If you’re itching to see the Balinese countryside and your trip to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces didn’t cut it, Sidemen Valley is an excellent option.
Sidemen, Bali is tucked in the eastern part of the island, offering friendly locals, tourist-free streets, and rice terraces. You’ll also see fields of marigolds and other flowers that Balinese Hindus use to make their daily offerings.
The sights and smells in Sidemen Valley are captivating. And if you’re like me, they’ll leave you wanting to return.
I took a day trip to Sidemen Valley from Ubud. I learned lots along the way and left more in love with the Balinese culture and countryside than ever. I’m excited to share my takeaways with you.
Accessibility Note: Head to tip #14 for details on wheelchair accessibility in Sidemen Valley.
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Travel Times to Sidemen Valley
Before we talk about tips for visiting Sidemen, Bali, below are the approximate travel times you can expect to get there from several popular tourist areas on the island.
|Ubud to Sidemen Valley
|1 hour, 15 minutes
|Kuta to Sidemen Valley
|Seminyak to Sidemen Valley
|1 hour, 35 minutes
|Canggu to Sidemen Valley
|1 hour, 50 minutes
Keep in mind these times are estimates.
Furthermore, traveling by scooter is faster than by car, given that you can weave in and out of traffic (carefully, of course).
14 Tips for Visiting Sidemen Valley, Bali
Ready to arrive in Sidemen Valley as prepared as a traveler can be? Read on for things to know before your visit.
1. Learn the Pronunciation
Sidemen is a tough one for English speakers unfamiliar with the Indonesian language. Like me, many people assign Sidemen two syllables: “Side” and “men.”
Others change it from plural to singular, calling it “Sideman, Bali.”
While I’m no expert in Indonesian, I can guarantee you two things: Sideman Valley is the incorrect spelling, and Sidemen has three syllables. The phonetic spelling is as follows:
The accent is on the first syllable.
So, why is this important?
Sid-ah-min sounds nothing like how we’d say this word in English. So, you’ll confuse locals and become confused yourself upon hearing this word if you don’t know its proper pronunciation.
2. You Can Get a Gojek There
I traveled to Sidemen Village, Bali, from Ubud via a Gojek scooter. If you’re a Southeast Asia first-timer, Gojek is the Uber of the region.
If you’re a single traveler wanting to arrive in Sidemen via taxi, I recommend booking a scooter. Otherwise, it’ll cost you a pretty rupiah to arrive in Sidemen via car.
For context, during my November 2022 visit, the one-way trip with a Gojek scooter from Ubud to Sidemen Village cost 92,000 IDR. A car transfer with Gojek would have cost over 200,000 IDR.
Grab (Gojek’s competitor) also operates the route to Sidemen. So, take your pick.
3. Leaving Sidemen Is Challenging…
…if you didn’t drive there yourself or hire a driver to wait for you.
Being able to use Gojek to arrive in Sidemen Valley gave me a false sense of security. I assumed that since I had gotten there by Gojek, I’d be able to return to Ubud the same way.
No Gojeks or Grabs were available when I was ready to leave Sidemen Valley in the mid-afternoon. And given that I was in the countryside, I figured waiting for one to be in the vicinity would be like finding a needle in a rice field.
So, I headed to a scooter rental shop geared toward tourists.
The man offered me a ridiculously high price for someone to take me back to Ubud. Stubbornness and a limited number of rupiahs in my bag led me to a nearby shop.
Long story short, after many hand gestures and laughs, the shop store owner realized what I wanted. She made a call, and 30 minutes later, I was on my way back to Ubud with the shop owner’s daughter as my scooter driver.
Here’s what I learned: Unlike in popular tourist areas in Bali, no one holds signs offering taxi rides in Sidemen Valley.
So, if you choose to get dropped off in Sidemen, leave time to track down a local willing to drive you out of town. For reference, I paid 160,000 IDR for my ride back to Ubud—a high premium, but I was grateful to her and happy to support a local family.
Travel Tip: GetYourGuide offers a great Sidemen tour where you’d also visit the Ujung Water Palace and Candidasa Village.
