Taiwan’s Waterfalls Top 17 NEW Waterfalls From 2016

2016 was an absolutely incredible year for me. I visited over 100 waterfalls in four different countries and am part of a new and growing hiking group in southern Taiwan (Southern Taiwan Hiking Group – FB). My waterfall guide has grown to 150 waterfalls (end of January) and over 50 more in 4 other countries. 2017 will see a focus on getting to the last really important waterfalls in Taiwan such that I will be able to publish a Taiwan’s Waterfalls guidebook someday. This is a daunting task but step 1 is collecting the information and writing it down. I hope to have information on 200 waterfalls by the time I self-publish. For the latest updates you can follow me at Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB and Taiwan’s Waterfalls IG.

My next goal is to start doing more international trips. Indonesia is one of my favorite countries and I have found so many interesting and incredible waterfalls there. Japan has always interested me but I am usually busy during the summer and fall and haven’t been able to schedule a trip yet. I also want to cover the major waterfalls in all of the East Asian countries and visit Europe sometime. I have a future expansion of my waterfall guide planned. Right now I hide my international trips on my Taiwan’s Waterfalls website but soon they will have their own website (bought the domain) with their own IG and FB accounts. You can start following them now Planet Waterfall IG and Planet Waterfall FB.

One other big first for me this year was publishing a Taiwan’s Waterfalls calendar. I didn’t do much promoting it but I did sell 80 copies of it. This is something I definitely plan on doing again next year and hopefully come up with an even better plan for selling it. The calendar is print on demand so all you need is a credit card and lulu.com will ship anywhere in the world. Click to view the calendar on lulu.com

I hope that everyone’s 2016 was great and I hope that some of you were able to use my waterfall guide to visit some great places. Did anyone do something particularly memorable in 2016? Does anyone have any big 2017 plans?

My top waterfalls from 2015

My 2016 waterfall to do list (did 8/10)

My 2014 year in review (link)

  1. I started last year by going to Baiyang Waterfall in Taroko Gorge on January 1st. My sister and brother-in-law braved the horrible holiday traffic on the way to one of Taroko Gorge’s best places. The hike to the waterfall passes through (at least) 8 tunnels along an old road before arriving at the waterfall. The traffic leaving Taroko Gorge was awful unfortunately. I cannot believe they don’t have some sort of traffic control on peak traffic days to avoid buses getting stuck in the narrow roads. Multiple times we (and many cars behind us) had to back up due to a buses coming uphill.

Find out more about Baiyang Waterfall

2. Longgong (Dragon Palace) Waterfall in Chiayi had been on my to do list for a long time. At Longgong Waterfall hikers are able to go behind the waterfall via a cleft in the rock.

Find out more about Longgong Waterfall

3. At Chinese New Year I planned my entire trip to North Sumatra around visiting Sipisopiso Waterfall. It didn’t disappoint at all. The waterfall is over 100 meters tall and all you need to do is turn around for a great view of Lake Toba. The hike is nothing special (600+ stairs) but it is a magnificent waterfall.

Find out more about Sipisopiso Waterfall

4. I had high expectations for Sipisopiso Waterfall but I knew very little about Dua Warna Waterfall prior to visiting. Dua Warna is less visited and it follows a trail for 4 km through a beautiful forest. Dua Warna falls 25-30 meters into a stunning turquoise blue pool surrounded by green walls. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls. Sadly, a flash flood occurred this year and about 20 university students were killed. The waterfall remains closed the last that I heard.

Find out more about Dua Warna Waterfall

5. During the 2/28 holiday Asher (followxiaofei.com) and I hiked the Shimenggu Trail in Chiayi and this is the trail that I repeatedly tell people is my favorite hike. The waterfall is nice but this trail has it all. You start by hiking up a nearly straight, 500 meter tall valley. There is a suspension bridge to 1000 person cave and Shuiyang Lake. There is an old farmhouse with a beautiful garden with cherry blossoms, rhododendrons and maple trees. Sadly most of the giant cypress trees were illegally logged recently but one still stands next to the trail. I returned this year and explored the valley above Qingrengu Waterfall and I can see why this place is called Shimenggu (Stone Dream Valley).

Find out more about Qingrengu Waterfall

6. Hudie (Butterfly) Waterfall is part of one of the 7 Guguan Heroes hikes in Taichung. I didn’t think the Tangmadanshan Hike was that great but Hudie Waterfall is a really nice one.

Find out more about Hudie Waterfall

7. Wutai in Pingtung County is one of the best regions for checking out waterfalls in Taiwan. Feilong (Flying Dragon) Waterfall was another great find by Asher (followxiaofei.com). This was also the start of our Tuesday morning hikes with the Southern Taiwan Hiking Group (FB). Most English teachers don’t start work until 5pm on Tuesdays and we took advantage of that by going out for morning hikes to some great places.

Find out more about Feilong Waterfall

8. I grew up in Minnesota and took many trips to the peaceful Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) but I didn’t spend much time exploring the rest of the north shore in Minnesota. I went home in June last year and dragged my family to a total of 13 waterfalls on my trip home. Minnesota has an amazing system of state parks and the north shore is wildly underrated nationally in my opinion. The High Falls of the Baptism River at Tettegouche State Park is just one of the great waterfalls along the north shore of Lake Superior.

Find out more about High Falls on the Baptism River

9. The High Falls on Pigeon River is located on Minnesota/Canada border and is legitimately one of the top 25 or 50 waterfalls in the US. My trip home occurred weeks after heavy rains hit the state and all of the waterfalls looked amazing.

Find out more about High Falls on the Pigeon River

10. Fenghuang Waterfall isn’t particularly large and the hike isn’t that great down 1500 stairs but it is a great swimming hole. This was one of trips where the Southern Taiwan Hiking Group really came together as a group. 14 of us hung out for one afternoon and kicked off a great fall and winter of exploring Taiwan.

Find out more about Fenghuang Waterfall

11. Shiwang (Lion King) Waterfall had been on Asher’s (followxiaofei.com) to do list for a long time but I never had any really good information or photos of the place. The area is really, really steep and I had thought it might be inaccessible by normal hikers. Asher’s persistance paid off on a tip from some elderly Taiwanese hikers and we found the trail down to the waterfall. I plan on going back this spring using the river from Sandimen because I didn’t like this hike at all. It descends about 300 meters in only 1 km on broken slate. The other route might be longer but likely more enjoyable.

Find out more about Shiwang Waterfall

12. Rainy weekends and later on typhoons affected Taiwan all summer and we took very few trips. I had looked forward to the 4 day Moon Festival holiday weekend for weeks and was devastated when a typhoon was going to ruin our plans. In less than 24 hours I booked a plane ticket and landed in East Java to explore waterfalls. My favorite waterfall was obvious (the next one) but many of them could have been on this list. I had done a lot of research on this area but I missed Watu Ondo Waterfall and only found this one because I was looking for others.

Find out more about Watu Ondo Waterfall

13. I really enjoyed my East Java trip in September but Madakaripura Waterfall absolutely blew me away. It falls 200 meters into a hollow green tube. This is without question my favorite waterfall that I have ever been to.

Find out more about Madakaripura Waterfall

14. Almost immediately after returning from Indonesia I flew to the Philippines for the TBEX (Travel Blogger Exchange). That event was outstanding and it was the perfect excuse to explore southern Cebu and Kawasan Falls.  Kawasan Falls is famous internationally for its amazing blue waters but the atmosphere suffers a little bit due it being built up with restaurants. My recommendation is to do the full day canyoneering trip down to Kawasan Falls.

