Taiwan’s Ten Most Famous Waterfalls

Long-time travelers tend to prefer the off the beaten path places while focusing on the downsides of famous places. Typically it sounds like the following: Machu Picchu was incredible except for the lines and crowds. I loved Akgkor Wat except for all of the tourists and vendors. The beaches were beautiful it was too hard to get a photo that didn’t include someone with a selfie stick. I am not innocent in this. My favorite places are those with longer hikes or a little off of the beaten path but I have also been to Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat and they are incredible places and I loved my time there.

The most famous waterfalls in Taiwan obviously pale in comparison to Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat but they get dismissed in the same way. For example, only one of these waterfalls will be in My Favorite Waterfalls of Taiwan list (more focus on the hike or swimming possible) published later this year but there is no denying that the famous ones are spectacular.

Ten Easy Waterfall Hikes in Taiwan

This list is part of a 5 year project that I have been working on. During that time I have visited and added over 170 waterfalls in Taiwan to my waterfall guide. Earlier this year I posted a list of Ten Easy Waterfall Hikes in Taiwan. This list is similar to that since most of the roads and hikes to all ten of these waterfalls are in good condition and anyone is able to visit them. They are mostly located in northern and central Taiwan. There are several great waterfalls in southern Taiwan but they aren’t as well known and some of them are very isolated.

My Favorite Waterfall Swimming Holes in Taiwan

Some other waterfalls that were considered. Lover’s Gorge Waterfall is one of my favorites but it doesn’t seem as well known throughout Taiwan. Liangshan Waterfall is probably the most visited waterfall in southern Taiwan but it lacks the raw size and beauty of those on this list. Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail is very popular among hikers but it doesn’t seem to be as well known overall. Manyueyuan was a consideration for the list but I haven’t been there yet and the waterfalls themselves don’t seem to be as famous.

Can you think of any that should be on the list? How many have you been to?

Visit my waterfall guide to see over 170 waterfalls in Taiwan

 

  1. Wufengqi Waterfall (五峰旗瀑布) falls in three separate tiers near Jiaoshi, Taiwan. The bottom two tiers are nice but the highest tier is the special one. The highest tier falls in three streams (if there is enough water) in a lush green bowl. Unfortunately they often close the trail to the highest tier for safety reasons.

Click for directions to Wufengqi Waterfall

2. Xiao Wulai Waterfall (小烏來瀑布) is my pick for the most physically impressive waterfall in Taiwan. The photos don’t really do it justice but it is really big with a high flow. Xiao Wulai is easy to get to but the facilities (like parking) struggle to match the popularity of the place. Xiao Wulai can be viewed from across the gorge, from near the base after a short hike or visitors can go out on a skywalk above the falls. To give you some idea of the scale of the waterfall the skywalk is in photo with 20+ people just above the falls.

Click for directions to Xiao Wulai Waterfall

3. Shanlinshi (horrifically romanized as Sunlinksea in English) boasts two waterfalls on this list. Chinglong (Green Dragon) Waterfall (青龍瀑布) falls over 100 meters into a beautiful turquoise pool. Unfortunately the trail doesn’t go all the way to the bottom of the waterfall but it is a beautiful waterfall.

Click for directions to Chinglong Waterfall

4. Songlong (Pine Dragon) Rock Waterfall (松瀧岩瀑布) is just 5 km away at Shanlinshi but it is a completely different waterfall. This waterfall isn’t nearly as tall but visitors first see an idyllic pond before walking through a large cave next to the waterfall. In addition to the waterfalls there are several nice hiking trails, a botanical garden and a 5m penis totem (link).

Click for directions to Songlong Rock Waterfall

5. Huangjin Waterfall (黃金瀑布) is much smaller than all of these waterfalls but its unique rust color and its proximity to Jiufen make it a very popular destination. Debate continues as to whether or not the color is the result of mining upstream or naturally occurring due to the high mineral content of the area but there is no debate that the water is toxic.

