Denpasar is the largest and busiest city on
the island. An old trading center, its name means "east of the market."
It's the headquarters for the government, the media, the island's principal
banks, airline offices, and hospitals. Bali's two universities, Udayana
and Warmadewa, are also based here. The city's local name is Badung, its
old name, and you'll hear "Badung" sung out by bemo drivers all
over Bali. Though it's been the capital of Bali since 1958, it's no longer
the administrative center of Badung Regency. In 1992, Greater Denpasar
and Sanur split off from Badung and formed their own administrative entity—Denpasar.
A hot, dusty, cacophonous, former Brahman-class city, Denpasar has grown fifteen-fold over the past 10 years and is now home to 367,000 people. Its citizenry consists of Badung's landed gentry, the priest class, and the new Balinese techno and bureaucratic elites, as well as Indonesians drawn from other islands to this economic magnet. Denpasar is one of Indonesia's most fully integrated and tolerant cities, with separate kampung of Bugis, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Madurese, and Javanese. Without doubt it's the richest, most important city in eastern Indonesia.
Unless you've got business here, the city has few charms, other than those quiet back alleyways where people are quite friendly. The most important government offices are located in a tree-shaded administrative complex of handsome reddish brick and gray stone. Industry is low-tech and non-polluting. Denpasar is actually best at night, when it's not so hot and the individual kampung resume their normal rhythms. It seems the whole population is either directly or indirectly involved in the tourist industry, and you can easily engage people in conversation.
Denpasar's main one-way east-to-west shopping street, Jl. Gajah Mada, is crammed with chauffeured cars, noisome putt-putting bemo, roaring motorcycles, and smelly, spewing buses. The city's limited attractions include a spacious alun-alun, tourist information offices, the island's main bus stations and best-stocked markets, some good Chinese restaurants, a spirited night market, dance and drama academies, a major art center, first-class museum, and five big cinemas heralding the coming of the next kung fu epic.
The Bali Museum
The largest collection of Baliana in the world is located on the east side of Taman Puputan on Jl. Mayor Wishnu just south of the tourist office. The Bali Museum was established in 1910 by the conquering Dutch, who sought to collect and preserve artifacts they felt were disappearing overseas or succumbing to the elements. In 1917, an eruption of Gunung Batur and subsequent earthquakes destroyed hundreds of Denpasar's buildings, including the museum. Rebuilt in 1925, it was used as a storehouse for artifacts and temporary exhibits until 1932, when it was established as an ethnographic museum. The German painter Walter Spies helped assemble many of its original treasures from private collections and donations.
The grand, well-kept complex consists of a series of attractive, grassy courtyards containing all the archetypes of Balinese architecture—bale agung, candi bentar, kulkul. The main structure, with its many pillars, is built in the manner of Puri Kanginan in the eastern regency of Karangasem. Standing next to it is a reproduction of Singaraja Palace on the north coast. With rich ornamentation both inside and out, the museum's architecture combines the two principal edifices of Bali, the temple (pura) and the palace (puri).
The museum's four buildings contain a splendid collection of Balinese art—Neolithic stone implements, a hoard of Buddhist clay seals excavated near Pejeng, Balinese folk crafts, carved and painted woodwork, cricket-fighting cages, dance costumes, textiles, masks, weaving looms and fabrics, agricultural tools, musical instruments, furniture, scale models of ceremonial events, ethnographic exhibits. The first pavilion is a two-story building containing high-quality, early traditional, Kamasan-style paintings; classical Balinese calendars; modern Batuan and Ubud-style paintings; and work of the Academic and Young Artists (or Naive) schools. Another pavilion displays carved media—wood, stone, clay, and bone—including sculpted windows, doors, pillars, ceiling beams, friezes, old guardian figures, demons, and specimens of Bali's extraordinarily earthy and vigorous folk art. The building, dedicated to prehistoric artifacts, displays Bronze Age implements, including the famous Gilimanuk bronze spearhead, the largest ever discovered in Southeast Asia. Also see ritual objects, priestly accoutrements, and a veranda lined with old stone statues. One building is devoted entirely to masks, weapons, and costumes of the performing arts, including rare barong pig masks and primitive dance masks from remote villages. There's also an incredible display of topeng.
A good part of the displays are annotated with English explanations, and clear maps in the central building show all the important prehistoric and historical sites of Bali. The museum also has a library and a shop selling postcards and books in English. However, there's no ground plan of the museum nor is a guide available to show visitors around. Open Tues.-Thurs. 0800-1700, Friday 0800-1530, closed Monday. Admission Rp500. Wear long pants.
Just east of the big alun-alun on Jl. Mayor Wishnu, next to the museum, is a Hindu temple, Pura Jagatnatha, built in 1953. In the afternoon, people from the surrounding kampung come here to pray; the temple's especially busy during the full moon. On a towered throne of white coral sits a bright, gold statue of Ida Batara Sanghyang Widhi in his typical pose. This is the supreme god of Balinese Hinduism. The padmasana rests on the back of the sacred turtle, clasped by two naga on plinths carved with scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The central courtyard is surrounded by a moat containing gigantic carp.
Also visit Puri Pemecutan near Tegal bus station on the corner of Jl. Thamrin and Jl. Hasannudin, built in 1907 to replace the original palace of the raja destroyed by Dutch artillery. Pemecutan, which shares the complex with Pemecutan Palace Hotel, houses old weapons and a renowned gamelan mas which survived from the original puri. Don't miss the handsome, four-tiered kulkul diagonally opposite the palace with its eight small raksasa statues. Chinese porcelain plates decorate the topmost tier.
Another unique and archaeologically important temple is Pura Masopahit, located in a small alley in the middle of the city off Jl. Sutomo. Enter through a door in the alley. This temple, one of the oldest on Bali, has its origins in the great 14th- and 15th-century Javanese Majapahit Empire when Hinduism was first introduced to Bali. The massive statues of Batara Bayu and Garuda guard the split gateway. On the imposing facade is a pantheon of carved demons and deities, including Yama and Indra. Heavily damaged in the 1917 quake, the earliest, now-restored buildings are in the back. Look for the terra-cotta statues.
Pura Melanting, in the midst of Pasar Badung, is a market temple where vendors make offerings on their way to their stalls. Northeast of Denpasar on Jl. Ratna (near the Sekolah Menengah Musik), off to the left and just before the signpost to Kesiman, is old Dalem Pura Tastasan with a monolithic altar and batu hitam.
