6 Best Temples to Visit in Bali
Bali has over thousands of temples. A whole year would not be enough to visit them all, so it is advisable to make a careful selection. Here we have selected the 6 temples that we think are really essential in Bali. This selection is based on the historical importance of the temples and, of course, on our experience.
Here are some tips when visiting a temple in Bali:
- It is mandatory to visit the temples with sarongs, you can buy or rent them at the entrance of the temples. The rental is usually free, but some temples ask for a symbolic price.
- It is better to visit the temples with a local guide because there is a lot of history and background information that is important to know. If you understand the history and culture of the place, everything you see at the temple will make much more sense to you.
- It is not mandatory to buy offerings in temples. But of course the locals appreciate any help especially after the difficult pandemic period the island had to recently go through.
- The Balinese take their religion very seriously and love to explain their traditions to foreigners, you can easily attend a ceremony during your visit.
- Bring appropriate clothing and make the visit in silence, show respect for the religion and the ceremonies that might be taking place.
- Uluwatu Temple
One of the main attractions in Bali is the Uluwatu Temple, a Balinese temple that is located at one end of the island, on the edge of a cliff and by the sea. The temple is considered one of the spiritual pillars of Bali and it is a mystical and beautiful place to visit in the late afternoon, when the sun goes down.
The view from the temple is breathtaking even if it’s not during sunset. The seaside landscape and the Uluwatu temple itself make it one of Bali’s main tourist attractions, the island’s postcard! Not to mention how fun and adorable the monkeys that live in the temple are! Just be careful with your belongings because they try to snatch from you anything they can, including sunglasses, hats, jewelry and so on.
The awe-inspiring scenery and wildlife are not the only reasons to visit Uluwatu Temple. Another attraction of the temple is to watch the Kecak Dance, a Balinese drama that mixes dance and music. The music captivates and the hand and arm movements the dancers use to tell the story and are incredibly expressive. Their spectacular and colorful costumes are also a highlight of the show. It’s a great experience to watch the show as the sun sets in the background with the amazing panoramic views from the top of the cliff overlooking the vast ocean.
- Tirta Empul Temple
There are about thousands of temples in Bali because the Balinese people are very religious, and almost every house has its own temple. With so many temples to choose from, I can tell you for sure that the Tirta Empul Temple should be high on your list of places to visit in Bali.
Tirta Empul is a unique temple in Bali. The temple houses a water fountain, and “pools” in which local residents and tourists perform a purification ritual, in accordance with local belief and culture. It is a must visit place for those who want to renew their energy, learn about Balinese culture, admire its Balinese architecture and particularly witness the devotion of the Balinese people.
It is highly recommended to book a tour with a local guide to learn more about Tirta Empul and understand its spirituality. The guide will explain the history of the temple and its rituals which are passed on through generations.
- Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot Temple is one of the most iconic and sacred places to visit during a trip to Bali. Its spectacular location, built in rocks that are “in the middle of the sea” and surrounded by waves crashing on its walls, offers incredible views and one of the best sunsets on the island.
It’s not possible to visit all places inside the temple because there are some private prayer spaces not opened to the general public. However, when the tide is low, it is possible to walk to the main temple, but the temple is isolated in the middle of the sea when the tide is high.
- Besakih Temple
Located at the foot of Mount Agung, the highest mountain on the island with an altitude of about 1,000 meters. Surrounded by stunning scenery, Besakih Temple is nestled among vast rice paddies, mountains, hills, and streams.
The Besakih Temple is considered the most sacred and recognized as the mother of all temples in Bali. It is a huge complex of 86 temples that are over 1,000 years old. Its most outstanding temple is the Penataran Agung, built on 7 levels that represent the layers of the universe, in which only the followers of this religion can climb. It hosts more than 70 religious ceremonies or celebrations each year, attended by people from all over the island.
- Ulun Danu Temple
The Ulun Danu Temple complex consists of five temples as well as a Buddhist stupa, and it is located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul. Built in the 17th century, it is dedicated to Dewi Danu, the goddess of water and lakes. In fact, Lake Bratan is one of the island’s main sources of irrigation and drinking water. This temple is one of the most photogenic and important temples in Bali.
There is a spacious parking lot, two restaurants, a large children’s play area, and visitors can participate in various activities on the lake, such as motor boating and pedal boats.
- Lempuyang Temple
This is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Bali. Lempuyang Temple is a complex of several temples on the sacred Mount Lempuyang, and it is very famous for the photos of the “Gates of Heaven” on Instagram with the volcano in the background. Its name means Holy Light (Lempu) (Hyang).
You can explore the multiple levels of the complex starting at the bottom level and going up the stairs to the top level, where the Gates of Heaven are. There are also several stone sculptures along the path that leads to the temple.