A Magic Day in the Mountains of Munduk


Bali truly is the island of the Gods.

To experience the best of the island’s natural wonders, you have to get out of the increasingly populated towns (Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak).

On my first visit to Bali, I intended to split my time between Ubud and Canngu. When a good friend decided to visit Bali as well and rent a villa in the northern, more remote (to tourism) region of Seririt, and invited me to stay for a week, I couldn’t say no.

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It was a great time, catching up with my friend with slow paced days at the oceanfront villa with a few exciting day trips to explore northern Bali.

One such day trip took us to Munduk for a full-on day of hiking waterfalls, trekking rice fields, admiring temples and gazing at stunning vistas.

As small as Bali may be in comparison to other places in the world, anyone whose been here will tell you the roads can become quite congested. Although this post is a guide for a day trip, understanding most visitors are short on time, if you have a few days to spare, I’d highly recommend spending them in the Munduk region.

It’s the perfect, lush contrast to the hustle and bustle of other parts of the island. The best place to unwind and breathe in the mountains.

Where to Stay in Munduk

After spending a week in the Seririt villa, I spent a night at the Munduk Moding Plantation before settling in Ubud.

If you do decide to spend a few days in Munduk, and have the cash to splash, this luxury eco-hotel is the place to stay.

Famous for its infinity pool overlooking the region’s mountains, the hotel functions as a working plantation, producing coffee, vegetables, fruits and spices – all of which are used in its guest cooking.

I left Munduk Moding wishing I had a few more days to spend there- the property is gorgeous, the villas feel secluded, and the hotel boasts an ever-changing daily itinerary of guest activities.

During my stay, I joined a plantation walk, coffee roasting and tasting, and a seriously zen yoga class. If you want to see more of the Munduk region, they also can help coordinate a driver to talk you around for the day, or you can use their hotel shuttle to visit key locations at designated times.

How to Get to Munduk

Only have a day to see the best of Munduk?

Then, I’d plan on doing a day trip from Ubud, and starting early.  You could leave from Canggu or Seminyak, but will likely be looking at adding at least 1-1.5 hours to drive time each way.

From Ubud, it depends where your first and last stops are, but generally, should take 1.5-2 hours to get up to the Munduk region. The earlier you start, the better- it helps increase the likelihood you’ll beat traffic at least one way.

The easiest way to zip around Munduk is by scooter, but be forewarned- there are some seriously steep inclines, sharp turns and roads in crumbling condition. All of which can be difficult to navigate via scooter.

For our day spent exploring Munduk, we hired a driver. I was just starting to learn on the scooter, and didn’t feel comfortable attempting a full day trip around a mountainous region.

The good news is that there are plenty of great drivers to use in Bali. I’ve used Bali Flow and love them, but for other suggestions, Google, search the Girls Love Travel Facebook group, or ask your hotel/host for a recommendation.

When you tell them you want to go to Munduk for the day, some drivers may recommend a route, and while it’s always worth listening to or considering, I tend to be a bit aggressive in insisting we do things in the order I’d like.

I’m particular about this for two reasons, 1) I spend time mapping out distances between things so I understand proximity, and 2) I read reviews and other blogs to understand peak hours to visit, and other tips.

A good example of why this mcan matter: Often a driver will recommend stopping at a particular site first because it’s closest. But, that site may never really be crowded, and the one that’s further away may be swamped by the time you get there if you don’t go early.

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Some people don’t care about these things, but I prefer to enjoy sites like waterfalls relatively undisturbed by others if its possible, and perfectly fine with waking early to do so.

Once you sort the details of where to go, you’ll need to confirm pick-up time. If leaving from Ubud, I’d ask to be picked up at 6 or 6:30 am. I know, it’s so early. But, it’ll ensure you get to see a few sites when crowds are minimal, which to me, is always more enjoyable.

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The Perfect Day Trip in Munduk: What to Do During One Day in Munduk

Munduk with its gorgeous country roads is a breath of fresh air. Huge waterfalls, lush greenery, meandering monkeys- it’s a refreshing day trip into the hill country of Bali.

Key Sights: 

  • Handara in Bedgul
  • Munduk Waterfall
  • Banyumala Waterfall
  • Wanagiri Hidden Hill
  • Twin Lake Lookout
  • Pura Ulun Dan Beratan
  • Monkey viewing point (you’ll see this on the way to the the hidden hills and twin lake lookout)
  • Jatiluwih Rice Field
  • Optional: Pasar Merta Sari Candi Kuning (fruit market)

If you’re particular about starting at the waterfalls or temple, which I would be to minimise crowds, then most drivers are going to recommend following the order I listed above.

