Kayu Putih: The 700-Year-Old Tree in Bali
In a world where newer is better, the 700-year-old banyan tree in Bali proves that people will venerate you even when you’re old as fuck. Kayu Putih is the name for the ancient giant tree, which translates to “white wood” for the tree’s signature-coloured trunk. The exact age and height of the tree are unknown, but most put it at over 700 years old and fifty metres tall.
How to Get to Kayu Putih Tree
The ancient tree is on an unnamed road in a small village northwest of Ubud. It’s two streets east of the main road, Jalan Raya Marga-Apuan. The Google maps pin has it labelled as “Bayan Ancient Tree.” Parking is free and on the side of this rural street.
Admission Price & Opening Hours of Bayan Ancient Tree
I was honestly impressed at the levels of Balinese opportunism when we arrived at the tree. On this island where tourism is everything, they’ve monetized the tree!
There is a shack off to the side where an entrepreneurial local collects “donations.” The gentleman on duty seems like a nice guy and gave us directions to our next stop even though we didn’t pay. You can probably get away with seeing the ancient tree for free, but if you feel like giving something, even 10,000 rupiahs would be fine.
There isn’t a locked fence that surrounds the ancient bayan tree, so this is a 24-hour attraction. If you desperately want to avoid the donation guy, you can try visiting outside of business hours or after sunset when he’s likely gone home.
What to See at Kayu Putih Ancient Tree
Well, there’s the Kayu Putih tree. Were you expecting something more? Around the back of the tree, there’s a part of the fence where a local artist has painted a lovely mural of this very attraction. There are no food stalls, tourist shops or toilets at the tree.
If, like us, you have no intention of paying but still feel bad brazenly walking past the donation shack, there is an access point around the back of the tree. When facing the “entrance” of the tree, walk around the fence to the right and back of the tree. There is a gap in the wall at the back.
It’s nice that (for now) there are no barriers at Kayu Putih. We could go right up to the tree, touch it and sit on it for photos. The gnarled roots at the base split off into many smaller wooden tentacles. It really looks like something out of a fantasy novel and gives a sense of how ancient and alive this tree is.
On the left side of Kayu Putih, there is a fascinating pocket in the tree’s trunk. It’s big enough for a child to squeeze through or for an adult to poke their head in. Inside is an open chamber in the middle of the tree’s massive trunk, the heart of Kayu Putih.
At the end of the day, this is just a big tree. Another couple was visiting the tree when we arrived, and they just looked bored and disappointed. Kayu Putih is in the middle of nowhere, so I don’t recommend coming to see this unless this is just a pit stop on the way to another attraction. Even then, don’t go too far out of your way to see this. We stretched our visit to about ten minutes, admiring the tree from all angles. However, a good portion of those ten minutes was also our driver chit-chatting with the donation shack guy. Most people will only get a couple of minutes out of this attraction.