Singaraja is the largest city in North Bali, and the former colonial administrative capital of not only Bali, but the whole of the Lesser Sunda Islands.
Singaraja still has some of the feel of an old colonial capital. The streets are wider and grander than elsewhere in Bali and some of the old houses set in large gardens recall days long gone. Singaraja just looks different to other towns and cities in Bali. This is also a noticeably multi ethnic city. The Arabic influence is especially apparent in the district near the old docks called Kampung Arab and the largest Chinese temple in Bali is here.
This is major academic centre with two univerisities, and the number of students residing swells the population to just over 100,000, making Singaraja Bali's second largest city.
- Tourist Information Centre (DIPARDA), Jl Veteren (at junction of Jl Veteren and Jl Gajah Mada), ☎ . M-Sa 7:30AM-4PM. This is the local tourist office for North Bali and is a good source of information for local current events of interest, as well as the standard attractions
It takes 2 to 3 hours to drive to Singaraja from the south of Bali. There are three main routes: east via Kintamani, taking in the stunning active volcano and mountain vistas, west via Pupuan, through beautiful rice-paddies, spice and coffee plantations; and central, via Bedugul with its famous market and botanical gardens. Whichever route you take, the journey is sure to be scenic and interesting.
A prepaid taxi from the airport will cost Rp 400,000.
By bus or bemo
Annoyingly for a city of its relatively small size, Singaraja has three bus terminals. Local bemos ferry passengers between the three terminals, many of which seem to be blue.
- Banyuasri Terminal is just west of the town centre on Jalan Jendral Achmed Yani, and operates buses and bemos to all points west. Buses to and from Gilimanuk (2 hours, about Rp 30,000) and bemos to Lovina (20 minutes, Rp 10,000) arrive and depart from here. There are also several long distance bus companies here who have overnight services to and from Surabaya and further afield in Java. You buy an all in ticket which includes the ferry crossing to or from Java. Expect to pay about Rp 180,000 to get to or from Surabaya (12 hours), Rp 250,000 to Yogyakarta (15 hours) and Rp 400,000 to Jakarata (1 day).
- Penarukan Terminal is about 2.5km east of town and is served by buses and bemos from Batubulan terminal in Denpasar (2.5-3 hours). Local bemos arriving from and departing to East Bali also operate from here.
- Sukasda Terminal is 3 km south of the city and is served by buses from Ubung Terminal in Denpasar. This route goes via Bedugul and is the cheapest way for budget travellers to get to Singaraja (and on to Lovina) from there.
Almost no visitors stay in Singaraja, it is more of a passing through town. Visitors therefore normally explore the city and surrounding areas in the car they arrived in.
In the city
- Gedong Kirtya, Jalan Veteren 20, Singaraja. M-F 8AM-4PM. A library and museum dedicated to the cataloging and preservation of old lontar (paper made from the rontal palm) scripts. Also houses some bronze inscription plates dating from the 10th century. Very much worth a visit. Rp 10,000.
- Pura Agung Jagatnatha, Jl Pramuka (close to the junction of Jl Pramuka and Jl Letkol Wisnu). This is the most important temple in the city and the largest in the whole of North Bali. Sadly non-Hindu visitors will not normally be allowed to enter. It is though still worth a visit to admire its magnificence from outside.
- Yudha Mandalatama Independence Monument, Jl Erlanga (right on the waterfront at the mouth of the Buleleng river). This rather splendid monument commemorates a local freedom fighter killed in the war against the Dutch. It is the dominant feature of the ramshackle but charming seafront of the city. Explore the surrounding area for a feeling of what Singaraja might have been like in its days as an important colonial port.
- Air Sanih (Yeh Sanih), Air Sanih Village (about 15 km east of Singaraja on the coast road). 8AM-6PM daily. A quaint, tiny coastal village with a notable cold spring bathing area set in nice gardens. The spring water here is said to originate from holy Lake Batur. A warning that the springs are very popular with local children, and can get noisy. Don't let that put you off though, this is a very charming spot. Rp 5,000.