For the budget traveler, Wisma Taruna Inn, Jl. Gadung 31, tel. (0361) 226913, lies on a quiet back street, two km from the city center (Rp200 by bemo or a 20-minute walk). From downtown Denpasar, walk up Jl. Hayam Wuruk and turn left at the Arya Hotel, approximately 100 meters down on the right. Rates Rp5000 s, Rp10,000 d (without breakfast); in the off-season even lower. Rent motorcycles and bicycles here. Other amenities include laundry service, beverages, and food. Friendly houseboys. This hostel is only a 10-minute walk from the Kereneng bus terminal, which provides transport to all of eastern Bali.
The Bali International Hostel, Jl. Mertasari 19, Banjar Suwung Kangin, Sidakarya, Denpasar Selatan, tel./fax (0361) 63912, opened in 1993 and caters to young people and student groups. Be sure to book ahead. Rp10,000 for fan-cooled rooms, Rp15,000 a/c. Each room holds two to four beds; restaurant; clean and safe; lockers provided. Get a taxi as it's a bit out of town, just two km from beach. Tours and sporting activities can be arranged.
Catering exclusively to travelers is Two Brothers Inn off the main road (Jl. Imam Bonjol) to Kuta Beach. It's only a five-minute walk from the Tegal bemo terminal and a 10-minute fast walk from downtown. Go down the lane (Gang VII/5) to the right of Banjar Tegal Gede. One of the cheapest losmen in Denpasar (Rp10,000 to 15,000 d without mandi), the Two Brothers is clean and safe, with electricity, sitting toilets, showers, fragrant flowers, free tea and coffee. It's also quiet, except for the dog chorus at night. Excellent value; please don't try to bargain. Try local meals in nearby warung and a small restaurant 200 meters away; ask proprietor Ibu Anom for the best eateries. From Two Brothers you can easily walk or take a bemo into town (Rp350), or just stroll down the lane in your swim gear with your towel over your shoulder and thumb a bemo (Rp800) to Kuta Beach.
If Two Brothers is full, try the noisier 31-room Hotel Tamansari, Jl. Imam Bonjol 45, tel. (0361) 226724, for Rp10,000-15,500. Some rooms have Indonesian-style kamar mandi; some have a fan. The pool is a surprising addition to a budget hotel. Also with a pool, and near the Two Brothers toward the city, is Hotel Dharma Wisata, Jl. Imam Bonjol 83, tel. (0361) 222186; Rp15,000 d for rooms with their own mandi. The place is cool, clean, efficient, and has a pool.
Quite central and cheap is Hotel Adi Yasa, Jl. Nakula 23, tel. (0361) 22679, asking Rp8500 s, Rp15,000 d with bathroom and breakfast. The 22 rooms, which may be hot and muggy and badly need refurbishing, all face a pleasant, central garden. Request a fan. When getting off the long-distance bus at around 0500, this is a convenient transit place to stay as it's only 1.5 km from Ubung station. Another way to hit it is from Kumbasari Market on Jl. Gajah Mada; walk up Jl. Kartini until you reach Jl. Nakula (the third right); Adi Yasa is about 100 meters down the street on the left, set in from the road.
Good reports about Nakula Familiar Inn, Jl. Nakula 4, tel. (0361) 226446, across the street and 40 meters west of Adi Yasa's in the direction of Jl. Kartini. Some of the new, clean, upbeat rooms (Rp16,000 d) feature balconies, fresh curtains, and big bathrooms. All rooms surround an outside dining area and courtyard. Another reasonable place is the family-run Penginapan Tambora, Jl. Gunung Tambora 6, tel. (0361) 226352; Rp15,000-25,000 s or d, Rp1500 extra for a fan. Penginapan Mertapura, Jl. Belimbing 22, tel. (0361) 225036, charges Rp15,000 s, Rp20,000 d. Can be noisy, as it faces the street.
A centrally located losmen catering primarily to Indonesian businessmen is Hotel Ratu, Jl. Yos Sudarso 4, Sanglah, tel. (0361) 226922. Central location, yet cushioned somehow from city noise. Rooms cost Rp12,500 s, Rp15,000 d without fan; Rp15,000 s, Rp20,000 d with fan. All prices include tax and service. Rooms are clean, with showers but no hot water. Breakfast not included.
On Jl. Diponegoro near the Matahari Shopping Center are many low-cost losmen popular with Indonesians, including Hotel Damai, Hotel Dewi, Hotel Artha, and Diponegoro Inn. Hotel Chandra Garden, Jl. Diponegoro 114, tel. (0361) 226425, has some a/c rooms; it's central, close to shopping centers, and includes a restaurant and bar. Rates (Rp27,500 s or d for rooms with fan) include tax and breakfast. Hotel Viking, Jl. Diponegoro 120, tel. (0361) 235153 or 223992, has budget rooms for Rp35,000 s or d, Rp60,000 a/c. Farther south on Jl. Diponegoro are Hotel Rai and Hotel Oka. Hotel Diregapura, Jl. Diponegoro 128, tel. (0361) 226924, offers 20 economy rooms for Rp10,000 s, Rp15,000 d. Nice garden. Losmen Marhaen, on Gang VII/4 off Jl. Diponegoro, tel. (0361) 223781, is a good deal for the money: Rp12,000 s, Rp14,000 d with fan. Only 12 small rooms, but each includes private mandi and is reasonably clean and quiet.
The Sari Inn, Jl. Mayjen Sutoyo, tel. (0361) 222437, has 15 large, comfortable rooms with mandi, fan, and tea—very reasonable for Rp15,500 s, Rp20,000 d. An inexpensive rumah makan is 200 meters away. Call the inn from the airport and the owner will pick you up for Rp10,000. Seventeen-room Losmen Elim, Puri Oka, Jl. Kaliasem 3, tel. (0361) 224631, charges Rp15,000 s, Rp25,000 d; Rp50,000 for a/c front rooms. Breakfast extra, no hot water, all the hot tea you can drink. Hotel Denpasar, Jl. Diponegoro 103 (Box 111, Denpasar), tel. (0361) 28336, features Bali-style cottages for Rp30,000 s, Rp45,000 d with a/c, private mandi, hot water, and a restaurant. Hotel Denpasar also offers a number of spartan, lower-priced fan-cooled rooms. Located in the south of the city on the road to Suwung. In the heart of Denpasar, Hotel Puri Alit, Jl. Sutomo 26 (Box 102, Denpasar), tel. (0361) 228831, fax 288766, has 22 rooms. With fan Rp16,000 s, Rp20,000 d; with a/c Rp30,000 s, Rp35,000 d. Private bath, tub, shower. For reservations, call the head office at Jl. Hang Tuah 41, Sanur, tel. (0361) 288560, fax 288766. Part of the Alit chain; if you like it here check out Alit's Beach Bungalows in Sanur and Alit Kuta Bungalows in Kuta.
