On the road again, I want to tell you! The memory of our painful buttocks during our scooter rides in Laos has faded and our desire to perfect our careers as two-wheeled kamikazes has returned. In short, after Ubud and its region, we decided to rent a scooter and discover the north of Bali for a few days in total freedom with, on the program, the Mount Batur trekking to attend the sunrise! Follow the guide!
- Stop at Munduk village in the north of Bali
- Visit the Buddhist monastery Brahma Vihara Arama
- Discovering the waterfalls of northern Bali
- Mount Batur trekking
- Visit Besakih temple, the most famous in northern Bali
- Mount Agung trekking
- Map of northern Bali
We took this trip in 2014, but the article was completely revised and updated in April 2023. If you see any price changes or have additional information that might be relevant, please feel free to leave us a comment!
To do this motorbike loop in northern Bali, we left most of our stuff at our guesthouse in Ubud. By the way, we wrote a whole section on what you should know about renting a motorbike in Bali. Here, we only rented a scooter for 2. We have listed all our addresses in the north of Bali on a map that you will find at the bottom of the article.
Stop at Munduk village in the north of Bali
In Kuta Lombok, we had made friends with a couple from Marseille, Arnaud and Marion. As they were coming from Bali, we asked them what there was to do in the north of the island and the village of Munduk was one of them! It is an ideal stop to go around, especially to discover a famous temple and the most beautiful waterfalls in Bali!
The Ulun Danu Beratan temple
44 km north of Ubud awaited us the Beratan Lake and one of the most famous temples of Bali: Ulun Danu Beratan. The picture of this small temple perched on a piece of land surrounded by water is absolutely everywhere in Ubud! All the agencies sell this place as being “the excursion of the century”… Honestly, the temple is cute, but to drive 5 hours round trip just to see it, I do not know…
Ulun Dalu Beratan disappointed us by its size, we imagined this temple to be bigger. At a glance, I would say that it should be 5 or 6 meters high at most… But do not believe that we became bored with temples, eh! On the way, we simply came across many temples, completely unknown, with as much or more charm! Moreover, there are actually a lot of people, especially Chinese people armed with selfie poles! The site has also been arranged for tourists: pedal boat, tied animals (!), gardens, children’s area… The entrance to Ulun Dalu Beratan costs 75 000 rupiahs per person. In short, it seems quite expensive for what it really is… It’s up to you!
The waterfalls of Munduk
A river crosses Munduk and gives birth to no less than 5 waterfalls, from north to south: the hidden waterfall, Golden Valley, Munduk, Red Coral, Labuhan Kebo and Melanting. The last 3 are the most impressive and are accessible from the same path from the parking of Munduk. We warn you though, there are several hundred steps to get there. Get your thighs ready 😉! Each waterfall has an entrance fee, ranging from 10 000 to 20 000 rupiahs.
Visit the Buddhist monastery Brahma Vihara Arama
Brahma Vihara Arama Monastery is unique in Bali: it is the only Buddhist monastery on the island, although it also incorporates typical Balinese architectural elements. Just 40 minutes from Munduk, this little brother of Borobudur temple is a hidden gem in the north of Bali! The view of the northern coast is breathtaking and a beautiful garden surrounds this monastery built on several levels. All this makes it a haven of tranquility, conducive to meditation. If you had to choose only one temple to visit in northern Bali, it would be Brahma Vihara Arama! The entrance is paid (20 000 rupiahs) and you are provided with a free sarong.
Discovering the waterfalls of northern Bali
In the north of Bali, there are many waterfalls, of all sizes and for all prices! Here, we advise you those that are lesser-known and worth a look without ruining you!
The Banyumala waterfall is probably one of the prettiest in northern Bali! Access is not easy because of the many slippery walkways but it’s quite feasible. Once down, you have the opportunity to bathe at the foot of the waterfall in a lush setting, without a crowd of tourists. The access costs 50 000 rupiahs per person.
Banyu Wana Amerta waterfall
Not far from Banyumala is the Banyu Wana Amerta waterfall, which consists of 4 beautiful waterfalls. A 1,5 km trail takes you to the foot of each of them with its many stairs 😉 and you can swim there. There is even a moto taxi service (30 000 rupiahs) for those who can’t make it back to the parking lot. Despite this, the Banyu Wana Amerta waterfall is still well spared from the mass tourism of Bali. The entrance fee is 30 000 rupiahs per person.
Gitgit (or Git Git) waterfall is one of the highest waterfalls in Bali! It is divided into 3, a path takes you to the foot of the twin waterfalls, and the third is more isolated. If you have been in Bali for several days, you will not be surprised to be offered a thousand and one things on the way… The ticket is 20 000 rupiahs each. Beware of false guides who want to multiply this price by 10! In short, the Git Git waterfall is pretty but touristy enough to attract scammers…
Still preserved in the north of Bali, the Aling-Aling waterfall is stuck in a beautiful green setting. Here, it’s a real playground if you love jumping off the cliff! You have the choice of just walking around the site (20 000 rupiahs) or taking the package to swim, slide down a natural slide and jump into the 4 waterfalls that make up Aling-Aling with the help of a guide (125 000 rupiahs).
