Bali is a very spiritual island with a long history, and you'll be able to experience this when you go to one of Bali's beautiful temples. The temples are a wonderful way to learn more about Bali's religious history, and learn more about its architecture and past influences.
We've compiled a list of the most popular temples to visit in Bali and how to get there, with their nearest places within Bali, to help you plan your trip and make sure you don't miss visiting a few of Bali's best temples while you are there.
1. Tanah Lot Temple
On the coast of Bali, located on a large rock that has been shaped by the waves, Tanah Lot is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage temple and one of the top temples in Bali to visit. It's located in Tabanan, about 20 kilometers (13 miles) from Denpasar. The views from there are incredible, and it's one of the seven sea temples of the Balinese coast. This is probably one of the most popular temples for visitors to visit, and it's a great place to experience a Bali sunset from.
Odalan, the festival of a temple's founding is celebrated with great fervor, processions, and decoration every 210 days. Tanah Lot's Odalan is on January 18 and August 16 in 2023.
How to get there: To get to Tanah Lot, you can either get a taxi from your hotel, or arrange for a tour guide to collect you, show you around, and drop you back off. The nearest places in Bali to visit Tanah Lot from are Seminyak, Canggu, or Kuta and Legian. If you're renting a scooter or a car, you can also get there yourself in about half an hour.
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2. Uluwatu Temple
Uluwatu Temple, also known as Pura Luhur Uluwatu, is a temple perched on top of a cliff, sitting around 70 meters (229 feet) above sea level, meaning you've got incredible views over the ocean from there. The name of the temple comes from ulu, meaning 'land's end', and watu meaning 'rock', which gives you a little bit of insight into what you'll experience there! We highly recommend visiting during your time anywhere near Uluwatu to fully appreciate its surroundings.
How to get there: Uluwatu Temple is located on the coast of Uluwatu, meaning it is best to visit while you're either in Uluwatu or in Jimbaran. From there, you can easily get a taxi to the temple in 10 or 20 minutes, or you can ask your hotel to arrange transport there and back. If you've rented a scooter, you can also get there yourself.
Recommended reading: 15 Top Things to Do in Uluwatu Bali
3. Saraswati Temple
Saraswati Temple is not based on the coast like Tanah Lot or Uluwatu Temple, but instead along Ubud's streets, for a perfect temple to visit alongside some strolling and shopping, or visiting one of Ubud's many spas. Saraswati is an old Hindu temple, with a beautiful lotus pond and water garden that you can visit out the front.
How to get there: You can walk to Saraswati Temple by foot from anywhere in Ubud. It's next to Ubud Palace and near Ubud Market, and surrounded by a lot of shops. If you're a little further out or in a different part of Bali you can also rent a scooter to get there.
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4. Goa Lawah Temple
Goa Lawah Temple, also known as Bat Cave Temple, is a Balinese Hindu Temple. It gets its name from the fact that there are lots of bats inside the temple, and it's a wonderful example of Balinese architecture. If you are in the area, we highly recommend visiting.
How to get there: Goa Lawah Temple is located on the eastern coast of Bali, near Gianyar and Semarapura. You'll have to ask your hotel to arrange transport there and back for you, or you can book a tour. The temple is approximately a 45-minute drive from Sanur, an hour drive from Canggu or Seminyak, or an hour and a half from northern Bedugul. Alternatively, you could rent a scooter or car.
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5. Lempuyang Temple
A beautiful temple on top of a hill, Lempuyang Temple, or Pura Luhur Lempuyang, is a little out of the way but is worth the trip. It is one of Bali's oldest temples, and gives an incredible view over Mount Agung. The entire site has approximately seven temples on it, and is believed to predate most other Hindu temples. The temple is also known as 'the Gates of Heaven', as the temple almost frames the view from the hill.
How to get there: Pura Luhur Lempuyang is quite far on the northeastern side of the island, being an-hour-and-45-minute drive from Sanur, or 2 hours from Seminyak, Jimbaran, or Canggu. You can either rent a scooter or a car, or arrange for transport to and from the temple. Getting there from Bedugul, although technically closer, is harder because the way the roads are laid out in Bali you do have to drive back down to southern Bali to get across to the northeast side of the island.
