Festivals & Events
Tenganan has customs and festivals different to the Balinese norm. These are showcased during the annual Usaba Sambah Festival.
The Bali Aga have a reputation as being conservative and resistant to change, but this is only partially true: TVs and other modern conveniences are hidden away in the traditional houses here in Tenganan, and many locals carry mobile phones. But it is fair to say that the village has a much more traditional feel than most other villages in Bali. Cars and motorcycles are forbidden from entering; there's a carpark near the village entrance.
The most striking feature of Tenganan is its postcard-like beauty, with the hills providing a photogenic backdrop. The compact 500m by 250m village is surrounded by a wall and consists basically of two rows of identical houses stretching up the gentle slope of a hill. As you enter the village (10,000Rp donation, paid at a ticket office near the main gate), you'll likely be greeted by a guide who will take you on a tour – and generally lead you back to his family compound to look at textiles and other handicrafts for sale. However, there's no pressure to buy anything.
A peculiar, old-fashioned version of the gamelan known as the gamelan selunding is still played here and girls dance an equally ancient dance known as the Rejang. There are other Bali Aga villages nearby, including Tenganan Dauh Tenkad, 1.5km west off the Tenganan road, with a charming old-fashioned ambience and several weaving workshops.
Companies including the well-regarded JED offer tours to Tenganan. Local guides explain the culture in detail and show how local goods are produced.
Candidasa is close by and offers a wide range of accommodation options.
There are warungs, grocery stores and a bakery on the long road linking the village with the coastal highway.
Drinking & Nightlife
Cafes, pubs and bars can be found in nearby Candidasa.
A magical cloth known as kamben gringsing has traditionally been woven in Tenganan – a person wearing it is said to be protected against black magic. Sadly, there are few looms producing it in the village today. The cloth is made using the 'double ikat' technique, in which both the warp and weft threads are 'resist dyed' before being woven.
Many baskets and bags made from ata palm are on sale here, but are made elsewhere. One craft that continues to be based here is traditional Balinese calligraphy, with the script inscribed onto lontar (a palm-leaf manuscript).