North Bali is bursting with breathtaking natural beauty, spiritual temples upon mist-covered lakes, forests leading to hidden waterfalls, and volcano trek adventures.
With the majority of tourists being located around the south (Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Uluwatu, and Ubud), the north part of Bali is often overlooked on many a Bali itinerary. As a result, the north retains it’s quietness and mystique, packed with a plethora of hidden gems and off-beat trails still untouched by mass tourism.
Six years after my first trip to Bali, tourism had well and truly exploded across the south of the island. I knew I missed out on so much when I didn’t venture north on my first trip. In fact, I believe the north has FAR MORE on offer.
There’s SO much to see and do in the north, that I wasn’t able to fit everything into even a month’s trip in Bali.
I absolutely recommend that you include the north in your Bali itinerary, for all traveller types including solo backpackers, couples and families.
Scroll on to read: North Bali: Top 10 Things To See & Do (2023 Edition).
Table of Contents
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North Bali Attractions Map
North Bali Essentials Checklist:
- A good quality raincoat (it rains a lot in the mountains near Munduk)
- A decent pair of hiking shoes (for mountain/volcano trekking)
- A hoodie or warm sweater (for the cooler evenings in Munduk)
- Swimwear & compact travel towel (for the hot springs and the waterfalls)
- GoPro Hero 10 camera (for the waterfalls)
Essential Bali Travel Resources:
For more useful travel information on Bali, check out these articles:
Travel Guide: North Bali: Top 10 Things To See & Do in 2023
1. Discover North Bali’s Powerful Waterfalls
One of the greatest wonders, and the most exciting adventures in Bali, are its thundering, enormous waterfalls located deep in the forests.
Most of Bali’s waterfalls are found in the north – particularly around the central highlands region.
The most popular waterfalls have an admission fee – this is so the locals can maintain the area surrounding the waterfalls to keep them clean and tidy, and ensure there’s access down the steep steps to get there.
While its not compulsory to pay the fee, its recommended you pay out of respect. And besides, the small fee doesn’t mean much to you but to the locals its a source of income and it means a lot.
Check out the north Bali map below to see the locations of the waterfalls and how long it would take to reach them.
Considered the most beautiful waterfall in Bali, also one of the most powerful. Waterfall Sekumpul is quite far out and difficult to reach, so consider making this the main focus of your day if you decide to visit.
Aling Aling Waterfall
You can slide down this waterfall and jump into pool, depending on when you visit. If you go in February like I did, it’s too dangerous to swim here.
How to get there: By car or scooter, its an hour to get to both waterfall locations. Theres a parking lot on arrival, and its a further 20 minutes walk and climb down the steps to the waterfalls.
Admission: IDR 25K
Banyumala Twin Waterfalls
One of the most popular, this one is an enormous twin waterfall that trickles down over a huge rocky cliff into a large shallow pool, and you can actually swim and stand beneath this waterfall.
How to get there: From Munduk, it’s 30 minutes to get to Banyumala Twin waterfalls by car or scooter. From the Bedugul region, its around 20 minutes.
Admission: IDR 20K
I really liked this one because the force of the water hitting the rocks is intense and the noise booms and echoes deep into the forest.
I also liked how there was virtually no tourists here compared to the others, which surprised me as it wasn’t that difficult or time-consuming to get to this waterfall.
Getting there: From Bedugul, its 25 minutes away, by car or scooter. From Munduk, its 40 minutes away.
Admission: IDR 20K
One of the lesser known gems, Munduk waterfall is one of the easier and quicker waterfalls to get to, it’s just off the main road going into Munduk.
2. Ulun Danu Bratan: The Temple On The Lake
The picturesque water temple of Ulun Danu Bratan (also spelled Ulun Danu Beratan) floating on Tamblingan Lake, with clouds billowing across the water from the mountains behind it, is one of the most iconic and instagrammable spots in Bali.
Situated in Bedugul, Tabanan Bali, the temple compound hosts several Hindu holy buildings, statues, and beautifully-carved gates.
Bonus: Handara Gate
Since you’re in this area, there’s some other fantastic things to see besides Ulun Danu Bratan, for instance, the large, ancient Hindu gates at Handara Gate is just 5 minutes ride up the road, and its one of the most photographed spots in all of Bali.
And the other one is the Wanagiri Hidden Swing – which is slightly further up the road into the mountains, another very instagrammable location, the clue is in the name – its a series of swings and mini bamboo treehouses looming over the cliff -top, where you can get some nice photos taken for the fee of 50K.
Among the best attractions in the region is the Munduk Moding Plantation, that features a glorious 18-metre infinity pool, as well as dreamy spa packages for the ultimate pampering experience.
Directions: From Munduk its 30 minutes to get to the temple by car or scooter.
Admission fee: IDR 50K for adults, IDR 25K for children
Best time to visit: during the golden hours – shortly after sunrise and the hour before sunset. These are also the more quieter times with fewer tourists around.
3. Wander The Picturesque Rice Terraces
One of the most phenomenal treasures on the island: is this huge rice field network created by the locals thousands of years ago, it’s the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bali.
There are two main rice fields in north Bali that you can explore – Tegallalang near Ubud, and Jatiluwih in Buleleng. Tegallalang is the smaller and more commercial one, with more tourists.
Jatiluwih, on the other hand, is VAST – valleys of rice fields stretch as far as the eye can see here. And there’s nowhere near as many tourists about either. It’s incredibly quiet, surreal and mostly untouched landscape. This is why I recommend Jatiluwih to anyone visiting Bali.
Getting there: From Bedugul, its 45 minutes by car or scooter. From Munduk, its an hour and 10 minutes.
Admission: IDR 40K
Best time to visit: During the early morning hours shortly after sunrise (when its not too busy), or during the late afternoon shortly before sunset.
4. Free Tea & Coffee Tasting Session In The Valleys
A short distance from the Jatiluwih rice fields is a coffee plantation near the village of Angseri, and here you can enjoy free samples of various different teas and coffees.
Jati Harum is a quiet little spot where you can relax on the balcony and admire the stunning views of the valleys of Jatiluwih rice fields from high up, whilst tasting an assortment of teas and coffees for free.
There was chocolate and coconut coffees to ginseng and lemongrass tea varieties.
One thing to bear in mind – this plantation also serves the popular Luwak coffee. They will offer you a taster of this, however, we chose not to try the Luwak coffee due to ethical reasons.
Directions: its 5 minutes away from Jatiluwih rice terraces by car or scooter.
Admission: Free. The taster session is free, and if you like, you can purchase a box of any of the tea and coffee available.
5. Soak In Natural Hot Spring Baths
One of my favourite things I did in Bali was experiencing one of the few steaming natural pools located in the valleys.
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In the forests not far from the Jatiluwih Rice Fields is Angseri: the ancient, natural hot springs that are occasionally frequented by locals.
A 10-minute walk down the valley leads you to the entrance where the main pool is – right in a beautiful and serene forest setting. Upon arrival I was amazed that there was not a single tourist in sight!
The path on the right leads to several smaller, enclosed hot springs where you can get changed as well as enjoy the privacy of your own hot pool.
This was a truly enjoyable and therapeutic experience that made the perfect end to a long day of walking around hill-top temples and valleys of rice fields.
Getting there: By car or scooter, its 8 minutes away from Jati Harum and 15 minutes from Jatiluwih Rice Terraces.
Entrance fee: IDR 45K
Tip: If you don’t get chance to visit Air Panas Angseri, consider the Banjar hot springs near Lovina – another one of Bali’s ancient, natural spas.
Check out this article by A World of Destinations: Sunrise Trek to Mount Batur
6. Trek To The Summit Of Mount Batur, An Active Volcano
Ever wanted to climb an active volcano? Mount Batur is one of Bali’s two active volcanoes, and you can literally hike to the summit in darkness to witness an incredible sunrise.
Without a doubt, this was one of the highlights of my trip to Bali.
Setting out at 3am, we hiked up the steep and rocky mountain in darkness, with only the moonlight and a torch to guide us.
Climbing takes around 2 hours, and on arrival at the summit – 1,717 meters above sea level – we witnessed a gorgeous sunrise and could even see the tiny villages by the lake, and clouds drifting below us.
In the distance, you can see Mount Agung, Bali’s highest volcano, currently closed to climbers as it just recently had a volcanic eruption!
Did you know: Mount Agung is considered the most sacred spot on the island, and it last erupted in November 2018
For more facts about Bali, head over to my blog: 25 Awesome Facts About Bali
Trekking Mount Batur was a truly memorable experience. For the first time I got to see lava rock, and on the descent back to base, I even witnessed steam rising from inside the rocks. This was also my first mountain hiking experience, it was a great challenge and recommended for those with little to no hiking experience.
Getting there: Since you need to be at the base camp before 3am, its best to be situated in Ubud where the minivan takes an hour to get to Mount Batur. Alternatively, stay in the Kintamani region which is right at the foot of the mountain.
Admission: Varies – if going with a group tour (as recommended), it costs around USD40 which includes hotel pick up and drop off van, tour guide, breakfast, torches, and entry to the Batur hot springs.
Don’t forget to bring appropriate footwear
Trekking Mount Batur and the steep rocks leading down to Bali’s waterfalls will require you to wear appropriate footwear. Since the terrain is rocky and sometimes slippery, flip flops is not suitable. You are better off bringing a decent pair of strong, sturdy sandals or hiking shoes that will last you years of travels.
7. Visit The Temple Of Lempuyang, aka ‘Gates Of Heaven’
One of the most surreal and picturesque spots in North Bali is in the Temple of Lempuyang, also known as the ‘Gates Of Heaven’.
Here you can have your photo taken between the towering ancient temple gates at the top of a hill, whilst in the background the enormous Mount Agung volcano looms in the distance, with clouds billowing past and steam spouting from the crater.
Getting there: From Tirta Gangga, its 20 minutes away. From Ubud, its a 2 hour journey by car, and longer by scooter.
Admission: the temple asks for donations only. I recommend paying between IDR 10K-30K
Top Tip: If you’re planning on arriving at sunrise, its recommended to stay at a homestay or guest house in Tirta Gangga village. You can find plenty of nice and affordable options run by very friendly locals on Airbnb and Booking.
8. Visit The Tirta Gangga Water Palace
Not far from the Gates Of Heaven is Tirta Gangga – a pretty village where you can take part in a traditional Hindu bathing ritual at the ancient holy water temple.
Featuring natural pools with large Koi fish and statues of Hindu deities, there’s even stepping stones that allow you to navigate around the ancient water complex and feed the fish.
Although the temple is a bit touristy these days, its still recommended to spend a couple days in this quiet little village to observe how the locals live their unique, Balinese Hindu way of life.
Getting there: From Ubud, its 1 hour 45 minutes drive.
Admission: IDR 30K per person
9. Explore Singaraja & Lovina
The northern coastal towns of Lovina and Singaraja are Bali’s quieter alternatives to Kuta and Seminyak.
The historic fishing port city of Singaraja was the former capital of Bali during the Dutch colonial era, and still retains much of its colonial vibe.
With antiquated buildings in old Dutch architecture on wide streets, its the perfect location for those interested in learning the island’s history.
Things to See & Do in Singaraja:
- Puri Singaraja Royal Palace, a popular historical attraction
- Gedong Kirtya Museum, home of the world’s largest repository of ‘lontar’ palm leaf manuscripts
- Ling Gwan Kiong, an old Chinese Temple
Explore the nearby Buyan and Tamblingan Lakes
Singaraja is also the capital of the Buleleng district of Bali, a commercial hub on the island, and so an excellent place for shopping and local eats.
Lovina is a nice little beach resort region thats quieter and less crowded than the popular southern resorts of Kuta.
With calm waves, black-sand beaches, its perfect for families to enjoy snorkelling and other water sports here. It’s also home Bali’s only Buddhist monastery, the Brahma Vihara Arama.
And with its own trendy restaurants, a plethora of accommodation options and a lively nightlife scene, its definitely worth adding to itinerary while you’re on the north coast.
What is there to do in Lovina Bali?
If you’re looking for places off the beaten path in Bali, Lovina and it’s surrounding areas are among the best spots for true hidden gems. Here’s some of the best things to see and do around Lovina Bali:
- Bathe at Air Panas Banjar
- Visit Beji Temple in Sangsit
- Go on a Dolphin Watching tour at Lovina Beach
- Take a trip to the exotic Menjangan island
- Visit the Brahma Vihara Arama, the largest Buddhist temple in Bali
- Explore the shopping malls and trendy cafes and restaurants in Singaraja
- Check out Bali Bike Park
Directions: Singaraja is a 2-hour drive from Ubud, and slightly longer on scooter. From Munduk, its one hour away. Lovina is 20 minutes away from Singaraja.
Here’s an article by Four Broads Abroad on Things To Do In Bali
10. Spot Dolphins At Sunrise
One of the must things to do in north Bali is witness the majestic dolphins breach the waters at sunrise.
There are several species on the northern coast, and the most commonly spotted are the beautiful dark-skinned spinner dolphins that are present all year round, except during the Chinese Lunar New Year period, when there’s heavy rain (from February-April).
Getting there: Lovina Beach is 20 minutes from Singaraja, and 50 minutes away from Munduk.
Admission: Depending on which tour agency you go with, packages cost around USD10 that includes hotel pick up from Lovina at 5:30am, a 2-hour dolphin watching boat tour, and drop off back to hotel.
Where To Stay In North Bali
Munduk & Bedugul
The Munduk and Bedugul region is the perfect place to base yourself for a few days to give you time to explore the numerous attractions in this area, especially if you’re visiting the many waterfalls.
Munduk Moding Plantation is a popular hotel and Spa retreat set on a coffee plantation in north Bali. Though a bit on the costly side, Munduk Moding provides stunning private pool villas with breathtaking mountain and valley views and offers traditional Balinese massages.
Singaraja & LovinaThe town on the northern coast of Bali is a good place for families and couples looking to enjoy the beaches, markets and the Krisna Funtasticland attraction.
Pemuteran and North West BaliOver to the west of Lovina is excellent spot for those who want to escape the crowds and the ideal base for exploring the nearby Menjangan island and the National Park. Click here to view great deals on Booking.
Tirta GanggaThe Tirta Gangga village is the perfect place to stay to explore the water palace and the Temple of Lempuyang which is just 20 minutes away. Click here for accommodation deals.
Don’t forget your travel insurance
It goes without saying really that when you travel in Indonesia and beyond, travel insurance is super important.
I never always bothered though. For years I travelled without insurance as I thought, “what could happen?”
Well, I once got my bag stolen in Vietnam and I had an electric shock in a hostel bathroom in Mexico. What if you’re hiking a mountain and your appendix suddenly bursts, leaving you in excruciating pain and requiring emergency treatment? Anything could happen.
There you have it – the Top 10 What To See And Do In North Bali.
There is so much to see and do in Bali’s lesser-known but much larger region (compared to the south).
Commonly Asked Questions:
Northern Bali is an absolute must for anyone looking to escape the crowds and discover hidden gems and cultural attractions like the mighty Sekumpul Waterfall, the mystical Banjar hot springs, the exotic Menjangan island, and the white sands of Lovina Beach.
Here’s the top places to visit in North Bali:
- Discover North Bali’s powerful waterfalls
- Visit Ulun Danu Beratan, the temple on the lake
- Wander the breathtaking Rice Terraces in Angseri
- Enjoy a free tea and coffee tasting session
- Soak in natural hot springs with the locals at Air Panas Banjar
- Trek to the summit of an active volcano
- Visit the Temple of Lempuyang, aka the Gates of Heaven
- Explore Singaraja and Lovina
- Visit the Tirta Gangga Water Palace
- Spot Dolphins at Sunrise
Lovina is a charming, cosy little village on the northern coast of Bali in the Buleleng region. As well as being famous for its shopping malls and white sand beaches, it is becoming ever more popular due to its affordable private pool villas, nearby ancient monasteries and hot springs, and sunrise dolphin spotting.
Here’s 8 things you should not do in Bali:
- Don’t spend all your time in Kuta/Seminyak. Not only are they a minuscule part of Bali, there are also much better places and things to see and do.
- Don’t only eat Western food. For heavens sake, you are in Bali. Make the most of the unique cuisine here.
- Don’t dismiss local warungs for the pricey touristy eateries. While those hipster vegan and eco-friendly restaurants and worth checking out, they are also owned by wealthy expats from Australia or the US. Local warungs are run by locals who don’t have very much, and your money would mean far more to them.
- Don’t waste time haggling at the markets if you have no intention of buying. You’ll get worn out in the hot weather, and most importantly, its rude. The market traders could have potentially made a sale and found much-needed paying customers during this valuable time.
- Don’t haggle too hard. Many like to drive a hard bargain, but if you are haggling on a beautiful Balinese painting or sculpture, remember the artist put a lot of time and effort into creating these incredible works, and it’s his only source of income.
- Don’t enter temples without the correct attire. This applies to both men and women. Always remove your footwear before entering any temple, and you must ensure your legs and shoulders are covered. You can put on a sarong before entering, and many temples provide these at the entrances.
- Don’t dismiss home stays. Many locals rely on hosting and accommodating guests at their homes for their survival, and believe me – not only is this a more authentic experience, the hosts are extremely friendly, their homes are very nice and cosy, and their breakfasts are superb!
- Don’t visit for less than one week. Trust me – I’ve been to Bali twice, the last time I went for a month, and there is still so much I have yet to see in Bali.
For a complete guide on all the Do’s and Don’ts in Bali plus how to avoid getting scammed, click here.
The best way of getting around is by car. It’s well worth considering to hire a driver for the most convenient experience – they are very afforable, know the island better than anyone, and they’ll take photos for you (some of them have excellent photography skills).
Most importantly, give them your exact itinerary, and they will follow it. Otherwise, if you leave it to them – they’ll only take you around the small and crowded southern region, (because it saves them petrol and theres no tricky valleys and hills to drive over.)
Bali Day Trips and Activities on Get Your Guide:
Check out some excellent deals on tickets for the most popular day trips and activities around North Bali. (Remember, you can cancel your bookings at anytime!)
Book Your Trip to Bali: Budget Tips & Tricks
Accommodation: I use Booking to find fantastic cheap stays with free cancellation options.
Travel Insurance: Stay protected from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.
Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.
I hope you enjoyed reading my post: North Bali: Top 10 Things To See & Do in 2023, and feel inspired to visit one day.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!