‘Bedugul’ in Bali is sometimes referred to as the whole lakeside area. This might make this destination seem bizarre, but trust me, it is one of the hidden gems of Bali. To begin with, Bedugul is of immense natural beauty. It has many crater lakes and the location at 4900 feet above sea level renders a mild, hill station like climate. This provides great relief from the muggy coastal heat of the rest of the island. Flowers, mists, Indonesia’s largest botanical garden and waterfalls consist of Bedugul’s charms and there are many lake temples here. Bratan, Buyan, and Tamblingan are some of Bedugul’s most famous water bodies and the picturesque Ulun Danu temple lies on Bratan’s glassy surface. The region of Bedugul is surrounded by paddy fields and has lush spice plantations at a lower altitude. The approach to the lake resort town is as lovely as the place itself. The beautiful drive is through terraced mountains, vegetable gardens full of cabbage, onion patches, and there are plenty of papaya and strawberry farms on the way. The fertile Candikuning village is en route and the magical sight of Ulun Danu shimmering on Bratan Lake takes everybody’s breath away.
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Candikuning is the highlight of Bedugul
Although Candikuning is the most popular spot in the north Bali tourist circuit, Bedugul consists of a number of picturesque villages. These are scattered all across the mountain range and offer beautiful hikes and homestays. The remote old Dutch town of Munduk is also nearby and it is absolutely worth visiting at least for a day. My Bedugul trip was a very memorable one and it felt good to bask in cool, misty weather for a few days. I stayed at Candikuning at a village homestay and my daily activities included gardening, strawberry picking, reading a book and rocking on the host’s old grandfather chair. Flowers filled every niche of the little cottage and every morning bright blue morning glories pushed their bright open faces through my window. Highly scented crepe roses grew in abundance drawing bees in hordes. In fact, if I have to think of any con of that village, then it would be the number of bees that buzzed in the gardens of Candikuning. Apart from that, my Bedugul days were perfect. A few short walks, sumptuous meals and gorging on the fresh farm to table fruits completed my daily routine and they perfectly complimented my reading and rocking habits. On some days, I had walked to the Ulun Danu temple.
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The lovely Lake Temple fo Danu Bratan
Built in 1663, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is dedicated to the Hindu god, Lord Shiva. It is one of Bali’s two major water temples. The other one is Pura Ulun Danu Batur and it is not as picturesque as the Bratan Lake temple. The Ulun Danu temple is often referred to as the second most important Balinese temple (after Besakih or Mother Temple). It is used for holding religious ceremonies, making offerings to the Balinese water, lakes and the river goddess, Devi Danu. Dedicated water temples in Bali serve the region’s outflow area and often subaks (irrigation cultivation cooperatives) have their own smaller associated temple. Lake Bratan is the main source of irrigation in central Bali and thus it is fondly called “The Lake of the Holy Mountain”. The most astounding quality of Pura Ulun Danu is that it appears to be floating atop Lake Bratan. On violet twilight and rosy sunsets, the lake temple of Bedugul seems straight out of a fairy tale. I walked over to the lake many times and had only once paid obeisance at the temple. This is partly due to my lack of religious sentiments and to avoid the busloads of tourists who visit the temple every day. I prefered walking by the lake instead. Those were very peaceful walks and I loved the way, the soft mists rolled down from the surrounding cocoon-like green mountains.
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Botanical garden and Candikuning fruit market of Bedugul
Once during my nearly week-long Bedugul stay, I paid the Bali Botanical Garden (Kebun Raya Eka Karya) a visit and came back much pleased. Founded in 1959, the 157-hectare garden overlooks the Lake Bratan and is extremely well laid out. It has a variety of flora and is impeccably maintained. There are plenty of self-guided walks inside the impressive garden and the views from the northern end of the park are simply superb. I visited the park on a sunny day but was pre-warned to carry woolens as Bedugul’s weather is as capricious as a diva’s tantrum. On the way back, I stopped over briefly at the popular Candikuning Fruit Market and found it to be a tourist trap. Offering a small, colourful array of fruits, vegetables, spices and handicrafts for sale, Candikuning is a must stop for all Bedugul group tours. The market is undoubtedly very photogenic and the vendors are friendly. They are also quite non-pushy, though the prices of their wares are over hiked and the souvenirs are not of the best quality. However, it is the best place to sample some of Bedugul’s famous fruits and I liked buying the local products from that market. The nearby Munduk is lovelier than Bedugul and the drive to the remote old hill town is absolutely stunning. Winding hilly roads, scented pine forests, drooping tropical blossoms, small villages, and flower farms dot all the way and Munduk is delightfully obscure. I was there on a day trip with the hostess of my homestay and had learned how to shop for a good quality fighter cock.
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My Munduk trip got waylaid by cockfighting
Cockfighting (and illegal betting) is hugely popular in Indonesia. The prized fighters are extremely precious possessions and the constant winners are worth a lot of money and pride. These majestic, but unfortunate birds are protectively kept under oblong wicker baskets and most roads in Indonesia are lined with roosters for sale. It so happened, that my landlady’s father used to be a fighter cock trainer in his younger days and he had bred many champions in his heydays. His services were still in great demand for his rooster buying skills and he could supposedly spot a winner from a distance. That Munduk day, thus, was spent over the excitement of getting home an angry bird. I had badly wanted to stay back at one of the quaint cottages in Munduk and go for hikes around the area but had ended up riding all the way to Candikuning with a crowing rooster in a big wicker basket, seated right next to me. Though it was not the most fruitful of my day trips, I was still glad that the landlady took me with her to Mundul and after that excursion, I stayed put in my homestay in Bedugul. The weather also turned a bit after that day and often bright sunshiny days got dramatically overshadowed by dark clouds. These huge grey balls of moisture would rumble down the hills bringing with them patches of heavy rain and chills, and it was the perfect weather to just stay cozy.
