Feb 01 2012

A side trip to Sidemen

Published by at 10:08 pm under Sidemen

I accept that I won’t win any headline writing awards for the title of this piece, but really, for all those who want to complain about how busy Bali is these days, how bad the traffic is, how you can’t swing a cat without hitting a drunk Australian in Kuta, how Ubud is under attack by Eat, Pray, Love yoga mat-wielding tourists… for God’s sake, get out of there and make a side trip to Sidemen!

It's the simple things.

It's the simple things.

It’s about an 80-minute drive from Sanur to get to Sidemen — add on another 30 minutes if you’re coming from Kuta (if you must go to Kuta, alright, I shall help you leave). What you’ll find is a pretty little sprawling village, sprinkled with a decent range of places to stay, and more under construction while we were there (so perhaps the hordes are coming). Pretty much everywhere will have views overlooking yawning ampitheatres of terraced rice paddy.

Just another restaurant view.

Just another restaurant view.

You aren’t exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do in Sidemen, but this is the point. Put your feet up, enjoy a view of Gunung Agung punctured prettily by coconut palms, and skirted by frangipani trees, hibiscus bushes and blushing chilli plants.

Glorious Agung.

Stunning Agung.

Read a book, have a swim if you’re staying where we stayed (Uma Agung – the only place we believe with a pool) and go for a wander. Our receptionist told us we could hire a guide for 60,000 rupiah per hour (no matter how many people in your group) and recommended a hike to a temple up on a nearby hill that takes around three to four hours return; you can also make a day trip to Besakih from here pretty easily.

One of the older verandas at Uma Agung.

One of the older verandas at Uma Agung.

While our hotel was at the pricey end of the spectrum, it was still definitely good value for money. For 450,000 rupiah per night ($60 during high season, we were warned) we had a spotless, spacious room that chilled deliciously from dusk onwards, making air-con unnecessary but one of the two comfy duvets provided essential.

We had a veranda with chairs directly overlooking the infinity-edge pool. If you’re travelling with kids, be warned that there are quite a few steps here, though my 3.5 year old was okay to wander around with minimal supervision — that is, I kept him within eyeshot at all times but didn’t hover. The pool had a decent little shallow splash area that was perfect for him, though older kids intent on having fun may need to be carefully watched at the edge as the drop over the side is about three metres or so high.

 our room, top left. Ask for it by name: new room upstairs overlooking the pool.

Our room, top left. Ask for it by name: new room upstairs overlooking the pool.

The deckchairs were a little on the tired side, but the lush, obviously carefully maintained gardens were gorgeous. While WiFi is unavailable, internet access is available at the reception if you simply have to check in (and we got a reasonable 3G signal).

We found the restaurant a little on the slow and uninspired side, but a few other places lie within easy striking distance, so if we’d stayed longer than a night (sad face) we could have mixed things up a bit. Service was friendly and obliging.

Just another view from the street.

Just another view from the street.

The road getting to Sidemen is a little underwhelming and quite potholed — trucks ferrying sand from a nearby river can slow things down. You’ll catch a few glimpses of prettiness but it really isn’t beautiful until suddenly, you’re there — thinking about all those silly souls elsewhere.

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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “A side trip to Sidemen”

  1. Monicoon 20 Jan 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Great post! I totally agree. If you want to loose the crowd you should definitely head to Sidemen. It is a wonderful place where you can easily walk around along the small paths that run accross the ricefields. The best time to go strolling is around 16.00 when the local Balinese are finishing their day in the fields and are heading home to catch a bath before it gets dark and the duck herd is guiding his flock of ducks home.
    We stayed a Giri Carik, a small Bali accommodaiton with just 3 three bungalow styled rooms. All with first class view over the ricefields and Gunung Agung. We could see Uma Agung from our terrace!
    We love Sidemen and consider it one of the most beautiful places in Bali. Despite the loads of construction going on we truly hope its charm will remain as it is for many years…!

  2. BusyLizzyon 26 Jan 2015 at 8:41 am

    Agree that Sideman is a fantastic place to stay if you are looking for the quiet nothing-but-ricefield solitude of Bali. Just a small update: Uma Agung is now called Teras Bali Sideman – and I also highly recommend it as a place to stay for a bit of a treat. I did a review for them under the Uma Agung ink above so won’t repeat here. I’m heading back there in a few days time so will be interested to see what developments have occurred in the last year. Hopefully not much!

    It’s worth hiring a motorcycle for a day to explore the wider area of Sideman. If you keep off the main highway, there is very little traffic and the scenery is drop-dead gorgeous.

    It’s the sort of place that I wish TF would stop telling people about – it’s one the last few oasis in Bali I think! :-)

  3. Ashikaon 26 Jan 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I can highly recommend NIRARTA, one of the very first places down that valley from Sidemen and a wonderful place for groups as well as for individual travellers. Several beautiful villas are spread out in a most wonderful garden, and two of them are even down by the river Unna, a sacred river for the Balinese, as it comes down from Mt Agung. Twice daily there is meditation in an octogonal building with a steep Balinese grass roof. Good food and very friendly and helpful staff! You can be taken to a lovely old high priestess for a blessing, or on rice paddy walks, among a lot of other things to do and explore!!