Every time I travel to a popular tourist destination like Bali, I love to go to at least one city that is off the beaten track. We decided to go to Sidemen, located in the Karangasem regency in East Bali, because it's known for having some of the most breathtaking views! And I couldn't agree more. The ricefields in Sidemen were incredible-- I've never seen so much green. I was in love! And the lush palm trees and colorful flowers made Sidemen feel like it was out of a fairtyale. The people in Sidemen were also some of the kindest we met in Bali.
We spent our first day in Sidemen with a tour of the ricefields to learn more about the agriculture and daily life for farmers there. Most hotels offer a very inexpensive tour of the ricefields, and I highly recommend it for an opportunity to walk through them and see amazing views.
We decided to use Sidemen as the time to learn how to drive a scooter, since they are the easiest and cheapest form of transportation in Bali. The streets of Ubud were too busy for us to learn how to drive one, so we decided a quieter place like Sidemen would be a much better place to learn. We took the scooter to Tirta Gangaa Temple, also known as the water palace, and Lempuyang Temple (or the infamous Gates of Heaven).
As someone who had never driven a moped or scooter before, I found the streets to be a little dangerous. Many of them are unfinished, lack traffic lights, and have steep winding roads. Because of our skethcy experiences we had with the motorbikes, this was the only day we ended up riding scooters and chose to pay a driver to take us to other destinations in our trip. But if you are confident with a scooter, it's definitely a more affordable option.
While in Sidemen we also took the opportunity to hike the active volcano, Mt. Batur. It was about a one and a half hour drive away from Sidemen, and we started the hike around 3:30am and got to the top at around 5:30am. The starry night sky made it worth waking up in the middle of the night for! And as we got the top, the pitch black sky turned a purple hue, and slowly it revealed one of the most amazing sunrises I'd ever seen. We had a view of Mt. Agung as well, the volcano in front of Mt. Batur, and the thick and fluffy hovered below us.
One of our favorite parts of Sidemen was staying at Embang Homestay. It really felt like a sanctuary, and made us feel like royalty! Every morning we were brought complimentary breakfast to our room with eggs, fruit, smoothies, and traditional desserts, and our room had a terrace with amazing view of the ricefields. They had their own restaurant, and also was in close proximity to other hotels and restaurants. And the staff was so friendly and accomodating.
Another reason we loved this place so much was for its spectacular spa services with affordable massages. We got a massage both days we stayed here!
Places to Eat
Because we were here for such a short period of time, we mostly at the restaurant at Embang Homestay. They offered delicious and authentic Balinese food.
Another great restaurant we tried was The Rice Barn, connected to the luxury resort and spa, Samanvaya.