Most 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 are even fewer people walking through the rice fields. It’s just you and nature.
The Jatiluwih rice terraces comprise over 600 hectares of rice fields following the flowing hillside topography of the Batukaru mountain range. These are well-maintained by a traditional water management cooperatives dating back to the 9th century!
Jatiluwih is derived from two words. Jati means “real” and Luwih means “good” or “beautiful”. So even the name in the local language lets you know this place is beautiful. When you drive the narrow, winding road to Jatiluwih, you’ll see the beautiful panoramas along the road. This area is the only place in the world that has three annual rice harvests.
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 for around 160,000 RP a day, or stay at one of the nearby resorts.
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.
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.
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.
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