Waterfalls, beaches, delicious food and the most beautiful temples, after visiting Bali we knew why this island had quickly became one of Southeast Asia’s most popular travel destinations. From North to South, West to East, you don’t have to go far in Bali to find a peace of paradise, may it be a quiet beach or an oasis of calm at one of Bali’s most beautiful temples. We have only made a dent in the temples we have seen in Bali, I mean there are in matter of fact over 20000 temples in Bali, but every single temple we visited reminded us why we fell in love with Bali in the first place. From small temples, temples with volcano views, and temples built on top of natural springs, every temple in Bali is unique and different, and deserves a spot on your Bali itinerary. Wondering which temples should be on the top of your bucket list? Scroll down to read about our favourite, and in our opinion, the 7 most beautiful temples in Bali!
Bali’s Most Beautiful Temples
Pura Lempuyang, located in East Bali, is one of the most beautiful temples in Bali and undoubtedly one of the most famous temples on this list. The main reason this temple is so famous is because of the beautiful Heaven’s Gates as pictured below. While the temple consists of much more then just these gates, it is this specific section that draws tens if not hundreds of tourists from all over the world (including us) all trying to take a photo with the view of Mount Agung lining up between the gate. If you have some time left in your itinerary then you might be interested in exploring different sections of the temple as well, just know that it involves a lot of steps!
Info on visiting Pura Lempuyang
- Entry fee – The entry fee to Pura Lempuyang was donation based when we visited in October 2018. We donated IDR 15,000 each, plus paid a fee of IDR 10,000 each to rent a sarong.
- Location – Pura Lempuyang is located in East Bali, for the exact location check the map.
- Don’t forget – Visiting the Heaven’s Gates at Pura Lempuyang has quickly become one of the most popular activities on the island, so no matter how early you visit expect there to be a line of people who want to take a photo here as well. And while this is one of the most beautiful spots in Bali to take a photo, don’t forget you are visiting, so dress modestly and act respectfully.
- Photo tips – Prepare your pose in advance, with a line of people waiting to take a shot you don’t want to take too long. Don’t forget that kissing and yoga poses are not allowed at the temple.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is located in Bedugul, situated in the North of Bali. This beautiful temple lies on the shores of Lake Bratan and if you are lucky you might witness a beautiful sun rise over this lake. If you want to make your visit even more unique consider going for a boat ride over the lake, and awe at the temple from a whole new perspective. Be sure to wander around the full temple compound as there is so much more to admire, from the statues and the Balinese architecture to the beautiful gates and doorways, we could have simply stayed here for hours. Check out our complete guide to watching the sunrise at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, which includes all our tips, tricks and more photos of this beautiful temple.
Info on visiting Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
- Entry fee – In October 2018 the entry fee to Pura Ulun Danu Bratan was IDR 50,000 per person. There was, however, no spot to rent a sarong at this temple so be sure to come dressed modestly.
- Location – Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is located in Bedugul, for the exact location check the click here.
- Don’t forget – The temple is located in a more mountainous area, it can get quite cold here in the morning so be sure to bring a sweater or jacket.
Pura Taman Saraswati
While most of these temples require a bit of a ride, this beautiful temple is located conveniently in the heart of one of Bali’s most popular destination, Ubud. Pura Taman Saraswati is located right in the heart of Ubud, but often skipped or forgotten by tourist due to its slight hidden location. While the temple is situated on Ubud’s main road that crosses through the centre, it is actually hidden right behind the Starbucks, not a place where you would expect to find a temple right? While you can’t enter the inner courtyard, it is the beautiful lotus pond that makes it worth coming here, a beautiful sight to see if the lotus flowers are in bloom. If you want to experience a bit more of the Balinese culture be sure to come back at night for the beautiful Balinese dance that is performed every evening.
Info on visiting Pura Taman Saraswati
- Entry fee – There is no entry fee to the Taman Saraswati Temple, however, if you want to see the Balinese Dance Performance that takes place at night then you will have to buy tickets.
- Location – Pura Taman Saraswati is located in the Ubud city centre, hidden behind the Starbucks and the Lotus Cafe. Find the exact location of the temple on the map here.
- Don’t forget – The inner courtyard is closed for visitors and reserved for visitors who are coming to the temple to pray only.
