Home to around 800,000 people, Bali’s bustling capital, Denpasar, is a vibrant and multicultural city that most visitors skip over in favor of beaches and/or rice fields. Besides being home to the island’s best street food and largest markets, Denpasar offers attractions including parks, monuments, sculptures, and the Bali Museum.The Basics
Coupled with a confusing one-way system, Denpasar’s heavy and erratically driven traffic and limited parking means many travelers choose to experience the city on a tour, be it a street-food tour or a cultural experience. The compact historical quarter has sidewalks and is reasonably easy to navigate on foot, but most will value the geographical and cultural insights of a guide and the convenience of a driver.Things to Know Before You Go
- Denpasar is of interest to travelers who like to get off the beaten track and experience the grimy richness of real life.
- Denpasar is not a beach town, so it’s worth dressing more conservatively than you would in Kuta or Seminyak.
- Many Bali street-food tours include one or more stops in Denpasar, the island’s street-food epicenter.
How to Get There
Denpasar is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Ngurah Rai International Airport. The city’s public transport system is largely an informal network of “bemo” minibuses, which are hard for foreigners to navigate. Rather than brave the one-way system, many travelers prefer the convenience of a private driver/guide or a tour.
When to Get There
Denpasar is at its liveliest during the working week, but the morning and afternoon rush hours (from roughly 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm) are worth avoiding if you can. If wet (produce) markets and their associated street foods are on your itinerary, consider visiting early in the morning—even before dawn. Expect the streets to be eerily empty during Friday prayers.Denpasar’s Markets
The keen shopper will find Denpasar’s stores and markets endlessly fascinating. A couple of standouts are the Pasar Badung, the island’s main produce market, which sells everything from live animals to herbal medicines, and Pasar Kumbasari, a handicraft market. Markets selling flowers for offerings are particularly interesting.