The Mount Batur Hike is one of the best hikes in Bali. Watching the sunrise from the mountain is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll never forget.
Tips for Mount Batur Hike
- It can be cold when you’re waiting for sunrise at the top, bring a jacket and even a hat.
- Remember sunscreen, sunhat and sunglasses for when the sun has risen.
- If you get offered hiking poles, take them! They were very useful on the volcanic scree.
- Bring a headlamp* and wear hiking shoes.
- Take cash if you want to buy a hot drink at the top, and bring some water for the way up.
- Before the hike we stayed in Black Lava Hostel*, just under the volcano.
- Most guided tours include a simple breakfast at the top.
- If you like cycling, there’s a great easy cycle around Mount Batur.
- The Mount Batur Hike is one of the best hikes in Bali, discover others here, or explore our Two Week Active Bali Itinerary.
Hiking Route up Mount Batur
The route up Mount Batur starts from the centre of Batur town and heads upwards, away from the lake. The road becomes a track, and then you head up through some fields. At this point on your hike up Mount Batur, if you’re going to see the sunrise then it will be very dark. Bring a headlamp* with you (on some tours you might be able to borrow one, on others not).
Soon you’ll enter a forest. You now have a choice – to take the ‘hiking route’ upwards, or the slightly longer but less steep ‘motorbike route’. I’d only recommend opting for the motorbike route if you think you won’t be able to make it to the top. In this case, you can rent a motorbike from anywhere along the path and it will speed you up to near the summit. If you are confident you’ll make it, the hiking path is better, and isn’t really that steep. However, poles do help and our guide lent us some at the beginning. You’ll probably descend via the zigzagging motorbike trail.
It’s even darker in the forest, though you might get a little bit of pre-dawn light. I was a little worried the sun would rise while we were still in the woodland, but that wasn’t the case. We were through the woodland in 15 minutes and up onto the higher, open slopes of Mount Batur.
What Time to Set Off for Mount Batur Sunrise Hike
We stayed in Batur town the night before, just below the volcano. We are quite quick at hiking, and didn’t want to wait for a long time at the top of Mount Batur in the dark and cold with a few hundred other people for the sunrise. Another factor was we didn’t want to get up at 2am. We therefore decided to meet our guide at 5am at our hostel in Batur.
After being offered a quick coffee or tea, we set off around 5:15am. Sunrise in Bali is always between 5:45 and 6:30am. We walked for 45 minutes to reach the place where we watched the sunrise from, roughly two-thirds of the way up the volcano. It was a great place for sunrise because there was nobody else there, yet the sunset views were just as good as at the top.
More Advantages of Setting off Later
We also didn’t have to wait a long time in the cold before sunrise. Additionally, when we did reach the top most people were heading down so the crater rim became much less crowded. And to top it all, the light was really good, while the people who had waited ages for sunrise left immediately afterwards while it was still fairly dark.
For these reasons, I’d recommend thinking about asking your guide to leave slightly later than he initially suggests. You’ll have the sunrise to yourself and spend less time waiting in the cold, as well as sleeping for longer.
Watching Sunrise from Mount Batur
We hiked for roughly another 10 minutes past the trees before sitting down to watch the sunrise. It was a fabulous place and the view was amazing. We were the only people there and it felt like we had the whole mountain and the whole sunrise to ourselves. There were actually about 200 people above us crowded at the summit, but we didn’t know it at the time. I think two-thirds of the way up Mount Batur was a much better, more relaxing place to watch the sunrise than at the top.
We watched the sunrise for about half an hour before deciding to move on. It was now light enough not to need the headlamp. In a short while we reached the area where motorbikes can get up to, not far below the summit. From here it’s only about 300 metres further to the crater rim.
Can you hike up Mount Batur without a guide?
In theory you can hike up Mount Batur without a guide, but in practice you can’t. The guides are kind of a mafia organisation and will not be happy if you hike without their services. There are some checkpoints on the volcano and if they see someone without a guide they will stop you and tell you it’s not allowed.
There is no official rule to say you can’t climb Mount Batur without a guide, but the guides will tell you otherwise and there isn’t much you can do about it. At a minimum you will have to pay the guards at the checkpoints to let you hike up alone. It’s much better to just pay the money and hire a guide.
The cheapest way is to make your own way to Batur and meet a guide there. We stayed overnight in Batur at Black Lava Hostel* for two nights and organised a guide through them. However, there are many options to book online wherever you are in Bali.