Click for directions to Huangjin Waterfall

6. Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布) is Taiwan’s most famous waterfall and its most picturesque. You will be surrounded by crowds and concrete but the many little cascades are a stunning sight. In addition to this you can take the train to 4 other great waterfalls along the Pingxi Rail Line. The best is the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail (三貂嶺瀑布) with three beautiful waterfalls.

Click for directions to Shifen Waterfall

7. Wulai Waterfall (烏來瀑布) is the highest (80m) in northern Taiwan and it was the first waterfall that I took photos of for the waterfall guide. It is located immediately across the Tonghou River from Wulai Village. In addition to hot springs you can also ride a cable car to the top of Wulai Waterfall, rivertrace or go to Neidong Waterfall.

Click for directions to Wulai Waterfall

8. Neidong Waterfall (內洞瀑布) competes with Shifen Waterfall for the most beautiful waterfall in Taiwan. It is also located a few km away from Wulai Waterfall and can easily be combined as a daytrip from Taipei. Unfortunately Typhoon Soudelor devastated the Wulai region and Neidong is closed until they can rebuild the trails and roads.

Click for directions to Neidong Waterfall

9. Taoshan Waterfall (桃山瀑布) is not as convenient to reach as many of the others on this list but it is a very popular hike at Wuling Farm in Sheipa National Park. Not only does the trail lead through a beautiful forest at the base of several 3000+ meter peaks but it is also wheelchair accessible. There is also a chance that hikers will see a Swinhoe Pheasant (photo link) along the trail.

Click for directions to Taoshan Waterfall

10. Taroko Gorge is Taiwan’s most famous national park and Baiyang Waterfall (白楊瀑布) is one of its most hiked trails. Originally the trail was a road for large hydroelectric project but thankfully the idea was abandoned. The hike starts in several hundred meter long tunnel and passes through 7 more tunnels before ending at Water Curtain Cave. Water Curtain Cave is actually another tunnel but it is unique since they hit an underground spring when constructing the tunnel and water pours from the ceiling uncontrollably.

Click for directions to Baiyang Waterfall

10 Easy Waterfall Hikes in Taiwan

I haven’t been everywhere yet but here are 10 easy waterfall hikes to do with children or retired parents. There are also great for those that are a little out of shape or who want to have a lazy day. And I know all about lazy days. Let me know if you have done any easy and safe waterfall hikes that aren’t on the list.

I picked several criteria for these hikes.

First, it has to be a hike and I am setting the minimum distance at 2km round trip.

Second, there should be a good trail surface so young, old and less confident hikers are comfortable hiking. Likewise the trails should have minimal rocks, branches and other obstacles even though I really like these natural trails. Another big issue in Taiwan is slippery moss covered surfaces but I think the below list minimizes those surfaces but they are difficult to completely avoid.

Third, there should be modest elevation gain.

Fourth, there should be an awesome waterfall on the hike and this is perhaps the most important criteria.

  1. Shanfong Waterfall is part of Yushan National Park in Hualien. This is part of the much longer Walami Trail (and even longer but currently closed Batonggaun Trail) but dayhikers can hike up to the waterfall or campground (5km one way) w/o a permit. On the drive to Shanfong Waterfall you will pass Nanan Waterfall where many locals swim during the summer.

Click for directions to Shanfong Waterfall

2. Baiyang Waterfall is one of Taroko Gorge National Park’s most visited places. The hike is along an old road that was built for a hydroelectric project that was cancelled (thankfully). The trail gives hikers an introduction to some spectacular high mountain scenery without the effort. Hikers should remember their headlamps (smartphones are adequate but not that great) for the 8 tunnels on the trail. At the end the Water Curtain Cave is a long tunnel that started leaking water and is now a tourist attraction. It is best to check the trail conditions before your trip because this trail is frequently closed (currently closed 4/2016). Trail conditions (link)

Click for directions to Baiyang Waterfall

3. The road to Longgong (Dragon Palace) Waterfall might be challenging with dozens of switchbacks but the hike is incredibly easy. The most spectacular aspect is when the trail continues behind the waterfall and comes out the other side. In addition to Longgong Waterfall there are two additional waterfalls to see. Leiyin Waterfall drops 100’s of meters opposite Longgong Waterfall. Be warned though there are two trailheads to Longgong Waterfall. One of the routes is almost completely flat all the way to the waterfall and the other descends 350 meters of stairs in 2 km.