Recently renovated Pemecutan Palace Hotel, Jl. Thamrin 2 (Box 489), tel. (0361) 223491, has 45 rather ordinary rooms ranging from Rp30,000 s to Rp45,000 d, most with a/c and phones; no hot water. The restaurant serves Chinese, Indonesian, and Western food. Amenities include laundry and a car rental service. Quiet, despite its central location. The hotel is housed in a rebuilt palace—the royal occupants were annihilated in the 1906 puputan. Today, you may observe the day-by-day activities and rituals that still take place in the extensive courtyards of the puri. The singing birds add a nice touch. Ask to see the old meriam (cannon), an 1840 gift to the raja by the Dutch.
For more spacious surroundings, away from the hustle and bustle, stay in nearby Tohpati at Hotel Tohpati Bali, Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai 15, tel. (0361) 236273, fax 232404, northeast of Denpasar. Luxury facilities—cottages surrounded by tropical trees and flowers, pool and sunken bar, piano bar, restaurants, shops, fitness center, putting green, tennis courts, and a contracted beach in Sanur with "every water sport available."
Centrally located at Jl. Veteran 3, just a short walk from Jl. Gajah Mada and the Bali Museum, is the closest thing to first-class accommodations in Denpasar—the venerable three-star, 73-room Natour Bali Hotel on Jl. Veteran 3 (Box 3003, Denpasar), tel. (0361) 225681, fax 235347. Built by a Dutch shipping company in 1927, this was Bali's first tourist hotel, and though it's becoming rather frayed, it still retains vestiges of its charming past with a palm-shaded lobby, antique black fans, art-deco lamps, dark wood finishings, and shady walkways. Here stayed the early Western anthropologists and writers who arrived to study Bali. The hotel charges Rp92,400 for rooms with a/c, ceiling fans, private bathrooms, hot water, TV, video, and a sound system. Suites are Rp150,150. Other amenities include gift shop, bar, and the Puri Agung Restaurant.
A new luxury convenience hotel, the Sanno Denpasar Hotel Bali, Jl. Hayam Wuruk 200 (tel. 0361-238185, fax 238186), has opened in Renon, five minutes' drive from Sanur Beach. Rates: Rp125,000 s, Rp150,000 d (plus 21%).
For an instant introduction to Indonesian cuisine, visit the colorful open-air pasar malam in the parking lot 150 meters behind the multistoried Kumbasari Shopping Complex, just off Jl. Gajah Mada by the river. Open 1800-2400. Dozens of stalls under plastic covers serve Chinese noodle soups, fried rice, sate, excellent martabak, babi guling, nasi campur, pangsit mie, chocolate donuts, and hot drinks. Try steaming kue putu smothered in coconut shavings. At night the pasar malam is a splendid place to visit, with hundreds of milling people of all ages, races, and islands. Other pasar malam include the Kereneng bus station (the Asoka Night Market), serving excellent babi guling (only Rp1500) and other native dishes; opposite Tegal station (where you catch minivans to Kuta); and on Jl. Diponegoro near the Kertha Wijaya Shopping Center. All are good, cheap, entertaining night eateries that are so inexpensive only a glutton could possibly spend more than Rp6000.
Virtually all of Denpasar's six big shopping centers feature good quality, cheap, and genuine bakeries and cafeteria-style food marts with a wide range of Indonesian, Chinese, Muslim, and Western meals Rp2000-5000. The huge Tiara Dewata Food Centre on Jl. Mayjen Sutoyo, serves 150 different kinds of foods—a cheap, clean, lively place with meals starting at Rp1000.
Near Hotel Adi Yasa, on Jl. Judistira at Tapakgangsul, clean and simple Rumah Makan Wardani, tel. (0361) 224398, serves a delicious Balinese-style nasi campur for only Rp3000. Wonderful vegetables; open 0800-1600. A superb nasi campur served in the Food Centre of the Tiara Dewata, Jl. Mayjend Sutoyo 55, tel. (0361) 235733, costs about Rp3000. There are at least four restaurants on Jl. Diponegoro and several on Jl. Gajah Mada serving nasi padang. The Minang Indah padang restaurant next to the Amsterdam Bakery at Jl. Diponegoro 122, tel. (0361) 235035, is outstanding. Next door, at no. 124 A, tel. (0361) 223534, RM Siang Malam, lets patrons pick out padang-style dishes from the many stacked in the window. Open 24 hours.
Specialty Foodstalls and Restaurants
A simple warung on Jl. Kartini opposite the cinema serves fantastic crab soup (Rp2000) with green vegetables and egg plus a plate of rice. It also specializes in excellent shelled fried crab. Closed on Monday. A bottle of the ginger Sari Temulawak caps the meal; Rp1000 with ice.
For American food, go to the Coffee House, Jl. Gajah Mada 124 A, tel. (0361) 222579, next door to the Hong Kong Restaurant. They have a good breakfast for Rp2500-4750 (with cinnamon toast), pizza (Rp3000), BLTs (Rp3500). Clean, padded chairs, batik napkins. Open daily 0800-2130. Libi department store, Jl. Teuku Umar 104-110, tel. (0361) 232007 or 221438, has a fast-food Texas barbecue chicken restaurant (tel. 226560), open everyday 1000-2200; Rp1500 per piece. A jump in elegance is the Puri Agung Restaurant in the Bali Hotel, Jl. Veteran 1, tel. (0361) 225681, which features a memorable rijstaffel (Rp10,500) as well as fixed-priced and a la carte meals. For inexpensive but first-class and not too spicy Indonesian/East Javanese food in a clean environment, eat at Rumah Makan Betty at Jl. Sumatra 56, tel. (0361) 224502—a simple, spacious, glassed-in, cafeteria-style place, popular with locals and expats, and one of Denpasar's best restaurants. The nasi campur and bubur ayam are good values; some vegetarian dishes. Open daily 0700-2100. Next door is a fine mie pangsit noodle shop.
