It wouldn’t be a guide to Manggis if I didn’t take some time to explain how I got there. On my second trip to Bali, I was determined to get out of the triangle path that often includes Uluwatu, Seminyak/Canggu area, and then Ubud. It’s certainly not to say that those places are not special, as I still visited them on this trip, however, I was in search of something more this time.
Here’s how it started. If you type in “untouched Bali or crowd-free Bali” not a whole lot comes up. I was certain there was somewhere that was not built up, still felt natural to the village-sprinkled island life that Bali has and always was. I remembered there was an Aman property — a resort company notorious for picking destinations that are not built up and blending seamlessly in with the scene. And there it was — the Amankila, the gateway to Bali’s lesser known Eastern coastline. I was smitten. And so the journey began.
As we made our way across the island, the commonly, tall buildings started to disappear and were slowly replaced by overgrown, towering trees. The vines were thickly rooted, as they took over electrical wires, houses, and streets. To say it was the countryside wouldn’t quite capture how it felt as we pulled into Manggis. As it’s along the coast overlooking the Lombok Strait, there’s a coastal edge to it. Fresh fish being pulled in, farmers bringing in livestock for the day’s meals, and locals going about their day. They don’t seem to mind that we’ve decided to sojourn here too.
The Amankila is Karangasem Regency’s jewel — it’s the place where most will happen for the traveler, like me. It’s a home, it’s most meals, and it’s a place to unwind. Between it all, there was one morning adventure that set Manggis apart for me. With our backpacks in tow, we made the drive to the town of Kastala with Amankila, where rice terraces lined the forest, with views of the sacred Mt Agung in the background. We were trekking, making our way through the fields into the village of Tenganan. As we made our way, something dawned on me. This was not the rice terraces I had knew Bali for — it was 11 am, I had not past another tourist yet, and there was no “I love Bali” signs built into the landscape. It was different.
As we made the descent into one of the oldest Balinese villages, I felt I had a taste of what life is truly like. Parts of it were hard to swallow, as we talked with our guide about the hard work required to maintain life in a village. Other parts were joyous as we saw children play, hidden temples, and women hand crafting those perfectly, woven baskets in the town. And in that moment it left me feeling that this was it. This was the Bali I was searching for all along.
A Guide to Manggis: Bali’s Lesser Known Eastern Coastline
Getting to Manggis, Bali
Getting to Manggis, Bali is incredibly easy. It’s a short 1.5 hours from Denpasar or about 2 hours from Ubud. Once there, I would recommend a guide, like at the hotel Amankila, to take you out on excursions for an opportunity to really get to know the area. Otherwise, motorbike would be the best way to get around.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Manggis, Bali
- It’s good to know that it’s not built up like other towns.
- There are a few restaurants in the town for while you are but I also would recommend that you stay at a hotel where you can also dine.
- I never had to pull out cash but based on a quick search there are plenty of ATM’s. For any local purchases, most will be cash only.
- Sunscreen is a must and bug spray is always a good idea in Bali.
Where to Stay in Manggis, Bali
Amankila is where I stayed for two nights while visiting Manggis. The resort is a destination in itself and truly magical. It’s one of my most memorable stays to date, and I couldn’t recommend it more for those wanting to unwind and explore. The Amankila knows how to pull in the local culture and give you opportunities to enjoy the destination — their guided tours are brilliant. On top of that, the restaurant at Amankila is incredibly good (open to guests and nonresidents) and with a rate with breakfast as part of the stay, you’re set for most meals.
Where to Eat in Manggis, Bali
As mentioned above, most meals were had at the Amankila. We didn’t go out in the town for meals, but based on research here were the spots I had saved: Seasalt Restaurant (inside the Alila), Vincent’s, Warung Lu Putu, and Lezat Beach Restaurant.
What to Do in Manggis, Bali
There is much to do on the coastline of Manggis between the land and sea. Top picks are:
- Plenty of experiences on the ocean from kayaking, walking the beaches, to scuba trips out along the Lombok Strait.
- Inland, there is a lot to see — many opt to explore the villages and Tenganan should not be missed.
- The trek we did from the rice terraces of Kastala into the village was memorable.
- For those looking to get a bit more adventurous, I’d recommend sunrise or sunset at the Pura Lempuyang Luhur, also known as the Gateway to Heaven for it’s beautiful view.
- There are other historic sights to see in the area like Taman Soekasada Ujung Water Palace, which is where the architect of Amankila drew inspiration from.
- The East Bali beaches are often free of tourists, especially the two by Padang Bai, like Bias Tugel Beach.
- One other experience I would recommend is taking the day trip to Tukad Cepung Waterfall to explore this hidden valley that has an incredible waterfall gushing into it.
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