Most people who have visited Bali say that the real Bali can be found where the rice grows. In Bali rice fields can be found almost everywhere, and the Balinese people have depended on this method of agriculture for almost 2000 years. The terraced rice fields were carved by hand, with the help of some simple tools, and are being maintained by succeeding generations.Imagine yourself watching the sun rise through the mist over a rice field or taking a hike through their lush greenness. It is a must thing to do in Bali to visit at least one of the numerous rice paddies, and to make your decision a bit easier I’ve compiled a guide on which ones are the most beautiful rice fields in Bali.
Jatiluwih rice terraces are located in Tabanan regency, about a 2 hour drive from Kuta. They are best reached by heading up the West coast for a bit and then turning towards North Bali. Jatiluwih area is very famous of its rice fields and subak, the balinese irrigation system, which are considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. The rice terraces here are stunning, giving a new meaning to the word green. They crawl up the sides of the hills like stairs leading you towards the sky.
Usually it is quite empty there except for a few people from nearby hotels, and there will be even fewer people engaging in some rice field trekking. Which actually is something everyone visiting the area should do: The rice paddies span a huge area where you’ll get to explore not just the different parts of the green beauties but also jump over rivers and enjoy your lunch sitting there in the middle of it all. Mount Batukaru in the distance makes for an amazing addition to the already breathtaking view. Alternatively you can join a cycling tour through the rice fields.
It is recommended to visit Jatiluwih rice fields between 8AM and 5PM, when you’ll also have a chance to witness the activities of the farmers. Due to heavy rainfall in the region it is advisable to bring an umbrella or a raincoat with you, or choose a day for which the weather forecast looks good. Month-wise February to April will provide the lushest scenery.
Belimbing village is one of the traditional Balinese villages situated 600 meters above sea level in Tabanan regency, on the way towards Jatiluwih. The drive from Kuta to there takes about an hour. The village is surrounded by wonderful nature, including some very beautiful rice terraces. The land is very fertile and many plantations, such as durian, coffee, clove, rambutan and mangosteen, thrive there.
The magnificent view of the rice paddies with Mount Batukaru as a backdrop has already started to draw tourists to the area. Rice field trekking is the main activity in which to indulge in, as it will not just give you a chance to enjoy the beauty of the rice terraces but also the rest of the unspoiled nature. Don’t miss the chance to visit a group of monkeys at Mekori Forest or the waterfalls Sing Sing, Sing Sing Sade and Bemben.
The best time for a rice field trek at Belimbing is early morning or late afternoon on a clear day. During the rainy season the whole village is sometimes covered in fog.
If you continue your journey from Belimbing by driving 1 more hour northwards on Jl. Antosari, you will reach Pupuan village. There each rice paddy has a uniting seam, which both connects and separates them. Over the years the slopes in the area have turned into amazingly beautiful rice terraces, and eventually been joined by coffee plantations and orchards. Off the main road you can find tropical forest with waterfalls and even a hidden temple.
The farmers here share an intimate relationship with nature: At harvest time the farmers cut the rice paddies with a traditional equipment called anggapan (a traditional knife). Standing in rows, they sing while they collect the harvest. Such an amazing experience to be able to witness it! The rice fields in Pupuan are best enjoyed on a clear day either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. When it’s rainy, the fog can obscure the whole village.
The emerald-green rice terraces in the river gorge north of Tegallalang village (sometimes also spelled as Tegalalang), around 9 kilometres from Ubud centre, are photography-wise probably the most famous rice fields in Bali. The cool and breezy area has a vista that spreads out in front of you in the form of rice terraces all over the slopes across the timeless valley. From Kuta it is just a 1,5 hour drive away and the location is easy to find.
Which brings me to the one minor drawback Tegallalang has. Compared to some of the other rice fields in Bali, Tegallalang has become very touristy. The area is now complete with parking and entrance fees and stalls selling everything from food to souvenirs. You can book a tour with one of the many companies offering rice field tours or take a walk on your own. By wandering a bit further along the tracks after reaching the “top” of the valley you can reach the next valley, which has better views and fewer crowds. The best times to visit are early morning and late afternoon, as it can get really hot during the day.
Ubud and the neighboring villages, which lie in the middle of the subak irrigation system, are in general a heaven for those who appreciate the beautiful greenery of the rolling rice terraces. Only 30 minutes to 1 hour away from Kuta, they are easily accessible. Doing organized tours around the surrounding areas of some of the upscale resorts might sometimes be the best way to go, but if you feel confident armed with just a map and some instructions from people in the know, there’s nothing to stop you going for a rice field trek on your own. If you are not that keen on walking, you can hire a bicycle instead. Either one of these options might lead you to rice fields only a few lucky other have passed through before.
Just west of Ubud, Sayan village is little more than a ridge. Views of a luscious ravine and manicured terraces have attracted many expats to choose Sayan as their new home. The steps from the rice fields lead down to a river where you can go for a swim. Payangan village is another one of Ubud’s neighboring villages known for its extraordinary rice terraces that step down to the river Ayung below. There are beautiful rice fields also around Pujung, Penestanan and Pengosekan villages. Campuhan Ridge Walk in the village of Campuhan is a popular trail taking you past not only plenty of rice fields but also some jungle and rivers.
Tirta Gangga is a popular side trip from the nearby coastal towns of Amed and Candidasa, and a 2 hour drive from Kuta. The name Tirta Gangga literally means “Water of the Ganges”, and the site is extremely respected by the Balinese Hindus. The name actually refers to the Royal water palace but it is widely used to refer to the general area surrounding the palace, including some particularly stunning rice terraces. The postcard pictures you’ve seen of Bali rice paddies are usually photographs of Tirta Gangga. Although the rice terraces are not as steep as in some of the other areas, they are nonetheless magnificent.
The hiking around Tirta Gangga rice paddies is excellent. The treks suit all fitness levels, and it’s easy to take a stroll on your own through any well-beaten track. Alternatively you can join any of the guided rice field tours (guides can be easily arranged at the water palace or your hotel), where you’ll learn more about how rice is grown while admiring the surroundings. A guided hike normally includes visiting cascading rice paddies, climbing up and down hillsides full of crop and walking through numerous villages.
The best time to visit the area are early mornings and late afternoons, as especially the area around the water palace gets really crowded during the days.
Sidemen is a beautiful valley in Karangasem regency, that is blessed with fertile land. It is a 1,5 hour drive from Kuta through winding roads and beautiful landscapes with Mount Agung as the backdrop. Sidemen is still considered as the old Bali, unaffected by the influx of tourism. Everywhere you look you see hundreds of shades of green: Rice terraces, palm trees, mossy river beds and real village life.
You can’t really avoid trekking through the rice fields as you are pretty much surrounded by them. The hiking trails take you along rice terraces and hills, through the valleys of river Unda and many coffee and cocoa plantations. It is best to bring a guide with you to get a great insight on how daily life takes place in Sidemen. If you’d prefer a bigger challenge, there is a trail taking you all the way from Sidemen to Padang Bai. It is a 6-hour hike for which a guide is necessary.
The best time to go trekking here would be really early morning, around sunrise time, so you’ll be back before it gets really hot.