Klungkung is the smallest regency in Bali, nestled by rice fields and the Indian Ocean on the southwest coast of the island. Petite Klungkung focuses around the historically and culturally significant town of Semarapura, and also governs over the neighbouring islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida.
Klungkung is the smallest of Bali’s eight regencies, with a population just shy of 200,000. Though not a tourist destination, Klungkung carries great historical and cultural significance to this day. The capital of Semarapura is a vibrant town where locals live, work and study but once you head outside the centre, you’ll encounter smaller Balinese villages, green rice fields and deserted black sand beaches hugging the coastline. The most important landmark in the area is Klungkung Palace which dates back to the 17th century and has witnessed great historical changes in the area, including the Dutch invasion in the early 1900s.
Klungkung is neighboured by the sprawling regencies of Gianyar (home to Ubud) and Karangasem (where you’ll find Candidasa and Amed). Though Klungkung is part of mainland Bali, it also governs over the neighbouring Nusa Islands, namely Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan which share the same cultural and religious heritage with mainland Bali.
Planning Your Trip to Klungkung
Klungkung and its capital Semarapura in particular remain vibrant throughout the year, but the area is not usually favoured by travellers. This makes for a terrific, off-the-beaten path experience any time of year. Our Klungkung travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Klungkung, provide more information on locations you want to visit, and finish with some inspiration from our travel writers. For more information on events and festivals taking place throughout the year, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
Bali is pleasant all year round! May through September has the best weather (drier, less humid) and is the best time for many activities including diving and surfing. November though March is rainy season – though rainfall is never excessive so you can do most activities except volcano treks.
The temperature ranges from 24 degrees to 31 degrees all year round.
Rainfall ranges from 0cm to 140cm during the wet season.
Things to See & Do in Klungkung
Much of Klungkung’s charm lies in the area’s cultural and historical heritage. This is the perfect destination for getting a deeper understanding of life and culture in Bali. When you leave the city of Semarapura behind, you’ll also get a taste of Balinese village life and the island’s natural beauty
Tours & Activities
Klungkung is home to some of the most interesting cultural and historical landmarks on the island. The most famous of these is Klungkung Palace. Surrounded by lotus ponds, much of the palace was destroyed during the Dutch invasion but was has remained has been beautifully preserved and offers a fascinating look at the area’s regal heritage. Other points of interest include the Nyoman Gunarsa Museum showcasing the artist’s work; Semarapura Market and the Puputan Monument which pays homage to the ritualistic mass suicide committed by Balinese royals, rather than succumbing to the Dutch in 1908.
Beyond the cultural sights of Semarapura, Klungkung is characterised by Balinese villages, rice fields and a deserted coastline with volcanic black sand. Staying in the area offers prime access to some of the most beautiful areas in Bali which are all too often ignored by travellers. For some of the most idyllic tropical views imaginable, it’s only a short drive to the stunning region of Sidemen. The coastline is also stunning, especially if visiting the white sand beaches framing the port town of Padang Bai. If you’re looking to explore further, Padang Bai also provides access to the neighbouring islands of Nusa Lembongan, Lombok and the Gilis.
Eating & Drinking in Klungkung
Klungkung’s restaurants and warungs mostly cater to local tastes and offer a prime opportunity for trying out some authentic local dishes (and not the watered down tourist versions you might encounter further down south). For more details on local cuisine, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
Restaurants in Klungkung tend to be local warungs focusing on authentic Balinese and Indonesian dishes. The town of Semarapura is dotted with down to earth local options offering rich cuisine at incredibly low prices. It’s anything but fine dining – but does offer an authentic taste of local cuisine. Outside the city, you’ll find warungs and restaurants dotted across the region, mostly offering local cuisine with a few Western favourites offered on the side.