Pura Tirta Empul
The Tirta Empul Temple, located North of Ubud, is one of the holiest water temples of Bali. Every day the temple attracts hundreds of visitors, both local and foreign, who come to admire the temples beautiful architecture and to participate in the purification ritual. I participated in the purification ritual back in 2018 and too this date it must be one of my favourite, and rather unique, experience I had in Bali. The purification ritual is a process where you cleanse your body, mind and soul all taking places in these beautiful ritual bathing pools as you see pictured below. Visit early in the day and if you are as lucky as I was you might be the only one there. Wondering how you can participate in the purification ritual yourself? Check out our complete guide to the Tirta Empul Temple!
Info on visiting Pura Tirta Empul
- Entry fee – The entry fee to the Pura Tirta Empul Temple was IDR 15,000 when we visited the temple in October 2018. If you wish to participate in the purification ritual expect to pay another IDR 25,000 for sarong rental and locker, and another IDR 50,000 for a guide who will explain the ritual to you.
- Location – The Tirta Empul Temple is located roughly half an hour North of Ubud, find the exact location on the map here.
- Don’t forget – If you are planning on doing the purification ritual be sure to bring a bathing suit to wear underneath your sarong, and a set of dry clothes to change into afterwards.
- Photo tips – You are not allowed to bring any camera into the ritual bathing pools with you, so ask either your guide, friend or family member to take photos from the side for you instead!
Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu
North of Bali, close to the above mentioned Tirta Empul Temple, you will find the beautiful Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu. And while people are lining up to perform the purification ritual at Pura Tirta Empul, it is this temple that is often forgotten. We walked around the temple with only a handful of other visitors in sight, something that seems rather unique in the busy Bali these days. We admired the beautiful koi pond, the bathing pools and the shrine surrounded by the clearest spring water we had ever seen. Temples like these were the reason we fell in love with Bali in the first place, an calm and quiet place filled with beautiful architecture, history and culture. We would recommend spending at least an hour in this beautiful temple, if possible early in the morning to avoid any crowds, oh, and be sure to wander around as some of the most beautiful sights of this temple are hidden behind walls.
Info on visiting Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu
- Entry fee – The entry fee to Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu was IDR 30,000 in January 2020. The entry fee included the sarong rental.
- Location – Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu is located roughly half an hour North of Ubud, to have a better idea of where it is located check out the map here.
- Don’t forget – This temple shares its name with another temple in the area, Pura Gunung Kawi, which we talk about later on this list. While the temple might share the name, they are both worth visiting as they are completely different and each absolutely beautiful!
Just outside of Ubud, Bali’s cultural capital, you will find another beautiful temple named Goa Gajah, or the Elephant Cave. When we visited the temple back in 2018 the whole temple was beautifully decorated with the typical white and yellow that you will often see in Bali’s temples. This temple is suspected to date back all the way to the 11th century and was rediscovered earlier in the 20th century by a Dutch archaeologist. The pools and the fountains however, weren’t discovered till the mid 20th century. With its close proximity to Ubud this has quickly become one of the most visited temples of Bali, so be sure to go early to avoid the crowds!
Info on visiting Goa Gajah
- Entry fee – The entry fee to Goa Gajah was IDR 15,000 in October 2018, there is no fee for renting the sarong.
- Location – Goa Gajah is located close to Ubud, to get a better idea of Goa Gajah’s location check out the map.
- Don’t forget – To get to the temple you will have to walk down a set of steps, it isn’t long but it might still be good to know in advance.
Pura Gunung Kawi
Pura Gunung Kawi, not to be confused with the above mentioned Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu, is a beautiful temple located just North of Ubud and considered one of the most sacred temples of Bali. The temple is situated down in a valley and is believed to date back all the way to the 11th century. However, to get there it will require a slight bit of effort as it requires a walk down a rough 250 steps, a pathway that will take you along little shops, rice fields and a sacred river. But once you reach the bottom of the steps you will be able to awe at the huge shrines that have been cut out of the rock wall, a sight like no other in Bali. There are a total of 10 shrines, or candi, at the temple so be sure to have a good look around before you your way up the long stairway again.
Info on visiting Pura Gunung Kawi
- Entry fee – the entry fee to Pura Gunung Kawi was IDR 15,000 in October 2018. Sarongs could be rented for a small donation.
