Tabanan: Your Ultimate Guide To Bali’s Hidden Gem

Tabanan is one of the most unheralded parts of Bali and that’s a shame because it’s home to some of the most interesting temples, secluded beaches and gorgeous natural scenery on the island.

Our guide will give you plenty of good reasons to put Tabanan on your list of places to see in Bali.

Where Is Tabanan?

TABANAN FINNS BALI MAP

Tabanan is the capital town of the Tabanan Regency. It’s a big regency that covers parts of Central, West, and Southwest and even touches on North Bali!

It’s very easy to get to from Denpasar and the beach towns of Southern Bali.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Tabanan?

rice terraces in the summer unesco world heritage 2023 11 27 05 35 54 utc

There is never a bad time of year to visit Bali and never a bad time to visit Tabanan either. It rains more in the rainy season but not so much that it will spoil your good time (we also get an average of 9 hours of sunshine a day during that season) and rooms and flights are cheaper.

The dry season sees cooler temperatures, less humidity but higher prices. So, it’s really up to you as to when you want to come.

What To See In Tabanan

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces (Jatiluwih Green Land)

Rice fields of Jatiluwih in southeast Bali

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are the only UNESCO world heritage site in Bali (this is because the Balinese government withdrew all other sites under consideration for UNESCO status to try and combat over-tourism).

This is because of the unique Subak Irrigation system which waters the rice fields of Bali. They’ve been keeping the rice fields green using the same engineered solution for nearly 1,000 years now!

This area is captivatingly beautiful and you will get many amazing shots for your Instagram and social media.

Ulun Danu Bratan Temple

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali island Hindu temple in flowers on Beratan lake, Asia

This complex is a bit of a drive out of the regency but it’s worth it, particularly during the wet season when the temple appears to float on the water of the nearby lake.

The temple is said to help protect Bali against the water and to ensure the fertility of the local rice fields.

Bali Butterfly Park

Great Yellow Mormon Butterfly

If you love butterflies, you’re going to love Bali Butterfly Park, it’s home to all the native species of butterflies and some exotic ones too.

As with most butterfly parks, it also has a collection of other insects (and arachnids) for you to enjoy.

Lake Beratan

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan temple at sunrise in Bali, Indonesia

This attractive lake is home to Ulun Danu Bratan Temple and you can enjoy long relaxing walks along the shore appreciating the glory of the Balinese countryside.

You can also go out on the lake in a boat and that’s where you can grab some of the best shots of the temple and enjoy a peaceful time with the sounds of your oars breaking the surface of the water and birdsong being all you can hear for miles.

Bali Botanic Garden

If you love plants (and not just rice fields) then, you will love the Bali Botanic Garden which is a gloriously curated garden that shows off many of the native plants (and a few exotic ones too).

For an especially relaxing time, we’d recommend taking a book and then finding somewhere to sit and chill in the pleasantly cool air of the garden.

Balian Beach

Balian Beach is one of the black sand beaches of Bali. Black sand beaches are formed from volcanic rock from eruptions of Bali’s volcanoes being ground apart in the ocean and then deposited on land.

To be fair, the “black sand” here is more “black cobblestones” but the beach is an amazing spot for surfers who love the wave breaks here.

Belimbing Village

This pleasant village lies along the walking trails among the rice terraces here at Jatiluwih and it’s a surprisingly tranquil place.

There is no big push for the tourism industry and instead, you find a pleasant and authentic Balinese village to explore and enjoy.

Vihara Dharma Giri

This is a lovely Buddhist temple that has one of the most attractive gardens that we’ve ever seen.

It has a huge statue of a reclining Buddha (possibly one of the biggest in Indonesia) and the complex has recently been renovated.

Tabanan Anom Palace

This is one of the oldest royal palaces in Bali and it’s dedicated to the local royalty who were the kings of Tabanan back when it was a kingdom.

It’s a lovely place that sees relatively few visitors and that means you can take photos to your heart’s content and everyone is warmly welcomed.

Vihara Mahavira Bedugul Baturiti

This is an attractive Chinese Mahayana Buddhist temple that isn’t far from Lake Beratan. The outside is lined with a row of Buddha images.

Speaking of Chinese, did you know they celebrate Chinese New Year in Bali

Inside this temple, you will find the three main images of the Buddha by the altar, we’ve been here a few times and we’re often the only people there, it’s a great spot for some meditation or quiet contemplation.

Blahmantung Waterfall

If you’re willing to put in the effort to hike out to this fall, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view.

We should note, that you’re not likely to find it without some local input, so make sure you have a driver or tour guide that speaks Bahasa when you visit.

Angseri Spring

This hot spring near the Jatiluwih Green Land is very low cost to enter and offers two public springs and a bunch of private ones too.

You get 30 minutes in a private spring included in the admission fee plus unlimited use of the public springs. There’s a waterfall right next to the springs too!

