Rice terraces are a defining aspect of the balinese charm and beauty. Explore the breathtaking beauty and cultural significance of these agricultural landmarks. This article delves into the world of Bali’s rice terraces, their historical importance, unique irrigation systems, the role of Subak, popular terraced landscapes. Find out how travelers can immerse themselves in the enchanting scenery and cultural heritage of these iconic agricultural marvels.

Tegalalang rice terraces - a famous landmark near Ubud.

Historical Significance of the balinese rice terraces

The traditional way Bali’s rice terraces are built, dates back over a thousand years. These terraces have been central to the island’s food security and cultural identity.

Subak Irrigation System 

The Subak Irrigation System is the lifeblood of Bali’s cultural and agrarian tapestry, a harmonious melding of community, spirituality, and nature. Stretching back over a thousand years, this intricate network channels the pure waters of Bali’s volcanic lakes through terraced rice paddies, each terrace shimmering like steps to heaven. It’s not just an engineering marvel but a testament to the Balinese philosophy of “Tri Hita Karana” – the sacred relationship between humans, the earth, and the gods. In every drop of water that flows through Subak, one can sense the collective heartbeat of generations who have revered and cultivated this fertile land, making it a soulful dance of nature and humanity at its finest.

Iconic Terraced Landscapes

Bali’s iconic rice terraced landscapes are world famous, including the Tegallalang in Ubud, Jatiluwih in Tabanan, and the lesser-known but equally stunning Sidemen terraces. These sites offer breathtaking views and a glimpse into Bali’s rural life:

Rice Terrace in Sidemen, Bali.
  1. Tegallalang Rice Terraces: Renowned for its breathtaking panoramas, the Tegallalang Rice Terraces near Ubud are a mesmerizing blend of layered green fields and timeless Balinese craftsmanship.
  2. Jatiluwih Rice Terraces: Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jatiluwih boasts expansive and well-maintained terraces that gracefully snake through the heart of Bali’s highlands.
  3. Campuhan Ridge Walk: While not terraced fields, the Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud offers stunning vistas of verdant hillsides, punctuated by the occasional sight of distant terraces and the serene beauty of the island.
  4. Sidemen Valley: Nestled away in East Bali, the terraces of Sidemen Valley are a less-trodden gem, showcasing the harmonious blend of man, nature, and the gentle flow of water.
  5. Munduk and Belimbing: These northern villages present terraced landscapes that stretch endlessly, complemented by the backdrop of majestic mountains and the intoxicating aroma of clove and cocoa plantations.
Jatiluwih has probably the most impressive rice terraces in Bali.

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Rice terraces Conservation Efforts

Bali’s rice terraces face modern challenges. Explore the efforts made by local communities and organizations to preserve these cultural and environmental treasures for future generations. The pressures of modernization and environmental change is present everywhere. Aggressive development and reallocations lead to more and more rice terraces disappearing, fading for another private pool villa at a rapid pace.

To safeguard the heritage, local communities and supportive organizations are taking decisive steps. The UNESCO World Heritage designation has amplified global awareness and conservation support for these terraces. The traditional Subak system, a communal water management practice intrinsic to the health and beauty of the terraces, is being meticulously preserved and strengthened. Additionally, the shift towards eco-tourism empowers communities to retain the cultural authenticity of the terraces while promoting sustainable tourism. Through such combined efforts, there’s a committed push to ensure that these living monuments thrive for generations to come.

5 lesser-known facts about Bali’s rice terraces:

Bug-eating ducks happily fertilizing the rice terraces.
  1. Ancient UNESCO Heritage: The Jatiluwih Rice Terraces in Bali, known for their stunning beauty and cultural significance, have been recognized as a UNESCO Cultural Landscape since 2012. They showcase the intricate Subak system and traditional farming practices.
  2. The Subak system, which governs the management of Bali’s rice terraces, is not just about agriculture; it’s deeply spiritual. Balinese farmers believe that the water temples, which oversee the distribution of irrigation water, are sacred places inhabited by spirits.
  3. Bali’s rice terraces are designed with an intricate irrigation network dating back to the 9th century. The Subak system relies on gravity to distribute water from the mountains to the fields, ensuring efficient use of this precious resource.
  4. Cultural Celebrations: Balinese rice farmers celebrate the cycle of planting, growing, and harvesting rice with various rituals and ceremonies. One of the most important events is the “Makepung” buffalo races, held in Jembrana, where farmers decorate their buffaloes and compete in friendly races.
  5. Rice for Religious Offerings: Rice from Bali’s terraces plays a vital role in daily Balinese life. It is not only a staple food but also a crucial element in religious offerings and ceremonies. The beauty of the rice fields is believed to be a reflection of spiritual harmony.
  6. Are you surprised to see ducks waddling through the flooded fields? These ducks serve a practical purpose as natural pest control, helping to keep the rice crops free from insects and pests. It’s a unique and eco-friendly method of farming.


Bali’s rice terraces offer a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. By understanding their historical significance, the Subak irrigation system, exploring iconic landscapes, and participating in immersive experiences, travelers can connect with the profound traditions and stunning landscapes that define these agricultural wonders.

Source: https://distanpangan.baliprov.go.id/the-origin-of-the-balinese-subak-system/


What are the rice terraces of Bali?
The rice terraces are iconic agricultural landmarks in Bali that highlight the island’s charm and beauty, showcasing a blend of breathtaking scenery and cultural heritage.

How old are these terraces?
The traditional construction of Bali’s rice terraces dates back over a thousand years, making them central to the island’s cultural identity and food security.

What is the Subak Irrigation System?
The Subak Irrigation System, over a millennium old, is a unique community-based irrigation system that channels water from Bali’s volcanic lakes through the rice paddies. It represents the Balinese philosophy of “Tri Hita Karana”, emphasizing harmony between humans, nature, and gods.

Which are the most famous terraced landscapes in Bali?
Some of the most renowned terraced landscapes include Tegallalang near Ubud, Jatiluwih in Tabanan, and the picturesque terraces of Sidemen Valley. Campuhan Ridge Walk and the terraces of Munduk and Belimbing are also notable.

What makes the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces special?
Apart from their stunning beauty, the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces have been recognized as a UNESCO Cultural Landscape since 2012 for showcasing the intricate Subak system and traditional farming practices.

How is the Subak system connected to spirituality?
The Subak system is deeply spiritual, with Balinese farmers believing that water temples overseeing irrigation are sacred places inhabited by spirits.

Why are ducks seen in the flooded rice fields?
Ducks play a practical role as natural pest control, helping to keep rice crops free from pests and insects. It represents an eco-friendly farming method.