Denpasar: A pocket guide

Bajra Sandhi in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
Bajra Sandhi in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

The name of Bali’s bustling capital combines the words den, meaning “north,” and pasar, meaning “market”—the city is just north of the popular Kumbasari market. Most visitors go for the day, preferring to stay in one of the luxury resorts in Seminayak, a 15-minute drive away in good traffic. The main draw for these day visits is the intricate architecture of Denpasar’s temples and landmarks.

A Gateway to Bali

The most prominent is Bajra Sandhi, a gargantuan monument that represents the struggle of the Balinese people. The centerpiece of a popular park, it is named after a traditional bell used by Hindu priests in religious ceremonies, and its interior features tell the tale of Balinese history. Although Denpasar is very much an urban escape, its green spaces reflect Bali’s love for the outdoors. Puputan Square, a favorite gathering place of locals, commemorates the heroic stand of the rajahs of Badun against the Dutch in 1906; it is filled with kite-flyers, young and old, over the weekend.

Denpasar has a tropical wet-and-dry climate, with warm sunshine and humidity throughout the year, making it popular with travelers in search of some winter sun. It is well known for its white-sand beaches. Families tend to holiday at five-kilometer-long Sanur Beach, a short drive from the city center, because of its calm waters and many water-sports activities. Curving toward the southwest in an almost perfect crescent shape, the offshore reef that protects the shore reduces Bali’s infamous waves to ankle-grazers gently lapping the shore.