If you’re visiting Munduk on a day when it’s cloudy in the morning, it’s worth trying to negotiate a longer day trip and instead, seeing the sites in this order to allow time for the clouds to lift from the magnificent lake views you’ll miss otherwise. It means you’ll double back a bit, but shouldn’t add more than 30-60 minutes of drive time.

  • Handara in Bedgul
  • Munduk Waterfall
  • Banyumala Waterfall
  • Monkey viewing point (you’ll see this on the way to the the hidden hills and twin lake lookout)
  • Jatiluwih Rice Field
  • Wanagiri Hidden Hill
  • Twin Lake Lookout
  • Pura Ulun Dan Beratan
  • Optional: Pasar Merta Sari Candi Kuning (fruit market)

If you’re thinking, ‘wow, this seems like a lot’, fear not- all stops optional, pending your interest, and some are photo stops that shouldn’t take too long to see and appreciate.

Handara in Bedgul

Ah, the Insta-famous gates. Did you know these actually mark the entrance to a golf course?

If you’re heading up to Munduk early, these gates should be your first stop- the lighting is best right after sunrise, and you’ll skip the queues. I’ve heard some days, they charge for photos past 8 or 9 am, so really, best to be here early if you’re looking to get a quick photo.

Munduk Waterfall

These roadside falls may be just another waterfall to the Balinese, but to me, the ivy covered rocks and gushing waterfall was breathtaking.

If you’re with a driver, they’ll likely drop you at the entrance, and then head to one of the upper lots to park.

These falls are easy to walk down to- only about 5-10 minutes down and 10-15 back up to the top. The path is paved, and there are steps to help alleviate the grade of some very steep sections. There are also a few cafes and places to try Luwak coffee, if you fancy.

Swimming underneath the falls isn’t recommended, as they’re quite strong, but there’s a secondary pool you can climb rocks to reach. Or, just stand near-enough the falls to feel the mist- it’s seriously refreshing on a hot day.

Cost to enter: 20,000 rupiah (~1.50 USD) per person

Banyumala Waterfall

Becoming more popular with visitors, Banyumala are seriously stunning. Twin cascading streams of water, I believe they’re best viewed early morning when the light is shining down into the valley.

On the morning we visited, we were the first ones to arrive and had the falls to ourselves for about a half hour- talk about serenity. I loved how the morning light created multiple rainbow streams in the falls- just incredible.

You should know the path to reach the parking lot for these falls is treacherous. Calling it a road is generous- it’s essentially crumbling, jagged slabs of concrete. They are working on repaving it to make it safer for visitors, but as with most construction in Bali, it’ll take a while. I’d be nervous to drive this road on a motorbike- you’d need to be very careful.

Once you reach the lot, you’ll discover a warung (local run cafe) nearby, as well as toilets.

Hiking down to these falls is a bit tougher than the Munduk falls. I’d definitely recommend wearing trainers, although we did see people attempting it in flip flops.

The first part of the hike down is on concrete. However, once you pay the entry fee, that changes to a trail – largely ‘stairs’ cut from earth. There are bamboo poles next to steeper sections, but the poles are loosely placed in the ground- don’t expect much support from them. Depending on time of year you visit, the trail can be pretty slippery- since it’s just the earth. Take your time going down.

For us, it took about 15-20 minutes to go down, and 10-15 to climb up.

When we arrived around 8:30, no one else was at the falls. Around 9, other people started showing up. And, by the time we were climbing up to leave at 9:30/10, a steady stream of visitors had started to trickle in.

Cost to enter: 20k (~1.50 USD). You pay also be charged for parking, just depends on what time you’re there- but it should only be 2k (~20 cents).

Wanagiri Hidden Hill  & Twin Lake Lookout

You’ll see signs for the lookout- it’s just a stopover on the side of the road. Gorgeous view, so worth pulling off for a few minutes. Across the street, you’ll find a warung and public toilets, if you need them.

Nearby, Wanagiri Hidden Hill has become one of the areas most famous Insta-swing stops. There are loads in Munduk, but the view from Wanagiri is one of the best, and there are loads of swings  or seats to try.

Because there are loads of swings and guides on hand to take that perfect photo for you, entrance to the swings is steeper than most Bali attractions.

