The first time I came to Bali, the only thing anyone ever talked about was the South. Whether it was the stunning beaches of Nusa Dua, the surf in Canggu or the beautiful waterfalls of Ubud, North Bali always seemed to be left out. My guess is that there’s so much to be getting on with in the South of the island, most people simply run out of time before they get there.
If you ask us though, the North is way less crowded and well worth the effort. If I’m honest, the two days we spent chilling in the North of Bali were probably the best two days of the entire month we spent there. If you don’t have time to spend a couple of days there, at the very least you should block out 1 day to explore everything up there.
So what are these hidden gems in Northern Bali? Here are our top 15.
Click to jump!
- Banyumala Waterfall
- Ulun Danu Water Temple
- Mt. Batur
- Toya Bungkah Natural Hot Springs
- Git Git Waterfall
- Banjar Hot Springs
- Busungbiu Rice Terraces
- Buyan and Tamblingan Lake
- Yeh Mampeh waterfall
- Munduk Waterfall
- Melanting Watefall
- Sekumpul Waterfall
- AlingAling Waterfall
- Singsing Waterfall
- Handara Golf Course Gates
Where to stay – Munduk Moding Plantation
1. Banyumala Waterfall
Banyumala waterfall is a breathtaking waterfall hidden in the depths of Noth Bali. To access it, you’ll have to drive right up onto the ridge overlooking Danau Buyan, and then drop down again towards the Northern coast. The road down is terrible, but definitely doable if your driver is up for it. Once you get to the parking area, there’s a short 10-15 minute walk down some very steep pathways and steps that’ll lead you all the way to the falls. It’s very steep, so expect to be sweaty when you get back. Entrance fee (in cash) is approx $5 or $6 per person.
Once you’re at the bottom, there’s a cool plunge pool to cool off in. Definitely our favourite waterfall in Bali.
2. Ulun Danu Water Temple
This is the temple that blew up on Instagram recently, and it’s completely understandable. The temple sits as an island in Danau Beratan Lake. Boats can be rented from the side of the lake, and there’s a large temple on dry land to explore as well (mixed in with fairly random sculptures – like Spongebob…)
We turned up at sunrise and were met with a few hurdles (especially if you’re a photographer).
1. It doesn’t open until they decide to open, so there’s no point getting there at 5am to set up. I think it opened around 6am when we went. That includes the toilets – not fun when half your crew has the aforementioned Bali belly
2. Renting a boat is tough if you want to get it at sunrise. Again, the rental guys get up when they feel like it. I get the sense that a lot of the photos you see of sunrise with a boat have come from boats rented with a 5 finger discount 🙂
The other funny thing, is that this thing isn’t in the middle of the lake (as social media might suggest), but about 20ft from the shore.
3. Mount Batur
This is one of Bali’s other active volcanos, but don’t worry, this one hasn’t erupted since 2000. One of the most popular things to do in the Kintamani region in North Bali is hike to the summit for sunrise. Grab a local guide and head up around 3am. If you take a tour group you’ll be rewarded with their famous volcanic steamed eggs for breakfast, and hopefully (weather permitting) an incredible sunrise. A not-so-well hidden gem in North Bali!
4. Toya Bungkah Hot Spring
Ok this one isn’t what we usually go for because it is 100% a tourist trap. If you’re going expecting to be at one with nature, believe us, it ain’t gonna happen here. Having said that, if you’re just a big fan of hot springs like us, it’s worth a quick visit! Sat right in the shadow of the Mt. Batur volcano, I think we can say with absolute certainty that these hot springs are naturally heated and one of the most beautiful places in North Bali to take a dip.
There are 7 pools allegedly, but the one you’re going to want to spend all you time in is the one with the views of the actual lake. Locals pay less for entry, but there’s also a kind of segregation where they’re not allowed in the more expensive pools (the tourist pools). Seems a little unnecessary to me, but it seems like its the easiest way for them to charge tourists what they want but still keep it affordable for locals. I think it was approx 200k per person to enter.
5. Git Git Waterfall
Another stunning waterfall in Bali. 40m of waterfall heaven. Very accessible and not too much of a walk from the parking lot. Worth a visit right?
