The Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih rice terracesMost tourists in Bali only ever seem to go to Kuta Beach. I’ve been amazed at the crowds in Kuta and equally amazed at how few crowds there have been elsewhere. With so many great places to see on Bali, you’d expect some people to venture off Kuta. Few do, which means you can explore the rest of the island in peace. One underappreciated place you should visit is the Jatiluwih rice terraces.

One of the top ten things to see in Bali and front and center in every guidebook, these rice terraces are stunning. They give new meaning to the word green. They crawl up the sides of the hills like steps leading you towards the sky. And like so much of Bali, the terraces are equally as empty as beautiful. Except for a few people from nearby resorts, you won’t see anybody here. Plus, there’s even fewer people walking through the rice fields. It’s just you and nature.

The Jatiluwih rice terraces are located in the middle of Bali near Ganung Batukaru. The area is very rural with nothing but farming communities and a few high-end mountain resorts ($100 US or more a night). It’s rural Bali at its best. There are no tours, no tourist buses, not even a regular public bus. To get here, you hire a driver, drive here yourself, or stay at one of the nearby resorts.
Jatiluwih rice terraces
And that inaccessibility is what keeps the crowds away. Most people who leave Kuta end up in Ubud or the Gili Islands—places that are easy to get to with nice, cheap tourist buses and boats. Jatiluwih is a lot harder to get to and requires effort to explore, so you can see these beautiful rice terraces without hordes of people crowding you or ruining the scenery.
Jatiluwih rice terraces
The terraces span a huge area. A day trip here will give you a good feel for them, but to really explore them, I recommend a two-day trip, though it depends on how much hiking through rice terraces you like (I’m a big fan). You’ll get to explore different parts of the terraces, jump over rivers, and even sit down to a nice lunch in the terraces. I only got to hike around for a few hours, but I dream of coming back to hike more. Moreover, there are beautiful mountains in the area, small villages to explore, and great restaurants to eat at.
Jatiluwih rice terraces
The area might not be easy to get to, but if you really want to see Bali as it is outside the tourist areas, make the effort to spend a few days here. You’ll find some cheap guesthouses in the villages and get to explore real, everyday, tout-free Bali.

For more help planning your trip, take a look at my Indonesia guide for ideas on what to see and do.

  1. Josh

    Great job highlighting a very popular (and often written about) destination from an alternate angle— very cool to get a glimpse of Bali beyond the beach. Just curious, since you mention eating twice: What’s he Balinese cuisine like?

  2. Viagens

    Nice article! I am going to Bali for the whole month of May and I will check this out! Where did you sleep when you were there?

  3. Taishi K

    hmmm, didn’t think rice fields were so beautiful…
    It would have been better if the weather was better though.
    I’d like to visit Bali someday.

  4. I haven’t been much around Bali but I had my fair share. My favorite places so far there are Amed bay and view overlooking Batur lake. *Heart*

  5. Kine

    Great entry and stunning photos, Matt! My favourite in Bali (besides the many gorgeous beaches) is Mount Batur. A great hike and the view is amazing! :)

  6. Sofia

    I loved the rice terraces, there are so many shades of green in them! True about exploring Bali, most people tend to go right from Kuta to Candidasa and take a boat over to Lombok, missing out of the best parts.

  7. Phlojo

    I disagree.
    (1) Most people who go to Bali DO travel around the island quite a bit.
    (2) Very few people go to the Gili islands, for many reasons (not exactly family friendly, a bit far off, not very cheap to get there, accommodation is not that cheap, etc.)
    (3) Rice terraces are fairly common on Bali. You see them in several places as you drive around.
    (4) I’ve seen rice terraces and they are indeed beautiful. I wouldn’t spend a few days there tho. You can have your fun with the rice, but frankly after I’ve admired them for a while (say, 1 hour), I’m all set with that and ready to move on.
    (5) The last sentence is incoherent. (Too much rice?) :-)

    • NomadicMatt

      1. I never saw them. Most expats agreed on this too.
      2. I saw a very crowded Gili Islands
      3. They are common all over Asia
      4. To each their own.
      5. Fixed.

  8. Lovely, I just booked a 60 day trip to Indo through Bali an hour ago. Something slightly (ok, VERY) touristy, but an amazing tour nonetheless is the white water rafting through Ubud. Gives you a different perspective than from the street, it is mellow in the dry season, and there is an amazing rock carving section near the end.

    I do it every time.

  9. liezl

    It’s a nice looking area. So peaceful and serene. I believe though that one is afraid to venture going into unpopular sites in Bali because one is afraid of untoward incidents that can happen in a foreign land. It’s still a terrorist haven according to the news. :(

  10. Jenna Francisco

    Nice pictures and detailed description. Looks like a great time and lovely place. There are many things to do in the interior of Bali and on the coast outside the Kuta/Seminyak/Nusa Dua areas. NW Bali is wonderful and pretty isolated, and it can be reached by a 3-4 hour drive across the island. Gives a chance to really see lots of different places and the way people live. To the person worried about terrorism, the places in Bali that are the safest are those away from the other tourists.

  11. The rice terraces are the highlight of Bali: especially given the beaches are some of the worst I’d had the displeasure of frequenting in Bali (imagine travelling all that way and being told not to go in the sea, stick to the pool!). If you like the rice terraces, get ye over to the tea trail in sri lanka: another must.

  12. Now if only I’d read this before I went to Bali last year. We wanted to see the stereotypical terraced rice paddies and went to Tegallalang just north of Ubud. Pretty but packed with tourists and touts. We loved the interior of Bali much more than the beaches. My advice to anyone visiting Bali is to spend as much time in the interior and then hit the beaches on the island of Nusa Lembongan just of the coast.

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