Everything that could go wrong on our trip to the Jatiluwih rice terraces did go wrong.
The car rental didn’t have the Jimny we had booked days in advance. The rusty one we finally got huffed and puffed and still couldn’t go up the hill in Ubud. After spending all morning in a tropical downpour, we had no more time for both waterfalls and rice fields. So we picked the rice fields, and they delivered.
The Jatiluwih rice paddies were an ocean of green that never seemed to end. A local woman rinsing shirts in a canal and a little girl swinging on a swing were pretty much the only people we saw there. And the sunrise… oh, man. I may have not been to every place in Bali, but Jatiluwih has to be one of the best.
So if you’re like us and bumpy rides don’t intimidate you, grab a car or a scooter and head to Jatiluwih. Here’s everything you need to know to plan that road trip.
What are rice terraces and how do they work?
Rice terraces have been around for centuries, helping peasants in Asia grow rice on hilly terrains. They’re basically large stairs descending down the hills, each step providing an even surface for the precious rice to grow on. When a “staircase” is ready, it’s flooded with water through a system of irrigation canals — take a closer look at the photos and you’ll see the water glisten.
Rice paddies are tremendously useful in places like Bali, where you’re always going either up or down (remember the hill that all but killed our Jimny?). And when you stand on top of one, with velvety green stairways as far as you can see, you realize it was worth the trip.
How to get to Jatiluwih from Ubud and the rest of Bali
Jatiluwih is a village not that far from Ubud — just 25 miles away. But because of the road quality and heavy traffic, 25 miles in Bali is not the same thing as 25 miles in the US or Europe. It will take you a little over an hour to get from Ubud to the Jatiluwih rice terraces.
The most obvious way to get to Jatiluwih is on a rented scooter. You’ll be cruising along winding Bali roads, where dogs nap smack in the middle of the street and roosters give you a suspicious look as you pass by. That road is idyllic, but it can be tiresome — so if you’re not yet confident on a scooter, rent a car or even hire a car with a driver.
The guided tours to Jatiluwih don’t give you as much time and autonomy to enjoy the rice fields, but they work well if you’re traveling by yourself and are looking to meet people. For a bunch of friends, tours that charge per group are a cheap and easy option.
Jatiluwih rice field tours from Ubud:
📍Rice Terrace at Jatiluwih Tour – from $28.3 per group
📍Electric bicycle tour in Jatiluwih UNESCO site – from $80
Jatiluwih tours from anywhere in Bali:
📍Ancient Temples and Jatiluwih Rice Terrace Private Tour – from $19.2
📍Bedugul & Jatiluwih Rice Terrace Private Tour – from $34.6
📍Private Chartered Car to Jatiluwih and Tanah Lot – from $56.4 per group
The Jatiluwih rice terrace entrance fee
As of 2020, the entrance fee to the Jatiluwih rice fields is 40K IDR ($2.7). As you drive up to the terraces, you’ll see a ticket booth by the road. We parked by the Gong Jatiluwih restaurant, where we had dinner later, and didn’t have to pay for the parking.
What’s the best time to visit the Jatiluwih rice paddies?
The rice fields are at their greenest and lushest close to harvest time, which is March-April and September-October. They’re also lovely during the rainy season, which lasts from November to March, but the weather is hit and miss. We came to Jatiluwih in February and had a gloomy evening, but a beautiful sunny morning.
Early mornings, especially at sunrise, would be the best time of the day to go. The rice fields are peaceful, there’s no one around, and the morning light makes them absolutely magical. But to be there at sunrise you’d have to leave Ubud before 5 a.m. So my advice is, come to Jatiluwih in the evening, spend the night, and wake up early for the sunrise.
Where to stay for a sunrise on the Jatiluwih rice terraces
I’m wrapped up in blankets like a breakfast burrito, hair sticking out in all directions, watching golden light spill all over the rice fields.
That sunrise on the Jatiluwih rice terraces is one of my warmest Bali memories. We got to Padi Bali Jatiluwih, a small family-owned hotel that’s basically three bungalows above the rice fields, when it was already dark. And when the morning came, we realized it was the best possible place to watch the sun go up.
📍Padi Bali Jatiluwih, Double Room with Mountain View – $21 per night
The owner of Padi Bali will tell you everything he knows about growing rice, his wife will bring you red rice tea and fried bananas, and their little daughter will laugh her head off when you think the bamboo stick in your tea is a straw. In the morning, you can check out the beautiful cows they keep nearby and swing on a swing right next to the breakfast area.
Where to eat next to the rice fields
There’s a restaurant overlooking the rice fields called Gong Jatiluwih. It has an almost-360-degree view of the Jatiluwih rice terraces, ample outdoor seating, and decent Indonesian food.
Jatiluwih or Tegalalang rice paddies?
Jatiluwih will always have my vote. This is where you should go if you want to see those vast, untouched Bali rice fields you’ve been hearing about. The terraces around Jatiluwih are bigger than those in Tegalalang. And because they’re further away from Ubud, they’re also more authentic and far less crowded.
But the Tegalalang rice terraces are beautiful as well, so if you’re not feeling like a long drive or just want to check some Ubud attractions off your list, head there. But make sure you do that early in the morning, around sunrise. That way, you’ll catch the most amazing morning light and won’t have to photoshop tourists out of your photos.