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The sacred hot springs, Air Panas of Banjar
On the day of my return to Ubud, I drove via the sacred hot springs “Air Panas” of Banjar and found it to be a really nice place. Located further north near Lovina Beach, the water of the hot springs is sulphuric in nature and supposedly has healing qualities for rheumatism. Set amidst lush jungle, the pools are built in different levels and the deliciously warm water gush out of stone dragons’ snouts at varying pressure. Beautifully landscaped gardens surround it and the warm sunshine makes the experience of soaking in them even more pleasurable. Although the air panas were pretty crowded by the time, I reached there, it felt nice to get my aching back massaged by forceful hot water. I left the island of Bali soon after my Bedugul visit and missed its idyllic, tropical dreamy days a lot. My stay on the island made me contemplate life and I started seriously understanding the value of a happy place. Bali is my happy place and I can never have enough of its gentle homey loveliness. As cheesy as it sounds a.k.a in Elizabeth Gilbert style, I hope to settle down in Bali someday and call that paradise island my home.
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Bedugul Travel Guide
Bedugul is naturally very beautiful and is home to one of Bali’s prettiest and most famous temples, Pura Unun Danau Bratan. The area is a great spot for trekking as well and suits offbeat travelers. You know you are in Bedugul when you visit the pretty Lake Temple of Danu Bratan.
Where is Bedugul: This pretty hilly town is on the main road between Seminyak in the south and Singaraja and Lovina in the north. The whole area of the villages within the caldera of the extinct Bedugul volcano, including Bedugul itself, Candikuning and Pancasari, is called Bedugul.
How to Reach: It takes about an hour from Sanur or Kuta to reach Bedugul. You can rent a motorbike, a car, or take a taxi to go there. The local bemo minibusses are also available.
How to get around: Rent a motorbike, take a local minibus (bemo) or hire a car with a driver
Where to Stay: From the posh Handara Golf and Resort to lovely homestays, Bedugul has plenty of accommodations. Camping is possible in designated areas.
Highlights of Bedugul: The three volcanic lakes: Danu Bratan, and the twin lakes Danu Buyan and Danu Tamblingan are the highlights of this region. It is a “lakes and treks” area along with some very picturesque temples. Danu Bratan is most popular, followed by Danu Buyan which is surrounded by forest and Danu Tamblingan can be reached via nearby Munduk. Water activities like paddle boats, banana boats, and speed boats are available at Danu Bratan. Danu Buyan has a popular camping area. All three lakes offer good trekking options.
Things to see and do in Bedugul:
- Lake Temple or Pura Ulan Danu (Timing: 08:00 – 20:00, Entrance Fee: Rp.10,000, Rp.5000 for children, parking space is available, arrive before the opening time to avoid coaches full of day-trippers, dress modestly)
- Botanical Garden (Timing: 08:00 – 18:00 daily, Entrance Fee: Rp.7000 for locals, Rp.18,000 for foreigners, plus Rp.5,000 for cars, you can have picnics there, jogging tracks are available)
- Strawberry Picking (Strawberry season is July-September. The whole area is full of strawberry farms where you can pick berries. Arrive early for the best pick; after 4 p.m. the farmers will begin harvesting the leftover strawberries to be sold in the city.)
- Other Activities (Zipling at Bali Treetop Adventure Park, Handara Golf and Resort)
Munduk and “Air Panas” of Banjar Travel Tips
- Munduk: Apart from Bedugul, North Bali offers the hidden gem of Munduk. This simple village is one of Bali’s most appealing mountain retreats. It has cool misty weather and is set among lush hillsides covered with jungle, rice fields, and fruit trees. There are plenty of waterfalls around and it is a great place for trekking. Munduk has a lot of really nice places to stay and these range from old Dutch colonial summer homes to retreats. This is a culturally immersive destination. It takes around two hours to reach Mundul from Ubud or Canggu. For more Munduk information, check this post.
Air Panas of Banjar: Banjar Hot Springs or Air Panas of Banjar are located west of Lovina. Hop on a local ojek/ motorcycle taxi from the bemo stop on the main road to the hot springs. Let the ojek wait for your return otherwise it is 2.4 kilometers downhill walk. These are natural hot springs surrounded by tropical gardens. Wearing a swimsuit is mandatory and soap or shampoo is not allowed inside the pool. Separate shower and toilet facilities are available. The spring water is known to cure aches, pains, rheumatism, and skin ailments. Banjar Hot Spring is open from 8 am to 6 pm. Arrive early and know that it gets crowded. The entrance fee is Rp. 20,000 (adult), Rp. 10,000 (child), and parking charges are Rp. 5,000 for cars.
Follow the rest of Indonesia series
- Lombok Island solo trip
- Lombok Travel Guide
- Gili Islands Travel Guide
- Yogyakarta Travel Memories
- My experience of a Borobudur sunrise in Java
- Mount Bromo and the Sea of Sand
- Ijen Volcano and the Blue Fire
- Uluwatu and the rice terraces of Bali
- The black sand beaches of Amed in east Bali
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