There is currently (4/2016) trail damage and you can’t walk behind the waterfall but you can see the waterfall as shown below.

Click for directions to Longgong Waterfall

4. Xinliao Waterfall is a very easy and popular hike in Yilan. They first built the trail in 2006 but it was destroyed by a typhoon a couple of years later and then rebuilt in 2009. For those looking for a more natural trail they can also check out the nearby Jiuliao Waterfall.

Click for directions to Xinliao Waterfall

5. Shuiliandong Waterfall is one of my favorites in Taiwan. The hike goes over a REALLY high red bridge in a tight gorge and there is one more even taller waterfall at the end of this gorge. There might be some trail damage but I haven’t been there in 4 years. I think I need to go this summer.

Click for directions to Shuiliandong Waterfall

6. The trail to Maolin Waterfall was destroyed in the devastating Typhoon Morakot 7 years ago.  Nearly every bit of infrastructure in the Maolin and Duona area was also destroyed by that typhoon but they have slowly rebuilt the valley into a popular tourist destination. In 2013 they rebuilt the trail with two impressive suspension bridges back to the waterfall.

Click here for directions to Maolin Waterfall

7. Wuling Farm isn’t the most convenient place to visit but if planned correctly you can see peach and cherry blossoms in the spring, hike through a beautiful cypress forest and visit Taoshan Waterfall. You can also use Wuling Farm for access to some of Taiwan’s best high mountain hikes like Snow Mountain and Wuling Sixiu.

Click here for directions to Taoshan Waterfall

8. Sunlinksea (hate the name – it should be Shanlinshi) Forest Recreation Area has two spectacular waterfalls. Chinglong Waterfall is a beautiful 116 meter waterfall that can be viewed from across the valley. Those wanting to do a few extra (A LOT) stairs can descend to a better viewpoint. Songlong (Pine Dragon) Rock Waterfall is located right next to a shuttle bus stop at the end of the road.

Click here for directions to Chinglong Waterfall

9. Yulan Waterfall used to be a bit of an adventure to access but they have built a wide trail and several bridges for easy access now. The forest on this hike is particularly beautiful and I could have spent hours taking photos.

Click for directions to Yulan Waterfall

10. Yunlong Waterfall is part of one of my favorite hikes in Taiwan. The Batongguan Trail starts in Dongbu Hot Springs, connects to Yushan and if it is ever repaired it can be hiked all the way to the Walami Trail in Haulien. The hike follows a deep V shaped valley with spectacular views. The trail is in good shape and easy to walk but almost the entire trail is next to a very steep cliff and may not be suitable for young children or for those with a fear of heights.

Click here for directions to Yunlong Waterfall

Honorable Mention: I believe Neidong Waterfall is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful waterfalls. Last August the entire Wulai region was devastated by Typhoon Soudelor and it is unknown how long it will be until Neidong Waterfall reopens to the public.

Click for directions to Neidong Waterfall

Some other easy waterfall hikes:

Shuangliu Waterfall in Pingtung

Linmei Shipan Waterfall in Yilan

Qingshan (Laomei) Waterfall in New Taipei

Yuanyang Valley Waterfalls in Hsinchu

Liangshan Waterfall in Pingtung

Qinglong Waterfall (at the Sky Ladder) in Nantou

Longying Waterfall at Fuyuan Butterfly Valley in Hualien

Manyueyuan Rec Area Waterfalls and Yunsen Waterfall in New Taipei (links to Josh Ellis’s blog)

 

Explore Taiwan – Maolin and Duona

Maolin was the first area that I explored on motorcycle when I moved to Taiwan 6 years ago. I knew about Typhoon Morakot but I had no idea just how severe it was or how much things had changed. I moved to Taiwan months after Typhoon Morakot but I didn’t know just how devastating it was for many of the aboriginal villages in southern Taiwan. Almost every bridge was taken out in Namasia, the entire Southern Cross Island Highway (parts still closed), Maolin and Wutai (among other places). In addition to that villages were washed away (mostly evacuated) and one village was completely buried (Xiaolin – not evacuated).  Altogether over 600 people likely died and the rebuilding continues today.

