Image of Gunung Agung courtesy of Getty Images.
About two hours' drive away from Bali's busy Kuta tourist hotspot, East Bali is, in many ways, a taste of Bali at its purest. A former seat of power for Bali's kings, this region of Bali surrounding the towering Gunung Agung still holds a number of royal buildings within its historic towns, including a royal bathing palace (Tirta Gangga) and royal residence (Puri Agung Karangasem).
On Gunung Agung itself stands the island's most sacred temple, Pura Besakih; access to the mountain's trails are restricted during high holy days, as nobody is allowed to stand higher than the temple during these auspicious times.
At the opposite extreme, East Bali's seas provide rich pickings for scuba divers - scuba diving around East Bali is one of the region's biggest draws, attracting thousands to the waters off Amed, Tulamben and Candi Dasa. The remains of the American merchant ship USAT Liberty - a remnant of World War II - is now populated with coral and marine life, bringing snorkelers and scuba divers to Tulamben intent on exploring its innards.