Instead of taken a taxi or bus, we decided to rent a motorbike for 5 days and drive around Bali ourselves. We love to explore places by motorbike and Bali is
perfect for that. The roads are good, the traffic is not really busy as soon as you leave the crowded towns and with the help of the app maps.me it is
easy to find your destination.
In the crowded area's around Kuta the following Asian driving rules have to be taken into account when driving a motorbike:
When you are going for a drive around Gunung Batur, we recommend having lunch at Batur Mountain View. The fried noodles Balinese style are the best noodles we've ever had. Really simple but really tastefull as well. And the view is amazing!
The food at our guesthouse in Sidemen is good for a fair price. And they really pay attention to the decoration. Fresh flowers on the table, nice figures cut out of the cucumber and tomatoes.
There are more Warungs in Sidemen but they are not that much cheaper, the food is the same and you won't get the nice view Villa Lihat Sawah has for that price.
The first night we ended up in Villa Sinta, which is really close to the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple. Do we recommend going here? Not really. We payed 200.000 Rupiah, including breakfast, but there were long black hairs everywhere around the room (even on the bed) and it smelled a bit.
In Lovina, the second night, we found a nice, clean room to stay. We payed 175.000 Rupiah and stayed at Mandhara Chico Bungalow, breakfast included and they have a nice refreshing pool.
** You can find them on booking.com
And things kept getting better. In Sidemen we found a room for 200.000 Rupiah, including breakfast, with a fan, warm outside shower and an infinity pool overlooking the rice paddies. We stayed at Villa Lihat Sawah for 2 days and we strongly recommend going here.
** You can find them on booking.com
We left Kuta around 12 am after a good brunch and started our drive towards the Pura Luhur Batukau temple. The first part of the drive wasn't really nice, driving through busy traffic. But after 20 kilometers we left the smog behind and saw some beautiful surroundings. Especially the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are really nice to see. It costs 20.000 Rupiah p.p. if you want to park en walk around. Driving through is free of charge. There are some nice places to stay here, overlooking the rice paddies, but we wanted to drive further to sleep near the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple, because we wanted to visit it first thing in the morning, before the bigger crowds arrive.
Around 5 pm we arrived in Bedugul, found a place to stay, went out for diner and returned to our bungalow to get some sleep. Be aware it can be cold here up in the mountains!
The next morning, we got up early and visited the temple at 7 am. We weren't the first ones in, but luckily it wasn't busy (yet). The Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple is really photogenic and it doesn't surprise us that it is the second most photographed temple in Bali. When we left at 8 am, the first busses arrived so if you want to visit before the big crowds take over, go early!
From there, we enjoyed the drive passing the twin lakes, through the nice rice terraces around Munduk and after we took a nice bath in the Bajar Holy Hotspring. Continued our drive ending up in Lovina.
We first wanted to skip this, but at 2 am, after driving around for several hours, hurting buts and in need of some cooling down, we decided to stop here and check it out. We found a nice place to stay, with pool, and spent some time here. During our check in, the owner asked if we wanted to go on a dolphin tour the next morning. We told him we have mixed feelings about that because of the stories we've read where they chase the dolphins with sometimes 50 boats and we're not sure how much this is appreciated by the animals. But, as the owner told us, they've been doing the dolphin tours for 20 years now and the animals keep coming back.. However we decided not to go. We don't think it is that special to see them this way, surrounded by dozens of other boats, and we hope to see them later during other boattrips. Overlooking the blacksand beach from where we stayed, we saw a lot of plastic and got harrassed by women en men trying to sell something, we would not recommend to go here. Unless you do want to go on a dolphin tour.
From Lovina we drove to Sidemen. The drive was incredible. We passed the vulcano Gunung Batur and had lunch overlooking the Caldera. Really amazing. We didn't bring shoes on this trip so climbing Batur wasn't an option. But maybe we'll come back later.
After lunch we continued our drive and saw some amazing rice paddies. We stopped at Besakih Temple where things started to feel a bit awkward. We paid 30.000 entrance fee p.p. but according to the local guides, that was money for the government and we had to pay extra to get in to temple. According to them you can only enter with a local, or pay 40.000 Rupiah p.p. for a guide. We know this is nonsens, but we also heard about the harassing if you don't go with a guide. We decided that it wasn't worth the trouble and wanted to see the temple. Afterwards, we were really happy we went to see it. It is one of the nicest temples we've seen in Indonesia. Unfortunately for the photos it was clouded, but that made it less hot and easier to climb to stairs. The best time to visit is probably in the morning, with or without a guide.
From there, we only had to drive about half an hour before arriving in Sidemen, where we found an amazing guesthouse. Especially the infinity pool is a real treat! We decided to stay here for 2 nights.
The first day we enjoyed the pool, the lovely view and the sun. The second day we got up early and went for a stroll in and between the rice paddies. It was nice to stretch our legs and the walk was beautiful. We got a bit lost climbing the paddies and did some slidings in the mud, but we managed to get back. The surroundings of Sidemen will propably never get boring. And the good thing is that it feels like pure Bali. No supermarkets, no tourist shops (except some small shops owned by locals) and no big busses. Families are taking baths, women are doing the laundry and little kids are playing in the stream running next to the road which is also used for the irrigation of the land.
It is nice and quiet and really worth spending some time here! If we have some time to spare after the Gili's, Lombok and Flores before flying out from Bali to Malaysia, we will definitely come back to this lovely place!
Leaving Sidemen behind, we drove to Tirtagangga and were treated with a lot of beautiful rice paddies, again! From there we went to the Lempuyang Temple. Unprepared as we were, we did not know how big this is and that it consisted out of 7 different temples. Visiting all of them takes about 5 hours, 4 hours going up and 1 hour getting down again. We started walking up to the first temple but weren’t that impressed. Instead of walking up to the second temple, we drove there. This saved half an hour walking in the heat. From that point, you cannot use the motorbike anymore so you have to walk 3,5 hours up. After we saw the second temple, and still weren’t really impressed, we decided not to go all the way up. We’ve already seen a lot of temples and this sounded like to much effort. We decided to drive to Candidasa and Padangbai. Both places were really crowded and didn’t attract us so we decided to drive back to Kuta and end our trip.