Find out more about Kawasan Falls

15. Kawasan Falls might be the most famous waterfall in Cebu but Inambakan Falls was easily my favorite. The biggest reason is that there were very few people and it was nearly as beautiful as Kawasan. Southern Cebu unlike much of the Philippines is terrible for farming but it contains a lot of limestone and every one of its waterfalls had beautiful blue pools.

Find out more about Inambakan Falls

16. Yunsen Waterfall is a great waterfall on one of the nicest waterfall hikes in northern Taiwan. The trail is easy and passes through a beautiful forest. Stronger hikers can see up to 8 waterfalls if they do the longer version of the hike to Manyueyuan.

Find out more about Yunsen Waterfall

17. Aohua Waterfall is really, really far from Kaohsiung but I loved this less known waterfall on the east coast. I look forward to taking a trip back here sometime.

Find out more about Aohua Waterfall

East Java’s Waterfalls

I have been to about twenty countries and most of Southeast Asia but Indonesia is one country that has completely blown me away. Indonesia is made up of 13,000-18,000 islands (no agreement apparently) and stretches over an area that is nearly as big as the continental US. Indonesia’s numerous volcanoes (many over 2000 meters), heavy rainfall and tropical temperatures result in a lush landscape with 1000’s of incredible waterfalls. I have just started exploring this amazing country.

Check out my trip to Bali’s Waterfalls in June 2015

Indonesia has impressed me so much that I have visited three times in less than two years and I am already planning my next trip (Lombok). My trip to East Java was a spur of the moment decision and planned less than two days. In September a big typhoon was headed to Taiwan on a Wednesday and in addition both Thursday and Friday were holidays that would have been ruined by bad weather so I took advantage of the time off and left Taiwan just before the typhoon hit. Luckily I had done a fair amount of research on Indonesia and had a good idea where I wanted to go. I still missed many great waterfalls that I have learned about through Instagram through many of the Indonesians that I follow. Follow me on Instagram

I started my trip by staying in a hostel in Malang and renting a motorcycle to explore the first 4 waterfalls in 2 days. After that I hired a private car to take me to Madakaripura Waterfall and then to meet my sister in Surabaya. I had completely underestimated how long it would take to travel between places and I should have limited my trip to the Malang and Probolinggo regions but I really wanted to see Grojogan Sewu Waterfall (#8 below) so my sister and I ended up riding long distances in hired cars. After meeting my sister we hired a second driver and stayed in Madiun and Yogyakarta before flying to our respective Asian homes (Taiwan for me and Jakarta for her).

Check out my trip to North Sumatra’s Waterfall (February 2016)

Indonesia is always hot so you can’t time your trip for cooler weather but there are distinct wet and dry seasons. Java and eastward tends to be rainy from December to March and then dryer the rest of the year. The best time to see waterfalls would be March to May but many of these big waterfalls should flow year round.

What waterfall recommendations do you have for me in East Java and the rest of Indonesia? I want to visit everywhere in this beautiful country.

  1. I started my trip with Pelangi Waterfall on the slopes of Mt Bromo. Pelangi Waterfall is one of the waterfalls that can be combined a Mt. Bromo sunrise tour (from Malang). It is a short hike into a deep lush valley. I was very impressed by the effort given by the locals to keep it clean (mostly clean).

                    

Click for directions to Pelangi Waterfall

2. Rondo Waterfall is one of the best known waterfalls in the Batu area. There isn’t much of a hike but the waterfall is quite impressive. There were other waterfalls in this region that are more remote that I will explore on my next trip.

Click for directions to Rondo Waterfall

3. Talun Waterfall isn’t located too far away from Rondo Waterfall but it only gets a fraction of the visitors. The short hike goes through a varied landscape before a steep downhill to the waterfall. It isn’t as tall as most of the waterfalls on this list but it is one of my favorites.

Click for directions to Talun Waterfall

4. Watu Ondo Waterfall was one of my favorites on the trip. It was a little off of the beaten path so it wasn’t too crowded (on a weekday) and the trail down to the waterfall provided perfect viewpoints the entire way down. As an added bonus there was a second smaller waterfall across from Watu Ondo Waterfall.

Click for directions to Watu Ondo Waterfall

5. Madakaripura Waterfall instantly became my favorite and the most impressive waterfall that I have ever visited. The stream isn’t particularly large but it is one of Indonesia’s tallest at 200 meters. But the most impressive part was walking into the 200 meter tall cylindrical tube with the green cliff walls towering above you. As an added bonus there is a smaller curtain waterfall that visitors will have to walk through before entering the green tube.

Click for directions to Madakaripura Waterfall

6. Sedudo Waterfall is one of East Java’s most famous and tallest waterfalls. It is fairly spectacular at 105 meters tall but the downfall of this popularity is a lack of nature. There were signs for two other waterfalls on the road to Sedudo Waterfall and these could have been the nice hike that I was looking for.

Click for directions to Sedudo Waterfall

7. Seweru Waterfall isn’t very big but it is located in an amazing gorge in a rarely traveled place. It takes the most effort to get there out of any on this list but it still isn’t very hard. Climbing over rocks and walking through the stream might be exciting for some. I loved the remoteness and the beauty of this waterfall.

Click for directions to Seweru Waterfall

8. I had such high expectations for Grojogan Sewu Waterfall and went way out of my way to get there. Because of these expectations, it was also the only disappointment of the trip. The waterfall itself is incredible but the area is overdeveloped, crowded and they use a significant two tiered pricing policy for foreigners. On weekends tickets cost 160,000 IDR (12 USD) compared to about 15,000 IDR for a local. Every other waterfall that I have visited so far in Indonesia was less than 25,000 IDR. I don’t mind paying 50% more or even double but 10x seemed ridiculous.

Click for directions to Grojogan Sewu Waterfall

Other waterfalls to check out next time. The links go to various blogs written in Indonesia Bahasa.

  1. Kapas Biru Waterfall
  2. Tumpak Sewu Waterfall
  3. Kakek Bodo Waterfall
  4. Jahe Waterfall
  5. Dolo Waterfall
  6. Canggu Waterfall
  7. Rais Waterfall
  8. Singkoromo Waterfall (near Sedudo Waterfall)
  9. Telaga Warna Waterfall

North Sumatra’s Waterfalls

During Chinese New Year I traveled to North Sumatra for my second trip to Indonesia. Last June I traveled to Bali but avoided the popular beaches along the southern coast and instead spent my time exploring small roads. In Bali I found 14 waterfalls, visited 10 temples and climbed a volcano and loved it. This time I picked something a little more off of the beaten path although rural Bali is not at all like the touristy parts.  In Sumatra I only visited 6 waterfalls but they were some of the best ones in all of Indonesia.

See my previous post on Bali’s Waterfalls

Sipisopiso Waterfall was of course the first thing that I knew about North Sumatra but as I researched the area I found a lot of other great waterfalls. I found travel logistics difficult and a lot of the roads are in terrible shape but North Sumatra is full of cool places (if you can get to them). The food was good, the people were really nice, I felt safe (didn’t stay in Medan) and the natural beauty was incredible. My biggest complaint is a complete and total lack of garbage/recycling programs. There were a few collection areas in Berastagi but throughout the countryside people either pitched their garbage in road ditches or burned it on the side of the road. A few of the top sights were well developed for tourism but many sights required a lot of effort from tourists to get to. I have many places on my to do list that either would have taken too long to get to or the roads were in questionable shape. This area has a lot of potential though and I look forward to returning in a few years.

