Things to do in East Bali: beautiful beaches, holy temples and mind-blowing rice paddies
Planning to visit Bali but want to see something else besides beaches? Why not spend a couple of days in East Bali! This part of the island of the gods has it all: beautiful beaches, holy temples and the most gorgeous rice fields you have ever seen. Not that many tourists take time to visit East Bali, so it is not that crowded with tourists yet – especially in the off season. You’ll find tranquil villages like Sidemen, Candidasa and Amed, friendly locals, a stunning underwater world and a lot of holy temples. This part of Bali makes an ideal get away from your Sanur, Kuta or Legian holiday!
Things to do in East Bali
O my, where to begin! There are so many things to do in East Bali. The scenery, for one thing, is just amazing. Rent a car, scooter or get out with your private car and driver and explore the different areas of East Bali. Feel like sunbathing? Drive up to one of the beaches near Candidasa or Amed. Want to explore the inlands? Plenty of amazing winding roads that take you to valleys full of rice paddies. Do you want to know more about the Balinese religion? Lots of temples in East Bali for you to seek out. And let’s not forget about holy Mount Agung, the active volcano is 3.142 meters high and therefore the highest peak on Bali. The area around the volcano is very fertile and green which, in combination with the large mountain, makes a great photo.
Visit the Goa Lawah temple: The bat cave
On any list of things to do in East Bali you’ll probably find the Goa Lawah temple. The holy Goa Lawah Temple is a temple with thousands of bats hanging inside the temple. The noise these creatures make is to be heard from afar. The Balinese believe that this temple is connected all the way to the Besakih Temple. This makes that they regularly hold ceremonies which again is great for photo’s.
Natural salt farms along the way
Coming from the south (Sanur) it’s likely you drive the coastal road into the East of Bali. Along the way (before Candidasa), you’ll find several signs with ‘natural sals farms’. It makes a great little stop for about 15 to 20 minutes to see the salt making process. Especially in the morning, you’ll see the farmers walking up and down with buckets full of seawater. The seawater gets poured into the raked sand where it bakes to thin slices of salt in the hot midday sun. In the afternoon the farmer harvests its produce.
Charly’s Chocolate Factory: Original Balinese chocolate
This small Balinese chocolate factory is situated close to a very nice beach with some amazing views, which you can enjoy from a giant swing! With a scooter or car, it is easily reached. You can enjoy some delicious chocolate tasting and of course bring some of the goods home if you please! Carly’s Chocolate factory makes a great stop to stretch your legs and enjoy a hot or cold cup of chocolate or a great homemade Balinese coffee. In order to avoid the big crowds, it is best to visit Charly’s Chocolate Factory before 11 am.
Pantai Putih: Virgin Beach
North of Candidasa you’ll find Virgin Beach, also called White Beach or in Indonesian; pantai putih. This tranquil beach is perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches of East Bali. From the parking lot, it’s only a short walk to the stairs that take you down to the beach. On top of the stairs, you’ll have a stunning view on the beach and the ocean. Surrounded by palm trees and the sound of the waves, this is a great spot to chill out for a few hours or even a whole day. Once down the stairs, you’ll walk directly on to the beach. Beware, the sand is incredibly hot because of the sun! On the right side of the beach, you’ll find local warungs where you can buy a delicious smoothie, coconut or a cold beer and a bite to eat. Feel like sunbathing? There are many sunbeds and umbrellas for rent. The waves can be pretty wild here which makes it great to play around it. Just be aware of the currents.
Besakih temple: the mother temple
On top of your list with things to do in East Bali should be a visit to the mother temple: Besakih. It is the biggest temple complex on Bali, build against the Mount Agung volcano. For the Balinese, the Besakih Temple is very important and very holy. Big ceremonies take place throughout the year which makes it an awesome place to visit. The temple consists of several temples and like every other temple on Bali, you will need to wear a sarong to enter. There is also an entrance fee to enter the temple and guides will offer their services to you so they can show you around the temples and tell you about the history and the religion.
Lempuyang temple: the gateway to heaven
Another temple that is very popular amongst tourists is the Lempuyang Temple, also called ‘the gateway to heaven’. The Lempuyang Temple is getting more and more popular because it’s very popular on Instagram. Actually, in our opinion, it is a bit on an Instagram ‘trap’ because of the optical illusion of the reflection of the water at the temple. Nevertheless, the temple is still beautiful and if you do decide to visit, rise and shine early to beat the crowds and avoid standing in line in the baking hot sun for about 2 hours.
