Having earned the nickname of ‘the island of a thousand temples, whittling down which of Bali’s awe-inspiring religious sites to visit can naturally be quite tricky. Take just a moment to amble through the backstreets of Ubud. You’ll soon notice that around every corner religious offerings line the street and every home bares a family shrine. Celebrated with colour and smiles, religion is an integral part of the Balinese way of life, so naturally, temples play a huge role on this spiritual island. Home to nine directional temples that are said to guard the island and ward off evil spirits, here are the pick of the bunch of Bali’s temples.
3 Temples You Must Visit in Bali
Perched gracefully on the very edge of a 70-metre cliff high above the ocean, Uluwatu steals the show when it comes to breath-taking, Instagram-ready moments, as it offers elevated vistas stretching as far as the eye can see. As one of the island’s most iconic landmarks, it’s also one of the most popular – and it’s easy to see why. As the sun begins to set, the sky is painted with a thousand shades of orange, pink and yellow, turning the once mellow atmosphere inside-out to set the stage ready for the evening’s animated kecak dance performance. The traditional Balinese fire dance takes place daily and draws in visitors from all over the island who are looking for a hearty slice of culture coupled with the finest sunset views in all of Bali. Entwined in a plot that’s as thick as your average afternoon TV drama, thirty or so men chant to create the hypnotic centrepiece, enhanced with fire, drama and a truly stunning backdrop. Notorious for its population of enthusiastic monkeys, the surrounding greenery in which they live makes for some fantastic shots across the bay.
#2 Tanah Lot
From temples by the water to 15th century masterpieces surrounded by gently lapping waves in the clasp of the ocean, Tanah Lot is another fine example of the towering architecture so symbolic of Bali. The structure rests just off the shore of the western coast on a blackened, worn rock that’s best visited when the tide is low, otherwise you might find yourself swimming rather than wading through the shallows. The aqua blue sheen that surrounds Tanah Lot makes it one of the most photogenic sites in Bali, creating a striking contrast between man-made and nature. Said to be guarded by poisonous snakes that lurk in the shallows in and around its rocky base, as one of the nine directional temples, it is considered one of Bali’s most sacred.
Just 45 minutes from the bustle of Kuta – home to world-class shopping, incredible surfing, mouthwatering seafood and the best hotels in Bali – it’s popular with tourists en route to the western coast and is a common pit stop for its sun rise views. For a unique take on proceedings, visit during late afternoon when the temple appears as a lone silhouette in the distance.
#3 Ulun Danu Beratan
Located on Lake Bratan in north east Bali, this beautifully mountainous region is home to a cold tropical climate, making it an ideal hideaway for those who are looking to take a break from the scorching summer temperatures experienced down south. The theatre of the temple is truly unreal. Surrounded by rolling mountains and a spectacular expanse of still water, its reflection can be admired from all angles. The ultimate retreat away from the shoulder barging and bustle of the more accessible temples, hours could be lost soaking up the tranquility and reveling in Bali’s more softly spoken side. Habitually used for ceremonies dedicated to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess, Dewi Danu, this 16th century temple bears great significance amongst the locals, and its unique floating appearance ensures it remains one of Bali’s most postcard-worthy spots.
Which Temple Would you Most Like to Visit?
As you can see, Bali’s temples are all very different in design, but all are equally beautiful.
Have you visited Bali? Which temple would you recommend to others?