Singaraja is the second largest city in Bali, governing over the northern regency of Buleleng. Singaraja was once the Dutch colonial capital of Bali and still maintains some of the era’s architecture, lending the city its unique and multicultural character. Though an important hub of culture and education, Singaraja itself is not of much interest to travellers and most visitors chose to stay in nearby Lovina instead.
As the busy capital of Buleleng regency, Singaraja with its population of some 100,000 feels very much like an Indonesian city. Singaraja worked as the Dutch colonial capital in Bali between 1849 – 1953 and to this day, the city is one of the few places in Bali where you can still see traces of colonial Dutch architecture. Singaraja is also one of the more multicultural areas of Bali, with visible Chinese and Arabic influences.
There isn’t that much to attract a casual visitor to Singaraja – this is very much an everyday city where local people live, work and study. Then again, the city makes for the perfect base for travellers looking to get a real feel of the local way of life, away from the tourist trail. Nearby Lovina is nothing compared to the touristic buzz in areas like Kuta and Seminyak but if even the relaxed pace of Lovina feels too touristy, Singaraja offers the perfect antidote.
Planning Your Trip to Singaraja
Singaraja is a busy regional capital which remains vibrant throughout the year, but attracts few travellers. Our Singaraja travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Singaraja, provide more information on locations you want to visit, and finish with some inspiration from our travel writers. For more information on events and festivals taking place throughout the year, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
Bali is pleasant all year round! May through September has the best weather (drier, less humid) and is the best time for many activities including diving and surfing. November though March is rainy season – though rainfall is never excessive so you can do most activities except volcano treks.
The temperature ranges from 24 degrees to 31 degrees all year round.
Rainfall ranges from 0cm to 140cm during the wet season.
Things to See & Do in Singaraja
As Singaraja is not a tourist destination as such, much of the city’s charm comes simply from exploring the area and getting a feel of the local way of life. The wide tree lined streets and traces of Dutch colonial architecture offer an interesting contrast to other areas in Bali. One of the best places to get a real feel of the local way of life is to visit the Banyuasri Market which offers a wide variety of fresh produce and local food and snacks.
Tours & Activities
You can soak up some of the local history while visiting Singaraja. Buleleng Museum is a modest building dedicated to the history of North Bali. The museum is adjoined by Gedong Kirtya which focuses on ancient, sacred texts written on palm leaves. Both museums are modest in their size and scope, but do offer a taste of the area’s rich history.
Rather than staying put in Singaraja, most travellers visiting North Bali make their way over to neighbouring areas like Lovina and Pemuteran instead. The former is a relaxed beach town with a good selection of restaurants, while the latter is known as one of the best dive sites in Bali. You can also head out away from the beach and explore the beautiful mountains, lakes and waterfalls of the surrounding area. Ministry of Villas can arrange a car and driver to help you explore further afield.
Eating & Drinking in Singaraja
Like the city itself, Singaraja’s dining scene doesn’t really cater to tourists. Instead of innovative trendy eateries, you’ll find the bustling town dotted with local warungs and casual restaurants. For more details on local cuisine, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
Most of the restaurants in Singaraja are local warungs and casual restaurants focusing on down to earth Balinese and Indonesian flavours. You can also try out some local dishes at the Banyuasri Market, where vendors sell local snacks and meals in the evenings. For more international dining options, head to neighbouring Lovina.
As Singaraja is not a tourist destination as such, the area doesn’t offer much in the way of nightlife. For a relaxed evening out spent gazing at the sunset and listening to live music while nursing a cold Bintang beer, it’s best to head over to neighbouring Lovina.
Overall, Singaraja is not a popular destination for tourists and most travellers choose to stay in neighbouring Lovina instead. There are a handful of midrange hotels in town, but all the more attractive beachfront and hillside properties are located outside the city.
Singaraja & Surrounds
Singaraja sits on the north coast of Bali, governing over Buleleng regency. This busy town is neighboured by the relaxed seaside hub of Lovina to the west, followed by the diving mecca of Pemuteran a little further up the coast. Travelling southwest, Buleleng blends in with Tabanan, a sprawling regency coloured by UNESCO protected rice paddies and home to the famous sea temple of Tanah Lot. Tabanan and Buleleng are neighboured by the verdant Gianyar regency which stretches from the rice fields of Ubud all the way to the southeast coastline. If you’re looking for a more cosmopolitan setting, Seminyak on the southwest coastline is arguably the most popular location on the island.
As Singaraja is not a popular tourist destination, there are no Ministry Approved villas in the city. Most travellers choose to stay in nearby Lovina and Pemuteran instead. There are a handful of Ministry Approved villas in North Bali, located within a reasonable drive of Singaraja. Our team can also organise a car and driver for day trips around the area, allowing you to visit Singaraja when desired.
All of our villas come with professionally trained staff. Many villas offer personalised services including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and other services you won’t find in a hotel.
Bali’s only airport, Ngurah Rai Airport, is located in Tuban in South Bali, a good ways away from Singaraja which in part has contributed to the “unspoilt” feel of North Bali. The busy airport greets over 20 million passengers a year and is well connected to international destinations. Direct flights to Bali are offered from destinations including Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai, Melbourne, Sydney and more. Airlines offering direct flights to and from Bali include Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Air Asia, Jetstar and more. There are also some early plans to build a second airport in North Bali. These plans are still in their early stages but should the project be completed, it would give a huge boost to tourism in North Bali.
