Things to do in Sidemen
Sidemen (pronounced ‘see-da-men’) is the name for the main village as well as the surrounding area, including Selat. The locality is nestled between the valleys of central east Bali, with the majestic Mount Agung always present in the distance.
Unlike a lot of Bali island, it is still relatively untouched by tourism. However, it is slowly getting the recognition it deserves for its stunning natural beauty and relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. The incredible landscape should be enjoyed at a slower pace, so take your time and settle into the peaceful rhythm of rural life here.
1. Explore the Rice Paddies of Sidemen, Bali
The area is covered in spectacular tiered rice fields and paddies, and exploring them is one of the top things to do in Sidemen! Make the most of cooler mornings to walk through fields of beautiful bright green and yellow, wade through calm rivers, spot cows grazing outside rustic wooden huts, and take in the most spectacular countryside views. The lush green valleys appear endless, and Mount Agung volcano creates a stunning natural backdrop.
You might be surprised to hear that, unlike Jatiluwih, the Sidemen rice terraces are not a UNESCO world heritage site. However, we think they should be! This stunning natural landscape is arguably more beautiful than the Jatiluwih terraces and is an incredibly peaceful place to relax, unwind, and spend some time in nature.
If you just want a relaxed wander, there are many trails to choose from. The most popular starts from here. Please note that this place asks for a donation to walk through their fields. Alternatively, hire a motorbike and drive to the area around Telabah Lantang Desa Muncan.
Tip: Wear shoes if you have them (not flip-flops!). Also, bring water, as it can get much hotter after midday. Remember, this is private working land, so be respectful of the environment.
Hiring a Guide
You can hike through the fields solo, but we’d recommend hiring a local guide. Not only will you get a deeper insight into Balinese culture and rural living, but you will also be supporting the local economy.
You can hire a local guide in the village of Sidemen, Bali. The cost is approximately 300,000 IDR / 19.92 USD but shop around, as there are plenty of options. Alternatively, book a tour in advance here.
2. Gembleng Waterfall
Gembleng Waterfall is a stunning swimming spot surrounded by lush green jungle. Plus, it’s just a 20-minute drive from Sidemen village through beautiful farmland.
Take the short five-minute hike up the stairs to the top, where you will be met by incredible vistas. At the top of the waterfall, there are many small rocky basins that have created natural infinity pools! Swim in the refreshing water with gorgeous views through the jungle tree tops to the valley below.
Consider visiting early or late in the day when there are fewer people, as there’s not a lot of space on top of the waterfall.
Did you know? Gembleng is a holy place and was originally used for ‘Melukat’, a traditional Balinese cleansing ceremony. It is still sometimes used for religious ceremonies (when it is closed to the public), and many locals still use it for bathing. Because of this, please always be respectful and allow them their space. However, the people of Sidemen are very friendly, so expect warm smiles and waves.
Entry Fee: Donation based. We gave 20,000 IDR (1.33 USD).
3. Jagasatru Waterfall
If you are here for more than a few days, consider visiting Air Terjun Jagasatru (Jagasatru Waterfall). This staggeringly tall waterfall in the middle of the jungle is high in the mountains, so it has incredible scenery. Although it’s a steep climb to reach it, it’s well worth it for the incredible views.
The waterfall is another holy site, with a natural holy pool used by many locals for bathing. The hidden spot is also home to a beautiful golden Hindu statue of Brahma.
Getting there: It can be a tricky road to navigate on a scooter or motorbike, as it is very windy and particularly slippery in wet weather. Because of this, avoid driving yourself if you are less confident. There is no entry fee, but donations are welcomed.
4. Sidemen Village in Bali
Sidemen village is small, with a few hotels, restaurants, and tour companies. However, you will get a real feel for rural Balinese life here and are bound to meet some locals!
Start your day early at the bustling daily market on the main street, where you can buy fresh, local fruits and vegetables. Most of the produce is gone by 9 AM, so get there early!
Afterward, visit some traditional weaving workshops where you can buy locally handcrafted textiles made on wooden looms. The traditional sarongs that the local people make by hand are of exceptionally high quality; they take around a month to complete, costing approximately 2 million IDR (133 USD). A handcrafted item like this makes a fantastic gift to take home.
Another great local experience is to join a jewellery workshop at Sidemen Silver.
After some shopping, wander through the village to the Jembatan Kuning bridge: a small yellow suspension bridge with gorgeous views of the river and jungle. This is a popular local spot for bathing, so why not cool off before lunch? You can also cross this tiny narrow bridge by scooter if you’re looking for a little adrenaline!