- Location – Pura Gunung Kawi is located North of Ubud, close to two off the above mentioned temples: Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu and Pura Tirta Empul. Check out the exact location on the map here.
- Don’t forget – Pura Gunung Kawi is absolutely beautiful, but it does require walking down many many steps, and as you will have to walk these steps up again we highly recommend seeing this temple earlier in the morning. This way you can see the temple while avoiding the hottest times of the day, and you will probably also share it with the least amount of visitors!
Tips for visiting Temples in Bali
Best time to visit to visit temples in Bali
As we are both early risers, we can’t say it enough, but visit the temples as early in the mornings as possible. There are so many advantages to visiting temples or sights early as not only will there be the least amount of visitors there, you will also avoid the warm Bali sun. This is the only reason we have managed to take photos without anyone in it, there simply was nobody there.
The temples in general are open 24/7 for worshipping, and to any other visitor often open around 7am or 8am. It has happened a couple of times though that we arrived before opening hours and we were still warmly welcomed to admire the temple already, if that was the case we just made sure to buy a ticket on the way out.
What to wear to a temple in Bali
The dress code for temples in Bali will be the same for almost every temple and applies to both men and women. To enter a temple in Bali you will be required to wear a sarong, which you can either bring yourself or can rent from the temple. Wear the sarong in a way that it will covers your knees, and note that even if you wear a maxi dress or long pants you are still required to wear a sarong. Often sarongs will be provided for free but in a couple of cases we had to make a small donation. Sometimes a scarf or sash will also be provided and required to be worn, this is tied over the sarong and around your waist.
The second most important thing is to have your shoulders covered. Avoid top crops and singlets, and opt for t-shirts instead. If you didn’t bring any t-shirts or blouses with you then a thin scarf draped over the shoulders will also do. This rule seems to be followed less strictly though, however, to show respect we would still strongly advise you to follow it.
Rules & Customs when visiting Temples in Bali
Besides following the above mentioned dress code there are another couple of rules and customs you should follow when visiting temples in Bali to show respect to the local culture and customs:
Restricted areas – In many of the temples you are allowed to walk freely and admire the beautiful sections of the temples, from shrines to pond and bathing pools, almost all areas welcome visitors. However, in some temples you will also find some signs that state that no entry is allowed, these areas are often reserved for praying purposes only, be sure to keep an eye out for these signs.
Menstruation and open wounds – Women who are on their period, or within 6 weeks after having given birth, are not allowed to enter the temples in Bali, and you will often even find signs stating so. Likewise, should you have any open wounds or sounds that are bleeding, which applies to both men and women, then you should also refrain from entering the temples in Bali.
Respect local culture – When you enter temples in Bali you will often find a large sign with a number of rules that should be followed when visiting a temple. However, there are also a large number of unwritten rules that should be followed if you want to show respect to the local culture. Here are a couple of things you should refrain from doing when not only visiting temples, but during your trip to Bali in general:
- Touching people’s head
- To step on offerings
- Walking in front of people who are praying
- To stand or sit higher then the priest
- To point feet at alters or shrines
- Using your left hand
These are some of the rules and customs we try to follow when we are in Bali, but even we are human and make plenty of mistakes. For example, Rob is actually left handed, so this is one of the hardest unwritten rule for him to follow when we are in Bali.
Other Temples in Bali
While these are 7 beautiful temples, there are many other temples in Bali that deserve a spot on your itinerary. And with over 20000 temples on the island the reality is that you don’t have to go very far on the island to witness the beautiful Balinese architecture and to learn more about Bali’s culture and history. Here are some other temples we are planning on visiting in Bali on our next visit:
- Tanah Lot
- Pura Besakih
- Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan
- Uluwatu Temple
- Pura Taman Uyun
- Pura Goa Lawah
And there you have it, the 7 most beautiful temples of Bali! Are there any other temples you have visited in Bali that you think deserve a spot on our Bali bucket list? Be sure to share it with us in the comment section down below. Now, before you leave make sure to check out some of our other Bali travel guides filled with tips, tricks and sights that will help you create the perfect Bali trip:
- Bali for first timers: 21 Things to know before you go
- The ultimate Bali bucket list: 80+ Things to do in Bali
- The ultimate Bali waterfalls guide – Bali’s best waterfalls
- Bali travel budget: How to travel Bali on 20$ a day
- Bali visa extension – Everything you need to know
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