Journey to the village of Sidemen, a hidden gem in Northeast Bali, and explore its jaw-dropping green rice terraces before feasting on a scenic trekking journey to Pura Bukit Tegeh. Winding through one of Bali’s most beautiful river valleys, the Sidemen road offers marvellous paddy-field scenery, a delightful rural character and extraordinary views of Gunung Agung. The region is getting more popular every year as a verdant escape, where a walk in any direction is a communion with nature. 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.
The village of Sidemen has a spectacular location and is a centre for culture and arts, particularly endek cloth and songket. Pelangi Weaving has a couple of dozen employees busily creating downstairs, while upstairs you can relax with the Sidemen views from comfy chairs outside the showroom. 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.
There are many walks through the rice and chilly fields and streams in the multihued green valley. One involves a spectacular three-hour round-trip climb up to Pura Bukit Tegeh, a small temple with big views. No matter where you stay, you’ll be able to arrange guides for in-depth trekking or just set out on your own exploration. 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. 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.
Recommended boutique villa to stay:
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.
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