This itinerary is ideal for those wanting to avoid some of the most heavily touristed attractions and instead takes a wonderful route around the area between Ubud and East Bali through the stunning scenery of Sideman with views across to Mt Agung and onto my favourite beach in Bali.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Heading up the eastern side of Ubud to Tegallalang Rice Terraces is really an excuse to keep heading further north and through the jungle to Gunung Kawi, one of the lesser-known temples, but in my opinion one of the most interesting.
Rice is planted all year round in Bali and there are usually about 3 crops per year. The harvest cycle starts with flooding the terraces to create a muddy soup, then hand planting tiny rice plants (called paddy), which when grown make a spectacular view, then they turn golden as the rice kernels ripen, then harvest, followed by leaving the ground to dry, then burning and finally tilling before starting the entire cycle again.
So it depends entirely on what stage of the cycle the local farmers are at when you visit Tegallalang Rice Terraces as to what kind of view it is. But never fear, because on this tour you will be going through Sideman with plenty more rice fields to view along the way.
Gunung Kawi Temple is an 11th-century temple complex that sits on either side of the Pakerisan river. It comprises 10 rock-cut shrines carved into 7-metre-high sheltered niches of the sheer cliff face.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall
From there it’s on to Tukad Cepang Waterfall. Depending on what time you get there, the sunlight falling through the hole at the top of the waterfall makes for a glorious view, but be aware that it can get really busy with tourists waiting in line to get their perfect Instagram shot. However, it tends to be much less busy than other waterfalls due to its difficult climb through the river bed to get to the bottom of the waterfall, and the route there and then afterwards tends to be much less busy than others.
After Tukad Cepung I highly recommend the driver east through Sideman, one of my favourite districts in Bali on the way to Virgin Beach in Karangasem. The rolling terrain and beautiful ricefields are one of the nicest drives in Bali, and if you’re lucky you even see Mt Agung in all its glory if it is not covered in clouds.
The route takes you close to Tirta Gangga, the stunning Water Palace, another of my favourite temples, but you really only have time for this as an option if you drop Tukad Cepung or Tegenungan from your itinerary and are willing to not spend as long at Virgin Beach afterwards.
Virgin Beach in the Karangasem district is definitely one of my all-time favourites, not least because it is generally not crowded, but also because it is along a stretch of the beach still used by one of the last working fishing villages in Bali that uses the traditional outriggers.
From there it’s either back home if you have already had a long day, or for a later afternoon stop at Tegenungan Waterfall, one of the largest in Bali. It’s pretty accessible as the path to the waterfall is paved all the way, and while there are still stairs, it’s easy-going compared to many of the other waterfalls in Bali.
Ubud & East Bali Tour Map
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