A Journey to Sidemen Village in East Bali, where time stood still

Sidemen Ricefield View

Sideman (pronounced si de man — not side man) is one of those hidden-away Bali retreats that really is, well, just enchanting. Set a 45-minute drive inland from Padang Bai and an hour from Candi Dasa, Sideman straddles one of the many agricultural valleys that form the ramp up to the imposing peak of volcanic Gunung Agung.

Sidemen area is one of the greatest places in Bali that has strong spiritual aura is Sidemen Valley that located at Karangasem regency East of Bali province. There are many temples of Hindu Bali, the majority religion of Balinese people, located in these villages. This village located at the valley, surround of many hill and most of the area is a rice fields that irrigate by Subak, the Balinese traditional water system for rice field. The housing area separated with the field area, the housing area located at the right side from the road, and the field area located at the left side, that make this village very unique. The area is famous for stunning scenery, and a simple, traditional way of life, “peaceful”.

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Despite the overdevelopment on the island this unique area in east Bali still has the feeling as if not much has changed. The small villages are surrounded by rice fields and agricultural land while people still tend to their fields; prepare ceremonies at the temples and head to the rivers for a bath towards the end of the day. All under the watchful eye of the impressive and sacred Mount Agung. More and more travelers are discovering this tranquil place, particularly nature lovers. Bali hiking trails and paths take you along rice fields, mountains, through the valleys of the Unda river and many coffee and cocoa plantations which dominate this area.

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Sidemen village has produced masters of Balinese literature and Hindu theology, as well as generations of skillful weavers. For decades, or perhaps millennium, Sidemen have also served as a secluded heaven for the world-weary. All castes of traditional Balinese Hindu society are represented here: Brahmana live in Geria, Ksatria in Palace, Waisya in jero, and Sudra in their own house, and there is also a small Muslim populations that the descent of former the soldier of Karangasem palace from Lombok Island when the Karangasem Palace subjugate it, which has long coexisted harmoniously with their Hindu neighbors.

Things to do

Sidemen’s rice fields provide beautiful hiking possibilities. So hiking is the first thing you are likely to do here. But there is more to this green village, making it pretty easy to spend a couple of days.

Rice field (sawah) walk
You can’t really avoid not hiking through the rice fields as you are pretty much surrounded by them. But a local guide can take you along the small trekking trails, through the fields and past the villages giving you great insight on how daily life takes place in Sidemen. Sidemen is also an ideal place to start organizing a hike to the summit of the volcano Agung or to do day trips to other cultural sights in East Bali. But the best thing is the fact that it is still easy to just go for walks along the many paths and see things such as a duck herd guiding his flock, a priest carrying offerings to the nearby temple and children walking hand in hand from school.

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Mount Agung
Many hikers head to Selat to organize their trip to the summit of Mount Agung. But if you want to combine your hike with a stay in Sidemen then you can arrange all the necessary permits and transportation here too.

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Traditional Ikat and other cultural activities
At Sidemen you can still find many places where they make a fine textile called the “ikat” and the “songket“. There are houses with ikat demo written on it welcoming you to pop in to have a look how it’s been done.

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Bali Rafting:
With all the rivers flowing through this area it comes as no surprise that there are many rafting companies. Most of the rafting adventures start of at the nearby village of Rendang.
There are also possibilities to raft down the Telaga Waja river which starts at the impressive Mount Agung. Rafting gives you the opportunity to get an adrenalin shot but also to see Bali from a different angle.

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Short day trips:

Despite its location amid the valley and rice fields Sidemen is not that far from Candidasa and Padangbai. You can easily go on a drive to these beach villages and enjoy a lunch with ocean view.

Other great beach to enjoy some sun and water is Bias Tugal and Pasir Putih. Once you are on the road try to stop at one of the sites such as Tirta Gangga, Taman Ujung Water Palace or the ancient village of Tenganan. We really enjoy taking the road via Muncun, a tiny mountain village between Candidasa and Sidemen.

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How to get there:

The quickest way to reach Sidemen is driving through Klungkung and from there taking the road to Sidemen, which is located in the Karangasem regency. If you are coming from the east then follow the signs to Selat and Besakih and then take the turn to Putung. The drive to Sidemen is already a short day trip with optional stops at Besakih, Rendang and Klungkung.

6 thoughts on “A Journey to Sidemen Village in East Bali, where time stood still

    1. admintih Post author

      Hello Kate,

      Thank you for your message and wishes, Sidemen and eastern side of Bali is one of the most enchanting part of the island.
      Warmest from Bali

      Top Indonesia Holidays team

  1. Lesley

    I am thinking of Sideman this morning as I hear about the eruption of Mt Agung and hoping the village and rice paddies aren’t damaged. I spent an unforgettably enchanting week in Sideman at what was called Sideman Homestay in 1993, just across the road from an ikat “factory” where some gorgeous ikat fabric that I had bought in Ubud was made. The woman who owned the homestay was, I believe, the first wife of the man who had been the local prince, and she and her family were kind and fascinating and wonderful. They were also hosting some Swiss anthropologists who had a long history in the area, so one evening we enjoyed a magical dance performance by one of the members of the family. On another evening I was visited by a huge barong moth as I was sitting on my porch eating dinner and listening to the sounds of the frogs and the gamelan. My stay there is a memory I treasure and I wonder if the homestay still exists. I would go back in a heartbeat if it did, but I have a feeling that much has changed even in this peaceful part of the island.

    1. admintih Post author

      Hello Lesley,

      Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey in Sidemen. It was a heartbreaking news for all of us here as well to hear the eruption, thousands have been evacuated and tourists were left stranded after all flights were cancelled. Needless to say let’s pray the people are protected from any harm caused and hopefully thing will be back to normal again soon.

      Top Indonesia Holidays team

      1. Tash

        Good day,

        Please can you let me know how the town of Sideman is since the volcano?
        It sounds like it was a terrible experience.

        Thank you

        1. admintih Post author

          Dear Tash,

          Thank you for your message. Generally Sidemen and Karang Asem are quite safe to travel and gradually shaping up until today, Government as well as local community have been hand in hand working together to make the place safe to travel. Tourists also have been travelling to this area since the government has announced the safety earlier this year. Feel free to write us further if you have any inquiry to our team at booking@topindonesiaholidays.com

          Thank you

          Top Indonesia Holidays team

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