Tip: Sidemen is a great day trip from Ubud. In fact, the distance from Ubud to Sidemen, Bali, is only 33 km, and it typically only takes an hour or so to reach.
5. Stay in Bamboo Accommodation
Sidemen gained a lot of its recent popularity due to the bamboo houses that started popping up in the area some years ago. Spend a few days in these natural wooden structures, gazing out at the incredible views of the rice paddies. Often, the houses are open to the elements or have expansive windows, so you have unimpeded views of the surrounding landscape.
Camaya and Veluvana are on the more luxurious side. However, you can afford to use a big chunk of your budget on accommodation here since everything else is so affordable.
6. Telaga Waja River Rafting
If you are after some adventure, why not try river rafting? Hop on a raft near Mount Agung and let the Telaga Waja river float you through the jungle and rice paddies. It also passes Telaga Waja Waterfall.
The three-hour route is an alternative way to see the area with fantastic views you wouldn’t see otherwise. Check the weather conditions when booking – sometimes the river is much lower or higher depending on the weather.
Join a rafting tour with Yande. Lunch and pick up from your accommodation are included. You can message him on Whatsapp here.
7. Taman Ujung Water Palace
This historic palace on the Eastern coast of Bali has beautiful gardens, ponds, and floating buildings. Built in 1909, the gorgeous site is filled with history, culture, and a stunning variety of architecture, including Balinese, Chinese, and European.
You can spend a whole morning exploring this huge complex, climbing up its many stone steps for stunning views of the sea and mountains. There’s also an incredible backdrop of Mount Agung.
The site is close enough to the volcano that it suffered significant damage during the 1963 eruption. However, since then, it’s been heavily restored. Visit in the morning when it is cooler and clearer, and maybe bring a picnic and lounge in the idyllic gardens for a few hours.
Opening Hours & Entry Fee: Open daily, 7 AM-7 PM. 75,000 IDR (4.98 USD).
Alternatively, book a tour tour with our good local friend Yande with a stop off at the Water Palace.
8. Tirta Gangga Water Temple
Tirta Gangga, which translates to ‘blessed water of the Ganges’, is a sacred site surrounded by beautiful pools, fountains, and water gardens. Formerly a royal palace, it was designed and built by the King of Karangasem in 1946.
The complex has many different levels to explore, with beautiful sculptures, tropical plants, and the sacred temple. It is a very peaceful place with a lot of religious and cultural significance and is a tranquil way to spend an hour or two in the early morning or late afternoon when it is not too hot. Slowly stroll around the gardens and take a refreshing dip in the bathing pools!
Tirta Gangga Water Temple is 45 minutes from Sidemen, Bali. However, you can combine it with a trip to Taman Ujung.
Opening Hours & Entry Fee: 50,000 IDR (3.32 USD) + 10,000 IDR (0.66 USD) for swimming. Open every day from 8 AM-5 PM.
9. Drive the Stunning Roads
Renting a scooter and simply driving around the area is one of the top things to do in Sidemen and the best way to explore the area. This area is similar to Ubud but with much less tourism, so these are definitely the roads less traveled! Explore the rice terraces and little villages, find hidden waterfalls, and take in the spectacular scenery that greets you at every turn.
There is no pressure to tick off touristic sightseeing spots – just head off with no plan in mind. You can spend hours getting lost and roaming the valley in your own time, stopping off for lunch at a local restaurant, going for a dip in a river, or soaking up the sun in the rice fields.
Make sure to hop off the bike and go for a wander; you’ll be surprised to find the most picturesque spots just off the road!
Here are some beautiful viewpoints in the valley of Sidemen, Bali:
10. Experience the Real Bali
Visiting Sidemen is a chance to see an alternative side of the island that is different from your typical touristic experience. You will see a lot of local life in this rural setting; people are very friendly and welcoming, and they will smile and wave as you pass, so this is a good opportunity to meet locals and gain a deeper understanding of the Balinese and their culture.
As you walk or drive through the countryside, you will see farmers working in the rice paddies, people bathing in the rivers, and religious ceremonies that take over the entire street! At sunset, laborers carry heavy loads of pandan leaves on their heads that they’ve collected from the fields.
Remember, always be respectful of people’s privacy and ask before taking anyone’s photo.
11. Take a Cooking Class
Learn how to cook delicious Balinese dishes with the freshest local ingredients with traditional firewood cooking! There are several cooking schools in the area surrounding Sidemen, Bali. We’d recommend Green Kitchen – an organic farm that offers an all-day cooking class. You will source ingredients from the local market and their own garden. Afterward, cook and eat outside, overlooking the beautiful rice paddies.