4. Homestays Are Popular
Hotels in Sidemen are few and far between. Yes, you can find a few villa and resort options; Samanvaya is one example.
But when you’re looking at where to stay in Sidemen, it’s more common to encounter homestays. Small signs offering homestays with WiFi, hot water, and private bathrooms dot the countryside.
Booking a homestay is a more authentic way to experience Sidemen Valley, Bali. And many of the homestays are beside rice fields.
Although Sidemen, Bali hotels are economical compared to U.S. standards and ritzy areas like Canggu, homestays are even less expensive. And they’re more fulfilling, if you ask me.
The amount of time you should spend in Sidemen depends on your goals.
You can easily see Sidemen Valley as a day trip from Ubud or the Kuta/Canggu beach regions. But spending one or more nights is an excellent way to integrate deeper into Balinese countryside living.
You could even work remotely from Sidemen. I had an excellent data connection with my SIM card, and most homestays offer WiFi.
5. No One Will Hassle You
If you’re scared by the hustlers at Besakih Temple or the constant tour and taxi offerings on the streets of Ubud, Sidemen Valley is a refreshing change of pace.
Despite clearly being a tourist, no local tried to sell me anything.
Instead, they greeted me with smiles, “hellos,” and pleasant (albeit amused) stares. I can’t blame them for that last one—I was walking down countryside roads where tourists normally drive. In the rain. Wearing a bright yellow poncho.
It was a strange feeling to be in my small Gojek pickle, wishing there were touristy vendors around.
But I wouldn’t wish that on Sidemen Valley. Its small-scale tourism is part of what gives it so much charm.
6. Rent a Scooter
One of the most popular things to do in Sidemen, Bali, is to explore the countryside by renting a scooter. I didn’t opt for this, given I have a knack for tipping over when driving them.
And while I’m happy with how many miles of Sidemen’s countryside I explored on foot, I know I could have seen more had I rented a scooter.
There are a few scooter rental places in and around Sidemen Village.
But it’ll make life easier if you arrive in the village already on a scooter. That way, you’ll have a ride out of the village once you’re ready to leave.
7. Expect Weather Changes
Sidemen Valley sits at a little over 800 feet above sea level. That’s a far cry from Mount Agung’s nearly 10,000 feet; you can see this volcano from Sidemen on a clear day.
Nevertheless, between Sidemen being in the mountains and Bali’s knack for weather fluctuations, you should expect any combination of sun, rain, and clouds during your visit.
I experienced all three during my Sidemen day trip.
Of course, Bali’s monsoon season will bring the highest chance of cloud and rain to your Sidemen Valley trip. The rainy season is from October to April, with January to March having the highest amounts of rain.
Needless to say, when planning things to do in Sidemen, I recommend aiming to get an early start to your day if you’re traveling during monsoon season.
That way, you’ll have a relatively higher chance of enjoying at least a portion of the activity in dry weather.
8. Warungs Abound
With the exception of the few resort restaurants in Sidemen, you’re not going to find any upscale eating options there.
And that’s a beautiful thing, in my opinion.
Instead, you’ll encounter warung after warung—family-owned restaurants serving traditional Balinese food.
Warungs dot the countryside landscape of Sidemen, Indonesia. Many of them overlook rice terraces, offering you 5-star views and delicious meals totaling a few dollars per person.
I ate at Warung Ume Anyar during my visit. The food was amazing, with dishes from green papaya salad to capcay. Ume Anyar’s dessert menu is one you won’t want to miss—I had trouble choosing between nanas goreng (fried pineapple with palm sugar) and dadar gulung.
I ended up going with dadar gulung, a thin pancake-like roll stuffed with shredded coconut and palm sugar. The photo below showcases this dish. Before you squirm at its bright green color, know that it’s a natural dye from leaves grown in Bali.
Of course, the view was the icing on the dadar gulung; Warung Ume Anyar offers second-story seating overlooking the Sidemen rice terraces.
Even though I’m rambling on about Ume Anyar, the reality is that many amazing warungs exist in Sidemen. Therefore, go hungry so that you can try a few of them!
