Bali Subak UNESCO World Heritage Tour


If you are a frequent visitor to Bali and have visited the temples, volcano and usual Bali tourist trail then this tour may well offer a new Bali experience. Inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 2012, ‘Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System of Bali’, is still an undiscovered secret to many Bali visitors.

The heritage listed cultural landscape of Bali consists of five rice terraces and their water temples which cover 19,500 ha. The temples are the focus of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, that date back to the 9th century.

To see it all requires a full day with an early start as you will be embarking on a tour which covers much of inland Bali.

Heading north, the first stop is the Subak Landscape of Pakerisan Watershed. The Pakerisan watershed boasts many majestic archaeological sites, including Gunung Kawi, the royal tombs of ancient Balinese kings. The tombs are beautifully carved into a soft stonewall. There are hectares of rice fields under the management of three subak downstream of the watershed.

Continuing further north you reach the Supreme Water Temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur. The Pura Ulun Danu Batur is one of the two most important water temples in Bali, located at the rim of Lake Batur, a crater lake off the side of Mount Batur. The lake provides fresh water for rice irrigation, and as such the temple is dedicated to the supreme water goddess, Dewi Danu, from the traditional Hindu Balinese religion.  This is also a good time to stop for lunch and recharge before heading on to the subak Landscape of Catur Angga Batukaru, Jatiluwih.

From the vantage point at Jatiluwih, enjoy views of the beautiful Bali valley, rice terraces and traditional houses built in the middle of the rice paddy. This destination provides magnificent views of the unfolding rice paddy in the area of west Bali.

Venturing south with a final stop at Pura Taman Ayun, The Royal Temple of Mengwi, which is one of the most important temples in Bali. Built in 1634 by a King of the Mengwi dynasty, this impressive complex stands on an island in a river, its inner temple surrounded by a moat. Its Balinese name, Pura Taman Ayun, literally means ‘Garden Temple in the Water’. Part of a network of directional temples that protect Bali from evil spirits, Pura Taman Ayun was built as a series of garden terraces with courtyards on different levels. The entire complex was designed to symbolise the mythological home of the gods, Mount Meru, floating in the sea of eternity.

Many of these areas are under pressure from development so take the opportunity to enjoy these picturesque terraced landscapes while you can. Experience a part of Bali often overlooked by many visitors and take home memories of a different side of Balinese culture.