Tirta Gangga Temple: The Royal Water Palace
When you really want to get a glimpse of the Balinese culture, a visit to the Tirta Gangga Temple is a must! Especially when you go on a special or holy day. Tirta Gangga was built by the King (radja) of Karangasem. Tirta Gangga in Hindu means ‘water of the Ganges’ and consists out of several areas with pool, fountains, statues and big trees. It is a very serene place to spend a couple of hours and enjoy a picknick. For a small fee, tourist can swim in the pool (wearing a sarong!) and make an offer like the locals do as well.
Have an awesome culinary experience at Bali Asli
If you’re looking for a delicious lunch break, please visit our friends at Bali Asli. “Bali Asli” means “original Bali”. You may expect authentic fresh dishes all made from local produce. The view from the restaurant is just stunning: overlooking a very green valley. Bali Asli offers cooking classes as well. If you have an interest in culinary activities and like to cook, then you’ll definitely want to join in on one of the famous Bali Asli cooking classes. Together with the teacher you’ll visit the local market and buy many of the ingredients necessary. It makes an awesome and delicious day activity.
Taman Ujung Water Palace
Just like Tirta Gangga, Taman Ujung Water Palace is definitely worth a visit. It is less known than Tirta Gangga but just as beautiful. Perhaps even more beautiful and not as crowded with tourists. From the water palace, you will have a very nice view on Mount Agung if it’s not too hazy. The gardens of Taman Ujung are just breathtaking. A trip to this site is perfect for a relaxing day where you walk around and relish the surroundings. You can either go in with a guide or by yourself.
Tenganan Village: Where time stood still
Tenganan village is one of the traditional villages in East Bali. The original residents of the village are called ‘Bali Aga’. Tenganan is not like any other village in the area because it is walled. No cars or scooters are allowed inside the wall. It is almost like time has stood still in Tenganan. All houses are identical, and the public areas are found in the middle of the village. Instead of waking up by street sounds, roosters are the village alarm clock. The village is known for its beautiful ‘ikat’ textiles and complex weaving techniques. A well worth visit when you are in the area.
Diving in East Bali
Of the most awesome things to do in East Bali is diving. You can do some muck diving in Padang Bai but for the most wonderful dives, you’ll base yourself in either Amed or Tulamben. From both places, you can make some pretty epic shore dives. Amongst them is the dive to the 1918 cargo shipwreck. Also, dift dives, reef dives and some muck diving can be done in the North East of Bali. If you’re looking to expand your diving skills, Amed makes a great stay!
Where to stay in East Bali
East Bali has three main villages that you could use as your base: Sidemen, Candidasa and Amed. Sidemen is situated inlands and is surrounded by the most mesmerizing rice paddies you have ever seen! Here you will find both luxury accommodations and the most adorable and affordable guesthouses which will both pamper you and serve delicious foods. Amed lies in the northern part of East Bali and is a small fishermen’s village. Amed is known for its outstanding diving and snorkeling scene. When you do want to stay close to the beach with a bit more livelihood, Candidasa is your best option. Either three, or a combination of these places, make a great base to discover all that East Bali has to offer.
Where to stay in Sidemen
When traveling to Sidemen from the south of Bali, it is like time stood still. It is a completely different world in comparison with for instance Ubud. Although they say Sidemen is how Ubud was 25 years ago. You don’t find big hotel chains, busy traffic or crowded restaurants in Sidemen. The locals are also pretty keen on keeping like that. The roads are too small for big coaches, which makes it easy to keep group tourism away. Sidemen is a small village with friendly locals, cute little warungs and mind-blowing rice paddies. Things to do in Sidemen are sawah (rice field) trekkings, visit traditional villages nearby where people make textiles called ‘ikat’, just relax and appreciate some good food.
Sawah Indah: for a comfortable and affordable stay with amazing rice field view
Looking for a quiet place to stay in Sidemen where you can relax and unwind? Sawah Indah makes an excellent choice! This boutique hotel is surrounded by gorgeous rice paddies and treats you to a stunning view on Mount Agung. The rooms are spacious, breakfast is free and the staff couldn’t be more friendly and helpful. The restaurant offers good food for lunch and dinner, but you can also stroll around Sidemen to find a restaurant. Relax in the infinity pool and take in the breathtaking scenery or chill on one of the sun beds. Feel like being a bit more active? The hotel can organize a walk in the rice paddies with a guide. Overall, we just love Sawah Indah!