6. Banjar Hot Springs
These springs were built after the Japanese occupation in WWII. They’re much less commercial than Toya Bungkah and still retain that peaceful elegance that makes it feel more like a spa than a swimming pool. Outside the pools you’ll find markets and stalls where you might find yourself bumrushed by a swarm of aggressive hawkers.
7. Busungbiu Rice Terraces
Less well known than Tegalalang and Jatiluwih, but no less stunning. Worth stopping by if you’re travelling through the North!
8. Buyan and Tamblingan Lake
These are the less well known siblings of Danau Beratan Lake and they offer similar views of temples set amidst lakes. They also have the benefit of being far less well known, so you’re not jostling with other tourists trying to get their photos. It’s easy to hire boats here for a paddle, just ask a local!
9. Yeh Mampeh waterfall.
Still fairly unknown amongst tourists. This waterfall actually has 3 levels, one that’s easy to get to, the others requiring a little more of a hike. Probably not the first one you want to check off, but if you’re making a day of it then it would definitely be worth a visit.
10. Munduk Waterfall
Just 300m from the parking lot, Munduk should definitely be on your list and is one of North Bali’s best hidden gems.
11. Melanting Waterfall
This one is located in the same place as Munduk, but you’ll have to just walk a little further to reach it. Might as well kill two birds with one stone!
12. Sekumpul Waterfall
Sekumpul is one of Bali’s most beautiful cascading waterfalls. It’s a real hidden gem that you’ll have to work hard for to see. Getting there requires a bit of a hike down a trail, followed by a descent down over a hundred steps. I promise it’ll be worth it when you get there though!
13. AlingAling waterfall
Aling Aling is probably the most unique watefall in Bali. Why? Because there’s cliff jumping and even a natural waterslide. The natural slide is actually found on Kroya waterfall (close by) and not for the faint hearted!
14. Sing Sing Waterfall
Sing Sing is another of North Bali’s finest waterfalls, and yet another hidden gem. Not only is there a beautfiul waterfall pool to soak in (during the rainy season), but up on top there’s yet another pool to relax in!
15. Bonus – The Handara Golf Course
This is more of a pit stop, but one of the most photographed spots in North Bali are these famous gates.
You’d be forgiven for thinking they’re part of a grandiose palace or temple, but in fact they’re just the entrance gates to a golf course. The Handara Golf Course in Northern Bali has now become one of North Bali’s most famous and not-so-hidden gems. If you visit, don’t be surprised to find dozens of photographers politely waiting their turn for their shots. Oh, and don’t be surprised if there’s security blocking the gate some days. I’m told it often happens if the president is visiting!
Where we stayed: Munduk Moding Plantation
Although this is a hotel, it’s certainly one of the wonders of the North, particularly for photographers. It’s one of the rare instances where an infinite pool actually goes off into infinite, or in this case, the clouds. The Munduk Moding Plantation is a hotel built on a coffee plantation. The view from the hotel is undoubtedly the best on the island, with views extending all the way to the Bali sea and the neighbouring island of Java. I think we must have had a dozen photographers turn up just to take photos while we were staying there.
The weather is cooler and if you leave the balcony doors open, the clouds literally drift into your bedroom. We stayed there for 2 nights and could barely drag ourselves away from the delightfully cool mountain air when it was time to leave. For those of us that had been struck with Bali belly and fevers, the cool air could not have been more welcome
If you want to try the famous Luwak coffee (otherwise known as Luwak poop coffee), you can try it guilt free (we were told that while the Luwak animals used to be in cages, popular demand had encouraged the hotel to release them years ago, and now any Luwak coffee is painstakingly foraged the old fashioned way.
Overall, if we stay in North Bali again, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.
We’d highly recommend grabbing a driver to take you up there from wherever you’re based. From our experience, the usual rate is about 600k for 8 hours – approx $60US. You can find a driver literally anywhere, and virtually every Uber driver will give you their card and will offer their services. Most hotels will have a few on speed dial as well if you just ask about it. Seriously, don’t worry about arranging a driver until you get there.
Hope you have a great time enjoying Bali’s incredible North!