Taman Festival: Bali’s ghost town

What we say: 3.5 stars

Taman Festival is a vast yet never completed entertainment complex a 20-minute bicycle ride north from Sanur beach. While the park had a soft opening in 1997, it closed its doors in 2000 and has been abandoned ever since.

Special price just for forever

Special price just for forever.

According to Bali news site BaliDiscovery, the park was a joint venture between the local government of Bali and Indonesian businessman Bambang Pengestu, but after shutting its doors the project became mired in legal disputes and I’m not even going to pretend to know the legal status of the place now.

Roofing expert needed. Immediate start.

Roofing expert needed. Immediate start.

When Pengestu walked away a number of animals were abandoned alongside the park, including a crocodile pit full of, well, crocodiles, and turtles. You can see some photos from 2008 here. When we first moved to Sanur a few years ago, we heard stories of the crocodiles and that locals would feed them chickens.

Fishmerman, beastie filled pond, non-erupting volcano

Fishmerman, beastie-filled pond, non-erupting volcano.

The story goes the crocs resorted to cannibalism and while I didn’t see any, I’m not going to say I wasn’t more than a little bit concerned and did keep my distance from the more swampy sections. I asked a bunch of security guards hanging about out the front about them, but as I didn’t know the Indonesian word for crocodile, I resorted to making snapping gestures with my arms — they thought I was a bit mad.

Useful for weather predictions

Useful for weather predictions.

The park really is like the land where time stopped. Ticket offices and pizza signs remain and I found a half-smashed scale model of the whole place, adding to the ghost town feeling of the place.

Pizza Express not so express today

Pizza Express, not so express today.

Many of the wooden roofs are half-collapsed and while the “Mongolian Festival House” looked interesting, I’d have had to jump over a lime green pond that if not home to crocs was I’m sure was the lair of a giant anaconda or some other tourist-eating-beastie, so I gave it a miss.

Insert your preferred quip about best laid plans...

Insert your preferred quip about best laid plans...

The boulevards are still easy to make out, lined by palm trees that have lost their tops and decorative times under foot. Graffiti is everywhere, but save a solitary fisherman walking through I didn’t see another soul in the place.

Entering the third dimension

Entering the third dimension.

Aside from the non-functioning artificial volcano that I think I’d need to have swum the main pond to reach (sorry guys), the most striking part of the complex is a massive lumbung-styled building that has lost much of its roof. You can see it from Sanur proper and it’s a spectacular scene, yet again with its own pond of jet black water hiding who knows what.

Available for rent. Some work required.

Available for rent. Some work required.

The best way to reach here is by bicycle. Ride along Sanur’s beachfront boardwalk and just keep going. The ride should take about 20 minutes. Allow at least an hour to explore the site and don’t forget a stun gun to keep the crocs at bay.

Bye bye Bambang!

Bye bye Bambang!

Last updated: 3rd March, 2015

About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
Agoda logo
best price guarantee


Photo gallery

Photo for

Jump to a destination

Sights in Sanur