Bali is a heavenly place. Each time I visit, I feel so relaxed and all I want to do is lounge at the pool, the beach or at one of the many beachside cafés. I would normally have lots of ideas for a Bali day trip but even after several visits, I’ve only seen a fraction (read: the beaches) of the island. I’m not sure how to explain it – when I arrive at the airport, I feel an instant wave of serenity wash over me. Even the chaotic scenes on the roads fail to faze me. Maybe it’s the deeply spiritual character of this island, or its gracious people, or the abundant use of water ornaments, fountains, ponds or waterfalls – the calming sound of flowing water is never far away, at hotels, cafés and spas. Whatever it is, elaborate plans to explore the island simply fade away and I soon find myself asleep under a swaying palm, with a cold beer at my side, in a blissful state.
A Bali day trip
After a few days, I managed to tear myself away from my villa in Seminyak for a Bali day trip with some friends. I wanted to go back to a place I’d visited on my first trip to Bali twenty years before: Gunung Batur. Gunung (or Mount) Batur is an active volcano in central Bali that rises dramatically from inside a massive caldera. It’s a stunning place that’s absolutely worth a visit.
The drive to Gunung Batur
The drive to Mt. Batur (map) takes a few hours from the Seminyak/Kuta area and there are many places of interest along the way such as temples, silver and batik factories, picturesque rice terraces and an astonishing number of handicraft stores and art galleries – indeed the road from Batubulan to Tegallalang (map), about 12 kilometers long, has got to be one of the longest stretches of handicraft shops in the world. The number of stores selling rock and wood carvings, jewellery, paintings, glassware, furniture and batik is simply astounding. It can be quite overwhelming if you want to find something here – the town of Ubud (Bali’s cultural centre) is a better bet for a leisurely shopping experience.
We stopped at a family temple (a small temple in a private compound) and a village temple – the intricate gold-gilded wood carvings that decorate the temples are perfect examples of the sublime craftsmanship of the Balinese.
We also visited silver and batik factories, a must for the first-time visitor. The UC silver factory was especially noteworthy – watching the masters at work really makes you appreciate the fine ornaments they create so much more. If you have some silver jewellery that needs a good polish, just ask one of the workers and they would gladly polish it for a tip.
We made a quick stop at Tegallalang to admire the verdant rice terraces before continuing up to Mt. Batur.
We arrived at Kinatamani, the hamlet at the edge of the Batur caldera, right in time for lunch. We sat out on the deck and took in the magnificent view of the volcano and the caldera lake. We watched as the clouds rolled in like a massive wave over the caldera rim and into the basin. Simply breathtaking.
The Sacred Water Temple
We then continued to another highlight of the day: the Tirta Empul temple or Sacred Water temple is one of the holiest places on the island and is certainly my favourite of the many Balinese temples.
It was fascinating to see the locals perform their cleansing rituals in the crystal-clear, petal-filled pools. We chatted with one of the locals and he explained the ritual of going from one fountain to the next whilst saying a prayer at each to cleanse both the body and soul.
We slowly made our way back to Seminyak, passing the Elephant Cave (another tourist attraction). The Balinese countryside, with its rice terraces, forested hills, quaint villages and temples, is absolutely gorgeous.
A sunset dinner in Canggu
We asked the driver to drop us off at Canggu where we found a beach cafe to sit at and watch the sunset. We ended up staying on longer and tucked into a delicious seafood dinner!
If you’re visiting Bali, I certainly recommend this day trip to Mount Batur. There are group tours but it’s much better to arrange a private car and plan your own itinerary. It’s very easy to arrange a car and a driver/guide – the hotel concierge can help but that is often a pricey option. Instead, check with the other guests for recommendations.
Check out my guide to Bali.
Thank you for informing me. I had no idea – I honestly thought the cats were wild and the droppings were collected in the forest. Greatly appreciate your comment.
Please don’t recommend Luwak Coffee (Cat Poo Coffee). It is a process that is exploitative and cruel. Luwaks (or civet cats) are wild, shy, nocturnal animals and in the coffee process that are captured and force fed coffee beans. It’s wrong.
Yes, you can hike up Gunung Batur. If I’m not mistaken, it’s a hike that takes a few hours – I’ve never done it though but I’ve heard that the views from the top are spectacular.
Bali seems to be growing in popularity quite a bit. I guess a lot of entrepreneurs have made the move there. Anyway, that’s a nice sunset photo. Do you know if the volcano, Gunung Batur, is climbable or is it closed off?
Great Bali tips, Keith! I’m especially intrigued by the cat poo coffee now 😉 I hope I can get my hands on some while being in Bali this week! 😉
If I remember correctly, hiring a car+driver/guide for a day to go up to Mt. Batur (from Kuta/Legian/Seminyak) costs in the region of $100, so it’s cheaper (per person) if there are 2-3 of you. Hope this helps. My experience is that it’s better to check the taxis in the street (make sure you find someone who speaks decent English), ask at the hotel concierge and check with the hotel staff (try the bartender) and compare the prices before making a booking.
Hope this helps. Enjoy Bali!
We will be one day in bali during our reuise around Australia in march, april this year. Would like to know what is a reasonable price for such a tour by car to the vulcano of mount batur and back…? Thank you.
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I tasted the Cat Poo coffee too when I was in Bali last month and I find it so-so. I prefer my non-poo coffee anytime.
Not long ago, I did not give a lot of consideration to giving feedback on blog page posts and have positioned comments even much less. Reading through via your nice posting, will help me to do so sometimes.
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I love Bali. It is my favorite place on earth. I went recently with my kids and it was just magical. We had so much fun there. My kids favorite things to do in Bali were the elephant rides and visiting Turtle Island. Great place to go with your kids!
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Awesome place which I am yet to visit. Should start planning for it as I won a Fully Paid Holiday for 2 to Bali last year but have not used it…. gahh….
Thanks for the article Keith, makes me want to go more now.
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Thanks for your comment Sophie. Bali is a pretty incredible place isn’t it? 🙂
Ah memories. Haven’t been in Bali in years and years. It was one of the first places I took my oldest daughter (then 4). Such an incredibly easy place to travel around (and just hang around in) with a child. We absolutely loved it.
Hopped over from Ciki’s. Great travel posts, I envy you. Hahaha … I love Bali as well, and vowed to return in the near future. Probably spending more time in Kuta this time, for we spent a little too much time in Ubud the previous trip.
The days are getting longer, and we get teased by the odd remarkable day but the Canadian spring is a long way from feeling heavenly. I want to go to Bali NOW and I’ll have a cup of the less pricey coffee please.
Yup, I’m serious. It has a rich coffee taste and aroma. If they didn’t tell me it was cat poo, I wouldn’t have known… hahaha!
Cat poo coffee — is this serious? Hahaha, I would love to try this, but psychologically, it may make me gag!! Yummm…coffee in Bali! The Indonesians (Java) are leaders in coffee production!
Thank you Simon & Mei for your comments. I love, love, love Bali! 🙂
Lovely post, Keith. I still remember the peace I felt in Bali, the lovely countryside, the amazing handicrafts. Regarding private car to go around, I made things very simple: I caught a taxi cab parked along the street and negotiated a price for the day. It was a great and relatively (because I was traveling alone) cheap way to move around, stopping wherever I liked and as long as I liked. It was an unusual but fabulous ‘luxury’… 🙂
amazing shots and vivid descriptions keith. You were not joking when you said it was breathtaking. Yea, i remember the Luwak coffee.. to think that it is digested through the GI tract of the cute lil animal before consumed.. and that’s what makes it expensive? LOL, I think I’ll pass. Batur is spectacular. you really did the shot justice:)