East Bali Area Guide 2014.01.10

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Scenic East Bali, an area steeped in history

Head east and you'll discover volcanic beaches, pounding surf, water palaces and holy temples.

East Bali is dotted with small resorts and quaint villages, however the most prominent features are sacred Gunung Agung, the highest mountain in Bali, and the famous Besakih "Mother Temple".

Few Japanese visitors venture this far, however places like Padangbai, Candidasa, Amed and Tulamben attract Western tourists looking for a quiet, relaxed getaway or a seaside diving adventure. View East Bali / バリ東部 in a larger map

Tourist attractions

Besakih Temple and Mount Agung

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At over 3000m, Gunung Agung is Bali's highest mountain, and an important part of the local Balinese faith. Located in the north-eastern part of Bali, sacred Gunung Agung is about a 2.5 hour drive by car from the southern resort areas.

The Besakih "Mother Temple" lies on the slopes of Agung and offers some wonderful mountain views, however problems with guides claiming exorbitant fees has become more frequent in recent years. There are also tour companies that arrange treks up Mount Agung to watch the sunrise.

Lempuyang Temple

DSC_2867 With amazing views of the ocean and Gunung Agung, Pura Lempuyang is one of Bali's most sacred temples.

It's a two-hour climb to the summit, up 1700 steps, however there is also a bottom temple close to the parking area if you don't feel like the trek right to the very top. The lower temple is still fairly high up though and offers beautiful views of the volcano and the ocean.

Ceremony days are a good time to visit, when worshipers will be dressed in their temple finest.

Kertha Gosa (Taman Gili)

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The original palace and grounds of Taman Gili were destroyed in 1908 during the Dutch conquest, however extensive restoration has taken place.

The main features are two raised meeting halls with detailed painted ceilings. Kertha Gosa, or "Hall of Justice", was basically the royal "high court" of the Klungkung kingdom and was where disputes that could not be settled at a local level where eventually brought.

Bale Kambang is also known as the "Floating Pavilion" and also boasts intricately painted ceilings.

Tirta Ganga

Tirta Gangga, which means "Water of the Ganges", was built in 1946 by the late King of Karangasem. The holy temple features a number of swimming pools and koi-filled ornamental ponds, although the main attraction is an impressive 11-tiered fountain.

The one-hectare complex also boasts beautiful lush rice field views, and is just 10km from another of East Bali's attractions, Pura Lempuyang Luhur.

Taman Ujung

Located in a small fishing village 5km south of Amlapura, Taman Ujung is another of Bali's famed water palaces. The complex was built by the last king of Karangasem in 1921 but was extensively damaged by an earthquake in 1976.

Now restored, the palace features scenic gardens, bathing pools and fountains - all make for great photo opportunities.

Goa Lawah (Bat Cave)

This Hindu shrine, locted about 10 minutes' drive from Kusamba, is one of nine directional temples in Bali. The main attraction here is a cave on the north side of the main temple area, filled with tens of thousands of fruit bats.

Legend has it that the cave is also home to a dragon-like snake called Basuki who feasts on bats.

Places to stay

Candidasa

DSC_7287 The relaxed resort area of Candidasa makes an excellent base from which to explore East Bali. The Bali Aga village of Tenganan is just 15 minutes' drive north, while the white sand beach at Pasir Putih is an easy 20-minute drive away. A pretty lotus-filled lagoon splits the main town in two, with the best accommodation located on the sea-facing side.

Padangbai

The busy bay of Padangbai is the main port for ferries traveling between Bali and Lombok. The picturesque village offers affordable mid-range hotels and dozens of bungalows, ideal if you have an early morning ferry departure.

Padangbai also boasts fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities as the surrounding waters offer good visibility. The dreamy Blue Lagoon beach is just a five-minute bike ride from the center of town.

Amed

Amed is a charming beachside village between Candidasa and Tulamben, with gorgeous views of Mount Agung. The relaxed fishing village attracts mostly divers and snorkelers who come to explore the coral reefs not far from shore, particularly at Jemeluk Bay.

Tulamben

The main attraction of Tulamben is the Liberty ship wreck, which sank over 60 years ago. Diving is understandably the most popular activity, and there's no shortage of dive shops or affordable bungalows for visiting divers.

The main road is also lined with hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops, and the morning market is also worth a visit.

Sidemen

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About 30 minutes' drive from Amlapura, the village of Sideman boasts gorgeous ricefield and mountain views.

Affordable hotels and cottages surrounded by peaceful countryside attract people looking to escape the hustle and bustle, and there are many walks through the rice fields for nature-lovers to enjoy. Great artists such as Walter Spies and Theo Meier also lived in the area.

How to get there

For day trips, hire a car and driver

Although the distances between places of interest in East Bali look far from one another, it's possible to visit several of them in one day as the roads have little traffic. For example, you could include Besakih temple, Lampuyan and Amed in one day trip (leaving early in the morning), or you could do Padangbai, Sumarapura and Sidemen.

Tours usually start at around USD100 per person, or you could hire a car with driver for about USD 60 for 8 hours. It's best to shop around though, so don't take the first offer you get.

From the airport, arrange a hotel transfer

If you want to head to East Bali straight from the airport, it's best to arrange a transfer through the hotel you'll be staying at as traveling all the way by taxi will be an expensive affair.

It takes around 2.5 hours to Candidasa, and maybe 3.5 hours to Amed. Transfer rates vary from hotel to hotel, starting from around USD30 up to USD50 for a one-way trip.



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