Duona was just a dreary ghost town with a couple of basic convenience stores selling snacks on my first visit. Fast forward a couple of years and Duona’s main street is packed with busloads of tourists on weekends and a dozen of stylish restaurants and businesses lining the main street. I have seen the reconstruction of numerous bridges on my various trips. Many of the trails to the sights below have been built in the last 3-4 years and they are so much easier to access.  Things have changed so much for the area and I love going back every time.

My goal is to explore every hidden corner of Taiwan and there will no doubt be even more spectacular places but Maolin will always be a special place because it is where the exploration started. It is also a pretty awesome place with many things to do.

Are there any places that I have left out?  What are your favorite places in Maolin and Duona?  

  1. Maolin is best known for its purple butterflies. There are many places in the world where butterfly migrations pass through yearly but there are only two (known) overwintering valleys in the world. One is in Mexico and the other is in Maolin, Taiwan. The numbers of butterflies have declined but with a little luck you can find swarms of butterflies along the Zishalishi Butterfly Trail in Maolin Village. Before hiking the trail there is a visitor center which explains the significance of the butterfly migration.

Click for directions to Maolin’s Purple Butterfly Valley

2. Lover’s Gorge Waterfall is the most popular of the waterfalls near Maolin and it is one of the best swimming spots in Taiwan. Two bridges (pedestrian and vehicular) to the waterfall have been built since Typhoon Morakot devastated the area in 2009. The rebuilt trail (2014 or 2015) starts at a parking lot waterfall and it is now an easy walk to the 2nd tier (and best tier) of the waterfall.

Click for directions to Lover’s Gorge Waterfall

3. After Typhoon Morakot, Douna Suspension Bridge was the only bridge that wasn’t destroyed. For awhile it provided the only permanent connection to Duona Village at the end of road 132. Today most traffic goes over a new bridge but tourists can still visit the 103 meter tall bridge (tallest in Taiwan) and hike out to nearby Longtoushan (Dragon Head Mountain).

Click for directions to Duona Suspension Bridge

4. Longtoushan and Shetoushan are pair of interesting case studies into Taiwan’s fascination of naming rocks and hills after animals that they vaguely resemble. In this case these are actually pretty cool.

Longtoushan (Dragon Head Mountain)

Shetoushan (Snake Head Mountain)

View the full blog post from one of my first trips to Maolin

5. I was originally told that Meiya Waterfall was broken up by several different sources but broken up seemed like a strange description and I was determined to investigate as far as I could. I was initially turned away by an impending rainstorm but the following year I walked up the creek to find Meiya Waterfall. The trail is completely destroyed though and visitors will have to pick their way through a rock field in the creek. There are rumors about a new trail being built but so far the project hasn’t started. Hopefully they don’t remove the best Chinglish sign ever.

6. I found Deengorge Guesthouse completely by accident 5 years ago. I was exploring Maolin a year or two after Typhoon Morakot and went down a random road ending up at the guesthouse on a Sunday evening. They were as surprised to see me as I was to see them since very few tourists came to Maolin after the big typhoon and even fewer ventured as far as Deengorge. We chatted for awhile and this has become my favorite campground in Taiwan. One of my favorite memories is the guesthouse owner looking at all of the frogs in the middle of the night because he heard an unusual croak that sounded different than the 12 species that are usually present.

Click for directions to Deengorge Guesthouse

7.  On my first or second trip to Deengorge I asked about the name of the waterfall near the guesthouse and they said it doesn’t have a name and it is only used for drinking water. I might have been the first person that was ever interested in that little waterfall but it is a nice two tier waterfall right next to the road and I have thus named it Deengorge Waterfall.

