South of Tabanan
Driving in the southern part of Tabanan district takes you though many charming villages and past a lot of vigorously growing rice. The fields are revered by many as the most productive in Bali. About 10km south of Tabanan is Pejaten, a centre for the production of traditional pottery, including elaborate ornamental roof tiles.
Ever more popular, Balian Beach is a rolling area of dunes and knolls overlooking pounding surf. It attracts surfers and those looking to escape the bustle of south Bali. You can wander between cafes and join other travellers for a beer, to watch the sunset and to talk surf.
Between the walls of traditional family compounds in the village of Marga, there are some beautifully shaded roads – but this town wasn't always so peaceful. On 20 November 1946, a much larger and better-armed Dutch force, fighting to regain Bali as a colony after the departure of the Japanese, surrounded a force of 96 independence fighters.
Pura Taman Ayun
The huge royal water temple of Pura Taman Ayun, surrounded by a wide, elegant moat, was the main temple of the Mengwi kingdom, which survived until 1891, when it was conquered by the neighbouring kingdoms of Tabanan and Badung. The large, spacious temple was built in 1634 and extensively renovated in 1937.
The 14-hectare monkey forest of Bukit Sari is strictly for monkey-lovers. There are masses of the creatures here and they will beg food from you and possibly steal something from your bag or head (glasses are a popular item to take). If these sorts of antics don't appeal then you can give this stop a miss.
At the southern fringe of Negara, Loloan Timur is a largely Bugis community (originally from Sulawesi) that retains 300-year-old traditions. Look for a few distinctive houses on stilts, some decorated with wooden fretwork. You can see bull-race practices Sunday mornings at a football field near Delod Berawan.
Belimbingsari & Palasari
Two fascinating religious towns north of the main road are reason enough for a detour. Christian evangelism in Bali was discouraged by the secular Dutch, but sporadic missionary activity resulted in a number of converts, many of whom were rejected by their own communities. In 1939 they were encouraged to resettle in Christian communities in the wilds of west Bali.