10 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS IN THE KARANGASEM REGION - EAST BALI
There is a lot more to Bali than Ubud, Canggu, and Kuta - it’s full of incredible hidden gems. If you're traveling to Bali, make sure to visit the lesser-known destinations like the Karangasem region of eastern Bali.
Karangasem is a perfect area to get away from the tourist hustle and bustle and see the untouched side of Bali; it’s so pristine. This region is one of my favorite places on earth. There’s so much to see on this beautiful Indonesian island!
KARANGASEM REGION, EAST BALI
Karangasem, Bali, an area rich in culture, beauty and home to Mount Agung, a powerful volcano that completely closed down air travel to Bali two years ago and scared off a lot of tourism from this area. This blog will show you that not only is this area of Bali safe, it’s also extraordinarily beautiful. If you don’t visit Karangasem, located in the most Eastern point of Bali, you’re missing out on one of the best places to visit in Bali.
Make sure to check out my two week Bali itinerary!
Despite Karangasem being a fairly unvisited destination in Bali, Lempuyang Temple (also known as Pura Lempuyang Temple), is one of the busiest sunrise spots in the whole of Bali (thanks to social media). It’s home to the gates of heaven and the beautiful staircase, among many other temples within its grounds. Despite being busy, it’s still a must-visit destination. If you get to Lempuyang Temple just before it opens at 7 am (or 24/7 for worship), you’ll hopefully only have to wait around 10 minutes to get your videos and photos and the gates.
A lot of photos taken at the gates of heaven show a reflection giving the impression that the gate is behind a lake. This is simply a local trying to make a little extra money by holding a mirror under your camera, so it’s up to you whether you get a shot like this or not.
Bali is a Hindu island, so when you visit the temples you need to dress appropriately. At Lempuyang Temple, you must have your shoulders covered and wear a sarong (both men and women). If you don’t have a sarong with you, you’ll need to hire it for 10,000 IDR ($0.70 USD). You can also hire the udeng (for men), but this isn’t compulsory. The udeng is worn for concentration when you come to the temple, to stay focused and the sarong is where the evil lies, by wrapping up in the sarong, you’re controlling the evil. It’s said that if you dress appropriately you’ll leave renewed and refreshed, feeling like a new person.
Lempuyang Temple costs roughly 10,000 IDR to park and has a donation-based entry fee (recommended around 10,000 - 30,000 IDR).
Padang Bai is a Balinese fishing village and a place most tourists will have only heard of as somewhere to catch the fast boat to the Gili Islands or Lombok. However, it’s actually home to some of the best snorkeling on Bali mainland. Blue lagoon beach, roughly 500m from Padang Bai town center, is a small but beautiful sandy beach. When here, either head to the beach and relax or hop on a snorkeling trip like we did and be taken to the best coral spots in the area.
Blue Lagoon Snorkeling - roughly $60 USD
SAMSARA LIVING MUSEUM
This is an experience all focused on the traditional side of the Balinese culture. Samsara is a Hindu belief, referring to the stages of life and the journey of the soul, characterized by rituals and ceremonies. Samsara museum is a place where people can go to experience and celebrate the cultural values of the Balinese Hindu beliefs.
One of the stages of life that stood out the most to me is the Matata Matata, the filing of the teeth. In the Hindu belief, the teeth are like one of the six sins and so filing them down a little, you can go into marriage and adulthood with self-control.
Katy and I got to experience the Balinese culture; we were dressed in the Balinese traditional handmade clothing, that can take over a year to make and then enjoyed a customary Balinese ceremony. I can’t compare this experience to anything; it’s so unique, complex but beautiful at the same time. They started tapping an egg on my foot then my shoulder, I was so confused, but this just shows that there’s so much intricacy that goes into the ceremony and it was so beautiful to experience for ourselves.
What also stood out to me was that we were the only tourists there. They are sharing their religion, this kind of ritual is not only for practiced Hindus but can be for anyone. It’s incredible they are open to sharing that.
To see our full experience check out the video here.
Samsara Living Museum has a donation-based entry fee.
I never thought I’d be visiting a winery while in Bali. However, the French owner, brought over a lot of the practices and state-of-the-art equipment from France, while giving the wine their own unique spin. They actually grow some of their own grapes using certain methods that help them survive the extreme Bali heat.
We tried three different wines paired with Indonesia food - you try the wine first, then eat the food, then try the wine again to see how the food changes the taste of the wine. I’ve previously had negative experiences with the Balinese wine scene, but the Sababay wine quality was great and at around $15 USD a bottle, its not too expensive either!
