Known as the rice bowl of Bali, the vast Tabanan regency is famed for its magnificent rice paddies and pristine natural scenery. Stretching along the western coastline, the area maintains the feel of the real Bali and attracts travellers looking for an off the beaten path experience. Framed by picturesque black sand beaches, the coastal area even offers some impressive surf breaks.
If the Bali you see in your mind’s eye is all rolling rice fields, deserted beaches and bucolic village life, Tabanan is where you should travel. One of the eight regencies in Bali, Tabanan spans a vast area of land from the western coastline toward the centre of the island and once you venture beyond the crowded city of Tabanan, the region offers some of the most beautiful natural scenery on the island.
Though Tabanan does attract travellers after an authentic Balinese getaway and surfers hunting for the perfect wave (without having to fight their way to the line up), Tabanan remains far less crowded than its southern neighbours. Somewhat paradoxically, the area is also home to some of the most famous landmarks on the island. The iconic seaside temple of Tanah Lot and the UNESCO protected rice fields of Jatiluwih are both located in Tabanan, giving equal nods to the spiritual and agricultural heritage of Bali.
Planning Your Trip to Tabanan
Tabanan is a charming region characterised by timeless Balinese charm and some of the most spectacular scenery on the island. Our Tabanan travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Tabanan, 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 Tabanan
The sprawling Tabanan regency is the perfect place to let go of everyday worries and explore the relaxed feel of the real Bali. The seemingly endless rice fields and dramatic black sand beaches offer the perfect backdrop for a soul soothing stay in paradise.
Tours & Activities
Tabanan is home to some of the most famous rice paddies on the island. Located far up north, the stunning Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are a UNESCO protected world heritage site and once you see the cascading green fields, you’ll understand why. Jatiluwih is a remote area and reaching the rice terraces makes for a full daytrip – but the expansive views are well worth the effort. The rice paddies in Jatiluwih are much more expansive than those in Tegalalang (near Ubud) and also blissfully void of hawkers.
Tabanan is a large regency with varied terrain and if you drive long enough, you’ll see rolling green rice fields give way to deserted beaches framed by the Indian Ocean. Tabanan’s beaches tend to be quiet and void of tourists, allowing you to enjoy the scenery in private. Anyone heading out to the water should be vigilant of the unpredictable tides. Tabanan attracts surfers wanting to explore beyond the crowded line ups down south and the area even has its own lowkey surf hub in Balian Beach, with handful of restaurants, cafes and guesthouses catering to travellers.
Though the rice paddies are iconic, the most famous landmark in Tabanan is Tanah Lot Temple. One the holiest sites in Bali, the temple is built on a rock formation framed by crashing waves. The temple (and the roads leading to it) gets extremely busy during sunset when the views admittedly are beautiful, so plan your visit strategically to avoid getting stuck in the crowds.
Eating & Drinking in Tabanan
Tabanan is a large area, so prospecting your next great meal does require some planning. While dining options are scattered across the region, with a little planning you’ll be able to discover amazing hidden gems offering rich local flavours and Western favourites.
Due to the area’s broad geography, the restaurants and warungs in Tabanan are well spread out. You will find plenty of local warungs and cafes in the centre of Tabanan, but this bustling town is usually not on most travellers’ radar. You’ll also find a few relaxed dining options (both local and international) close to the more popular beaches and surf spots, including Kedungu Beach and Balian Beach. For dining with a view, nothing beats a meal while looking over the UNESCO protected rice paddies in Jatiluwih. While most restaurants in Tabanan are on the casual side, you’ll also find a handful of fine dining options at luxury resorts like Soori Bali.
While there are many reasons to visit Tabanan, nightlife is not one of them. A night out in Tabanan might mean relaxing by the beach with an ice cold Bintang beer in hand or enjoying a lavish feast prepared by your private chef in your villa. If you’re after a roaring good time where the drinks and good times keep flowing until well into the night, it’s best to look in other areas, namely down south in the popular districts of Canggu, Seminyak and beyond.
