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Despite the noise, bustle, traffic jams, and smog, Bali's capital, with its 400,000 inhabitants does have some interesting tourist options. One of the most popular is the central market--Bali's largest. Activity in and around this three-storey building peaks well before dawn, so go early to see everything.
It is well worth taking a stroll around Denpasar if you decide to venture into the capital. Anyone who hasn't seen an Asian city will be a little shocked at the smoke and dust, and the general living and shopping conditions that will be observed, but none-the-less it is an experience that will be remembered long after the suntan has faded.
Denpasar was rebuilt after the Puputan massacre of 1906, when the royal family committed suicide rather than surrender to the invading Dutch army. Today, the public Puputan Square in the centre of town commemorates the tragedy of that event.
Cross Jln. Surapati from Puputan Square to see the Bali Museum and Art Centre, which houses many artefacts of Bali's ethnic history. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1917 when Mt. Batur erupted, the museum was rebuilt during the 1920's, and its collections were once more protected from the ravages of nature and souvenir hunters. Dress respectfully to enter the museum (long pants or modest dresses must be worn).
The Denpasar tourist office is within a short walk of the square and the museum, as is Pura Jaganatha. Afternoon prayer times at this temple are very busy, and so long as visitors are dressed modestly, they will be welcomed.
Another significant Art Centre is located further east, just off Jln. Sanur (an extension of Jl. Gajahmada) toward Sanur.
The central market, Pasar Badung trades in the morning (starts very early, but is still operating during the mid-morning). It is located in Jln. Sulawesi, only about 200 meters from Suci bus station. Anyone who takes a bus to Denpasar could catch a local bemo to Suci, although those who arrive at Tegal bus station (the one that services the south of the island) will find themselves quite easily able to walk the 600 or 700 meters to the market. 
If you arrive by car, ask to stop along Jalan Gajahmada (the main road), near to the river. This will place you very close to the centre of things--the major shopping area and its department stores, the market, the banks, Asian movie houses etc.
The markets are fascinating with spices, meat, dried fish, traditionally woven cloth, gold and silver craftwares all traded from stalls within the shaddows of the modern department stores, banks, restaurants and apartment buildings. Always bargain for goods in the markets.
Most shopping complexes, supermarkets and department stores have fixed prices, and shopping hours are usually between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. with shorter hours on Sundays.
Accommodations and restaurants are available in all ranges, including a very good night market (malam pasar), so those wishing to experience life in a large Asian city could easily spend a couple of days here. Truly a different Bali experience!
Denpasar also has some larger hotels but most of the islands resort style hotels are located elsewhere.
Protestant churches are located in Jalan Surapati and Jalan Kresna (Pentacostal), and a Catholic church is located in Jalan Kepundung. A Mosque is located in Jalan Hasanudin.
The city is the central transportation hub of the island, so most tourists only enter Denpasar to change busses at one of the many bus stations whilst en-route to somewhere else. View our Denpasar public bus terminal information, distances and travel times between various centres around Bali.
The capital city of Bali, Denpasar has many community temples called "Pura". One is the Museum called Pura jagatnatha which is dedicated to the Supreme God, Sang Hyang Widi Wasa. The statue of a turtle and two dragons (prevalent in all temples) signify the foundation of the world.
The Museum offers a fine variety of prehistoric and modern art, whereas its architectural design resembles that of a palace. The government supervised "Sanggraha Kriya Asta" has a wide variety of handicraft and works of art. The "Werdi Budaya" presents a yearly art festival between June and July, with performances, exhibitions, art contest and so on.

Sanur beach has long been a popular recreation site for people from Denpasar. The palm-lined beach curves from the Bali Beach Hotel toward the south, facing the Indian Ocean towards the east. Sanur offers many good hotels, restaurants, shops and other tourist facilities. It is only a short distance from Denpasar. Public transportation to and from the city are easily available until well into the night. Offshore reefs protect the beach against the waves to make it popular for wind surfing, boating and other water sports. 