9. There’s Not Much to See in Downtown
Downtown Sidemen looks like a dot on the map, and my experience there reflected that.
The main road running through Sidemen village is a popular route for large trucks hauling volcanic rock from Mount Agung. So, it’s unpleasant to walk along.
And, in Balinese fashion, sidewalks in downtown Sidemen Valley are non-existent.
My advice is to save your time for the countryside roads that branch off from Sidemen village. But heading into town is a great option if you want to load up on some fruits and veggies.
10. Understand Rice Seasons
You’ll be able to see rice growing in Sidemen Valley regardless of the time of year you travel. That’s because Bali typically has two rice planting seasons, each lasting about six months.
However, when you’re exploring the Sidemen rice fields, you might not witness them in the green state you’ve seen on Instagram.
The best time to see the Sidemen Valley, Bali rice fields when they’re green and filled out are the months of March, April, September, and October.
If you visit significantly earlier than these months, the rice will have a sparser appearance since it’ll still be growing. And if you visit after those months, it’ll be harvesting time, so you might see the fields when they’re brown.
Regardless, Sidemen Valley is worth a visit any time of the year.
I saw many farmers working in their fields during my visit. Some were even drying rice on the side of the road. It was a more enriching experience than my visit to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
Psst! Check out my guide on the Tegallalang vs Jatiluwih rice terraces for other rice field opportunities in Bali.
11. Visit the Hanging Bridge
If you’re wondering what to do in Sidemen aside from exploring the rice terraces, I recommend a stop at the hanging bridge.
The bridge sits over the Telaga Waja River. It’s the definition of a raging river, if you visit during monsoon season.
To my shock, scooters drive over the bridge. All I can say is that those drivers are brave souls.
I crossed the Sidemen hanging bridge on foot, feeling it swing beneath me.
A trip across the bridge isn’t for those with a fear of heights. And you need to watch your step—there are areas where small wooden pieces of the bridge are missing.
To find this bridge, type in “Jembatan Kuning Tukad Yeh Unda” on Google Maps. Here’s the link to make it easy for you.
12. English Speakers Are Around
Even though Sidemen village, Bali, sits deep within the countryside, most locals have a beginner to intermediate grasp of English.
It was enough for me to get a scooter ride back to Ubud, accompanied by several hand gestures.
I’d put the level of English speakers in Sidemen around the same as Ubud. And if you’ve already been traveling around Bali, you’ve likely experienced that the locals in tourist-dense beach areas like Kuta and Seminyak speak an even higher level of English.
13. Sidemen Valley Is Safe
I visited Sidemen Valley as a solo female traveler. Never once did I feel unsafe.
And mind you, I didn’t stick to the regular tourist path. I walked alone down countryside streets and through a tiny town within the valley.
Never once did I feel uncomfortable or that I should turn around.
The locals in Sidemen were friendly, welcoming, and the men were respectful, just like my experience elsewhere in Bali.
Psst! Check out my guide on safety in Bali for statistics and insights from my experience as a solo female traveler.
14. Wheelchair Accessibility is Limited
Sidemen Valley doesn’t offer good wheelchair accessibility. Sidewalks are essentially non-existent, and I didn’t come across any accessible restrooms.
However, since sightseeing in the countryside is the best thing to do in Sidemen, it’s an excellent valley for wheelchair users to drive through.
You won’t have to deal with traffic like at the Tegallalang Rice Terraces, so you can take your time, driving with your windows rolled down and pulling over whenever you’d like to snap photos of the rice fields.
For other ideas on accessible things to do in Bali, check out our Bali wheelchair travel guide.
Ready to Visit Sidemen Valley, Bali?
Before I visited Sidemen, the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces were my favorite place in Bali. But since seeing Sidemen, it’s now a tie.
Do you have questions about a trip to Sidemen? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help. I’d also love to hear about your experience and takeaways after your visit.
P.S.—Check out my guide on nine amazing rice fields in Bali for ideas on other must-see destinations with rice paddies.