The urban atmosphere of Denpasar, Bali’s bustling capital city - as well as business and administrative hub -, contrasts sharply with the serene Hindu temples, green terraced rice fields and superb sandy beaches nearby. Denpasar is a cosmopolitan, modern city that has grown rapidly in the past three decades and in many ways it has more in common with other Indonesian regional capitals than with its island hinterland. Nevertheless, it is worth a visit, even if you prefer to stay in one of the resort areas nearby rather than in the city itself.
Welcome to Indonesia
Indonesia’s sprawling capital is one of the fastest-growing, most chaotic and most exciting places in South-East Asia. It is the gateway to a vast, vibrant and varied island nation that’s home to dozens of fascinating cultures. Formerly the colonial capital of the Dutch East Indies – when it was known as Batavia – Jakarta has grown from its original seaport district into a huge modern conurbation of high-rise hotels and apartments, thronged shopping malls and wide, crowded avenues.
Founded nearly eight centuries ago, Indonesia’s second largest city has seen empires come and go. The founders of the Hindu Majapahit Empire arrived in late 13th century and remained till the 17th, being shortly followed by Muslim rulers of Mataram. Later came the colonialists of the Dutch East India Company. In recent decades, Surabaya has grown into a cosmopolitan seaport and conurbation where 21st century hotels, apartment towers and shopping malls stand next to historic mosques and palaces.