Here are a few basic travel observations for North Sumatra. Buses travel all over North Sumatra but are slow. Private cars and drivers are available for hire and can be arranged through your guesthouse. The driest season to travel to Sumatra is Dec to April but they still average 100+ mm’s of rain every month. It rained almost every day during my trip in February. Most guesthouses are private rooms with shared or private bathrooms. I saw a few large palm oil plantations in North Sumatra but I saw mostly vegetable and fruit farms. According to a local the big palm oil plantations are in the southern part of Sumatra. The National Parks have been a success but there are still problems with poaching and illegal logging but things seem to be improving.

I am hoping to travel to Lombok (hike Mt Rinjani and some waterfalls) in May but I am not sure which Indonesian region to travel after that (in 2017). Yogyakarta and Borobudur? Mt Bromo and Madakaripura Waterfall? Flores and Kelimutu? Something strange like Sulawesi? I have a year to think about another destination but does anyone have any advice for a waterfall focused trip?

1. Sipisopiso Waterfall was at least 90% of the reason that I chose to travel to North Sumatra this year. Not only is it over 100 meters high but it flows out of a cave near the top of the cliff. From the main viewpoint visitors are able to turn around and also see Lake Toba. Those wanting to get closer to the waterfall can descend over 600 stairs to the base of the waterfall. Of course they will have to walk back up all of those stairs.

Click for directions to Sipisopiso Waterfall

2. Pelaruga Waterfall was a nice waterfall but at some point a tree was washed downstream and ended up directly in the middle of the waterfall. It has been there so long that it is more commonly referred to as Tongkat (Bahasa for stick) Waterfall by everyone. It is an adventure to reach but it is definitely worth it.

Click for directions to Pelaruga Waterfall

3. We found Sidompak Waterfall completely by accident. We knew virtually nothing about Tongging Village other than it was right next to Sipisopiso Waterfall and Lake Toba. We found Tongging to be a stunningly beautiful village surrounded by fjord like valleys that taper off into Lake Toba. We called Tongging ‘A place that isn’t a place yet’ and expect this sleepy village to transform into a tourist town in the future. But we visited Tongging before that happened.

Just by chance we stayed at the Wisma Sibayak Guesthouse and they had photos of a nearby waterfall on their wall and it wasn’t Sipisopiso Waterfall. We asked about it and not surprisingly they offered to find us a guide to the waterfall. We discussed whether or not we actually needed a local guide and we were extremely glad that we chose to hire one. There isn’t a trail and it is really challenging to make it to the waterfall even though you know where the waterfall is. I love finding places like this where there is nearly no information available on the internet in any language.

Click for directions to Sidompak Waterfall

4. Sikulikap Waterfall is a thunderous waterfall near Berastagi. The best part is that it is really easy to reach using public transportation. The downside is that most of the hike follows the valley directly below the Penatapen Restaurants and it is difficult to escape the noise and trash from the restaurants.

Click for directions to Sikulikap Waterfall

5. Ponot Waterfall is Indonesia’s tallest waterfall at 250 meters and it impressively plunges over a cliff wall. I am not completely convinced it is a natural waterfall though. I think Ponot Waterfall is actually a diversion tunnel for the upstream Siguragura Dam. Siguragura Waterfall is officially considered as Indonesia’s tallest waterfall but I believe that it is permanently dry just downstream of the dam.

Click for directions to Ponot Waterfall

6. Dua Warna (Two Color) Waterfall is perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have seen. It is only about 30-40 meters tall but it falls into a brilliant opaque blue pool that I haven’t seen before. Not only that but it is an outstanding hike through a beautiful forest and there is a second waterfall falling into the valley 30 meters away.

Click for directions to Dua Warna (Two Color) Waterfall

Other waterfalls that showed up in my research and are on my list for my next trip to North Sumatra. This page (in Bahasa) is a great resource for all of the sights in North Sumatra.

Lae Mbilulu Waterfall

Lae Une Waterfall

Tonduhan Waterfall

Pelangi Waterfall

Sampuren (Teroh Teroh) Waterfall

Bah Biak Waterfall

Lau Berte Waterfall 

Batu Lobang Waterfall

Nionggang Waterfall

Situmurun Waterfall

Tinggi Raja – not a waterfall but similar to Pammukale in Turkey

The 2015 blog stats

2015 was a big year for content on my blogs because I went many places.  2015 was also the year that my waterfall guide started taking off.  My blog became more popular also but the waterfall guide is becoming very well known.  It is pretty common meeting people that know about and use my waterfall guide.  Shown below are the top 11 most viewed waterfall guide pages.  Some are my favorites while others are conveniently located near Taipei so they are often visited.

  1. Shifen Waterfall – a photographer’s dream

The waterfall guide grew from 41,000 views to 69,000 views for a 68% increase last year.  The World Is Not That Big was viewed another 17,000 times.  That really isn’t the interesting part.  It is more interesting to see what pages they are viewing, what countries they come from and how they are referred to the site.

2. Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail – one of the best waterfall hikes in Taiwan

Pingxi happens to be one of the rainiest areas in Taiwan but it hadn’t rained for months when I visited.  I must go back.

Shifen Waterfall actually isn’t one of my favorite waterfalls but it absolutely dominates the traffic on my website.  Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail and Shalawan Waterfall are two of my favorites and deservedly rank 2nd and 3rd.  Shalawan Waterfall is unusual because when I published the guide there was almost no English information of it and I visited it for the first time this year.  Typically it takes a year or two for a page to become popular enough to rank highly but Shalawan immediately shot to #3 and I hear constant comments from expats about how much they love it.

3. Shalawan Waterfall – a remote and less visited waterfall

There were some pages that were viewed less last year but for the most part page views went up for every waterfall.  In addition to increased traffic on existing pages I also added over 60 pages of waterfalls, hikes, temples (Bali) and other sights to the guide.  Shalawan Waterfall (pictured above), Qufengbi Trail, Beidawushan, Haishen Waterfall, Laomei Reef, Qingshan Waterfall, Alibang Waterfall and Dadi Gorge all were viewed over 200 times despite being published this year.  Maybe a couple of these will be in the top 10 next year.

blog stats

note – %’s don’t include the home page or guide organization pages (each county page)

I don’t think anyone is surprised that Taiwan ISP addresses dominate my readers.  It will be interesting to see how this changes during the next 2-3 years as I add more and more content from outside of Taiwan.  Another expected stat was that the largest native speaking English countries ranked in the top 10 in addition to Singapore and Hong Kong which speak multiple languages at near native levels.

4. Lover’s Gorge Waterfall – the perfect swimming hole after a short hike

Indonesia made the largest year to year increase due to my trip to Bali in June and it should climb even higher if I am able to add content from Sumatra and Lombok this year.  One country notably absent is Japan since they have a large population and are one of Taiwan’s closest neighbors.  I am not sure if I will be able to travel to Japan this year or not but I want to take many trips to Japan during the next 5 years.