For East Javanese specialities, try the excellent Kikel Sapi on Jl. Sumatra downtown. Tasty gado-gado, gule, and rawon. So crowded at night you may have to share a table. Open 0800-1600. Find Sunda-style fish at Pondok Melati in the government office district. Ayam Bakar Taliwang on Jl. Tengku Umar, tel. (0361) 228789, open 1000-2000, serves complete dinners of extra fat and juicy Sasak-style Taliwang chicken, with rice, sambal, vegetables, and delicious es kelapa muda (Rp1000). Outstanding fish sate with hot sauce. Particularly popular with high-placed government people. Another above-average chicken place is Ayam Goreng Nyonya Suharti, Jl. Gatot Subroto Ubung, tel. (0361) 234815—delicious Javanese-style roast chicken.
Genuine Balinese food is not easy to find. Tasty Balinese babi guling and lawar for about Rp3000 per portion at Warung Nasi Bali, Jl. Hayam Wuruk 69 A, tel. (0361) 223889, an easy walk from the Kereneng bus station. Head out to Jl. Hayam Wuruk and turn east; it's on the left, about 300 meters before Jl. Nusa Indah. Open 0730-1800. Clean Kakman Restaurant on Jl. Tengku Umar 135 (halfway to Kuta), tel. (0361) 227188, also specializes in Balinese food. Try the Klungkung vegetables and the urab. Moderate prices. The atmosphere of a Balinese household with bale bali; patronized mostly by Chinese businessmen.
Denpasar has some of the best Chinese restaurants on the island, several located on Jl. Gajah Mada. Hawaii, tel. (0361) 435135, on the second floor of the Kumbasari complex, offers a tourist menu with items like banana-and-cheese pancakes (Rp2800), club sandwiches (Rp3500), and traditional Chinese dishes. Be aware of the additional 10% government tax. The unpretentious but excellent and central Atoom Baru, Jl. Gajah Mada 106-108, tel. (0361) 426678, offers tasty nasi goreng for Rp3500, cap cai, a classic fishball soup, and delicious fish and vegetables with tomato sauce. A long-standing local favorite. The few flies landing on your table makes it all the more authentic. Also try the popular, fancier, and slightly overpriced Hong Kong Restaurant, Jl. Gajah Mada 99, tel. (0361) 434845, across the road from the Atoom Baru and right in front of Kumbasari Market. Dinners start at about Rp10,000; each dish can be ordered in different sizes. Specialties include stewed seafood and bean curd in a clay pot, Sichuan hot and sour soup, fried fresh carp, nasi goreng (Rp4000), and medium lobster (Rp50,000). Nice air-conditioned atmosphere; good for groups.
The Akasaka on Jl. Teuku Umar, Simpang Enam Square, tel. (0361) 238551 or 238552, is known for fine Japanese food. The restaurant's bar and karaoke music room, with a big-screen and twirling disco lights, are very popular with locals. Music programs in English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. Every second night is ladies night. Open 1900-0200. The only real nightclub in Denpasar, the Akasaka hosts live rock-and-roll bands in the basement.
Baked Goods and Desserts
There are dozens of bakeries in Denpasar providing fast food for people on their way to work. The biggest is Amsterdam Bakery, Jl. Diponegoro 122, tel. (0361) 235035—also a steak house, ice cream parlor, and restaurant. On Jl. Sumatra (no. 34A) is Toko Roti Matahari, tel. (0361) 234447, with bread, cheese and raisin rolls, donuts, muffins, and ice cream. The city's new shopping centers also feature bakeries; Tiara Dewata on Jl. Mayjen and Sutoyo are especially good.
The Art Center
Also called Taman Werdi Budaya, the Art Center is on Jl. Nusa Indah in Abiankapas, a suburb of Denpasar in the direction of Sanur, only a 15-minute walk east of Kereneng station. Set in a restful garden with lotus ponds amid richly carved baroque Balinese buildings, the Taman Werdi Budaya houses exhibits of modern painting, masks, and woodcarving. Both Balinese and Indonesian artists are featured. You'll find a car park, museum, and small, fixed-price handicraft shops.
Visitors can view dance and music rehearsals in two open-air amphitheaters with modern lighting. Dances are also regularly staged for the public, including works incorporating modern Balinese choreography. In the kecak performance, staged each night 1830-1930 (Rp5000), traditional flickering oil lamps are still used. Eerie and powerful.
The Art Center also hosts a summer art festival each year from mid-June to mid-July, with competitions for costumes, dance, drama, sendratari performances, music, woodcarving, metalworking, and food. Every year is different, with each of Bali's regencies sending its best teams. Also see art events, crafts exhibits, and an extravagant production of the Ramayana Ballet. If it's the high season, be sure to book your hotel in advance. These entertaining and exciting cultural shows draw tens of thousands of visitors from around the world.
The Balinese Art Development Center Program, Jl. Bayusuta (in the Art Center), is open 0800-1700 daily except Monday. This tertiary-level institute offers work on the undergraduate through master's degree levels. Besides staging dances, plays, and pop concerts, it houses permanent exhibits offering handicrafts, paintings, carvings, and silver. Student discounts available.
STSI and SMKI
More advanced students attend Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia (formerly ASTI), the Institute of Arts and Dance on Jl. Nusa Indah near the Art Center in Abiankapas, tel. (0361) 272361. Classes are 0700-1300 daily except Sunday. STSI director Made Bandem is responsible for a virtual renaissance in the Balinese arts. Tourism revenue is recycled into larger and grander ceremonies for the gods that, inevitably, include Balinese theater, music, song, and dance, and thus contribute to the development and preservation of Balinese art.
SMKI is the Conservatory of Instrumental Arts and Dance (tel. 0361-975180, fax 975162), for high school students in Batubulan. Opened in 1960; all Balinese dances are studied here. Visitors are welcome in the mornings to watch teachers train their pupils.