As Klungkung falls off most travellers’ radar, the area offers little in the way of nightlife. You might spend your evening ruminating over a long dinner at a local warung or enjoying an elaborate feast prepared by your villa’s private chef. If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a restaurant offering traditional Balinese dance performances in the evenings. For more variety, it’s best to look outside Klungkung. You’ll find the occasional live band playing in the towns of Padang Bai and Candidasa located further up the coast.
Though Klungkung is the smallest of Bali’s regencies, navigating the area will still require a car or motorbike. One option is to stay locally in the regional capital of Semarapura which while an important centre of local life, offers little in the way of tourist facilities and lacks the serene feel of the “real” Bali. Most travellers choose to stay outside the city centre, in hotels, homestays and villas nestled along the coastline or hidden amidst rice fields.
While Klungkung sits firmly on mainland Bali, the regency also governs the neighbouring island of Nusa Lembongan. This idyllic island is known for its beaches and off-shore snorkelling and offers a fabulous selection of beachfront and hilltop villas. From mainland Klungkung, Nusa Lembongan is best reached from the neighbouring port town of Padang Bai.
Klungkung & Surrounds
Klungkung is a petite regency nestled along Bali’s southeast coastline, extending to the neighbouring Nusa Islands. Klungkung is sandwiched between Gianyar to the west, a verdant regency characterised by rice fields and black sand beaches and home to the cultural hub of Ubud, and Karangasem to the east, where you’ll discover the port town of Padang Bai, the relaxed village of Candidasa and diving mecca of Amed.
As the area is not favoured by tourists, there are no Ministry Approved villas located directly in mainland Klungkung – though there are plenty of options over on Nusa Lembongan. There are, however, plenty of options dotted across the neighbouring areas, both along the coastline and surrounded by rice fields further inland. As the area is not frequented by travellers, villa prices in East Bali tend to be lower than other parts of Bali. The area offers some of the most luxurious beachfront villas on the island.
Prices for East Bali villas start at around USD $200 per night for a two-bedroom villa and range to over USD $1,500 per night for a six-bedroom luxury villa. All of our villas come with professionally trained staff. Many villas offer personalised services including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and other services you won’t find in a hotel.
Bali’s only airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport (a.k.a. Denpasar Airport), serves over 20 million passengers a year. Located in Tuban in South Bali, the airport is connected to several major cities across Asia, Australia and the Middle East. Direct flights to Bali are available from Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Doha, Dubai and more, from carriers including Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Air Asia and Jetstar. A new airport is set to be built in North Bali though the plans are still in early stages.
By boat, Bali is connected to the neighbouring islands of Java and Lombok which also have their own international airports. From Klungkung, the closest port is in Padang Bai with boats arriving from Lombok, the Gili Islands and Nusa Lembongan. Ferries from Java to Bali arrive in Gilimanuk, located a good ways away in West Bali.
Nationalities from over 160 countries are eligible for visa free entry into Indonesia. This means your passport will be stamped on arrival at the airport, allowing you to stay in the country for 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a visa which will require further arrangements. Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia.
There is no public transport to get you from the airport to your accommodation, so the only option is to use a private driver or a taxi. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa. To avoid queuing at the immigration counter, we can also arrange a VIP airport service for guests. This service includes lounge access, allowing you to relax while waiting for your luggage.
Alternatively, there is a taxi stand located next to the information desk at the international arrival’s hall, after you exit the small duty free shop. This desk offers fixed price and metered fares across the island. The listed fares are updated frequently, making it very challenging to find reliable, up to date pricing before arriving. Besides the official taxi stand, there are countless independent taxi drivers floating around the arrivals hall, offering rides at varying rates. It’s always easier to have a car arranged beforehand than trying to navigate the taxi jungle at the airport – especially when heading to a more remote destination like Klungkung.
There are a few options for getting around Klungkung, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers.
Most travellers heading to East Bali are looking to explore the region far and wide, making a private car and driver the most convenient way of getting around. Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. This little luxury is remarkably affordable and we can also help you arrange an itinerary, instructing your driver in advance.
