Singaraja – Bali’s Quieter Side
Putting it simply, I am not a fan of Bali in Indonesia. This isn’t to say that the island has nothing to commend it. It is certainly scenically and culturally abundant, and fully deserving of its worldwide tourist popularity. However the island is so aggressively commercialised as to be aggravating. And being somewhat of an introvert, the nightlife of places such as Kuta and Legian is way too hedonistic for my liking. Tourism pervades almost the entire island, so it is a little difficult to totally avoid one or the other of these aspects when travelling in Bali. One place that is considerably less affected by both, however, is the town of Singaraja on Bali’s north coast.
Singaraja is the second largest town in Bali, behind the capital of Denpasar. It is perhaps best known for its beaches, about 6 kilometres to the west of town. Unfortunately, they are perhaps a touch overrated. Lovina, for example, certainly presents the classic tropical beach scene, with palm trees, colourful outrigger boats, and attractive dark brown sand. However, there was perhaps more litter about than is desirable, and the water itself was a very unhealthy shade of brown. It might be perfectly acceptable for sunbaking and lazing around, but I certainly would not recommend going swimming there.
Fortunately, the beaches are not the be all and end all of Singaraja, and the town has other attractions which are worth a look. The Jagat Natha temple, although only built in the 1970s, is very photogenic, and is said to be the largest Hindu temple of its kind in Bali. The Tourist Information Centre has a small museum and art gallery, and is located near a weaving factory, where visitors can observe brocades and other items being produced. A walk around the laid back town centre and waterfront is also interesting and relaxing. The sites are quite far apart but can be comfortably reached by walking. If you are averse to such physical activity, regular bemo services also exist to convey you between the attractions.
For those actually based around Denpasar, Singaraja might be a touch too far away to warrant a visit. For those arriving from Java via Gilimanuk, Singaraja might well be worth a detour. It is even possible to get direct bus services to Singaraja all the way from Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. For those who want Bali’s classic beach environment without the excessive commercialism and hedonism of Bali’s south, then Singaraja might be what you are looking for. Just think twice though before actually stepping into the water.