Versi Bahasa Indonesia: https://indonesia.tripcanvas.co/id/bali/panduan-liburan-bali-utara/
Co-written by Dawn Pillay
For your next trip to Bali, consider travelling to the often overlooked North Bali where Bedugul, Lovina, and Banjar are situated. While the area is naturally quieter and more secluded compared to the central areas of Bali, there are still a plethora of things to see and do here.
From exploring the waterfalls in North Bali, to ‘touching the clouds’ at Munduk Moding Plantation’s infinity pool – read on to find out more about North Bali!
4 Reasons Why You should Visit North Bali
#1: You get to escape the tropical heat at Bedugul, with misty mountains serving as the picturesque backdrop to your vacation. Temperature can drop below 17°C at night!
#2: Visit the black sand beach destination of North Bali – Lovina.
#3 Go off-the-beaten-path and visit Bali’s best waterfalls and Banjar hotsprings – where people flock here to soak in sacred spring waters flowing out of dragon mouths.
#4: It is relatively quiet and great for secluded and relaxing holidays.
Photo Via Mario Andi Supria
If you are convinced to travel there already, take a look at our complete guide below for a one-of-a-kind vacation!1. Getting to and around North Bali
Cabs/taxis are very rare or are almost non-existent in North Bali, and there is definitely no public transport to help you get around easily.
To our knowledge, the best way to get around in North Bali, is to:
a) Hire a car with driver, or
b) Rent a car and drive yourself, or
c) Rent a bicycle and travel around on it.
If you are not familiar with Bali or have little experience in driving, we strongly recommend that you hire a car with driver. Because the roads are windy and you may get into trouble as there are local rules that you may not be familiar with.
Prepare a suitable budget of approximately Rp. 400k – Rp. 500k (approximately USD $30 – USD $37) for hiring a car and driver a day. (If you’re traveling in a group of 4, transport will only cost $10 a day!)
Here’s an overview map of North Bali (Tap to enlarge)
If you’ve heard of the famed pre-wedding photoshoot destination, Tamblingan Lake, which is situated in Bedugul, you should also know that Bedugul is filled with picturesque nature just like that.
With misty mountains serving as the backdrop to your vacation, a trip to Bedugul will leave you feeling in awe, and at peace.
2-a. Uncommonly known things to do in Bedugul
2-a-i. Hotel uncompleted: Taman Rekreasi Bedugul
Originally a project initiated by the son of Indonesia’s second president, Tommy Suharto, the construction of the Taman Rekreasi Bedugul Hotel was inexplicably halted after the terrorists’ bomb attacks in 2002.
For the past 12 years, the half-completed hotel has been slowly rotting away. And even now, no one can say for sure why it is so.
In fact, Taman Rekreasi Bedugul was almost ready for its opening day – toilets had been installed, and it’s even furnished with beds and an elegant reception area.
Photo Via Piet Mulder
One thing’s for sure: if the hotel has ever seen a single customer, it’s definitely not a living one. After all, it has even been dubbed as the ‘Ghost Palace Hotel’.
Some daredevils have managed to explore the crumbling buildings by sneaking bribes to the caretakers of the place. No one knows what they have seen or heard though. What secrets does it hold? You can only find out if you make the trip down yourself – if you are brave enough.
2-a-ii. Bali Strawberry Farm & Restaurant: Little red priding fruit
Although Bali has unquestionably stunning beach and sea views, there’s so much more than that. The mountainous and highlands of Bali also hold attractions you can’t miss.
In this vast strawberry farm (one of the ‘hidden’ farms in Bali!), you are allowed to handpick the strawberries you want to bring home. And this site is not just for sight, but for your stomach as well.
Photo Via Endra Yuda
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love the restaurant, which offers great variation of strawberry-derived foods, such as strawberry milkshake, ice cream, and cakes.
Photo via pedanian, zhiryak
Have you heard about one of Bali’s natural attractions – the twin lakes of Tamblingan and Buyan? With their serene, mystical beauty, these twin crater lakes sit side by side, split in the middle by a one kilometer stretch of forest.
Photo Via TripCanvas
The lakes are the life-source for the surrounding communities, and you may even see locals plying the waters in traditional dug-out canoes.
To view both lakes together, the best vantage point is from the top of the hill at Asah Gobleg Village.
Photo Via TripCanvas
Trekking the forests around the lakes, you’ll discover some of the most pristine natural habitats in Bali – home to lively troops of monkeys, squirrels and countless birds.