The Crater Rim
On the crater rim are quite a few benches, near a hut from which you can buy hot drinks. Included in our tour was a simple breakfast, and our guide produced some boiled eggs, sandwiches and bananas. Drinks weren’t included, but we could buy them for ourselves (remember to bring cash). It was very pleasant sitting on top of the volcano.
After breakfast, our guide led us around the rim to the right. There’s a small area with steam coming out, and if you blow on a joss stick, much more steam comes out! It’s quite fun to see and a popular place to take videos.
Around the Rim
Continuing around the rim, there were beautiful views, including over to the mountains in the lakes region of Bali. On the far side of the rim you can look down on a large flow of black lava – expelled in the most recent volcanic eruption. There used to be a village where the lava is now, but the entire population moved to the top of the crater rim after the eruption.
Following the rim, you then reach a descent. It’s full of volcanic scree and quite slippery – poles were a great help. You then reach into the crater itself, and can peer into the large deeper hole on the other side. There’s a little stall here and places to sit with views of the lake below. After a short break here, we continued away from the crater rim.
Geology and Volcanic History of Mount Batur
Today Mount Batur sits in the middle of a larger crater. There used to be a huge volcano here, over 4000 metres tall, but it blew its lid in two giant explosions 30,000 and 20,000 years ago. Subsequently Mount Batur, a smaller volcano, grew in the crater that was left behind.
Mount Batur is the most active volcano in Bali, with the most recent large eruption in 1963. The black lava you see from the summit was formed in this eruption. This lava is made of basalt – a common volcanic rock. There were several small eruptions from the 1990s until the year 2000, but these have since stopped.
Most of these eruptions come with some warning signs – minor earthquakes and swelling of the volcano – which start several days to weeks before the eruption. The eruptions in the past have not been that explosive, with only local collapse of the mountainside and lava spreading out slowly below. This makes Mount Batur a fairly safe volcano to climb. The volcanoes on Bali are constantly monitored, and the alert level will be raised if there are signs, such as many small earthquakes, that an eruption is imminent.
On the way down we took the motorbike track, which is dirt and zigzags a lot. It was fairly quick to walk down and soon we were back in the forest. We turned left and continued downwards past a temple covered in huge spiders. Then we came out into fields and were back in the centre of Batur Town.
We returned to our hostel, Black Lava Hostel, and had a soak in the hot spring followed by a well-deserved second breakfast.
Accommodation in Batur Town
We stayed at Black Lava Hostel* in Batur, just under Mount Batur. It was a great place with a fantastic pool heated by a natural hot spring and great views. The food was good and they arranged a good-value sunrise hiking tour for us up Mount Batur.
FAQS: Mount Batur Hike
Mount Batur is 1717 metres high, though the hike up Mount Batur has only 675 metres climb.
Climbing Mount Batur is difficult if you are not used to walking. If you take it slow, most people can make it to the top of the volcano. However, if you think you might not make it, you can walk up the path shared with motorbikes. These are available to rent if you want to give up walking at any point.
Theoretical you can hike Mount Batur without a guide, but in practice you can’t. It’s not worth it to try and hike without a guide.
The Mount Batur hike is definitely worth it, and it’s worth getting up relatively early to see the sunrise – though watching the sunrise from halfway up the mountain is just as good, if not better, than at the top. At any time of day the views are great. However, this does depend on the weather. In poor visibility, the hike up Mount Batur is probably not worth it. Try and check the weather forecast a few days before you plan your hike.
A roundtrip hike up and down Mount Batur is almost 8 km. It takes most people about 1.5-2 hours to climb up and 1-1.5 hours to decent the mountain.
Mount Batur is steep, though there is a choice of paths up, with the motorbike path less steep than the hiking path. Despite their names, you can choose to hike up either. Hiking poles are useful – your guide may be able to provide you with some.
Mount Batur is an active volcano so there is a non-zero risk of climbing it. However, it is constantly monitored for signs that an eruption is imminent, such as an increase in the number of small earthquakes. In this case, the alert level for the mountain will be raised from ‘normal’. Your guide should be well-informed about the status of the mountain. It is unlikely that Mount Batur will erupt with no warning signs.
It can be quite cold on the top of Mount Batur since it’s 1717 metres high. If you are there to watch the sunrise, you might have to wait an hour or so in the coldest part of the night. Take a jumper and coat, and a woolly hat if you have one. The temperature does not change that much throughout the year, so whenever you do the hike it can be cold at the top.