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Sidemen Bali – 20 Epic Things to Do in East Bali

Lahangan Sweet, Sidemen Bali

Sidemen, Bali’s south-eastern province located in Karangasem Regency, is one of the island’s unexplored hidden gems. Think endless rice fields, fertile valleys, wild waterfalls and small villages with the friendliest people you have met that are happy to meet and help you.

If you haven’t been to Sidemen, then I recommend getting there fast. Sidemen Valley is an up and coming tourist destination, and it won’t be long until more people find out about this beautiful area.

This is a complete guide to the epic things to do in Sidemen and East Bali.

About Sidemen

Sidemen is an area in Bali located in the east, in the Regency of Karangasem. If you’re looking to experience authentic Balinese countryside, Sidemen village and surrounding areas are the perfect places for that.

If you’re staying in Kuta or Seminyak, it will take 90 minutes to get there, a little longer from Canggu. The journey from Uluwatu will take just over 2 hours and from Ubud just over 1 hour.

Where to stay in Sidemen Bali

Luxury

Samanvaya

This adult-only, eco-friendly resort boasts Mount Agung views and is surrounded by the lush rice fields situated in the heart of Sidemen Valley. Rooms are fully air-conditioned and are fitted with an en suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries, robes and slippers. Rooms are also equipped with free refillable glass water bottles, coffee and tea making facilities, as well as a fridge. Samanvaya is the perfect marriage of Balinese traditional joglo style and modern luxury. The hotel boasts a restaurant, excellent spa facilities and an infinity pool overlooking the tranquil rice paddies. 

Midrange

Hideout

Hideout Bali is located in the mountains of Gunung Agung Volcano in Sidemen. It’s a unique eco bamboo house built right by the river and surrounded by nothing but a jungle. There are two floors. On the first level, there is a fully equipped kitchen, an outdoor bathroom and a lovely lounging area that includes a hammock and a plunge pool. The second floor has a bedroom with a triangular window with a river view and can sleep up to four adults. Breakfast is included in the room rate, and guests can order lunch and dinner with delivery to the house.

Budget

Patan Kikian Villas

Patan Kikian is located in the heart of Sideman in southeast Bali. The property organises some exciting activities that guests can undertake, including cooking and yoga classes, cycling tours and trekking. Breakfast, complimentary tea and coffee, as well as airport transfer, are included in the room rate. There are different room types to choose from, all modern and simple but comfortable.

How to get to Sidemen Valley

the Sidemen Bali, East Bali
Sidemen

Hire a scooter

The most convenient way to get to Sidemen is to hire a scooter. It should cost around 60k IDR per day, and you will also need some petrol money. This option is great if you’re an experienced scooter driver, as roads, especially in Sidemen, can be a little challenging.

Hire a driver with a car

Another option is to pay for a driver to drive you around Sidemen in their car. This alternative is great if you’re not that confident with motorbikes. This is an excellent option if you want to stay flexible and create your perfect itinerary. Just ask your hotel to recommend you a driver. This should cost around 900k IDR for 8 hours.

Take a tour

If you don’t want to worry about any logistics, I recommend taking a tour. Below, I included links to some of the best tours in Sidemen.

Sidemen Trekking – explore Sidemen country side, walk through the lush rice fields, coffee plantation and wooden bridges. The trek includes lunch and pickup & drop-off service.

Sidemen Cycling Tour – explore the local villages and beautiful country side cycling in a small group. The tour includes lunch

Although it’s possible to just visit Sidemen on a day tour, I highly recommend staying at least 1-2 nights to fully appreciate this stunning, rural area.

20 Epic Things to do in Sidemen Valley and beyond

While some of the mentioned places are not quite in Sidemen, they are all within 30-60 minutes drive, and I highly recommend visiting them while you’re there. You won’t regret it, these places are absolutely EPIC! 

#1 Take a dip in Gembleng Waterfall

Gembleng Waterfall is one of the newest waterfalls in Bali. When I visited, they didn’t even have entrance tickets but just asked for a donation. The road leading to Gembleng takes you across a picturesque field.

As you arrive, there is a public bath where local men meet up to take their daily shower while vividly discussing the local affairs. You can leave your motorbike by the baths and take a steep dirt path leading up. The walk should be short and steep. Gembleng Waterfall has few levels, go ahead and explore them all. You can also take a refreshing dip in one of its natural pools. The view from the pools is just epic, overlooking the Sidemen lush countryside.

