Bali is a popular travel destination, and some places can be quite crowded. However, most people all go to the same well-known places and large parts of Bali have still remained wonderfully pure. Sidemen is one such village where you can still get a taste of authentic Balinese life. Here you wander through the green rice terraces while the children you meet enthusiastically shout “helloooo!”.
Situated among the rice fields in eastern Bali, you will find one of the most beautiful and serene spots on the entire island: Sidemen. When it is clear, volcano Gunung Agung appears on the horizon and everywhere you look you are surrounded by fertile fields. This is an ideal area to grow rice. The small village has a few guesthouses, hotels and restaurants, but everything is fairly spaced out and the facilities are small-scale.
In Sidemen, you will meet other travellers, but certainly not as many as in, say, Ubud. Consequently, there is not that much to do in Sidemen. You come here mainly to enjoy nature and the authentic side of Bali. Sidemen is a place where you can completely unwind.
Visit The Morning Market
A morning market known as ‘Pasar Pagi’ is held every day in the village of Sidemen. You will have to get up early for this, as this market starts at 3AM and finishes at 9AM. The market is mostly covered, but there are also roadside stalls. Inside, it is a maze of narrow passages where women sell fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and meals.
It is fun to walk around here and see what is being sold. The women put everything in big baskets and carry the groceries home on their heads. Keep in mind that as a tourist, you will not go unnoticed. We were the only two tourists there and attracted a lot of attention. The upside: people let you taste everything.
Visiting Pura Besakih
On the flanks of the Gunung Agung volcano and about 20 kilometres north of Sidemen, lies Bali’s most important temple: Pura Besakih. It is by far the largest temple complex on the Indonesian island and is also called the ‘Mother Temple of Bali’. Some parts of the temple have existed since the beginning of the era. Inside the complex you will find more than 200 religious structures, some more beautiful and impressive than others. The largest and most important is the richly decorated Pura Penataran Agung, located at the end of a long staircase.
You are not allowed inside here as a tourist, but from the outside both the temple and the view are impressive enough. As with all Hindu temples, it is compulsory to wear a sarong inside the temple. It is also appreciated when women wear a headscarf. In addition, make sure you cover your knees and dress properly. Entrance to the temple is IDR 60,000 per person. It is best to rent a scooter in Sideman and drive to the temple or have a taxi drop you off at the temple.
Touring Around by Scooter
If you feel like going on an adventure, you can rent a scooter for around IDR 60,000 a day. This gives you complete freedom to go wherever you want. Not only is it nice to get around Sidemen this way but you can also use it to visit other places on Bali that are near Sidemen. Think, for instance, of the Tukad Cepung Waterfall, which is especially beautiful early in the morning.
Hiking through the Rice Terraces
You visit Sidemen, of course, for its green surroundings with rice terraces and views of Mount Agung volcano. The best way to enjoy nature, views and local life is to go on a hike. You can arrange a guide at your hotel the day before and agree with him how many hours you want to hike. This way, you will see the most beautiful spots of Sidemen.
Staying at Samanvaya Sidemen
Samanvaya resort is located in the middle of ricefields with lush greenery surroundings. An oasis of tranquillity, showing Bali’s authentic east side. The swimming pools, yoga barn, spa, and restaurant are all accessible by little paths.
Although the Samanvaya Luxury Resort stands for luxury and claims to be “adult-only”, the real concept in our eyes is much more based on sustainability and regionality. Here, plastic is rigorously avoided, there is filtered water in glass bottles, the locals can exchange their plastic waste for rice and the hotel’s own garden grows fruit and vegetables that are processed by the restaurant. A whole battery of practices that many hotels in Bali and Indonesia could learn from.
At Samanvaya Luxury Resort, you have the feeling that you are completely on your own. Due to the arrangement of the cabins, you don’t hear much from the other guests and can relax at two pools or on your own terrace. You can choose between 12 very different types of accommodation – all of which offer you your own little villa or house.
At the same time, you relax here all by yourself – at the pool you are supplied with filtered water, in the restaurant you can enjoy your dinner by candlelight between dense greenery, in your own villa the open-air shower awaits and in the morning you are greeted with local coffee and a view of the rice terraces from your bed.
The Samanvaya Luxury Resort is also committed to sustainability in its restaurant. Here you will not only find Western dishes, but also local specialities prepared with ingredients from the local garden. In the evening, you can try the “Sharing Plates” menu and snack together on small portions – from absolutely fresh tuna tartare to halloumi slices and saté skewers.
It’s worth a trip to the Samanvaya Luxury Resort’s Asri restaurant for the décor and atmosphere alone. The interior of the restaurant is a mix of urban jungle and absolute Bali flair, and the terrace is so beautifully planted that you get the feeling that you are completely alone. We like it very much!
The Ananda Spa is one of the best spas in the Sidemen region and, yes, we agree! The spa is located in a separate hut on the grounds of the hotel and takes you into a completely different world from the first step. You can also opt for many different treatments at the Ananda Spa. There are also complete packages with body scrubs, facials, manicures and pedicures.