One thing is sure: when in Bali, one should visit at least one temple. Not sure which one to visit? Here’s an overview of Bali’s 20 most populair temples.
20 Must-See Temples to Add to Your Bali Bucket List
When a place is called “The island of the Gods” it’s no surprise that you can find a temple at almost every corner. Canang Sari (the palm leaf trays, filled with candies, flowers and sometimes even cigarettes) can be found everywhere; in houses, in offices, in shops, on the streets, and are usually part of a larger offering. The main offerings and prayers take place in the thousands of temples scattered around the island. Here is Bali Buddies’ round-up of Bali’s temples with magnificent temple grounds.
Our 20 Favorite Temples in Bali
Bali’s most important temples are known as the 9 Directional Temples. These are the most important ones as they protect Bali from evil spirits, and they are often located at the most auspicious places all over the island, such as mountains and ocean cliff edges. Aside from these nine temples, there are about 20,000 other temples to visit and to save you some time, we’ve summarized the most popular temples here.
Enjoy browsing through your options and we’re looking forward to seeing your photos on Instagram of the magical places you’ve visited during your vacation in Bali.
In almost every temple description we ask you to follow temple etiquette. The rules are simple and easy to follow. It’s merely a matter of respect. To enter any temple, you must cover your shoulders, and your legs$ and ladies must not be menstruating.
In most temples, you’re expected to wear a sarong and a sash, which you can often rent at the entrance. Alternatively, you can buy your own and bring it along on your temple discovery.
As for the menstruation part, this dates from old culture, back to when menstruation could not be hidden with pads and tampons. Menstruation was perceived as dirty in the old times. Besides, it was also believed that women who were having their period carried along angry and powerful energy which didn’t match with the pure energy of the temples and gods. Obviously, nobody is going to check whether you’re menstruating or not, so it’s up to you whether you’re entering the premises or not.
Map of the Best Temples in Bali
The 9 Directional Temples of Bali
Not one, but nine temples made it to the top of the list. Don’t get excited though, as you won’t be able to visit all in one day. These are the most important temples on the island.
The island counts thousands of temples, and nine temples are considered directional temples, locally known as “kahyanganjagat”. These nine temples are the most important ones as they protect Bali from evil spirits, and they are often located at the most auspicious places scattered all over the island. Their locations are considered to attract good luck, such as the side of mountains, on cliff tops, and in caves, and they make for extremely beautiful surroundings
Located in the western part of the island of Bali on the southern slopes of Mount Batukaru in Wongaya Gede village, Pura Luhur Batukaru is a place of worship of the Lord as Queen Hyang Tumuwuh meaning God who grows.
The founder of this temple is Mpu Kuturan who came from Java Island in the 11th century.
People often visit this temple to do meditation with the aim of gaining inner peace and achieving a balanced life. There are many beautiful places near the Pura Luhur Batu Karu area such as Jatiluwih and Manis Bayu Rice Terrace, Bedugul Botanical Garden, waterfalls, and many more.
When visiting Bali, your trip is not complete without a visit to Besakih Temple. Known as the Mother Temple, this is the largest, most ancient temple, and the most important temple on the entire island.
Located in Besakih Village, Karangasem, precisely on the slopes of Mount Agung, which is the highest mountain (and most famous volcano in Bali), this temple has 23 smaller temples, including the Penataran Agung Temple and the Basukian Temple. The temples in the Pura Besakih complex were built on six levels which makes it appear more like a terrace in a rice field.
People often have religious ceremonies here, and every year there are at least 70 festivals held inside this temple complex. If you are interested in learning and watching more about Balinese culture, the temple is a must-visit!
Goa Lawah Temple
Goa Lawah in Pasinggahan Village, Klungkung has unique characteristics, different from other temples. Thousands of bats inhabit this cave and the noise that the bat colony makes amazes the visitors. These bats are protected and prohibited from being hunted or captured.
According to the local community, the cave’s tunnel connects to the mouth of the Raja Cave in the Besakih Temple Complex, which is about 30 kilometres away. In 1917 the tunnel collapsed due to a big earthquake!
If you see beautiful images on social media of a gorgeous temple gate with a volcano in the background, you can be sure that it’s Lempuyang Temple, also known as the gates of heaven.
Lempuyang Temple, locally called Pura Lempuyang Luhur, is one of Bali’s oldest and most respected temples. You have to go through steep stairs of more than 1,700 steps to reach the Luhur temple.