Kedungu Beach

Surfer girl

This is a slice of the real Bali and it’s one of the best hidden beaches we know of anywhere in the land.

It’s great for surfing and has a surf school and there are plenty of local warungs and shops where you can grab a drink or something to eat.

Margarana Memorial Park

This is a sombre place dedicated to the memory of Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai who died trying to free Bali and Indonesia from Dutch colonial rule.

While his efforts were tragically unsuccessful, there’s no doubt that this national hero was part of a movement that brought freedom to the Indonesian people.

Pura Siwa

This lovely temple near Mount Batukaru has one of the most attractive statues of Siva that we’ve ever seen.

It’s very much a local affair and you won’t see many other tourists if you opt to visit this site.

Pengempu Waterfall

This is a small and secluded waterfall that doesn’t see a huge volume of visitors and there’s a good chance that if you go, you will get it all to yourself for an hour or two.

There’s a cave here that was used by the locals to shelter from the Japanese during the early war for independence during World War 2.

Pura Luhur Tamba Waras

This water temple is quite large and offers some lovely views out over the ocean – it’s a lot like Tirta Empul but much quieter.

There are some monkeys on site but they’re not particularly aggressive and as long as you give them some space, they will give you yours.

Soka Beach

You get a great view of Mount Agung from this beach and it’s one of the most unspoiled and undeveloped beaches in all the land.

Get there at sunset and enjoy a romantic walk along the black sand and maybe take a quick dip in the waves.

What To Do In Tabanan

Trekking in a forest

There are some cool things to do in the Tabanan area too including:

Drive The Mountain Road (Antosari To Pupuan)

This gorgeous route sees almost no traffic but it’s incredibly scenic and the ideal place to stop along the way and leap out to take some amazing photographs that other Instagrammers will be very jealous of.

Climb Mount Batukaru

This extinct volcano offers a very different climbing experience when compared to Mount Agung or Mount Batur.

You will hike through dense primary forest and it’s something to be undertaken only if you are physically fit.

Don’t do this climb in the wet season as this is very much one of the wettest places on the island at any time of year.

There are three main routes up the mountain and you can easily engage a local guide to help you find and navigate them.

Where To Stay In Tabanan

Tabanan has some interesting places to stay, though the big-name resorts are yet to arrive in the area.

Bali Beach Glamping

This is one of the most famous glamping spots in Bali and it’s very popular with wedding parties.

It’s a luxury destination with an incredible infinity pool, cocktail lounge and even a yoga shala! The prices are more reasonable than you might expect too.

Where Is It? Jl. Kebo Iwa Jl. Batu Tampih Kangin No.Banjar, Pangkung Tibah, Kec. Kediri, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82121, Indonesia

Ulaman Eco Luxury Villa Resort

If you want your time in Bali to be in harmony with the natural environment, you ought to check out this eco-friendly retreat.

It’s a genuine demonstration that we can be kind to the planet and still live without compromise. The location and buildings are truly beautiful.

Where Is It? Ulaman Road, Buwit, Kediri, Tabanan Regency, Bali 82121, Indonesia

WakaGangga

This beachfront boutique resort has 27 villas with 15 private pools! If you want a luxurious spot with lovely ocean views among the rice fields, you can’t go wrong here.

Where Is It? Banjar, Jl. Yeh Gangga I, Sudimara, Kec. Tabanan, Bali 82115, Indonesia

Nirjhara

This is a luxury boutique hotel with a beautiful jungle location next to a river and a series of cascades.

If you want a peaceful and relaxing time, you can’t go wrong here.

Where Is It? Jl. Nirjhara, Banjar Kedungu, Belalang, Kediri, Tabanan Regency, Bali 82121, Indonesia

Natya Hotel Tanah Lot

This is a great place that is ideally suited for temple visits and for getting to some lovely local restaurants.

Where Is It? Jl. Kawasan Wisata Tanah Lot, Beraban, Kediri, Beraban, Kediri, Beraban, Kec. Kediri, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82171, Indonesia

Nyanyi Sanctuary Villa by Ini Vie Hospitality

This serene and quiet luxury resort offers private pool villas with lovely outdoor bathtub setups.

It’s a short drive from all the places that you’re likely to want to visit in Tabanan.

Where Is It? Jl. Pantai Nyanyi No.8x, Beraban, Kec. Kediri, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 80351, Indonesia

Where To Eat In Tabanan

Babi Guling Slingsing

“Babi Guling” is “suckling pig” and they make some of the best babi guling that we’ve ever tasted.

Where Is It? Jl. Raya Munggu-Kapal, Cepaka, Kec. Kediri, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia

Swarga Rasa by De Moksha

This upmarket resort restaurant is worth making a trip for, the service is excellent and the menu is incredible.

Where Is It? Jl. Benuo, Banjar Kebilbil, Kec. Kediri, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82171, Indonesia

Rumah Desa Balinese Home & Cooking Studio

If you want to learn more about the local food culture then you can’t go wrong at Rumah Desa, you don’t have to take lessons either, you can just eat if you want to.