6. Tirta Empul Temple
A beautiful temple with a bathing area for ritual purification, the holy springs set this temple aside from many other temples in Bali. The temple's springs were said to have been created by the God Indra, and the temple is dedicated to Vishnu, the god of water. It's a wonderful place to visit for a relaxing morning or afternoon.
How to get there: To get to Tirta Empul Temple, you can either get a taxi or a tour, or you could rent a scooter or car. It's approximately an hour from Sanur, and an hour and 15 from Canggu or Kuta and Legian.
7. Taman Ayun Temple
Taman Ayun Temple is one of the most popular temples in Bali, both because it is not too far from most popular places in Bali, but also because it is a gorgeous temple. It is one of the six royal temples in Bali, meaning it played an important role in Bali's past. Its name translates to the Garden Temple in the Water, the meaning of which you'll understand as soon as you see the temple spread across the greenery.
How to get there: Taman Ayun Temple is near the western hubs of Seminyak, Canggu, Jimbaran, and Uluwatu. You'll be able to get a taxi to take you there and back, or you could rent your own transport (scooter or car) if this is what you prefer to do. The journey is around 45 minutes each way from Seminyak or 30 minutes from Canggu.
8. Gunung Kawi Temple
Located near Ubud, Gunung Kawi is a funerary complex and temple, built in the 11th century. You'll find rock-cut shrines and sheltered niches, thought to have been dedicated to King Anak Wungsu of the Udayana dynasty. It's a great one to visit if you're looking to go somewhere where the crowds are less, for a more relaxing sightseeing experience.
How to get there: Gunung Kawi is closest to Ubud, and you're best off renting a scooter or a car to the temple from Ubud. This takes approximately 30 minutes. If you're going from Sanur, you're looking at approximately 1 hour in the car, or from Seminyak it is an hour and 15 minutes.
9. Besakih Temple
A temple complex near Mount Agung in the east of Bali, Besakih Temple is the largest and holiest temple in Balinese Hinduism. The complex includes 23 separate temples, of which the most important one is Penataran Agung Temple. While the origins of the site of the temple aren't clear, the site dates back as being holy since prehistoric times. Its surroundings are stunning, and you'll be able to take some beautiful Balinese temple pictures there.
How to get there: Besakih Temple is best reached from Ubud, as the temple complex is located in the northeastern corner of Bali. The drive is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes from there, so you could either rent a car and drive yourself or get a tour or arrange for a taxi to transport you there and back.
10. Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave
Goa Gajah is also known as Elephant Cave, and is one of the top attractions to visit in and around Ubud. The site was likely built as a place for spiritual meditation to start off with, dating back to the 11th century. You'll find depictions of Hindu and Buddhist imagery there, including the image of Ganesha, the Hindu god with an elephant head, which explains its name. Taking a tour guide there or bringing a guide book will help you understand more of the meaning of the different structures and inscriptions.
How to get there: Goa Gajah is near Ubud, so the easiest way to get there is probably a taxi from Ubud. You can ask the driver to wait for you and drive you back. Alternatively, you could rent a scooter and get there that way, or you can arrange for a tour to take you with a tour guide.
What to Wear to Visit the Temples
In order to visit the temples of Bali, you will have to dress modestly. For your visit, this includes covering your shoulders and women will also have to wear long trousers, dresses or skirts covering over the knees.
If you don't dress modestly, you'll likely have to rent a sarong at the temple at an extra cost, or you can probably buy one from one of the vendors you'll find around the entrance to the temples.
Visit Bali's Temples with Asia Highlights
We can help you plan your trip to Bali's top temples, and make sure that the ones you really want to see are included within your Bali itinerary.
We can arrange transport to specific temples and back for you, and arrange for a tour guide to take you around the temples to make sure you have someone to ask questions and to share the temples' history with you. This way you can make sure that you see everything you want to see in Bali without having to worry about how to get there and back.
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