Bali, popularly known as the Island of Gods, has more than its famous beaches and vibrant nightlife. East Bali, a relatively untouched region, offers a profound immersion into the island’s authentic soul, where nature and tradition intertwine.
The Natural Wonders of East Bali
Mount Agung: Standing tall at over 3,000 meters, Mount Agung isn’t just the highest peak in Bali but also its spiritual nucleus. For the adventure seeker, the trek to its summit rewards with panoramic vistas of the island’s lush landscape. For more information, check out our dedicated blog post.
Sidemen Valley: A mosaic of verdant rice terraces unfolds in Sidemen Valley. Trekking here isn’t just a physical journey, but a cultural one. Interact with farmers, learn about the traditional subak irrigation system, and witness the rhythmic life of the Balinese countryside.
Tirta Gangga Water Palace: Once a royal palace, Tirta Gangga is a maze of pools and ornate sculptures, exemplifying Balinese architecture and its deep-rooted spirituality.
Virgin Beach: Away from the touristy shores, Virgin Beach is a secluded haven, characterized by its powdery white sand, crystal-clear waters, and tranquil ambiance.
The Rich Cultural Tapestry
Besakih Temple: Regarded as Bali’s ‘Mother Temple’, Pura Besakih is more than just a place of worship. Located on Mount Agung, the temple complex comprises 23 related temples, offering insight into Balinese Hinduism’s intricate layers. See our complete guide here.
Tenganan Village: Stepping into Tenganan feels like traversing through time. As one of Bali’s ancient villages, it offers a snapshot of the island’s pre-Hindu culture, especially visible in its unique double ikat weaving, “Gringsing.”
Ujung Water Palace and Temple: Close to Amlapura, Ujung’s historical significance is palpable. The fusion of Balinese and European architecture, surrounded by large ponds, offers a serene environment.
Diving in Amed: Amed’s coastline, dotted with traditional fishing boats, hides an underwater treasure. From vibrant coral gardens to the haunting Japanese Shipwreck, it’s a diver’s dream.
Snorkeling in Jemeluk Bay: For those not keen on diving, Jemeluk Bay provides equally captivating marine sights, with playful fish dancing around underwater statues.
Chasing Waterfalls: Gambleng and Jagasatru are two of East Bali’s lesser-known waterfalls. These cascades, set against dense jungles, provide a refreshing retreat.
Local Delicacies and Where to Try Them
Lawar: This traditional dish, a mix of vegetables, coconut, and spices, often incorporates meat or fish, making it a flavorful explosion.
Sate Lilit: Succulent skewers of spiced meat, often fish, wrapped around bamboo sticks, are a must-try, offering a true taste of Balinese cuisine.
Salak (snake fruit): This reddish-brown fruit with its unique texture and taste—a combination of sweet, sour, and a hint of astringency—is a tropical delight.
Amlapura’s Eateries: The city of Amlapura, with its bustling markets and roadside warungs, is a culinary hub, where traditional recipes passed down generations come alive.
Tips for Traveling in East Bali
- Opt for the dry season to make the most of outdoor activities.
- Dress modestly, especially when visiting temples, to show respect to local customs.
- Renting a scooter provides the freedom to explore at your own pace, but always prioritize safety.
6 East Bali Hidden Gems
- Patal Kikian View: Perched high, Patal Kikian offers an unobstructed view of the sprawling landscape below, making it a favorite spot for both sunrise and sunset.
- Bali Chocolate Factory: Situated in the southeast, this factory is more than just about chocolates. Witness the entire process, from bean to bar, and indulge in some delectable sampling.
- Taman Harmoni Bali (Bali Harmony Park): Situated near Tirta Gangga, this park is a combination of natural beauty, cultural displays, and recreational facilities. It’s an ideal spot for picnics and enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding rice fields and Mount Agung.
- Pura Lempuyang Luhur: While not entirely ‘hidden’, this temple often gets overshadowed by the more popular Pura Besakih. Known as the “Gateway to Heaven”, the temple’s gates offer a mesmerizing view of Mount Agung, especially during sunrise or sunset.
- Yeh Malet Hot Springs: Natural hot springs located near Amlapura, providing a tranquil setting for relaxation. Surrounded by lush greenery, these springs are believed to have therapeutic properties.
- Goa Lawah (Bat Cave Temple): This unique temple is built around a cave inhabited by thousands of bats. Beyond its natural inhabitants, the temple holds deep spiritual significance for the Balinese, making it a blend of nature and culture.
Remember, while these spots are less frequented by tourists, they are cherished by locals. Always approach with respect and leave no trace.
East Bali, with its vibrant tapestry of experiences, beckons travelers seeking depth over breadth. It’s a destination that compels you to slow down, breathe in, and truly absorb the Balinese essence.