7 Temples You Shouldn't Miss in Bali

Alexis
Modified on January 22, 2024

Everyone has a favourite temple in Bali they'll tell you to visit. Here are the ones that you really shouldn't miss if you want to visit temples in Bali.

Pura Lempuyang: The Most Beautiful Temple in Bali (in My Opinion)

temple bali lempuyang

Everyone has a favorite temple in Bali, and it's challenging to argue about tastes and colors.

However, if there's one temple that personally left a mark on me in Bali, it's undoubtedly Pura Lempuyang.

The temple is located in the East of Bali, opposite Mount Agung. Since the area is quite mountainous, Pura Lempuyang is a high-altitude temple, towering at almost 1200 m.

The temple gates face Mount Agung and are nicknamed the "Gates of Heaven." The view from the gates is truly breathtaking and is arguably one of the most Instagrammable spots in Bali.

A little secret about these photos that might spoil the magic: some photographers use mirrors to make it appear as if there's water reflecting the temple gates... Unfortunately, there's not a drop of water in reality, but the photos remain splendid.

If you're up for it and your physical condition allows, I highly recommend climbing all the way to the top of the temple. There are indeed 1700 steps to climb, but it's worth it and can make for a pleasant, sporty walk, especially if you visit on one of the many days when the Balinese are in procession.

My subjective advice: if you only want to visit one temple in Bali, visit this one, but do it properly by going all the way to the top!

Pura Besakih: "The Mother Temple" of Bali

temple besakih

Besakih Temple is undoubtedly one of the most sacred temples in Bali, often referred to as "the mother temple."

The temple is located at the foot of Mount Agung, in East Bali. If the weather is clear, you can't really have a more impressive view of the base of the volcano.

The temple itself is immense and could be considered a complex of several temples, even though not all parts are open to the public.

This temple is over 1000 years old and was already very sacred before the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963. But its sacredness entered another dimension in the hearts of the Balinese after the eruption. While all the surrounding villages were destroyed by this massive eruption, the pyroclastic flows miraculously stopped just a few meters from the temple.

This miracle was seen as a sign of mercy from the gods who wanted to show their power and discontent but without destroying the historical temples erected by faithful Hindus.

Pura Besakih is one of the most visited temples in Bali, and it's for a good reason. It is clearly one that has written the history of Bali and its relationship with its feared yet sacred volcano.

Tirta Gangga: A Temple That's Not Really a Temple

tirta gangga temple bali

Tirta Gangga is often considered a temple, but it's a bit more complex than that.

It is primarily the former royal palace of East Bali, located near Mount Agung.

The palace spans over an acre and consists of numerous pools and other water features paying homage to the Hindu sacred river, the Ganges. There are indeed places of worship (including a temple) in this palace, but Tirta Gangga is mainly visited for its unique decoration and water spaces. However, some of the fountains and waters of Tirta Gangga come from sacred sources and are used for ceremonies.

The Water Palace of Tirta Gangga was built in 1946 and was completely destroyed by the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963. Unlike Pura Besakih, the version you can visit now is a faithfully reconstructed version of the original royal palace, which is still very nice!

If you have a passion for photography, gardens, and beautiful architecture, you won't be disappointed with the journey.

Pura Tirta Empul: The Temple of Sacred Springs

temple tirta empul

Tirta Empul Temple is another quite unique temple with sacred waters.

The Pura Tirta Empul is located in Tampaksiring, near Ubud, making it a very interesting visit if you're exploring central Bali.

This temple is dedicated to Vishnu and was built over 1000 years ago. Its name comes from the "Tirta Empul" spring, which could be translated as "sacred spring." The temple's pools are used by Hindus for purification rituals.

You can actually bathe in the ritual pools when you visit the temple, which is quite unique in Bali.

Right next to Tirta Empul Temple, you can also visit the former Indonesian president Soekarno's presidential palace.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu: A Must-Visit in Bukit

temple uluwatu

Pura Luhur Uluwatu is undoubtedly one of the most visited temples in Bali. It's no wonder, given its strategic position on the Bukit Peninsula, its overlooking view of the Uluwatu waves, its monkeys, and its cliffside path, it has a lot going for it!

One of the advantages of Uluwatu Temple is that you can attend traditional Balinese dances held there daily at 6 p.m. So, you can easily experience a ritual aspect of Balinese culture against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful points on the island's coast.

The Uluwatu Temple is a must-visit for surfers venturing into the waves of Uluwatu, Bingin, or Padang Padang. For others, the detour is still worth it.

However, be cautious of the monkeys at Uluwatu Temple. They are pickpockets even more formidable than those in the Parisian metro!

Ulun Danu Beratan: The Floating Temple Symbol of Bali

temple ulun danu beratan

The temple Ulun Danu Beratan is the temple you see in almost all photos meant to represent Bali. Therefore, it's one of the unofficial symbols of the Island of the Gods.

The temple is located on the shores of Lake Beratan and was built in 1633. It is in the Bedugul region, making this temple one of the farthest from the tourist areas on this list.

This temple is actually a collection of 4 temples and honors the water goddess Dewi Danu, used in ceremonies dedicated to water, lakes, or rivers.

The small 3-story temple, Linga Pura, honors the goddess Shiva. The tall 11-story tower honors Vishnu, while the other temples honor Sang Hyang Widhi. The colors of these temples represent Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva: creation, the balance of the universe, and destruction.

An iconic temple to visit with a light jacket. At 1500m high, the outdoor temperature can be surprising!

Pura Tanah Lot: Bali's Most Touristy Temple

temple tanah lot
The Most Iconic Temple of Tanah Lot

The Tanah Lot Temple is undoubtedly the most visited temple in Bali and is also one of its unofficial symbols.

It's worth noting that the most well-known temple in Tanah Lot is particularly photogenic. Perched on its rock, it naturally makes every sunset poetic.

Another advantage of Tanah Lot Temple is that it's very accessible from the West of Bali. You can reach it in a few minutes from Canggu and less than an hour from Kuta or Seminyak, which is quite convenient if you want to visit a temple without traveling too far.

Legend has it that the Tanah Lot Temple was built in the 16th century by Dang Hyang Nirartha, who fell in love with the rock and decided to settle and honor the sea god Dewa Baruna there.

In addition to Pura Tanah Lot, there is also Pura Batu Bolong, another temple on top of a rock carved by the sea, which is located right next to it and is also worth a visit.

temple tanah lot batu bolong
The Batu Bolong Temple of Tanah Lot

The Tanah Lot Temple is a very popular tourist attraction. While the site itself is breathtaking, you won't be alone during your visit, especially if, like everyone else, you want your photo of the temple at sunset.

Some Rules of Conduct When Visiting a Temple

It is important to remember that all temples in Bali are not just tourist places but also sacred places of worship for the Balinese. Therefore, it is essential to respect some basic rules to honor the place:

  • Show modesty and respect the dress code: some temples provide sarongs, and it's not optional! Avoid mini-shorts and other overly short outfits.
  • It is forbidden to visit a temple (or a sacred mountain) when a woman is menstruating. That's how it is.
  • Be careful where you sit and don't climb anywhere for selfies.
  • If you're unsure if you can do something or not, ask the locals first.

Like all places of worship in Indonesia, serious offenses are severely punished, even when committed by foreign tourists. Ignorant acts in temples (such as posing naked, etc.) or sacred places (including volcanoes) often result in expulsion from the country!

Do not take the matter lightly; you are not in a secular country.

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