But once you reach the Lempuyang temple, you will forget all about how tired you are. You will be amazed by the scenery around you and see why it is the backdrop for so many social media pictures, making it one of the most beautiful temples in Bali. It truly is stunning!
For those who would rather not climb the thousands of steps, you can still enjoy the beautiful scenery at the Great Penataran Pura at the foot of the mountain.
The Masceti Temple is on the coast of the Gianyar Regency. The peaceful environment of this temple, the view of the blue sea, and the black sand can calm your mind and make you feel refreshed.
There are other activities that you can do in this area aside from visiting the temple. You can enjoy the natural beauty of the beach, sunbathing, surfing, and fishing in this region.
Moreover, you can also explore other areas such as The Sacred Monkey Forest, Tegalalang Rice Terrace, waterfalls, and many more, which takes around 30 minutes from Gianyar.
Pasar Agung Temple
One of the highest peaks in Bali is Mount Agung in the Karangasem district. You can find several temples in this mountain area, and one of them is the Pasar Agung temple located on the slopes of the mountain.
Access to this temple is not so difficult because these spots can be reached by both four-wheeled and two-wheeled vehicles. If you are coming from the South, the distance from Kuta by car is about 1.5 hours.
If you want to hike to the top of Mount Agung, it’s closer if you’re coming from Pasar Agung Temple to peak one or peak two compared to when you’re coming from the Besakih temple.
Ulun Danu Batur Temple
The island of Bali has two temples with almost identical names — Ulun Danu Batur Temple, located near Lake Batur, and Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, which is near Bratan Lake.
Even though they have almost the same name, the two temples have very different beauties. Ulun Danu Batur water Temple has many high Bentar temples inside. Pura Ulun Danu Batur is at an altitude of 900 meters above sea level.
This temple also became Jagad temple, used as a place to worship Dewi Danu or also known as the Goddess of Lake Water. This temple also often functions as a place to do religious ceremonies called Ngusaba Kedasa.
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is right on the edge of Lake Beratan (or Lake Bratan), and when the lake water rises, this temple seems like it is floating on the surface of the lake water.
The Ulun Danu Beratan Temple building has Balinese characteristics. You can see that the castle building has a multilevel roof. There are towers with a roof of 11 levels, seven levels, and three levels. The tower symbolizes Balinese Hindu belief in three gods, namely Lord Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva.
A favourite activity among many tourists while on vacation in Ulun Danu Bratan is taking pictures with the temple in the background on the lake’s edge. As there are so many tourists who want to take photos with the temple background, you will find it difficult to get a picture without anyone near you. The only way to solve this is by arriving early!
Uluwatu Temple is on the top of a cliff with an altitude of about 97 meters above sea level. Because the location of this temple is on the top cliff, this temple is named Uluwatu, which in Sanskrit means the top of a rock cliff.
Also known as Sad Kahyangan Temple, the local Balinese people consider it a buffer for the nine winds.
A famous Kecak traditional dance performance is performed near the Uluwatu temple every sunset and lasts for 1 hour. Besides watching the performances, you can also watch the beautiful sunset from the top of the reef.
Bukit Sari Temple
Bukit Sari Temple is in the middle of a nutmeg forest in Sangeh, Badung. According to the Balinese people, Anak Agung Anglurah Made Karangasem Sakti built Pura Bukit Sari Sangeh. He was the adopted son of the King of Mengwi.
Thousands of monkeys live in this 10-hectare area, and the local people consider these monkeys sacred creatures. Even though the monkeys are pretty tame, you need to be careful when entering this area.
Do not wear jewellery such as a necklace, earrings, or sunglasses. In addition, please don’t bring food or other objects that can attract their attention, they sometimes like to take these items.
Goa Gajah Temple
If you are somewhere in Gianyar, make sure you pay a visit to Goa Gajah Temple to see it’s elephant cave. Discovered in the 11th century, it has since become a place of worship as well as a tourist spot.
This temple offers a fascinating historical tour through a combination of archaeological and beautiful natural scenery. Archaeological remains such as statues to stupas carved into the stone walls can be found throughout the area.
Goa Gajah Temple is a well-maintained tourist attraction. The parking area is large, and the amenities are in good condition. Traders of Balinese souvenirs such as fabrics, statues, plaits, t-shirts, bags, and so on are for sale in this area.
Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple
With the size of this temple covering an area of 5,000 square meters and located in the middle of the traditional village of Sebatu, Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple indirectly creates a boundary between the traditional village of Sebatu and the traditional village of Telepud.
