In addition to its many beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls and rustic villages, Bali’s temples are some of the most interesting and indeed, most important places to visit on this little Indonesian island. Honestly, there are so many incredible and best temples in Bali to visit.
Even though you might visit the island for the sunshine (and mostly to relax), you’ll soon start to find that a visit to the best temples in Bali is pretty exciting too.
The temples are such an important part of Balinese life and culture that a visit to them is a great way of gaining some insight into how the locals live. Plus, some of the very best temples in Bali are just stunning. Suffice to say, no visit to Bali is complete without at least checking out one of the temples on the island.
Thankfully, there are amazing temples dotted all around. Though, let’s be real, visiting every single temple might be a tad unrealistic. Temple fatigue is all too real (Bali does have A LOT of amazing temples). For instance, if you see far too many in one go, they might just start blurring into one.
This is why you should partner your trip with stops at places like Sunday’s Beach, going on some of the best hikes in Bali and seeing some incredible waterfalls. Plus, if you need some other tips, check out our complete guide to Bali to find some other spots across the island.
Anyway, I’m rambling, I wanted to actually share some of my favourite and best temples in Bali you should see on your trip. Have the best time exploring.
Things to know before visiting the best temples in Bali
1.) You’ll have to pay to get in. (Unless you arrive after closing hours though I’m pretty sure most temples now have gates – it didn’t always use to be this way). Entry price is very low and you’ll get a sarong (to be used for your visit and then returned) included with your entry.
2.) Speaking of which, you’ll need a sarong to visit the temples (even if you’re wearing trousers).
3.) Not sure how this is policed but it’s forbidden for women to go into the temples if they’re menstruating. I have no real idea why this is the case but that’s what the signs say
4.) Also, take cash with you here. Almost forgot to mention – although a lot of places take cards in Bali, you’ll need cash to pay for entry to the temples. Also, if you drive, there’s usually a parking fee at one of car parks near the temples (it’s small but remember to set aside some cash for this too).
5.) Although there are a fair few easily accessible temples, some of the temples have lots of stairs so come prepared for a decent walk here. (Will try to let you know which ones do in the descriptions below so you know what to expect).
The best temples in Bali to explore
1.) Pura Besakih
Located on the inclines of Bali’s largest volcano – Mount Agung, lies a collection of more than eighty temples that make up the country’s largest and most prominent temple complex.
Besikah’s vantage point in the clouds means that it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountainous terrain, rivers and streams, and picturesque rice paddies so don’t forget your camera too!
Oh yeah, and with many stairs to climb in order to fully explore the temples, I seriously recommend taking comfy walking shoes with you.
2.) Pura Tirta Empul
Built around a sacred spring, Pure Tirta Empul is a pretty important and pretty special temple. It’s one you absolutely have to make the effort to visit.
Visitors to Tirta Empul can cleanse their bodies and spirits by bathing in the natural spring flowing through the temple.
In an inner room, fountains divert water from the spring into a long rectangular pool which is where people go to bathe though you’ll need a different sarong to do this (It’s green and I think you can get in from the temples once you arrive).
Closer to religious holidays, Balinese people flock to this temple to take part in meditation in the spring so planning your visit around this time could be a great way to make the most of it. It’s easily up there as one of the best temples in Bali to visit on your trip.
3.) Pura Tanah Lot
Navigating this temple is trickier because it is set on an island-like rock formation offshore. Only during low tide can you actually walk to the entrance and ascend the stairs to explore this picturesque holy place.
Supposedly built by fishermen in the 15th century, Pura Tanah Lot is one of Bali’s most important temples, with crowds clustering on the rock formation to watch the sunset each day.
Now, we did this on our last evening in Bali recently and it was absolutely stunning. Now, being one of the best temples in Bali to visit, you should expect those crowds I spoke about. That being said, if you don’t arrive for sunset, you can avoid most of them.
4.) Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Perched atop a rocky cliff, this Luhur Uluwatu temple is very highly revered and easily one of the best temple spots in Bali if you also love views across the ocean.
With its own spectacular views, guests can meditate while watching the waves break against the base of the cliff or take part in the nightly worship activities – these ceremonies include chanting, fire-dances, and dramatically masked actors.
The waves below the temple are incredible (the view from up here is absolutely worth the visit) and so it comes as no surprise that the shores here are a great surfing location.
