Friendly, mountainset Munduk sees village life go on in Bali as it has for generations. The hospitality remains warm and genuine at the good selection of guesthouses and homestays here; this is old Bali at its best.
Set along the twisting road from Bedugul towards the north coast’s Seririt, the appealing village stretches for just 700 metres along an escarpment running down from the northwestern rim of the Bedugul caldera. As the ridge tumbles steeply on either side into the valleys below, distant paddy and spice plantations create spectacular scenery.
At approximately 800 metres above sea level, it’s cool and misty; you won’t need a fan or air-con here, and don’t forget to pack a jacket for the evenings in particular. Aside from staring at the amazing views, which can easily while away a few days, there’s trekking galore and waterfalls to explore — but be sure to be back in time to watch the sunset unfold to a chorus of cicadas and frogs.
Historically, the Dutch colonists sought escape from the coastal heat in Munduk, and remnants of colonial architecture are dotted here and there. Several old buildings have been converted to guesthouses, and their charm is a good enough reason to visit in itself. The Dutch established many of the plantations in the surrounds, and still today the sweet scent of drying cloves and coffee permeates the air.
Most guesthouses fall into the flashpacker price range, with many offering spectacular views, and heartfelt welcomes. Mid- and top-range hotels are a little out of the centre of the village or within the surrounding valleys. Light sleepers will need earplugs in Munduk, as the local wildlife, roosters, and dogs can make quite a racket, and village life starts early. Free WiFi is offered everywhere, but is not always reliable.
Guesthouses and hotels arrange trekking within the area and many offer sometimes confusing hand-drawn maps to help you navigate independently. Nearby Tamblingan Nature Recreation Park is a great spot for treks around Danau Tamblingan (Lake Tamblingan) and into the surrounding forest. Just north of Munduk village, short hikes into the jungle reveal Tanah Barak, Melanting and Golden Valley waterfalls, which are excellent local attractions.
The local guide association, Giri Suta, have set prices for guided treks in the area, and you can choose between three levels of English competence depending on whether you would like someone to explain in depth about the local flora, fauna and culture, or you just need a path pointer, or something in-between. Rates are per group (generally up to four). For two to three hours prices are 150,000/200,000/275,000 rupiah; three to four hours 250,000/300,000/375,000 rupiah; five to six hours 350,000/450,000 /550,000 rupiah. If you’re not up for trekking, Puri Lumbung Cottages offer a number of cultural classes as well as yoga. Or relax with a massage at Double O Massage, located in the middle of the village.
Eating options in Munduk are mostly local, and good, plus a gobsmacking view is standard fare as well. Most guesthouses have restaurants and several excellent local warungs line the main drag. A handful offer cooking classes — if you like the food, ask to be shown how to make it. A small coffee roasting and grinding business within the Taman Sari Guesthouse compound is no Starbucks and not even a cafe — it’s just a backyard — but here you can sip some of the freshest coffee around.
You won’t be going to Munduk for a shopping spree, but coffee and spices are available all over the place and make great souvenirs. Be aware that what is often labelled as macadamia nuts, are not — they are candlenuts and should be cooked before being consumed. They can be toxic if consumed raw, and don’t taste that good anyway (one won’t hurt you, but a handful may be harmful). The “saffron” isn’t either, but that will only harm your pocket. Don’t buy kopi luwak (civet coffee), even if some around Munduk is “real”, as it supports and encourages a cruel industry. In the middle of town, Mekar Sari (T: (0857) 9292 2889) sell traditional bamboo musical instruments and handicrafts.
Getting to Munduk is possible via both tourist shuttle bus and local bus, and private transport services can drop you at various destinations around Bali. They can sometimes sort out a share taxi as well. Around the local area, shanks’ pony is your best bet, or ask at your guesthouse for motorbike taxis or cars.
By Sally Arnold.
Last updated on 9th July, 2016.