It is also possible to reach Bali by boat. Singaraja is located about two hours from Gilimanuk, the port town which connects Bali to the neighbouring island of Java. The ferry trip from Java to Bali takes just around 30 minutes. To the east of Bali, boats from Lombok arrive in Benoa, Sanur, Serangan, Padang Bai and Amed. These are all located a good 2-3 hours from Singaraja.
Nationalities from over 160 countries are eligible for visa free entry into Indonesia. This means your passport will be stamped on arrival at the airport, allowing you to stay in the country for 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a visa which will require further arrangements. Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia.
There is no public transport to get you from the airport to your accommodation, so the only option is to use a private driver or a taxi. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa. To avoid queuing at the immigration counter, we can also arrange a VIP airport service for guests. This service includes lounge access, allowing you to relax while waiting for your luggage.
If you haven’t arranged your transfers prior to landing in Bali, you can also get a taxi directly at the airport. There is an official taxi stand at the international arrivals hall, next to the information desk. This desk offers both fixed price and metered rates across Bali. The rates are updated frequently and without prior notice, making it very challenging to find up to date pricing online. Besides the taxi stand, there are countless freelance drivers floating around the arrivals hall, offering rides at varying rates. To save yourself the hassle, we strongly encourage you to arrange your airport transfers before landing in Bali, especially if you’re heading to a more remote destination like Singaraja. Another option is to book overnight accommodation along the way (say, in Kuta or Ubud) and then make the rest of the way up to Singaraja the following day.
There are a few options for getting around Singaraja, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers.
Hiring a private car driver is the best way to explore Singaraja and its scenic surroundings. Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. This little luxury is remarkably affordable and we can also help you arrange an itinerary, instructing your driver in advance.
If you’re staying in the centre of Singaraja, you can usually explore your immediate surroundings on foot. In the centre of town, a lot of the streets are lined with a narrow walkway. It’s good to remember the traffic can be hectic and often oblivious to pedestrians, so do take care when walking around and especially when crossing roads. Also be mindful of the tropical weather and remember to keep well hydrated when out and about.
Hiring a scooter can be a great way to explore North Bali. You should only get on one if you have previous experience driving, as the often hectic streets of Bali are not the ideal place to start learning. You can usually rent a scooter at around IDR 50,000 (USD $4) per day. Always wear a helmet and carry a valid international driver’s licence. Driving without either will result in a fine if you get pulled over by the police.
As the area is not popular with tourists, there are no official metered taxis in Singaraja. There are, however countless locals offering transport services throughout the area. You’ll likely be offered a ride simply walking down the street. Alternatively, you can ask your accommodation to arrange a ride for you. As there are no taxi metres, you should always agree on the price before getting in.
The Balinese are among the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. This is all the more reason to return the favour and be respectful towards the local culture. Like anywhere else in the world, common sense and basic human decency goes a long way. For more detailed information about local culture, language and safety in Bali, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
SHOPPING & BARGAINING
Bargaining can be an enjoyable part of shopping in Bali… or it can be frustrating! To ensure a smooth exchange first decide what the item is worth to you, then ask the seller for their price – your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price. They are likely to respond with a counteroffer, which you can either accept or negotiate further. If you don’t like the price and you walk away there is a good chance the vendor will call out to you with a better (usually final) price. Keep in mind, if an agreement is reached, you’re committed – you should buy if your offer is accepted.
In late 2018, Bali’s governor banned single use plastic on the island, meaning shops, boutiques and supermarkets no longer give out plastic bags. When out and about, it’s best to carry a reusable bag with you.
Most restaurants and villas include a service component already so tipping is not expected, but if service is good, an additional cash tip is appreciated.
Indonesia’s country code is +62. Data speeds of 3G and faster is the norm across Bali. Local prepaid SIM cards are sold everywhere; any modern mobile phone will work. As of 2018, all prepaid SIM cards need to be registered which you can usually do with a copy of your passport directly at the shop where you purchase your SIM card. Prepaid SIM cards come loaded with pulsa (credit) or mobile data which you can later easily top up at other outlets. Most if not all minimarts and local phone shops can top off your SIM card when needed. Most villas provide broadband Internet and free Wi-Fi is common in cafes, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
Health & Safety
It’s important to note that compared to many places in the world, Bali is fairly safe. There have been some high-profile cases of visitors being injured or killed on Bali, but in many cases these tragedies have been inflamed by media sensationalism.
Many of Bali’s beaches are subject to heavy surf and strong currents. Be careful when swimming over coral and never walk on it. It can be very sharp and coral cuts are easily infected. In addition, you are damaging a fragile environment. Lastly, water pollution is a problem in busy neighbourhoods. Avoid swimming near open streams flowing into the sea as they are often contaminated by run-off from built-up areas.
Violent crime is uncommon in Bali, however bag-snatching from motorbikes and petty theft does occur. Take extra care with your phone if riding pillion on a motorbike as phones regularly get snatched from unsuspecting tourists using a navigation app. Otherwise, take the same precautions you would in any urban area and secure your money before leaving an ATM (and don’t forget your card!), don’t leave valuables on a beach while swimming, and use in-villa safes to store your valuables.
Tap water in Bali is not safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and cheap, however Ministry of Villas encourages visitors to keep a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
While Singaraja is not a tourist destination as such, the area does offer a fascinating glimpse of a busy Indonesian city – this is where locals live, work, study and go about their daily lives. Check out our latest Singaraja blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.