Sababay Winery - $14-$35 USD by appointment
WHITE WATER RAFTING
White water rafting, something I wouldn’t have originally thought to do in Bali, but a must if you’re coming to this area. It was amazing rushing down 15km’s of rapids while seeing some of the most beautiful parts of Bali, the untouched Karangasem nature. This surpassed my expectations - I loved it!
White Water Rafting + Lunch costs $79 USD per adult but well worth the money.
PURA BESAKIH TEMPLE
Besakih Temple, also known as the ‘Mother Temple’ is the largest temple complex on Bali, situated around 3,000ft up the slopes of Mount Agung. The Eka Dasa Ruda ceremony is a 100-year ceremony in Hindu belief for purification and to highlight the presence of the god of danger. The same day Mount Agung erupted, the ceremony was due to take place at Besakih Temple. With the Balinese being extremely superstitious, they actually believed they had angered Agung and the spirits, and that was the reason for the eruption by choosing the wrong day for their 100-year celebration. Whereas others say Pura Besakih Temple was saved by the gods because it survived Mount Agung’s year-long eruption, despite being in its path; just a small piece of history behind this incredible monument.
Besakih Temple costs 60,000 IDR to enter - sarongs included within this price if you need to borrow one.
AGUNG SILVER, SIDEMAN
I like to collect little souvenirs from some of the places I have traveled but to try something a little different, Katy and I made our own pieces of jewelry. From a simple internet search, we found Agung Silver, a well-reviewed silver jewelry making shop in Sideman. After about 3 hours of melting, shaping, and designing, we had personally created two hammered style rings. It was such a cool experience to be able to craft your own silver jewelry and take home the memory of Bali with you - I never take mine off.
450,000 IDR ~ roughly $35 USD per person for 5g of silver and the tools to create rings at Agung Silver (alternatively, you can buy premade rings here).
Taman Tirta Gangga Water Palace
Taman Tirta Gangga, meaning water from the Ganges, is a former royal palace that is now an incredible open garden full of fountains and ponds where you can feed the fish. Although it’s another spot that has been made popular by social media, it never felt crowded during my visit and is a beautiful place to wander around.
Taman Tirta Gangga Water Palace costs 30,000 IDR per person and 5,000 IDR for a bag of fish food at the entrance.
Puri Agung Karangasem Palace
Puri Agung Karangasem Palace is a small palace located in the center of Amlapura town. It was once the king’s place - the royal family does still lives here although they’re not technically part of the kingdom anymore, they’re just rather elite.
Puri Agung Karangasem Palace costs 30,000 IDR per person to enter.
Taman Ujung Water Palace
Taman Ujung Water Palace was built in 1901 by the King of Karangasem and was used as the holding place for people who practice black magic. They were all locked up here and often drowned (one of the pools is called ‘Kolam Dirah’ which means dump pool). The king then realized it wasn’t the best idea to lock up people in an incredibly beautiful place and reclaimed the land for his own use - It’s beautiful.
Taman Ujung Water Palace entrance fee is 50,000 IDR per person and 5,000 IDR parking.
PLACES TO STAY IN THE KARANGASEM REGION OF BALI:
Embang Homestay (from $30 USD per night)
Nestled in the hills of Sideman, Embang Homestay offers calm and relaxation away from the tourist areas in Bali. With just the noise of running water from the nearby river, great food and even the opportunity for a massage to round up the day, this place is a sanctuary.
Balidroom Lodges (from $80 USD per night)
If you’re seeking complete relaxation, in a location with very little around, Balidroom Lodges is the place for you. As a relatively new 4* hotel, Balidroom Lodges offers modern Balinese style lodges with a shared swimming pool, spa facilities, and incredible panoramic views.
Wapa Di Ume Resort, Sideman (from $250 USD per night)
I can only compare Wapa Di Ume, Sideman, to the Garden of Eden - the most beautiful hotel I’ve been lucky enough to stay in Bali. Offering yoga on a beautiful veranda, an amazing spa and delicious food; it’s an incredible 5* eco-style luxury hotel tucked away in Sideman. With breathtaking rice terrace views where you can watch the locals work, keeping the authentic side to Bali alive.
For more places to stay in the Karangasem area of Bali, check out the latest prices here.
Karangasem is amazing! Relaxing, romantic, untouched and beautiful - everything you could want from a trip to Bali. As a lesser-known area in Bali, you HAVE to visit this region for yourself, you definitely won’t be disappointed!
Want to know more about Bali and hidden gems like Karangasem? Check out my complete Bali travel guide here.
And remember, let’s get lost in the next one!