Tirta Gangga – is it worth visiting it?

In the last half a year I visited Tirta Gangga twice. once for seeing how it was post pandemic and another time because there were some visitors who would like to go there for sightseeing. It’s located in Karangasem, a part of east Bali. Candidasa is a popular place nearby. This makes a good reason to visit Tirta Gangga if you’re nearby. To enter this place you don’t need to wear a sarong, like you would need if you’d visit temples.

From Seminyak to Tirta Gangga it will take about 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on traffic. You might even arrive when it’s at its busiest. I suggest leaving early as the opening times are from 8am – 5pm. From Ubud it takes about 2 hours to reach this. This makes it quite questionable, is it worth the travel? For some tourists it would take about a 6 hour drive go and back. If you’d spend 2 hours there, that’s like 8 hours and even then you’d spend more time in the car (or traffic).

History

Before anything, did you know that Tirta Gangga was a gift to the former King of Karengasem. It’s a place built by the Dutch and gifted to the king of Karengasem. He received this gift because when the Dutch occupied this place, the king cooperated. He would provide crucial information about the other kingdoms in Bali, for example Denpasar. During the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 this place was destroyed.

It got renovated after and a few decades later Tirta Gangga has become a popular tourist destination. It’s a family friendly destination that also provides picture worthy spots, and there are many of these.

The name comes from “Tirta” and “Gangga”. The first one meaning holy water, and Gangga referring to the sacred river in India.

Tirta Ayu Hotel and Restaurant

Spend the night, week or however long you want as how the king and his royal family used to spend their days there. You can book the Tirta Ayu Hotel through booking.com There are 5 villa’s that would give you a luxurious stay. The prices vary and go from 100-200 USD per night depending on the season. It has some romantic vibes, you would overlook the water gardens from up top and the tourists would not even come near your villa, so that’s pretty nice.

How much does it cost to enter Tirta Gangga?

Tirta Gangga entrance is 50,000 IDR (3,50 USD), the parking for motorbikes is 2k IDR. If you come by car it would be 10k IDR. There is more, you would like to have fish food, which they sell on the way from the parking to the water gardens. They only sell it outside, not inside, so before entering and buying your ticket make sure to have some fish food. These come in different sizes and prices. Buying a aqua bottle, 600ml, with fish food will cost about 10k IDR. You could also sp[end less but then, yoiu would run out faster as well, and having driven that distance, spending 10k IDR (0,70 USD) is worth it.

boats at taman tirta gangga

Excluding petrol, driver, food and drinks expect to spend around 70k IDR for entrance, parking and the fish food. If you’d like to swim there (with just small fish and not the Koi) it would cost 10k IDR. A fairly short boat trip will cost 20k IDR which tours you around the water gardens.

Why do I need fish food at Tirta Gangga?

fish feeding at tirta gangga

You actually don’t because most tourists will be feeding the Koi. But feeding the fish can help you make that picture worthy for your social Media. You would be surrounded by the many Koi fish and could make that picture that makes you seem alone there.

For me it was fun because I can feed the fish with my daughter which she absolutely loved. Some of the Koi would come up close and didn’t mind to be pet. It was like they were coming for it, to be pet. For this reason alone, I do think that it’s a great place to come as a family with the little ones that they can go around, feed fish, play, and even swim.

The stepping stones at Tirta Gangga

Step through the water gardens, it’s about 20cm. With some help my litte daughter did it too. This is a place that you will come to hate or love. Why would you dislike it you think? Some social media people will take hundreds of photo’s which result in a line for people to wait to go on through the stones. They would make everyone wait. so nobody would appear in the background.

For people who just like to walk it, it’s a terrible experience. I have seen people doing this for social media, making 10 if not 15 minutes to make that picture. This whilst everyone is just waiting their turn. For me it was amazing to see it’s regulation like that in between each other is well organised. There is no help for this.

Because of the pictures massively being taken on one side, the other people would just start their journey on the stepping stones on the other side. Eventually they would come in the background or the picture of these people. This is also where you would throw plenty of fish food to lure the koi and make that picture. Apparently people seem to dress up with bright colours and site even on those stones, showing a different picture people would expect at Tirta Gangga.

Arrive before it’s too hot

the fish are not eating

Arrive before noon, when the sun is too high, it heats up the temperature. The fish don’t like it and won’t come to food you throw. The fish will try to look for cooler places and wait it out till it becomes cooler which only happens hours later. Because of this, you might experience fish in hiding. To prevent this experience, either show up early (earlier is better) or just later afternoon. Just a reminder that Tirta Gangga closes at 5pm and you might need to do a 2-3 hour drive back.

Restaurants and Gelato

If you’re hungry, you don’t need to exit the water gardens. It has a cafe inside which can cook you up some food. They offer the standard Indonesian food mostly and some others. I do recommend Indonesian food, they’re good at it.

menu at Isen Cafe Tirta Gangga

Another worthy mention is the Gelato. When the fish are looking to cool down in the deeper waters, it might be a great idea to get some gelato. You can find Ice cream and gelato just before the toilets. There are some tables and a laid out terrace for you to take a break here as well. from here you can see the Tirta Ayu Hotel.

ice cream and gelato at Tirta Gangga delicious

Icecreams goes from 25k IDR and just left of the Isen cafe costs 20k IDR. I went for the Gelato, yummy!

Swimming at Tirta Gangga

swimming at tirta gangga

For those who can swim, it’s not a deep pool but you would nee to be able to swim, you can do so by purchasing another extra ticket for an additional 10k IDR (0.75 USD). It’s nothing fancy, except some fish are there as well and it’s a great way to swim an exercise at the same time. Are you in need to cool down and are you able to swim? Jump in, and enjoy the waters of Tirta Gangga.

How long do you need at Tirta Gangga?

You can see everything within 20 minutes in Tirta Gangga. It’s not a super huge place, just a nice spacious water garden. In the back there are some swings for the children, although adults often sit here for shade, it’s also a nice area for children to play.

But assuming you spend some time travelling here, try to spend at least an hour here. Even though you saw everything, just sit and relax. You’re probably on vacation and shouldn’t hurry too much, unless you have to arrive at your next destination at a certain time.

Exotic (tame) animals

On the way back to the parking, you can buy some souvenirs and also take a picture with some exotic animals. You would be able to hold them, and it costs a voluntary donation.

Next to the bats, they also have a albino python, iguana, owls a luwak (the cat that eats and poops out coffee). You might think it’s sad for the animals. The animals there are actually free there. They are not tied up, chained, or stuck. They themselves just stay there, because they get fed by the owner. There are 2 helpers for the Python snake since it’s a tall and heavy one. So at Tirta Gangga, it’s a nice side activity to make a picture.

So does all this speak to you? Do can you be patient in taking that one picture for social media on the stepping stone? It’s a great “instagrammable” place to visit, and even if you don’t do it for social media, its a nice place see with your own eyes. It’s on the way to Amed, so it could be a nice place to stop for a while, to see more of Bali.

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