Bali is said to be the island of thousand temples. Actually nobody really knows how many temples exist in Bali. Every Balinese, who can afford it, builds his own temple, where he lives. Furthermore every village has at least three of them and there are some main temples for the whole island. Women’s daily life is shaped by the preparation of the sacrificial offerings. We were really impressed by the effort they made.
Because of the many many temples here, you have to focus on a few, especially if you only have two weeks on the island. And to be honest, the following were enough for us. Just like you’re not going to see every church in Bavaria. What’s missing in our list of the most important temples: the Gunung Kawi Temple. Why? It was just too hot and we really weren’t in the mood for it. Happens!
Information for your temple visits
The word Pura means temple. In certain times, ceremonies take place here. During those times you shouldn’t attract to much attention. Entrance fee is between 15.000 and 30.000 Rupiah. For the temples visits, you should take Sarongs with you. You can get one there, but you have to pay for it. Just for you to know!
1. Pura Tanah Lot
The “temple of the sea” is the most famous and the most visited one. At least while sunset. And really, for a reason!
We were not inside the temple, as it’s only allowed for prayers. We thought it was looking better from outside anyway.
You have to be careful of all the selfie-sticks and the photo mob. They might push you off the cliff. People were cursing in various languages. Visiting Tanah Lot and not expecting this – funny folks! The sunset here was really breathtaking!
2. Pura Luhur Uluwatu
The temple on the rock – in our opinion the most beautiful of all the temples. It was quite crowded but not slightly as much as at Tanah Lot. Actually, we can hardly imagine a place more crowded than Tanah Lot.
The bay at Uluwatu is wild and the sunset is spectacular. Yes, we really like sunsets. Maybe there is no place in the world not looking good while sunset. Impossible for pictures to become bad. Yes, we really do have a thing for sunsets.
3. Pura Besakih
The Mother Temple – the most important Hindu temple in Bali. It’s located in the north and founded in the 8th century AD. Hindus from all over Indonesia make a pilgrimage here. Though it is the most important of the Balinese temples, there were almost no tourists here. It’s an underrated one, but it was our favourite. The whole complex is huge, well cultivated and spectacular.
BUT: This was the place in Bali, where we experienced the most evil versions of trying to rip us off. Generally, everyone in Bali tries to rip you off. That’s our experience. But the moves here were the most brazen. As there are not so much tourists, they’re trying it even harder here.
It starts soon after you paid the entrance fee. They’re telling you, you have to donate for the temple. Which we did. But of course, a realistic amount. They’re showing you a piece of paper listing people which were supposed to have already donated, trying to apply psychological pressure on people. How do we know? The amounts of the donation were extraordinary high. We just doubted that. After that, we were told, we’re only allowed to see the temple with a guide. These guides might be the best paid in Bali regarding their expectations on fees. We ignored it and went all the way up the temple on our own (it’s steep and exhausting).
Up there, there were other guides waiting, telling us the same as the guys before. As there was a ceremony, we didn’t want to create an awkward situation. And he told us, he was just expecting a tip. So we agreed. We had a good guide. He told us interesting stuff, he was funny. It was a 20 minute tour around the complex. We gave him a tip. But he said it was not enough and what he actually expected. We were thinking about it. And decided not to give him more. I was so angry about this.
A part of travelling around Bali is getting along with all the people trying to rip you off. It’s strange, because they talk about karma and not losing their faces like all the time. But these rules seem to only count for Balinese people. We were angry, but staying polite nevertheless. Which you really should do in Bali!
4. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
We were really looking forward to this one. It was built in 17th century and located in the north. Turns out this temple is only really spectacular during rain season. Usually it’s surrounded by the crater lake. But unfortunately not in dry season. The water of the lake is said to be holy.
It can be very fresh up in the north, so take at least a Sarong with you. And it’s crowded. And: They’re not that good prepared to non-Indonesian visitors in the north as they’re in the south of Bali.
5. Pura Taman Ayun/Royal Temple of Mengwi
This one’s founded in the 17th century as well and it’s one of the most important temples in Bali.
The complex is well cultivated. However it’s less visited and therefore a pleasure to spend some time here. It’s also called ‘Garden temple in the water’ as it stands on a river island.
6. Pura Tirta Empul
This temple is known for its holy spring water. Balinese people perform their ritual purification here. The meaning of the temple’s name is Holy Spring.
We did not go in the pool as we thought it might be disrespectful to the believers. We didn’t feel well just to go in there and take a photo like many others did. But this is something, everyone has to decide on his own. The Balinese at least didn’t seem to feel disturbed by the other visitors. Some of them informed themselves before they went in the holy pool, because they knew the ritual.
Like the other temples, this one was crowded as well.