2-a-iv. The Wonder of Bedugul – Pura Ulun Danu Beratan
Pura Ulun Danu Beratan is the second most important temple in Bali, after Pura Besakih.
Photo via: catrengnirwana
Dedicated to Dewi Danu, the goddess of lakes and rivers, Pura Ulun Danu Beratan is an important part of Balinese culture.
Trivia: The Balinese concept of Rwa Bhineda, the balance of two opposites (or what might seem the Balinese version of Yin and Yang), Pura Ulun Danu Beratan represents the feminine, while Pura Besakih the masculine.
Photo via: Катерина-Невзорова
A 40-minute drive from Ubud will take you to this enchantingly picturesque temple where you may soak in the Balinese culture in its finest.
2-a-v. King of the swingers – A Treetop Adventure (Tabanan)
One of the most fun family activities, and the best thing for your little monkeys? A good ol’ swing through the trees! Bali is home to some of the most spectacular forests and jungles in the world – fact.
Photo via jurogoje, fashfash
Now you can enjoy the view from a whole new angle. After walking under the sea, now you can walk high in the trees thanks to this exhilarating treetop adventure.
With a choice of 7 circuits of varying difficulties you can decide where you want to start, and perfect your skills with a choice of 72 obstacles.
Photo via duiduidam
Starting at just 2 metres up, you can get a feel for heights, before advancing to the more nerve-wrecking levels, up to 20 metres!
You will always be attached to a safety wire, but we think that even you might hesitate on some of the challenges (we did!) – while the kids put you to shame. Just watch them scamper from tree to tree without a second thought.
Photo Via Claytonchronicle
For a grand finale, the stunning scenery will literally fly by as you whizz along the 160m zipline back down to earth. The whole family will be exhausted after a day of adrenaline-filled activities, so it will be an early night for everyone.
2-b. Secret places to eat in Bedugul
2-b-i. The warung with incredible views and activities – Warung Rekreasi Bedugul
If you’re in Bedugul, it’s a given that you should dine at a place that gives you a view that lives up to Bedugul’s picturesque reputation.
Photo Via Hemiprabha,Suheribowo
This is where Warung Rekreasi comes in with its stunning views of the mountain and the lake.
First, fill up with food like betutu and grilled chicken (we hear these are delicious!), and then wander around the restaurant/hotel complex to check out other activities you may do.
Photo Via Vero_nick,Prayustika,Dannikrisnawan,Hemagr
There’s a playground for the kids, and orchid garden and organic farms, a coffee plantation, and even a bamboo forest where you will definitely take photos at, and more!
Photo Via Chanseptiari
Dining at Warung Rekreasi is something like an all-in-one experience where you get to not only eat, but take in the stunning views, and hop along to other activities too.
2-b-ii. The unexpected art cafe – Eat Drink Love Cafe Bedugul
Get a dose of art and a hearty meal at Eat Drink Love, the art cafe in Bedugul.
Situated behind Merta Sari market, you can choose to stroll around this traditional market before settling in at Eat Drink Love.
Up on the menu? Healthy meal choices, with drinks like black milk tea. Look out of the window as you enjoy your meal, and you’ll see views of the misty mountains.
Eat Drink Love also has a little shop corner where you may purchase souvenirs like paintings and other artsy trinkets.
There’s even free WiFi so you may start sharing photos of your trip with friends and family back home. If not, simply chill out to a slow and relaxing afternoon in unexpectedly artsy surroundings in Bedugul.
2-c. The best places to stay in the winter wonderland of Bali – Bedugul
2-c-i. Touch the clouds – Munduk Moding
Did you know that Bali has some infinity pools that are lauded as one of the best in the world? If you’re a dreamer, you will fall in love with Munduk Moding Plantation’s “pool among the clouds”.
Have you always dreamed of reaching out to touch the sky? It’s no longer impossible. This villa with incredibly breathtaking views makes your sky-touching dreams (almost) come true.
Photo via Cally Chua
The pool is situated so well that when you lie on its edge, it almost feels as if you are lying amongst the clouds! At the edge of the 18-metre-long infinity pool at the Munduk Moding Plantation, you can almost feel heaven at your fingertips.
Spread out in front of you is a sea of cloud, that partially shields the surrounding coffee plantation from your sight. This magic extends beyond its signature view.
