Insights on the City of the Lion King Singaraja…

Coastal road of North Bali

Singaraja is Bali’s second largest city and like the capital city, Denpasar. It isn’t a city where many travelers spend the night. Most visitors stay at the nearby tourist village Lovina, located just about 15 minutes along the coastal road towards the west.

If you are coming from the east and are heading to Lovina then you are likely to pass Singaraja. Despite being a city, the formal capital has a couple of interesting tourism sights you can visit.

Many people combine a visit to this city with a day trip to GitGit waterfalls, Lake Batur or the hot spring pool  of Air Sanih.

warehouse singaraja bali
The old warehouses of the Dutch

The history of Singaraja

While today the focus lies mainly on the south of the Island, Singaraja played a major role in the past. The name of this city means Lion King. It is a reminder of the 17th century powerful King Gusti Panji Sakti who exported Balinese slaves to Java island in exchange for gold and opium.

The trade increased and a wealthy city in northern Bali was born. It attracted Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Malay and Javanese and nowadays you can find many of their influences around town.

Because of its prosperous harbor and route to the spice islands of Maluccu the Dutch colonial power conquered the city and the northern district of Buleleng in 1849 and made Singaraja the capital of Bali.

The harbor was also the gate-way for foreigners to the beautiful island of Bali. Travelers used to arrive by boat in Singaraja first before they continued their journey over the mountains to the south.

statues in singaraja north bali

After World War II the Dutch had to give up Bali and the new Indonesian government moved to Denpasar. The harbor was also moved but this time 40 km west from the former capital to Celukanbawang.

The development of tourism in Kuta beach, Sanur, Nusa Dua and the international Bali airport in Tuban took away the spotlights on the city. There are however plans to build a second airport in the northern part of the island, making Singaraja an attractive city again for businesses and tourism.

Getting Around Singaraja

The harbor district is located north of the city while other sights more towards the south. Exploring a city like Singaraja by foot is not recommended. Instead try to arrange a motorbike so you drive around yourself and take in as much as possible of the city. An other option is of course the car.

governors office singaraja bali
Singambaraja ‘the lion king’ with the governor’s office in the back

Like any city in Indonesia there are a lot of coming and going of buses and bemos. There are three bus terminals in town, each with routes heading to the south, east or west of the island. You can hop on the many bemos heading for Lovina and Pemuteran, the latter does last about 2 hours.

Bemos are great for short distance. For other destinations we do recommend heading to Lovina first and from there on hop on a Perama bus that takes you straight to the usual tourist areas. Arrange a ticket in advance at one of tourist information offices in Kalibukbuk Lovina.

Things to see in Singaraja

The architectural reminders of the past are the main attractions of the city. The old coffee and tobacco warehouses, the antique bridge and the white colonial houses near the old harbour date back to the colonial times.

statue at singaraja bali
Statue of I Longtong near the harbor

The monument Yudha Mandala Tama, a statue of the freedom fighter I Longtong, pointing towards the sea is also located at the former harbor. It commemorates the period between the Japanese surrender and the Dutch return.

During this period guerillas would be known by their nick name. I Longtong’s, meaning Mr Steamed rice, real name was Ketut Merta. He was shot and killed when he replaced the Dutch flag with the Indonesian red-white flag.

Near the monument you can find the colourful building, Ling Gwan Kiong. It’s a Chinese temple where Confucian businessmen honor their ancestors. On the western side of the city you can find the Chinese cemetery with colorful decorated graves.

chinese temple singaraja bali
The Chinese temple…


If you love old books you should try to visit the small historical library, Gedong Kirtya near the center of the town, which was founded by the Dutch to preserve the Balinese culture in 1928.

This lontar museum has more than 3000 books made out of lontar palm leaves about religion, medical science, literature, history, mythology, magic formula and folklore of Bali and Lombok. The books from Lombok were stolen from the palace in Mataram during a military expedition in 1894.

It is said the Balinese are afraid to enter the library out of fear of being cursed by the spirits of the holy books…

There are also “presastis”, small metal plates with old-Balinese inscriptions from the Pejeng-Bedulu dynasty in the 14th century. They belong to the oldest written documents on Bali. The Gedong Kirtya museum is only open for visitors during weekdays.

 library singaraja bali
Entrance to the library

The Royal Palace

Near the library there are three other interesting sights. One of them is the Royal Palace of Puri Agung Singaraja, whose descendant still live there. The palace has been restored and has a wonderful display and photographs of previous rules.

Other nearby sights are is the museum of Buleleng and the Puri Sinar Nadi Putri, a small weaving workshop where beautiful ikat cloth is made.

Down the road on the right side of the library you can find the symbol of the city. This symbol is found every through town and the residents are pretty proud of it.

buleleng musuem in singaraja

Local Market

Like any city, the daily market is a pretty great sight. The Pasar Anyer market is located near the waterfront at Jalan Gajah Mada. Here the local people get their food, cloths and household articles. As a visitor the colorful sight and the buzz is an attraction by itself.

In the evenings head to the night market located nearby at Jalan Durian. You can find tittle food stalls selling all kinds of local dishes. Too much to taste but definitely worth trying out some.

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