture so perfectly. Hence, it became a major tourist attraction over the course of time. In the past, it was the main economic hub of Bali Island, the center of economic activities from all over the island. The market is famous for providing a vast array of products that reflect the value of Balinese people. From spices to handicrafts, you can find every stuffs that Balinese people require daily in here. In fact, lots of locals come to this place to purchase ceremonial trinkets and goods, and for their daily necessities as well.
As such, the market is perfect for tourists who want to buy some authentic Balinese souvenirs or ingredients for making a traditional Balinese cuisine. However, a fire burned the place down in 2016, leaving most of the stalls in ashes. The government and local populace are trying their best to rebuild and renovate the market to its former glory. To ensure the freshness of the items and experience the best feature of this market, it is recommended to visit early in the morning. Make sure to wear sturdy footwear as the roads and pathways can be quite dirty.
6. Sindhu Market
Another amazing traditional market to get some fresh ingredients and other unique Balinese items. This market looks more neat and tidy compared to the Pasar Badung. Most of the peddlers here sold their merchandise in modern stalls, in contrast with the more traditional stalls in Pasar Badung. The items sold here is more sophisticated and modern, for example, clothes, CDs, and more. Visitors can also try some of the delicious and tempting ready-made Balinese cuisines in this market.
Since the main target of this market is the tourists, especially foreigners, many stuff in here are slightly more expensive than in other traditional markets. As usual, a good bargaining skill might come in handy during your visit to this market, so you better start improving it to get the best prices from the merchants in here.
7. Bali Provincial Public Museum
Bali Provincial Public Museum or locally known as Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali is perhaps the most underrated tourist destination in Bali. This museum provides a detailed information regarding the history and culture of the Balinese people. It is the oldest museum in the island that houses more that 10.000 artifacts and trinkets for public display. The building was constructed using the traditional Balinese royal architectural style, which certainly looks charming to every patron.
The museum complex is comprised of four separate pavilions that were given a name after the regencies in Bali. The Tabanan pavilion in the north displays various theatrical masks and dance costumes along with the musical instruments. The central pavilion named after the Karangasem regency houses different sculptures and paintings. There are some ceremonial objects and trinkets in the central pavilion as well. The Buleleng in the south is filled with beautiful, hand-crafted Balinese textiles from various region and era. The last pavilion in the east displays various archaeological finds such as ceramics, agricultural tools, weapons, and more.
8. Fingerprint Painting Museum
The objects on display in this museum are rather unusual, or rather, unique. This museum houses a gallery of beautiful paintings painted by the owner: I Gusti Ngurah Gede Pemecutan. He is the grandson of I Gusti Ngurah Rai, Balinese national hero whose name was immortalized into the only airport in Bali. What makes the paintings unique and spectacular is that it is not made using a brush, but fingers. Hence, the name of the museum is the Fingerprint Painting Museum. The unique method involves smearing the canvas with colors using nothing but a fingertip. By pressing and moving the fingertip across the canvas, the painter could achieve an impressive form of art according to his imagination. Good places to visit in Denpasar Bali Indonesia.
In an interview, the owner says that he found the technique by chance rather than by research or something. One day, he decides to press the canvas with his own hands after having a dissatisfaction regarding one of his paintings. By doing so, he accidentally discovers a new method to create a painting. The museum currently displays around 200 of the owner’s painting, where 98 of them uses the fingerprint technique.
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Denpasar is also suitable for tourists who wish to explore and see the rich culture of the Balinese people. Arts and crafts have been an important aspect of Balinese heritage, including dances, sculptures, paintings, and much more.
Ida Bagus Tugur, a renowned Balinese architect, designed this complex back in 1973. This art center features a vast amphitheater to accommodate more than 6.000 persons. It is the largest cultural center that showcases Balinese arts at its finest regularly. During the Bali Arts Festival that held every year starting from the mid of July, there are a lot of performance in this cultural center, so it might be a good time to pay a visit.
The provincial government of Bali establishes this dance academy in 1967, under the initiative of the Advisory Council and Development of Culture. It is part of the famous Udayana University. For those with an interest in traditional dances, you can enroll in one of their classes.
The Kertalungu Cultural village stands in the middle of 80 hectares rice field, which is the perfect location to observe and enjoy the traditional customs of the local Balinese people. Lush greeneries and vast rice paddies surround this village, creating such a magnificent natural look. Visitors could participate and learn many traditional things in here; including planting rice in the paddies, making handicrafts with the locals, observe the ceremonial performances, and much more. The village also provides accommodations for those who wished to stay the night at the village.
Other Places of Interest
Other than cultural and religious places, Bali offers a lot of interesting things as well. These historical and natural landmarks are a proof that Bali is truly an Island of the Gods. Aside from the aforementioned places, you should pay a visit to these places as well.
This is a big urban space in the middle of Denpasar city that commemorates the heroicness of Balinese people against the colonial Dutch in 1906. The word puputan refers to a Balinese term for an act of mass suicide, preferring death rather than surrendering to the enemy. This heroic act displays the sheer force of will and bravery of the Balinese people. In front of the more superior Dutch armies, the warriors, citizens, and royal families of Badung kingdom decide to take their own life rather than be captured and humiliated. To honor their valor, a monument was built in the exact location where these brave Balinese met their demise. Nowadays, tourist and locals alike are able to visit this site to mingle with each other in this large open space.
The Balinese government opens the Turtle Conservation and Education Center, commonly abbreviated as TCEC, as a part of their strategy to combat the illegal turtle trade in the area. The center aims to preserve the local turtle population as well as educating the local populace and foreign visitors about the importance of their cause. It also acts as the medical center to accommodate injured turtles and breeding ground. WWF, Bali government, Denpasar Municipality Authorities, as well as the local populace, all supports TCEC and their noble cause. The conservation’s influence also reaches the neighboring islands of Java as well. They relocate the turtle nests from the harmful beaches where pilfering activity was commonly found.
For those who want to experience the magnificence of Balinese cuisine in one spot, head over to this joint in Denpasar. There are more than 200 food vendors in here that sell various dishes, from the traditional Balinese cuisine to modern-day fast food. The name translates literally to Balinese Culinary Trails, which is suitable with what they have to offer. The atmosphere is of a typical Balinese, relaxing and vibrant, even when crowded during the peak hours. There is a live music that performs regularly in this spot, which really adds to the ambiance. If you are a true culinary lover, then you should definitely include this amazing spot in your itinerary.
As Denpasar’s newest addition among other places in this list, Level 21 Mall starts out to presents a glamorous and sophisticated one-stop shopping experience for the citizen of Denpasar. Renowned tenants such as Starbucks, J.Co, Gramedia, Cinema XXI, and other major brands can be seen occupying the spacious lot inside this shopping center. This place is currently becoming a hype among denizens of Denpasar, especially the young ones, as the most happening and trendy spot for hanging out and window shopping. The location is also quite strategic, with easy access to almost everywhere. With everything it provides, Level 21 Mall quickly rises through the ranks into becoming a new icon of Denpasar city.