Tabanan is the name of a district in west Bali and also the largest town in the district. The town is located next to the main east-west road leading to Java. A bypass means you do not have to crawl through town and can maintain a decent speed, the traffic lights being the only hinderance.
Tabanan is not really a tourist town and most likely you will not want to stop there for long. Still there are some interesting aspects to the town. Back in 1906 the Balinese and Dutch were fighting over control of the island. The kingdom of Tabanan (a former regency of Bali) refused to abide by Dutch regulations outlawing the Hindu practice of suttee, whereby a man’s widow is cremated with him. The Dutch forces marched towards Tabanan from the south, refusing to negotiate with the raja. In other regencies of Bali the raja and his court committed the ritual puputan (group suicide). The raja of Tabanan wanted to avoid this, but rather than be exiled in Lombok, he committed suicide in Denpasar prison. The history of coloncial rule around the world is written in blood, Bali being no exception.
One of the more positive historical points of interest is the Subak museum, located close to the main bypass road. While the museum itself is nothing special, it documents one of the most important social / economic / cultural institutions in Bali, the Subak. Dating back to 600AD, Bali has been using a system of unmechanized rice cultivation and water management. Bali’s ability to produce an endless supply of rice year round is central to its history. Management of the water courses, stretching all the way to the highland lakes, is controlled by the Subak. A farmer cannot simply flood all his fields at the same time, or divert a main stream to access more water. The system is intricate and the Subak museum is the place where its officially documented.
Downtown Tabanan looks like many other large Balinese towns, with a busy market close to the central streets. For tourists driving through you will be able to use an ATM machine, change money, locate an internet cafe and find a post office, all on Jl. Gajah Mada / Jl. Pahlawan.
Tabanan has 2 important bemo terminals for the adventurous. Bemos are the small minibuses and while most tourists do not use them, they act as a safety net for getting around if other ways fail. The Denpasar (Ubung terminus) to Gilimanuk (ferry point to Java) bemos all stop at Pesiapan terminal, 1.5km west of downtown Tabanan. The Kediri bemo terminal is located on the main road in the east of the town.
If you are passing through Tabanan on your way to Java and need a handy place for the night, check out Kuskus Indah Hotel (Jl. Palau Batam 32) – (0361)815373. Affordable AC or fan rooms, with public swimming pool close by.
For those looking for a beach environment, you can find accommodation at Yeh Gangga, Lalang Linggah to the SW and Balian to the west. Highlights of the area close to Tabanan include Taman Kupu Kupu (Butterfly Park) in Wanasari, Pura Taman Ayun (temple) in Mengwi and Yeh Panas hot springs. Pura Tanah Lot is a 15 minute drive SW from Tabanan and Seminyak can be reached in 45 minutes.