In this post we are on a Central Bali day trip and drive from Mount Batur to Tegallalang rice terraces and the holy Pura Tirta Empul temple.
On the way we will first visit a coffee plantation and learn about Bali’s Luwak coffee, said to be the most expensive coffee in the world. Before reaching the south coast we will watch Bali locals spend their Saturday night.
Central Bali day trip: locals spending their Saturday night
This is our return journey from Mount Batur, through the green rice fields of Bali. To join our drive up to the volcano, click to my previous post Scenic Drive in Central Bali: Batuan, Goa Gajah, Mount Batur.
To travel around Bali we rented a car and a driver. How did we do it? You will find it out in my post How to Make a Bali Day Trip by Car.
Our Central Bali Day Trip on the Map
The map: our drive from Mount Batur to Sanur
You can see our Central Bali driving itinerary on the map. Coming down from Mount Batur (in the north) we soon stopped at a coffee plantation.
Lower down we went to the holy Hindu temple Tirta Empul and next to it were the stunning Tegallalang rice terraces. You can see these places marked on the map.
Then, our trip ended south, in Sanur where we were staying.
Bali Volcanoes and Ash Clouds
This is Mount Batur, 1717 m high and one of Bali’s big volcanoes.
Mount Batur has erupted many times and in 1917 with huge effects. Village after village was destroyed and people killed. Many locals we talked to mentioned their grandparents still think about the big 1917 eruption.
Then there was another smaller firework in 2000, after which it’s been quiet.
Mount Batur, Bali
When we visited Bali in August 2015 there was once again a long-lasting eruption going on. Not Mount Batur but another volcano on the next island, Jawa, located only 150 km from Bali’s main airport. The ash cloud caused flight problems during months, and hundreds of flights to and from Bali had to be cancelled.
Knowing this I was very worried about our flights and even tried to cancel them, with no success. We were on the way from Australia to Europe and simply had to get back home and to our jobs in time.
Then finally we had good luck with us. The days we had to fly Indonesian winds were favorable, blowing the ash to the opposite side of Java and not to Bali.
So we had no ash in the air, but clear skies on the coast and a lot of sunshine. Central Bali instead was cloudy in the afternoons. But that’s normal and happens always.
Read more about Mount Batur in this post: Drive in Central Bali: Batuan, Goa Gajah, Mount Batur
Driving Down from Mount Batur
We sat in our taxi but Bali locals, they travel this way, without any seat belts or child seats.
Or, they use motor bikes, and the whole family sits on the same bike. Every school child from around 15 has a motor bike which makes the end of school day the worst traffic peak.
Bali has a lot more bikes than cars, why not, bikes are practical on narrow roads and in this climate.
Visiting a Bali Coffee Plantation
Our driver guiding us on a coffee plantation
On the way down from the volcano we traveled past miles of coffee and fruit plantations. At these high altitudes the climate differs from the lowlands and coffee, tea, potatoes and vegetables grow well.
As we wanted to see a coffee plantation we stopped at one of them, Satria Agrowisata. To begin with we walked through their large garden of tropical plants that was like a botanical garden. Our driver explained what the plants were and what they do with them.
Photos from the coffee plantation:
Walking through a Bali coffee plantation
One of the pictures shows the plantation entrance, just in case you want to visit.
Central Bali Day Trip: Roasting Coffee
Roasting coffee in the Bali way
We first watched professionals roast coffee and then did the same things, and I can tell you it was fun, roasting coffee in Bali.
They collect the beans and then roast and cross them. No more than that and the coffee is ready.
Bali coffee roasting in photos
There were different sorts of teas, coffees and spices on display on side tables, including red Luwak coffee beans. Luwak coffee?
Luwak Coffee, Made in Bali
We saw cages where luwaks, or civet cats, live and eat coffee beans
You know what luwak coffee is? It’s Bali coffee produced in an exceptional way.
Luwaks, or civet cats in English, help produce this world famous coffee. In Bali they feed luwaks with coffee beans and when the animals later poop them out they just wash and roast the beans.
Civet cats always eat coffee beans as whole so they don’t digest them. They are still whole beans, but now have a special flavor.
Our guide, a girl, explained the many stages of Luwak coffee production. It all begins with feeding civet cats with red coffee beans, and here you can see the rest:
Luwak coffee production process
Coffee and Tea Tasting
Tasting Bali coffees and teas
At the other side of the plantation we sat down in small huts and there was a chance to sample different coffees and teas.
As the girl guiding us was a real coffee professional we learned a lot about Bali coffee and tea. After all walking it was nice to sit in the shade and compare different tastes – and look at the plantation beyond the valley.