54. Banyumala Waterfall, Bali – this is the top ranked waterfall from Bali could vault into next year’s top ten

It is interesting that I get fewer readers from Taiwan on my blog versus my waterfall guide but this makes sense with how I use social media.  Most of the time I post my waterfall guide updates to the Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB page (followers are mostly in Taiwan) and I usually post my latest blogs to my personal FB page (a lot of friends and family from back home).  Additionally the waterfall guide is more useful to those living in Taiwan.

country stats

note – stats are for the waterfall guide except for the last column as a comparison

Referrals are essential for any blog to succeed and I have done very little to promote the blog myself.  I finally became active on social media (non-personal accounts) this year but I have barely scratched the surface.  The Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB page has grown from 120 followers to 640 followers this year since I have been posting regular guide updates in addition to linking to various waterfall sites from around the world.  Other than regularly (less so every year) posting on forumosa.com and occasionally commenting on other blogs, I have done very little social media promotion.

referral stats

More important than producing your own social media following is getting your site linked in other blogs and in their social media feeds.  Most of my referrals aside from FB (and many on FB also) and forumosa are from other people mentioning my blog.  Foodie Baker wrote a blog about Wulai years ago and their referrals keep increasing every year so their blog must be doing really well.  Michael Turton is a very popular (and sometimes polarizing) expat blogger in Taiwan with interests in politics, biking, history and travel.  Steven Crook is the Bradt Travel Guide Taiwan writer and does some blogging on two sites.  Taiwan Explorer has a popular FB page with a lot of discussion, writes a blog and publishes a blogroll at mytaiwanblogs.blogspot.twCamping in Taiwan is my go to resource for finding a campsite on my weekend excursions.  Green Laundry, Nomad Notions and Taiwanvore have in the past linked to my blog and their content still brings a few visitors.

My next social media avenue is pinterest.com.  This seems like an excellent outlet for photography blogs.  For the last couple of months I have been creating boards and pinning blogs that I like.  The plan is to create boards that people want to visit and build up a following (currently 140 followers) before adding a lot of my own content to the boards.  I have enjoyed creating my pinterest board Travel Blogs – The World’s Waterfalls.  Another big area of improvement is including properly sized images in blogs for different types of social media and to start putting titles on the photos.  Every blogger should be doing this (an example).

What types of social media do you think I should start using to promote my blog?  I plan on using Instagram this year.  I despise Twitter although many say that it is essential for bloggers.  Tumblr seems interesting but I didn’t really like using it.  Does anybody actually use Google+?  Is there any reason to post stuff on there?  I have no understanding of Reddit but somebody posted my guide on there last week and within a couple of days I had 200-300 hits from that site.  Snapchat sounds like my own little personal hell.  I won’t be using that.  There is definitely a lot of untapped social media potential but ‘social’ isn’t exactly something that I do well.

Neidong Waterfall

5. Neidong Waterfall – a sad casualty of Typhoon Soudelor – unknown reopening of the trail

6. Wufengci Waterfall was one of my first waterfalls that I added to the guide in 2011

The opposite of referrals (clicks) is also true in my blogs as well.  I have frequently included links to other blogs when writing blogs but this is an area that I want to improve on next year.  One specific area is to include links to 2-3 blogs for each of the pages in my waterfall guide so my readers can access more information about a place.  I think my information is good but it isn’t always perfect nor does it tell the entire story about a place.

7. Maolin Waterfall – Hike the newly completed trail back to one of southern Taiwan’s best waterfalls

Clicks from my blogs fall into 3 main areas.  The first area is resource sites such as China Post (newspaper), Guide to Taipei, various National Forest Recreation Area website and the Central Weather Bureau.  The second area is a group of bloggers that have remained on my links pages and still get some traffic.  This page needs to be updated to include more relevant links for travelers in Taiwan.  I have linked to 3 different websites written by Richard Saunders (my favorite article that he has written) in addition to numerous China Post articles written by him (and a few other authors).  This shouldn’t be a surprise since he has been (almost) everywhere that I want to go.  He has a new must have book coming out soon for those traveling through Taiwan.

click stats

The last area is random individual bloggers and this is where I want to improve my linking the most next year.  In 2015 I started featuring relatively unknown bloggers that are doing great work in my series Great Bloggers.  So far I have done a series on Asia, Australia/NZ and Waterfalls with 10 bloggers featured in each article.  My next article is 10 waterfalls to visit in Taiwan for 2016 and it wasn’t easy finding 10 active bloggers that have great blogs/photos of waterfalls that I haven’t been to.

8. Juansi Waterfall

10. Datun Waterfall

These two waterfalls rank highly because of their proximity to Taipei and many go there.  They are relatively boring waterfalls though so I won’t post photos of them.  Most likely they will fall out of the top 10 statistically next year.

9. Liangshan Waterfall is a little more impressive than the previous two but its popularity is due to its nearby proximity to Kaohsiung and Pingtung.

Do you have any thoughts on any of these statistics?  Are they completely irrelevant?  Is anything surprising or interesting?  I don’t use any fancy Google Analytics or even have a hosted blog (yet).  I am currently working on improvements and getting it hosted but I have a real job that I earn real money at so that is (usually) prioritized.  I have many things to improve but do you find anything particularly frustrating about either site?

11. Guifu Canyon is one of the most unusual places that I have visited in Taiwan.  Absolutely incredible.

My Top 10 Hikes and Places from 2015

My 2015 wasn’t just filled with waterfalls.  I visited Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo) in February and Bali in June in addition to dozens of trips around Taiwan.  Some of these places are well-known but some are well off of the beaten path.  They also show just how varied Taiwan and east Asia can be.  I have already mentioned my plans for next year in my waterfall recap but I expect to have an even better year next year.

My Top 10 Hikes and Places from 2015

  1. I usually shrug my shoulders when someone mentions going to see a cave but I was traveling in a group in Sarawak, Malaysia that wanted to go to Niah Caves.  It looked pretty interesting and they also wanted to go to Lambir Hills National Park (with waterfalls) so we teamed up and rented a car.  Niah Caves was incredible.  To say that it is big is an understatement.  You can fit football fields in the cave.  There are 1000’s of bat and swiftlets that live in the caves and they provide two very valuable products for the local population.  Bat guano is used as fertilizer and bird nests are harvested for a popular Chinese soup.  Over-harvesting has led to a big decline in the swiftlet population but they are now setting quotas and times to restore the population (I don’t know the effectiveness though).

View the full blog post

2. In January Mark Roche (Blue Skies Adventures) led a trip to a mostly abandoned aboriginal village in Pingtung County, Taiwan.  In 1979 the village moved out of the mountains to a new village lower in the river valley and was able to connect to roads.  In 2009 Xinhaocha (the new village) was completely buried by rising river silt and rocks during Typhoon Morakot.  Luckily the village had been evacuated prior to the storm and the villagers have moved to Rinari near Sandimen.

Jiuhaocha (the old village) is a beautiful village with slate houses in various condition.  Some haven’t been lived in for decades while others are maintained by villagers that live in both the new and old villages.  It requires a little effort to visit and for most it is best as an overnight hike (stay in a slate house).  It is one of the coolest places that I have visited in Taiwan.  It feels like an authentic aboriginal experience instead of the festivals in the villages.  I have attended and I enjoy the festivals but I really liked seeing what life was like in an original aboriginal village.

View the full blog post

3.Beidawushan is the southernmost 3000 meter peak in Taiwan and a very popular weekend trek.  The hike is challenging right from the start and climbs almost 2000 meters to the summit.  Many hikers do Beidawushan as a 2 day trip but that requires getting up at 2am to summit and return to the car by dark.  If you have an extra day and can do a 3 day trip then I highly recommend it.

View the full blog post

4.  I am possibly the only person to ever plan my entire Bali trip around visiting its waterfalls but you would have to try very hard to avoid visiting Bali’s temples.  There are 1000’s of them on the small island.  Instead of being grand complexes (a few are) each unique temple possesses a lot of character and detail.  I blogged about my 10 favorites from my trip and Tanah Lot (pictured below) is one of the most famous and visited.

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5. One of the best and most unusual festivals in Taiwan is Donggang’s Wang Ye Boat Burning Festival.  Every 3 years they hold the 10 day festival.  All week they shoot off firecrackers and make noise to lure the evil spirits out from hiding with everyone following in the parade.  On the festival’s conclusion the local temples march a giant boat to the ocean.  All night long they prepare the boat for its voyage by piling up a mountain of (fake) paper money.  Finally they light the boat on fire taking the evil spirits with it so the town is prosperous for another 3 years.