Hopping on a scooter can be a great way to explore the villages and remote beaches of East Bali. It’s also a cost efficient way to see the island, as daily rentals usually start at around IDR 50,000 (USD $4). The traffic in Bali can get famously chaotic, so you should only hire a scooter if you are a confident driver. A proper helmet and a valid international driver’s license are also a must – driving without neither will result in a fine if you get pulled over by the police.
Klungkung is a large area, so walking from place to place is usually not an option. If you’re out and about in the town of Semarapura, you’ll find most of the streets lined with narrow walkways, making walking around a valid option. Just be mindful of the traffic and protect your skin from the tropical sun. Outside the city, a walk through the quiet village roads can make for a pleasant outing.
As Klungkung is not a tourist destination, the area has no official, metered taxi service. In other parts of Bali, we always recommend using Blue Bird taxis which offer trusted service and metered fares. In Klungkung, ride hailing apps are also not available. The transport services available are local drivers offering their services at varying rates. You can also ask your accommodation to arrange a ride for you. With no meters available, it’s essential you agree on the price before accepting any ride.
The Balinese are among the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. This is all the more reason to return the favour and be respectful towards the local culture. Like anywhere else in the world, common sense and basic human decency goes a long way. For more detailed information about local culture, language and safety in Bali, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
SHOPPING & BARGAINING
Bargaining can be an enjoyable part of shopping in Bali… or it can be frustrating! To ensure a smooth exchange first decide what the item is worth to you, then ask the seller for their price – your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price. They are likely to respond with a counteroffer, which you can either accept or negotiate further. If you don’t like the price and you walk away there is a good chance the vendor will call out to you with a better (usually final) price. Keep in mind, if an agreement is reached, you’re committed – you should buy if your offer is accepted.
In late 2018, Bali’s governor banned single use plastic on the island, meaning shops, boutiques and supermarkets no longer give out plastic bags. When out and about, it’s best to carry a reusable bag with you.
Most restaurants and villas include a service component already so tipping is not expected, but if service is good, an additional cash tip is appreciated.
Indonesia’s country code is +62. Data speeds of 3G and faster is the norm across Bali. Local prepaid SIM cards are sold everywhere; any modern mobile phone will work. As of 2018, all prepaid SIM cards need to be registered which you can usually do with a copy of your passport directly at the shop where you purchase your SIM card. Prepaid SIM cards come loaded with pulsa (credit) or mobile data which you can later easily top up at other outlets. Most if not all minimarts and local phone shops can top off your SIM card when needed. Most villas provide broadband Internet and free Wi-Fi is common in cafes, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
Health & Safety
It’s important to note that compared to many places in the world, Bali is fairly safe. There have been some high-profile cases of visitors being injured or killed on Bali, but in many cases these tragedies have been inflamed by media sensationalism.
Many of Bali’s beaches are subject to heavy surf and strong currents.The beaches on the southeast coastline are generally better suited for advanced surfing than swimming. Be careful when swimming over coral and never walk on it. It can be very sharp and coral cuts are easily infected. In addition, you are damaging a fragile environment. Lastly, water pollution is a problem in busy neighbourhoods. Avoid swimming near open streams flowing into the sea as they are often contaminated by run-off from built-up areas.
Violent crime is uncommon in Bali, however bag-snatching from motorbikes and petty theft does occur. Take extra care with your phone if riding pillion on a motorbike as phones regularly get snatched from unsuspecting tourists using a navigation app. Otherwise, take the same precautions you would when travelling anywhere else in the world and secure your money before leaving an ATM (and don’t forget your card!), don’t leave valuables on a beach while swimming, and use in-villa safes to store your valuables.
Tap water in Bali is not safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and cheap, however Ministry of Villas encourages visitors to keep a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Klungkung falls outside the trodden tourist trail and offers an authentic feel of the real Bali. The area also offers some of the most vibrant cultural and historical heritage on the island. Check out our latest Klungkung blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.