TIP | Don’t forget your swim suit and wear waterproof shoes as you may have to walk in the water to get to the waterfall. I always wear my not so pretty but super practical ‘adventure sandals’.

Cost | 20k IDR

#2 Enjoy the view at La Montagne Café

la montagna coffee, bali sidemen indonesia
La Montagna Cafe

When visiting Sidemen, I highly recommend stopping by La Montagne Café, but not particularly for the food but for the epic view! The venue has an outdoor sitting area overlooking a stunning valley with endless rice fields, and if that wasn’t good enough, the mighty Mount Agung is starring from the backdrop on a clear sky day!

This is an excellent place to take a break from your Sidemen itinerary and relax while absorbing some jaw-dropping vistas.

I would say this place is more like a warung than a fancy café. It serves some Indonesian dishes as well as western cuisines like pancakes and pizza. Portion sizes are small but also prices are very low. They also make decent coffee, including speciality coffee such as matcha. 

Cost | Free Entrance

#3 Get your adrenaline fix at Telaga Waja River Rafting

If you’re partial to a bit of adrenaline rush on your holiday, you can go rafting in Sidemen on Telaga Waja River! Ayung River that runs through Ubud, is the most popular rafting spot in Bali, but Telaga Waja is also an epic place to do it. The water comes from different natural springs from the mountains near Mount Agung, and it’s also a source of drinking water for the local population. The rafting route is 13 km long, with a few meters drop at the end. The route is suitable for all levels, including beginners.

The packages typically include a dropoff and pickup from your accommodation and lunch at the end. Some tours also combine rafting with sightseeing or a spa package which is an excellent way to end a day full of excitement.

#4 Stay at the bamboo house

laputa sidemen bali, bamboo house in bali, hotel sidemen

A trip to Sidemen would certainly not be complete without staying at a unique bamboo house! Imagine open living, serene views of the rice fields and no sound other than nature!

Staying for at least 1 night in one of these houses is an experience in its own right. Choose one that comes with some nice lounging area like a hammock or a net suspended in the air right in the jungle, by a river or rice fields!

Here are some recommended bamboo houses in Sidemen:

#5 Chill in the pool at Monkey Bar at Bella Vista

sidemen valley, east bali, moneky bar at bella vista
Pool at the Monkey Bar

Monkey Bar is such a fantastic place to stop by! Perched on a hill, the venue has a beautiful panoramic view of the Balinese jungle and the ocean in the distance. Take a dip in their infinity pool overlooked by the Insta famous 4 meters tall statue of buddha.

The menu at Monkey Bar is reasonably priced, and it features mostly Indonesian cuisine. Enjoy nasi goreng, followed by a fresh coconut or Bintang for a perfect lunch or dinner.

TIP |  If you’re riding a scooter, set your Google Maps to a car route. I’ve learnt that the hard way when Google took me through a narrow dirt path deep through the jungle.

Cost | 50k IDR (includes 30k food voucher + 20k use of pool & towel)

#6 Catch a sunrise at Bukit Cinta

Bukit Cinta is located in East Bali, with the closest town being Amlapura. Bukit Cinta is one of the best Mount Agung viewpoints, and the best time to fully appreciate the site is to arrive at sunrise. Picture the mighty Mt Agung, lush rice fields surrounded by swaying palms. The view is truly idyllic.

You can find the viewpoint by typing in Google Bukit Cinta. Alternatively, you can find Bali Asli Restaurant, leave your scooter there and go down the road and on to the field to find the best viewing spot. The second viewpoint is up the road.

TIP | Wear trainers, you’ll be exploring a field with tall grass, so it will be best to wear something that fully covers your feet.

If you’re interested, I wrote a complete guide about this place, you can find it here:

Bukit Cinta, Bali – The Most Epic Mt Agung Sunrise Viewpoint

Cost | Free

#7 Chill at Virgin Beach

Virgin Beach is the most Easter beach amongst beaches mentioned in this post, not far from Amlapura. If you only have time to visit one beach, I highly recommend visiting Virgin Beach because it’s the most beautiful.

The road leading to the beach has some excellent viewpoints, so don’t forget to stop a couple of times to appreciate the view of the beach down below washed by perfectly turquoise water.