Subak Tabola: pamper yourself for a reasonable price with max comfort and gorgeous views
Another gem to stay at while visiting Sidemen is Subak Tabola, a Balinese style hotel. Subak Tabola offers excellent service, amazing food and super friendly staff to help you with anything. It has gorgeous gardens and a large swimming pool overlooking the greener than green rice fields; it is a little piece of green heaven! You can hang out at the pool, enjoy a yoga class or a relaxing massage. If you feel like exploring the surroundings, you can hire a bike at the hotel or ask the hotel to arrange for you a cooking class, trekking or a tour around Sidemen. And a very nice touch, Subak Tabola has got a Children’s project where the young children from Sidemen learn all about the Balinese culture and dance.
Where to stay in Candidasa
Candidasa has grown to become an awesome beach destination. Much quieter than the busy south but it still has a lot to offer. You’ll find nice resorts and cozy guest houses spread out along the coastline. We share our favorite accommodations for Candidasa!
Ganesh Lodge: a green oasis close to the beach and a perfect getaway
Looking for an idyllic place to stay in Candidasa, close to the beach? Ganesh Lodge is the place for you, with the beach a short 2 minute walk away. This small boutique hotel offers nice sized rooms, a well maintained tropical green garden, and a beautiful pool. The staff of Ganesh Lodge always greets you with a smile and the food served in the restaurant is delicious, both Balinese and international. All you have to do in Ganesh Lodge is relax at the pool, relish the food, stroll to the beach and enjoy. It is the perfect getaway for a busy life!
Villa Hanoman: a little piece of paradise in Candidasa with private pool
Villa Hanoman is a self-catering accommodation that offers a villa with 3 bedrooms, ensuite bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, and a living room. It is spacious, tasteful, clean and with very comfortable beds. From the outdoor terrace, you will have a stunning view of the ocean. Your private swimming pool is 15 meters long, big enough for a morning exercise! The staff at Villa Hanoman is extremely helpful with anything and always happy to answer your questions. At the gazebo, you can enjoy a massage or do some yoga. This traditional Balinese-style villa lies within walking distance from several shops and warungs.
Where to stay in Amed
Amed makes a perfect place for a couple of days before you head out to the Gili Islands or onwards to North Bali. If you’re a diver, Amed (or neighboring Tulamben) makes a great base. Hotels and restaurants are spread out along a long and windy road. We’ve selected a few of our favorite stays to help plan your holiday!
De Adema Guest house: a true gem and perfect spot for snorkeling
De Adema Guest House in Amed offers excellent value for money. It’s one of these cozy places that make you feel right at home. It’s located right on the beach with an impressive view of the Ocean. All the rooms come with ocean view and a private terrace. The friendly staff will make you feel right at home. In the nearby area, you will find an ATM, warungs and some little shops. De Adema Guest House offers snorkeling, canoeing, hiking and fishing, all at an additional charge. For snorkeling, all you have to do is rent a mask and flippers and you’re on your way! Just walk into the ocean at the beachfront and the amazing underwater world will welcome you right away.
Life in Amed is a pretty sweet spot to stay. A lot of thought was put into designing this boutique hotel and a great spot if you want to spoil yourself a little. The rooms have great outdoor showers, an authentic ambiance, nice swimming pool, and extremely comfortable beds. It’s one of these places that’s well maintained and where things just work. The staff is very welcoming and will help you to arrange a scooter to get around town easily. Something that we recommend you’ll do to get the full Amed vibe.
Our top tip for an awesome stay in East Bali: Villa Flow
Seeking a romantic get-a-way, away from the crowds? Cuddle up in a super-rad villa with breathtaking views? Villa Flow is our sweetest recommendation. The staff is truly amazing and just outstanding in providing excellent service. The rooms are delightful, the food is just a dream and the location is just ideal. Easy to explore East Bali and enjoy all this little corner of the island has to offer. The villas are set near the village of Seraya and are kinda remote. That’s exactly what makes it a nice hide-a-away from the hustle and bustle.
Visit East Bali for a day trip
So many things to do in East Bali, but don’t have the time to stay overnight? With these awesome day trips to the East, you’ll get a good taste of what this area has to offer to you.
Did East Bali build up your appetite?
When back in the south of Bali from an epic visit to the east, come and treat yourself to one of our sensational and mysterious food tours along the best restaurants Seminyak, the best restaurants Jimbaran our an old skool street food Bali tour!
Check out all our delicious food tours Bali!