North Bali has some breathtaking scenery. Most tourist don’t make it to the north coast, or if they do its an overnight stop in Lovina then back to Kuta. Take for example the ricefields and mountains that extend from coastal Seririt up towards Pupuan, simply gorgeous!
If you plan on taking a trip to the north coast of Bali from Kuta via Tabanan and Pupuan, the first town on the north coast you’ll come to will be Seririt. This market town lies on the main east west road on the north coast. There is no reason to stop in the town itself but there interesting things going on in the area.
Heading north towards Seririt there is a turnoff to the east, 1km before Seririt. This leads to the village of Banjar, which is 3km away. If your aching bones would like to soak in natural hot springs (remember Bali is a volcanic island), head to Banjar and visit its hot springs (air panas Banjar). To get to the hot springs follow signs to Banjar, then toward the local market, another 2km and then signs for the hot springs, 1 more kilometer. You’ll be at the hot springs within 15 minutes of leaving the main road. Using your own transport is always the best, but you can also ask locals which bemo bus will get you to the hot springs. When the bus stops at the local market, it is possible to hire a motorbike-taxi (ojek) to cover the last kilometer.
The hot springs in Banjar have organized swimming pools with carved lions, that spew the hot water into the pools from overhead. There are quite a few souvenir vendors, so don’t expect to be alone in the middle of nature, but if a refreshing hot soak is in order after your chilly drive in the highlands, this is it.
Getting into your Speedo’s and boiling yourself not your idea of a good time? Then simply continue east past Banjar and check out the Buddhist monastery at Vihara. The Brahma Arama Vihara is a spectacular looking place, and a bit out of place in Hindu Bali. It is the most important Buddhist monastery in Bali and is complete with golden Buddha statues and a pristine natural setting. Visitors can participate in a meditation session called Vipassana, which focuses on breathing and mental peacefulness. Strictly speaking the monastery is not a tourist site but accepts respectful visitors.
Getting to the monastery is easy. In the same way as you drove yourself, or travelled by bemo / ojek, do the same and continue east. Coming from Lovina take the Dencarik turnoff on the main east-west coastal road, leaving you with a 2km drive.
As mentioned before, most people do not linger in the Seritit / Banjar area, eager to get to Kuta or Lovina. There is however a wonderful opportunity for adventure in the countryside around there. From the monastery at Vihara, continue up the hill (south) you pass quiet Balinese villages while ascending steep valleys with fine views of local terraced farmland.
Six kilometers from Vihara is the village of Pedawa. Shady trees provide cover from the sun, with a multitude of local fruits growing, including cocoa and coffee, cloves and coconuts.
Reaching a T-junction 2 kms further south, you turn right towards the village of Banyuseri. At this point you are travelling due west, heading downhill with lovely views of the ricefields. Swing northward and after 20kms you are back in Banjar. This route can be enjoyed either as a slow drive or a long hike.
Back in Banjar, the tourist strip of Lovina is only 12kms away.