You can attempt the climb from many different directions. As a rule, always take the widest, most obvious and worn path, not necessarily the most direct.
The easiest approach is from the northwest, beginning at Toya Mampeh. This climb, by way of the volcano’s back door, can also begin from the west at Kintamani. Guides here ask Rp500,000 for one to two people plus around Rp50,000 for each additional person. If you start on the path from Puri Astina at 06:30, you can climb the volcano, rest in the hot springs, and grab a bemo back to Kintamani by Rp50,000 or 60,000. You can also hire horses in Kintamani, more difficult to arrange in Penelokan, Kedisan, or Toya Bungkah.
It’s also possible to ascend the volcano directly from Kedisan, though this is an unrelentingly steep climb. Simply walk 20 minutes out of town in the direction of the mountain and follow signs on the left directing you to the trail. Don’t be alarmed when the trail branches off; they all lead to the same place. Just keep walking uphill.
You can also start from the northeast. Drive or walk seven km on the good road west from Toya Bungkah to Toya Mampeh; on the way climb up through the lava fields on the volcano’s northern side, a product of a 1974 eruption. This new track, circling the base of Gunung Batur, allows vehicles to ascend to within a 30-minute walk of the mountain’s largest and highest crater, Batur I. To get there from Toya Bungkah, take the road northeast toward Songan, then turn left after about three km. Follow this road for about two km to a track on the left, which then climbs another two km to a parking area at Serongga.
One of two “tourist” approaches starts from Pura Jati. In this lakeside village, about three km southwest of Toya Bungkah, a big sign marks the start of the trail. Two shadeless hours up and 1.5 hours down. Or go up from Pura Jati but descend via Toya Bungkah, passing through a beautiful pine forest. As your reward, soak in the air panas in Toya Bungkah.
The hike from Toya Bungkah is the most popular. If you start at 04:00, you’ll make it to the peak of Gunung Batur in time for the sunrise. The climbs from Toya Bungkah and Pura Jati end in exactly the same spot, so ascend one way and descend the other. From Penelokan take a bemo to Toya Bungkah (Rp50,000) or the boat from Kedisan. From Toya Bungkah, walk the gully with the rocky entrance behind the WC on the other side of Under the Volcano’s parking lot (follow the sign). The path veers to the left; just keep going up. Half the climb is through a man-made eucalyptus forest. A group of locals—men with sodas in a bucket and would-be boy guides—will follow any tourist who takes this path. Sometimes they block the trail with plywood barriers, hoping to confuse you or force you to hire them. Ignore this behavior. Take the same trail down. Runoffs may lead to cliff edges and deadends and you may have to backtrack.