Bali is a criss crossed with roads of varying quality. Many tourists as well as expats stick to the main roads and sometimes miss out on some spectacular scenery. It can be tempting to get off of the main road and go exploring, but also worrying for someone not familiar with Bali and on a short time frame. The thing you have to figure out is what roads will lead to great things, but are also navigable and suitable for cars. Fear not, help is at hand in the form of a widely sold map.
The Periplus map of Bali is one of the most common maps used here, easily identifiable by its yellow and red cover. With a single map covering the whole of Bali, Area Maps of South Bali, Kuta Area & Legian Area, Sanur, Ubud Area, Nusa Dua & Tanjung Benoa, Lovina, and City Plans of Denpasar, Klungkung, Candidasa, Singaraja and Gianyar, the map covers a lot. Roads are detailed using different colors on the main map (thick orange for the Bypass Ngurah Rai, light orange for main roads connecting towns, white for secondary roads and grey for the tiny local backroads. Looking at the white colored roads one thing stands out to me, they are all great routes with lovely scenery, not heavily touristy and driveable with good road surfaces. Some of these white roads are my favourite routes in Bali. They include:
•Klungkung to Selat via Sideman
•Kintamani to Rendang via Suter
•Candi Kuning to Kintamani (Pura Tegeh Koripan) via Petang and Catur.
•Ubud to Kintamani via Sayan and Payangan.
•Rendang to Bangli via Bangbang and Tembuku
•Kintamini to Bondalem via Dausa
•Lake Buyan to Mayong via Munduk
All these routes are awesome, easy to find and to drive. There are others too marked in white and they are all winners. You can pick up a Periplus map at Bintang supermarket in Seminyak and bookstores including Periplus at Made’s Warung Seminyak, Carrefour and Discovery Shopping Mall.
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One of the most pleasant rides I did recently was a trip to Kintamani via Ubud, Sayan, Payangan. This fairly straight route is a 40km shot up to the crater. Stopping on the way to get my fleece on, the blue skies and cold mountian feeling refreshing, I passed rice fields, fmaily temples and an array of village life in action. At the crater rim a right turn circled the SW edge, with magnificent views of Lake Batur, Gunung Batur and the sweeping scenery outside the crater. Following the route around led to Penelokan, site of the highest density of tourist restaurants. Bright sunny weather meant this Sunday was busy with Balinese locals, the scene at Penelokan obviously the place to be seen if you are from that area. Looking at a map of the area one will see many main roads leading south from the Batur crater, but by passing Penelokan and hooking a sharp left, one will immediately be on a lovely narrow, forested route affording views of the inside of the crater overlooking the southern part of Lake Batur. This route leaves the crater rim after 4 kms and heads south to Rendang. The whole way is forested with views of Gunung Agung, clear this last weekend, off to the left. Several kms south of the village of Rendang, there is a right hand (westward) turnoff for Bangli. This little route is super cool, with twists and turns, hairpin brends and unspoilt landscapes. You will reach Bangli after another 12kms. Road conditions on this entire rooute are good and an SUV will have no trouble making it, although my preferred mode of transport would be a slow cruise on motorbike.