Bali is full of ancient temples that have become iconic landmarks that dot the coast and highlands of the island’s interior. You should always wear appropriate clothing when visiting a temple, sarong’s and sashes are available to hire at each site. Here are the top ten temples for you to visit during your stay in Bali.
1- Tanah Lot Tabanan
This temple in west Bali is one of the most visited and features regularly on postcards of the area. The sunset here is one not to miss, it is spectacular against its shoreline setting. The ancient shrine is set above the crashing waves close to Beraban village and is just a 45 minute drive from Kuta.
2- Uluwata Temple
Another of Bali’s picture postcard temples can be found at Uluwata. It is also known as an exotic spot for surfers with the temple itself sitting on a clifftop 70m above the waves crashing against the shore below. Nearby you can see ballet and dance performances at an amphitheatre. The temple is full of ancient and scenic architecture a location not to be missed.
3- Besikih Temple Karangasem
This temple in east Bali is known as the island’s ‘mother temple.’ It is actually a complex temples and shrines belonging to different clans. It is located on the slopes of Mount Agung at 1000m above sea level. Each shrine holds its own celebration so there are over 70 celebration days each year. To visit the entire complex you will need to allow a full day although most visitors only visit the main central complex.
4- Goa Gajah Ubud
This temple in the centre of Bali translates as ‘Elephant Cave,’ it is an archaeological complex full of historical significance. Lots of visitors make a brief stop here during their tour of the region around Ubud. The cave was first used in the 11th century as a site for meditation. It is a beautiful vast complex with meeting halls, temple courtyards and a bathing pool.
5- Ulun Danu Beratan Temple
This picturesque temple is located in the central highlands on the western edge of Beratan Lake. The reflection off the lake gives the temple the appearance that it is in fact floating. To add to the vista the temple is surrounded by mountains. The cooler temperatures in the highlands make this a favoured spot away from the heat of the coastal resorts.
6- Tirta Empul Temple, Gianyar
This temple is a national cultural heritage site in central Bali. It was first built in 960AD, during the Warmadewa Dynasty, an old Balinese kingdom. The temple is the source of a water spring; the water is used for purification baths, pools and even in fish ponds. The water flows into the nearby Tukad Pakerisan River and the area is full of archaeological sites and relics that add mystery to local myths and legends.
7- Gunung Kawi Temple
This temple is located to the north east of Ubud and is another of Bali’s unique ancient sites. The complex contains shrine reliefs that were carved into the cliffs of the rock face. It overlooks the Pakerisan River and is just one km from the Tirta Empul Temple (listed above). You can walk here along a paved walkway that transports you back in time away from modern life.
8- Taman Ayun Temple, Ubud
Dating from the 17th century, the Taman Ayun Temple is known as the landmark temple of the Mengwi village in Badung. It is a superb example of Balinese Hindu traditions and architecture. It contains a tropical garden with water features, courtyards and enclosures. There is a lot of Chinese influence to be found at this temple through its architectural style.
9- Pura Taman Saraswati Temple, Ubud
Located in central Ubud, this temple is a beautiful example of a water temple. It can be easily accessed just off the main road of Jalan Raya in Ubud and is a great place to stop off during a leisurely walk through the town. It features Balinese architecture and has a beautiful foyer that features ponds with blooms of pink lotuses. You can also visit during the evening when performances of traditional dancing are held from 7.30pm.
10- Lempuyang Temple
One of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples can be found in east Bali. This temple is believed to predate most of the Hindu temples found across Bali. The main temple lies at 1,175m above sea level on the peak of Mount Lempuyang. It is a steep climb but the views across the stunning panorama are certainly worth the climb.