The best way to explore the east is by car or motorcycle, both easily hired or rented throughout Bali. If you don't want to hire a car, you can easily pick up a taxi. Negotiate a price before you leave as this is generally cheaper than letting the meter run.
Bemos run between Batubulan station and the main towns of Candidasa, Amlapura, and Klungkung. You can also catch bemos from these towns to the smaller villages in the area. Prices range from Rp3,500 up to Rp15,000 and depend on what you negotiate. You are likely to pay more than the locals.
You can also get to Padangbai and Candidasa by Perama Tours bus (tel. 0361/751551; www.peramatour.com) throughout the day from Kuta, Sanur, Lovina, and Ubud. Check the timetable on their website. You can arrange a drop-off at a hotel for an extra price. Prices range from Rp25,000 to Rp125,000 one-way.
The east tends to have no authorized metered taxis. Some bemo operators are usually happy to drive you where you need to go. Be sure to have the phone number of your destination in case the driver isn't familiar with your destination.
You have two options for getting to the east: You can follow the coastal road from Sanur towards Kusamba, and then north towards Amlapura, passing Manggis en route. At Amlapura, the road forks north through Tirta Gangga and round towards Culik. At Culik you can either turn left and continue to Tulamben and the north coast, or turn right for Amed. This delightful road round the coast will end up back at Amlapura. The roads are good, if narrow, and you get a chance to see how the villagers go about their daily lives. One stop of note in Seraya is the very small open-air hand-weaving showroom of Threads of Life, a nonprofit working to revitalize local weaving. Take a private tour to learn about their weaving and dying processes.
The second option, mostly used by visitors coming from Ubud, is, upon leaving Ubud, to head towards Gianyar, then north to Bangli and east to Rendang. Not far from Rendang is the turn to Pura Besakih or keep trucking on towards Amlapura traveling through Sibetan, the home of the snake fruit.
Another scenic route worth mentioning is the road from Semarapura (Klungkung) via Sidemen and Iseh. The endless paddy field views are breathtaking.
A tourist office (Taman Kerta Gosa; tel. 0366/21448, but don't count on anyone answering; Mon-Fri 8am-2pm) is in Semarapura in the Semararaja Museum of Taman Kerta Gosa. However, like all tourist offices in Bali, they are not set up to give you independent advice, more to sell you their commission-based tours. The tourist office in Amlapura, Jl. Diponegoro (tel. 0363/21196, again, don't count on anyone answering; Mon-Fri, erratic hours), covers the whole area of Karangasem and does have a host of useful information and even has a very useful website, www.karangasemtourism.com, with dates for major ceremonies. The staff is helpful and able to give good information on what to see and do in the area. They can also supply you with details on area ceremonies and festivals. A similar little publication called Agung is available in area hotels and restaurants.