• East Bali Overview:
East Bali is sometimes referred to as the ‘real Bali’ by foreign visitors. The district of Karangasem, which follows the boundaries of the former regency, contains volcanoes, rice fields, sweeping bays, crashing waves, Balinese villages, water-palaces and a choice of great, Bali style as well as luxury accommodation.
• Getting to East Bali:
Getting to East Bali can be done is a several ways. The easiest way is to take a Perama tourist bus from the Kuta area. Padangbai (40,000rp), Candi Dasa (40,000rp), Tirtaganga (115,000rp, minimum 2 people), Tulamben (115,000rp, minimum 2 people), Amed / Culik (115,000rp, minimum 2 people).
Generally speaking Candi Dasa is a 2 hour drive from Kuta. Amed / Tulamben 3.5-4 hours drive from Kuta.
•Getting Around East Bali:
To best enjoy the scenery you might want to hire a car with driver for the day, easy to do in Candi Dasa. Best strategy is to go to a car rental place, negotiate for a car and then say you’ll add on another 60,000rp for a driver, rather than letting them dictate to you what a car and driver will cost. A drive from Candi Dasa to Manggis, up to Putung, Iseh, Sideman, Klungkung and back to Candi Dasa might take a leisurely 2-3 hours allowing for the odd stop to take photos and have a drink. If you are comfortable of a motorbike / scooter, East Bali will be a easy to get to explore. Once you are out as far as Candi Dasa traffic is not bad at all. The only busy road is the one that runs around the coast, with the secondary local roads being quiet and easy to explore at your own pace. Even Tulamben on the far east coast is accessible using Perama bus.
If you reach Candi Dasa using a Perama bus and decide against renting a car or motorbike, you can still get around East Bali with Perama.
Candi Dasa is a good location form which to base your trip to East Bali.
Getting around Candi Dasa:
Candi Dasa could be called the ‘gateway to East Bali‘. The completion of the Kusamba highway means one can get there from Kuta in less than 2 hours with little stress. The choice of accommodation in Candi Dasa is good and there is a selection of services.
Candi Dasa Services
Candi Dasa Diving Centers
Candi Dasa History
Candi Dasa Beaches
Candi Dasa Accommodation
Candi Dasa Nightlife
Candi Dasa Snorkeling
Food in Candi Dasa
Candi Dasa Restaurants
Straight shot to Candi Dasa in East Bali
Padangbai in East Bali offers a quiet place to relax. The 3 beaches (the main beach, Blue Lagoon to the east and Pantai Kacil to the west) are white sand and great for swimming / snorkeling. The great thing about Padangbai is the simple bamboo accommodation and the access to the 2 beaches. Here is a rundown of the accommodation options in Padangbai.
Ferry from Padangbai to Lombok:
Padangbai in East Bali is the traditional route to Lombok. Its ferries are large and leave every hour around the clock, allowing motorbikes cars and trucks. For those staying in the Kuta area, take the Bypass towards Sanur, hanging a right-left onto the Kusamba Bypass along the coast. This section of coastal road is complete and runs all the way to Kusamba, meaning you’re about 15km from Padangbai itself. As you enter the town keep going straight and you’ll run right into the ferry terminal.
Roughly 6km west of Candi Dasa is a turnoff for the village of Manggis. By taking that and driving north, one can pas through the villages of Bakung and Putung, and swinging westwards carry on through Iseh and Sideman. In the lower elevations rice fields extend to the road with houses dotted around. These lowland areas receiving considerably more sunlight than in the higher elevations. Manggis is also the location of some luxury accommodation.
Most visitors to Bali will not visit Amlapura, firstly because it is in East Bali and secondly because nothing draws them. Amlapura to be a fairly clean, typical Balinese town, with the usual streetside shops selling pots, pans, fans and stuff most tourists wouldn’t touch.
Here’s a little history on Amlapura. The city is located slightly inland from Ujung, on the SE coast of Bali. Formerly known as Karangasem (also the name of the regency).
Being situated across the Strait from Lombok, its natural that Karangasem regency and Amlapura city have connections with Lombok. Basically the raja of Karangasem used to govern Lombok, in the latter part of the 17th century. Paybacks are a bitch, and the Sasaks got revenge and ended up in control of Karangasem from 1849-1893.
The main object of interest these days is the Puri Agung (Big palace), built in the early 20th Century.
• East Bali History
Rice cultivation in East Bali
• Things To Do in East Bali
Located on the East coast of Bali north of Amed, Tulamben offers scuba diving with accommodation, restaurants and the wreck of the USS Liberty.
Tenganan in East Bali, is one of the 3 main Bali Aga (traditional Balinese) villages. Tenganan can seem like a tourist trap, with the calendar sellers and the batik shops (the batik often coming from Java!). Still it is one of the oldest and most traditional villages in Bali in many regards. The unique village design, history and social customs make it a worth visit.
Tenganan: Bali Aga village
Tenganan Bali: Traditional village with unique weaving history
Tenganan Dauh Tukad
The founding of Tenganan in East Bali
Legend of Tenganan
Checking out the ceremony at Tenganan Dauh Tukad
Textiles in Bali
Lontar engraving in Tenganan Bali
• Gunung Agung:
The biggest volcano in Bali is Gunung Agung (Mt. Agung), which is located in the district of Karangasem in East Bali. You can see Gunung Agung from all over the island on a clear day and scuba divers often use it as a reference point, when out in the water. Gunung Agung is also the holiest place in Bali, with Besakih, the ‘mother temple’, on the SW slope.