Photo Via TripCanvas
Designed by an award-winning Bali architect Popo Danes, the traditional Balinese interior has been dabbed with a blend of modernism in this secluded resort that only has nine villas and three suites. From your room, you can open the glass panel doors to take in the breathtaking view of the coffee plantation nestled in the lush foliage of the jungle.
What better place to spend some quiet and romantic moments with your loved one?
Photo Via Ellchintya
2-c-ii. A charming lake retreat like no other – Puri Candikuning Retreat
Staying at Puri Candikuning gives you days of relaxation in a gorgeous lakeside retreat with a view that you will remember for life.
Photo Via Puricandikuning
Dine at Candikuning’s restaurant with its fireplace, or sit by the infinity pool that looks out on the lake and the mountains – or go to the library lounge, karaoke room, and even play billiard, there’s quite a bit to do in Candikuning itself.
Photo Via Puricandikuning
If you’re the health conscious sort, there’s a jogging track encircling Candikuning, and an in-house spa with a full menu of treatments to rejuvenate you.
Photo Via Conniewirawan
Finally, step out and make full use of the private canoe that will take you from Candikuning, to Pura Ulun Danu. The floating temple is also within walking distance if you’d prefer to take a stroll!
Candikuning reminds us of a cosy luxurious cabin up in the mountains where the simple pleasures of life are what is most important.
2-c-iii. An intimate cabin escape in the mountains – Strawberry Hill Hotel
Stepping into Strawberry Hill Hotel is a cosy and intimate experience that is foreign yet familiar all at once.
Photo Via Ayusripdw, Budibumi
The views here are nothing short of stunning, and the premises are nothing short of comfortable. There are 17 cabins in total, each with welcomed amenities such as an en-suite bathroom with a tub and hot water for those heavenly soaks (especially in the chilly mountain weather!).
Photo Via Kristina_Bruuu
Apart from the residence available, food is served at Strawberry Hill Restaurant where homemade Indonesian soups and other dishes are served.
For easy entertainment, you may check out the library, play pool/darts, or even walk around the grounds where guests may pick strawberries from the strawberry patch!
Strawberry Hill is simplicity at its best with all you really need to enjoy your time in Bedugul.
PS: If you’re a golf enthusiast, there’s an 18-hole championship golf course merely a 10-minutes drive away!
Nestled in North Bali, Lovina’s black sands and calm seas will enchant you. But, that’s not all! Lovina’s peaceful and friendly atmosphere is home to quite a few other unconventional experiences that truly make it the ultimate Bohemian traveler’s paradise!
3-a. Things you must do while in Lovina
3-a-i. Watch wild dolphins (but go with a responsible/ethical tour operator)
You might have heard that one of the best and most famous experiences to be had at Lovina is a dolphin-watching trip.
This is how you might envision it to be: You take an early morning boat ride and get a rush of happiness while watching wild dolphins dancing along the waves. And you can enjoy the glistening of the first sunrays on the glassy blue waters and also try some fish feeding while you’re at it.
Photo Via TripCanvas,Angga-Photography
However, this vision might be far from reality. Two of us have gone on one of these dolphin tours, and we were very appalled when we realised that the guide on our boat and those on other nearby boats were deliberately cornering the wild dolphins so tourists could get close up pictures with the animals!
We are not saying you should not go on these tours, because if the locals lose their source of income, worse fate might even befall the animals. But we need to choose our tour operators carefully and make sure that the tour we go with treat the dolphins gently.
3-a-ii. Indulge Yourself in Exotic Massages – Agung’s Spa
Get a traditional Balinese spa experience in the heart of nature at Agung’s!
Agung’s Spa is located in the Central Lovina and they even have a pick up facility you can opt for.
The atmosphere here is relaxing and homely which helps you make the best out of this spa experience. Get treated to complimentary tea in a lush garden and choose from an elaborate catalogue of treatments.
The prices can be a tad bit on the higher side but the skillful and friendly staff and the dainty fragrance of the massage oils makes it worth every penny! And, just when you think it’s as good as it gets, prepared to be surprised by the cheap but pretty sarongs up for sale!
3-a-iii. Take the Plunge right into Macro Diving – Puri Jati
Approximately 20 minutes to the west of Lovina, you will reach the diving site of Puri Jati lined by an exuberant rice field. There’s a shaded beachside facility catering to divers with facilities like showers, a café and camera baths.
