When it comes to temples in Bali, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Some say that there are more temples on this Indonesian island than homes and, once you visit for yourself, that comparison is easy to believe. Bali’s temples are normally peaceful, quiet areas where locals can come to pray and make offerings.
However, some of the island’s larger temples are also grounds for celebrations, festivals, and traditional dance performances. From hill tops to shorelines, Bali is full of temples both big and small, but each one is significant in some way.
Balinese temples are called puras and there are several types of puras across the island:
- Pura kahyangan jagad: temples that are built in the mountains or on volcanos.
- Pura tirta: water temples.
- Pura desa: temples dedicated to worship of Brahma. These are located within villages and cities.
- Pura puseh: dedicated to the worship of Vishnu.
- Pura dalem: dedicated to Shiva, Durga, Mother nature, and several other gods. This type of temple is connected to death and the rituals surrounding it.
- Pura mrajapati: dedicated to the worship of prajapati and the cosmic might.
- Pura segara: sea temples.
The island also has six Sad Kayangan Jagad which are the holiest places for worship on Bali. They are six pivotal areas on the island that, according to Balinese beliefs, are meant to protect and provide balance to the island.
While it would be pretty much impossible to visit every one of Bali’s temples, we definitely recommend you see as many as possible. They are an important part of the local culture and are stunning to look at and explore. If you are looking for some inspiration on which Bali temples to add to your must-see list, then here is our list of the best Bali Temples.
16 Coolest Temples in Bali
1. Besakih Temple
Besakih Temple, ‘the mother temple’, is probably Bali’s most well-known temple. It is the biggest and holiest temple. It’s located on the slopes of Mount Agung, Bali’s largest mountain, and includes more than 80 temples within the complex. The inner courtyards are reserved for pilgrims, however tourists can visit the grounds and many of the other temples with Besakih Temple complex. One of the reasons as to why this temple is so special and unique is that it is the only temple on the island that is open to any devotee from any caste group.
2. Ulun Danu Batur Temple
Ulun Danu Batur Temple is Bali’s second most important mountain temple complex after Besakih Temple. It sits at the top of Mount Batur and has a total of nine temples and 200 shrines and pavilions located within the complex. This temple is dedicated to the goddess Dewi Danu, the Goddess of Lake Batur, who is said to bless the island with fertility.
3. Ulun Danu Beratan
One of Bali’s best known and most photographed temples, Ulun Danu Beratan is a stunning lake temple on the western side of Beratan Lake. The calming lake and scenic backdrop make it one of the most beautiful and idyllic temples in all of Bali. It’s a favourite among tourists and locals alike and makes for a popular weekend of holiday escape. Ulun Danu Beratan temple dates back to the 17th century and is a popular temple for local festivities and celebrations. Visitors here can also hire boats to explore the lake along with fishing gear.
4. Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah, also referred to as the Elephant Cave, is located just outside of Ubud. While there is nothing to do with actual elephants here, it is a beautiful historic temple to explore and an important archeological spot on the island. The main highlight here is the cave which is covered with intricate carvings including that of a face with an open mouth which serves as the entrance.
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5. Lempuyang Temple
Lempuyang Temple is special because it is one of the island’s oldest temples. It’s believed to pre-date the Hindu temples of the island and, due to its age, is held in high regard; close to that of Besakih Temple. It’s quite a hike to reach this temple, and the locals believe you should not complain along the way or else you will never reach the top. Due to the long climb, it’s not a very crowded temple and therefore offers a peaceful environment and stunning views. Lempuyang Temple is located at the peak of Mount Lempuyang.
6. Tirta Empul Temple
Tirta Empul Temple is one of Bali’s most important water temples. It dates back to 960AD and has been an important spiritual place throughout history. Natural springs here feed purification baths, pools, and the temple’s fish ponds. Locals come here to bathe in the healing waters and visitors are welcomed to join in the tradition. There is a proper path to follow and ritual, so watch the locals for guidance- they will be happy to help you. Tirta Empul Temple is a popular place to visit in Ubud.
7. Uluwatu Temple
Perched on a cliff top 70m above the sea, Uluwatu Temple is a tourist favourite when it comes to Bali Temples. Uluwatu Temple is said to be one of the island’s six key spiritual pillars. It’s a spectacular place to come at any time of day, though it’s truly special at sunset. Visitors should be wary of the temple’s monkeys which have sticky fingers and can be aggressive. Don’t bring in food and make sure your bags are sealed. It’s also recommended to remove your sunglasses. Uluwatu Temple is also where you can see the famous Kecak Fire Dance at sundown. Tickets should be purchased in advance.
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8. Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot is another of Bali’s most scenic temples. It’s perched on a rock out in the sea that can be accessed at low tide. Visitors are not allowed in the temple grounds, but often go to photograph the temple, especially at sunset. Tanah Lot Temple is about 45 minutes from Canggu.