• Besakih Temple:
Besakih is known as the ‘Mother Temple’ in Bali. The largest and most important temple on the island, it sits on the western slopes of Gunung Agung.
• Goa Lawah
Goa Lawah means ‘bat cave‘ in Balinese, and in Bali, Goa Lawah is a famous tourist attraction, as well as a place of religious importance to the Balinese people. The temple was founded in 1007, by Empu Kuteran. Though the temple is small, it is considered very auspicious and is one of the 9 kayangan jagat (directional temples) that protect Bali from evil spirits. The temple at Goa Lawah protects Bali from the SE.
• Ujung Waterpalace
Climbing Gunung Agung requires hiking boots, a light sweater.
SOBEK provides a rafting route of the Telaga river for $68 (cheaper prices available by looking online).
Sea kayaking in Amuk Bay, includes pick and transport from Kuta, plus snorkeling, for $59.
Tirtagangga literally means ‘water that flows from the Ganges’ and for a Hindi culture that is important. Tirtagangga itself is famous for the Royal pools, but the surrounding countryside is beautiful, if you have the time to stop and enjoy it.
Amed is that it is a small village on the SE coast not far from the village of Culik. The stretch off coastline that follows around south of Amed as far as Aas is lumped together under the name Amed. I imagine one day this stretch could be called The Resort of Amed.
Accommodation in East Bali:
Buitan Village, Manggis
Karangasem District 80871
(Beckham stayed here 2 weeks ago)
Puri Bagus Manggis
Br. Manggis – Manggis – Karangasem,
To best enjoy the scenery you might want to hire a car with driver for the day, easy to do in Candi Dasa. Best strategy is to go to a car rental place, negotiate for a car and then say you’ll add on another 60,000rp for a driver, rather than letting them dictate to you what a car and driver will cost. A drive from Candi Dasa to Manggis, up to Putung, Iseh, Sideman, Klungkung and back to Candi Dasa might take a leisurely 2-3 hours allowing for the odd stop to take photos and have a drink.
• Off the Beaten Path in East Bali:
Pasir Putih Beach East Bali
Touring East Bali
Pasir Putih beach: East Bali
East Bali: Bunutan
East Bali: Lipah beach
Tenganan to Tirtaganga hike
Amed & Culik: East Bali
Exploring the Sideman area in East Bali
Poinciana Resort – Tembok Bali
Poincianna Bungalows in Tejacula NE Bali-part I
Poincianna Bungalows in Tejacula NE Bali-part II
Tejakula: Unspoilt NE Bali
Bali’s NE coast: A quiet place to enjoy
Waterfalls in Bali
Amed to Ujung: Where to stay
• Nightlife in East Bali:
East Bali has very little nightlife, which is part of its appeal. Nights are dark, starry and feature not much else that crashing waves and croaking frogs. Candi Dasa has the most action with 1 or 2 places featuring extremely low key live music. Hotels in Amed such as the Pavillion sometimes put on a joged dance for tourists. The best option is to take an evening drive and see if you can stumble upon some local ceremonies / celebrations.
• Tourist Traps in East Bali:
Most of the high-profile places in Bali have developed a scene where locals gather in order to sell food, drinks and souvenirs. In many cases this commercial activity is piled right up against the entrance, giving an impression of a tourist trap. Th thing is they are not allowed inside temples, so after you don your sarong and sash you are free from vendors. Places included on this list are Goa Lawah temple, Tirtagangga, Besakih temple. Other places where the vendors are particularly active is the main beach at Padangbai.
• Warnings or Dangers in East Bali:
East Bali is less populated that the Kuta / Seminyak / Sanur area, but has extremely strong ocean currents. There is a temptation to go snorkeling in the warm clear water by yourself, but be aware of the risks.
• Packing Lists in East Bali:
Visiting East Bali will require a waterproof jacket or umbrella during the wet season (November-March). In coastal areas the temperatures are warm /hot year round. Shorts and t-shirts can be worn year round. Dress codes are relaxed, but if you are staying in a high-end resort you may want to being evening wear.
There is a supermarket in Gianyar and small local shops in Candi Dasa. Tourists arriving from the Kuta area may wants to visit a supermarket for supplies, such as beer / wine / liquor.
• Internet access in East Bali:
Apart from resort hotels, most places in East Bali does not have decent internet access. You will find small internet cafes in Padangbai and Candi Dasa that use dial-up, which is barely worth getting online for.
• General Tips in East Bali
East Bali demands to be explored. You need some kind of transport, whether it be a car, motorbike or car with driver. Coastal areas that are close to the road, such as Padangbai, Candi Dasa, Amed, Tulamben etc. have accommodation options. Usually there is no need to book ahead. There are budget places as well as boutique accommodation in the strangest places. Ask at your hotel / guest house for recommendations but don’t stress not finding a place to stay, Bali is not that big, so you can always keep going round the coast and find somewhere.
Remember to take a sun hat and sun screen. The above mentions locations have ATM machines as well as Amlapura.