Wandering around the provincial capital of Bali, Denpasar is absolutely worth the cultural experience. Below are five things to do in Denpasar.
1. Bali Museum, Puputan Badung
A must-visit museum in Denpasar, Bali Museum is dedicated to present amazing collections of Balinese artefacts. Sacred and non-sacred collections are separately conserved according to Trimandala concept. Three main buildings of the museum are Gedung Tabanan, Gedung Karangasem, and Gedung Buleleng, each represents the region contributed to the collections. Gedung Tabanan displays religious and ritual tools and figures (e.g. barong and rangda), as well as traditional dance supplies. Historical items related to daily offerings and ceremonies in Bali are showcased in Gedung Karangasem.
In Gedung Buleleng, discover a series of Balinese textiles and fabrics, such as kain poleng (Balinese stripped fabrics), geringsing, songket, etc. The newest building, Gedung Timur, exhibits non-sacred pieces of Balinese history: statues, stone utensils, sarcophagus, traditional weapons and paintings.
Officially opened in 1932 in Dutch colony era, Bali Museum is located on Jalan Mayor Wisnu No.1, Dangin Puri, on the east to Puputan Badung Square. Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday 08.00-15.00, Friday 08.00-12.30, closed on Saturdays and national holidays.
2. Bhineka Djaja Coffee Shop in Denpasar's old town
In the middle of Denpasar’s heritage area, the oldest coffee shop in Bali produces and sells the best Balinese coffee blends. Bhineka Djaja, a small coffee shop tucked in the busy spot of Jalan Gajah Mada’s red brick buildings, was established in 1935 by The Tjahjadi family. Initially named Bian Ek coffee shop, the family business kept developing unique flavors of Balinese coffee, which became the city’s favorite.
The legendary coffee shop is adorned with only a few antique wooden tables, paintings made from coffee, and coffee machines. Very much traditional with utter simplicity, Bhineka Djaja draws in coffee enthusiasts who enjoy a different atmosphere of old town and intimacy. It’s all coffee to order here (kopi tubruk, luwak coffee, espresso, and cappuccino) and some tea (hot tea, milk tea), for much less expensive than the coffee you get in the trendy Seminyak or Ubud. There are neither selections of snacks nor any other fancy café menu available, except two slices of palm sugar aromatic biscuits served together in every cup of coffee. You can as well purchase Bhineka Djaja’s coffee beans and powder as a present to take home.
Take a seat, sip your coffee, and gaze at Denpasar street view; you will travel back to old times.
3. Traditional Markets: Pasar Badung and Pasar Kumbasari
Denpasar markets have been the city’s economic center for a long time. Pasar Badung being the main one, which was originally located on Jalan Gajah Mada nearby Badung River and has been relocated to Jalan Cokroaminoto (replacing the now closed shopping store Tiara Grosir) due to a major fire in 2016. The market doesn’t have its amazing variety of goods anymore, but it’s still packed by locals who mostly buy … Try to visit for some cheap local foods.
The traditional art market Pasar Kumbasari is a good place to shop Balinese souvenirs, handicrafts, and gifts with reasonable price. Wooden carvings, statues, ceramics handicrafts, traditional and contemporary paintings, local textiles (batik, ikat), stone works, golden and silver jewelry, jars, pots, and many others are provided in the multi-story market. Expect cheaper price by bargaining with the sellers (you might need a translator as a foreigner, but don’t be afraid to do this), even though some stalls apply fixed prices. The market also offers a great selections of vegetables, meat, fruits, local food, and household items.
4. Bajra Sandhi Monument, Renon
Your favorite cultural site to visit in Denpasar might be Bajra Sandhi monument on Jalan Raya Niti Mandala, Renon. Gorgeous Balinese ornaments and architecture of Bajra Sandhi represent Balinese Hinduism. Built in the heart of the city, the major landmark of Denpasar commemorates the struggle of Balinese people during the colonial Dutch invasion. Standing taller than other surroundings in the center of Niti Mandala Renon green park, the 45-meter high Bajra Sandhi monument was designed by Ir. Ida Bagus Gede Yadnya in 1981 and inaugurated by President Megawati Soekarnoputri in 2003.
In August 2016, Bajra Sandhi’s ground floor has been modified into I AM Bali 3D Museum, where you can take many selfies and group photos with friends in different settings, as well as learn about Bali and Indonesia cultures. The hall of the 3D museum displays fun, interactive trick art murals and art installations for you to create 3D visual illusions from 2D art made by local and international artists. Walk through the hall to choose your desired settings with Popeye, Disney characters, Kungfu Panda, Bali agricultural scenes, and many others. 4D special effects room enables you to experience Hobbit house, spooky UV room, being upside-down or flying in a classroom, crawling like a spider in a gym wall, and doing skateboard tricks. The ticket costs Rp 120.000 and shoes are mandatory.
Head to the second floor to discover 33 dioramas of Bali depicting important historical events in Bali. From pre-history of Bali (3000 BC), the beginning of banjar and subak system in 11th century, the glory of Bali kingdom during 11th - 19th century, wars against Dutch and Japan colony, until proclamation of national independence in Bali, the dioramas are wonderfully constructed. A spiral stair leads you to the upper deck, a perfect spot to see Denpasar’s city view from above.
Bajra Sandhi opening hours: Monday-Friday 8:30-17.00, Saturday-Sunday 9:30-17:00.
5. Big Garden Corner, Padanggalak
Chill and relax with your family and friends in Big Garden Corner Padanggalak, one of the newest artistic and recreational themed parks in Denpasar. Pretty much like a stone gallery, feast your eyes on more than 500 stone sculptures and relieves (some are available to buy), including a huge Buddha statue and permanently placed Borobudur miniature. Their green garden is completed with iconic hanging umbrellas above your head to snap some pictures, colorful cushions to lounge around, a bamboo and wood tree house with monkey figures, and a tree cave. The park was also designed for pre-wedding photo sessions (with additional fee of Rp 200.000) and wedding receptions up to 1000 guests. On Sundays, take your kids to meet life-size Pikachu! Kids playground might as well keep your kids joyful having fun with slides and swings. Big Garden Corner’s restaurant serves unique dragon fruit fried rice and salacca coffee, don’t miss to try these.
Opening hours: 12:00-21:00. The entrance fee is Rp 25.000 and you can refund it with either a gelato or soft drink. The parking space is huge, no parking fee is charged.