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10 Must-Visit Temples In Bali That Will Take Your Breath Away

must visit temples in Bali, 10 Must-Visit Temples In Bali That Will Take Your Breath Away

As the “Island of Gods”, Bali is not only known for its beautiful nature, like pristine beaches and lush waterfalls, but also for its wonderful culture. One of the most interesting cultural experiences in Bali is visiting its numerous stunning temples. That’s why, when visiting Bali you have to include these must-visit temples in Bali in your itinerary. 

Temples in Bali are mostly Hindu temples because most Balinese are Hindu. Balinese temples are not only architectural marvels that showcase the island’s rich cultural heritage but also sacred places of worship. Therefore, there are some rules or things you are forbidden to do when visiting all temples in Bali. 

Here are some rules you have to follow when you visit a temple in Bali:

  • Make sure to wear proper clothes that cover your knees. If you don’t wear proper clothes, you will be lent or rented a sarong to wear before entering the temple.
  • Women on their period are forbidden from entering the temple. And anyone regardless of gender, who has a running sore or bleeding wound is considered impure and also forbidden to enter the temple.
  • Do not kiss in public in the temple area. Temples are very religious places for Hindu people, so kissing in public is considered very rude, scandalous, and problematic.
  • Do not take photos directly in front of the worshippers. It’s considered rude and could disturb their prayer session. Ask permission if needed.
  • Beware of where you walk. Do not enter the most sacred part of the temple, usually the highest court and inside of the temple, which is called Jeroan. This area is designated only for praying or other religious activities.
  • Watch your step. Do not step over or tread on offerings called Canang Sari that are usually left on the ground. Canang Sari is a palm leaf that is woven into a small box and usually consists of flowers, herbs, fruits or snacks.

Now that you know all the rules, exploring these 10 beautiful temples when you visit Bali is an absolute must.

Here are the 10 must-visit temples in Bali

1. Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple is one of Bali’s most iconic temples and landmarks, perched on a rocky outcrop along the southwestern coast. The temple’s unique location amidst crashing waves earned it the moniker “Temple of the Sea.” The name Tanah Lot itself means land in the middle of the sea. 

This temple is located in Pulau Karang. If the tide is high, you have to take a boat to get to the shrine. However, if the sea water is receding, you can just walk to the temple.

Another interesting thing you can do when visiting Tanah Lot is see the holy snake. Local residents believe that the sacred snake is the incarnation of the founder of the temple. The holy snake has a flat tail and looks like a fish, the body colour is black with yellow stripes. Tourists who see the sacred snake are forbidden to throw stones at it.

Tanah Lot also has the most breathtaking sunset views in Bali. To enjoy the golden sunset, you have to wait until around 6.30 PM. As the sun dips below the horizon, the temple takes on an otherworldly aura, leaving visitors spellbound.

  • Opening hours: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR60,000 and for children IDR30,000
  • Address: Beraban, Kediri, Tabanan Regency, Bali [MAPS]
  • Instagram: @tanahlotid

2. Uluwatu Temple is a must-visit temple in Bali for its Kecak Dance show

The next most beautiful temple in Bali is Uluwatu Temple. Sitting atop towering cliffs that overlook the Indian Ocean, Uluwatu Temple is renowned for its dramatic setting. Dedicated to the spirits of the sea, the temple is also home to playful monkeys that add to the temple’s allure. 

Beware do not get your stuff (mostly hats, glasses, or jewellery) stolen by the monkey. Although the staff there are on standby to get your stuff back from the monkey by bribing them with some food, it would be better to not wear any valuable jewellery and not bother the monkey. Just stay away from them. 

Don’t miss the captivating traditional Kecak dance performances that take place against the backdrop of the setting sun. The mesmerising Kecak dance is a traditional Balinese performing arts spectacle that captivates audiences with its unique and rhythmic storytelling. This enchanting dance, also known as the “Monkey Chant” (the cak-cak-cak sound), is a stunning combination of music, movement, and ancient Balinese folklore.

