Negara is a town in West Bali.
The name Negara is often applied to the West Bali region as a whole, which is more correctly known as Jembrana. This article covers the town of Negara and all areas of interest in southern Jembrana regency outside of Medewi Beach and Gilimanuk.
This is the least visited area of Bali, and is sparsely populated, except along the main southern coast road from Denpasar to Gilimanuk, the seaport which connects Bali to Java. Most of the land is covered by the forests and highlands of West Bali National Park and adjacent protected areas. The flatter southern region is very fertile and is rice growing country. Villages have a clean air, partly due to the mass of flowering shrubs which almost obscure the neat little houses. Income is derived primarily from fishing, rice paddies and planations of coconut, coffee, cloves and vanilla. The main southern coast road runs alongside black sand beaches for much of its course through Jembrana regency.
Jembrana has always been a somewhat isolated regency and largely unaffected by events on the rest of the island. Its history is tied to Buleleng after the Dutch overran that Regency in 1849 and assumed control of Jembrana at the same time. Due primarily to settlement by Bugis people from Sulawesi, the influence of Islam is stronger here than anywhere else in Bali, and visitors will notice a relatively large number of mosques.
Negara is on the main coastal road between Denpasar (about 75 km to the east) and Gilimanuk (about 25 km to the west). All buses from Denpasar to Gilimanuk pass through Negara. It should be noted that this road is often very busy and in a very bad state with commercial traffic moving to and from Java.
Most visitors to this region arrive with a rental car, either with or without a driver, from the more popular tourist areas of Bali. Motorbikes may be available for rental in Negara town.
- Blimbingsari and Palasari. West of Negara moving towards Gilimanuk, the terrain becomes quite rugged and there are some great views into the West Bali National Park. The whole area is sparsely populated, and two areas of some interest are the villages of Blimbingsari and Palasari. The former is a protestant community and the latter catholic, and both were carved of out the jungle by trailblazing Christian pioneers. The communities, whilst Christian, are heavily influenced by Balinese culture. There are epic plays and dances for example which substitute the normal Hindu characters with those from the Bible. Both villages are well signposted from the main coast road between Negara and Gilimanuk at the village of Melayu. There is also a large reservoir at Palasari from where there are great views of the surrounding hills and mountains.
- Buffalo races (Mekepung) in Delod Berawah about 9 km east of Negara town. Thought to originate in Madura, Mekepung were originally held as part of the harvest festivities in Negara. The colorfully decorated carts and buffaloes race on a four km course every 2nd and 4th Sunday morning starting at 7AM. Certainly the main attraction in Negara.
- Bugis Houses. Look for the architecturally very distinct Bugis houses all around Negara, but especially in the Loloan Timur area. Those visitors who have been to southern Sulawesi will have a sense of deja-vu.
- Madurese style fishing boats. These very colourful boats adorn the coast south and south west of Negara. The best place to see them in the hours of daylight (they often fish at night) is at the village of Pangambengan which lies about seven km southwest of Negara town.
- Rambut Siwi Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi). This under-visited temple is about equidistant between Negara and Medewi Beach, and it sits on a low cliff-top overlooking a breathtaking panorama of paddy fields on one side and black sand beaches on the other. Two caves overlook the sea, each with a view of the fisherman’s boats and seabirds hovering above. The temple itself was built by Dang Hyang Nirartha, also the founder of Tanah Lot temple. According to legend, he made a gift of his hair to the temple. Hence the name Rambut Siwi, which literally means ”Hair Worship”. Donation - about Rp 20,000 is right.
The Wira Pada Hotel in the centre of Negara has a decent Chinese restaurant attached.
Lots of vibrant food stalls at the buffalo races.
Few visitors choose to stay in Negara and it is very much a passing through town. Good beachfront accommodation is available at Medewi Beach some 20 km to the east.
For the adventurous, there are informal homestays available at the mission villages of Blimbingsari and Palasari. However, you must be Christian.
- Cahaya Matahari Bungalows, Banjar Anyar, Batuagung, Negara. Six bungalows (each sleeping 2-3 people). Located in a tiny village on the edge of Begara town, in the middle of rice fields. Comfortable, quiet. Guides for trekking available. About Rp 100,000.
- Taman Wana Villas, Jl Taman Wana, Palasari, Negara, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A quite extraordinary mountain retreat overlooking the Palasari reservoir and the mountains of West Bali National Park. Of the all the super-luxury properties in Bali, this is the one in the most unlikely and perhaps most remote, location. Offers a full range of rural activities in the local area. From US$105.
- Wira Pada Hotel, Jl Ngurah Rai, Negara (Negara town centre), ☎ . Simple hotel in the centre of the town with fan cooled and air-con rooms. Just about the only option to stay in Negara itself. About Rp 60,000.
The area code for Negara is 0365.
If you are heading west, Gilimanuk and the ferries to Java is about 25 km from Negara. West Bali National Park is easily reached from here and the quiet village of Medewi Beach is 20 km east. Regular buses ply all routes in and out of town from the bemo terminal in Jalan Pahlawan.