There’s something magical about the terraced rice paddy landscapes of Bali. They follow the ancient practice of subak, a harmonious and communal irrigation system that defined “sustainable” a millenia before it became fashionable in the West. Due to its proximity to Ubud, the Tegallalang rice terraces are a good choice for those wanting an up-close look at the verdant landscape.
Tegallalang Rice TerracesWhere: 20 minutes north of Ubud
Hours: Open seven days a week, 7am — 5pm
Entrance fee: Donations; may require purchase at restaurant to access stairs
Time: Expect to spend half an hour to an hour
Tegallalang is just a short distance to the north of Ubud. It’s easy to access via rented scooter, or if you plan on hiring a driver for the day you can have them easily include Tegallalang in your itinerary. Plan on spending half an hour to an hour here, depending on how much of the terrace you want to explore.
It’s recommended to do this first thing in the morning, for a variety of reasons. First, the weather will be more pleasant. Secondly, when the restaurants open at 9am, they will charge you to access their stairs into the rice terrace, whereas if you go before they open you can descend into the valley free of charge. But the best reason to go early is to avoid crowds. It’s very peaceful and intimate in the morning before tourist buses arrive and unload their groups.
You could simply take some pictures from the road, but it’s better to walk through the terraces. There are paths ascending and descending throughout the valley. When you begin your descent into the valley you will follow a “main” path, but it will frequently branch off into other directions giving you the option to explore further or cut across if you’re short on time.
Note that the path is likely to be fairly muddy, both due to frequent rainfall in Bali as well as the constantly-irrigated canals overflowing, so be sure to wear the appropriate footwear. Iylana wore sandals and wished she had worn her walking shoes instead. Also, be sure to apply plenty of bug spray, as all the paddies make for quite the mosquito breeding ground.
As you stroll along you’ll encounter some of the locals working the fields or maintaining the pathways. Donations are appreciated, and personally I felt they were well-deserved giving the difficulty of maintaining the paths for all the tourists that come through. Some of the farmers may also be keen to pose for your pictures, so having some rupiah handy for that is also advisable.
If you do get to Tegallalang early, you will be rewarded with a peaceful and beautiful stroll through an incredibly beautiful landscape. Take time to slow down and enjoy this incredible harmony between man and nature, for there are far too few places like this in the world.
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