Escape into the less-explored parts of north Bali to find adventure, nature and culture. And to the heart of Bali and its people. Is it time to escape the beaten path and explore the little known sides of north Bali? Here are our top picks in the north for the best unique Bali holiday. These are the best north Bali things to do.
Lovina: Escape With Temples, Cooking and Hot Springs
Described by Lonely Planet as “low key, low rise and low priced”. Lovina is the perfect beach holiday far removed from the busy south. Located in the north, a 2-hour coastal drive from Amed or a 2.5-hour drive from Seminyak. It’s the perfect unique Bali holiday.
If you haven’t yet experienced a cooking class in Bali, why not try one in Lovina? The only decision you will need to make is whether to take one on the beach, the jungle or local home. One of our favourite north Bali things to do.
With a trip to the local market, you won’t only learn traditional cooking but also culinary history. Many schools are very hands-on, so you get to prepare and cook every dish you will eat. It also provides a great basis for you to cook these dishes for family and friends again when you get home.
Not something you would generally think to partake in with hot Bali weather. But if a day of total relaxation is what you are craving, you can find it at Banjar Hot Springs. Located only 5km from Lovina, it’s a welcome escape for some pampering on your unique Bali holiday.
Framed with Balinese temple architecture and lush gardens, three pools are filled with natural hot spring water. They are sulphurous so don’t wear your best swimwear. Being a holy spring, western bathing suits are not suitable, so cover up with swim shorts and rash vests.
There is a restaurant and day spa if you feel like a massage after soaking in the hot springs. This is a perfect north Bali experience.
Buddhist and Chinese Temples
Want to experience some different temples in Bali? Close to Lovina, you will find a Buddhist monastery and a Chinese temple.
Ling Gwan Kiong Chinese Temple is only 15 minutes from Lovina. Brahmavihara-Arama, Bali’s largest Buddhist monastery is 20 minutes from Lovina. Both are free, but donations are welcome. Brahmavihara-Arama has a mini replica of the world’s largest Buddhist archaeological site, Borobudur.
Munduk: Adventure Through the Mountains
Only 1 hour from Lovina, you will enter the mountainous town of Munduk. With beautiful waterfalls and lakes, famous Candi Bentar and coffee plantations, it is the perfect escape for your unknown Bali holiday. This is a unique feature in north Bali.
There are three waterfalls in the area, all close enough to each other that you can see them all in half a day. You can even hike all three if you want to immerse yourself in nature. Otherwise, you can rent a driver and guide to take you to visit them. Hiking in Munduk should be on your north Bali things-to-do list.
These are not the most popular waterfalls in Bali, but, that is what makes them special. They are a lot quieter and relaxing and you will have a lot more photo ops without people photobombing you.
Munduk Waterfall is the busiest, but not as busy as their famous southern sisters. Your guesthouse will always be happy to draw a map for you if you want to spend the day hiking between the three falls.
Once you have finished taking photos and splashing in the water, sit at Eco Cafe and admire the views. Next, you can continue on to see more waterfalls.
If you are walking, the next falls you will come across are the Red Coral Waterfalls. With another cafe along the way, you can rehydrate and relax. Red Coral Waterfall is a sight to behold. The spray from the wall of water as you wander past will be nice and refreshing. Welcome, after the second part of the hike is complete.
Finally, you will set off on your final leg of the hike, to Melanting Waterfall. This part is a bit longer so make sure you have enough drinking water packed. Being close to Munduk Village, it is easy to get a driver to take you back to the starting point.
Melanting Waterfall is a powerful waterfall, sitting 15 metres above the rock pool. Due to this, we don’t recommend swimming here. Even though there is a waterfall pool, the mist from the powerful fall might prove less than relaxing.
There is somewhere to swim at Labuhan Kebo pool if you want to cool off after your hike. And the village is only a 300 metre walk out of the valley.
TIP: We recommend using Maps.Me or Google Maps if you ever get stuck on which trail to take, though it is suitable to do without a guide. We also suggest doing this hike outside the rainy season as the terrain can get slippery. You can also do this hike in reverse starting at Melanting Waterfall.
There are two lakes to explore in Munduk. Twin Lake, home to the famous Wanagiri Swing, and Beratan Lake, home to the beautiful Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. Let’s start with Twin Lake, which is actually a viewpoint where you can see both of the above-mentioned lakes.
Not far from downtown Munduk, you will be driving through cool mountain air in search of the best viewpoint to see these two lakes.
We recommend heading straight to Wanagiri Hidden Hills. They also have the obligatory swing which makes for some amazing photos! Once you have admired the lakes, head back down the mountain to experience Beratan Lake and all it has to offer.
A short drive down the hill from Wanagiri, you will find Beratan Lake and the famous Ulun Danu Bratan Temple complex. A must-see on your unique Bali holiday.
Beratan Lake is a beautiful lake with an even more beautiful temple, sitting 1500 metres above sea level. Beratan Lake is the second largest lake in Bali. It is the source of irrigation for rice fields and plantations across the Bedugul Village. Beratan Lake was the largest lake in Bali until an earthquake divided the lake into three sections: Beratan, Buyan and Tamblingan.
The cool and often times misty air gives the complex a very dreamy feel about it. You can while away the hours here wandering the grounds or hiring a small paddle boat to take out onto the lake. Built on a lake, the amount of water depends on the tide. Time your visit with a high tide for picture-perfect photos.
Famous Candi Bentar
One of the most famous Candi Bentar (split gateway) in Bali has to be the one leading to Handara Golf Course. Located on the main road between Beratan and Buyan Lakes, they are very easy to find.
TIP: Get there early. Like, sunrise early. At some time in the morning (the time changes every day) security sets up a stand and starts charging for photos. Also, the queue to capture that perfect shot gets longer. It is cold in the morning so pack something warm.
Coffee and Sunrise
You can tick both of these off the list at the same time if you are lucky enough to get an overnight booking at Munduk Moding Plantation & Resort. Close to Wanagiri Hidden Hills, this plantation and resort has a lot of daily activities available. You can buy a public day pass for around 500.000 IDR which gives access to all activities and lunch.
The coffee plantation tour will take you through the history of the area dating back to the 1880s. The planting and roasting process is explained as well as a coffee tasting at the end. There are also workshops available such as making Balinese offerings, kites and playing the Gamelan. A perfect addition to your unique north Bali holiday.
If you are lucky and get a reservation for the night, you will also get to experience the resort and famous pool. It was once nominated in the Top 10 infinity pools in the world. It is also the most stunning valley sunrise you might ever see in Indonesia. Activities are inclusive in the nightly rate for guests. Put this on your list of north Bali things to do.
We hope you enjoyed the second blog in our series for a unique Bali holiday adventure. Have you already visited the east or north of Bali? We would love to know your favourite places.
Written by: Angela Rogers