Looking for a ‘real’ Bali experience? Then, look no further than Karangasem Regency, East Bali. In Karangasem, you can experience Balinese life away from the hustle and bustle of the major tourism precinct areas of Bali; and still be able to engage in lots of tourism experiences.
There are so many experiences to be had here. Trekking, cycling, rafting, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, appreciating Balinese culture, visiting temples and palaces, learning to cook Balinese style, practicing your Indonesian or Balinese language skills, shopping, sightseeing, touring, relaxing, recuperating, undergoing spa therapy, — the list is endless. Over the next ten weeks, we plan to share what we think are the Top Ten Tourism Experience Picks in Karangasem.
Starting this week, we give you some insights into Karangasem Regency as well as a brief overview of accommodation, restaurants and spas.
Karangasem: Some background
The coastline of Karangasem Regency commences in the south just beyond the town of Kusamba, Klungkung Regency and ends in the north after the town of Tianyar before Buleleng Regency commences. Gungung Agung, Mount Agung, Bali’s most revered and highest volcano is located in the Regency.
The Regency embraces a mix of landscapes: beaches, coastal plains, tropical forests, hills terraced with rice paddies, coconut plantations, fruit and vegetable gardens, mountain retreats, ancient sites, village and townscapes.
The capital of Karangasem Regency is Amlapura, previously known as Karangasem. The Regency capital was renamed following the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963. The renaming was undertaken as a hope to ward off any future eruptions.
Like Amlapura, the majority of towns in the Regency are located in the south east on the lower sides of Mount Agung and along the main coast road that circles Bali. Over time, tourism precincts have developed in three towns – Padang Bai, Candi Dasa and Amed. In these towns, the concentration of tourists and tourism infrastructure is not as intense as in the south. Other towns variously support tourism but it is in these three towns that tourists will find more choice with regard to accommodation, restaurants and spas in the Regency. Each is useful as a base from which to explore the rest of the Regency and Bali.
Elsewhere in Karangasem Regency, tourists will find pockets of tourism development and resorts.
Padang Bai provides inter-island ferry access to Nusa Penida, the Gili Islands and Lombok. It is an established base location for scuba diving. Padang Bai is approximately one to one and half hours from Ngurah Rai Airport. Travel time depends on travel time of day or night and related traffic conditions. Once in Padang Bai, most things are in easy walking distance. Padang Bai is concentrated around the Port and beach-side area. The majority of tourism restaurants and accommodation venues are located on the north-eastern side of the Port of Padang Bai. Prices concentrate around the budget level, mid-range level options are available as well as a few upper range options.
Candi Dasa offers visitors a coastal tourism experience with associated water-activities and is a destination in its own right. From Ngurah Rai Airport, it will take from one and half to two hours travel time. Like Padang Bai, once you have arrived there, it’s easy to access most things on foot.
Candi Dasa provides a range of restaurant and accommodation options as well as some spa treatments. There are a number of ATMS, supermarkets, minimarkets as well as shopping opportunities for souvenirs, clothes, fabrics and craft goods.
Amed is located in the north east side of the Regency. It takes about two and a half to three hours to reach Amed from Ngurah Rai Airport. Amed is both a village and a coastal zone between Amed in the north and Aas in the south. Amed primarily provides opportunities for scuba diving. Accommodation and restaurant options range from budget to upper level prices. The latter price options are usually in hotels.
Whether you are looking to stay beside the sea-side, near rice paddies, mountains, volcanoes or simply a garden view, it’s all available in Karangasem.
Accommodation in East Bali provides the range that would be expected: budget through to 5 star accommodations. There are options of home stays, villas, bungalows, and hotel rooms.
Restaurants and Eating
A wide range of restaurant and eating options is offered. For example, you can buy directly from roadside sellers and sample freshly made and cooked-before-your-eyes: sates (satays), pepes (foods steamed in banana leaves), mutabuks (similar to an omelette). You can sample local foods at warungs, such as, soto (soups), gado gado (vegetables with a peanut sauce), mie goreng, nasi goreng. Or buy take-away / food in a pack (bungkus).
Restaurants serve local Balinese and Indonesian foods. They also cater and/or specialize in other cuisines as well, such as, Chinese, Italian, French, American, …
There is a cluster of spas around Candi Dasa. A long established spa is Andre Spa, Manggis.
Other spas are located in hotels and/or resorts at Amed, Candi Dasa and Padang Bai.
There is also the option of a spa treatment/massage being organized through your accommodation venue if it does not have the facilities or offer the service. Sometimes you can purchase a massage when at the beach.
More detailed information on accommodation, restaurants and spas in Karangasem Regency is available online.
As a starting point visit Agung Info, Your Guide to East Bali.
Other options to try are:
No doubt you may have others that you prefer to use. And of course, you can just ‘google it’.
Next week, we start our countdown of the Top Ten Tourism Experience Picks in Karangasem with our Number 10 Pick. We hope our Top Ten Picks help you with your planning for an East Bali experience.