Puri Jati offers an extraordinary experience in “muck” diving. Here you won’t find the regular attractions like corals but you can encounter rare sea creatures. If you are lucky you can even catch the mimic octopus!
Photo Via Vickidunlop,Zendivebali-,Indopacificimages
Indulge in your underwater photography passion as much as you like – the site is perfect for macro photography!
There are a few diving centers like Arrows Diving Center and Zen Dive Resort where you can learn some of the ropes of diving. Make sure to explore all you can as this place has a lot of hidden surprises for those who are seeking them!
3-b. Secret places to eat in Lovina
3-b-i. Addictive desserts, vegetarian dishes, and more! – Buda Bakery & Resto
Providing hillside views and some say great sate, Buda Bakery not only serves up baked goodies but hearty food too. With so many people raving about them, we definitely had to add Buda Bakery into our North Bali guide.
Photo Via Utysirait,Drewalexsandra.Noname_private
Accordingly, the desserts are so good, they’re addictive – once you go, you’ll want to return again, and again.
Photo Via Charlesmahono,Khaseem Stylist
Apart from the great desserts and good food, vegetarians will be happy to know that Buda Bakery is also vegetarian-friendly with equally good vegetarian dishes.
Photo Via Cindymelinda,Dryosuamanullang
Its clean and humble settings will also make you feel right at home, as you dig in at Buda Bakery!
3-b-ii. Romantic and unexpectedly elegant hideout – Secret Garden Restaurant
Intimate and romantic, Secret Garden Restaurant is unexpectedly elegant for a little resto tucked in a small corner of Lovina.
Photo Via Mauricio
With menu options like Avocado & Shrimp Salad, Fresh Seafood Soup, Seafood Curry, and Indonesia dishes like Sate, the food here is not only affordable, but is superb and delivered with love.
There are even desserts to top off your meal like Banana Cream with chocolate sauce (so decadent!), and Ginger/Honey Fruit Salad.
If you do intend to pay them a visit, do note that they provide free pickup service in Lovina!
3-c. The best places to stay in Lovina
3-c-i. Affordable and great! – Villa Agung Beach Inn
One out of the few outstanding stays at Lovina, this particular one is both good on the wallet and beautifully decorated with many amenities. Another good thing about Villa Agung are Gus and Sandi, hosts at the inn.
Photo Via Baliwww
Feel free to ask them for advice on activities or if you need help – they’ll make you feel right at home.
3-c-ii. Dolphin-spotting beach hideaway, The Lovina Resort
At the Lovina resort on Bali’s north coast, you can experience how Bali used to be like before the flood of tourism hit.
This luxuriously unique beachfront property, backed by the lush green mountains of Bedugul, has rooms, suites and villas to suit every taste. But what this area is famed for is its magical creatures – dolphins.
Dolphins feed, live and migrate up and down the coast of Lovina, and many do so right in front of the beach at the Lovina resort.
These majestic and wild creatures flourish in the rich tropical waters, and are often spotted from the beach or on one of the hotel’s dolphin tours, where pods of up to 100 have been seen.
3-c-iii. “Hard to find, hard to leave” – The Damai
Lounge by your private pool while enjoying a view of volcanoes in distant Java? To that we say, amen!
The Damai is pretty much where one can get away from the hustle bustle of Bali, and rest your weary selves in the peaceful serenity of Lovina.
‘Hard to find. Hard to Leave’ is The Damai’s slogan, and we agree. It’s also the perfect starting point for you to begin your adventure stumbling on hidden gems like the Ambengan Waterfall.
Best known for the Banjar hotsprings where people soak in water flowing out of dragon mouths, Banjar is one of those places where you can look to, to find your ‘zen’.
Notably, at Banjar, there are similarly things to do that will refresh not only your body, but your mind and spirit too, such as a meditation retreat at Brahma Vihara Arama!
4-a. Uncommonly known things to do
4-a-i. Find your Zen – Brahma Vihara Arama
Take a meditation retreat and heal your soul in this Buddhist Monastery. Bramha Vihara Arama in Banjar is the largest Buddhist temple and the most scenically located.
Photo Via Aaron Miller
Slip into a sarong and immerse yourself in the serenity. Look for your inner peace and feel spiritually connected on intense Vipasanna retreats or just make a short trip to learn appreciate its beauty.