The beach has gorgeous white sand with black sparkles of post volcanic ash that beautifully contrasts with rainbow-painted fishing boats stationing on the beach. The water is very clear and turquoise.

You can easily spend the day lounging on the sunbed and being served cold drinks and snacks from the beach warung. You can get a message from one of the masseuse laddies for 120k IDR.

Cost | 10k IDR

#8 Marvel at Mount Agung at Lahangan Sweet

Lahangan Sweet, Sidemen Bali, things to do in East Bali

Lahangan Sweet is a viewpoint and a campsite overlooking Mount Agung. It is one of the most epic places I’ve seen in Bali, and it’s becoming more and more popular on Instagram, so visit it soon before it becomes too touristy.

It’s located close to Amed and Pura Lempuyang, so have this in mind when you’re planning your East Bali itinerary. Check the map at the top of the post to help you orientate all the points of interest.

The ideal time to visit is at sunset when the sun is setting behind the volcano. However, the site is a little tricky to get to and coming back in the dark may not be ideal. So, the second-best time to visit Lahangan is at sunrise when the morning sun rays light up the majestic Agung.

To get here, follow the Google instructions. Once the route leads you off the main road towards a steep dirt path, you may want to leave your motorbike and continue on foot. The hike up should take about 15 minutes.

Cost | 20k IDR

#9 Explore Besakih Temple

Besakih Temple, East Bali, Sidemen

Situated in the village of Besakih and built on the slope of Mount Agung at 1,000 meters high, Besakih Temple is the largest, holiest and most important temple in Bali. Often referred to as the Mother Temple of Bali, a thousand-year-old Besakih Temple is actually a whole complex consisting of 22 separate temples.

The temple has a magnificent view over the surrounding areas and Mount Agung. You will be expected to get a local guide to show you around the temple and explain the symbols and talk you through some local legends. Please note that at the end, you will be expected to give them a tip.

Cost | 60k IDR (Including sarong rental, ride up the hill to the temple entrance on a scooter & guide)

#10 Snorkle at Blue Lagoon Beach

Blue Lagoon Beach is considered to be a hidden gem of Bali beaches. The beach is well known for its excellent diving opportunities as the coral reef is rich and unspoiled. The beach itself is relatively small, surrounded by cliffs from both sides. The sand is pristine white, and the water very clear and perfect for snorkelling as the coral reef is located close to the shore.

A couple of local warungs are right on the beach, where you can grab something to eat or drink and hire a sun lounger for the day.

Cost | 10k IDR for parking

#11 Feed the giant fish at Tirta Gangga Water Palace

Tirta Gangga is definitely a must-see if you’re visiting East Bali! It’s a beautiful water palace built by one of the good kings of Bali. Tirta Gangga looks like a serene garden with various pools and fountains, interesting sculptures, and cute bridges.

The best time to visit Tirta Gangga is early in the morning to avoid day time heat as there is hardly any shade and to be there first before larger organised tours make their way here.

Buy some fish food and go to the main pond with stepping stones to feed the fish and take some cool shots with these huge monster fish. If you want a more authentic experience, you can pay extra to swim in one of the pools at the back. It may be a good idea on a hot day.

Cost | 30k IDR

#12 Take a stroll in Maha Gangga Valley

Maha Gangga Valley is an excellent stop on your Sidemen trip. It is located just off the main road in the same area as Bukit Cinta Viewpoint and Tirta Gangga.

It’s a large well-kept garden surrounded by epic views of the area – mountains on one side and ocean on the other. The park has beautiful flower fields, a quirky bridge, some straw huts and a small waterfall connected to a stream.

There is a restaurant serving snacks and refreshments. The garden is excellent for exploring and taking some Instagram worthy shots. Maha Gangga Valley is also perfect for visiting with the family as there are various activities organised for the little ones.

Cost | 50k IDR

#13 Take a reflection shot at Lempuyang Temple

Pura Lempuyang Temple is situated near Besakih Temple and Tirta Gangga in East Bali. The temple is built on Mount Lempuyang, and it boasts awe-inspiring views of the surrounding areas and the majestic Mount Agung.

At Pura Lempuyang, you will find the Instagram famous Gates to Heaven, probably the most photographed gate on the entire island! The famous photo involves a reflection trick that looks like there was water in front of the gates.

