Exploring the Central Mountains
Should you be coming from the north, take the mountain roads via Kubutambuhan for Kintamani or via Singaraja for Bedugul.
Most hotels and villas can arrange a driver for you if you haven't already. If you take a driver and wish to stay overnight, your hotel or villa will usually provide, at no extra charge, accommodation for your driver. You should, however, contribute to his food cost. A half- or a full-day rate with a Blue Bird taxi may or may not cover petrol. Agree beforehand. Try not to give any money in advance. While taxis are an alternative method of travel to get into the mountains, they are not ideal for long distances in part due to their low axels.
If you have time on your hands, you can catch a bus from Kuta but they do not stop in all the villages and towns. To get to Bedugul and Candikuning you catch a Perama Tours bus (tel. 0361/751551 in Kuta; www.peramatour.com) from Kuta at 10am for Rp60,000 (3 hr.). For Kintamani, the Perama bus leaves at 10am for Rp150,000 (3 hr.). For those who like to travel with a chicken on their lap, a public bus leaves Denpasar to Singaraja, stopping in Penelokan and Kintamani for Rp20,000. Alternatively, you can catch a bemo from Batubulan terminal in Denpasar to Kintamani for Rp20,000.
From the South -- To Kintamani & Lake Batur -- Various roads lead from Ubud to Kintamani, the two most obvious being either the Sayan Ridge Road or alternatively the slightly more culturally rich road just to the east that takes in the Tirtha Empul Temple and Pura Gunung Kawi complex. Both take about 2 hours. The weather noticeably turns at the top, with the village of Penelokan often surrounded in mist.
The Sayan Ridge Road, heading north, passes the upmarket COMO Shambala and Alila hotels, worth a stop for a lunch break.
Before you arrive at the volcano crater's rim is a sign to Bayung Gede, a wonderful example of a traditional Balinese hill village. With its neat narrow lanes, ancient shrines, and well-kept steep roofed houses, it has retained its old charm and original low-lying construction.
Your other main option is via the road past Tirtha Empul; you also pass Pura Gunung Kawi. Slightly menacingly, just above the beautiful temple complex of Tirtha Empul sits the Istana, the old Bali palace of Sukharno and now owned and occupied by his daughter, Megawati Sukarnoputri, herself a previous president of the Republic.
To Bedugul -- For a wonderfully scenic route bereft of the litter and villa developments that plague much of Bali, head to Papuan from the south: Take the main road via Tabanan and turn north at Antosari. Continue north from Papuan and turn east at Mayong and travel up through the hills via Munduk.
It's easy to get to the central mountains, but trying to go from one village to another cross country is more difficult -- as a quick glance at a map of the area will demonstrate. For example, once you are in the Batur area, to reach Bedugul, you need to drive to the north coast, along to Singaraja, and then back up the mountain road via Lake Buyan. Trying to get from one village to another can be near impossible without the assistance of a friendly hotel owner -- there are no metered taxis in this region.
The Central Mountains have few banks and ATMs. Many places now take credit cards, but come with sufficient cash in Rupiahs. U.S. dollars can suffice, although you may not get the best exchange rates.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.