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6.  Laomei Reef is one of those rare places that is hard to believe exists until you visit it.  The green algae only blooms for 2-3 months (March and April most likely) every year and you will need to track the ocean tidal charts and visit during low tide.  Unfortunately it will be crowded on the weekend but English teachers that start in evening could do a weekday trip from Taipei and be back in time for class.

View the full guide

7. Brunei is a tiny country on the island of Borneo whose economy is heavily tied to oil.  One side effect of their wealth is that their rainforests are virtually untouched compared to their Malaysian and Indonesian neighbors on the island.  Although small compared to its neighbors the size of their virgin forests is significant.  Brunei’s crown jewel is Ulu Temburong National Park.  99% of the park is set aside for conservation and only researchers are allowed access to those parts.  Tours are available starting with a traditional longboat ride up the Temburong River from Sumbiling Eco Village or even Bandar Seri Begawan from several tour agencies.  Once inside the park the hike leads to a canopy skywalk but unfortunately a hard thunderstorm rolled in and we were unable to go up there.

Our guide with a researcher discovering a new ant species.

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8.  Taiwan only has two short stretches of roadless coastline.  Both of them are located in Pingtung County north of Kenting.  There were serious proposals to build a road along this part of the coast but thankfully that appears to be permanently shelved.  The Qufengbi Coastal Trail leaves from the Jialeshui Scenic Area and is full of interesting sights.  The Jialeshui Scenic Area is the sight of fascinating ocean carved rocks.  There are also shipwrecks (the big one is dismantled), an old army fort and green cliffs that seemingly fall into the ocean.  The Alanyi Trail is a little farther north in the same area.  It is a little shorter and includes great views of the ocean.

The Jialeshui Scenic Area at the beginning of the Qufengbi Trail

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The Alanyi Trail

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9. Gunung Batur is Bali’s most hiked volcano since it can be done in a day (1/2 a day actually).  Gunung Batur is the center cone in one of Bali’s largest craters with an impressive lake in the southern portion.  I was unaware of this when I decided to hike Batur but it has erupted at least a dozen times in the last 150 years.

View the full guide entry

10.  Hehuanshan is Taiwan’s most accessible high mountain area due to the Central Cross Island Highway (new version) passing nearby.  It used to be the site of Taiwan’s only ski hill but the area no longer gets significant snow and the infrastructure is in ruins.  Now Taiwanese flock to Hehuanshan on snowy weekends so they can experience snow likely for the first time.

Overall there are 5 of Taiwan’s Baiyue (top 100 peaks) in the area and several others (Cilai North) that can be accessed via longer trails.  Hehuanshan Main Peak, Hehuanshan East Peak and Shimenshan are short hikes that hikers of most abilities can handle.  Hikers that want a little more challenge can tackle Hehuanshan North Peak or go all the way to Hehuanshan West Peak (a very long dayhike).

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My Top Ten Waterfalls of 2015 (link)

My top 10 waterfalls of 2015

2015 was a great year for myself and for my waterfall guide.  I fell a little short of my goal to visit my 100th waterfall in Taiwan but I should reach that goal in February this year.  I have now visited 13 out of Richard’s 20 favorite waterfalls in Taiwan but I still have a personal list of 30-40 more waterfalls to visit.  More importantly I traveled outside of Taiwan twice this year on waterfall/hiking trips.  In February I went to Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo and in June I went to Bali.  Of course I ventured far from the typical path in Bali and visited 13 waterfalls in 10 days.   Bali’s waterfalls were amazing and it was really difficult to choose only 3 for the list below.

Riding back to Ali Waterfall, Pingtung, Taiwan

The list below only includes new waterfalls that I visited this year.  One focus this year (and next) has been on revisiting some of my favorites (like Lover’s Gorge) because they are my favorites but they aren’t included.  Another focus has been doing more hikes and the other best places that Taiwan has to offer.  I am hoping to do at least 3-4 of Taiwan’s high mountain hikes this year.  A 3 day hike of Beidawushan is a certainty.  Other hikes could include Jiaming Lake (Taitung), Shuiyang (Nantou), Wuling Sixiu (Taichung) or Qilai North Peak (Nantou).

Fenghuang Waterfall was my last new waterfall of the year.  We visited on New Year’s Eve.

I am hoping to go on four international trips this year so next year’s competition for this waterfall list will be even tougher.  In addition to that I have some great waterfall trips in Taiwan planned (like Golden Grotto and Manyueyuan).  In February I will travel to North Sumatra and visit Sipisopiso Waterfall and Sibolangit Waterfall.  I am very close to booking a ticket to Lombok in March/April to climb Mt Rinjani (at least to the crater – seasonal weather issues) and Tiu Kelep Waterfall.  In June I will hopefully be making a trip home to Minnesota and there are some great waterfalls (Gooseberry Falls) in Minnesota.  My October/November trip is a little undecided but the most likely destination choices are the Philippines (including TBEX Asia), Japan (anywhere and everywhere is on my list) or northern Vietnam (Sapa and Ban Gioc/Detian Waterfall).  If I can actually pull off this busy schedule (I also work full time and run a business) then I might have to expand next year’s list to a top 20.  I also might have to find a sponsor, sell plasma and/or cash in all of the worthless baseball cards that I have in my mother’s closet.

2015’s best waterfalls

  1. I had known about a possible waterfall near Majia for several years but I never took a trip until January this year.  Part of the reason for this was that no information existed about this waterfall on the internet until my friend Asher visited it (many times).  I finally visited and it instantly became my favorite in southern Taiwan in addition to being the #3 most viewed waterfall page at my Taiwan’s Waterfall Guide.  As an added bonus there is an old slate house village (Jiupaiwan) located near the falls that you can walk around in.

Click for directions to Shalawan Waterfall, Pingtung, Taiwan

2.   Langanan Waterfall is one of Sabah’s most impressive waterfalls (#2 on My Sabah’s top ten list) and one of the highlights from my February trip to Malaysian Borneo.  The waterfall is located on the eastern flank of Mount Kinabalu and is a slightly challenging half day hike.  The trail is a lush example of what Borneo’s rainforests would look like if they were untouched by the plantations and logging.  Lupa Masa (link) is a great eco-camp near Poring Hot Springs that allows you to fully experience the rainforest.

Click for directions to Langanan Waterfall, Sabah, Malaysia

3. Lambir Hills National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia was one of my favorite hikes of the year.  The park is located outside of Miri and is a waterfall lovers paradise.  There are 6 different waterfalls and one peak to hike to but hiking to all of the waterfalls (and the peak) in one day can only be done by the strongest hikers (25+ km in heat with a 5pm park exit) though.  Sometime in the next 5 years I plan on returning to Sarawak to visit the Mulu Pinnacles and I will definitely take an extra day or two visiting Lambir Hills National Park again.

Tengkorong Waterfall

Click for directions to Lambir Hills National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

4. One of my favorite forgotten areas in Taiwan is Zengwen Reservoir.  Many people visit the Zengwen Reservoir Recreation Area and drive the road to Dapu (one of the best motorcycle rides in Taiwan) but other than that very little of the rest is explored.  Asher and I tried to find one of Richard Saunders’ 20 favorite waterfalls 2 years ago but we got lost (terrible directions from a local) and ironically found the correct valley but didn’t explore far enough.  I went back this year with better maps (and ignored the terrible directions from a different local) and found an incredible and almost never visited waterfall.