Yeh Mampeh waterfall
The Yeh Mampeh waterfall is the last one that deserves a small detour in northern Bali according to us! Its entrance fee is 20 000 rupiahs and there is a good chance that you will be alone! A marked path goes into the lush jungle to take you about ten minutes closer to this waterfall like no other!
Then, Arnaud and Marion strongly recommended us a hotel in Munduk, the Atres Villa. When you see the place, you understand why! The Atres Villa is located a few kilometers from the village of Munduk, in the heart of the rice fields. The rooms are neat and the swimming pool is just heavenly! It’s funny because once there, we realized that there were almost only French speakers in this hotel! According to the manager, this is only due to word-of-mouth.
If you have the budget, go for it! It was one of the most beautiful hotels during our round-the-world trip. For our part, we would honestly opt for another hotel if we were to return to the island of Bali today. In fact, the prices of the Atres Villa have totally exploded since our visit… At the time, we paid 300 000 rupiahs for the room, breakfast, and dinner. Now, the night costs 600 000 rupiahs minimum and it includes only breakfast. The rest of the amenities haven’t changed, but the price is more suitable for short-term travelers than backpackers 😉.
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Mount Batur trekking
We leave the Atres Villa to reach the Mount Batur area through the northern coast of Bali. It is after a rather long and tiring journey by motorbike that we start the last climb and not the least! To reach the foot of Gunung Batur, we must first arrive at about 1200 m altitude, since we must join the caldera of the volcano. It does not seem like that, but to go up with 2 people on a 125 cm3 scooter is already a great ordeal in itself!
To explain a little, Mount Batur is an active volcano in Indonesia, located in central Bali and culminating at 1717 m altitude. Its last eruption dates back to the year 2000. Less high than its neighbor, Mount Agung with its 3031 m altitude, Gunung Batur is popular with hikers to watch the sunrise and enjoy a nice view (when the clouds do not interfere) of Bali.
Arrival at Toya Bungkah
Barely arrived in the village of Toya Bungkah that we met a happy little fellow who smiled too much, to be honest… Obviously, he had a great guesthouse to offer us, as well as good advice for climbing Mount Batur. Although we were convinced that he was a little scammer, we gave him a chance and followed him. He took us to a guesthouse which was quite basic, but not expensive! As we had planned to get up at 3 a.m. the next day to see the sunrise, we didn’t mind the obvious lack of charm of the place!
If you don’t want to go on a tour with a transfer from Ubud or anywhere else in Bali, we recommend you stay directly in the village of Toya Bungkah, on the shores of Lake Batur. This way, you can leave directly on foot in the morning, without having to organize transport or get up at 1 a.m. (it hurts!). For about 170 000 rupiahs, you can easily find a double room with breakfast.
Search for a guide to trek on the Mount Batur
Afterward, our new buddy with the Colgate smile came back to offer us his trek on the Gunung Batur. His offer? 60 $ per person for a guide and breakfast at the top. Knowing that the average Indonesian salary is about 80 $ per month, it’s a big gag to pay 120 $ for 3 hours of trekking! As we did some research beforehand, we know that it is possible to have a guide for less than that…
So we told this to our new friend and suddenly the price went down to 40 $ per person! Afterward, he made up the most outlandish story to explain to us that sure, we could get a guide for less in normal times, but that exceptionally, all the guides had some kind of meeting the next day… Of course!
Anyway, we thanked our nice buddy (and we had a hard time getting rid of him) and we went to look for the guide center. Of course, once there, the official price was lower.
And no, no special meeting for the guides the following day! Well, a meeting at the top of Mount Batur, like every morning!
It was probably not so developed at the time, but a real mafia of guides is rampant at the foot of Mount Batur… And the association of guides is now part of it. (Was it already at the time of our visit? We’ll never know…) Today, it is almost impossible to climb Mount Batur without a guide under penalty of being refused access more or less kindly. Yes, they are VERY vigilant. We read that some people had done it by leaving later in the morning but hiding to avoid the guides who were coming down… Anyway, we warn you though. Where to find a guide then? You have 2 options:
- book through your hotel and negotiate the price;
- book the trek online: for less than 30 euros, a guide will take you to the summit with breakfast included at the top. They provide you with hiking poles and a headlamp.
Departure of the trek of Mount Batur
3 a.m., eyes still glued and headlamp screwed on the forehead, we set off to the starting point. There, our guide of the day is already waiting for us with a wide smile and great energy!
In theory, the climb should have taken us between 2 and 2 hours and 15 minutes, but that was without counting on our guide! We were not aware of this, but apparently, we had to check the option of jogging in the middle of the night when we booked the tour… Our guide is almost running to conquer the summit of Mount Batur! It’s funny because, as we go up, we pass all the other groups and our guide congratulates us for being “soooo fit” every time! Hahaha, who would have thought that one day someone would make me this compliment?!
