The Best Bali Day Trip: Waterfalls and Rice Terraces in Ubud
Ubud is often referred to as the heart of Bali , and is the spiritual and cultural center of the island. The town is bursting with bohemian cafes, beautiful temples, thriving markets and a healthy, yogi culture. Just outside this bustling cultural hub are miles and miles of tranquil farms, rice paddies, and dense tropical jungles as far as the eye can see. The surrounding area of Ubud boasts some of the most naturally beautiful landscapes of the entire island, and fittingly is home to some of the most exclusive and secluded luxury spas and resorts (this one is my absolute favorite in Bali, maybe the world) tucked away in the jungle.
While you could easily spend your whole trip soaking up the Bali zen in one of these resorts, there are a couple sightseeing things you absolutely can’t miss in Bali. And waterfalls and rice fields are two of them.
How to Day Trip to the Waterfalls and Rice Fields Outside of Ubud
My favorite day trip from the Ubud area in Bali is to book a driver for the whole day (which you can do for about $50 or less), and head out to chase waterfalls and roam in the rice fields. When friends are wondering what to do in Bali, I like to tell them to have a driver take them to two waterfalls in the morning, have lunch (and coconuts) overlooking the rice fields, and then spend the afternoon roaming around the rice terraces. It makes for a perfect Ubud day trip, and will definitely be a highlight of any vacation in Bali.
Start your day at Tegenungan Waterfall, located about 20 minutes from downtown Ubud, this waterfall is one of the biggest in all of Bali. It’s really popular (especially in Bali’s high season of June-September), so I recommend going early in the morning to avoid fighting the crowds when you’re swimming in this gorgeous waterfall dream.
How to get to Tegenungan Waterfall
Ask a driver to take you to Tegenungan Waterfall in Tegenungan Village. Upon arrival, you’ll see a ticket booth and parking spaces. The price to park a car is 5.000 Indonesian Rupiah, and entrance is free for motorbikes. After parking, you pay the entrance fee (15.000 Indonesian Rupiah) for your tickets, and follow the path to the waterfall. It’s well-signed and one of the most popular attractions in Ubud, so it’s easy to find your way. The walk is quite easy and definitely walkable in sandals.
After checking out Tegenungan, head to the way less crowded and just as beautiful Tibumana Waterfall, about 45 minutes away from Ubud. On your way to this jungle waterfall, you’ll feel like you’re heading waaaay off the beaten path. It’s an awesome drive and one that will make you feel like you’ve found the Bali of 20 years ago. Make sure your driver knows where he’s going, though, because this one is out there. When you get to Tibumana, located in the lush Bangli region, you’ll find a tiny shack where you need to pay IDR 10,000 to get in (about 70 cents). You’ll then follow a winding path with stairs for around 15 minutes until you arrive at the waterfall. The entire pathway leading to the fall is gorgeous – there are vines creeping down the cliffs, the sound of water crashing in the distance, and colorful butterflies flying around you. It’s magical.
When you get to Tibumana waterfall, there will probably only be a few other people there. You can swim, you can take pictures on the insta-famous rock, or you can walk around the jungle and explore.
Kanto Lampo Waterfall
Another waterfall you can get to if you’re feeling ambitious and want to do three is Kanto Lampo Waterfall – it’s nearby the others, and is still pretty undiscovered by tourists. This was my favorite waterfall! It’s wild – and you’ll get very wet (i’d recommend just bringing your phone and not a DSLR camera because the mist from the waterfall can damage it). Sit back on the rocks and let the water massage all around you – it’s incredible!
Tegalallang Rice Terraces
After chasing waterfalls, head to the Tegalallang Rice Terraces – the stunningly gorgeous bright-green rice fields that epitomize Bali. The dramatic 360 views of the terraces all around you are sure to be a highlight of your trip.
Tegalallang is famous for its unique irrigation system created in the 8th century by a holy man named Resi Markandeya. Since rice needs to grow in water year-round, these terraces allow water to flow continuously down from one rice field into the other fields, keeping the rice wet year-round. This ancient Subak system is still used by a shared local community here at Tegalallang, but, nowadays, the terraces have transformed into mainly a tourist attraction for visitors to Bali. The farmers can make a lot more money catering to tourists (read: making instagram-worthy signs that say LOVE BALI, etc.), than they can working in the fields. But, the benefit of the rise in catering to tourism here is that there is everything you could possibly need here, from amazing restaurants built right on the side of the terraces, with a perfect view of the dramatic green valley, to souvenir shops and places to rest your legs. Grab a table at a Balinese restaurant on the edge and order some Nasi Goreng (Bali’s most famous dish) and a fresh young coconut to relax and take in the views.
After lunch, walk into the fields and wander along the terraces. As you walk further and further into the terraces, you’ll probably be asked multiple times for donations to help with the upkeep of Tegalallang. These donation stands are worded as “optional” but are made pretty much mandatory. It can be annoying as there are many stops throughout the fields, but they’re only asking for pennies at each stand, so just have small Indonesian bills on hand and don’t worry about it too much.
Note that it gets pretty hot and humid in the rice terraces, and there isn’t much shade cover! Definitely wear sunscreen and bring lots of water with you. There are plenty of places to buy water, as well.