Information before you go
Our next favorite route is the East Bali route that takes you all the way from hot and dry Tulamben area to Amed, Tirtagangga, Amlapura, Ujung, Pasir Putih and ends in the little coconut town of Candi Dasa.
The first thing that will catch your eye is the mighty and most sacred and highest mountain of Bali, Mount Agung.
Tulamben village is located in its shadows and because it is on the 'wrong' side of the mountain the area is extremely dry, hot and arid.
No huge banyan trees, swaying palm trees and white beaches here but just some shrubs, lots of volcanic sand and black rocky beaches.
the Gunung Agung near Tulamben, the start of the route
Nonetheless with the USAT Liberty ship wreck just 30m of the coast many divers come here for some scuba diving. Not only diving but snorkeling is great here too with good visibility. Try to dive or snorkel in the morning as this is one of the most popular sights on the island and it gets busy in the afternoon.
What 's great about this route is that it takes you slowly from the dry and arid lands of Tulamben around the other flanks of Gunung Agung, which are tropical and lush green.
You can already see this after 20 minutes of driving when you turn left at Culik village from where the 5-kilometer long road takes you to the fishing villages of Amed.
From Culik village on both sides of the road you'll bump into verdant rice fields against the dramatic backdrop of bold and dry hills.
verdant rice fields between Culik and Amed
Amed is the collective name of sleepy fishing villages where visitors go to for snorkeling, diving and eating fresh seafood all day in an unspoiled area.
There's nothing else to do but relax and since not that many people come here don't be surprised when you are the only one staying in your accommodation (link hier).
If you're planning to stay here you'll need your own transport because the restaurants in Amed are sparsely dotted along the hilly coastal road.
And if there's one thing you definitely don't want to think about it's walking uphill in the simmering heat of the day.
While driving you'll see that the views from this coastal road are really spectacular.
One of the many bays at Amed with Gunung Agung in the back
Around every corner there's another set of colorful traditional boats lined up on the beach.
From Amed you have two options.
You either continue driving along the coastal road all around Seraya mountain until you end up at the ruins of the water palace at Ujung or you head back to Culik village and turn left towards the royal water palace of Tirta gangga.
When you decide to try the first option you are going to see a Bali you never thought existed.
Here you find small villages high in the mountains without running water or electricity. This is one of the poorest regions of Bali, something you don't find in the tourist brochures or books.
The hot and dry coastal road
Just like Tulamben these villages are on the 'wrong side' of Seraya mountain where it's so hot and dry that people here have a hard time cultivating anything.
The drive through this area to Ujung will take approximately 1.5 hour.
The second option will bring you on the other side of Seraya mountain to Tirtagangga. This is one of the most scenic in this area.
The road slowly leads you through rice terraces and gets you higher up the mountain from where you can take some stunning pictures. Just have a look at these...
The road between Culik and Tirtagangga
Once you start your decent from the mountain you bump into Tirtagangga's royal water palace.
This historical site was built by the Raja (king) of Amlapura, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut in 1947 and he used it as one of his many weekend retreats.
It has suffered many earthquakes throughout the years but today it is still Bali's best preserved water palace.
If you like you can jump into real spring water and imagine how it feels to be royal among the many water sprouting statues and colorful flowers.
Balinese statues and water fountains at Tirtagangga's water palace
After a refreshing dip the East Bali route will take you to the capital of the Karangasem district, Amlapura.
There's not much to see in this town except for the Puri Agung Karangasem, the royal temple and palace of the last rajas. This was one of Bali's few remaining palaces during the Dutch colonial time.
Unlike other kingdoms in Bali the Raja of the Karangasem kingdom cooperated with the Dutch and so preserved his palace.
Puri Agung Karangasem
Members of the royal family still live here and it is not sure when you walk around the old buildings if you are in someone's home or in an area designated for travelers only.
On the outskirts of Amlapura, just three kilometers south of the city lies the ruins of the royal water palace of Ujung.
Just like the royal water palace at Tirtagangga it was built by Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut and the Dutch in 1921.
Due to earthquakes and the eruption of the Gunung Agung in 1963 the entire water palace was destroyed. In 1974 two Australians started to rebuild the palace until it got destroyed again by a major earthquake in 1979.
Ujung water palace
Next stop on the route takes you back to Amlapura where you turn left towards Candi Dasa.
Just 5 kilometers before you enter the coconut town of Candi Dasa you can find a sign which says "Pasir Putih".
Here the dusty road leads you along rice fields, a Balinese cemetery, a couple of huts and a little building where there is somebody who will request an entry fee.
It's very unlikely that this fees goes directly into the improvement of the road since it takes a good four-wheel drive or motor bike to go around the potholes before you get to the beach.
Nonetheless all that wiggling on the bike is definitely worth it...
White sand beach at Pasir Putih
Spotless Pasir Putih beach has couple of small stalls where you can sip a beer, rent yourself a sun lounger or just go for a stroll to feel the white sand under your bare feet.
We took a drink, stayed here for an hour and chatted with the locals.
A Korean company had plans to transform the Pasir Putih area into a huge villa resort with golf course. So far there hasn't been any action going on but you never know in Bali. So chances are you need to hurry up to enjoy and see the pristine beach the way it is today.
The last part of the route brings you to the little coconut town where there isn't much to do besides floating in your swimming pool, reading the book you always wanted to finish and stare at the azure ocean nearby.
The final stop of the day, Candidasa
If this route hasn't brought you enough highlights you can always continue driving through Candidasa and take the next 'big' road to the right to the Bali Aga village of Tenganan.
Here the original inhabitants of Bali live according to the same customs as centuries before. This ancient village if famous for its double weaved ikat cloths and calendars on lontar leaves.
Since you arrive in the afternoon it might be very busy with tourist buses so you can always come back the next morning when there's more space to walk around.
Looking for a small resort located right at the water front where they also serve delicious breakfast everyday? Check out Alam Asmara in CandidasaRead more
Follow this route to Mount Batur, the mother temple of Besakih, the rice terraces of Rendang or the rural villages of Sidemen; a blast for culture and nature loversRead more
Go to the central Bali and enjoy the rice field terraces of Jatiluwih, a Unesco world heritage site. If you've been there before, go again as the fields may can diffferent every time.Read more
Now and then people send us inspiring emails and this generates even more enthusiasm to share all of the things we know about this lovely island in the hope that you can plan your tropical holiday properly and have as such a great time as we always have. Hope to see you there!
When I wrote the mail I never really expected a reply. I might have expected a computer generated but never a personally written one. The information you provided is invaluable, thank you so very much. I have been using your website as a bible through Bali. Through your recommendation, I will be heading to Ubud then follow the sightseeing route to the coast of Candidasa.
WOW...what an awesome website. I could only dream that there would be a website like this for all our travel destinations! You guys have done an fabulous job and now, I am sooo excited about our upcoming trip to Bali. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure Bali was the place for us considering some of the travel warnings (we are Americans). But I can tell from your experiences that the Bali people are so very kind and peaceful.
hi and congratulations on the blog it s brilliant and helpful....we are going to Bali in September with my family (including 2 little girls) so we need to have nice spaceous rooms garden and pool access rooms preferably in Semikyak but not too far from it all...I hope you can recommend a great place thats not full of Australian crowds as we like meeting people from other countries.
Hi, I have been travelling for years and I want to say that this website is the best I have EVER come across. It is easy to navigate, it is really descriptive, gives all the info that you could ever want and is accompanied by the best photos and advice. GREAT.