Click for directions to Feiyun Waterfall, Taiwan

5.  Later that weekend I joined up with Richard Saunders and a group of Taipei Hikers on one of the most interesting trips of the year.  We hiked down to the river on a barely used fisherman trail and swam across the river to the other side of a flood control dam.  We walked up a fish ladder and then had to crawl through a 1 meter tall hole in the dam.  Continuing upstream we found many fossils (shells) in broken up river rock before arriving at an amazing swimming hole with multiple small waterfalls.  Lianyun Waterfall and several others are located up a side stream.  It isn’t the biggest but there is something special about the perfect pool in the perfect forest.

Click for directions to Lianyun Waterfall, Chaiyi, Taiwan

 6.  Melanting Waterfall was the highlight of my favorite part of Bali.  Munduk and Melanting are a pair of beautiful villages located just east of Bali’s 3 lakes region at a slightly cooler elevation of 700 meters.  There are at least 3 nice waterfalls in the area, a nice hiking trail between them and many nice guesthouses and restaurants with picturesque views of Gunung Batukaru.

Click for directions to Melanting Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

7. The best thing about Bali was that so many great places were so close together and the road infrastructure made travel very efficient.  In 11 days I visited 13 waterfalls, 10 temples, hiked Gunung Batur, went dolphin watching (as disappointing as the reviews are) and traveled with my sister.  Aling Aling Waterfall is a stunning waterfall in Bali’s waterfall rich north central region.  The main waterfall is the most impressive but there are 3 smaller waterfalls downstream that are perfect for swimming at (local guide required for swimming).

Click for directions Aling Aling Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

8.  Sekumpul isn’t the most famous waterfall in Bali but it is the most spectacular.  It falls close to 100 meters in multiple streams from allegedly multiple sources.  As an added bonus Lemukih Waterfall is located on the same hike (different stream) and you experience a 360 degree waterfall where you can experience multiple different branches that surround you.  Both waterfalls are great places to swim.

Click for directions to Sekumpul Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

9.  Changlong Waterfall was once a popular destination near the Shaonian Stream Recreation Area.  It was most famous for its hot spring but there were also two great waterfalls.  In 2009 Typhoon Morakot destroyed the hot spring, the lower waterfall and the entire hiking trail but the upper waterfall survived.  It is a short but rocky hike up to the rarely visited waterfall.

Click for directions to Changlong Waterfall, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

10.  Maolin Waterfall was another waterfall trail completely wiped out by Typhoon Morakot.  I tried finding this waterfall in 2012 and walked up the river to a small waterfall that was impassable.  In 2013 they built a new 27M NT trail back to the waterfall.  The new trail has two suspension bridges and leads to one of the best waterfalls in southern Taiwan.  This is just one of 4 great waterfalls in Kaohsiung County’s Maolin Valley.

Click for directions to Maolin Waterfall, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Bali’s Temples

I might be most interested in waterfalls but nobody that goes to Bali can ignore the amazing temples.  Some have claimed that there are 5,000-10,000 temples in Bali while others claim that there are over 1,000,000.  The 1,000,000 number almost surely includes all of the small shrines in homes and outdoors but regardless the density of temples is impressive.  Most of the temples are Hindu but there are also Islamic Mosques, Buddhist Temples and a few modern churches.  Generally temples in Bali are open air temples with an inner and outer courtyard with towers and pavilions.  One of the coolest things about Bali’s temples is that there is so much variety between them.

View my blog post on Bali’s Waterfalls

Most of the very popular temples are okay to visit with long pants but many of the lesser visited temples require a sarong over your pants, a sash (a ribbon around your waist) and possibly even a head wrap.  Usually these are available to borrow for free while you visit but at various times you will be pressured to buy from vendors.  Almost all temples charge an entry fee.  For foreigners it is usually 10,000-20,000 IDR/adult (0.75-1.50 USD).  Children are usually half price.  Sometimes they will offer guides that are donation or negotiable.

Additional information and directions are available on my waterfall website

Getting around in Bali is really easy.  There are decent hotels located all over the island and virtually everywhere is accessible as a daytrip from a decent hotel.  I stayed in Ubud, Kintimani, Lovina and Munduk during my trip.  Ubud is great and many will base their trip here but my favorite was Munduk.  It is located at about 800 meters of elevation just outside of the 3 Lakes Crater.  Transport is also really easy in Bali.  Tourists can hire a car and driver for around $50 USD/day (negotiable) or rent a motorcycle for around $5 USD/day.  Don’t worry about finding either of these.  Your hotel will happily set one up or you can do it yourself easily from the (annoying) touts on the streets.

1.  Pura Uluwatu is actually quite small and unimpressive compared to other temples but it is famous for its location.  The temple extends out on a narrow 70 meter cliff above the amazing turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.  Some tourists also enjoy the thieving monkeys (I hate monkeys).  The inner temple is closed off to tourists but the best thing to do is to take a walk along the cliff path (10+ minutes in each direction).  There are some absolutely spectacular views and railings for those concerned about 70 meter cliffs.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

2.  Pura Tanah Lot is another one of Bali’s iconic temples.  It is also located on the southern shore and is unique since the temple is only accessible at low tide.  The temple is closed off to tourists but the best views off to the right of the temple during high tide.  During high tide the temple becomes an island and all of the tourists are forced out of your photo.  The temple was extensively renovated in the 80’s by replacing the rock worn away by centuries of ocean erosion.  They did an excellent job at making the concrete look somewhat natural.  In addition to Pura Tanah Lot there are a few other small ocean side temples like Pura Batu Bolong.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

3. Pura Taman Ayun was built in 1634 as the royal temple of the Mengwi Kingdom.  It is surrounded by a moat with impressive watchtowers.  The outer courtyard has more of a park like feel with immaculate grass lawns and pavilions.  The inner courtyard is closed off the tourists but tourists can see over a half wall as they walk around the inner courtyard.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

4.  Pura Tirta Empul is one of the coolest temples to visit.  Balinese regularly bathe in the holy water of the temple.  Each fountain serves a special purpose and we observed that nobody (that we saw) used the last few fountains.  It turns out that the last two are used for funerary purposes.  It is okay for tourists to participate in the purification process but they should be very respectful.

The legend is quite interesting – from bali-indonesia.com

It was here that through his magical powers Mayadenawa created a poisoned spring from which Indra’s exhausted troops drank and succumbed. Indra noticed the fall of his men, and soon thrust his staff into the ground where a holy purifying spring spurted out, to cure the troops and to even bring some of them back to life. This escapade became the legendary background to the holy spring of Tirta Empul, as well as the holy days of Galungan and Kuningan celebrated by the Balinese Hindus.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

The source pool for Pura Tirta Empul

5.  Pura Gunung Kawi is one of few temples with reliefs (called candi) carved into rock.  It is located near Pura Tirta Empul and also has holy water (in a river) flowing through it.  It was built nearly 1000 years ago.  Historians can only guess as to the origins of why they were carved.  Some have said that each relief for a member of the royal family while others have said they were carved for the favorite royal concubines.  I really don’t know the answer but it is a unique temple and well worth the visit.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

6.  Pura Ulun Danu Batur was relocated after the 1917 eruption of Gunung Batur.  During the eruption the lava destroyed much of the town and all of the temple except for the highest shrine.  This was considered a miracle and the villagers chose to rebuild the temple at a much higher point along the crater rim.  The temple is large and physically impressive but I couldn’t find one thing to really make it stand out aside from the great views of Danau (Lake) Batur and Gunung (Mountain) Batur and Agung.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

