Negara is surrounded by stunning landscapes – vast expanses of rice paddies, and jungled hills. There are interesting churches and temples, and unique fishing boats, too.
Okay, so let's be upfront about this: Negara isn't geared up to be a holiday destination, nor does it pretend to be – but the Negara area has some beautiful landscapes and really interesting places to visit, and is well worth exploring.
The Negara area is one that's well worth simply getting lost in. There are many little villages and tucked up and down the roads that lead from the main Denpasar-Gilimanuk road and we suggest that when you head out this way you leave your hotel around 7am, because the early morning light turns the paddies and fields around Negara into enchanting landscapes. The fishing boats at Perancak are unlike any others on the island, and the river mouth, where they're moored, is absolutely worth a visit; the villages around this coastline make for a lovely drive.
We've found some peaceful hotels out here that are perfect for travellers who're wanting to escape the crowds. Those who like to have a choice of restaurants nearby and a bit more of a buzz might prefer to stay in Medewi and head to Negara for a morning. That said, Medewi is so laidback you could hardly use the word "buzz" to describe it!
As the biggest city in this part of the island, Negara is a good place to go if you need to stock up on supplies from a supermarket (Hardy's has everything from clothes to cosmetics to beer to appliances). All of the major banks are in the city, and there is a good hospital here, too.
Negara itself is inland, but the beach that stretches around the Negara area tends to be a very narrow ribbon of grey sand. As this part of Bali is protected by Java, the waves here are much smaller than further east, and the water gets calmer the further west you travel. Delod Berawah is a popular beach with the people who live in this area; there is a water park here. If you choose to swim here, keep in mind that there is a big Muslim population in the area and so more conservative swimwear for women is appropriate.
Negara: local advice
Airport to Negara: 110km
Travel by car: about 4 hours
Cost: Rp650,000 with a driver
...if you drive
The road to Negara is the same one that connects Gilimanuk, the port town close to Java, with Denpasar – and so it's usually busy with (often old) slow, overloaded lorries. Don't drive this road in a hurry, and avoid it after dark, when you'll be less likely to see the broken branches that are used instead of warning triangles when a truck breaks down.
...if you need cash
There are a few ATMs next to Hardy's supermarket where you can withdraw up to Rp2,500,000 (many other ATMs in this part of Bali allow a maximum of Rp1,250,000).
...if you need groceries
There are two supermarkets that we know and use in Negara: Clandy's (excellent for supplies for babies), which you can't miss if you look for a large building that's painted pink, and Hardy's. Both are easily found if you look on Google Maps. Know that dairy products (yoghurt, pasteurised milk and butter) are often not available. Hardy's has a small booze store where you can get wine and spirits.