Views of a Bali coffee plantation
The plantation where most of their coffee grows is a terraced mountain slope with coffee bushes and paths between them. We could see farm workers on the plantation, collecting beans and carrying them in old style baskets above their heads.
At the end the girl led us to their shop where we bought coffee to bring home. The coffee was a lot more expensive than in local shops but we bought some as we had just seen how they produce it.
This is their website, Satria Agrowisata coffee plantation. On the website you can also find the plantation’s exact location.
Central Bali Day Trip: Pura Tirta Empul
Hindus bathing at the water temple of Pura Tirta Empul
Lower down, Pura Tirta Empul was the next place to stop, a holy water temple in the small village of Manukaya. Pura Tirta Empul is a national heritage site, it has a bathing structure with fresh spring water where Hindus come for purification.
In the holy waters of Pura Tirta Empul
Bali is a 95 per cent Hindu area, and if I understood right, this is the only temple for washing. That’s why every Bali Hindu has to come to this specific temple, at least once in the lifetime.
The other Bali religions are Buddhist and Islam, while all other parts of Indonesia are only Islamic. According to our driver different religions live side by side and tolerance is not a problem in Bali.
Central Bali day trip: on the way to Pura Tirta Empul
In addition to washing, offering is the other main reason why so many Bali Hindus come to Tirta Empul. I can easily believe that many people come s even when we were visiting there was a constant flow to the offering place.
Central Bali day trip: women carrying offerings to Pura Tirta Empul
Pura Tirta Empul is a water temple. It has many ponds that get their water from natural springs.
The temple is very old and dates back to the year 960. This temple is a hidden treasure in the jungle and a thing you don’t believe is true until you see it.
Photos of the holy water temple of Bali
Pura TIrta Empul is a must see if you travel in central Bali. Even non-Hindus are free to visit, but all visitors must wear a sari which you can rent at the gate.
Behind this link you can read about the history and background of the Pura Tirta Empul temple of Bali.
The Pura Tirta Empul pond and entrance
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Bali’s treasure: Tegallalang rice terraces
The rice terraces north of Ubud became our next stop. Tegallalang is a tiny village and a valley covered with rice terraces. The valley is pretty deep and on both sides of it water-filled terraces climb up the slopes.
The village of Tegallalang and the rice terraces below it
Tegallalang, the village, has some shops, restaurants and souvenir stalls and you can have a little lunch or a Bali coffee outside and watch the scenery. Yet the big thing here is to go and walk on the terraced rice fields.
But look at this!
Farmers working on Tegallalang rice terraces
All rice paddies are full of water, in which the farm workers have to stand. During their working hours they have to stand in water, climb and walk on wet, slippery paths.
Working on the wet Tegallalang terraces
They plant and harvest rice three times each year. The rice first grows in dedicated areas and they wait it to get bigger. When the rice has grown a bit, they replant it all into deeper terraces.
Views of Bali’s famous Tegallalang rice terraces
One more view of the village where you start walking down, first taking massive stone stairs down and then climbing wet mud paths on the other side.
Farmers working onTegallalang rice terraces
As you can guess, we were not the only tourists in this pretty place, there were many other walkers as well.
Reserve a lot of time for this great place and bring good walking shoes. If it’s a sunny day you will get shining photos to post from here, a lot better than my pictures that are pretty dark.
For better photoson Tegallalang rice terraces, check this link: Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
Visiting the wet rice terraces of Tegallalang
Saturday Night in Central Bali
Central Bali day trip: a Bali family on wheels
Then, suddenly, as we already had left the rice terraces, the sun finally came out and made the whole world shine. It was early Saturday night and there was a lot of traffic on the country road.
Sunday is a holiday in Bali and on Saturday people work and all children go to school. But where are all these people going to?
Bali traffic and rice fields
We went out from the car to take photos of the shining, green rice fields and the small statues on the fields that turned out to be temples of the rice god. Nearby was a beautiful temple, the place they all were hurrying to.
Hurry up, to get there in time!
Bali Temple Orchestra Playing
Young Bali temple musicians playing
So, they were all hurrying to the small temple where an orchestra started playing, a group of young boys and they played so well.
That all was so magic and the music so fascinating with its typical Bali tones that we just had to keep watching behind the gate, absorbing it all.
What a beautiful country Bali is and how I love their lifestyle, happiness and music!
Saturday night in a Bali temple: musicians playing
This concludes our Central Bali day trip. We took the road back to our tourist resort and had our hotel dinner…
This was such a good driving day!
Central Bali day trip: temple in evening light
More on Bali Travel
My other posts on Bali: