Munduk: The Underrated Destination In Bali, Indonesia

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Featuring powerful, cascading waterfalls, remarkable lake views, and lush greenery, it’s surprising the town of Munduk has not yet become a tourist hot spot. Perhaps for the better, the remoteness and tranquillity of the area give this town its appeal to travelers seeking out some solace and peace.

I am the type of traveler who wants to tick off every country’s major attractions. However, I also enjoy seeking out hidden gems and untouched beauties. Read on to find out my experiences in the town, including the best things to do here, an untouched area within the major tourist island of Bali.

Location and Climate of Munduk

It is located inland, in the central highlands of Bali. You won’t find the usual Bali sights of beaches, nightlife, and crowds of tourists here. Instead, you’ll be greeted with lush greenery as far as the eye can see.

Landscape view from atop a hill Munduk

This is the place to go to escape from the over-touristy areas of Bali. Although I love spending time in some of the more well-known areas like Ubud and Canggu, sometimes a short break from civilization for peace of mind – a retreat, if you will.

This town is a great place to get back to nature. There are countless trails through nature – many of them stopping off at waterfalls. Apart from chasing waterfalls, you can also visit coffee plantations, rice terraces, and watch the sunrise and set.

How to get to Munduk?

It is just shy of a two-hour drive from Ubud, or two and a half hours away from Denpasar Airport. There are no direct public buses. So visitors tend to hire a private driver for the day to explore the areas of both Munduk and Bedugul, the neighboring town. Getting there by scooter is also an option. However, the roads do get quite windy and narrow, so it is only recommended for confident drivers.

Being quite a remote town on the island, a scooter will prove useful getting around Bali. Otherwise, hiring a private driver, car, or walking are your only options for transport within the town.

If you’re planning to get around on foot, I recommend staying near the village, where you will be within walking distance of both tasty Balinese food and picturesque hiking trails with natural waterfalls.

Best Time to Visit Munduk

Being higher in elevation, the climate here is cooler than the rest of the island which makes for a refreshing change from the hot and humid weather.

The tropical climate is divided into a cooler, dry season and warmer, wet season. Temperatures are relatively constant throughout the year (only varying by a few degrees celsius), but the main difference in the seasons is the amount of rainfall. Rainfall is highest during the rainy season of November to March. February is the month with the average highest rainfall.

The wet season often brings overcast skies, meaning sunsets and sunrises aren’t quite as spectacular. If you’re looking to avoid the rainy season, travel to this place between June and October.

History of the Region

Settlers here can be traced back to between the 10th and 14th centuries. Legend has it that this place was first occupied by those from Klungkung following an ant invasion.

Islands of Indonesia were first colonized by the Dutch in the 16th century when on the lookout for the valuable sources of spices such as nutmeg and cloves as well as cultivating spices. Settlers went on to grow cocoa and coffee plantations, which are still operational today.

Eventually, the Dutch took control of Northern Bali, including this place in 1848, then went on to take full control of Bali in 1908, the phase known as the Dutch intervention in Bali. The Dutch were in power until 1945.

The remoteness of the place was an attractive quality, hence the Dutch built their holiday homes there, where they traveled from Singaraja at the top of the island. Because of this, you may spot remnants of Dutch colonial architecture, such as white symmetrical mansions with tall, narrow windows and porches at ground level.

Bali Religion and Culture

Balinese Hinduism is the religion practiced by the vast majority of the population in Bali. This is in contrast with many other islands in Indonesia, which are predominantly Muslim.

In the second century, Hindus of West Java were forced into Bali by Muslim armies. This facilitated the birth of Hinduism in Bali. Balinese Hinduism is an aggregate of beliefs from traditional Hinduism, with animism influence.

The trinity of gods, Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu are worshipped in Bali Hinduism, as well as gods and goddesses unique to Balinese Hinduism. An example includes Acintya or Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, the Supreme God of Indonesian Hinduism.

Do read: Top 10 things to do in Ubud – The cultural heart of Bali

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

One of, if not the most photographed temple in Bali is Ulun Danu Beratan Temple. It is located only 30 minutes away from the town in the neighboring town of Bedugul. This 17th-century temple is dedicated to the Hindu God, Shiva.

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple landscape view
Landscape view of the temple

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is one of the nine Kahyangan Jagat, considered the most important temples on the island of Bali. Amongst other temples in this list include Uluwatu and Lempuyang Temples, both of which are renowned temples for tourists and locals alike.

The scenic views from Ulun Danu are likened to that from Tanah Lot Temple, one of the most popular things to do in Canggu.

The floating temple on Lake Bratan is complete with a mountainous backdrop. One of the reasons the scene is so picturesque. The temple grounds comprise green pastures, vibrant flowers, and colored fishing boats.

The lake itself holds great importance in serving the region’s water supply.

Do read: Get to know the Water Temples of Bali

Full of Natural Attractions

The place is filled with many natural attractions. Amongst the best things to do here is trekking to the cascading waterfalls, some of which you won’t even see another soul.

Munduk Waterfalls

The Munduk waterfalls are a series of waterfalls in this area. They are known as Melanting, Golden Valley, Labuhan Kebo, and Red Coral Waterfalls.

Labuhan Kebo Waterfalls, Munduk
Labuhan Kebo Waterfalls

You can reach all waterfalls on a half-day trek. Allow yourself four hours for a quick stop at all four waterfalls. Or just choose one or two for a longer visit at each of them. All these four waterfalls aren’t deep enough to swim in. But it’s a nice, refreshing place to wade and cool off after the hike there.

Be wary that getting to and from some of the waterfalls is difficult. Entries and exits don’t seem to be sign-posted well. But it’s definitely a memorable experience exploring without a crowd.

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls

These are my favorite waterfalls on the island. Banyumala Twin Waterfalls has crystal clear water to swim in and is located in this area. The water is by no means warm, but after hiking downstairs to get there, it’s a quick way to cool down.

Beautiful Banyumala Twin Waterfalls, Munduk
Beautiful Banyumala Twin Waterfalls

Nearby in Northern Bali lie the famous Aling-Aling and Gitgit Waterfalls. Banyumala Twin Waterfalls are a great alternative to those wanting to avoid tourists. Although the waterfall isn’t deep enough to jump. Adventure junkies that want to do jumps of five or even 15 meters high, should instead consider visiting Aling-Aling and Gitgit Waterfalls.

The Giant Banyan Tree

The aerial roots that grow from a Banyan tree give them their distinctive appearance. The giant tree is said to be over 700 years old. Legend has it, the tree was a hiding place for locals during the Dutch invasion. The tree is so large, that you can walk through and explore the maze of aerial roots.

Lush Rice Terraces

Bali is home to some well-known rice terraces. Firstly, Tegallalang Rice Terrace has become a popular tourist attraction. Photos from this location are often a hit on Instagram. Secondly, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site features rice fields extending far and wide.

Lush green rice terraces in the region
Lush green rice terraces landscape view

Amongst some of the lesser-known rice terraces are Sidemen and Munduk. Since this Rice Terrace lies in an area with high rainfall, the fields and surrounding jungle are lush green during harvest season. The rice fields are located within walking distance (only one kilometer) from the town.

A Coffee Lover’s Paradise

The coffee here has brought together a Balinese and European team. They created and produce specialty, organically-grown coffee that has now been recognized overseas. Both the farms and resort generate employment opportunities to provide income for the local community.

Pay a visit to Munduk Moding Plantation Nature Resort & Spa. There you can sample their coffee, have a traditional Balinese meal. And also take a dip in the infinity pool overlooking the hillside. If your budget allows, it’s an amazingly tranquil place to stay.

Read More – Coorg – the Coffee Bowl of India

This plantation is a great place to try Luwak coffee. A Luwak is a type of civet cat, which eats the coffee cherries. In their digestive system, enzymes dilute the acidity in the coffee cherries. Thus giving the coffee a smoother flavor. The concept is strange. But the coffee is known to be an Indonesian delicacy. Luwak coffee can cost as much as 500 USD per kilogram of beans.

This organization advertises ethically sourced Luwak beans from Luwak in the wild. Unfortunately, with the increased demand some companies have resorted to harvesting beans from caged Luwak. Before sampling the coffee, research is the best way to avoid supporting a company selling coffee that has not been ethically sourced.

Living like the Locals

With 6000+ inhabitants, it is not a bustling place. Regardless, there are still many places the locals go to, to get their produce for the week and shop for various items. The main road of the town is filled with modest convenience stores and stalls, as well as homestays, and cafes, and restaurants. The main road is a great place to stay during your visit here. There are also many guesthouses on nearby roads with great views of the countryside.

Following Dutch colonization, many settled in this village on the weekends. Locals have become familiar with seeing foreigners around, including tourists. Some even speak fluent Dutch. They are very accommodating and friendly! This makes the destination such an inviting place to visit.

This is a guest post by Delilah Hart.


Delilah Hart is a nomad at heart with a profound love for travel. As she travels the world one country at a time, she works on her travel blog to help fellow travelers travel the world better. Delilah has recently been traveling through Southeast Asia. Laos is one of her favorite countries in the world.


 

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