Once a lonely village on the road from Denpasar toward the Bukit Peninsula, Kuta is now a thriving tourist resort, popular mainly among the young. It is a beach for surfing although currents make it less suitable for swimming. Coast guards, however, are on constant duty during the day. Kuta faces toward the west offering beautiful sunsets.
Accommodation ranges from international hotels to home stays. The village abounds with restaurants, shops, discotheques and other tourist facilities. It is easier to find regular performances of Balinese music and dance in Kuta, staged specially for tourists, than anywhere else in Bali. Some performances are staged nightly. The village is ideal for meeting and mixing with other people, locals as well as visitors from abroad. Map

Just south of Cangu, and to the north of Seminyak, this is another area being developed by resort companies to attract visitors from the overflowing Kuta / Legian strip. Like Cangu, it's a bit too far from the nightlife scene but would suit those who wish to spend some quiet days relaxing by the pool or on the beach.

Nusa Dua:
The Nusa Dua tourist resort is part of the Bukit Peninsula in southern Bali. Some of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels are found here. The resort is known for its clean white beaches and clear waters. The surf is gentle along the northern side of the peninsula, bigger along the south. The most convenient form of transportation to and from Nusa Dua is by taxi. Map

Jimbaran Bay
A small fishing village located within a beautiful sandy bay on the southern Bukit peninsula. The few accommodations here range from basic losmen to world class luxury hotels.
The pristine white sand beach is protected by a reef and has few waves, making it ideal for families with young children. A significant part of the beach is lined with restaurants offering the day's catch at reasonable prices--fresh from the fishing fleet of nearby Kedonganan. Many day-trippers choose to make this the final stop of their journey in order to enjoy Bali's best seafood assortment while lapping up another spectacular sunset. The "must do" is to get to Jimbaran Bay is to pick a seaside restaurant (some bargaining is allowed) and watch the sunset while your seafood is being BBQ'ed. 

Driving northeast from Denpasar, stone figures on the roadside mark the village of Batubulan. Divinities and demons are carved from sandstone for ornaments of houses and temples. Workshops can be visited to watch artists at work.

An old and famous center of the arts, it is now known for its dancing, wood panel carving and paintings.

Northeast of Denpasar, the village of Celuk is noted for its silver and gold works of jewelry in various styles.

The village of woodcarvers, many of Bali's old masters still live here. Art galleries exhibit some of their best works. Visitors can wander through the Balinese style houses to view the carved wooden pillars and the artists at work or instructing apprentices who work in groups.

The center of Balinese painting, Ubud's Museum "Puri Lukisan" has a permanent collection of modern works of Balinese art dating from the turn of the century. There are also several art galleries and homes of famous artists here, including that of Dutch-born Hans Snel and the American Antonio Blanco. The "young artist" style now popular in Balinese painting was introduced by the Dutch painter Arie Smith. In the past, other foreign painters inspired Balinese artists to adopt western techniques but traditional Balinese paintings are still made and sold. Another museum called "Neka Museum" has a wide collection of paintings both by Indonesian as well as foreign artists who used to live in Bali. Ubud has several small hotels. Located on a higher altitude with a pleasant climate. 
Accommodation in Ubud generally offers better value than Kuta, Nusa Dua and Sanur although the standards are typically lower than the international hotels of the south- with some very notable exceptions. Ubudís many comfortable and relaxed homestays and losmen will however, provide the feel of Bali culture that no high-rise hotel can ever hope to fulfil. Of course, those who wish to explore the countryside from a luxurious base will find several options, amongst them some of the island's newest and best hotels.
The main street, Jl Raya and especially Monkey Forest Road are the traditional places to look for a low cost place to stay, but recently many new low and medium cost places have sprung up in Jl Hanoman and Jl Bima. 