Hotel and Commercial Performances
In Sanur (nine km southeast of Denpasar), the Ramayana, joged, and legong are frequently staged at such big hotels as the Bali Hyatt just about every night of the week starting about 1900. Performances last 45 minutes to an hour and are often accompanied by buffet dinner. Cost: Rp25,000-30,000. Wayang kulit is performed every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday 1900-2000 for Rp6000 in the Laghawa Beach Inn.
A high-quality, dynamic barong is put on especially for tourists at Batubulan, a suburb northeast of Denpasar, on one of three open-air stages every morning, 0900-1000. Jammed with hundreds of Europeans, and suffocating with peddlers, admission is Rp5000. In the afternoon, 1630-1730, is a kecak fire dance. At Tanjung Bungkah, between Denpasar and Sanur, a kecak and fire dance has been staged 1930-2030 regularly since 1972, admission Rp5000. While here, see the small but colorful pura dalem temple.
One of Denpasar's main attractions is the massive, multistoried, visually fascinating central market, Pasar Badung on Jl. Gajah Mada alongside the river. With droves of people and amazing colors, this market is especially strong in plaited ware and inexpensive trinkets. Good cheap eateries. As you enter the market, kids will offer to carry your merchandise for Rp1000. Lines of dokar wait to take shoppers and their goods home.
Different goods are sold in different sections. The cool, dark, basement level houses a huge, bustling fruit and vegetable market, as well as meat and fish markets. The first floor is devoted to hardware, flower offerings, and spices. The top floor features textiles, songket, sarung from Java, dance and ceremonial accoutrements, kitchen utensils, hardware, tinware, brassware, bags, inexpensive clothes, basketry, a giddy variety of things made from palm leaves, and a great view over the city.
West of Pasar Badung, just across the river, is the giant Kumbasari Shopping Complex, a rabbit's warren of small wholesale and retail shops selling clothes, bedcovers, batik, paintings, Mas-style carvings, Celuk silver, and scads of junk. Cinemas cap the complex. This is the closest Denpasar gets to an art market. Opens at 0800.
To satiate the increasingly urbane appetites of Bali's growing middle class, there's been an alarming proliferation of huge, air-conditioned, well-scrubbed, Western-style shopping centers. At last count the city had seven. Each contains a comprehensive supermarket, bookstore, department store, food center, and playground, as well as beauty salons, music stores, cosmetic counters, and sports, houseware, and hardware departments. Kitchen utensils like stainless steel pots, glassware, and wooden spoons are a real bargain, cheaper than in the pasar. The guitars are better quality than those sold in Bandung. If buying foreign-brand items like high-pressure kerosene lamps (Rp40,000) or staplers, remember spare parts. Also buy conventional, Western-style, ready-to-wear clothing, children's clothes, and all types of consumer articles: electronics, office and art supplies, housewares, crafts, and jewelry. All offer free parking with security guards and luggage counters (tempat tititipan) where you can check in your valuables.
The three-storied MA Department Store, Jl. Diponegoro 50, tel. (0361) 222178, fax 36562, is on the street that extends past RM Beringin Jaya. Particularly strong on fashion apparel and accessories. All plastic accepted.
The Matahari, on Jl. Dewi Sartika, is owned by a Christian Chinese, Darmawan, who is trying to imitate Kmart in the States. Tiara Dewata, on Jl. Mayjend, Sutoyo, tel. (0361) 235733, has Bali's largest supermarket, a swimming pool (Rp1500 adult, Rp1000 child; bring towel), and children's amusement park with bumper cars and other assorted rides. Also check out Libi on Jl. Teuku Umar, tel. (0361) 232007, and Matahari on Jl. Dewi Sartika. Hero, Jl. Teuku Umar, offers superb fruit and vegetable sections, including fresh herbs and American seedless grapes. The seafood, meat, and dairy departments are the best on the island, and the range of baby products, cosmetics, and basic pharmaceuticals is excellent. A mammoth new shopping center, New Dewata Ayu, opposite the old favorite Matahari, opened in 1994. Smaller centers include Supernova on Jl. Raya Kuta, tel. (0361) 751186.
A morning market, Pasar Kereneng, is also a major terminal for buses to central and east Bali. Fruits and vegetables are sold here, as well as a limited selection of woodcarvings, paintings, and crockery. Denpasar's pasar malam, just south of the Kumbasari market, is clogged with vendors selling cheap clothes, jewelry, shoes, and batik.
The Taman Werdi Budaya Bali arts complex, in Abiankapas on the east side of Denpasar, houses exhibits of modern painting, woodcarvings, shadow puppet exhibits, and displays of giant barong landung puppets; regularly scheduled dances. Open Tues.-Sun. 0800-1700.
Sanggraha Kriya Asta Handicrafts Centre
You'll find this art center in Tophati's northeast suburbs, seven km east of Denpasar where the Bypass Highway from Nusa Dua joins the main road from Denpasar to Batubulan (P.O. Box 254, Denpasar, tel. 0361-222-942). This art cooperative, supervised by the Department of Industry, displays samples of nearly all the crafts produced on Bali today: woodcarvings, paintings, batik, dresses, shirts, silverwork. Prices about double what you'd pay in the art shops of Ubud, triple what you'd pay in a good art market. The quality, except for such items as mobiles, just isn't there.
Consisting of five spacious buildings, each devoted to a major craft, this art cooperative provides a good idea of what's out there—from high quality batik sarung for Rp35,000 to a pair of wooden earrings at Rp2000. All prices fixed. Open daily 0800-1700, Saturday 0900-1700, Sunday closed. Call for free transportation in the Denpasar, Kuta, and Sanur areas; the center will give you a lift if you spend Rp100,000 or more.
Next door to the handicrafts centre is a big Mega shop—better to spend time at Mega than at Sanggraha Kriya Asta. See "Craft Shops," below.
Located by the temple Pura Satriya, on the corner of Jl. Veteran and Jl. Nakula, this small art dealer's wholesale market sells woodcarvings, paintings, and other crafts, plus produce and good Bali-style takeout food. Look in on the only bird market on Bali—the Satriya Bird Market (Pasar Burung) at Jl. Veteran 64, where 40 shops sell parrots, cockatoos, partridges, and parakeets, as well as tropical fish and aquariums.