This temple is the true definition of the Hindu religion for the place of worship of Lord Vishnu. Inside, there is a fish pond containing koi fish of various types and sizes. Take note that the fish pond here is sacred. No one can take or catch fish in this pond.
Gunung Kawi Temple
Pura Gunung Kawi is an 11th-century temple complex featuring 10 shrines carved from stones. The shrines are actually funeral monuments dedicated to Balinese royalty in that era.
The temple is in the middle of a green valley and scenic rice fields. To get to the temple, you’ll have to descent through the lush greenery of the rice paddies. The place is very accessible with only 30 minutes.
Take note though that there are more than 300 steps to climb to reach the temple.
Meduwe Karang Temple
Meduwe Karang temple was built in 1890 and has been famous ever since! It is one of the largest and most sacred temples in Bali.
You will be welcomed by 34 statues when you arrive, with lots of folk stories reminiscing behind each of the statues. The pieces have undergone restoration to their present state following the destructive earthquake in 1917.
Located in Buleleng Regency, it is approximately 300 steps further to the river and paddy terraces and a breathtaking valley, which could send you to travel back in time, when it was all nothing but a simple and tranquil ambience!
The temple is on a tiny island separated from Bali, Serangan Island. The land is in the midst of a beautiful beach and mangrove forest.
The Sakenan is often visited by Hindu followers, especially on special occasions such as Kuningan Day. It was built to represent the high respect of the local people for Ida Hyang or Baruna God to keep the world calm and safe.
The activities in this place are great not only for the mesmerising historical tours but also in the evening. When the night falls, there are usually community activities such as fishing on the mangrove beach next to Sakenan Bali Temple. The view here is something you won’t see anywhere else.
Taman Ayun Temple
The temple can be reached for an hour’s drive from Kuta. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taman Ayun Temple is one where you can’t get your eyes off.
The temple has well-maintained gardens and green grass along the road. It is easily accessible and lies on the main road in a strategic area beside of major roadway between Denpasar to Singaraja.
Also known as Pura Taman Ayun, it is a magnificent family temple of the Mengwi empire. Tama Ayun is one of the most visited temples in Bali, both by local and foreign tourists.
Taman Saraswati Temple
Tucked quietly in an otherwise bustling Ubud market is this gem of a temple. The Taman Saraswati Temple is not too far down the street from the Puri Saren Palace.
Much like the Royal Palace, if you didn’t know it was there when you walk across the main compound, you will notice a pond fully covered with big green lotus leaves and long stems of beautiful lotus flowers standing straight. You will undoubtedly fall in love.
As far as a tourist spot goes, it’s a very brief stop but a beautiful one at that. There’s something about an attractive water feature that calms the soul. If you’ve got five minutes and want a beautiful photo, Saraswati is the place to be.
Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot Bali is one of the most iconic temples and tourist destinations in Bali. Your vacation won’t be complete without visiting this temple. A small temple complex on a rock with a beautiful ocean as a background makes it unique.
As the locals say, Pura Tanah Lot is like a cruise ship leaning on the west coast of Bali. Such a magnetic sight that never ceases to attract and amaze anyone who comes to this island of the Gods.
During high tide, seawater of the Indian Ocean surrounds the temple, making it impossible for locals to enter the temple area to pray. But that’s nothing to worry about because there’s a temple built on the beach as an alternative place of worship. So, the best time to visit one of the most famous temples is during low tide because that’s when you can walk over to the main temple.
Tirta Empul Temple
The beauty and long history of Pura Tirta Empul has reached the shores of other countries. It’s no wonder that many foreigners often include this location on their itinerary when they are on the Island of the Gods.
Even important guests like former US President Barack Obama have visited Tirta Empul. The Bali government has been working hard to make Tirta Empul Temple famous worldwide, and now it is included in the list of proposed UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Many pilgrims & devotees visit the temple to perform their purification ritual known as “Melukat” (Cleansing Ritual) by bathing in its holy spring water. The local community believes this spring to be a source of magical power that can give life and prosperity and purify oneself.
Vihara Dharmayana Temple
In Kuta, amidst the glorious beach destinations and colourful streets, there is an old cultural Chinese Buddhist landmark, the Vihara Dharmayana Temple.
When you take a stroll around the place, the bright combination of red walls and murals is something that will catch your attention. Chinese lanterns occupy a massive portion of the temple’s area on Chinese New Year, and traditional Chinese lion dances take the stage.
The Chinese descents visit the temple regularly for prayers and rituals. During Lunar New Year, the constant wafts of incense smoke from the altars add a spiritual atmosphere to the air.
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