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Bali is one of those dream holiday destinations that’s filled with picture-perfect beaches and some pretty incredible things to see and do.
But if you’re heading to the Indonesian island, then you may want to include a temple or two on your itinerary.
After all, Bali is home to over 20,000 including some of the world’s most incredible temples.
With so many on offer it can be tricky to pick which ones need to be on your radar.
To give you a helping hand we’ve narrowed it down to 10 that we think you won’t want to miss.
We’ve also included a few top tips on visiting including what to wear and etiquette for tourists.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
Dubbed the ‘floating temple’, this temple complex on the shores of Lake Bratan boasts some pretty eye-catching structures, not to mention it offers those breathtaking lakeside views.
If you have some extra time to play with it’s worth exploring the nearby lake surroundings – you can hire paddleboats, watch the local fishermen or pick up some food and souvenirs in the local shops.
The ‘Mother Temple of Bali’ is a temple complex in eastern Bali with one main temple surrounded by 18 smaller temples, all of which boast intricate architecture and ornate carvings.
There are plenty of guides on hand to offer tours of the complex, and visitors are allowed to watch some of the ceremonies that take place.
The surroundings are picturesque ranging from rice paddies to mountains and rivers.
A word of caution – because it is so famous the temple can get quite busy so you may want to head early to beat the crowds.
Tanah Lot Temple
This Hindu temple is famous for its dramatic offshore location and the breathtaking views to be found at dawn and sunset.
In fact, sunset is one of the busiest times so get there early if you want good views.
The temple is home to smaller shrines, sitting on a large rock formation with plenty of colourful plants making for an eye-catching sight.
There are some restaurants and shops nearby, as well as traditional dance performances for visitors.
Want to avoid crowds? Head in the morning when it tends to be a little quieter.
The walk up to this sea temple can be just as spectacular as the building itself.
Perched atop a steep cliff approximately 70 metres above the sea the temple offers up some pretty incredible views, especially if you head over for the sunset (although this is when it can get quite busy).
The temple itself offers plenty to see with some eye-catching sculptures, split gates and dense green surroundings which are also home to hundreds of monkeys.
On the way down, head to Jimbaran Bay where you’ll find plenty of restaurants and cafés overlooking the ocean.
Tirta Empul Temple
A Hindu water temple, Tirta Empul is famed for its holy spring water where Balinese Hindus go for purification rituals.
You can take part in these for a small fee, just don’t forget to bring a towel!
The temple is active so be mindful of worshippers as you wander around the complex (it can get quite busy during peak seasons).
It’s also worth checking if there are any particular ceremonies on the day as sometimes this means part of the temple can be closed off to visitors.
Goa Gajah Temple
Goa Gajah, also known as the Elephant Cave, is believed to have first served as a sanctuary and bathing temple.
Nowadays, visitors are drawn to its unique entrance with heaps of ornate carvings, while the complex itself is home to intricate statues and bathing pools.
You don’t need much more than an hour to explore it all, and it’s quite easy to reach as it sits about six kilometres outside of central Ubud.
Luhur Lempuyang Temple
One of Bali’s oldest temples, the Luhur Lempuyang boasts an incredible split gate overlooking the Balinese landscape.
To access the temple you’ll need to climb up a lot of stairs so don some sturdy shoes and bring some water with you.
If you want to take a photo between the gates, be aware that there are queues for this which can take a while during peak seasons, so head early in the morning if you’re after that Instagram-worthy shot.
It’s approximately a two-hour drive away from Ubud.
Taman Saraswati Temple
This Hindu temple sits in central Ubud itself so it can be quite convenient to visit.
Dedicated to the goddess Sarasvati, what’s particularly striking about the water temple is the large amount of lotus ponds that adorn the complex.
You can wander around the gardens but tourists aren’t usually allowed in the inner temple itself. There is no entrance fee at this particular temple.
Gunung Kawi Temple
Pura Gunung Kawi is a unique archaeological site where you’ll find ancient shrines carved into the rock cliff which serves as the base.
There are also small stone caves which serve as a meditation sites amongst the shrines.
To reach the complex you’ll need to walk down hundreds of steps, but it’s well worth the visit.
The temple also overlooks Bali’s sacred Pakerisan River.
Luhur Batukaru Temple
Luhur Batukaru is one of Bali’s key directional temples and a site of pilgrimage for Balinese Hindus.
Located at the foot of Mount Batukaru it is slightly off the beaten path so it’s ideal for intrepid explorers. There are various courtyards to wander through boasting eye-catching statues and colourful floral gardens.
Top tips if you’re visiting temples
- Temples often have admission fees if you want to visit. Sometimes this includes a guided tour (and it’s common practice to tip the guide after).
- Dress modestly, keeping your upper body covered (at the very least, sleeves covering your shoulders).
- Bring your own sarong – some temples require that you wear one even if your arms and legs are covered. You can hire or buy these on-site but bringing your own could save you extra cash especially if you’re planning to visit a few.
- If you are watching a ceremony, be mindful that it is a place of worship.
- Check before taking photos. Most temples do allow you to take photos but try not to get in the way of worshippers and turn off the flash.
- Look out for monkeys! There are some spots where they roam and although they may seem adorable, they’re quite mischievous and often try to steal tourists’ belongings so hold on to your sunglasses and valuables.