Peliatan is located between Ubud and Mas. It has been known as the center of traditional music, and dances. The fine art of local woodcarvers started a new style of wood carving producing such things as fruits, flowers and trees in their real shapes and colorings.

Goa Gajah:
The Cave, dates back to the 11 Th. century and is believed to have been built as a monastery. Carvings on the wall show a demon's head over the entrance, flanked by two statues. The cave contains a statue of Ganesha. Escavations have uncovered a bathing place with six statues of nymphs holding water-spouts.

Yeh Pulu:
The ancient bas relief carvings on the rock wall within walking distance of Goa Gajah, was rediscovered in 1925. Follow the trail that runs parallel to the main road, via a tiny village, then through the fields to be among the small percentage of travellers who visit this worthy sight.

The temple of Pura Tirta Empul is built around the sacred spring at Tampaksiring. Over 1000 years old, the temple and its two bathing places have been used by the people for good health and prosperity because of the spring water's curative powers. Regular ceremonies are held for purification. Specialties of the area are bone and ivory carvings, and seashell ornaments.

The villages of Kintamani and Penelokan give a fantastic view of the active Mount Batur and Lake. The caldera of Batur is impressive: 7 miles in diameter and 60 feet deep. From Penelokan, a road leads to Kedisan on the shores of the lake where boats can be hired to cross over to Trunyan. This ancient village is inhabited by people who call themselves "Bali Aga" or original Balinese who have maintained many of their old ways. The Puser Jagat temple has an unusual architecture and stands under a massive Banyan tree.

Pura Kehen is situated in Bangli, Bali's second largest temple. Three terraced courtyards are connected by steps, and their balustrades are decorated with carvings and statues. A large Banyan tree with a tower shades the lowest and second courtyard, while in the third courtyard several shrines for the gods and ancestors are found.

The former seat of the Javanese Hindu Kingdom in Bali from where Balinese royalty draws its blood line, Klungkung was the oldest kingdom on the island and its "Raja" the most exalted. The Kerta Gosa or Royal Court of justice built in the 18th century, is specially known for its ceiling murals painted in the traditional wayang style, portraying punishment in hell and the rewards in heaven and other aspects of moralities. The floating pavilion, garden and lotus ponds in this walled-in complex, located on the main intersection of town are a reminder of the former glory of this kingdom.

Goa Lawah:
Nine km from Klungkung is Goa Lawah or bat cave. The roof is covered with thousands of bats and its entrance is guarded by a temple believed to be founded by a sage nine centuries ago.

Known as the "Mother Temple of Bali", the sanctuary of Besakih on the slopes of Mt. Agung is the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temples. Over a thousand years old, steps ascend through split gates to the main courtyard where the Trinity shrines are wrapped in cloth and decorated with flower offerings. Around the three main temples dedicated to the Trinity: Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, are 18 separate sanctuaries belonging to different regencies and caste groups.
To the Balinese, a visit to the temples sanctuaries is a special pilgrimage. Each has its own anniversary celebration or "Odalan". The sight of the temple against the background of the mountain is impressive and during festivals, colored banners add a touch of gaiety.

Menjangan Island:
This little island off Bali's west coast is known for its beautiful coral reefs found nearby and the wealth of tropical fish inhabiting the waters around it. The island itself including Terima Bay, are by themselves worth a visit because of the beautiful sceneries they offer.

Ten hectares of nutmeg trees in the Sangeh forest abounds with monkeys. The forest is considered sacred, so no wood is allowed to be chopped here. Two temples stand in the middle of the forest and another at the edge. As they live in this sacred forest, the monkeys are also held sacred and are rather tame, but it is advisable not to play with them.

Tanah Lot:
One of Bali's most important sea temples, Tanah Lot is built a top a huge rock which is surrounded by the sea. Built by one of the last priests to come to Bali from Java in the 16th century, its rituals include the paying of homage to the guardian spirits of the sea. Poisonous sea snakes found at the base of the rocky island are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruder.
The best time to see Tanah Lot is in the late afternoon when the temple is in silhouette.