7.  Pura Puncak Penulisan is Bali’s highest temple at 1745 meters above sea level.  There will be a set of infinity stairs to climb (297 stairs) to reach the top.  It is located at the northern end of the enormous Gunung Batur Crater and offers outstanding views of the crater, the lake and the three large mountains.  The most interesting thing about this temple are the large statues (up to 2 meters tall) that have been preserved.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

8.  Bali might be a predominantly Hindu island but there are also many other religions represented on the island.  Brahmavihara Arama is the largest Buddhist temple on the island and some have called it a mini Borobudur (click for a good Borobudur blog).  It is located near Lovina along the northern coast.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

9.  Pura Ponjok Batu is a lesser visited but physically imposing temple located on Bali’s northern coast.  It is immediately obvious from the road with its towering black volcanic rock walls perched on a small hill.  This temple was a bit more formal than others and I had to wear a head wrap in addition to a sarong and a sash.  I am not sure if it is optional but I had a guide that charged only a donation (I gave 30,000 IDR) that walked me through the temple.  Before entering a priest will sprinkle holy water on your head (a bit excessive in my case) and press rice to your forehead and/or chest.  It is an impressive temple and I was told several times about their big festival in July (on the full moon).

The legend here is also very interesting.  From the Jakarta Post – Bali Daily

The priest helped a fisherman from Lombok island when the fisherman’s boat sank at Ponjok Batu beach. The fisherman found a shining stone, which was then carved into a boat statue and now stands at the southeast side of the temple.

In addition to this legend they found a 5000 year old sarcophagus here during the 1990’s renovations of the temple.  This obviously predates the temple but perhaps this was a spiritual place long before the temple was built 500 years ago.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

The boat just off shore from the temple.

10.  Pura Ulun Danu Bratan contains another of Bali’s iconic images.  The temple sits directly on the lakeshore of Lake Bratan in the center of Bali.  Altogether there are 3 lakes within this huge crater and one of Bali’s largest roads go directly through the crater and right past Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.  The temple itself is a large sprawling complex with many interesting things to see but everybody comes to see the small pagoda on the lake.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

Hiking Bali’s Waterfalls

People have been going to Bali for many years for many reasons.  Bali’s tourism has exploded over the last couple of decades due to its wonderful weather, amazing beaches, cultural heritage and great nightlife.  But Bali has been a popular destination for a century.  A Dutch steamship began bringing tourists there in the 1920’s.  It became an artist enclave and was a vacation for the rich and famous including Charlie Chaplin.  Tourism has had obstacles like WWII, political instability and more recently two bombings (2002 and 2006) to overcome but it remains one of the top southeast Asian getaways.

Check out my blog post on North Sumatra’s waterfall – even better than Bali

There are many reasons why Bali is such a popular destination.  Individually there isn’t a temple complex that compares to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar or Borobudur in Java but there are 1000’s of amazing temples that each have their own individual charm (another blog post).  Bali is also able to boast many world class beaches all over the island.  Art has continued to be a central part of Balinese culture with Ubud as the heart.  The people are friendly and the island is stunningly beautiful.

Pura Ulun Beraten

Check out my blog post on Bali’s Temples

For my June vacation this year I jumped at Air Asia’s special offer (<$250) on their new (direct) Taipei to Bali route (possibly getting discontinued this fall).  Of course staying on the beach or relaxing in Ubud is popular but my online research found Bali to be an underrated hiking paradise.  The main hiking attractions are volcanoes and almost two dozen waterfall hikes that are located on a small island.  The great thing about Bali is that the tourist infrastructure extends far past the main tourist areas and all of the hikes can be done as daytrips from the comfort of a great guesthouse that meets all of the wants of a foreign tourist.  I stayed on the beach in Lovina for most of my trip but there are many other great places to stay.  One of my favorites was an overnight stay in Munduk.

I stayed in varying levels of guesthouses (cheap to expensive) but everyone of them had great views.  This is from my patio in Munduk.

I am not going to suggest that anyone should travel to Bali for the waterfalls but they are an excellent excuse to go for a long drive through the countryside.  Bali is in the midst of a struggle to maintain their cultural traditions with ever advancing modernization but so far the rural areas have retained their charm.  It seems that someone could almost randomly pick a rural road in Bali to explore and find terraced fields of rice in varying shade of green and yellow depending on the season, hidden temples that see relatively few visitors, quaint small villages, views of volcanoes and perhaps even a waterfall.

Just another rice field.

For the most part the waterfall hikes in Bali are short and well trodden.  Many have a small entrance fee (plus parking) and a well maintained (usually concrete) path to the waterfall.  Some have guides that will oversell the difficulty of finding the waterfall and be hard negotiators.  Some have many vendors that may or may not be bothersome.  Some are just perfect and there even a couple that have no signs, no vendors and no tickets prices.  If you are able to shrug off the commercialization by the local village you will find that all of the waterfalls are pretty awesome.

 1)  Aling Aling Waterfall (northern Bali) is far enough off of the tourist trail that you will likely only see a handful of tourists.  This is one of the nicest waterfall hiking trails and it is the best waterfall to swim at in Bali.  You descend down into the valley where there is not one but four beautiful waterfalls.  The main waterfall is quite impressive but swimming is best done upstream in a narrow gorge or downstream at the smaller waterfalls (Kroya, Kembar and Pucuk).

Aling Aling Waterfall

Kroya Waterfall

Kembar Waterfall

Pucuk Waterfall

Click for directions to Aling Aling Waterfall and the 3 smaller ones

2) Banyumala Waterfall (northern Bali) is a spectacular hidden waterfall.  There is very little information on the internet about this one and I knew nothing about it.  I was riding a scooter on the crater rim next to Lake Buyan when I saw a waterfall sign.  I had no idea what to expect but I took a chance.  I hired a local farmer to be a guide after he stopped me on the road.  Most of the time local guides are completely unnecessary but I never would have found this waterfall without a guide.  The hike isn’t long but this is the most remote waterfall that I visited.  There is great swimming and a really cool wall of cascading water just past the waterfall.

Click for directions to Banyumala Waterfall

3. Blehmantung Waterfall was another spectacular hidden waterfall.  There was a lot of info on the Internet but all that remains is a faded sign that has fallen down next to the highway.  I followed the two track road down to an abandoned house at the end of the road.  Unlike all of the waterfalls in Bali (except Banyumala) there weren’t ticket takers, local guides, vendors or even other tourists here.  For the first time in Bali I was all by myself for a waterfall hike and it was wonderful.  The hike is easy and short but the waterfall is a perfect place to relax in solitude.

Click for directions to Blehmantung Waterfall

4. Git Git Waterfall is by far the most famous waterfall in Bali.  If you say the word waterfall in Bali you will immediately get a response of Git Git.  The waterfall is one of the easiest waterfall to get to and it is spectacular.  But temper your expectations, it is a short concrete path past many vendors to get to the waterfall.

Click here for directions to Git Git Waterfall

5. Git Git Twin Waterfall (aka Campuhan) is just a little upstream from Git Git Waterfall.  It is also famous, touristy with a concrete path trail back to the falls.  The Balinese name, Campuhan, means twin waterfall.  It isn’t a physically impressive waterfall but it is unique with the twin streams of water.

Click here for directions to Git Git Twin Waterfall

5b. Mekalongan Waterfall is 50m’s downstream of Git Git Twin Waterfall.  In some ways it is a more beautiful waterfall.

5c. Bertingkat Waterfall (aka Terraced Waterfall) is another 200 m’s downstream from Mekalongan.  It is a little difficult to walk to but I have directions on my waterfall guide or you can drive to the other trailhead.  This is the best and possibly the only choice for swimming out of these three waterfalls.  It is also less visited so you might have a little privacy for your group.

