Temple Hopping in Bali

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

#1 Uluwatu

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.

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Sunset at Uluwatu (Image taken by Jose M. Alonso)

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Le Temple d’Ulu Watu (Image taken by IBI Productions)

#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.

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Sunset di Tanah Lot (Image taken by Koyne)

#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.

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Ulun Danu Beratan (Image taken by Joyfuljourneying)

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?

22 Comments

  • Bali has a magic and mystical aura around it/ The temples probably account for this kind of ambience. The temples are all magnificent/ Out of this lot I like Tanah Lot the best. It seems to have a surreal quality to it.

  • Cat says:

    Bali is such a beautiful place with so many temples by the coast. Out of the three, my favourite is Uluwatu. Would go back in a heartbeat!

  • Anne says:

    My visit to Bali was super-brief (I only spent one night there) as I was heading to the Gilis, but I know I will need to be back because of how much it has to offer. I heard the north east is especially nice, so Ulun Danu Beratan would be my temple of choice. Not to mention that it is absolutely stunning! Great post, thank you!

  • Paige W says:

    I missed all three of these temples the last time I was in Bali, but I made up for it with all the beauties I got to see in Ubud. I’ll be there for most of December this year though, so I’ll be sure to make it to these this time! Tanah Lot looks absolutely stunning, like its own little island.

  • Jojo says:

    All the temples have such amazing surrounds to add to the beauty of it. I bet you’ll feel really at ease at any of the temples. Let all worries fade away 😊

  • Patricia says:

    I’m so impressed that you could narrow down the temples to three favorites — and they are awe-inspiring beyond belief. I think Uluwatu would be my first stop, but the design elements of each of them (not to mention the scenery) would make me want to see them all. Clearly, I need to make going to Bali a priority for more than just the beaches!

    • Narrowing down things like this is always difficult. I could go on for days about the wonderful things around the world we have seen but sometimes people appreciate just a few at a time 😀

  • That’s amazing. In Nepal I visited the highest Hindu Temple of the country, 5 stories. But the Ulun Danu Beratan has 11 stories. I kept counting them on and on and still can’t believe it. It has such a tall roof(s). All of them are so beautiful, I think I would visit all of them if I went to Bali.

  • Megan J says:

    I love how the temples here are all very different in design – diversity keeps things interesting after all! I’m actually coming around to Bali as a destination – being from Australia, we have the perception that it’s all drinking on the beach and drunk holiday makers, but I’m starting to learn and hear more about Bali’s cultural side, and religious sites, and it sounds like you just need to know where to go to avoid the more crass scene 🙂

    • I think everyone has a country they perceive in that way. For us it is Spain – we have always heard about drunk Brits in Benidorm and it put more off for years however, the more I explore the more I love the country and its cultural sights. 🙂

  • Alison says:

    I’ve only been to Uluwatu out of these three, but we also went to Batur and Besakih, the two main temples up near Ubud. Both of them are magical. This post made me want to go back to Bali!
    Alison

    • I love the way you describe the temples as magical. I have been in a few recently that have really left a mark with me and when I think about why it is because of their magical nature. 🙂

  • Claire says:

    Wow they all look stunning! I love it when cultural buildings are in beautiful places too – it’s like killing 2 birds with one stone – I feel like I’m doing my bit for culture and enjoying the views too!

  • Candy says:

    I’m so used to seeing beach suggestions for Bali, so this was something new and fun to read for me. I would love to visit Ulun Danu Beratan. The views looks spectacular and it would be nice to take a break from the tropical heat 🙂

    • I do think that people think of places like Bali and automatically dream of sandy beaches so it is always good to find information about other things to do in locations like this. I am glad you enjoyed the article.

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