Gunung Payung Cultural Park

Gunung Payung Cultural Park – Guide and Review

Bali is a wonderful place, teeming with popular spots for tourists and locals alike. There are not that many places left that haven’t yet been “discovered”. So to find a place that you can still have pretty much to yourself is GOLD. It was for that reason that this week we decided to head out our favorite hidden “locals only” place, Gunung Payung Cultural Park.

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Incredible view of Pantai Gunung Payung
Incredible view of Pantai Gunung Payung

Now, I’m not too sure if this place counts as “hidden”, but we love it, and it only seems to be known by locals, and a few expats that come to check out the surf from the great viewpoint. Other than that, there is never a huge crowd here. Having said that, only a few months back we had it completely to ourselves!

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Gunung Payung Cultural Park

To find Gunung Payung Cultural Park, follow THIS LINK.

This is an easy place to get to, with the road well maintained all the way in. It’s located not too far from Pandawa Beach, as it is only a short drive down the road. If you know where the plane was once located at Pandawa, (that has since moved to Nyang Nyang), you will find the turnoff to Gunung Payung Cultural Park a couple hundred meters to the north.

Take the turn and drive in past the Golf Course on either side. Along the way you are almost certain to see monkeys. On our trip in just the other day, there must have been a few dozen of them all across the road. We had to slow down to walking pace to get through. Don’t worry though. The monkeys out here are tame, and will not bother you!

Gunung Payung Cultural Park Sunsets
Great Sunset Sky Views from the cultural park

At the entry to Gunung Payung Cultural Park you will have to pay an entrance fee. This is 2k rupe for a scooter, or 5k rupe for a car, plus 4k rupe per person (at time of writing).

Take the road down past a couple of abandoned buildings into the carpark where there are half a dozen or so warungs. Parking here is easy as there is plenty of it. If you are on a scooter, my tip is to park around the corner away from the warungs and the trees, otherwise you could come back to a half dozen monkeys sitting on your scooter. I ALWAYS see dusty monkey prints on my seat afterward.

Gunung Payung Amphitheatre

In the carpark you will have a choice. You can walk down to the beach, or you can take a shuttle. The shuttle option is only new, and is an initiative that the locals have adopted post Pandemic. Before, you could only get to the beach by walking. This took a bit of stamina, but certainly kept the crowds down. Now, on a weekend or public holiday, you will see a lot more people here. Even if Gunung Payung Cultural Park IS still a hidden gem!

My suggestion is to walk down, and then take the shuttle back. The shuttle is 10k rupe per person for a return trip. Just pay for it before you begin walking, or pay later at the bottom if you like.

One of the main reasons to walk down is because you will make your way immediately from the carpark, down the stairs and under a tunnel into the amphitheater. This is very reminiscent of where you might see the Kecak Dance at other places, and from what I understand, this particular place once hosted them as well. If it did, it would be a pretty amazing place to watch, just like the ones at Uluwatu Temple.

gunung payung cultural park Amphitheater Views
Amphitheater Views

I am not sure what the plans are for Gunung Payung Cultural Park. It seems like there was a lot more here than there is now, and the Pandemic probably had a lot to do with it getting run down. Now, they are doing a lot of work, and initiatives such as the shuttle addition have really opened it up to the public.

The amphitheater provides you with some really wonderful views of the ocean, as it is perched right on top of the cliff. Many local and expat surfers use this spot as a viewpoint to check out the surf up and down the coast.

Take a stroll around and see it from all different sides. It is amazing to see the sunrise from this viewpoint, but we have been there multiple times for sunset as well. Even though you can’t actually see it, the sky to the South, along the beach, turns a wonderful shade of pink, and the parasailers lazily float overhead, adding to the serenity.

Once you are done here, head down the concrete stairs at the back of the stage area, and you will come out onto a path down to the beach.

Pantai Gunung Payung

As much as I love the view from the Gunung Payung Cultural Park amphitheater, it is the beach that I am a real fan of. The walk down is nice and easy with well maintained stairs and pathway all the way to the bottom. When you get there, you will step down onto beautiful golden sand that softly crumbles away under your feet.

Beautiful Pantai Gunung Payung
Beautiful Pantai Gunung Payung

Now, before you even consider going to Gunung Payung Cultural Park, or just to Pantai Gunung Payung, it pays to check the tide times. I always check them out at THIS link.

The reason? Because the wrong tide times can provide a totally different experience. My favorite time of day for visiting is low tide, because this is when you can see more beach, and wander around all the incredible little rock pools and explore. At low tide, you can follow the cliff around under the overhang, and come out on the other side looking down the sand toward Pandawa Beach.

The calm waters of Low Tide
The calm waters of Low Tide

In the other direction, to the North, you will find some wonderful little caves in the side of the cliff. They are like little seaside getaway Hobbit Holes! Climb inside and explore them, or if you have kids, set them loose to have some fun.

Just past the Hobbit Holes, you will find a large cave that is a great spot to rest in the cool shade, before exploring even further along the beach. The amount of things to do and find here is incredible, and I am still amazed that it has managed to fly under the radar all this time.

