We’ve been north (3 Easy Day Trips from Ubud on your Scooter), and we’re feeling a little more adventurous. It’s time to turn up the difficulty level a little and see what’s going on to the South and to the East (and then back up North because, well, I LOVE it!). The first trip will take you to the beach at Sanur, with a visit to Gianyar’s famous Night Market. The second trip will take you first to the picturesque Sideman Road and then you have the option of visiting the stunning Besakih temple or heading south to the beach at Padangbai. The third trip takes you back up north, this time to visit the lakes of Beratan, Buyan and Tamblingan.
Beach Lovers Foodie Tour
Spend the day on the beach at Sanur, the most accessible beach from Ubud. On the way, take a visit to Tegenungan Waterfall and then when you’ve had enough of the beach, grab a 2-for-1 cocktail at the swish Sanur Maya Resort Hotel. Dinner at the Gianyar Night Market is hard to beat and is very easy on the wallet.
You can use the Arjuna Statue as your starting point, as you head South down Cok Gede Rai.
Roads can be busy coming out of Ubud but as you head further South, you will mainly be riding down small roads amongst the rice fields.
Heading into Sanur, you will need to take the Padangbai Highway, a big road with 4 lanes. Keep your wits about you and you will be fine.
The first stop on your route is a mere 20 minutes from Ubud. Its close proximity means it is quite a popular tourist draw, so getting there early is recommended. It’s a nice drive through rice fields from the main road, and then you will descend a number of steps to get to the waterfall.
The view from your approach is quite spectacular. You can bathe in the pools and get changed afterwards in the changing rooms at the foot of the stairs.
Continue South to the beach at Sanur, Ubud’s closest seaside escape. Genius Café, a coworking spot right on the beach (I know, how the hell would you get any work done?) is a good spot to head to.
The beach is spacious and there are sun loungers and coconut sellers to keep you serviced.
For lunch, head a bit further along to Rasta Bar (or any of a number of warungs along this stretch), where you can get lovely grilled fresh fish and a Bintang for around 100k. The bar owner also teaches kite-surfing if you are feeling adventurous.
Happy Hour at Tree bar
When you are done at the beach, rinse the sand from between your toes and head into Sanur to take advantage of the two-for-cocktails at swanky Maya Sanur Resort Hotel’s Tree Bar. You can sip your Espresso Martini on the beach front and watch the sunset. Only 85k for two! Be sure to check out the hotel grounds as well, it’s a stunner!
Gianyar Night Market
To any foodie worth their salt, a trip to Gianyar Night Market is an absolute must! From around 5pm, the main street fills up with food stalls and fruit sellers. Venture into the side street where you will find more stalls selling local favourites, Chicken Betutu, Gado-Gado and all kinds of delicious sweets. You’ll likely be the only foreign face so pull up a chair at one of the stalls, bust out your best Bahasa and you’re sure to make some new friends.
Google: map url
Price: Tegenungan Waterfall (20k), Lunch on the beach (100k), Cocktails at Tree Bar (85k), Dinner at Gianyar Night Market (25k), Petrol (20k)
Distance: 66km (round trip)
Time: Full day
Nature and Spiritual Tour / Adventurous Beach Trip
Both tours will take you through the breathtaking beauty of Sideman Road. Rice terraces stretch as far as the eye can see and you can explore the little villages and temples to your heart’s content. After this, you have the option to head a little further north to one of Bali’s most sacred temples; Besakih. With stunning views of Mount Agung, this was a hive of activity when the volcano was active, with the Balinese coming from all over the island bringing offerings and prayers to prevent an explosion. A month later, the volcano mysteriously went quiet. Alternatively, you can descend mountain roads to Padangbai, a popular coastal town with some stunning beaches and great snorkelling.
You can start your trip to Sideman from the Arjuna Statue and head south down Cok Gede Rai, then you’ll go East towards Gianyar. Roads are fairly busy but safe.
After you pass a bridge straddling a beautiful gorge, you will start to ascend to Sideman. This road is frequently busy with trucks which can be quite annoying. Be patient and pass only when it’s safe to do so. Again, a mask is a must unless you want to be swallowing exhaust fumes whilst you’re stuck behind one of these things.
From Sideman, you can either head up to Besakih through quiet villages or go down to the beach via scenic mountain roads.
Just as you are leaving town there is the Goa Gajah Elephant temple with is worth a stop. You don’t need long to take a look around the caves, with beautiful carvings, and the temple grounds.
Sideman is an area rather than a place on a map so you could easily drive right past it. You will come to a small turn off to the left, with market stalls gathered around it. Turn down here to get to the Sideman beauty spots. You’ll pass lots of small warungs and, as you get further into the rice fields, a few swanky hotels. Stop for a refreshing coconut at one of these places and enjoy the spectacular views.
As you follow the road down, you’ll drive through small villages and beautiful rice fields. Stop and take photos along the way.
You’ll pass over a small yellow bridge (which is marked on the map), before heading up to the mountainside temple of Besakih.
Option A: Besakih temple
Besakih temple is quite simply stunning.
Located on the slopes of the mighty Mount Agung, which dominates the landscape of Eastern Bali, a series of steps take you higher and higher up the temple to some breathtaking views. The entrance is a hive of hectic tourist activity and is a steep 15-minutes walk from the temple access, so buy your ticket, pick up your free sarong and drive up to the carpark on your scooter. There are many guides around the temple and it’s interesting to hear about the temple design, which is quite unique.
