Bali has been captured by the hearts of countless travelers. With its spectacular landscapes, incredible natural beauty, kind local community, and affordable luxury, it’s not hard to see why.
However, there are still many corners of Bali tucked away beyond the tourist trail. And, if you’re curious enough to venture out, you’ll be rewarded with encounters with friendly Balinese natives, delicious food, and raw local experiences you won’t find on Instagram.
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One of the best things about traveling to Southeast Asia is exploring the many night markets. It’s all too easy to get sucked into their buzzing and vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re hunting for unique street food, or searching for cheap clothing and local crafts, you can spend hours getting lost in night markets across the region.
There is also a travel rule of thumb that has never steered me wrong, and that is to “Eat where the locals eat.” This means that in order to taste the best, most authentic cuisine, you must uncover where the locals gather to feed.
Travel rule of thumb: “Eat where the locals eat.”
And when you’re in Southeast Asia, you can be sure to find them scavenging the local markets for their next meal.
Unlike the rest of the region, Bali isn’t exactly known for being rich in its selection of night markets. However, there is one market you should visit if you want to experience a truly authentic version of Bali, and that is Gianyar Night Market.
Exploring Gianyar Night Market in Bali
What to Expect at Gianyar Night Market
Locally known as Pasar Senggol Gianyar, Gianyar Night Market is a lively place where you can find an abundance of food stalls serving up delicious street food.
Gianyar Market is extremely local. It is not in any way similar to the market in Ubud that is primarily focused around selling trinkets and souvenirs to tourists.
Here, you’ll see live chickens, fish, fresh fruits and veggies, herbs, and spices. In the morning, you’ll even witness locals picking up their fresh produce for the day. While the market primarily offers food, you will also notice a number of stalls selling assorted clothing and kitchen supplies.
Fun Fact: In a traditional Balinese home, the wife is expected to cook enough food for the entire day to feed the entire family. Whenever a family member enters the kitchen at any time of the day, there should always be something ready for them to eat.
Starting around 5:00 PM, the market comes alive with the sizzling aromas of local Balinese specialties. Visitors can take their pick from steaming plates of babi guling (suckling pig), nasi goreng stir-fried right before your eyes, fiery chicken satay, and plenty of unrecognizable but intriguing dishes.
For dessert, market-goers can grab some pisang goreng (fried bananas) or martabak manis, a sweet pancake-like treat. These local desserts taste wonderfully delightful and the prices are incredibly modest.
Aside from the amazingly tasty food, the best part about visiting Gianyar Night Market in Bali is that it truly immerses you into local life. For reference, we only saw one other tourist couple while we were there.
If you do choose to visit, keep in mind that most of the sellers do not know English at all. At times, it might be difficult to communicate, and having a local guide would definitely be helpful. However, it is also a terrific experience navigating the market on your own, relying on nothing but sign language and smiles.
How to Get to Gianyar Night Market
Gianyar Night Market is located on Jalan Ngurah Rai, just twenty minutes away from Ubud by motorbike. Renting a scooter in Bali can be fairly inexpensive if you bargain well (think 50,000 IDR per day).
To get there from the center of Ubud, you’ll simply follow Cok Gede Rai Road, turn right onto Goa Gajah Road, and follow it until you hit Gianyar Night Market. Parking is plentiful, so those arriving by scooter should have no problem finding a spot.
Another option is to take a taxi and negotiate with the driver to wait for you until you’re finished at the market. This should cost about 150,000 IDR.
Gianyar Night Market is divided by a busy street. So no matter where you park, you’ll most likely be dodging scooters to get from one side to the other. Be sure to proceed with caution.
What to Try at Gianyar Night Market
- Babi guling – the crown jewel of Balinese food, this suckling pig is exactly what we went to Gianyar Night Market to try. It costs about 30,000 IDR (approx. $2.00) per serving and comes with soup and rice.
- Satay – or sate as it is spelled in Indonesia, is skewered meat grilled to perfection and served with a side of irresistible peanut sauce.
- Bakso soup – Bakso soup is true Indonesian comfort food. A delicious beef broth loaded with vegetables, noodles, and topped with meatballs makes for one fabulously flavorful meal. The meatballs themselves can be made from beef, pork, chicken, and even fish.
- Nasi campur – “campur” means “mix”. And simply put, nasi campur is a mix of everything. Think of it as a mini buffet on a plate. You can expect a scoop of white rice, accompanied by small portions of dishes like sate, fried tempeh, beef rendang, fried chicken, and vegetables.
- Ayam penyet – this insanely spicy Indonesian fried chicken is not for the faint of heart. If you think your tastebuds can handle it, be prepared to breathe fire!
- Tipat cantok – a mix of steamed vegetables like long beans, water lilies, and bean sprouts served with rice cake mixed with peanut sauce.
- Serombotan – is a fresh and healthy combination of boiled vegetables including water lily, spinach, bean sprouts, long beans, and eggplant. The mix is topped with grated coconut, spices, and chili sauce, making it a delicious fiery snack.
When visiting Gianyar Night Market, you can’t leave without trying the local sweets! Some of desserts worth trying are:
- Es campur – a cold and sweet concoction of condensed milk, shaved ice, tapioca and jelly.
- Pisang goreng – fried bananas and other fried goodies like fried tempeh and fried tapioca (my personal favorite!)
- Martabak – a thick, pan-fried pancake traditionally stuffed with layers of butter, chocolate sprinkles, grated cheese, condensed milk, and peanuts.
- Dadar guling – green coconut pancake filled with sweet shredded coconut.
- Klepon – a traditional Indonesian sweet rice cake coated in shredded coconut.
You can even pick up boxes of 2 to 6 desserts for only about $0.20 each! This is a great way to sample a variety of traditional sweets without committing to just one.
Other Night Markets in Bali
Taman Sari Night Market
Located just north of Seminyak, Taman Sari Night Market is one of the few local markets in the area. This traditional market serves as a place where locals come to purchase tropical fruits at low prices.
Taman Sari Night Market can be easily reached and is only about a 15-minute drive away from the heart of Seminyak.
Kereneng Night Market
Situated in the heart of Denpasar, this lively market is open from 2:00PM to 6:00AM every day. Here, you’ll find local dishes like babi guling and nasi campur, as well as Javanese and Chinese delicacies.
Other vendors at Kereneng Night Market offer knock-off bags, clothing, shoes, accessories, and a wide selection of peculiar goods.
Have you ever been to Gianyar Night Market? What was your favorite authentic experience in Bali? Help a fellow traveler out and share it in the comments below!
Go Beyond Bali
Explore other destinations in Southeast Asia:
- Discover 10 reasons to love Bangkok, Thailand.
- Traveling to Thailand? Don’t skip out on the capital with this Ultimate Bangkok Travel Guide.
- Ever ask yourself, how expensive is Singapore? Find out!
- Have a staycation with these recipes from around the world.
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