Photo Via Mariachownarapati
Entry is free but donations are accepted. And you can even enjoy a hearty meal cooked by the staff! Even just walking around the temple and reveling in the exquisite architecture of the pagodas are a good deal.
4-a-ii. Refresh and Unwind – Banjar Hot Springs
Okay so this one isn’t too uncommonly known, but nevertheless, Banjar Hot Springs definitely can’t be left out of the list with its Game of Thrones vibes! (It’s a bath fit for a Khaleesi!)
Overlooking Lovina, amidst the green hilly slopes and exuberant gardens lie the historical Banjar Hot Springs.
Dip into the perfectly soothing waters at 37 degree Celsius, ideal for healing and relieving muscle pains and bringing out that glow in the skin!
It’s definitely one of the best hot springs in Bali and the most pleasing too! The water dispensed from carved out dragon mouths makes it a rare hot spring experience too.
But be careful as it can get too crowded. We’d say mornings and night times are the best times to go.
5-a. The lesser known twin beauty – Banyumala Twin Waterfall
This is not an easy waterfall to find, but it will be well worth your effort.
The sight of this twin beauty can be overwhelming, as you take in the gush of uninterrupted water pouring against the steep cascading rocks.
Photo via Yudik Photography
Absorb the thunderous sounds among the rich green plants, trees and ravine around you while taking a cool dip in its freshwater. All you need to do next? Simply aim with your waterproof camera – focus on framing both twins of Banyumala in your shot for the most magnificent results to bring home.
Photo via: komangayutriadnyani
Located in Wanagiri district near Lake Buyan, we definitely recommend getting a local who knows his way around this remote area to guide you here!
If you are really adventurous, here’s your chance at trying out another challenge: Sekumpul Waterfall.
It’s not entirely unknown, but its inaccessibility renders it to be hidden from many visitors. Getting to the waterfall is very difficult, and you must travel down many slippery steps and across a river to see the falls close-up.
Photo Via Tripcanvas
You can ask people to take you to the waterfall for a little of money and they will take you until the end of the road where from here you can walk around 50m to find out the most beautiful views from high ground.
Photo Via Artstudio23
But what’s interesting about Sekumpul Waterfall is that instead of one waterfall, there are seven! (“sekumpul” means “group” in Indonesian) These are all scattered around the area, with the tallest being more than 50 metres high.
So, are you up for it?
Important: At the entrance, there will be a group of people beside the booth asking you to take their tour for 200,000 Rupiah (USD 14), and they will claim that it’s compulsory. Do NOT fall for this scam.
The route leading into the Sekumpul waterfall is quite well maintained and you can walk by yourself. Although there are 2-3 junctions, but you can ask the locals for direction. Trust us, you won’t get lost in there.
5-c. Twin falls: Aling-Aling Waterfall
The Aling-Aling Waterfall is just 11km from the city of Singaraja, around 80km from Denpasar. And it’s unique for a very special reason – the 35-metre tall Aling-Aling Waterfall is split at the top, leaving two streams that fall at completely different speed.
Photo Via Ibhekti
But don’t believe the photographs alone. Take the long, steep walk down to the falls yourself, and admire it up close!
What’s the most unique thing about this waterfall that sets it apart from the rest? The water flowing down has slowly created a natural water slide.
If you’ve ever thought how great it would be to slide down a waterfall, Aling-Aling is your fantasy come true.
Photo Via Ibhekti
Depending on what you want to do, we recommend staying 2 to 4 days.
If you only intend to go dolphin-watching at Lovina, then stay 1 night.
If you plan to explore Bedugul or Banjar, spend another 1 to 2 nights there, depending on the time needed for your exploration (or relaxation).
Dolphin-watching in Lovina begins really early in the morning.
It would be good to stay overnight at Lovina instead of taking a day trip, so you can be up early to catch the dolphins.
We highly recommend choosing an ethical and responsible tour operator that treats the wild dolphins gently and dooesn’t chase the animals (for the sake of tourists’ photos).
As the boat will set off at 5.30am (sunrise is at 6am!), be sure to wake up by 5am.
When driving from Lovina to Bedugul, the road is really steep, so make sure you are really careful.
Rookie drivers should refrain from driving, as it is really dangerous.
Be sure to have good transport (a sturdy vehicle) and a good driver instead.
It’s pretty chilly in Bedugul, so be sure to bring a sweater or warm clothes.
It is advisable to have your money changed at reliable money changers at central areas like Seminyak, before heading to North Bali.