The temple is very easy to reach from most of the nearby resort areas where a lot of travellers tend to be based to whatever you choose to do in Bali, don’t miss this Indonesian gem where the sky meets the sea.
5.) Goa Gajah
Near the Elephant River and taking after the river’s (Goa Gajah means “Elephant Cave”), Goa Gajah temple is most well-known for the intimidating faces carved into the rock wall surrounding the entrance.
Guided tours of the cave are available with no reservation necessary (you don’t have to take them, of course, though you’re bound to find people here trying to give you a hard sell on the tours) and it is just a short walk to the Buddhist ruins nearby.
Set in a beautiful valley location, this temple is a great, easier to access option that has history and holy places from both the Hindu and Buddhist Balinese cultures.
Oh, this is also one of those temples with some stairs so limber up for a bit of a walk (though it’s by far one of the easier ones to explore of the temples with stairs)
6.) Pura Luhur Lempuyang
Another one of Bali’s most important directional temples and seated atop Mt. Lempuyang is the spectacular Pura Luhur Lempuyang temple.
The fantastic, high-altitude views that this temple has are at the summit, which of course does mean quite a hike up the mountain. Though, most of the walk is on a paved road, so the hike is tiring, yet manageable.
As clouds surround you, take some time to explore the temple in all its glory, meditate, pray, or watch a ceremonial priest-led chant. Do be mindful that while the path is open, walking to the summit to visit the temple takes about an hour and a half of walking so this is one you’ll need to set aside a fair bit of time for.
7.) Pura Taman Saraswati
Our next temple is one dotted with lotus ponds and can be found smack in the centre of Ubud.
Pura Taman Saraswati was built by the 19th-century royal family in dedication to the Hindu Goddess of Knowledge. The architecture resembles more tropically-influenced huts and pathways, while the inside of the temple is decorated with carvings and shrines.
Each evening, guests can watch traditional religious dancers and if you need to recharge after exploring the temple, the nearby Café Lotus offers meals and a view of the temple.
The surrounding area of Ubud also has a monkey forest and coffee plantation so perhaps get your caffeine kick in before you head off to explore the temple. In my opinion, it’s one of the easiest temples to visit when in Ubud and easily one of the best temples in Bali if you’re short on time or don’t have transport.
8.) Taman Ayun
Adorned with flora and fauna and set in a park, Taman Ayun Temple is easily accessible and has many different features.
There are beautiful shrines, each dedicated to a different Hindu god, and fountains to symbolize the nine main Hindu gods. In the centre of the main pond is a thatched-roofed prayer hut, and many others like it dot the property.
Since you do not have to travel far from a city, hike uphill, or wait for low-tide, this temple is one of the easiest ones to explore.
9.) Pura Dalem Agung
If you’re heading to Pura Dalem Agung temple, the calls you hear are most likely from monkeys within Ubud’s Monkey Forest, through which guests to the temple must walk through. Be mindful of the monkeys and make sure you arrive with no food on you – not even a tic tac (or risk being chased by the monkeys trying to get it off you).
The lush greenery surrounding the “Temple of Death” is anything but dead, as it blooms around sacred prayer buildings and stone carvings of children with fangs. Streams run through the forested area so heads up, it does get quite humid. You will leave sticky!
10.) Pura Gunung Kawi
Last but certainly not least is Pura Gunung Kawi Temple. Set in a ravine between rice paddies, this Indonesian gem features stone carvings right into the hillside. The river running close to the temple lends to its sacred location in the “Valley of Kings,” and some of the carvings honour kings and queens of the 11th century.
There’s a downhill walk to temple on quite a few steeps steps so come prepared with those aforementioned comfy walking shoes.
Near this temple stands Pura Tirta Empul (the second temple mentioned above), so be sure to combine a visit to Pura Gunung Kawi with Pura Tirta Empul. It really is one of the best temples in Bali.
11.) Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
This Shaivite water temple is one of the easiest temples to visit in Bali and one of the most impressive.
For starters, it’s set at a much higher altitude (strawberries are grown in this part of Bali) so it’s a much cooler temple to visit. Relatively though, Bali is still pretty hot!
Add all this to the fact that there aren’t really too many stairs to climb here and you’ll soon find yourself with more and more reasons to add this temple to your list of places to visit in Bali. We loved it here, it really is a gorgeous spot and one of the best temples in Bali to explore.