Click for directions to Deengorge Waterfall

8. I first attempted to go to Maolin Waterfall in 2012 and was told that it was an easy hike. Instead I found bridges lying in the creek and no trail so I improvised and walked up the creek (a lot of fun). Ultimately I was blocked by a small waterfall and wasn’t able to get to Maolin Waterfall. I still put it up on the guide but later I started getting comments about not having to walk in the creek and pictures of a completely different waterfall from confused hikers. In 2014 the government built a beautiful trail (27M TWD) back to Maolin Waterfall. This has become one of my favorite waterfalls in Taiwan.

Click for directions to Maolin Waterfall

9. On one of my trips to Deengorge I was told about the Tapakadrawane Festival happening that night in Duona. Tapakadrawane is a harvest festival that ironically is held at almost the same time as American Thanksgiving. Many groups participated in a talent show but the highlight of the evening was a ceremony similar to homecoming king and queen. About a dozen young men and a dozen young women performed and gave speeches in hopes of winning.

View the full blog post

10. Guifu Canyon is one of the rarest places that I have visited in Taiwan. Downstream and upstream the creek is a fairly typical green valley filled with river rock but for a short stretch it becomes a narrow slot canyon with steep walls and a waterfall drops into it from a sidestream. The end is blocked by a 2nd shorter waterfall. Trips need a little luck to be successful. If it has rained heavily recently then you won’t be able to enter the canyon and the waterfall dries up during the winter.

Click for directions to Guifu Waterfall

11. Weiliaoshan is at the entrance of Maolin Valley and it is a challenging but excellent dayhike. The trail follows the ridgeline on the Kaohsiung and Pingtung county line rising 1275 meters in 8.5 km.  The last 3 km are particularly steep and rocky.

Click here for directions to Weiliaoshan

12. I haven’t hiked the Liugui Special Garrison Trail yet but Tyler has provided excellent details on a lost and overgrown section of the trail in his new blog. The Liugui Special Garrison Trail is a 50 kilometer route along a ridgeline all the way from Dajin to Baolai. The trail was built by the Japanese and had a police station every kilometer. Now the police stations are just piles of rocks and only sections of the trail are walkable. Tyler plans on blogging about these sections next on his blog.  You can follow his blog at tylercottenie.wordpress.com.

Note – I wouldn’t recommend walking the section that Tyler did in his blog but the other sections look very interesting.

Click to view the full blog post

13.  There are three waterfalls located just outside Maolin Valley that can be a fun side trip. Dajin Waterfall is very popular on weekends and goes up (and then down) over 800 stairs. Dazhi Waterfall is a decent waterfall but it goes dry early in the season (read between the lines here – it is one of my least favorites). My recommendation would be Hulugu (Calabash or Gourd Valley) Waterfall for a cool little area to explore or relax.

14.  One area that I would like to explore further is an overgrown trail at Meiya Waterfall. The sign is now obscured and unreadable but it mentioned an old aboriginal village somewhere up the hill. It is also possible that this trail leads up to an overlook for Meiya Waterfall.

15. I don’t know anything about Wanshan Petroglyphs but I have been told that it is strictly off limits unless you arrange a local guide (no idea how to arrange a guide though). This is on my secondary (or tertiary) to do list. I have so many other trips planned in Taiwan before I figure out how to go back there.

16. There is a small waterfall and hot spring up one of the river valleys but I lost the blog link to it. Based on memory this required an overnight camping trip (maybe 15 km each way).

17. I definitely need to add more info on things to do in Duona and Maolin Villages. There are numerous cool spots (including UBAKE art space) and we have eaten some amazing food. We enjoyed the meal below from the Diplomatic (?) Restaurant near the main intersection in Maolin. We also ate roasted chicken in Duona and the food at Deengorge (a large set meal) was delicious. One local specialty is xiaomijiu (millet wine). On two separate occasions this led to disasters though so be prepared for the bottles to explode (when opening). I don’t even want to write about the other disaster.  It was awful.

18. And just so people are clear – Duona Hot Springs are completely buried by 10+ meters of rock (Typhoon Morakot). Perhaps they will excavate this in the future but I have not heard of any plans to do so.  There might be plans to setup a hot spring at a different location but I don’t know any details about it.

Are there any places that I have left out?  What are your favorite places in Maolin and Duona?  

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

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?