Before the pandemic, I actually spent over 2 hours in the queue waiting to get this perfect Instagram shot. I know it’s ridiculous, but I also feel no shame.

The best time to visit Pura Lempuyang is at sunset when the sun sets behind the gate and the volcano. If you’re not fussed about the photo, come in the morning before the scorching heat.

Cost | 10k IDR (min donation) + 10k IDR sarong + 5k parking fee

#14 Explore the beautiful Taman Ujung Water Palace

Taman Ujung Water Palace, East Bali, Karangasem, Sidemen Bali

Taman Ujung is another water palace but way less popular and touristy compared to Tirta Gangga. It is situated right on the coast with some fabulous ocean views.

The park is quite expansive and beautifully manicured. It features many interesting sculptures and intricate carvings, pagodas, bridges and paths.

It is really a great place to explore or relax somewhere in the shade. Not to mention the many photo opportunities, as the site is absolute eye candy!

There are plenty of vendors selling cold drinks and snacks outside of the entrance, and inside the park, there are toilets.

Cost | 50k IDR

#15 Trek the Sidemen Rice Terrace

Sidemen Rice Terraces
Sidemen Rice Terraces

Rice field trekking is an excellent way to experience the authentic Balinese countryside and get a glimpse into the local people’s daily lives. Sidemen boast some gorgeous rice fields, and exploring them first hand is undoubtedly a unique experience.

If you stay in hotels like Samanvaya or Patan Kikian, they organise local rice field trekking for their guests. Make sure you embark on this tour in the morning and wear some comfortable shoes and plenty of sun cream.

You can also book through a reputable tour company, like Viator.

Sidemen Trekking – explore Sidemen country side, walk through the lush rice fields, coffee plantation and wooden bridges. The trek includes lunch and pickup & drop-off service.

#16 Learn about crafts at Tenganan Ancient Village

If you’re impartial to exploring the local cultures and customs in a little more depth, you should pay a visit to Tenganan Ancient Village.

Tenganan village is located near Candidasa and Virgin beaches. It is a traditional village inhabited by native Bali Aga people. The villagers are well known for their beautiful crafts, especially for textile production known as ikat.

Visitors can watch the craftsmen working, wander around this picturesque village and buy quality souvenirs such as textiles, hand made maps and carvings.

Cost | donation basis

#17 Wander around the colourful Amplapura Market

sidemen village bali

If you’re a fan of traditional markets, this one is great to visit. Arrive in the morning when vendors have just started their day for the best experience. Take a stroll amongst colourful stools selling exotic fruits, spices and other foods.

Cost | Free

#18 Visit Tukad Cepung Waterfall

Tukad Cepung Waterfall is located 30 minutes drive west from the main Sidemen area. It is one of the unique waterfalls in Bali as it’s situated right in a cave.

Bets time to visit Tukad Cepung waterfall is between 10 am and 12 pm. It is when you can capture beautiful sun rays entering the cave.

Tukad Cepung is relatively easy to access. The hike to the waterfall should take no longer than 20 minutes from the car parking area. You will go past various local warungs where you can have lunch and cold coconut on the way back from the waterfall.

Cost | 40k IDR

Read a complete guide to Tukad Cepung Waterfall

#19 Go diving at Candidasa Beach

Candidasa Beach Sidemen Bali

Candidasa Beach is not well known to western visitors, but it’s quite a popular resort for Indonesian holidaymakers. The beaches around Candidasa are very diverse. Some are white-sanded, some black sanded, others are rocky.

Candidasa is an excellent snorkelling and diving spot. You can catch a boat here that will take you to some of the best local reefs, including the three islands: Gili Tepekong, Gili Mimpang and Gili Biaha. In the crystal clear water of this part of Bali, you can find baby sharks, giant manta rays and a shipwreck!

Cost | 10k IDR beach parking

#20 Sample Bali-made wine at Sababay Winery

If you’re sold on a trip to Sidemen, I highly recommend making a detour and stopping at Sababay Winery on the way to or back from Sidemen. Yes, Bali produces wine, and this one is a quality one.

You can simply pop in and sample some of their wines. You will be able to buy wine for a discounted price which is awesome because alcohol in Bali can cost 2 to 3 times more expensive than, for example, in the UK.

The winery also can arrange a proper tour of the whole facility, or if you want to celebrate something special, they can prepare for you a lovely sitting arrangement in the garden with snacks and wine.  

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