However, feel free to wander around by yourself. After visiting the temple, you can make your way back to Ubud via a slightly more direct route, bypassing Sideman. You will pass through Gianyar so, if you time it right, you can stop for dinner at the excellent Night Market.
Breakdown: Option A
Google: Google Maps url
Price: Goa Gajah (15k), Coconut Sideman (20k), Besakih entrance (20k), Lunch warung (50k), Petrol (20k) = 125k
What to Bring: Respectful dress for the temples (sarongs and sashes are supplied)
Distance: 90km (round trip)
Time: Half day
Option B: Padangbai
With this trip, you can take a circular route through Sideman Road, past the Damada resort and round towards the yellow bridge until you come back onto the main road. Continue upwards and you will pass through the stunning scenery of Iseh village before making the most jaw-dropping descent down to the coast. Note that there is a more direct mountain road than the one marked on Google Maps, I recommend taking that one if you are confident. The roads are steep with lots of tight bends but they are in good condition and you won’t encounter much traffic. Your adventurousness will be rewarded with some spectacular views!
Helix 64 is the perfect location to grab a cold Bintang after your hair-raising descent from Sideman. The bar is part of the Bloo Lagoon Hotel, perched at the far end of town and overlooking Blue Lagoon beach.
Whilst Blue Lagoon beach is much more easily accessed, it’s worth the extra effort to seek out Bias Tugel beach, or White Sands, and also known as Secret Beach. You will descend a number of steps, giving you the chance to take in the perfect beauty of the white sands and clear water. The small beach is serviced by a few warungs, any of which can supply you with coconuts, sunloungers, snorkelling equipment and a fine fish lunch. If the sea is calm, don’t skip on the snorkelling. Aside from the numerous tropical fish, there are a couple of turtles who make regular appearances!
When leaving Padangbai, you will pass roadside vendors selling fresh tuna. At around 20k for a medium-sized fish, it’s well worth picking one up.
Breakdown: Option B
Google: Google Maps url
Price: Goa Gajah (15k), Bintang Helix 64 (30k), Parking White Sands (2k), Snorkelling gear (20k), Lunch (100k), Petrol (20k) = 187K
What to Bring: Swimming gear, snorkel
Distance: 101km (round trip)
Time: Full day
Northern Lakes Tour
This tour takes you up to one of my favourite regions on the island, the Lakes of Beratan, Buyan and Tambligan. I would usually prefer to spend more time up here (see my previous blogposts; Bedugul and Munduk and Munduk Moding Coffee Plantation) but it’s close enough to do as a day trip, with plenty of easy-to-access sights and activities. On this trip, you will visit some of my favourites; including all three lakes, a waterfall and – most importantly – get to try the local speciality rice cakes.
The ride north from Ubud is very straightforward (this ride is also easily doable from Canggu) but I strongly recommend leaving early as the mountain roads around the lakes become clogged with tourist buses from around 10am and what should be a one-hour journey can easily turn into a three-hour slog sitting in traffic.
Your way home is the same as the way up!
Lake Beratan Temple
This is the most famous water temple in Bali and you will doubtless have seen pictures of it, a tower sitting serenely on the edge of Lake Beratan, framed by mountains. It really is a beautiful site but is extremely popular. This makes it a good first stop, try to arrive before the crowds arrive and have a wander around. The grounds are small so you’ll only need 20-30 minutes.
If you haven’t heard me banging on about this amazing local creation yet then just believe me when I say it’s the closest thing to a piping hot crumpet you are going to find in Bali. Head here for breakfast. A basket of delicious Lak-Lak rice cakes and a hot tea will set you back all of 8k. Worth a second stop on the way home? Hell, yeah!
Danau Buyan Temple
Just past the Lak-Lak stop, you will see and entrance to the shores of Lake Buyan on the left, just before the ascent to the top of the lakes. It’s not as stunning at the one on Beratan but it’s worth a drive down to take a look and get some nice views of the lake.
Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall
This area is teeming with waterfalls and you will find yourself not too far from the famous Git Git and Sekumpul falls, some of the most stunning on the island. However, for a day trip, one of your best options is Banyu Wana Amertha, which is just off Wanagiri Road, overlooking the lakes. Entrance is currently by donation (20k would be sufficient) and gives you access to numerous falls. Swimming is also possible. This is a fairly new venture and so is one of the lesser-known tourist attractions. Search out Mega, or give him a call (085739439299) and he’ll be happy to show you around.
Continuing along Wanagiri road, you will get some stunning views of both Lake Buyan and Tamblingan. Just after starting your descent into Munduk, you’ll see a sign pointing to the left which will take you to the shores of Tamblingan.
From here you can take a short walk to the lakeside temple or have a boat trip around the lake. Prepare to bargain hard though if you are on your own as 120k for 30 mins is kind of steep.
Bedugul Botanical Gardens
Although there’s plenty more to see in this area, we are going to start heading back. As you head back along Wanagiri road, stop and buy some fruit at one of the roadside vendors; we’re going to have a picnic!
Head back down the mountain road and back towards Beratan Temple. Grab some takeaway rice from the market and head towards the Botanical gardens. You will find expansive grounds, ideal for a picnic, and plenty of places to explore. Try the treetop adventure or have a wander around the bamboo forest. You can easily spend a couple of hours here before heading back to Ubud.
Google: Maps url
Distance: 117 (round trip)
Price: Beratan Lake temple (50k), Lak-Lak and hot tea (8k), Waterfall (20k), Lunch (25k), petrol (20k)
Time: Full day
Still hungry for more adventure?? Stay tuned for my pick of the weekend getaways.