If you’ve ever cyber-stalked photos of Ubud on Instagram, there’s a good chance you’ve seen photos of the Tegalalang rice terrace. Like something out of ancient history book, the layered terraces line the side of Ubud’s famous green hills, providing a stunning patchwork that has to be seen to be believed. While it may seem easy to find them, it took us a few visits to Ubud and many failed attempts to finally find them. If you’re planning a trip to Ubud and want to visit these gorgeous bright green rice terraces for yourself, peep this guide first. Here’s everything you need to know to find them and a few extra tips and tricks too.
But first, watch this…
WTF is the Tegalalang rice terrace?
An excellent starting point, my friend. The Tegalalang rice terrace is a famous spot located a short drive outside the heart of Ubud. They’re famous, in my opinion, because they’re the most stunning rice terraces in the area. I’d say that’s because they’re so well maintained, have plenty of great vantage points and are easily photographed, explored and enjoyed by visitors. The layers of dense green foliage creates an amazing pattern on the side of the hill, almost like a big, green, layer-cake.
How the heck do I find them?
We thought it would be super easy to find them so, on our first proper stay in Ubud, we hopped on a scooter and zipped off in search of them. Somehow we stuffed it up totally and ended up taking a wrong turn, not driving far enough and doing a big loop… #TravelFail. This time we came prepared!
If you’re proficient on a scooter you can find them quite easily by heading out to the main road into Ubud, taking a left at the big statue and driving straight for a long time. You’ll know you’ve found them because there will suddenly be a large number of people moving vans parked along the road as well as the familiar sight of shops selling clothes and touristy knick-knacks… also, the rice fields will be there. It should take around 25 minutes to get there on a scooter from the heart of Ubud. If you get yourself a local sim-card you can easily use google maps to guide your way.
If you aren’t proficient on a scooter you can organise local transport to take you there. At a guess, I’d say you’d be looking to pay around $10 – $15AU (100,000 – 150,000IDR) at most.
When should I visit?
I’ll tell you right now, do not go at midday. We had absolutely no choice and had to visit in the middle of the day and it was like taking a trip to the surface of the sun while wearing a sweatsuit… it was uncomfortable. I would definitely recommend you visit in the early morning or late afternoon and, if you’re into photography, those dawn and dusk golden hour times are your best friend. This will help you avoid the heat and the sun.
What should I expect?
You’ll find signs directing you to stairs for ‘Rice Trekking,’ just follow those and you’ll head down a whole bunch of steps to the bottom of the terraces. There, you’ll be greeted by a local and asked for a donation. You can pay what you wish but the minimum, we learned, is 5,oooIDR per person.
There may be locals working in the fields and if you take a photo and they’re in it (even if you didn’t ask them to be or didn’t intend them to be) they will ask you for money. The locals also have those rice-field hats you can put on and a special rice carrying bamboo set-up you can throw over your shoulder and snap a photo with. Just be aware you’ll need to pay if you do that.
One other important thing to know is there are quite a few steps so if you have little kids with you, have an injury or are getting a bit long in the tooth, you might want to take things nice and slow. While we were there we heard two guys talking about having seen a snake… I’m not sure if that’s true or not but we didn’t see one. I’d suggest staying out of the water might help with that.
How long do I need there?
Not long! Truth be told, once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. If you’re in a rush it would be enough just to buzz up there and get a photo from the top, without going all the way down the stairs and walking through the actual terraces. But if you have the time you can definitely spend a little bit of time exploring, I would say a maximum of half an hour would pull it up.
Anything else there?
You betcha! Savvy locals know all that terrace trekking builds up a big thirst, so you’ll find quite a few cafes popped into the side of the hills selling refreshing cold drinks, food, and ice creams. If you don’t fancy dragging ya big booty down to explore, you could quite happily set up camp at a cafe and enjoy the view from up high. There are also quite a few stalls set up in the area selling clothes and other bits and pieces.
Is it worth going?
I really liked seeing it and think it’s worth making the trip, so long as you don’t plan your whole day around it or expect it to be a magical life-changing experience. There will be a lot of other tourists there, it could be really hot if you visit at the wrong time of day and it can be frustrating navigating the steps with all the other visitors. That said, it’s gorgeous and I really enjoyed seeing it. Just be prepared and be realistic and you’ll have a great time.
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