C.V. Nuratni, Jl. Gianyar 15, tel. (0361) 235613, is a large and well-known art shop on the road from Denpasar to Tohpati. Painted 2.5-meter-high Tegalalang Garudas go for Rp3 million; small ones are Rp31,500. Carved wooden ducks full of carved fruit, Rp735,000; a realistic banana tree for Rp630,000. Nuratni is an exporter and also accepts credit cards, traveler's checks, and personal checks. Prices not marked. Purchase unique clothing by a Japanese designer in the Bali Baru Wisata gallery at Jl. Sumba 26, tel. (0361) 2223998 or 31784.
Peek in at Mega Art Shop, Jl. Gajah Mada 36, tel. (0361) 225120, for its wide range of Balinese arts—jewelry, leather, puppets, paintings, ceramics, and fine textiles, including reasonably priced framed weavings from Timor for Rp230,000-287,000, and Sumbu ikats for Rp115,000-287,000. Ten percent cash discount. Visit only to see incredibly delicate, museum-quality antique gold artifacts from Flores. Open 0730-1700. An even larger Mega, tel. (0361) 228855 or 224570, is at Jl. Raya Gianyar Km 5.7 on the outskirts of Denpasar in Tohpati. Ask to see the owner's private collection of kris and ikat (not for sale). While there, check out the Popiler, tel. (0361) 235162, next door, open until 1800. There are now six stores in this trustworthy chain, including one downtown at Jl. Gajah Mada 36. Even if you buy some jewelry and then decide you don't like it, you can return it and staff will gladly allow you to exchange it for an item of equal value.
Fabrics and Textiles
Jalan Sulawesi is the fabrics street, especially for Indian or Muslim-style fabrics. Several well-stocked shops, including Dua Lima and Toko Murah, carry everything from gingham to velvet, nylon net to the finest cotton. Fair prices. At Jl. Sulawesi 58, tel. (0361) 225421, Meubal Yani carries bantal guling (Dutch wife) for only Rp6000.
Indonesians themselves shop for clothes at Galuh Tenun and Batik Bali, tel. (0361) 98304, in Batubulan on the main road out of Denpasar on the right. Here you can buy a sarung for as little as Rp4000. Enough of the staff speak English so you can make yourself understood. For high quality batik sarung and batik, try Winotosastro on Jl. Hayam Wuruk 102 on the road to Sanur. Silk is the specialty of the Duta Silk House in Duta Plaza, Denpasar. Panca Mulia Textiles, Jl. Gajah Mada 78, is a great place to buy sarung and three-meter-long kain, mostly traditional designs, Rp10,000-15,000.
Toko Pelangi at Jl. Gajah Mada 54 specializes in fine ikat from Bali, Sumba, and Savu. Sekana House, Jl. Diponegoro VII/4, tel. (0361) 235776, offers traditional antique ikat. Surya Jaya, Jl. Gajah Mada 62, sells convincing copies of ikat for curtains, bedspreads, and the like.
Alit's, on the east end of Jl. Thamrin, tel. (0361) 436645, and the Meteor Shop, Jl. Kartini 32, are known for their antiques as well as carved chess sets and sandalwood fans. Check out the Pelangi Art Shop, Jl. Soko 48, tel. (0361) 222689; another branch on Poppies Lane in Kuta, tel. (0361) 755646.
Mario Antiques in Batubulan proffers a lot of junk—also some gems. The nicest pieces of furniture come from wealthy families, and they don't part with them cheaply. You really have to know what you're doing in this place. A half kilometer past the market on the left.
Gold and Silver
On Jl. Sulawesi beside the household market, a number of silver shops sell 22-24 carat pieces. Some offer wholesale prices competitive with Hong Kong and Singapore. Try Solomon Silver, no. 66. tel. (0361) 224920. As is the case throughout Indonesia, you buy gold jewelry by the weight; the actual workmanship is free. Worth investigating is Zamrud's on Jl. Sulawesi, which carries and makes fine jewelry.
A very specific place for gold is the row of gold shops on Jl. Hasannudin. At any of them, you may also have gold articles made (a gold ring costing $500 in the States can be made here for about $200). The Kenanga Gold Shop at no. 43 A, tel. (0361) 225725, has a fine selection. If you change your mind after your purchase, you may return the item and get your money back, less 10%. Take a peek in Melati, no. 41 F, tel. (0361) 237065, and the 99 Gold Shop, no. 31 D, tel. (0361) 237169, while you're in the neighborhood.
The best bookstore for Westerners, and one of Bali's largest, is Gramedia, tel. (0361) 221026, in the basement of the Duta Plaza Shopping Center on Jl. Dewi Sartika. English-language paperbacks, guidebooks, maps, coffee table books, magazines. Open daily 0930-2000. PT Gunung Agung, in the Libi Shopping Center at Jl. Teuku Umar 110, tel. (0361) 263387, is also excellent. C.V. Garuda Wisnu, Jl. Teuku Umar 90 X, tel. (0361) 238010, and the bookstore at the Tiara Dewata Shopping Centre on Jl. Mayjend Sutoyo, tel. (0361) 225733, are also very good. Toko Buku Muda, Jl. Gajah Mada 18, tel. (0361) 224297, sells books as well as office and art supplies, sports equipment, and typewriters. The best Indonesian-language bookstores are Garuda Wishnu, Jl. Teuku Umar 90 K, and Barata, Jl. Kartini 107/156, tel. (0361) 223746.
Odds and Ends
Purchase flowers at the Lely Flower House, Jl. Nangka 41, tel. (0361) 224514, or Rose Flower Shop, Jl. Hasanuddin 28, tel. (0361) 222239. The furniture center is around the Sanur Bypass area and Batubulan. In the city, try Harapan Meubel, Jl. Sumatra 6, tel. (0361) 224106. Drop by Pelangi on Jl. Thamrin 27-37, tel. (0361) 428303, for kitchen supplies, including stainless steel items at bargain prices. A wide variety of less expensive kitchen and cooking appliances are sold in the specialty shops along Jl. Diponegoro. One well-stocked shop is Telaga Mas Jaya, Jl. Diponegoro 28, tel. (0361) 227544. Find wide selections of watches at Toko An, Jl. Gajah Mada, tel. (0361) 424193; Toko Bali Joy, Jl. Sumatra 57, tel. (0361) 223535; Bandung Toko, Jl. Kartini 29, tel. (0361) 224347; and Toko Mujur, Jl. Gajah Mada 69, tel. (0361) 222904. Buy arts and crafts supplies at C.V. Garuda Wisnu, Jl. Teuku Umar 90 X, tel. (0361) 238010, and in the Libi Department Store on Jl. Teuku Umar. Sporting goods available at U.D. Bali Dirgantara, Jl. Dr. Wahidin 47 B, tel. (0361) 420234; Bali Sport, Jl. Teuku Umar 117, tel. (0361) 238033; and Ruci Sport, Jl. Teuku Umar 65 B, tel. (0361) 234206.
