Bali’s second city, Singaraja (which means “Lion King”), is the epicenter of north Bali. Singaraja features winged lion statues, a scenic waterfront, and the chance to enjoy Chinese-Indonesian food. Other highlights include a covered market, a Chinese temple, and the Gedong Kirtya museum of palm manuscripts.
Most North Bali tours omit Singaraja to focus on Bedugul, waterfalls such as Gitgit, hot springs such as Banjar Holy Hot Springs, and nearby Lovina, but a handful of tours do take in Singaraja’s charming attractions or include the chance to sample Chinese-Indonesian cuisine. To explore the city in depth, it’s best to hire a private guide who has local knowledge of Singaraja.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Singaraja is mostly of interest to fans of the Chinese diaspora, Chinese-Indonesian food, and Balinese history.
- Singa Ambara Raja, the winged lion, is the symbol of Buleleng, the province of which Singaraja is the capital; you’ll see him all over the city.
- Though it might seem logical to base in Singaraja when exploring the north coast, most visitors choose to stay in nearby Lovina, which has a broader range of hotels.
How to Get There
Singaraja sits at the center of the north Bali coast, around 57 miles (91 kilometers) or three hours from Ngurah Rai International Airport. Most people can see all of Singaraja’s attractions in a couple of hours, plus time to enjoy a Chinese-Indonesian lunch. So, given the driving involved, it makes sense to book a private driver or arrange a private tour of North Bali highlights.
When to Get There
Few tourists visit Singaraja, so this typical Indonesian town is rarely crowded. If you’re aiming to see the Gedong Kirtya manuscript collection, visit during the week; the museum is open Monday to Thursday, and Friday mornings. There is also more action at the covered market and around the harbor during the week.
Historically, Buleleng Harbor (Pelabuhan Buleleng) in Singaraja was Bali’s most important port. Trade flowed through here from China and beyond, and you can see the trading influences in Chinese temples and along Kampung Bugis, named for Muslim traders from Sulawesi. Bali tourism began in Singaraja during the Dutch colonial period, when Denpasar was just a little market town.