Information before you go
Sidemen village is one of our favorite places in the Karangasem Regency. And we are not the only ones as in the past many famous painters such as Walter Spies and artists such as David Bowie stayed in Iseh next to Sidemen to capture the beauty of this area.
View of Mount Agung
Despite the overdevelopment on the island this unique area in east Bali still has the feeling as if not much has changed. The small villages are surrounded by rice fields and agricultural land while people still tend to their fields, prepare ceremonies at the temples and head to the rivers for a bath towards the end of the day. All under the watchful eye of the impressive and sacred Mount Agung.
More and more travelers are discovering this tranquil place, particularly nature lovers. Bali hiking trails and paths take you along rice fields, mountains, through the valleys of the Unda river and many coffee and cocoa plantations which dominate this area.
Sidemen is also an ideal place to start organizing a hike to the summit of the volcano Agung or to do day trips to other cultural sights in East Bali.
But the best thing is the fact that it is still easy to just go for walks along the many paths and see things such as a duck herd guiding his flock, a priest carrying offerings to the nearby temple and children walking hand in hand from school.
The quickest way to reach Sidemen is driving through Klungkung and from there taking the road to Sidemen, which is located in the Karangasem regency. If you are coming from the east then follow the signs to Selat and Besakih and then take the turn to Putung.
The drive to Sidemen is already a short day trip with optional stops at Besakih, Rendang and Klungkung.
Sidemen's rice fields provide beautiful hiking possibilities. So hiking is the first thing you are likely to do here. But there is more to this green village, making it pretty easy to spend a couple of days.
Trips with a local guide can be organized at your accommodation or you can go exploring by yourself. In Sidemen tourism hasn't really sunk in yet. Unlike other places, the local people are not that pushy when it comes to offering tours etc. At some point we even had to ask around ourselves as the people here tend to 'leave you alone'.
Rice field (sawah) walk
You can't really avoid not hiking through the rice fields as you are pretty much surrounded by them. But a local guide can take you along the small trekking trails, through the fields and past the villages giving you great insight on how daily life takes place in Sidemen.
If you prefer just to travel by yourself then that is possible too. In the village Tabola, where most of the hotels are located you can easily go for a stroll and experience the rural life on Bali. If you want a bigger challenge then there is a trail taking you from Sidemen all the way to Padangbai. It's a six hour hike and a guide is necessary.
Many hikers head to Selat to organize their trip to the summit of Mount Agung. But if you want to combine your hike with a stay in Sidemen then you can arrange all the necessary permits and transportation here too.
Either your accommodation can do it for you or you can head to the small tourist offices in Tabola where they also offer other forms of daily tours around the area.
Traditional Ikat and other cultural activities
At Sidemen you can still find many places where they make a fine textile called the "ikat" and the "songket". There are houses with ikat demo written on it welcoming you to pop in to have a look how it's been done.
We spoke to one of the young owners of the bed & breakfast where we were staying at and she said that the younger generation is not interested in making these textiles anymore as it is too difficult. Perhaps an even more reason to discover this endangered form of art. Other cultural activities are joining classes in traditional Balinese dancing, music and carving.
With all the rivers flowing through this area it comes as no surprise that there are many rafting companies. Most of the rafting adventures start of at the nearby village of Rendang.
There are also possibilities to raft down the Telega Waja river which starts at the impressive Mount Agung. Rafting gives you the opportunity to get an adrenalin shot but also to see Bali from a different angle.
Short day trips:
Despite its location amid the valley and rice fields Sidemen is not that far from Candidasa and Padangbai. You can easily go on a drive to these beach villages and enjoy a lunch with ocean view.
Other great beaches to enjoy some sun and water is Bias Tugal and Pasir Putih. Once you are on the road try to stop at one of the sites such as Tirta Gangga, Taman Ujung Water Palace or the ancient village of Tenganan. We really enjoy taking the road via Muncun, a tiny mountain village between Candidasa and Sidemen.
We haven't found an abundance of restaurants in Sidemen. Most restaurants are linked with a hotel or home stay. It might not look as fancy as in the Ubud and Kuta area but no matter where we ate the food was delicious. Most of the ingredients are produced locally making it the freshest you can get.
Stunning views over the rice paddy and delicious vegetables at Warung Organic
At the smaller home stays you need to let them know in the morning if you want to have your dinner there or not. But there are also places where you can drop by whenever you like.
So all in all there isn't much need to recommend any specific restaurant since most of them are pretty much the same and just as good.
When we were in Sidemen we enjoyed a great lunch at Warung Organic, managed by Great Mountain Views Villa resort. Here you have direct view of their organic garden and the rice fields.
Cake at Warung Melita, part of the Darmada accommodation in Sidemen
We also couldn't resist to enjoy some home made cake at Warung Melita where you can sit near the river.
At our bed& breakfast we mostly ate delicious Indonesian food such as Gado Gado and tasty Nasi Goreng.
Since it is pretty difficult to find real rice field views in other parts of the island, Sidemen is becoming more popular. While in the past there were just a hand full of hotels in Sidemen, today more people are building a bed&breakfast, retreats or vacation rentals which are located in the middle of the rice fields.
Enough choice, most accommodations are found in the village Tabola Sidemen
Fortunately most of them have learnt from the mistakes made in other parts of the island and the majority of the resorts aim at supporting the local population, reducing plastic waste, using natural materials and even providing scholar ships.
Here are just a couple of accommodations we have come across during our visits to Sidemen.
Three things stand out immediately at the Giri Carik bed&breakfast. The amazing view of Gunung Agung, having just 3 clean and comfortable bungalows and the huge smile of Komang, your host. Komang and her brother speak fluent English while the rest of the family makes sure everything is up and running.
This is a great place to sit on your verandah and read a book or to take in the stunning view over Sidemen valley while watching the local farmers attend their fields. Komang will help you with everything you need so you will be able to enjoy all that this little village has to offer.
Surya Shanti Villa:
If you want luxury and valley or mountain view from every spot of your accommodation then this is the place to stay at. Built on a hill the rooms, their spa and pool will provide unique views of the rice terraces. You can either stay at their villa with a verandah located right in front of the rice fields or you can open your curtains each morning to Mount Agung.
This villa complex supports sustainable tourism by conserving the natural environment, employing staff from the villages nearby and aiming to use minimal electricity by providing rooms without air conditioning (climate is cool in the evenings) and television. A partner of this luxury resort is Subak Tabola Villa. This Balinese styled accommodation with gorgeous views is a wonderful mid-range option.
Villa Patal (also called Villa Sidemen):
Luxury and ultimate privacy during your stay in Sidemen? Built by the local royal family this villa is an ideal place to come back to after exploring the area.
The staff will ensure that you will enjoy your stay. Personal requests such as meals can be arranged. It has two bedrooms and from the master bedroom you can even soak in the jacuzzi while admiring the view. Ideal for honeymooners, couples and families. On the exact same spot the famous painter,Walter Spies, had his house where he painted 'Iseh im Morgenlicht' in the 30's. Even Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Roman Polanski have stayed here to enjoy the best Sidemen has to offer.
Home > Sidemen Bali
If you loved hiking in Sidemen have a look at the other great hiking trails in Bali. They vary from hiking to the summit of Mount Agung to trails through the rice fields.Read more
Sidemen is ideally located to drive around and see the highlights of East Bali. See the list of places to visit in this cultural and historical part of the island.Read more
This route will take you from the village Ubud pass ancient nearby sites followed by a visit to Mount Batur from there descending to the lush landscapes around Agung.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.
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