A day trip to Munduk Village.
I needed a wee so bad. We had been driving and meandering through the mountains for what had felt like a lifetime and finally we had found somewhere where I could relieve myself. Or so we had thought.
As I was stood in front of an excitable and enthusiastic Balinese lady explaining in depth how luwak coffee was made whilst pointing towards another lady slowly stirring a boiling pot of coffee looking far less enthusiastic, I realised, we had joined a coffee tour on a coffee plantation. I just needed a wee. I listened patiently for the next five minutes about the process of making the expensive and lucrative coffee whilst clutching myself like a four-year-old trying to not appear uninterested or frustrated. Until I caved. I just blurted out far too loudly than was necessary ‘Is there a toilet? I really need a wee’
The lovely Balinese lady looked slightly alarmed, probably due to the uncalled-for volume of my proclamation. But her face soon softened again, and she ushered me to the toilets. Thank goodness. Finally.
Our trip to Bali was booked with short notice (for us) as we could no longer travel to Sri Lanka due to the devastating terror attacks and the fact our insurance company refused to cover us. So, we had no flexibility with our travel dates having already booked them off work and they just so happened to be the first two weeks in August. Well, it was super busy.
Our first stop in Bali was Ubud. We were anticipating tranquil rice paddies, sleepy towns and calming temples. What we in fact travelled into, was busy bustling streets, traffic jams lasting hours just to make your way 2 kms up through the town and far more people than we ever wanted to see in relaxing Ubud. We were advised and reassured by locals that it is usually far quieter, but August is extremely busy. Of course, it is. I am not sure why we thought Bali would be any different.
Either way, it meant us really reconsidering our itinerary of things we wanted to see. The attractions close to Ubud such as the Gates of heaven, the rice paddies and the water temples are big hits on Instagram, and we were just not prepared to queue for hours on our one long holiday of the year for even the most perfect and worthy of Instagram shots. So, we set about looking for somewhere we could go away from the hustle and bustle of busy Ubud. Scouring locations on google we finally found some information on a village a few hours away called Munduk.
Munduk is a village nestled in the mountains in Northern Bali set about 800 metres above sea level and at least a few degrees cooler than its hot and humid neighbours further south. The drive took around 1 hour and 40 minutes to get there by car and the views on the way were worth the journey alone! We did see some people using a scooter but after seeing some of the mental driving we opted for a driver and found it a much more relaxing experience!
As I stared softly out of the car window at the beautiful views of steamy rice paddies beneath us, I was filled with relief and curiosity. Relief that we had dodged the Ubud crowds today and finally found somewhere to explore not too far away and curiosity as to what we might find in this lesser-known mountainous village.
The driver pointed at a viewpoint and we agreed with a ‘Yes please’. His spoken English wasn’t amazing, but then again, our Indonesian was non-existent. All the same, we had built a bond with him over the last few days, forged on smiles, nods and friendly waves when he arrived each morning to collect us.
We jumped out of the car and I nearly tripped over myself trying to get to the edge of the railings to check out the view that I had read about out in the many blogs I had been trawling over for weeks.
It was breath-taking… rice paddies and fields for as far as the eye could see…. Little houses and workers carrying woven baskets over their shoulders…
Steffans shrill voice broke me out of my trance and I spun around to see what on earth had happened expecting to see him hanging from the railings in desperation hand held out to me in terror….
‘There’s a huge snake!’ He exclaimed in a pitch I don’t think I had ever heard him reach and pointed towards a small table a few feet from him.
There was in fact a huge snake. Just loose. Just sleeping. My eyes started to scour the area for an owner or zookeeper or whoever would be responsible for such a large animal on a tourist-packed viewpoint. I noticed tourists stood around a friendly-looking guy holding an owl…. There was a Luwak on a tall table next to him with a donation box underneath and after further investigation a bat hanging from a branch. What was this? A con? A Money grabbing ploy where these poor animals were being kept from their natural habitats?
It didn’t take us too long to start chatting to the guy in charge of the huge snake and small animal farm and he explained to us that he does a lot of work with an animal that is hurt or unable to live in the wild due to injury and also aims to educate people like us on the species so that we have a better understanding if we see and interact with them. After checking him out on Instagram he was in fact everything he said he was. I scolded myself for being so cynical and mistrusting. Watching a bat eat baby food was one of the cutest things I have seen to date……
After chatting away and interacting with the animals we set off on our way worried we wouldn’t even make it to Munduk if we kept stopping off every 10 minutes!
