Bali is the only Hindu island in a Muslim country – this is one of the very reasons that makes Bali so special and different. Indonesia has one of the highest Muslim population in the world, yet Bali has its own religion. It’s called Balinese Hinduism, and is an ancient form of the religion. Balinese Hinduism dominates all aspects of life on the island.
Travellers who first visited Bali, long before the millions of tourists now, experienced a magical and spiritual Bali that few today get to see. However, the main form in which the religion is preserved and maintained is through the daily visits by the locals to some of the many beautiful temples across the island. The temples’ architecture is like nowhere else in the world and has served as inspiration for Balinese themed cafes or hotels, but nothing really beats visiting these incredible temples first-hand.
Best Temples to Visit in Bali
There are more than 20,000 temples, or puras on this tiny island. This really gives an indication of how important the Balinese worship of the Gods is to the people. Tmples vary from small shrines by family homes, to huge complees that dominate the landscape.
Deciding Which Temples to Visit in Bali
One of the key factors in deciding which temples to visit will be geographical location. Whilst Bali is not a huge island, its hilly and winding roads can make relatively short distances fairly long journeys.
Based on this, I have only visited temples within an hour or two driving from the airport in Denpasar. Two of these temples have really stood out as totally spectacular – Uluwatu Temple and Tirta Empul Temple – and for very different reasons. So read on to find out why I found these to be the best temples in Bali.
Its location is what makes this revered temple so special. Perched high above the famous cliffs of Uluwatu, the views are incredible and the waves crash against the cliffside.
The temple complex at Uluwatu is extensive and worship activities happen regularly here. Beware though – there is a resident monkey population who are rather overzealous in their greetings. Watch your stuff!
Tirta Empul Temple
The incredible Tirta Empul Temple, meaning holy spring, is built around a sacred spring. It offers a unique experience as you can actually enter the waters at this temple. Locals visit this temple for ritual purification, and visitors to Tirta Empul are also welcome to do this. The idea is to cleanse your body and spirits by bathing in the natural spring flowing through the temple. The water pours from the incredible showers lining the pool.
Note: You must be covered to enter this water.
Make sure to read this detailed guide on Tirta Empul Temple here, which covers everything you need to know visiting.
It is reasonably close to Ubud and can be easily included on a day’s sightseeing around the area.
Other Temples to Visit in Bali
Getting templed-out is a real thing, and I recommend only visiting a couple before they all blend into one. But if you really want to check out a few more, I would recommend:
- Pura Tanah Lot – a spectular temple located in the sea a few miles West from Seminyak.
- Besikah Temple – located 900m up the steep slopes of the sacred (and occasionally active) volcano Mount Agung. This incredible complex actually consists of 22 temples and warrants a good half-day exploration.
- Ulun Danu Beratan Temple – if you have time to travel into Bali’s central highlands, this lakeside temple is stunning and mountains behind create an incredible back drop.
Things to Know Before Visiting Temples in Bali
1. One of the most important things to note, is the importance of dressing modestly. Everyone must wear a sarong, even men and even over trousers.
2. Secondly, not all temples welcome tourists. It will be made very clear if it is open to tourists and if the local village or priest has given permission for visitors to enter.
3. Another key rule – and only for women- is that females are not permitted to enter a temple if they are menstruating. Odd though that may seem, there will be enough signs. Obviously no-one is checking, but you kind of feel like you might be disrespecting the Gods if you are not honest. The real ideology behind this is that it’s an ancient custom to protect the temple and honour the Gods by not allowing blood to spill inside a temple. This can be from any source.
4. You’ll notice as you wander around Bali that the locals lay out a small bamboo square every single day, filled with things like flowers, reed, rice, and often these are lit and softly smoking. This is the offering the locals do three times a day. It is to say thank you to the Gods and to display respect for what the Gods have given them.
5. You have to pay a small entry fee to get in, and with it, they’ll provide a sarong (to be returned afterwards). This has to be paid in cash.
Visiting Temples on an Organised Tour
Bali isn’t always the easiest place to explore if you don’t have a scooter, especially due to the lack of public transport.
While taxis are aplenty, it can actually be easier to join a small-group organised tour to visit temples in Bali. The tour takes care of the logistics, imparts useful knowledge and makes sure you’re doing the right thing, at the right time. Tours to temples will often encompass something else too, such as a waterfall visit or an interesting lunch stop.
Here’s my pick of some of the best tours visiting temples in Bali:
- Northern Charm: Lake Bratan, Handara Gate, Waterfall & Swing
- East Bali: Lempuyang Gates, Tenganan, & Water Palaces Tour
- Bali: UNESCO World Heritage Sites Small Group Tour
- UNESCO Sites: Bedugul, Jatiluwih and Tanah Lot Full-Day Tour
- Bali: Small-Group Ubud and Tanah Lot Guided Tour
- Balinese Mystic and Rituals Tour with Kehen Temple
- Bali: Alternative Temples Small Group Tour
- Uluwatu: GWK Cultural Park, Beaches & Uluwatu Temple Tour
- Best of Central Bali: Waterfall, Elephant Cave & Rice Fields
The Must-See Temples in Bali
So here’s my guide on the must-see temples in Bali, particularly focusing on Uluwatu Temple and beautiful Tirta Empul Temple. As I mentioned above, a temple visit is such a unique experience and provides such an interesting insight into Balinese life.
I hope this post has been useful for anyone wondering which temples to pick for their Bali trip. If you’re looking for other attractions in Bali, then make sure to check out this guide on amazing places to visit in Bali.
If you’re looking for further guides in Bali, please check out my other blog posts here and check out my review of Kalapa Resort & Spa in Bali here. I’ve also written a guide to the best beach clubs in Bali, the best beaches in Uluwatu and some of the best plant-based cafes on in Bali too.
Disclaimer: I paid for my visit to these temples in Bali. There was no involvement from the tourism board or a temple. This is an independent guide.
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