Bali is well known throughout the whole world as a destination for sandy beaches, big waves, good food and ridiculous nightlife but that’s not really what Bali is actually about. Between all the mountains and the beaches, right in the centre of the island lies many Indonesia’s Iconic sceneries and one of them would be the rice terraces. This particular Rice Terrace that we had the chance to visit is called Tegallalang, which happens to be one of the three most splendid terraced landscapes in the Ubud Region, with the others being inside Pejeng and Campuhan.
Tegallalang though has become quite popular recently and has a distinct “unhidden” feel about the whole area, complete with its own parking spaces, entrance fees and a lot of market stalls. But just like some of China’s or Vietnam’s Rice Terraces, Tegallalang has a view that spreads down before you and away into the valley. The high roadside viewpoints are nice and breezy for a rest stop at the cafes with a view or alternatively you could walk down and explore the whole terrace yourself.
We walked down the stairs to get a closer look at the actual rice fields as well as its infamous irrigation system “subak”. The walk around the terrace actually was not that bad, there are mostly paths to walk on and carved out steps to go up and down the terrace but there are times where you would need to balance yourself on the edge of the terrace or a small wooden bridge crossing over muddy waters. With only a few minutes walk, you can reach to the other side of the valley and a nice view of the whole terrace from the top. It was a bit unfortunate for us though, as soon as we got to the top and took a couple of photos it started to just storm down on us. For the next few minutes, we huddled up into this small little hut with 7 or so other tourist seeking shelter. I figured it wasn’t going to stop so I asked our driver if we could just keep going and he was ok with it. Braving the pouring rain with no umbrella what so ever we kept going and explored the valley. Our cameras took the most toll, as the 5D was actually dripping cups of water by the end of the walk. My shoes didn’t fare as well either but I enjoyed every minute, the rain added a lot of character to the terrain.
There are some things that are good to know about the Tegallalang Rice Terraces that I was told by our driver. There are markets around the terraces and there are vendors within the terrace valley itself, while a lot of them seem a little bit too pushy there are no fixed prices around here. This means, any kind of bargaining skills is much needed around here.
Also while there is a fee to enter the premise of the terraces, the farmers inside the area will still ask for a donation as a way to say thanks for allowing tourist into their land. But at the same time, we have to be smart about it. If a donation was just made in one stop and you felt that the next farmer that asked was way too close to the previous one, just try to bargain with a smile and be on your merry way.
A fun fact was told by our driver that Tourism is still the biggest and pretty much the only form of income that Bali actually has. Even though the Island houses many Rice fields and terraces, none of the grains are actually exported out to other countries, they are all farmed for their own people. It was also interesting to note that apparently the amount of farms that Bali has is still not enough to provide for the citizens of Bali so they still have to import rice from other countries and cities.
This place was quite magical to visit, it has that cliche asian destination look that I have always wanted to experience. The walk in the rain made it a little bit more interesting and some of the photos came out with a lot more character than it usually would! I do think that a visit to the rice terraces in Bali is a must for any travellers to appreciate what real Bali is all about. Tegallalang is north of Ubud and only a 30 minute drive from the city centre.