Vegetarian option available. Minimum two people. IDR 500,000 (33.19 USD) pp.
12. Hike Mount Agung
The most famous volcano in Bali, Mount Agung, can be spotted from anywhere in the area, with its impressive peak rising high above the clouds. The active volcano is the highest mountain in the country at over 3000 meters. Because of its height, the long and strenuous hike is worth it to get unbeatable views of Bali!
Also visit: Mount Batur in the Kintamani Region
Trek through the lush green jungle and rocky volcanic terrain to reach the top of the Great Mountain. Here you will be met by incredible vistas of the country and beyond, as well as into the volcanic crater itself. Many people start the hike around midnight and climb through the night to catch the spectacular views from the summit at sunrise when the clouds far below you glow pink and orange.
This is a physically demanding hike, so go well-prepared. We’d recommend hiring a local guide or going on a tour as it can be dangerous, particularly if you are trekking in the dark and you don’t have much mountain experience. Going with a local guide also gives you a Balinese perspective on the importance of the most sacred mountain in Bali. The Balinese believe that the mountain is home to the gods, and many locals take spiritual journeys up the mountain to pay their respects at the temple near the summit.
Getting there: The mountain is a one-hour drive from Sidemen, Bali. Once there, you can pick between the two main trails depending on your fitness level and how much time you have:
Pura Pasar Agung Trail
This is the shorter and slightly easier climb of the two, but it still has incredible views! In 4-5 hours, you can reach the edge of the volcanic crater (2866 m), the lowest of the four summits. This is the most popular climb and is an 8-10 hour round trip.
Pura Besakih Trail
This trek takes 6-8 hours to reach the highest summit (3142 m). It is a much more challenging climb and a lot quieter, with not many tourists on this route, so only attempt this if you are physically fit. It is a 12-14 hour round trip. On this trail, you will pass by Besakih Temple – the most important and sacred Hindu temple on the island.
Tip: Be aware that this is an active volcano. Although there hasn’t been a serious eruption since 2017, be sure to check local news and warnings before you go. The best time to hike is in June-October when the weather is driest, but bring plenty of warm layers and a rain jacket just in case, as well as good hiking shoes, sunscreen, and lots of water and snacks for fuel!
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Sidemen
There are many small family-owned restaurants called ‘warungs’ which serve traditional Balinese cuisine. Here you will find delicious dishes made with fresh, local ingredients that will almost certainly have been grown nearby! Many of the resorts and homestays offer food as well.
- Warung Tirta Unda
- Warung Ume Anyar
- Maha Neka
- Asri Dining
- Daramada Eco Resort – restaurant
- Sleeping Gajah
- Warung Nana’s Kitchen
- Lihat Sawah
Where to Stay in Sidemen
We’d recommend staying in the area for at least two to three days to make the most of the incredible landscape and to unwind in this countryside setting. There are some lovely hotels and restaurants on the river and in the middle of the rice terraces, so you will always have amazing views to wake up to. There are also some larger resorts, including some higher-end bamboo accommodations, as well as very affordable homestays.
The beauty of Sidemen is that there is not a lot to do; it is all about slowing down and enjoying the stunning natural surroundings. Because of this, choose somewhere you can settle comfortably for a few days of blissful relaxation.
How to Visit Sidemen, Bali
Sidemen is around a 1.5-2.5 hour drive from the international airport, Seminyak, and Canggu. Ubud to Sidemen is about a 1.5-hour drive.
We’d recommend hiring a driver in Bali to take you to the area, and then if you’re comfortable with it, rent a scooter when you get there. This is the easiest way to see the valley and gives you freedom and flexibility to explore at your leisure. You can rent motorcycles from Scooterbali in Sidemen for around 4 USD per day.
How Much Does Sidemen Cost?
Sidemen is very budget-friendly; you can eat out for very little, and accommodation is very reasonable. If you don’t hire a scooter to get around, it may cost you more to hire drivers or to take tours.
Make sure to set aside some money for your visa for Bali. You can check entry requirements and visa prices online. Get your visa in advance here.
Best Time to Visit Sidemen, Bali
There are two rice-growing seasons in Bali, so come here in March-April or September-October when the paddies are at their greenest just before harvest time, and the views are truly stunning.
October-April is the rainy season. However, it usually only rains for a few hours a day, and it can be an excellent time to come for cheaper accommodation and fewer crowds.
The temperature in Bali averages around 30°C (86°F) all year round, but Sidemen is a tiny bit cooler compared to places like Canggu or Seminyak. The slightly cooler climate makes it a gorgeous spot to escape to for a few days, allowing you to do plenty of hiking and swimming or just do nothing at all!
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