Pasar Badung: Bali traditional market place
Denpasar’s Chinese style shop-houses and small selection of departments store are not as interesting as the traditional markets in the city. In Denpasar, the epicenter of shopping is the riverside Badung Market. It’s a sweaty, multi-storey concrete complex of stores and stalls selling everything from fresh fish, fruit and vegetables to Balinese and Javanese crafts and textiles.
Badung Market is the largest market in Bali and acts as a sort of clearing house for many island goods. Sarong vendors in Padangbai may buy their wares at Badung Market. Fruit and vegetable producers from around Bali may bring their goods to market at Badung Market, so the market is humming with activity 24/7.
It is located in a massive four storey building on the banks of the Badung river in the center of downtown, close to Jl. Gajah Mada. Organized chaos reigns outside, with cars and motorbikes trying to find a place to park, people carrying bushels of produce of every kind imaginable. Come in the morning and check out the food vendors.
Around the ground floor areas of Badung Market, especially outside the stairwells, one can observe older Balinese ladies preparing and selling traditional Balinese snack foods, complete with ground chili’s, vegetables and and array of other items. You may not know exactly what you’re eating but it could be a wonderful experience and one that will not break the bank.
Inside the first floor is reserved for meat, fish, fruit and veg. The upper floors for spices and traditional Balinese and Muslim attire, Denpasar has a decent sized Muslim population, and they sell in the market too, along with Chinese traders. Also sold are Balinese ceremonial equipment such as sarongs, umbrellas and baskets. You might see the odd westerner here, but by no means is this a tourist destination.
Badung Market has plenty of parking area, however the entrance at Jl. Sulawesi may seem a little hectic. Parking is also found along the streets leading away from the market. Some people have reported that local women offer their services as ‘guides’ but this does not seem to be the rule. You do not need a guide to explore Badung market and wandering around by yourself is truly an education in Balinese culture and commerce.
To get to Badung Market from Kuta, drive on Jl. Imam Bonjol towards Denpasar. You keep going straight until you are forced to make a left or right turn at Jl. Gajah Mada. Turn right and its just around the corner. You know its the market when you see the huge building with all the activity around it. The best time to visit the market is one fine day when it’s not raining, between 8am-12 noon. From Kuta it may takes about 15-20 minutes to get there, depending on traffic. On the opposite bank of the river, the Kumbasari Complex houses many small traders peddling cheap batik clothing, jewelery, silverware and dubious ‘antiques’.