It fluctuates based on season from 100-150k ($7-10 USD)- there’ll be signs out front advertising how much it is on the day you visit.

To me, it was worth the entry cost to see these cool, locally made structures. But, I’d only do it if the view is good. That’s why it may be better to stop and see these swings in the afternoon- even if it means doubling back on your route.

Up to you, but the view of the valley and twin lakes is just magnificent.

I’d plan on stopping here for about 30-60 minutes. The guides are quick at moving people through, but it can take a while if you want photos at every installation and have to wait in line for each.

Whatever you do, don’t miss a photo opp on the Bali swing.

Some people complain things like this detract from the real Bali. But, I’d argue they employ members of the local community, bring tourism to a region (Munduk) that isn’t typically on the ‘Bali holiday checklist’, and give local artists a chance to show off their work.

Pura Ulun Dan Beratan

One of Bali’s most important temples, it’s worth going all the way to Munduk just to see this.

Said to be stunning at sunrise, it’s worth considering stopping here first if this is of greater interest to you than the falls. Could easily be a stop off en-route to spend the morning chasing waterfalls.

If you’re visiting mid-day, be forewarned: Although Munduk is less trafficked than other parts of Bali, this temple is seriously popular. Tour buses come to the region just to stop here.

Whatever time of the day you go, you’ll understand why this temple is so special just by looking at it.

Jutting out over the water, the temple is set against mountains and truly, quite unbelievable.

Translated, it means ‘the source temple of Lake Beratan’. Built in 1633, this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali.

The 11-storey Meru-tower is dedicated to Shiva and his consort Parvathi. Buddha’s statue is also enshrined in this temple.

If you visit during the rainy season, from January-March, the water is high enough to row a boat around the temple. We were at the temple on a cloudy, misty morning in June and still found it to be utter magic.

Cost to enter: 50k rupiah (~3.5 USD)

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Monkey Viewing Point

With no specific address to include, you can’t miss this spot. Rounding a hill, you’ll a pull off with dozens of monkey’s scampering about.

Make this a quick stop to watch the monkeys for a few minutes, and maybe capture of a photo of them with the mountains in the background.

Please don’t buy the feed from any vendors selling it- the monkeys are wild and shouldn’t be fed like zoo animals. You’re only hurting their ability to remain wild and fend for themselves if you give into feeding them manufactured food.

Jatiluwih Rice Field

Even if you’ve been to see the rice terraces in Ubud, these are worth a stop. UNESCO protected, they’re unbelievably green. Best yet, you’ll encounter far fewer tourists at these terraces than the ones right outside Ubud.

The terraces are nothing short of stunning with several great trekking paths, each varying in distance and difficulty.

No time to trek?
No worries- you can also walk part of a path and then double back, as we did.

This was one of my favorite stops of the day- the rice fields are beautiful, there were lots of locals milling about, cutting and burning parts of the field to harvest. And, there’s a great Warung if you’re in the mood to sip a coconut with an incredible view- which, you absolutely should.

Pasar Merta Sari Candi Kuning (fruit market) 

A stop labelled as optional, this fruit market can be a great way to buy and try tons of Balinese fruit. Be forewarned: They hike the prices way up for tourists, so be prepared to barter.

We stopped here to grab a few bits to enjoy in the rice field, which I’d highly recommend.

If you’re staying in Ubud, you can also head to town centre early morning (before 7:30 am) to check out the fruit and veg market that happens daily in the centre of town. Later in the day, it turns into the ‘traditional’ art market.

All told, venturing to Munduk for just a day is a long day trip, but in my view, so worth it to get off the heavily trodden tourist trail, and see another side of Bali. I wouldn’t bill any of these sites as ‘hidden gems’, but there’s no arguing the waterfalls, for example, are less trafficked than the well-known ones closer to Ubud.

If you’ve got a few days to explore Munduk, then I’d split this itinerary into two days, going out in the morning and relaxing at the hotel or homestay you’re staying at in the afternoon.

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If you’re as into chasing waterfalls as I am, then you may also enjoy seeing Git Git falls and Sekumpul falls. I haven’t including them here because they’re a bit further in the mountains, and require additional time to reach.

Whether you’ve got one day or several, Munduk is a beautiful part of Bali that’s well worth the effort it takes to reach it. After three months in Bali, the day we spent exploring it is still one of my favorite days I’ve had here.

Have you ever been to Bali or visited Munduk? What else would you recommend first time visitors do in this beautiful part of the island? 

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