Just 20 minutes north of Central Ubud lies the charming village of Tegalalang. Besides being an area for local handicrafts, it's also the location of one of the most popular images of Bali, the terraced rice fields.
It's understandably a very busy tourist attraction with people coming from all over the world to snap a picture of the famous landscape. The beautiful scenery has also inspired many an artist, and it's not unusual to see someone painting or sketching the gorgeous view across the valley.
Located 600 m above sea level, the area is lovely and cool and it's a refreshing change from the beach scene in the south. Take a drive out to Tegalalang and see what all the fuss is about.
Rice is not only a staple food for the Balinese, it's also an important part of the local culture. Lush rice field landscapes are synonymous with Bali, and there's no shortage of them in the rural countryside of the island.
Terraced rice fields are a little harder to find, with the most impressive ones being at Jatiluwih, Tegalalang and Sideman. This complex irrigation system known locally as "subak" was recognized by Unesco and added to the World Heritage list in 2012.
The innovative water management system dates back to the 9th century and diverts water from sources in the mountains to water-sharing communities lower down. In this way, it ensures equal distribution to all and not just those at the water-rich source.
The subak reflects the Balinese outlook and philosophy on life called "Tri Hita Karana", a harmonious lifestyle that includes maintaining a balance of the spiritual and physical worlds - Human to God, Human to Human, and Human to Nature.
At the rice terrace itself there are some small shops selling locally made crafts, clothing and the usual Bali souvenirs. You can pick up a Bali t-shirt, batik sarong, bamboo wind chimes and a painting of the rice fields all in one go!
As this is a popular tourist area the prices tend to be a little higher so remember to bargain and not accept the first price offered. Luckily there's an ATM along the main road, in case you just have to have that rice farmer's hat...
Several warungs have taken advantage of the stunning view at Tegalalang and set up small restaurants overlooking the valley towards the terraced rice fields.
Menus are simple, so don't expect to see gluten-free this or MSG-free that. That being said, there's nothing wrong with sipping on a fresh young coconut and tucking in to a tasty nasi goreng while soaking up the almost surreal scenery.
There are also some restaurants along the main road, including the famous pink ice-cream shop.
The main road that runs past the view point has a couple of minimarkets where you can buy snacks and drinks if you're just passing through. There's also an ATM if you need a quick top up of cash.
Public toilets can be found at the Central Parking area, on the left-hand side, just before you get to the rice terraces.
Tegalalang is just north of Ubud, Bali's art and cultural center. It's very affordable to hire a driver for the day in Bali, and a stop at the rice fields at Tegalalang can easily be incorporated in to a day trip taking in some of the other attractions around Ubud, or as a stop en route to Kintamani.
Hiring a motorbike or scooter is another, even cheaper, option. If you're driving yourself, head as far east along Jl. Raya Ubud (the main road that the Art Market is located on) and at the big statue intersection turn left, heading north. Continue for about 9km until you reach Tegalalang.
Due to the large number of daily visitors, there's now a Central Parking area just before you get to the view point for the rice fields. Turn left up towards the parking area and pay at the ticket kiosk.
The road leading to Tegalalang is also fantastic for homewares shopping, with many local artisans setting up shops along either side of the road. Prices here can be considerably less than in the popular tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak etc.