Mountain lakes with rolling mist and pleasantly cool temperatures are features of Bali's highland Bedugul region.
Although not as spectacularly rugged as the more active volcanic area of Gunung Batur, Bedugul enjoys abundant natural beauty 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 too.
On the main road between Seminyak in the south and Singaraja and Lovina in the north, Bedugul is the name commonly used to describe the villages within the caldera of the extinct Bedugul volcano, including Bedugul itself, Candikuning and Pancasari. The focal points are three volcanic lakes: Danau Bratan, and the twin lakes Danau Buyan and Danau Tamblingan. Danau Bratan is popular with local tourists for water sports and a variety of craft skim the lake including paddle ducks, banana boats and peace-shattering speedboats. On its shores, caves dug by the Japanese during World War II make an interesting quick visit. Danau Buyan, largely surrounded by forest, has a popular camping area. Danau Tamblingan is more often reached via nearby Munduk. All three lakes offer good trekking options.
Aside from the renowned temple, the highlight of the region is the beautiful Bali Botanic Gardens where you can easily spend a few hours wandering and exploring the wooded hills or partake in zip-line fun at Bali Treetop Adventure Park.
Handara Golf and Resort between Danau Bratan and Danau Buyan offers a world-class course for those inclined to hitting little balls around grassy knolls. They also offer some upmarket lodging.
Around Bedugul, a number of “mini zoos” offer “pictures with animals”. Please don’t stop or even get close to have a look. The animals have been trapped from the wild where they should be left and are often kept in cramped conditions. Taking photos or showing interest only encourages this practice.
Bedugul is Bali’s fruit and vegetable garden, thanks to rich volcanic soils. The abundance of crops grown here includes carrots, cabbages, onions, and most famously for tourists, strawberries. Several pick-your-own strawberry farms can be found all over the area, with prices around 50,000 to 70,000 rupiah per kilo, not including what you eat in the process. Local produce markets make an interesting stop to try some local fruit or just photograph the artistic pyramids of neatly stacked fruit and veggies. Near the giant corn and cabbage statue, Candikuning market attracts busloads of tourists on day tours, and the inflated prices are eye-popping — bargain hard if you intend to purchase. You will see cages of rabbits (not just for pets), steamed corn sellers (imagine Carmen Miranda, with only corncobs), orchids and pot plants, and store after store of crispy snacks, plus of course, the ubiquitous strawberries. Avoid buying orchids even if your country allows you to bring in plants, as many are protected.
Further north, and less touristy, the Pancasari market is perhaps a more interesting stop. Marked by a giant strawberry, plus carrots atop golden slices of melon (we think?), the market here is a more typical Balinese local market. Look out for the shrines filled with abundant offerings perched above each stall. In the evenings, the small street alongside the market becomes a night market selling all kinds of delicious food and snacks, including crispy hot pisang goreng and barbecued corn.
Although a popular destination for local and foreign tourists alike arriving on long day trips from the south, very few overnight in Bedugul. If you have time though we think it’s worth a stop to explore the area. Unfortunately accommodation choices are limited, and some are overpriced for what they offer. A few good options are however available, including a couple of campsites. For a greater range of accomodation choices, nearby Munduk's hotels may also be worth considering.
Bedugul has a large Muslim population, descendants of immigrants from the Karangasam kingdom who arrived in the early 1900s from Lombokto farm the area. Many restaurants around the area reflect this cultural mix. Ayam taliwang, a spicy grilled chicken dish originally from Sumbawa (via Lombok) is almost a Bedugul signature dish.
At an elevation of around 1,200 metres, it can get decidedly cool in Bedugul in the evenings, so don’t forget to pack a jacket and long pants.
A cluster of ATMs and minimarkets can be found near the corn and cabbage statue at Candikuning, and another group of ATMs are near the entrance to Pura Ulun Danau Bratan. The post office is just north of Pancasari market and the police station is located on the main road near the entrance to Handara Golf and Resort. The closest hospitals are in Singaraja.
By Sally Arnold.
Last updated on 12th October, 2016.