  • Opening hours: 08.00 AM to 07.00 PM
  • The Kecak dance show is held daily at 06.00 PM
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR50,000 and children IDR30,000
  • Kecak dance ticket: IDR150,000
  • Address: Pecatu, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali [MAPS]
  • Instagram: @uluwtutemple

Read more: Beyond the Beaches: Top 10 Things to Do in Bali

3. Besakih Temple, the largest and must-visit temple in Bali

Known as the “Mother Temple” of Bali, Besakih is the largest and holiest Hindu temple on the island that’s why this temple is a must-visit when you are in Bali. Nestled on the slopes of Mount Agung, Bali’s highest volcano, the complex comprises 19 temples, which consist of 1 main temple and 18 accompanying small temples. Each with different types and purposes. 

The main temple is Pura Panataran Agung or the Great Temple of State. It is the centre of Besakih Temple. It really stands out with its Balinese-style giant gate that looks magnificent and beautiful, along with the long stairway leading to the temple’s courtyards. This temple is devoted to the worship of the supreme god, Shiva, or Sang Hyang Tri Purusa. 

Panoramic views of the surrounding lush valleys and terraced rice fields will greet visitors as they ascend the steep stone steps leading to the temple complex, adding to the spiritual ambience of the place. The temple’s elevated location also allows travellers to witness breathtaking sunrises, transforming the sanctuary into a sacred spot for meditation and reflection. 

  • Opening hours: 08.00 AM to 06.00 PM
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR60,000 
  • Address: Besakih, Rendang, Karangasem Regency, Bali 80863 [MAPS]

4. Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

Nestled on the picturesque shores of Lake Beratan, amidst the lush mountains of central Bali, Ulun Danu Bratan Temple stands as a breathtaking testament to the island’s spiritual heritage and natural splendour. Revered as one of Bali’s most iconic and photogenic landmarks, this water temple is a harmonious fusion of religion, culture, and nature.

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a complex that consists of four temples, namely Pura Lingga Petan, Pura Penataran Puncak Mangu, Pura Terate Bang, and the main pura, Pura Dalem Purwa, which is dedicated to the goddess of the lake, Dewi Danu. Its tiered pagoda-like roofs create a mesmerising sight against the backdrop of the serene lake and the surrounding mist-shrouded mountains.

Visitors to Ulun Danu Beratan Temple are greeted with a sense of tranquillity and serenity, as the cool mountain air and the mist that often envelop the temple add to the mystical ambience. The well-maintained gardens and beautifully landscaped grounds further enhance the temple’s charm, inviting tourists and locals alike to take leisurely strolls amidst the picturesque setting.

Not only can you enjoy the beauty of the temple, but you can also take a speed boat around the lake for only IDR 250,000 for five people. The Ulun Danu Beratan Temple complex is also very child-friendly and suitable for families because it has a playground and a mini zoo where children can see deer and rabbits. It’s better to visit around 8 AM – 11 AM or 3 PM – 7 PM when the sun is not scorching hot. 

  • Opening hours: 07.00 AM to 07.00 PM
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR75,000 and children IDR50,000
  • Address: Danau Beratan, Candikuning, Baturiti, Tabanan Regency, Bali 82191 [MAPS]
  • Instagram: @ulundanuberatan

5. Tirta Empul Temple

Located in the village of Tampaksiring, Tirta Empul Temple is renowned for its holy spring water, which is believed to have healing properties. Pilgrims come from all over Bali to cleanse themselves spiritually and physically in the sacred pools. Not only Balinese, but many foreigners also visit this temple seeking a soul-stirring experience and a profound journey of self-discovery and spiritual rejuvenation.

The striking architecture and tranquil atmosphere make it a must-visit temple. The soothing sound of flowing water and the scent of incense wafting through the air will welcome visitors as they enter the sacred grounds. The atmosphere is one of reverence and devotion, where worshippers engage in prayers, leaving offerings of flowers and incense at the various shrines.

The temple’s main complex features a series of intricately carved shrines and pavillions, adorned with traditional Balinese architecture. The central courtyard houses the main pool, divided into two sections, where devotees partake in the ritual purification. 

One thing to remember is that even though this is a spring-water pool, you still cannot wear just a two-piece bikini. You still need to cover most parts of your body with a traditional sarong, as this place is sacred.

