The town of Klungkung was the cradle of Balinese society that blossomed after the Majapahit Kingdom fled from Java in the 14th Century. Klungkung was the seat of the first and still premier royal family in Bali. The other royal families are said to have been members of the king’s family who moved away from Klungkung to set up in their own right. In later centuries they waged war against each other.
The road from Denpasar to Klungkung passes through the town of Celuk which specialises in silverware, and the large market town of Gianyar. The second half of the 80km journey is much more scenic.
Padangbai, the port for ferries crossing the strait to Lombok, is a couple of kilometres off the main road. 13km before Karangasem at Candidasa the road meets the coast and there is plenty of accommodation. Nusa Penida, which is visible off the cost, was once used as a penal colony by the Balinese kings.
One kilometre before the town of Amlapura there is a road to the left which skirts the east of Mount Agung, winding its way around cliffs and across rivers on the slopes of the highest mountain in Bali. Tirtagangga Water Palace (pictured above) is situated some 6km along this road. There is accommodation at the water palace, including the Taman Dhangan Inn, which overlooks the tranquil pools.
There are a number of losmen in the town of Amlapura, but the nicest place to stay is Candidasa, where restaurants, bungalows and losmen overlook a narrow sandy beach. Candidasa grew very quickly during the 1980’s, and reminds many of Kuta in the 1970’s. Fortunately, its distance from entry points to Bali will help it retain its character.
There are many interesting places to visit in the area that are within easy each of Candidasa, the main tourist area. Such as Teganan Village and Goa Lawa Temple and Bat Cave. You can even have a go at climbing Mount Agung or scuba diving at Ballina with Bali Pro.
Dive Shops in Candidasa
Bali Club Diving Jln Raya Candidasa East
Shangrila Beach Dive Club Jln Puri Bagus (East)
Bambu Divers Jln Raya Candidasa Central (at Pondok Bambu)
PADI Bambu Dive Jln Raya Candidasa Central
Places to Visit Near Candidasa
Teganan Bali Aga Village
This village of the Bali Aga people provides one with an insight into Balinese life before the 15th Century. Teganan is at the end of a narrow valley less than one hour’s easy walk from Candidasa. The villagers live in brick and mortar houses in the form of longhouses, set in three rows. Gerinsing weaving is a famous handicraft from here.
Padangbai and Kusamba
These are ferry terminals to the islands off East Bali. From Padangbai ferries cross to Lombok, where you can connect to other islands further east. There is a beautiful beach next to the ferry terminal, and a few cheap but dirty losmens. One place to stay is the Padangbai Beach Inn.
Kusamba is a much smaller port where the ferry crosses to Nusa Penida, just 100 metres off the main road.
Tirtagangga Water Palace
Earthquakes have caused repeated damage at Tirtagangga which is situated on the slopes of Mt. Agung. Fortunately the local people and government are engaged in a continual restoration programme. Stay and eat at the Dhangan Taman Inn which overlooks the pools. The water in the pools is so clear, fresh and cool you can easily spend half the day basking in the sun cultivating a tan. To get there, take the turnoff 1/2 km just before Karangasern bridge towards Singaraja.
Ujung Water Palace
On the way from Candidasa to Amlapura, around 2 km before the turn-off to Tirtagangga and Amed, is the turn-off on the right (Jalan Karangasem-Serayu) to the Ujung Water Palace. From the centre of Amlapura town, head south past the Bus Terminal for about 5 km.
Known by the locals as Taman Soekasada Ujung, the gardens and building were built in 1919 by the king of Karangasem. Unfortunately, similar to Tirtagangga Water Palace, much of the palace and gardens were destroyed in the eruption of Mt Agung in 1963, and the later severe tremor in 1979. Some restoration work has been done since then.
Putung and Selat
There are spectacular views to the coast along this rough road. Turn off at Subangan at km 78.
The royal families of the Majapahit Empire from East Java settled here when they fled the onslaught of Islam in the 15th Century. The ancient Kerta Gosa law courts and gardens are on the main street. The last king of Klungkung was Ida Dewa Agung Geg. He died in 1 964, having married some 40 wives and had over 100 children. In town there is a bank, post office, chemist and doctor, as well as a variety of handicraft shops. The paintings that these sell come from the village of Kamasen and are based on the paintings on the ceiling of Kerta Gosa meeting hall. The only authentic antiques are wooden doors from the Singaraja area, or the traditional sash called Songet which are very rare now. Klungkung is 41km from Denpasar. Candidasa is 24km further east. If travelling by colt mini-bus you may have to change here.
Also known as Karangasem. The western side of town was destroyed by a river of lava from the 1968 eruption of Mt Agung. The Royal Palace still stands and is open to tourists. The area is well known for its fresh fruit. On the way to Karangasem from Candidasa the road traverses a rift valley near the village of Bug Bug. Very spectacular scenery. Four km town past the bus terminal is the Ujung Water Palace.
Climb Mount Agung – An Active Volcano
One proven climbing route is via the village of Selat. Be sure to take a jacket, torch/flashlight, and enough food and water to last two days as none will be available after Selat. Inform the police at Selat of your plans and see them again upon descent. Your route from Selat takes you 5km along a rocky road of lava to Sebudi and on to Sangkawasa
See if you can stay the night with the priest of Pasar Agung temple, and pay for offerings for a safe journey before you go. Leave early next morning at 2-3 AM for an easy walk through a pine forest and another hour to a small glacial valley of stones with a permanent spring.
At 2,000 metres the trees thin out. At about 8 AM you should reach the 3,142 metre peak and the crater full of sand and sulphur. The descent to Sangkawasa takes six hours. Don’t forget to report to police.
Mount Agung became dangerously active in 2018, so climbing is no longer recommended.