Karangasem is an area rich in history, tragedy and royalty. It is a treasure trove of cultural landmarks, ranging from ancient temples and majestic age-old royal palaces, to wonderful panoramas of green hillsides and rice terraces. You’ll find here many royal relics, buildings and monuments, like Bali’s famed Besakih Temple and breathtaking natural sites, like the Mount Agung Volcano or famous Ayung River in the highlands.
Things to do in Karangasem
1. Remains of the old kingdom
Glimpse into the disappearing world of Karangasem Kingdom through its three palaces built by the last king in the early 20th century. Visit the Water Palace and the King’s Palace in Karangasem and learn about the ceremonial life of the royal family. Located on the slopes of Agung volcano is Besakih, the Mother Temple, which is not only the largest, but also the most important and holiest temple complex for the Hindu religion in Bali. Ulun Danu Beratan, literally ‘the source temple of Lake Beratan’, is also one of the island’s iconic sanctuaries feautured on a lot of pictures and an experience not to miss.
2. Adventures in nature
Admire the natural beauty and panoramic landscapes while fueling your adrenaline rush. Get wet and wild during river kayaking or immersive paddling action through the Ayung river, which is fun for big and small alike. Even combine it with a twilight safari experience or do some waterfall trekking and jump from the cliffs of Kroya waterfall. If you had enough of water go cycling through gorgeously breathtaking sceneries. Cycle through salak plantations or ride an electric bike through the UNESCO World Heritage Jatiluwih rice terraces.
3. Scenic views and sceneries
Discover the area around Batur lake and enjoy an unforgettable sunrise from the top of a holy, active volcano next to it. Go on a thrilling trekking experience to hidden waterfalls, bathe beneath waterfalls and visit small hidden streams for purification and prayer or make amazing pictures at the most beautiful terraced landscapes in Southeast Asia created by Bali’s traditional, centuries-old cooperative irrigational system known as ‘Subak’ and.
4. Authentic local experiences
Support community based tourism projects and experience a day in the life of an average Balinese farmer, visit the tranquil Gulingan Village to enjoy the rural charms of Bali. Or learn more about the iconic snakefruit and visit an eco salak plantation and learn more about this special fruit, its cultivation and try the products made out of it. Visit Taman Nusa to experience the cultures of Indonesia’s various ethnic groups in an attractive and interactive way or immerse yourself in the ancient civilization and visit Truyan village which is inhabited by descendants of the original Balinese people who pre-date the Hindu Majapahit Kingdom in the 16th century.
5. Wildlife adventures
There are some incredible creatures to be found in Bali, from elephants and monkeys, to exotic birds and butterflies. Monkeys can be often found in some temples but make sure to visit the butterfly park if you are around the water temple of Bratan or befriend a great Sumatran elephant on an adventurous elephant trek, while plunging into a verdant tropical landscape. Experience the thrill of a gallop along the beach during a horse-back excursion along Saba Bay or make a romantic trip to Petulu village, where the special Kokokan birds live, who never leave the village and believe to bring luck and happiness.
Our insider tips
Ben’s recommendation
Balinese people are not only blessed with the art and culture inheritance, their forefathers also handed over 'Mepantigan', a form of Balinese martial art as their legacy. Putu Witsen, from the young Balinese generation is keen to preserve this tradition and introduce it to the rest of the world. When visiting Putu you will not only learn about the technique and the tradition, but you will also jump into the muddy field and try it. Through Mepantigan the practitioners will not only gain physical fitness, but it helps to release stress, and learn valuable lessons of comradeship and sportsmanship, thus Mepantigan emphasizes emotional and spiritual intelligence.
Lucy’s recommendation
I’m always up for some adrenaline fuelled adventure and I enjoy the lush tropical landscape the best while rushing down one of Bali’s white water rapids. Rafting in the Ayung river is a real fun and amazing experience especially with friends and family and the best part is to laugh about all the thrills experienced over a hearty Balinese lunch afterwards.
Adam’s recommendation
The history of the Island never fails to amaze me and especially not the stories and the heritage of the Karangasem king (rajah). Going through the places of ceremonies and leisure of the royal family where each building and place serves a specific function is a unique experience. Did you know for example, that the chinese design elements, such as wall tiles in some palaces, are attesting to the close relationship between the former king and Chinese traders?
Good to know

Be aware of wildlife

There are some incredible creatures to be found on Bali, from elephants and monkeys, to exotic birds, but as with many wild animals, obey the signs and keep your wits about you.When walking in rural areas or at night, it’s a good idea to always wear appropriate closed in footwear, just in case you come across some of the less pleasant fauna.

Respect the culture

On temple visits you must wear a sarong, usually with sash (waistband) around your waist. Temples are generally very cheap or free to visit. However, most keepers will show visitors to a 'donation box', or offer sarongs at the entrance (don't worry if you didn't bring one). Always use right hand for gesturing; never left hand or feet.

Respect rules and tradition

There are a few surprising laws and customs in Bali that some foreigners will not be aware of. Public affection is frowned upon and public nudity, including topless sunbathing, is considered unacceptable behaviour. The local culture is very respectful and disrespect against officials or elderly are considered very rude.

Language

We love being able to visit a country and communicate, even just a little bit, in the local language. And Bali is no exception. Whilst the vast majority will speak enough English to communicate with you (albeit sometimes only the basics), even being able to say 'hello', 'thank you', and 'please' will be really appreciated here!