5 Must-See Temples in Bali

Most Beautiful Temples Of Bali

Bali’s highlands and coasts are home to many ancient temples. Several of them have become the island’s most iconic landmarks, featuring magnificent centuries-old architecture and set against the exotic backdrops. Lively processions, ornate decorations and festivity take place during temple anniversaries, which come around twice a Gregorian year based on a local 210-day calendar.

On any other day, they are great places to visit at least once during your visits to Bali. Each temple is unique. Be it the cloudy peaks of Mount Agung at the Besakih ‘mother temple’, the mysterious ruins of Goa Gajah, or the golden sunsets and silhouettes of Uluwatu and Tanah Lot. Proper conduct and temple attire comprising a waist cloth (sarong) and sash are required, available for rental or donation fees at all sites.

 

Tanah Lot | Tabanan, West Bali

Tanah Lot is perhaps the most frequently featured temple on Bali’s postcards due to its unique offshore setting and sunset backdrops. The temple is located on the coast of Beraban village in the Tabanan regency, featuring an ancient Hindu shrine perched on top of an outcrop amidst constantly crashing waves. It is simply among Bali’s not-to-be-missed highlights on tours to Bali’s west, but is also an easy standalone trip – only a 45-minute drive from Kuta. The onshore site consists of smaller onshore village temples alongside visitors’ leisure facilities that comprise restaurants, shops and a cultural park presenting regular dance performances. The best time to visit is during the holy day of Kuningan, when pilgrimages usually take place, and on the temple’s anniversary five days after. Read More...

 

Uluwatu Temple | Uluwatu, Jimbaran

Uluwatu is one among Bali's picture postcard temples. The temple is also known among surfers as an exotic surf spot. Located on a southwest cliff top approximately 70 metres above the crashing waves, Pura Luhur Uluwatu, as it is referred to by locals, shares the splendid sunset backdrops of Tanah Lot, but at a higher altitude, providing broader ocean and horizon views. Cultural performances such as the Ramayana ballet or Kecak dance, take place in a specially designated amphitheatre at the temple’s south, which takes place during the golden sunset hours, perfect for memorable pictures. Definitely one of the top places on the island to go to for scenic and sunset moments, together with ancient architecture and sculptures, and there’s a dense monkey forest nearby inhabited by grey long-tailed macaques. Uluwatu Temple celebrates its biannual piodalan temple anniversary every ‘Kliwon Medangsya’ Tuesday on the Balinese 210-day pawukon calendar. Pilgrims from all over the island throng to the temple for prayers, adding to the unique sights. Read More...

 

Goa Gajah | Ubud, Central Bali

Even though its name translates into ‘Elephant Cave’, you won’t find any pachyderms here. Goa Gajah is an archaeological complex with historical significance, great for a brief stopover on tours to the Ubud region. It was initially built as a site for meditation, dating back to the 11th century. Down a flight of steps from the roadside and parking area you reach a vast complex comprising the mysterious ‘cave’, a ‘wantilan’ meeting hall, a temple courtyard with an open-air collection of large stone relics, and an ancient bathing pool excavated in 1954. The bathing pool features angelic statues holding waterspout vases. The ‘cave’ is shallow, containing stone idols and meditation spaces. The legendary Petanu River flows behind the temple grounds, towards an expanse of beautiful rice paddies. Read More...

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple | Bedugul, Tabanan

This picturesque landmark and significant temple sits on the western side of Beratan Lake, up in Bali’s central highlands. During high tide, the smooth reflective surface of Beratan surrounds most of the temple’s base, creating a unique floating illusion, while the mountain range provides the temple with its hazy, dreamy backdrop. The striking scenery and cool atmosphere of these uplands have made the temple site a favourite sightseeing and recreational spot for visitors. Ulun Danu Beratan temple’s piodalan takes place every ‘Kliwon Julungwangi’ Tuesday on the Balinese pawukon. On any other regular day, the large flowering lakeside gardens and shrines offer an enjoyable time with many photographic opportunities. Recreational activities include short boat trips around the lake, leisurely rides for two on duck paddleboats, and other water sports. Read More...

 

Besakih Temple | Karangasem, East Bali

Often referred to as Bali’s ‘mother temple’, Besakih is a grand complex of different clan temples and shrines. Regarded as the largest and holiest of the island's temples, it is located at 1,000 metres above sea level on the south-western slopes of Mount Agung. There are at least 70 celebrations held here each year as each shrine has its own anniversary. Exploring the whole site requires a day, however most visits cover only the largest and central complex, the Pura Penataran Agung. Another temple called the Pura Pasimpangan is east of the Pura Penataran Agung, and on the higher slopes is Pura Pengubengan, which has great vistas and is a half-hour walk from Penataran Agung. Sarongs and sashes are provided for a donation fee at the main entrance, while some colourful souvenir textiles are also available for purchase at the many kiosks around the parking complex. Read More...