Sprawling, hectic and ever-growing, Bali's capital has been the focus of a lot of the island's growth and wealth over the last five decades. It can seem a daunting and chaotic place but spend a little time on its tree-lined streets in the relatively affluent government and business district of Renon and you'll discover a more genteel side. Southeast of the town centre, Renon is laid out on a grand scale, with wide streets, large car parks and huge tracts of landscaped space. You'll find the government offices here, many of which are impressive structures displaying an ersatz Balinese style.
Denpasar might not be a tropical paradise, but it's as much a part of 'the real Bali' as the rice paddies and clifftop temples. This is the hub of the island for almost 800,000 locals and here you will find their shopping malls and parks. Most enticing, however, is the growing range of fabulous restaurants and cafes aimed at the burgeoning middle class. You'll also want to sample Denpasar's markets, its excellent museum and its purely modern Balinese vibe. Most visitors stay in the tourist towns of the south and visit Denpasar as a day trip (if traffic is kind you can get here in 15 minutes from Sanur and 30 minutes from Seminyak). Others may pass through while changing bemo or catching a bus to Java.