The king of Karangasem built his fantasy water palace at Tirta Gangga in 1948, and it’s one of east Bali’s most beautiful sights. Lush rice paddies back three levels of ornamental gardens with swimming pools, fountains, stone carvings, stepping stones, fish ponds, and airy pavilions. It is one of Indonesia’s most striking royal palaces.
Tirta Gangga water palace is one of east Bali’s most famous sights and an essential stop on any east Bali day tour. The entrance fee is inexpensive and the water garden is rarely crowded, while the manicured grounds and shady pavilions are delightful to walk in.
Just 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Amlapura, it’s also a short hop from the diving meccas of Amed and Tulamben, and a popular stop en route to Amed. Bali tours often pair Tirta Gangga palace with other relics of the Karangasem kingdom, such as Ujung Water Palace.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Over recent years, a strip of restaurants and guesthouses has made the rice fields of Tirta Gangga a destination in their own right.
- Unlike Balinese temples, sarongs are not required to visit Tirta Gangga Water Palace.
- Bring your swimwear to enjoy a dip in the spring-fed swimming pools.
How to Get There
The easiest way for tourists to reach Tirta Gangga Water Palace is on the Perama shuttle, which runs to and from the airport, Kuta, Sanur, Ubud, Amed, Tulamben, Padangbai, and Candidasa. Self-driving is also possible, although as the journey from Kuta can take up to three hours, a door-to-door Bali tour or even a private tour is easier for most.
When to Get There
Tirta Gangga's name means "water of the Ganges." It is open seven days a week, year-round, with the exception of Nyepi (the “Day of Silence” holiday). The spacious grounds are rarely crowded, even on Indonesian public holidays. During Bali’s rainy season (roughly October till March), you stand the best chance of clear skies earlier in the day.
The Kings of Karangasem
East Bali is perhaps the least visited area of Bali and remains substantially unspoiled and often very poor. Yet the kingdom of Karangasem, established in the 17th century, was once one of Bali’s richest and most powerful kingdoms. At many times, Karangasem's Hindu kings ruled not only swathes of eastern Bali but also half of the island of Lombok, next door.