The other initiative that the locals have brought in along with the shuttle bus, is Kayaking (canoeing) around the reef areas. For 50k rupe per Kayak, two people can hire and paddle around the safe and fairly still waters inside the reef. This is VERY popular with the locals, and something fun that you can’t do at very many beaches on the Bukit.

Kayaking at Pantai Gunung Payung
Kayaking at Pantai Gunung Payung

The Gunung Payung Cultural Park Shuttle Bus

Once you are done at the beach, head back to the stairs and up to the Shuttle Bus.

Only about a dozen or so stairs up you will find the Staircase turn, and directly ahead you will see a concrete structure and old restaurant. It is above this that the Shuttle will drop you off and pick you up. Head on up and wait for the shuttle there. They come and go regularly, but it really just depends upon how busy they are.

Gunung Payung Cultural Park Shuttle and Office
Gunung Payung Cultural Park Shuttle and Office

If you already paid, then just show your ticket, but if you didn’t, don’t worry. The driver can take the fare. I have actually seen people try to walk back, give up, and hail the shuttle down along the road. It isn’t an issue!

The Shuttle bus will take you up the switch back road, and drop you back in the carpark again. Easy Peasy!

What else is nearby?

Gunung Payung Cultural Park is in a pretty quiet spot along the Bukit Clifftops. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything else nearby though. Quite to the contrary, within 20 minutes in either direction, you will find plenty to keep you occupied for weeks!

GWK
Garuda Wisnu Kencana is just up the road

Here are a few of my favorite things to do nearby to Gunung Payung Cultural Park.

  • Try a round of Gold at Bukit Pandawa Golf Club – a great Par 3 course on the road into Gunung Payung Cultural Park. Check it out HERE.
  • Take a drive down to the famous Pandawa Beach.
  • Head up to GWK, Garuda Wisnu Kencana, the incredible statue on top of the Bukit.
  • Go surfing at Uluwatu.
  • Watch the sunset from one of the many incredible places in Uluwatu. Check them out HERE.
  • Take a stroll around the beautiful white beaches and the twin islands of Nusa Dua.
  • Have a seafood dinner experience at sunset on famous Jimbaran Beach.
  • Be amazed at the iconic and incredible Uluwatu Temple.
  • Have a look at the plane sitting on the clifftops at Nyang Nyang Beach.
  • Climb down to Nunggalan Beach and discover the ship wreck on the beach.

The Bukit area of Bali is one of my favorite places to explore. It has amazing beaches and incredible scenery. You simply cannot go wrong!

Where to stay

Being so close to Nusa Dua, the best places to stay to be close to Gunung Payung Cultural Park are, understandably, at Nusa Dua. Here are my picks of places to stay nearby, but be aware that Nusa Dua accommodation can be quite expensive, as most of it is 5 star and above! I will put a couple of lower and more budget options in as well, though there are not too many to choose from.

Also be aware that the road from Nusa Dua to the Gunung Payung Cultural Park turnoff is very bad, if not unpassable unless on a scooter. Even then it’s a bumpy ride. You can easily get around on the main road though, and I believe the local council and resorts are planning to fix the local road soon.

The Apurva Kempinski

The Apurva Kempinski is luxury plus. It sits on the top of the cliffs above the beautiful beaches of Nusa Dua. The Villas then fall away down the cliff face, finally reaching the pool and restaurants below. Check out the incredible restaurant UNDERNEATH the Aquarium!

The Mulia Bali

The Mulia Bali is famous among resorts in Bali. This is because it is possibly the biggest resort IN Bali. The size of this place is incredible, simply due to the dozens and dozens of villas that they offer alongside the normal resort. Maybe the most famous sight in Bali is at the Mulia, with the iconic statues lining the pool facing onto one of my personal favorite beaches!

The Westin Resort Nusa Dua

The Westin Resort Nusa Dua brings Nusa Dua accommodation back into the normal price range once more, but not at the expense of the luxury. Billed as a more family and laid back option, the Westin is on a beautiful beach, with great facilities and amazing ocean views.

Hotel Santika

The Hotel Santika is set a couple blocks back from the beach, but within easy reach and right near all the great restaurants of the area. As such, it is a lot easier on the wallet, and is a favorite choice for regular travelers that need somewhere nice, but not expensive, to stay in the area.

Mercure Bali Nusa Dua

The Mercure Bali Nusa Dua Hotel is not far from Hotel Santika, and in a great spot to enjoy all that Nusa Dua has to offer. It is only a short ride down the road to the beach, and the markets of Nusa Dua only a relaxing stroll away.

Summary

The Gunung Payung Cultural Park is one of my favorite hidden gems on the Bukit. We stumbled across it by accident (actually I was scanning Google Maps and found the amphitheater) but are so glad we did. We go back all the time, even just for a nice, quiet rest in the late afternoon enjoying the view.

I am certain you will love it as much as we do.

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