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The capital of Bali in Indonesia, Denpasar is a great base for exploring the island. The city is also a fascinating destination in its own right, with plenty of local flavour thanks to its Dutch colonial architecture, colourful markets and lively cultural scene. Dotted across the landscape are traditional villages surrounded by lush paddy fields which provide a snapshot of rural Balinese life. A little further afield lies Sanur Beach – a serene escape from the bustle of the city.
Hostels in Denpasar can be found all across the city. You can stay in a traditional Balinese building close to the airport, in upscale villas on quiet Sanur Beach or in low-key dorms in the centre of town. A handful have private pools and a few have bars for socialising with fellow travellers. Some Denpasar hostels have shared kitchens, while others are located near warungs (small family-owned eateries) that dish up local specialities.
Jalan Gajah Mada is one of the busiest areas in Denpasar. The street is packed with prime shopping spots like the open-air Badung Market, where you'll find a colourful array of fresh produce ranging from juicy mangoes to fiery chillies. Jalan Hasanuddin is famous for its gold shops that sell the precious metal by weight, while the upscale business district of Renon has cafés and boutiques. Head to Sanur Beach for sunrise views or to nearby Serangan Island for surfing.
There's plenty to see and do in Denpasar. You can learn about the island's history at the Bali Museum, shop for souvenirs at one of the many open-air local markets and watch traditional cultural performances at the Werdhi Budaya Art Centre. The capital is also home to ornate temples such as Pura Agung Jagatnatha, which has scenes from ancient Hindu epics carved on its walls. Nearby, verdant Puputan Square is a park popular with locals and a good place for a picnic or lounging with a book.
Ngurah Rai International Airport is 13km south of Denpasar. From here, the best way to get into the city is by hopping in a taxi outside the arrivals hall. The journey will take 30 minutes or so, depending on traffic. The centre of Denpasar is pedestrian-friendly but you can also use taxis to get around. Other popular Balinese towns such as Kuta, Seminyak and Legian are about a 20 to 30-minute drive or bus ride from Denpasar.