In the summer of 2016, Berty and I basically did a tour around Indonesia. We visited Berty’s family in Jakarta, had a mountain retreat in Malang, and beach-hopped on West Timor. In the end, we met up with our friends for a last hurrah in Bali. During our stay in Bali, Berty and I sat with our lovely host Polyn on her tropical porch and asked her all about what we should see. We wanted to know all the CLASSIC Bali stops, even the tourist-y ones. She gave us great suggestions: Kuta Beach, The Monkey Forest Sanctuary, and Tirta Gangga to name a few. However, our favorite suggestion was Tegalalang Rice Terraces located in Ubud, Bali. This was a brand new experience for us and we were eager to see it with our own eyes!
Here are some lightning-quick facts about Tegalalang:
Location: 30 minutes north of Ubud
Sights to see/Things to Do: Rice Terraces, buy coconut drinks, souvenir shop, restaurants
Okay, so is The Tegallalang Rice Terraces really worth your precious sight-seeing time?
I was eager to see a little piece of Bali culture! However, there was one thought that lingered in my mind – “This is a super popular spot – is it over-hyped? Is it a tourist trap?” I think it’s controversial because it’s such a classic tourist stop. We went anyways, (obviously) but I am here to give you the lowdown of what to expect at the Tegallalang Rice Terraces. Here we go!
Let’s start with the cons (to end on a good note )
- Very crowded. I couldn’t find any stats to share with you, but I would guess that hundreds of tourist go through the Tegalalang Rice Terraces every. This means unless you want to go off the beaten path to explore deep into the fields, get used to lots of people around you (and in your pictures).
- Lots of climbing. Not friendly for those who need assistance. Some parts of the field had Berty and I climbing on our hands and knees. If you need assistance on a regular basis, I would suggest skipping roaming around the fields and sit at one of the coffee shops nearby to enjoy the view instead.
- The Tegalalang Rice Terraces have no entrance fee. However, parts of the field are privately owned, and if you happen to walk onto someone’s section, they may have set up a hut along the pathway and *strongly* suggest a donation to continue along the way. There are also people around the path with props to take pictures with, but they will ask you to pay as soon as you snapped your pic. By all means get that photos, but be prepared for them to ask you to pay up.
- Parking is very difficult. Just imagine you and 100 of your friends all trying to see the rice fields at the same time and *surprise* no parking lot. Bring lots of patience and a little extra time to find a spot on the nearby street. Better yet, hire a driver and have him drop you off at the front!
- Things are expensive. Because this is a tourist destination, shop owners will rack up their prices. They will even sell you coconuts inside the rice fields for 30,0000 Rp when you can get them literally anywhere else for way cheaper.
- The Tegalalang Rice Terraces are located 30 minutes north of Ubud, which is a GIANT hub of things to do, eat, see..anything! Ubud, Bali is a cultural hub for all things yoga, acai bowls, temples, and more. You can easily stop by the fields for the morning and then go explore Ubud in the afternoon and evening. That’s what we did!
- In person, the landscape is actually crazy beautiful. Because the terrances turned into a popular tourist destinations, they are extremely well-kept. They are beautiful from essentially every angle, and as you roam and explore there is never a bad view.
- Cultural immersion. These are real working rice fields owned by Balinese locals. They use traditional Balinese irrigation styles too! You get an up close look on what rice harvesting looks like, and you may be luck enough to see it in action if you go during harvesting season.
- Beautiful pictures. Need I say more?
- You know what, buy a coconut anyways. They may be more expensive here, but 30,000 Rp really equates to ~$2.50, so if it’s worth it for you to take a break and soak in the view – go ahead and splurge a little.
So wait, are the Tegalalang Rice Terraces worth it or not?
With the right kind of attitude, YES! Know that there will be tons of people. Parking will take lots of patience. You may get asked to donate a few dollars (take small bills: 5,000s and 10,000s) but know that it benefits the field owners so that they can keep the terraces beautiful for years to come. Finally, you will probably sweat a little climbing around the fields. And that’s okay! It’s all part of the experience, and with all this knowledge and preparation, I think you will do just fine. Enjoy Bali!
Finally, If you don’t remember anything from this post remember this:
- Bring small bills for your “donations”.
- Add other spots in Ubud to see – make it an Ubud Day Trip.
- If you can, hire a driver to take you around for the day.
- Expect crowds, but it will still be a lot of fun.
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