International Optical, Jl. Gajah Mada 133, tel./fax (0361) 426294, carries a wide range of glasses. Other eyefolks include Optik Kimia Farma, Jl. Diponegoro 125, tel. (0361) 227811; Moses Optical, Jl. Diponegoro 66, tel. (0361) 226257; and National Optical, Jl. Sulawesi 134, tel. (0361) 222934. Buy cassette tapes at C.V. Dasa Dewa, Jl. Diponegoro 98 D, tel. (0361) 236278. Other music shops: Dynamics Music, Jl. Imam Bonjol, tel. (0361) 225472; and Vini, Vidi, Vici on Jl. Supratman, tel. (0361) 227219. Toko Bhineka Jaya, tel. (0361) 224016, the largest distributor of coffee on Bali, is across from Alus on Jl. Gajah Mada. Robusta and Arabica and many other blends sell for Rp4500-10,000 per kg.
Pembina Ilmu, Jl. Durian 3, tel. (0361) 232677, specializes in medical, scientific, geological, and geographic supplies and instruments at pretty good prices compared to those in Europe and the U.S.A. A good place to take or buy something for a kid. You'll find leather luggage, shoulder bags, and duffel bags on the second floor of the Kumbasari Market. Gung Wahade is a tattoo parlor on Jl. Bukit Tunggal on the way to Stasiun Tegal. For graphic arts and printing needs, Tata Grafika Percetakan, Jl. Ir. I.B. Oka, Gang Kujang 3, tel. (0361) 224355, does good work. Buy electronic goods like Walkmans, cassette recorders, and radios from one of the many shops along Jl. Diponegoro. Or try Toko Palapa Agung on Jl. Sumatra 8, tel. (0361) 225721; Toko Osaka, tel. (0361) 234665, also on Jl. Sumatra; Toko Agung Plaza, Jl. Veteran 44, tel. (0361) 223216; and Toko Surya, Jl. Gajah Mada 128, tel. (0361) 422254.
The most modern government hospital is RSU Sanglah, Jl. Kesehatan Selatan 1, tel. (0361) 235456, ext. 11. Another hospital, Wangaya, is on Jl. Kartini, tel. (0361) 222141. Surya Husada Clinic, Jl. Pulau Serangan 1-3, tel. (0361) 223786, in Sanglah near the government hospital, is the best private hospital. Though it charges twice the prices of the public hospitals, the service is better, and the staff is better trained and speaks English. Open around the clock. Another 24-hour clinic is Manuaba Clinic, Jl. Cokroaminoto 28, tel. (0361) 426393.
For emergencies, call an ambulance at tel. 118 or 27911. A physician with experience treating tourists is Dr. Tjokorda Gde Subamia, Rapco Station, tel. (0361) 234139. Dr. Gst Putu Panteri is in charge of a psychiatric clinic on Jl. Raya Denpasar, tel. (0361) 423301.
The city's largest pharmacy is Kimia Farma, Jl. Diponegoro 125, tel. (0361) 227812, just up from the Matahari Shopping Centre where Jl. Diponegoro meets Jl. Teuku Umar. It's also the busiest and has the longest wait; get there early in the morning. Open 24 hours. Another Kimia Farma pharmacy is in front of Sanglah hospital, tel. (0361) 223877. At smaller pharmacies you get faster service. A handy apothecary is Toko Obat Jaya Abadi, Jl. Gajah Mada 71-73, tel. (0361) 263026, which specializes in Indonesian and Chinese medicines. Also try Apotik Sehat, Jl. Diponegoro 205, tel. (0361) 225158, and Apotik Kresna Farma on Jl. Thamrin, tel. (0361) 422133. A small, inviting jamu opposite Pasar Badung on Jl. Sulawesi has an outstanding selection. There are many others. Toko Jaya Abadi on Jl. Gajah Mada sells jamu and traditional Chinese medicines. A wonderful traditional Chinese apothecary, Toko Sentosa, on Jl. Gajah Mada, tel. (0361) 222812, carries everything from ginseng root to Ho Shou Wu.
Dentists working in Denpasar hold to a surprisingly high standard. Emergency treatment is administered by Dr. Indra Guizot, Jl. Patimura 19, tel. (0361) 226834, appointments 1000-2100.
Beauty Salons, Tailors, Massage, and Fitness
The Pantes Beauty Salon, Jl. Gajah Mada 59, tel. (0361) 222984, gives perms for Rp25,000 and haircuts for Rp7500. The latter includes sideburn, ear, neck, and mustache trims, generous dose of talcum powder, and a glass of iced tea. A full range of body treatments, hair styling, and facials are available at Topstar in the Kertha Wijaya Shopping Centre, Jl. Diponegoro 98, tel. (0361) 221768; Paul and Irene Boutique, Jl. Melati 55, tel. (0361) 225717; and Mustika Ayu Salon, Jl. Danau Buyan 10, tel. (0361) 289080.
If you're in need of a tailor, see Alus at Gajah Mada 77, tel. (0361) 224522, or Hadi Tailor on Jl. Sumatera, tel. (0361) 223260. It's only a one to three day wait for the finished product.
The best of the city's masseuses are specially trained blind men. Mitra Jaya, Jl. Imam Bonjol 58, tel. (0361) 232071, charges about Rp8000 for an hour and a half session. The LG Club Sehatku, Jl. D. Tamblingan 23, tel. (0361) 287880, in Sanur does shiatsu.
The Bali Fitness Centre is at Jl. Diponegoro 98, tel. (0361) 232853, Pusa Pertokoan Kerta Wijaya, Block B 15/16, tel. (0361) 232853; find the Mahajaya Fitness Centre in Kompleks Pertokoan Mahajaya, Jl. Cokrominoto 63, in Ubung, tel. (0361) 432079.
