Tabanan, like most regional capitals in Bali, is a large, well-organised place. The verdant surrounding rice fields are emblematic of Bali’s rice-growing traditions and are part of its Unesco recognition.
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.
Just south of Tabanan, Kediri has Pasar Hewan, one of Bali’s busiest cattle markets. About 10km south of Tabanan is Pejaten, a centre for the production of traditional pottery, including elaborate ornamental roof tiles. Porcelain clay objects, which are made purely for decorative use, can be seen in a few workshops in the village. Check out the small showroom of CV Keramik Pejaten, one of several local producers. The trademark pale-green pieces are lovely, and when you see the prices, you’ll at least buy a toad.
A little west of Tabanan, a road goes 8km south via Gubug to the secluded coast at Yeh Gangga, where there are some good accommodation choices, beach cafes and Island Horse, which offers horse rides along the long flat beach and surrounding countryside.
The next road west from Tabanan turns down to the coast via Kerambitan, a village noted for its dance troupe and musicians who perform across the south and in Ubud. Banyan trees shade beautiful old buildings, including two 17th-century palaces. Puri Anyar Kerambitan accepts guests and is an attraction in itself with a vast shambolic compound filled with antiques and populated by genial characters. The other palace, Puri Agung Kerambitan, is tidy and dull.
About 4km from southern Kerambitan is Tibubiyu. For a lovely drive through huge bamboo, fruit trees, rice paddies and more, take the scenic road northwest from Kerambitan to the main Tabanan−Gilimanuk road.