  • Opening hours: 08.00 AM to 06.00 PM
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR50,000 and children IDR25,000
  • Sarong rental for bathing: IDR15,000
  • Address: Tampaksiring, Gianyar Regency, Bali 80552 [MAPS]
  • Instagram: @tirtaempuls

Read more: 2023’s Top 10 Things To Do in Ubud: Bali’s Cultural Gems

6. Goa Gajah Temple

This ancient archaeological site is not only a temple but also a significant historical monument. Goa Gajah, or the Elephant Cave, is adorned with intricate carvings depicting various mythological creatures. Surrounded by lush greenery and fountains, it is a fascinating site to explore.

As visitors approach the cave entrance, they are greeted by the haunting yet mesmerising sight of the demon-like face, whose mouth serves as the entrance to the cave. Stepping inside, the narrow passage leads to a small, dimly lit T-shaped chamber with several stone idols and lingams, representing the divine deities Shiva and Ganesha, among others. The sacred atmosphere within the cave provides a glimpse into the ancient spiritual practices that once thrived in this mystical place.

Throughout the site, visitors will also find intricately carved fountains and bathing pools that were once used for ritual purification. The soothing sound of flowing water from the nearby Petanu River adds to the tranquillity of the surroundings, creating a peaceful ambience for visitors to immerse themselves in the site’s history and spiritual significance.

Some things you need to be aware of: don’t get trapped by people who rent sarongs before the entrance to the temple (you will be charged around IDR20,000), because at the entrance you will be lent sarongs for free. Also, be wary of people suddenly coming to you and telling you about the history of the temple, because they will charge you at the end. Unless you really want to use the services of a guide, it’s better to ask and bargain for the price of their service from the start.

  • Opening hours: 08.00 AM to 05.00 PM
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR50,000 and children IDR25,000
  • Address: Bedulu, Blahbatuh, Gianyar Regency, Bali [MAPS]

7. Penataran Agung Lempuyang Temple, a must-visit temple in Bali for Instagramer

Lempuyang Temple, also known as the “Bali Gate to Heaven,” offers a jaw-dropping view of Mount Agung framed by its iconic split gate. This Instagram-famous temple attracts travellers eager to capture that picture-perfect shot. Thanks to clever photo tricks, this temple has become one of the must-visit attractions in Bali. Therefore, you can expect it to be crowded nowadays. 

To avoid the crowd, you can visit the temple in the early morning around 5 AM before it opens (it opens at 6 AM). Even though there would still be some people already lined up for the “Bali Gate to Heaven” photo session. Besides that, visiting the temple in the late afternoon around 4 PM is also recommended. You can expect fewer crowds and breathtaking golden-hour views until sunset.

Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang is in a huge temple complex that is nested in the slop of Mount Lempuyang (600 metres above sea level). There are seven temples in total with ascending stairs to get to the next temple, and Pura Lempuyang Luhur is their highest temple. As the crown of the complex, it sits atop the mountain’s peak, as it is believed to be the most sacred spot by Hindus.

The climb to the top is challenging, as you will have to climb more than 1,700 stairs, and it could take at least three hours for the return trip. Nevertheless, all the vistas and experiences are still rewarding and well worth the effort. That’s why this temple is one of the must-visit temples in Bali. 

  • Opening hours: 06.00 AM to 07.00 PM for tourists and 24 hours for worshippers
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR55,000 and children IDR25,000
  • Shuttle bus from the parking area to the temple, return trip: IDR50,000
  • Sarong rental: IDR10,000
  • Address: Jl. Pura Telaga Mas Lempuyang, Tri Buana, Kec. Abang, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80852 [MAPS]
  • Instagram: @lempuyangtemplebali

8. Taman Ayun Temple

Situated in Mengwi village, in the Badung Regency of Bali, Taman Ayun is a majestic temple complex with a vast garden and a tranquil lotus pond. Its well-manicured grounds and traditional architecture provide a sense of peace and harmony, making it a favourite among both locals and visitors seeking solace.

