This is one of my favourite tours, taking in the Bat Cave, Virgin Beach, Water Palace and Gates of Heaven. It’s a long day, but much of the driving is through the picturesque Karangasem countryside with its small villages and beautiful valleys and ricefields and having lunch at Virgin Beach is always a great idea. When I make a 5-day itinerary for people an East Bali Day Tour is always on the list.
Pura Goa Lawah – The Bat Cave
Pura Goa Lawah (Bat Cave Temple in Balinese) was built in the 11th century by Mpu Kuturan, one of the early priests who introduced Hinduism to Bali. The temple complex is built around a cave opening that is inhabited by hordes of bats which fly out over the temple at dusk to feed on insects.
There are some local guides touting for business but it’s only a relatively small temple complex so you don’t really need one. The best time to visit is when some of the locals from the nearby villages come for their daily prayers in the morning.
Virgin Beach is awesome. It’s what the southern beaches used to be like. Less crowded, clean seawater due to the currents, great swimming with quite low swells and a working fishing fleet at the southern end of the beach.
It’s not usually crowded because it’s a little off the beaten track and there are a number of warungs lining the shore where you can grab some lunch and a cold beer. They also rent out daybeds quite cheaply (around IDR 50k each) but you should bring your own towel. There are toilets at the northern end.
Being the son of a commercial fisherman I’m always fascinated with fishing fleets in other countries and the long narrow outriggers used in Bali are slowly becoming redundant in the face of large-scale fishing trawlers from other countries pillaging the local fishing grounds. So it’s a welcome sight to see so many boats still operating from this beachfront.
Tirta Gangga – The Water Palace
I love Tirta Gangga. It’s one of my favourite Balinese temples, quite unique in design and the roads around this area overlook some truly beautiful valleys and ricefields.
Tirta Gangga is the former royal palace of the Kingdom of Karangasem located in Eastern Bali. The one-hectare complex was built in 1946 by the late King of Karangasem but was almost completely destroyed by the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963, having since been rebuilt and restored.
A reservoir inside the palace complex holds the spring water delivered by a pipe system from the nearby village of Amlapura. There is also an underground pipe system which leads to the upper swimming pool where it emerges through the mouth of a demon at the corner of the pool. From here the water flows over lower level pools, fish ponds and fountains.
One of the unique features of this beautiful temple complex is the stepping stones across the fish pond. The ticket booth sells fish food which can be used to entice the Koi up to the edge of the steps laid out across the main fish pond allowing for spectacular photos.
It’s busiest between 12 – 3 pm and there is an extra IDR 10.000 fee if you want to swim in the pool.
Entrance Fee: IDR 30.000
Location: Jl Raya Abang Desa Adat, Karangasem
Opening Hours: Mo-Su 07:00-18:00
Lempuyang Temple – The Gates of Heaven
The temple is in a spectacular setting, with a steep climb up several stone stairways to get to the top of the temple complex with views looking back down the valley and across to Mt Agung, the active volcano that disrupted flights in 2018. the temple is also known as The Gates of Heaven, being the highest altitude temple in Bali.
One of the reasons I like this tour so much is being able to visit Lempuyang Temple in the afternoon, as the mornings have become exceptionally busy with tourists getting there to queue up before dawn in order to get sunrise photos. If you want to get there at dawn then I highly recommend a Lempuyang Temple Sunrise Tour.
Along with that popularity comes issues, and waiting in line in the early morning can take 1-2 hours, and then there is another queue of tourists waiting to take their photo in front of the temple gates. Ad those photos that make it look like the gates are reflected in a pool of water are fake – they’re made using a mirror placed underneath the camera lens.
Having said that I love Lempuyang Temple and think visiting in the afternoon is better because it’s much less crowded. Mount Agung is usually covered by clouds from late morning, but I’ve been here 3 times ad have been lucky enough to have the clouds part for a brief look at majestic Mount Agung.
Although the temple gates get all the Instagram attention I think the steps leading up the temple are the most spectacular feature.
Entrance fee is officially a donation, but IDR 20 – 50k is considered acceptable. You can get coffee and water at the bottom of the temple complex, but that’s about all.
East Bali Day Tour Map
Here’s a route map using Seminyak as a departure example, but we can pick you up from anywhere in South Bali.
East Bali Day Tour Itinerary
08:00 am – Pick-up from Hotel or Villa
It’s better if you have already had breakfast and ready to go by 8:00am. Your depature time is however, completely up to you and can be specified on the booking form below.
9:30 am – Pura Goa Lawah
The Bat Cave. 55km from Seminyak, around 1.5 hours.
10:30 am – Virgin Beach
Great spot for lunch. 25km from Goa Lawah, around 45 minutes.
1:30 pm – Tirta Gangga
Beautiful countryside. 17km from Candidasa, around 45 minutes.
3:30 pm – Lempuyang Temple
The Gates of Heaven. 10km from Tirta Gangga, around 45 minutes.
06:00 pm Drop-off to Hotel or Villa
88km from Lempuyang to Seminyak, around 2.5 – 3 hours.
Total tour is 176 km round trip from Seminyak.
It’s worth every penny, trust me!
I did the temple tour and had a blast! My driver Kadek was an absolute sweetheart. As I was on my own he walked me to the different entrances and made sure I got where I needed to be. As a solo traveller you might think this is a bit expensive, it's worth every penny, trust me!
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