Sidemen: An Authentic Slice of Bali

Sidemen is a quiet village in East Bali famous for its rice terraces and promise of an authentic look at life on Bali. This is the place to go if you want to relax, unwind, enjoy stunning views and people watch. Often referred to as what ‘Ubud was like 25 years ago’, a couple of days spent in Sidemen won’t go to waste.

Rice Fields Walking Tour

Ruins amongst the rice fields

In the afternoon we went on a 3 hour trek through the rice fields of Sidemen. Our guide calmly led us through the fields whilst pointing out local vegetables and teaching us about the techniques at display to harvest the rice.

Rice fields in Sidemen

We were greeted warmly by everyone we passed and it appears that our guide knew every single one of them, as he’d stop for a brief chat each time. Sidemen has a very strong communal feel and at no time was it more pronounced than here.

In preparation of Purnama

During our tour we crossed small lakes, passed through a small village and witnessed spectacular views over the rice fields. We were lucky to be here during preparation for Purnama, a ceremony entered around the full moon. Extra offerings are given during this period and the temples are decorated in golden fabrics.

Sidemen Morning Market

Locals purchasing goods at the morning market

The following day we braved the early morning and ventured into the main part of town to visit the morning market.

The market runs from 4am – 10am but we were advised to arrive before 7am, as after then the stalls have sold or packed up most of their wares.

Walking through the town we were surprised to see all the kids being dropped off at school at 6:30. How’s that for an early start?

The market itself sells various things such as fresh produce and offering baskets, but the main draw in visiting is to see the people of Sidemen in their morning routine.

There was quite the hustle and bustle despite the early hour.

Sidemen morning market

Other things to do in Sidemen

Sidemen makes for an excellent gateway to East Bali, shortening the lengths of day trips to this area considerably.

You can avoid the dreaded 4am starts from Ubud or Canggu to visit places such as Lempuyang Temple or Tirta Gangga by staying here and instead enjoy a couple of extra hours sleeping in.

You can also go on water rafting or bicycle tours, a great way to see more of the surrounding countryside. There is also a small temple that you can hike up to offering panoramic views of the area

A local worker in the rice fields

Last thoughts

Staying in Sidemen is guaranteed to give you relaxation and insight into the Balinese way of life. 

We only spent 2 days here but could see us spending more time in the future, especially as an alternative to Ubud.