The mountain resort of Bedugul, 18 km north of Denpasar, is known for its excellent golf course. Located besides Lake Bratan, it is surrounded by forested hills. A beautiful sight is the "Ulun Danu" temple which seems to rise out of the lake. The area offers good-walks. Boats are available for hire. Water skiing, and parasailing is done as well.

Protected for centuries from the outside world by its surrounding walls, the village of Tenganan has maintained its ancient pre-Hindu customs through a strong code of non-fraternization with outsiders. Here unique rituals offering dances and gladiator-like battles between youths take place. Tenganan is famous for its "double ikat" woven material called gringseng, which is supposed to protect the wearer by magic powers.

Candi Dasa:
Candi Dasa is a romantic and peaceful seaside resort area with lovely ocean views located two hours drive east of Denpasar. The local villages and rice fields offer an insight into the Bali of old and new and offers an enjoyable days outing from your hotel. Candi Dasa is quiet, so for those seeking this type of holiday and wanting to recharge their batteries this is the place to be. 

Yeh Saneh:
A little further east on the coastal road is Yeh Saneh, an idyllic spot few people know of. Only a few meters from the splash of the surf is a cool freshwater spring, around which has been built a large pool and gardens for bathers and picnickers.

Art Center:
The Werdhi Budaya Art Center was started in 1973 and finished in 1976: the largest and most complete in a series of cultural centers built throughout the archipelago by the Indonesian Government over the last decade. Designed by Bali's foremost architect, Ida Bagus Tugur, (also architect for Indonesia's new National Art Gallery) the vast complex is, apart from its very real cultural function, a showplace for Balinese Temple and Palace Architecture at its most opulent. The open stage Arda Candra with its towering candi gate and the almost rococo main Art Museum, a sprawling park, Balinese pavilions and follies, have become a regular architectural attraction. Built on one of the few remaining coconut groves in central Denpasar, the center has quickly become a busy forum for the performing and fine arts. With three Art Galleries and a host of stages, the Center is only rivaled by Jakarta's Taman Ismail Marzuki as a venue for diverse and rapidly changing cultural programs. Since 1975 the Center has been home to the island's Dance Academy (ASTI), a tertiary level Conservatorium, Dance and Drama School for traditional Balinese Performing arts. With the island's Art School situated next door, the center's seminar halls and exhibition space are devoted to the encouragement and education of local art students.


The most important institutions in Bali, temples reflect the important role religion plays in the life of the Balinese. A temple is a place for communicating with the divine spirits through offerings and prayers. On holy days, when the deities and ancestral spirits descend from heaven to visit earth, the temples become centers of activity.
Temple festivals are guided by purification of the sprinkling of holy water. Whole communities take part in these festivals, bringing baskets of food and flowers for offerings. While pura means temple, a puri is the residence of the local prince, which may function as a cultural center.
Music, dances, food, flowers, and fruits sacrificed began as part of temple rituals to please the gods and to placate evil spirit. Following the caste system of Hindu and some of its other rites and beliefs like reincarnation, one of the greatest ceremonies are cremations, meant to liberate the souls ready for rebirth. Burial is only temporary to give the family time to prepare or wait for others to arrange for a common cremation within the community.

Bali is world famous for its spectacular surfing beaches and golden sunsets. The reefbreaks at Uluwatu, Padang-Padang, Kuta, Nusa Dua and Sanur offer some of the very best waves in the world, with long tuberides breaking over pristine coral reefs. You're virtually guaranteed to get the best barrels of your life! For those less experienced, or who just want to try learning to surf in Bali, there are many safe beachbreaks and fun intermediate breaks scattered all around the island (many in the south). No matter what time of year you come, there is always good surf with off-shore winds. Bali really is "a surfer's paradise".    

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