6. Jembong Waterfall is completely different than every other waterfall I visited.  Many waterfalls discharge a large volume of water but Jembong Waterfall cascades thunderously down the rocks.  It isn’t a long hike but it is unique.  Some were very impressed and thought it was a top 5 Bali waterfall but I was underwhelmed.  It is really close to Aling Aling Waterfall so both can be combined into one daytrip.

Click here for directions to Jembong Waterfall

7. Lemukih Waterfall is the other waterfall at Sekumpul village.  Visitors will see the amazing Sekumpul Waterfall from a viewpoint but there is a 2nd smaller waterfall in the distance.  In fact that smaller waterfall is actually part of  three large waterfalls that surround you at the end of the gorge in addition to other small ones along the way.   If Sekumpul Waterfall wasn’t so incredible then this would be a destination by itself.

The right waterfall could be seen from the viewpoint.  The 3rd waterfall is almost directly behind you with a lot of mist coming off.  I need to practice my panorama (using stitching) skills to really give you the idea of how incredible this place was.

Click here for directions to Lemukih Waterfall

8. Les Waterfall is one of the most remote waterfalls in Bali located on the northern ocean road between Amed and Singaraja.  The roads are actually in good shape until the last 1/2 km and the trail is very easy to hike.  This village has the best tourism practices.  There are no annoying guides pressuring you to hire them but there is a price list with guides available.  There are two drink/snack shops along the trail and a really nice guesthouse.  More motivated hikers can take a longer trail that will take you to 5 waterfalls but you will need a guide.

Click here for directions to Les Waterfall

9 and 10. Melanting Waterfall and Munduk Waterfall are closely linked and you can’t talk about one without talking about the other.  Munduk and Melanting are beautiful villages east of the 3 lakes at 600-700m’s of elevation.  There are many great guesthouses and restaurants at all price levels that look out over a valley towards Batu Karu (one of Bali’s holiest mountains).  But there is some confusion regarding the waterfall names.  There is a mixture of village names, English names and Balinese names resulting in 7 names for 3 waterfalls.  It is explained more in the guide entries.

The local village has landscaped a beautiful trail down to Melanting Waterfall.  Melanting Waterfall looks very similar in size and shape Git Git Waterfall.  It isn’t great for taking photos (covered in water) but there is a wonderful mist that sprays off of the waterfall.

Click here for directions to Melanting Waterfall

Munduk and Melanting villages are very tourist friendly.  I didn’t see any local guides hassling tourists at trailheads but local guides are available through your guesthouse.  There also weren’t any souvenir shops on the trail. There were 3-4 drink/snack/small meal shops along the trail.  They did sell spices but they weren’t pushy.  Overall this was the best waterfall hike that I did.

Click here for directions to Munduk Waterfall

11. Nungnung Waterfall is a lesser known waterfall that is easily accessible as a daytrip from southern Bali.  The drive takes you through an amazing rural area where there are large no development areas with just rice fields.  Nungnung village is quite small and there are usually only a handful of hikers on the trail.  Many hikes in Bali are down a seemingly endless staircase but this was the longest with 486 stairs.  Not only that but some of the stairs are huge.  If it isn’t too late in the dry season there is also a second smaller waterfall beside the trail.

 

Click for directions to Nungnung Waterfall

12. Sekumpul Waterfall is the most impressive waterfall in Bali and it is one of the top waterfalls in all of Indonesia.  As an added bonus visitors can also visit Lemukih Waterfall which is a unique experience.  There are claims that the right branches are spring fed while the left branch is river fed and turns brown during heavy rain.  I could not find any pictures on the internet to verify this observation.  You can swim at both waterfalls and on sunny days you have a good chance at seeing a rainbow in the waterfall mist.

Click here for directions to Sekumpul Waterfall

13. Tegenungan Waterfall is the easiest to access from southern Bali and probably the most visited waterfall in Bali.  You will have to put up with people there but it is an incredible waterfall.

Click here for directions to Tegenungan Waterfall

More waterfalls that I didn’t visit, couldn’t access or were dry when I visited.  Hopefully on my next trip I will be able to visit many of these in addition to hiking Gunung Agung or Batu Karu.

1. Colek Pamor Waterfall – This is located just upstream from Git Git Waterfall.  There is a separate trailhead but it can be accessed from the same parking area.

2. Cemara Waterfall – This is located near Aling Aling but I am not sure if it is upstream or downstream

3. Dusun Kuning Waterfall – This is a lesser known waterfall in southern Bali.

4. Carat Waterfall – I found this but it was completely inaccessible from my entry point.  There has to be a better way to the bottom of the waterfall.

5. Peguyangan, Sebuluh and Temeling Waterfall – These 3 waterfalls are on Nusa Penida island and are seasonal according to various internet sources.

6. Juwuk Manis Waterfall – This appears to be somewhere on the southwest coast

7. Singsing Waterfall – This waterfall is convenient for those staying in Lovina but it is definitely dry during the dry season.

8. Golden Waterfall – This is located near Munduk Waterfall

9. Git-Git Waterfall – Another Git-Git Waterfall but this one is near Blehmantung Waterfall.

10. Melasti Waterfall – falls onto the beach near Tanah Lot.

Are there any more waterfalls that I am missing in Bali?  What are your favorites?

Photo of the week #55 – northern Bali

One of the many rice fields that you pass in Bali.  Bali is at a crossroads in a way as the massive tourist service industry competes with the more traditional Balinese life.  So far things remain in balance with an endless number of small villages living a traditional lifestyle but how long will that last?  Will the younger generation(s) continue to pursue work in the more profitable tourist industry?

I have now completed 6 of the 14 waterfall guide entries.  You can view them at Taiwan’s Waterfalls – Bali.  I will be taking advantage of Taiwan’s rainy weather this week to finish up several more and hopefully start working on an article about all of Bali’s waterfalls since I visited all of the major ones.

Photo of the week #54 – family

It is taking a long time to post photos and blog about an awesome 10 days of travel in Bali.  I took the red eye flight and hit the ground running right away in the morning.  My sister was working in Jakarta at the same time so she met me for the weekend.  Bali has an extraordinary travel option for mid budget travelers.  Car rentals come with a personal driver and it includes gas for 50 USD/day.  That is an awesome amount of convenience for a very reasonable price.  Later in the week I had plans to explore the less seen parts of Bali so I visited some of the popular tourist spots with my sister.

In two days we visited 5 of the best temples in Bali.  This is Uluwatu at the very southern tip of Bali.  The temple itself isn’t very interesting but the location on top of a 50+ meter cliff is amazing.

We also visited one of the best waterfalls in southern Bali and this was the beginning of a 14 waterfall trip for me.  This was an excruciating photo to take.  For 30 minutes 2 girls stood directly in front of my tripod taking dozens of photos and then videos of each other taking photos before moving to a different spot to take more photos.  I have no idea what they do with several hundred photos with themselves in front of the same waterfalls.  My sister had to leave after the weekend but she will be working in Indonesia for several years so there will be other opportunities for weekend meetups.

Currently northern Sumatra has taken a commanding lead in possible Chinese New Year destinations.  The best part is that Air Asia flies direct from Kaohsiung to Kuala Lumpur (no trip to Taoyuan) and then it is a short flight to Medan.  Here is one blog that has fueled my Sumatran desire Scarlet Scribbles – 8 great places in northern Sumatra.

My first waterfall guide entry has been posted on my waterfall site. I started with the best Bali waterfall.