Photo Shops, Communications, Bank, and Postal Services
Tati Photo, Denpasar's leading photographic supplies store sells cameras and equipment, prints and enlarges photos and slides, repairs cameras, and snaps passport photos in both black-and-white and color. Find the place at Jl. Sumatra 10-14, on the corner of Jl. Sumatra and Jl. Thamrin, tel. (0361) 264203. Photo services also available from Prima Photo, Jl. Thamrin 41, tel. (0361) 425031, and Diamond Photo Studio, Jl. Thamrin 5, tel. (0361) 426903.
The telephone and telegraph office is at Jl. Teuku Umar 6, tel. (0361) 222021, at the intersection of Jl. Diponegoro. Make international, collect, and calling-card calls, send and receive faxes and telexes. Open 24 hours. Send telegraphs and faxes Mon.-Sat. 0800-1900, Sunday 0800-1200.
Wartel (Warung Telekomunikasi) telecommunication centers are found in several locations—Jl. Segara Perempatan, tel. (0361) 288864, and Jl. Besakih, tel. (0361) 235067. Telephone, fax, or telex a message to anywhere in the world. Usually open 0800-1600.
The central post office, tel. (0361) 223565, 223568, 226581, or 226584, is on Jl. Raya Puputan in Renon, which is difficult, though possible by bemo, to reach. Best bet is to hire an ojek from Kereneng Station for about Rp2000. Open Mon.-Thurs. 0800-1400, Friday 0800-1100, Saturday 0800-1100. They don't forward mail, though they say they will. Although they have poste restante service here 0800-2100, you're better off with the poste restante centers in Ubud, Sanur, or Kuta. Even better is to have mail sent directly to your hotel. Other major Denpasar post offices are at Jl. Kamboja 6, outside Kereneng bemo station, open Mon.-Thurs. 0800-1200 and 1300-2100, Friday 0800-1200 and 1330-2100, Saturday 0800-2000, Sunday 0800-2100; on Jl. Teuku Umar across from the telephone office, open daily 0800-2100; and at Sanglah near the Udayana University on Jl. Diponegoro on the road to Benoa.
To send parcels, go to the paket pos building at Jl. Diponegoro 146, tel. (0361) 227727. Open Mon.-Fri. 0800-2000, Friday and Saturday until 1100. From Ubung terminal, take a bemo to the corner of Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Niti Mandala Renon, then walk 500 meters to the west. This is a good place to have parcels sent, as the clerks charge only Rp4000 to wrap and bind your box, with a plastic cover sewn on tightly and securely.
UPS, Jl. Raya Sesetan 118, tel. (0361) 232720, provides package and document delivery to more than 180 countries with electronic tracking capability. For rates, see the postal section in the Introduction.
For packaging and forwarding bulk shipments overseas, use PT Khatulistiwa Mandiri, Komplek Perkantoran, Benoa Port, tel. (0361) 226897, fax 226897; or Global Putra International Group, Jl. Raya Sesetan 200 B, tel. (0361) 232835 or 237657. These companies offer full container, bulk cargo, air and sea freight, customs services, and parcel and courier service. There are scores of other cargo shipping companies in Sanur and the Kuta area. Allow about three days to arrange to send a container.
There are several banks to choose from at the eastern end of Jl. Gajah Mada. You'll get quick and continuous service (no break for lunch) at Bank Negara Indonesia 1946 at Jl. Gajah Mada 20, tel. (0361) 227321. Bank Duta, Jl. Hayam Wuruk 165, tel. (0361) 226578, accepts Visa and MasterCard; open Mon.-Fri. 0800-1200, Saturday 0800-1100. BCA, Jl. Hasannudin 58, tel. (0361) 431012, also accepts plastic, open Mon.-Fri. 0800-1400, Saturday 0800-1200. One of the best banks for telegraphic transfers is Bank Bumi Daya, Jl. Veteran 12, tel. (0361) 231073, which will also cash most kinds of traveler's checks. Bank Ekspor-Impor, Jl. Udayana 11, tel. (0361) 234784, cashes Thomas Cook traveler's checks and is reliable for wire transfers. Get cash advances with your Visa card at the branch of the Lippo Bank; the main office is at Jl. Thamrin 77, tel. (0361) 422176. There are at least three moneychangers at the airport, open until 2000 or later. Find an ATM at Bank Bali near the telephone office on Jl. Diponegoro where it intersects with Jl. Teuku Umar.
Police and Legal Services
For traffic problems, contact the police headquarters on Jl. Supratman near the stadium, Polda Nusra, tel. (0361) 227711. Open Mon.-Sat. 0800-1200. Police stations are at Jl. Diponegoro 10, tel. (0361) 234928; Jl. Gunung Agung, tel. (0361) 234928; and on Jl. A. Yani, tel. (0361) 225456. For emergencies, call police at tel. 110.
Going by the title notaris, there are many lawyers in the Denpasar area. Start with Amir Sjarifudin, Jl. Veteran 11 A, tel. (0361) 235126, or Francisca Teresa, Jl. Patimura 7, tel. (0361) 227110.
Gay and Lesbian Resource
For information on gay and lesbian travel in Bali, call or write: Gaya Dewata, c/o Yayasan Citra Usadha Indonesia, Jl. Belimbing Gang Y No. 4; tel. (0361) 222620, fax 229487. Also serves as an AIDS education center and sells GAYa Nusantara.
Churches and Mosques
Find a Seventh-Day Adventist church on Jl. Surapati, Pentecostal services at 0800 at Jl. Kresna 19, an Evangelical house of worship on Jl. Melati, and the Gereja Kristen Protestan at Jl. Debes 6, tel. (0361) 223758, holding services in Indonesian at 0700 and 0900 each Sunday. Also in Denpasar are Gereja Maranatha, tel. (0361) 222591, and Gereja Baithani, tel. (0361) 232414.
Above the St. Joseph Catholic Church, Jl. Kepundung 2, off Jl. Surapati, are angels dressed as legong dancers. In a stone bas-relief of Christ, Pilate studies the scrolls by electric light while a motorbike sits in the background. Services are on Saturday at 1730, Sunday 0830 and 1730. The Raya Mosque and Mesjid An Nur are on the corner of Jl. Hasannudin and Jl. Sulawesi, and Uchuwah Mosque is down Jl. Surapati. Mesjid Al-Hissan is at Hotel Bali Beach.