Arrival at the top of Mount Batur for sunrise
Anyway, we arrive at the top first after not even 1 h 30 of effort! The night is still very dark and, soaked with sweat because of the effort, we start to cool off seriously… At almost 1717 m of altitude, it is very cold when the sun does not show yet!
It is thus armed with our small coffee that we wait quietly, the time that the other trekkers reach the summit and that the sun makes its appearance. For breakfast, our guide even prepares hard-boiled eggs by cooking them directly in the volcanic soil!
At 5:15 a.m., the sky begins to color and we observe the magnificent spectacle which takes shape under our amazed eyes. The view of lake Batur with the ocean in the background is just amazing!
Review and map of the trek on Mount Batur
For Benoit, it is already his second hike on a volcano in Indonesia, but for me, it is a great first and certainly not the last! Unlike the trek on the Rinjiani, the ascent of Mount Batur offers an excellent effort/reward ratio. In a little less than 2 hours, we already have a great view and a still active volcano under our feet. It is exhilarating! To give you an idea of the difficulty, here is the route of the trek on the volcano and you can download the map of the trek on Mount Batur here.
There are 2 main starting points to climb Mount Batur: the one on the map, near the Payogaan temple, and the one indicated on the map, from the Pasar Agung temple. From the latter, the ascent is shortened by 4 km and there are only 270 meters of difference in altitude. Again, beware of the Balinese who could be intimidating if you plan to do the climb without a guide. For equipment, don’t forget warm clothes 😉.
To see the first light of the day without going through the hike, go to the edge of the caldera. The view is completely clear and you will see the sunrise directly on Mount Batur and Mount Agung a little further. To get there, it is best to be driven. Find this sunrise spot on the map at the end of the article!
Visit Besakih temple, the most famous in northern Bali
If you are on your way to Mount Agung, you will probably pass by Besakih temple, the largest temple in Bali and one of the most famous! Known as the “Mother Temple” and a sacred place of the Hindu religion, this complex of 22 main temples gathers many Balinese and tourists, whether to discover this emblematic place of Bali or to attend the dozens of religious celebrations taking place each year. The environment is sublime. As the temple is built on 7 separate levels, it offers a breathtaking view of the rice fields and Mount Agung!
However, although Besakih Temple is conducive to meditation, it lifts the veil on the dark side of Bali and tourism… Admission is 60 000 rupiahs per person and includes a sarong and a guide. So, we warn you against the well-trained system of “guides” to make you spend as much as possible. You will have an assigned guide, included in your ticket price, BUT he will ask you for a tip at the end of the tour. Be aware that this is not an obligation and that you have the right to refuse! Just like the “fake guides” and the women who will ask you for another guide, offerings, or other sarongs. So no, your ticket is enough to visit quietly, as in all other tourist places in Bali finally …
Mount Agung trekking
Less popular than Mount Batur because of its difficulty, climbing Mount Agung to watch the sunrise is a great option if you are looking for a personal challenge! The summit of the active volcano Agung is the highest point of Bali, at 3031 m altitude! In short, the trek requires a very good physical condition, even if it is still less high than its counterpart on the neighboring island, Mount Rinjani on Lombok. With its 3726 m of altitude, it is not for nothing that it takes at least 2 days to make the ascent!
For information, the last activity of Gunung Agung dates back to 2017 and its biggest eruption took place in 1963 causing the death of more than 1600 people… Moreover, the lava flows have preserved the sacred temple Besakih located on the lower part of the volcano and the Balinese then saw a divine sign.
Summary of the trek
You have 2 possibilities of trails according to your desire and your form to reach the top of Mount Agung:
- by the east from Besakih, at Pengubengan temple or Besakih temple. This is a difficult trek! It takes about 7 hours to pass the 2000 m of difference in altitude and reach the top of the volcano!
- by the south from Selat, by the Pasar Agung temples (most often), or by Penataran Agung Nangka. Here, the path is less difficult, shall we say… By passing by there, it takes 3-4 hours to reach the top for 1400 m of ascent. For this path, check that your guide takes you to the main summit and not to the edge of the crater which is at 2800 m of altitude.
To get an idea of the altitude difference, download the Mount Agung trail map here.
Climbing Mount Agung with or without a guide?
Once again, the guide is “obligatory” under the penalty of being accosted more or less nicely by the Balinese at the different entrances… The mafia of the guides is unfortunately everywhere in Bali. As for Mount Batur, the best is to take a guide online from Besakhit or from Pasar Agung to go to the summit. Here, climbing Mount Agung costs about 1,6 million rupiahs or a little less than 100 euros per person. Important note: don’t forget warm clothes, trekking poles and snacks just in case 😉!
Map of northern Bali
To find your way between all the waterfalls and other remarkable sites in the north of Bali, here is a map that summarizes everything we mentioned in this article!
The ascent of Mount Batur marks only the beginning of our sunrises in Indonesia! After Ubud and the north of Bali, we leave the island of the Gods to discover Java and Kawah Ijen!
And you, what else did you do in northern Bali 😉?
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