The temple was built in the 17th century during the reign of the Mengwi Kingdom and served as the main temple for the royal family. “Taman Ayun” translates to “beautiful garden,” and the temple is indeed surrounded by stunning landscapes and water features, making it a popular tourist destination in Bali. In 2012, UNESCO designated Taman Ayun Temple as a world cultural tourism site.

The architectural style of Taman Ayun Temple is a combination of traditional Balinese and Javanese influences. The temple complex features multi-tiered roofs, intricately carved wooden gates, and beautiful gardens with lotus ponds. It is a prime example of Balinese temple architecture and is well-preserved, allowing visitors to experience the rich cultural heritage of the region.

  • Opening hours: 08.00 AM to 06.00 PM 
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR30,000
  • Address: Jl. Ayodya No.10, Mengwi, Kec. Mengwi, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351 [MAPS]

 Read more: 10 Best Waterfalls in Bali

9. Gunung Kawi Temple

Hidden amidst lush rice terraces in Tampaksiring, Gunung Kawi is an ancient temple complex. It’s about 30 minutes drive from Ubud and just 5 kilometres from Tirta Empul temple, so don’t miss including these two temples in your itinerary when visiting Ubud.

Carved into the rock face, its impressive shrines and memorials are dedicated to Bali’s ancient kings. The architecture is slightly different from the usual Balinese temple because Gunung Kawi Temple is heavily influenced by the East Java culture (temple design) that is called candi. The surrounding scenery and the river flowing nearby create a soothing and spiritual atmosphere. 

When entering the temple complex, there is a steep stone stairway (about 300 steps) towards the river. Along with it, there are paddy terraces and a lush green valley that will give you tranquillity, so take your time to enjoy it. When you reach the end of the stairs, you have to sprinkle some holy water on your head from an earthen vase before entering the actual temple. 

The Gunung Kawi temple complex consists of ten candi that are about 7 metres high. The candi are divided into three clusters. Four of them are on one side of the river, and the other five are on the other side. Make sure to explore every candi, so you will find a lot of interesting things and stories from the carving in every candi, including the 10th candi, which is usually overlooked by visitors because it is located about 1 km back from the two clusters. 

  • Opening hours: 08.00 AM to 06.00 PM 
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR50,000 and children IDR25,000 (including sarong rent).
  • Address: H8G6+QWG, Br Penaka, Tampaksiring, Kec. Tampaksiring, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80552 [MAPS]

10. Goa Lawah Temple

The “Bat Cave Temple,” Goa Lawah, is unique and somewhat mysterious. It is situated along the southeastern coast of Bali, near the village of Pesinggahan in the Klungkung Regency. The temple’s black-sand beach and coastal setting add to the allure of this off-the-beaten-path gem.

The name “Goa Lawah” translates to “Bat Cave” in the Indonesian language. As the name suggests, the temple is built around a cave inhabited by thousands of bats. These bats are considered sacred and are an integral part of the temple’s unique atmosphere.

The main attraction of Goa Lawah Temple is the cave itself, which is a natural formation formed by the erosion of the surrounding limestone cliffs. The cave entrance is adorned with intricate stone carvings, and there is a small shrine near the entrance dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

Inside the cave, visitors can observe bats hanging from the ceiling, and the atmosphere is quite impressive and mysterious. The temple’s religious significance lies in its connection to the legend of a powerful Hindu sage, Dang Hyang Nirartha, who is believed to have meditated in the cave.

  • Opening hours: 08.00 AM to 06.00 PM 
  • Entrance fee: adult IDR25,000 and children IDR25,000 
  • Address: Jl. Raya Goa Lawah, Pesinggahan, Kec. Dawan, Kabupaten Klungkung, Bali 80761 [MAPS

Bali’s temples are not only religious sites but also symbols of the island’s rich cultural heritage and stunning architecture. Each temple offers a unique experience, combining spiritual reflection with natural beauty. To make the most of your visit, try to visit the temple on a Balinese feast like Galungan or Kuningan, so you can witness more festive cultural and religious activities. 

Be sure to include these ten enchanting temples in your itinerary to witness the island’s spiritual and architectural wonders firsthand.

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