Tabanan is a large, sprawling area so no matter where you stay in the area, you will likely need a car to get around. One thing to consider is how close to the beach you would like to be. Unlike some of the most densely built areas in southern Bali, Tabanan offers the luxury of stunning private beachfront villas, allowing you to fall asleep to the soothing sound of the waves. Other villas are tucked a little further inland, offering lush views of the surrounding rice fields and jungle.
Tabanan & Surrounds
Tabanan is one Bali’s eight regencies, with the vast region stretching from the western coastline far inland. Driving down south on the coastline, Tabanan is neighboured by the serene region of Seseh, followed by relaxed Pererenan and trendy Canggu. If you drive far enough, you will reach the popular restaurants and beach clubs of Seminyak. Travelling inland from Tabanan, you can explore the verdant regency of Gianyar which is home to stunning rice fields and the cultural hub of Ubud.
There are over a dozen Ministry Approved villas in Tabanan, ranging from absolute beachfront villas to luxury estates surrounded by rice fields. As Tabanan is a remote area away from the tourist trail, prices tend to be lower than other parts of Bali.
Tabanan villas range from around USD $150 per night for a two-bedroom villa to over USD $8,000 per night for a ten-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.
Ngurah Rai International Airport is the only airport in Bali, centrally located in Tuban in South Bali. The busy airport serves over 20 million passengers annually and is well connected to international destinations, with direct flights offered to and from Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai, Melbourne and Sydney to name a few. Airlines flying these direct routes include Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Air Asia, Jetstar and more. There are also some early plans to build a second airport in North Bali.
It’s also possible to reach Bali by boat. This would usually mean landing at an international airport on one the neighbouring islands (Java or Lombok) and then crossing over to Bali by boat or ferry. From Java, ferries arrive in Gilimanuk which, depending on where you’re staying, is located about 2-3 hours from Tabanan. From Lombok, boats arrive in Benoa, Sanur, Serangan, Padang Bai and Amed. Benoa, Sanur and Serangan are the closest options from Tabanan and even they are more than an hour’s drive away.
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.
If you haven’t arranged your airport transfers before landing in Bali, you can also get a taxi directly at the airport. The official taxi stand is located in the international arrivals hall, next to the information desk. The stand offers fixed price and metered fares which change rapidly, making it very challenging to find reliable, up to date pricing before landing in Bali. Besides the official taxi stand, the arrivals hall is filled with freelance drivers offering rides at varying rates. We strongly recommend arranging your airport transfers prior to arrival, especially if you’re staying in a more remote area like Tabanan.
There are a few options for getting around Tabanan, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers.
Hiring a private car and driver is the perfect way to explore Tabanan. The area is vast, distances tend to be big and the winding hilly roads can get confusing, so having a driver with local knowledge will be invaluable. 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.
If you’re an experienced driver, hiring a scooter can be a great way to get around Tabanan. Once you get outside the city, traffic tends to be minimal, though the roads can be narrow, hilly and dark after nightfall. Scooter rentals usually start at around IDR 50,000 (USD $4) per day. If you do decide to drive, you must carry an international driver’s licence and wear a helmet. Driving without either will result in a fine if you get pulled over by the police.
Much of Tabanan is rural and the local village roads can make for a scenic walk. That being said, the distances tend to be big, say if you want to reach the nearest convenience store from your villa. If you want to explore beyond your immediate surroundings, you will need some wheels.
As the area lies beyond the tourist track, there are no official metered taxis in Tabanan. There are, however, plenty of local drivers offering their services throughout the area. Always make sure you agree on the price before accepting a 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 – always swim between the yellow flags. 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 in any urban area 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.
Tabanan is home to some of the most famous landmarks in Bali, including the stunning Jatiluwih rice terraces and the enchanting sea temple of Tanah Lot. The area also offers authentic Balinese charm which you won’t find in more touristic areas. Check out our latest Tabanan blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.