Where Is It? Jl. Raya Apuan -Baturiti, Banjar Baru, Desa Baru, Kec. Marga, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82181, Indonesia

Gong Jatiluwih Restaurant & Lounge

The panoramic view from the terrace of this restaurant is enough to get us excited and the Indonesian food they serve is excellent too.

Where Is It? Jl. Jatiluwih Kawan No.88, Jatiluwih, Kec. Penebel, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82152, Indonesia

Cliffhanger Restaurant Bali

This beachside restaurant has the best BBQ red snapper in the area and their desserts are simply to die for. In addition you will find Bali’s absolute best Schnitzels here.

Where Is It? 18X, Jl. Yeh Gangga I, Barat, Sudimara, Kec. Tabanan, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82115, Indonesia

Bamboo Forest Restaurant by WHM

This lovely setting in a bamboo forest is all about vegan and vegetarian food and it’s truly exceptional. Don’t miss it.

Where Is It? Dalam Sari, Temple, Jatiluwih, Kec. Penebel, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82115, Indonesia

Other Places Near To Tabanan

Tanah Lot Temple (Pura Tanah Lot)

tanah lot beraban village of the tabanan bali i 2023 11 27 05 08 38 utc

Tanah Lot is not very far away by car and it’s considered to be one of the most spectacular sights in Bali.

The temple sits on a small island just off the coast and most people aim to get there at sunset so that they can see the glorious light break over the Indian Ocean and bathe the temple (it makes for amazing photographs).

However, Tanah Lot can also be amazing at low tide, when you can walk out in the water and right up to the island that it sits on.

West Bali National Park

west bali national park2

This is the only national park in Bali and it covers nearly 10% of the area of the island and is home to nearly all the indigenous species here.

You can see the breeding program for the endangered Bali Myna (Bali Starling) and meet the deer of Menjangan Island. It has mangrove swamps and amazing forests.

If you love communing with nature then you’re definitely going to want to spend some time at the National Park.

Sangeh Monkey Forest

Portrait of two monkeys sitting at Sangeh Monkey Forest, Bali, Indonesia

This monkey forest isn’t as famous as the one in Ubud and that means there are fewer crowds and better opportunities for photographers.

However, it’s worth noting that the monkeys are less acustomed to human interaction at Sangeh and you won’t be able to get the monkeys to pose with you as you might at Ubud.

The site is also home to an attractive temple complex and you can get some fabulous photos for your Instagram feed there too.

FAQs

What Is Tabanan Known For?

Tabanan is best known for its spectacular rice terraces and beautiful landscape. However, there is much more to be found in the regency from small villages to hot springs to a royal family! (By the way you can find out all about Hot Springs in Bali here). 

The only way to really know this area is to read our Tabanan travel guide (above) to get started and then to explore Tabanan for yourself.

What’s The Difference Between Rice Fields And Rice Paddies?

Nothing. The word “paddy” comes from the Malay language (“padi”) and the word means “rice”.

Thus it’s fine to use rice fields and rice paddies interchangeably, they mean the same thing.

What Country Is Tabanan In?

Tabanan is on the island of Bali which is part of the Republic of Indonesia in Southeast Asia.

Is Tabanan, Bali A Good Place To Stay?

Yes! Tabanan Regency stretches from the Southwest Coast to Central Bali and you can see some of the best parts of the island from Tabanan.

In an hour’s drive, you can go from the beaches to the mountains. There are temples, cafes, villas, spas, and much more besides.

It’s also a good place to visit if you support environmental conservation as one of the less developed areas in Bali, it still has its natural beauty to share with visitors.

What Is The Main City In Bali Called?

The main city in Bali is the capital Denpasar. Denpasar is an interesting place and certainly worth visiting, though most tourists tend to head straight to the beaches and skip Denpasar.

However, we don’t think it’s as pretty as Tabanan and the terraced rice paddies of the area there. Tabanan also gets comparatively few visitors and its natural beauty is very much worth seeing.

How To Book A Holiday In Tabanan?

If you would like to see the rice paddies and rice terraces of Tabanan then we’d recommend that you book your holiday through the awesome Bali Res Centre.

They are a locally owned and operated travel service that specializes in Balinese travel and holidays.

They will be able to help you find the right flights, accomodation and tours to see everything you want to see here in Bali, in the right way for you and your family.

Their local connections guarantee competitive pricing and when you book with the Bali Res Centre, your holiday dollars go to support the local economy!

Final Thoughts On Tabanan

Tabanan offers visitors to Bali with so much to do from a UNESCO world heritage site to awesome temples to beaches that most surfers would kill to surf on.

It’s not far from the popular tourist spots in Bali, either.

So, you can easily spend some time in Canggu at the world’s (and Bali’s) best beach club, FINNS and then spend a few days in Tabanan without travelling too far.