The regency of Karangasem in east Bali was once a powerful kingdom ruling over much of Lombok. Today, it offers a sleepy, untouched charm beneath the towering presence of volcanic Mount Agung (Gunung Agung). Highlights include historic Amlapura, the district capital; traditional villages; Besakih and Lempuyang temples; Tirta Gangga and Taman Ujung water palaces; and Amed and Tulamben for diving.
Visitors who explore Karangasem independently often stay in Candidasa or Amed, although Tirta Gangga and Sidemen also offer accommodations, some with rice-field views. Many visitors take in the regency’s diverse attractions on an east Bali tour, whether with a private driver, in a retro Volkswagen, or as a small group. Some Karangasem tours focus on temples and palaces, some hone in on the photogenic landscapes, while others focus on historic villages such as Tenganan.
Things to Know Before You Go
- History buffs appreciate Karangasem’s historic architecture, spiritual sites, and generally unspoiled culture.
- It typically takes a minimum of two hours to reach Amlapura from Kuta. Don’t be too ambitious about how much of Karangasem you can see in a day.
- Serious scuba divers aiming to explore the USAT Liberty wreck should spend the night in Amed and get an early start the next day to avoid day trip crowds from south Bali.
How to Get There
Perama shuttle buses stop in Candidasa, Amed, Tulamben, and Tirta Gangga, with connections to Ubud, Sanur, Kuta, and Lombok. Public buses from Batubulan in Denpasar and Singaraja in the north run to Amlapura. If you want to see more than one destination in Karangasem in a day, you need to drive, join a tour, or hire a driver.
When to Get There
To soak up Karangasem’s volcano vistas and rice-field views at their finest, visit during the dry season (roughly May to early October)—but east Bali can be beautiful on a misty rainy season morning, too. Aim to arrive at popular attractions such as Besakih and Lempuyang temples or Tirta Gangga water palace early in the day to beat the crowds.
Karangasem’s Holy Mountain: Mt. Agung
East Bali’s sacred volcano, Mount Agung shapes Bali culture. Traditionally, directions follow not the points of the compass but a speaker’s orientation to the mountain. Its stark profile and spirituality heavily influence Karangasem. When volcanic activity permits, the hike to its 9,944-foot (3,031-meter) summit is as rewarding as it is challenging.