By Saheli Pal – Breaking Out Solo
Travel To Amed Bali
When people travel to Bali, they normally flock to Ubud, Kuta, Denpasar and the likes. And it’s for good reason these spots deserve a place on a Bali bucket list. However, most people overlook the eastern shoreline of Amed. And, it’s only 3hrs from Denpasar by road. If you travel to Amed, Bali you will experience a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Out in Amed, you will have ample opportunities to rest, relax and rejuvenate at any of the quaint villages that line the coast.
There are a number of beautiful reefs in the sea that surrounds Amed, so SCUBA divers and snorkelers alike will enjoy these areas. There are also plenty of drop-offs and world-famous shipwrecks. Basically, if you travel to Amed Bali you can be as active or relaxed as you’d like. All the while, you’ll be able to avoid much of the crowds. If you have any questions or comments about traveling to Amed, feel free to leave us a comment below.
With fabulous SCUBA diving and snorkeling sites, warm waters, and good visibility yet much calmer water conditions than most other famous dive sites around Bali, divers of all skill levels hold in esteem this underrated dive destination. What used to be a cluster of fishing and salt-making villages, now supports a thriving dive industry. Before you head to Bali however, make sure you read up on the various Bali visa on arrival requirements as well as get familiar with some general Bali facts.
Amed a Quaint Cluster of Villages
When you travel to Amed, Bali, situated on Bali’s north east coast, you will know you have reached your destination when you start spotting dive shops appearing by the road. A single tarmac road, built not too long ago, snakes along the 14 km stretch of volcanic black sand coast.
Rubbing shoulders with the many dive shops are local eateries called warung, western style cafes, a few convenience stores, massage parlors and intermittent ATMs. Sandwiched between the road and the coast, the second line of buildings are hotels and other accommodations, which sometimes enclose salt farms as well. Most accommodations in Amed have a sea view and beach access, naturally.
And finally, towering above all of them is the massive conical shape of Mount Agung, an active volcano and the highest point in Bali. Mount Agung provides a spectacular backdrop to every viewpoint in Amed. It is practically impossible to miss a view of this majestic mountain while traveling around Amed.
And that is it. That is all of Amed, a basic but sufficiently equipped cluster of villages.
SCUBA Diving When you Travel to Amed Bali
I was visiting in October, and by then the SCUBA diving season in Amed was slowing down. Of the seven villages that constitute the region, I was staying in Amed itself, a quaint, sleepy part of the world.
With my newly acquired diving skills, of course I was visiting for diving. Yet, I found Amed had so much more to offer, especially since I was looking for ways to relax on my holiday.
Travel to Amed is Not Just for SCUBA Diving
Broadly speaking, Amed is perfect for anyone keen on a beach holiday.
With most hotels situated right along the coast, it is normally only a short walk down to the sea from the accommodations. On countless occasions, and whenever I liked, I would head down the black sand beach, through the pebble stones and into the calm waters of the Bali Sea, and therein I experienced some true respite from the hot Balinese sun.
While my diving days were set according to the dive shop schedule, I was in control of what I did on my free days, and I chose to laze.
A Typical Day in Amed
For me, lazing means starting the day early with a walk on the beach. Standing on the black sand, feeling the soothing waters caressing my feet, I watched the sun come up. Mount Agung standing on the west is the first thing to catch the morning light, and it makes the top glow as if it’s wearing a crown of pure gold. The crown then melts and descends spreading into the sea, reflecting all around and painting the world in gold. It is a view you’ll have to seen in person in order to truly appreciate it.
Most mornings during my travel to Amed, Bali, I sat on the beach until the sun came up higher into the sky. The hotel I was staying in had a balcony facing the sea, and that is where I spent most of my day enjoying the sea breeze, reading and watching life go by. The common sights included people working in salt farms, fishermen sailing in their traditional boats bringing in their catch, children frolicking in the sea, and a few tourists walking or lazing on the beach. Sometimes the hotel staff or locals passing by would stop for a chat. At various points I would go for a dip in the inviting sea.
Sample the Warungs
I usually ate lunch at one of the many warungs where they serve the local fare. Each day, I tried a different place, though I discovered the menu is quite similar at most of the places. I found a chilled glass of fresh watermelon or lemon juice to be the perfect accompaniment to my meals.
Just as they started, my days ended on the beach. As the sun set behind Mount Agung, it painted the sky in multiple hues of gold, orange and red. Some of the warungs extend down to the beach and provided an idyllic location for watching the sunset and spending a mellow evening.
This was one of my typical relaxing days.
Plenty to do in Amed Bali
For someone looking to be more active, the coral reef starts close to the shore, and some of the wrecks are shallow, thus they too providing amazing opportunities for both snorkeling and SCUBA diving. You can rent paddle boats, canoes and sea kayaks, and then you can wander around the coast. For a unique experience, you can also rent one of the traditional boats with the fishermen and sail along the shoreline. For adventuring on land, rent a bike, and use it to visit the locality.
Visiting Prime Balinese Attractions
The water palace in Ujung was built in the early 1900s, and Tirta Gangga was built during the mid-1900s. They are major tourist attractions in Bali which people normally do as day trips from the more popular locations. When you travel to Amed, Bali, you can experience these in a leisurely half day, as you can reach them in less than an hour through a scenic road journey.
Renting the services of a taxi, I chose one of the afternoons for visiting Ujung Water Palace, Tirta Gangga Water Palace and the terraced rice fields.
Given the popularity of the palaces, especially Tirta Gangga, you should expect them to be pretty busy, mostly with brightly dressed Instagram models and wedding shoots. The entrance fee for the Ujung water palace is IDR10,000 and for Tirta Gangga it is IDR30,000, at the time of writing. You will have to make an additional payment at Tirta Gangga for swimming in one of its pools. Also for the iconic shot at Tirta Gangga surrounded by the koi, fish food can be purchased at the entrance. The price list is provided at the entrance.