Then came the toilet stop which somehow ended up being a coffee tour around an entire Luwak coffee plantation which took 45 minutes… our driver looked most confused when we finally emerged from the tall trees and bushes loaded with brown paper shopping bags of coffee and being waved off by an excited Balinese lady most proud that she had run a successful tour resulting in sales of varying flavours of Luwak coffee.
By mid-afternoon we finally arrived in Munduk village and found ourselves on one long road with small wooden benches on the right-hand side offering food and snacks with the most stunning views and signposts popping up every few minutes on the left-hand side, made from planks of wood with hand-painted names decorating it, ushering tourists to a waterfall or plantation down below.
We were worlds away from busy Ubud that was for sure and we set about frantically googling and reviewing screenshots we had taken the night before trying to decide what we wanted to see and do. Yes, our planning needs much work.
So, what is there to do in Munduk Village?
Firstly, to mention, nothing in Munduk is easily walkable. Most of the spots you may want to visit are 5-10 minutes drive away so its recommended to take a car or scooter.
There are three main waterfalls in Munduk Village. All require some hiking and some easier than others.
· Melanting waterfalls
· The middle falls
· Munduk waterfall
We only visited Munduk waterfall and whilst it is apparently the busiest as it is the most easily accessible, there were only around five other people there later in the afternoon. It cost just 20’000 rupiah per person which is around £1gbp. It’s small at just 15 metres high but beautiful all the same and the walk down through coffee plantations is pretty.
Munduk coffee is supposed to be some of the best on the island, if not the best in all of Bali. There are many coffee plantations around Munduk village and on the way there. It is so easy to find a plantation you may just join a tour accidentally as we did! Jokes aside, we actually really enjoyed the tour and trying the different coffee, it was an experience in itself.
Viewpoints over the twin lakes
If you are looking for some beautiful views whilst in Munduk Village, and let’s be honest, of course, you are! Balinese mountains are well known for serene breath-taking views and Munduk itself does not disappoint. The viewpoints along the main road in Munduk offer various incredible vantage points overlooking Tamblingan Lake and Buyan Lake.
Surrounded by rainforest and green lush trees it is no wonder the lakes attract tourists daily! There are number of viewpoints and photography opportunities as you drive along the main road, some are free, and some are not. There are the usual suspects of bird nests and swings being managed by locals and for a small fee, you can take advantage of this amazing view and get your perfect Instagram shot!
Giant banyan tree
When we were googling things to do in Munduk the idea of visiting a 700-year-old tree just caught our eye and we had to go and pay our respects. This huge Banyan tree can be found at gesing village, 5 minutes from Munduk and is really easy to find using google maps. The Giant Tree is approximately 700 years old and 85 m high and has a maze of roots that grow out and up (by approximately 70 metres!) creating a canopy underneath the tree. The tree is said to have a special spirit that lives in it that will grant your wishes.
We adore a good trek… but sadly on this trip we just didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. That said, trekking is the most popular activity in Munduk and it’s not a surprise with its wealth of lakes, waterfalls, coffee plantations and rice paddies!
There are many hikes and treks you can do and performing a simple google search will instantly bring up various routes for you to explore. You can also do organised treks and hikes if that’s your preference!
Whilst not actually in Munduk, you drive right past this beautiful lake and temple on your way to Munduk if you are travelling North and it’s definitely worth a pit stop. Known as one of Bali’s most picturesque spots is Ulun Danu Bratan temple which sits proudly in the middle of the lake. Mountains dominate the background and the temple complex is beautifully landscaped with well-manicured gardens and beautiful bright flowers.
The entrance cost is just 50’000 rupiah which is around £3gbp. We visited around 10 am and it was fairly quiet, but we were advised it does get super busy later in the day.
In conclusion, Munduk village is stunning and is vastly underrated. There is so much to see and do and the views are breathtaking. The journey is just full of surprises and the natural beauty of this mountainous region is not to be missed. We left Munduk that day not wanting to leave and still can confidently say it was our favourite day out of our entire 2 weeks spent in beautiful Bali.
To read about our top thing to do on the gorgeous island of Nusa Penida click here