- Gitgit Waterfalls, Gitgit village (10 km south Singaraja on the main road to Bedugul). 8AM-5:30PM daily. You are on the northern slopes of the central mountain range here, and there are three spread out waterfalls around the village of Gitgit. When driving south from Singaraja to Bedugul you cannot miss the signs and car parks. The best of the falls is the southernmost which drops about 50 metres. Some opportunities for bathing in the cool and fresh mountain waters. Rp 6,000.
- Pura Meduwe Karang, Kubutambahan village (about 10 km east of Singaraja on the coast road). A lovely looking temple, perhaps one of the most impressive in North Bali, and the location of the famous original carving of the Dutch cyclist which you see copied all over Bali. The temple is devoted to deities of agricultural matters. donation.
- Pura Beji, Sangsit village (turn inland at Sangsit, 7 km east of Singaraja on the coast road and proceed about 600 metres to the temple). A splendid pink sandstone temple with especially dramatic stone carvings. The temple is dedicated to the goddess of rice, Dewi Sri
Visit local temples, the museum and take in the remaining old colonial grandeur of Singaraja.
Singaraja is a notable production centre of high quality silk and cotton ikat. There are weaving centres on Jalan Dewi Sartika and Jalan Veteren. See the weavers in action and buy direct from the makers.
Along the front in Jalan Erlangga there are some stilted restaurants with great views out over the water. The most well known of these is called Dewi Sitha.
- Pondok Cabe, Jalan Kartini (to the south of Kantor Pengadilan). 5PM- 10PM. A restaurant in the form of a pondok or village house where locals and tourists enjoy Indonesian and western cuisine. Good place to eat if you can't find any Indonesian food which suits your taste. Meals served by experienced chef with work experience overseas. The atmosphere is very quiet and relaxing. A very cheap, sanitary and quiet place to eat. Prices range from Rp 6,000 to 25,000.
- Warung Kota, Jl Ngurah Rai 22, ☎ . 24 hours. A favoured hangout of local students, especially in the evenings. Good place to make friends and chat. You will find the locals very friendly indeed. Decent, standard Indonesian food at budget prices.
In the city
- Sakabindu Hotel, Jl Jend A Yani 104, Banyuasri, Singaraja 81116, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Simple accommodation in the middle of the city.
- Wijaya Hotel, Jl Sudirman 74, Singaraja, ☎ . Rather uninspiring accommodation but probably the best in the city. Fan-cooled and air con rooms. from Rp 65,000.
- Cilik's Beach Garden, Air Sanih, ☎ . A very pleasant all villa hotel set in 3 hectares of beach side land, just east of Air Sanih. The villas are all individually designed. If you are looking to splurge a little on a truly off-the-beaten-path option, then look no further. German owned and run. €50-160.
- Villa Selina, Bondalem, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Accommodation varies from serviced bungalows to guest rooms. All have their own ocean views and indoor/outdoor bathrooms, TV and bar facilities. From US$40.
- 1 Bondalem Beach Club, jalan Arcana, kelod Kangin, Bondalem, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Away from overcrowded touristic places, surrounded by coconut and mango plantations, this quiet, relaxing beachfront resort enables you to see the part of Bali without shopping malls, night clubs and traffic jams. Each bungalow can comfortably accommodate a family of 4 and includes a 2nd-floor balcony overlooking the ocean. Bondalem Beach Club Restaurant, serving Indonesian and European food, is on the premises. You can choose from a menu or ask the staff to cook for you something special, like freshly caught fish you bought from a local fisherman. Free bicycle and scooter hire. Outdoor swimming pool overlooking the sea with poolside sunbeds under large umbrellas. The pool has a shallow end for the kids to splash around in, and there is a kids' play corner complete with lots of toys and books to keep them occupied. Free Wi-Fi. 80€.
The area code for Singaraja is 0362.
If you find yourself in desperately in need of the internet, there is an uninspiring internet cafe with a slow connection close to the post office on Jalan Imam Bonjol.