Tirta Gangga also has some warung style eateries within.
Perhaps the most popular photo op in all of Bali is at the Gate of Heaven, looking towards Mount Agung, on a clear day.
The Gate of Heaven is located in Lempuyang, also less than an hour drive from Amed. Mount Lempuyang stands at 1,775m, and there are seven temples on its slopes, all connected by 1,700 steps. The famous Gates of Heaven are located at the bottom most temple. Most visitors skip the temple trail and leave after taking their Instagram shot at the gate.
Hiking the Temple Trail
I had requested the taxi to pick me up at 5:30am from my hotel, since I wished to walk the entire trail. Moreover, I wanted to do so before the sun got strong. I was advised it would take me 3 to 4 hours. It was close to 6:30am when I reached Lempuyang. There is no entrance fee to the temple, but a donation is welcome. Also all visitors must wear a sarong within the complex, and you can rent one at the entrance as well. I was carrying my own, hence I did not have to queue up. I entered the first temple and was sprinkled with water by a girl standing at the doorway, as a way of purification.
There were already over a hundred people waiting for their iconic shot at the Gate of Heaven, even at this early hour. I did not intend to have my photograph taken, which surprised a few people inquiring about such. But, if one wishes to do so, they will have to queue up. Each person is allowed five poses, if I remember correctly. A local person sitting on a stool, using her/his mobile phone camera will take your photo in exchange for a payment. It was interesting to see the water effect they produce in the photos by using a mirror just under the camera lens. Innovative!
I took a look around and then headed up the hill.
The Second Temple
The second temple is about 2kms uphill through a stretch of tarmac road. Locals approached on motorbikes offering me to ride pillion for a payment, which I declined. It was uphill, but it was not difficult. On this particular day Lempuyang remained under a cloud cover. I was walking in the clouds, getting drenched in the rain. While the feeling was surreal, there were no views either.
Once I reached the second temple, the stairs started, which I was struggling to find in the dense cloud cover. A local man sitting and chatting in one of the shops saw my confusion, and he offered to show me the way. A short walk up and we reached a junction. Here we turned right to follow the slope up to the top, visiting the temples along the way. There is another set of stairs going straight up from the junction to the Luhur Temple on the top. This route bypasses all the other temples, and the one to which I intended to come down.
One of the Most Holy Temples in Bali
Lempuyang is considered one of the most holy temples in Bali. I kept meeting locals heading to the temples, carrying their offerings in large baskets. At that early hour, I did not meet any visitors at all. People stopped to chat with me, mistaking me as Balinese. Some spoke enough English to quench their curiosity about the solo woman traveller who apparently looked Balinese, but wasn’t.
I took my time, and stopped at each temple for a look around. The main temples did not allow visitors, so I had to walk past them. Still the walk up was worth it. I reached the top after about an hour and a half. There was a prayer in progress, and I was denied entry, much to my disappointment. I sat for a while outside the gates before starting on my descent.
An Impromptu Lunch
On the way down, I was invited into a shop by a lady to try her bowl of Bakso Ayam (Chicken meatballs in noodle soup). I skipped the chillies, but let her take control in mixing the vast number of ingredients. It was a pleasant meal after the long walk. From here I took the straight path down, and I was back on the tarmac road in no time. Then I continued down to the parking lot where my driver was waiting.
Tips When You Travel to Amed Bali
- From Denpasar, to travel to Amed, Bali it will take about 3hrs by taxi, and it costs IDR500,000. Pick-up can be arranged with your accommodation in Amed.
- The ATMs in Amed rarely function, and there have been large scale reports of card skimming. Caution is advised when using one. There are money exchange places, but the rates vary massively, so do compare.
- The warungs serve simple, local food and some western dishes as well. Most places run a similar menu. The two warungs I ended up visiting the most are Osin and La Bella. Wawa Wewe has beach seating and is a good place to watch the sunset over a drink.
Amed Bali Money Stuff
- Beer is between IDR30,000 to IDR40,000. Arak is super cheap alcohol, but it tasted too strong for me. Also it is better avoided due to health hazards. The fresh juices are to die for, and I highly recommend them.
- The total taxi fare for my half day tour to the water palaces and the visit to Lempuyang cost me IDR600,000. I was quoted IDR800,000 by another taxi operator, so negotiation is needed. The one I went with was provided by my dive shop.
A Few More Bits of Bali Advice
- I dived with Bali Dive Cove, and I would recommend them. Not only are they a fabulous dive shop, they work with the local community as well. Here is a video of my diving with them.
- I stayed at Rivera Beach Amed. The place is run very efficiently by two sisters. I was very impressed.
- While Mount Agung remains out of bounds for hiking due to its eruption, it is still possible to visit Besakih temple on its slopes. This is the holiest of all Bali temples. It takes about 2hrs from Amed to reach. I did not have time to include it in my itinerary. Also, I was advised to stay away from Mount Agung due to its height post diving.
Other Underrated Travel Options
If you’re keen to explore other parts of Bali, consider checking out Bali off the beaten path or even this complete Bali travel guide. And if you’re a SCUBA diver, definitely consider traveling to Palau, it’s a veritable paradise. If you’re looking for something quite the opposite, consider at Nepal trekking holiday. But, whatever you do, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. And in the mean time, happy travels!
Saheli is an avid traveller and photographer. She has been traveling solo for over a decade and regularly posts about her adventures on her Facebook page, Breaking Out Solo, and when time permits, she also pens the stories on her blog Breaking Out Solo.