9. Pura Petitenget Temple
Located in Seminyak, Pura Petitenget Temple it best known for the legends associated with it. According to local Hindu mythology, this temple was one of nine pillars built by a Japanese sage named Empu Kuturan in the 11th century. This sage brought religious law to Bali and helped oversee the formation of traditional villages. The Pura Peteitenget Temple, as one of the nine pillars, is believed to protect the island. There is a second legend here about a secret box. This story tells of a sag who came to Bali and accidentally left behind a secret box. The local people, fearful of what was inside, built a temple around it; Pura Petitenget Temple.
10. Batuan Temple
Batuan Temple is about 10km south of Ubud in the town of Batuan. Locals refer to this temple as Pura Puseh Ian Pura Desa Adat Batuan and it’s a popular spot for local ceremonies. Batuan Temple has beautiful bas stone motifs and is best known for its Balinese arts and paintings.
11. Batukaru Temple
Batukaru Temple, known to locals as Pura Luhur Batukaru, is one of Bali’s key temples. It’s one of nine kayangan jagat which is meant to protect Bali from evil spirits. This temple is located at mount Batukaru, for which it is named, which is the second highest peak in Bali. The temple can be visited by tourists; however, certain parts of the temple are closed off to visitors as they are only available to pilgrims.
12. Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple
This Bali temple is a real gem because few people visit it, making it one of the most peaceful and tranquil temples to visit in Bali. Gunung Kawi Sebatu is a water temple with multiple water pools filled with lotus flowers and carp fish. The grounds also have beautifully manicured gardens adding to the charm of this temple. Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple is about 12km from Ubud.
13. Meduwe Karang Temple
Located in North Bali, about 15km from Lovina, Meduwe Karang Temple is a gorgeous temple with plenty of interesting carvings and statues. Entry is free, however there are usually a couple of English speaking guides willing to show you around and fill you in on some Balinese mythology for a small fee.
14. Pura Beji Temple
Another North Bali Temple, Pura Beji Temple is used as the village temple and by farmers. It dates back to the 15th century and the highlight here are the different carvings that show the myths and legends of the great Hindu epics. There is no entrance fee, though there is a small donation box that visitors are encouraged to contribute to.
15. Pura Taman Saraswati Temple
Pura Taman Saraswati Temple may not be one of Bali’s most famous temples, but it is a popular temple to visit because it is so easy to get to. Pura Taman Saraswati Temple is located in Ubud, just off Jala Rayan Ubud. It’s a peaceful place to go and escape the crowds. The temple with its pools filled with lotus flowers, is a picturesque place to relax and enjoy a few moments of quiet.
16. Goa Lawah
Goa Lawah is one of Bali’s nine directional temples. The name Goa Lawah means bat cave, and yes, this temple is home to a large number of bats. But don’t let that deter you, it’s a beautiful temple to visit. If you don’t mind the idea of hundreds of bats, visit in the evening when you can see them fly out of the caves and into the night. It’s a truly spectacular sight.
Bali Temple Etiquette
Most of Bali’s temples have at least some areas that are open to visitors and tourists however it is important to dress appropriately. Men and women are required to wear a sarong wrapped around the waist in order to enter temple grounds. In many temples, sarongs are available for rent. However, to save yourself some money (and bring home a nice souvenir) it’s a better deal to pick one up at one of Bali’s local markets.
You can buy them for under $5USD at many markets or, if you want something a little more special, buy an authentic hand-painted batik sarong (they usually start at about $20USD). Please note that women are not allowed to visit any of Bali’s temples if they are menstruating.
Getting to Bali’s Temples
Part of the charm of Bali’s temples is the nearby natural surroundings; mountains, rice fields, jungle, mountains, or lakes. Understandably, this means that some of these temples are remote and not easy to get to. Especially since Bali doesn’t really have a public transit system. Your best bet is to rent a motorbike and go on your own or, if you have a group, hire a private driver and turn your temple visits into a day trip.
Bali Temple Scams
Bali’s temples are safe to visit, however there are a couple of scams that occur around the popular temples. The first is the request of a donation on top of your ticket price- do not agree to this. You are paying for your ticket- that is all you need to enter.
As mentioned above, visitors (men and women) will need to wear sarongs to enter all of Bali’s temples. Most temples offer sarongs for rent, however there are a couple who will include a rental sarong in the ticket price. That being said, there are vendors who will still try to convince you to buy or rent one. You need to do your research in advance to find out if a sarong is included in the ticket price or, as I suggested above, just buy one somewhere are make sure it’s always with you to avoid the hassle.
Bali is an island of temples, and while it can be easy to get ‘templed out’ we highly recommend you take the time to visit at least a few of these stunning Bali temples that top our list. Visiting the island’s temples is a great way to experience and learn about the local culture as well as providing an easy opportunity to get out of the main hubs and into the more natural parts of the island. Plus, they do offer some pretty incredible photo opportunities.