Guide to Visiting Temples in Bali
Bali is home to over 10,000 temples, shrines and religious compounds, so if you’re coming here to check them out, allow plenty of time. The following is a brief guide to visiting temples in Bali.
Entry to temples is almost always free, though there will always be a donation box near the door, and you should be sure to make at least a small donation. Consider this the entry fee, as it is extremely disrespectful to not donate money when coming into the temple.
Do a tour
The easiest way to see Bali temples is to go on a temple tour. The tour guides can generally speak pretty decent English and are a wealth of information about not just the temple, but also life in general in Bali. The guides are also a fantastic resource for letting you know what you can and can’t do in various situations at various temples. Resorts in Bali can usually set you up with a decent local tour guide, with some 5 star Bali hotels having their own in-house guides.
Most Bali temples will welcome you inside, as long as you’re dressed relatively modestly and are not a menstruating woman. Just like with any religious place, don’t try and walk in half naked, because you’ll be asked to leave. Cover up with a light cloth or a sarong and everyone will be happy. You’re also required to wear a sash before entering temples in Bali; it’s easy to buy or rent sashes cheaply.
Pura Besakih — This incredible place is a massive complex that comprises 18 smaller temples and one central temple. This is the largest temple in Bali and has been here since the 11th century. Full of intricate and beautiful stone sculptures and carvings, this powerful place plays host to a number of major Hindu festivals, including Panca Wali Krama, held every 10 years, and Eka Dasa Ludra, held once every 100 years.
Pura Tanah Lot — Around 13 miles from Denpasar, this is one of the most popular Balinese temples, attracting over one million visitors every year. This gorgeous temple can only be accessed at low tide as is built on an offshore rock.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu — Perched at the top of a steep cliff, this temple is one of Bali’s most spectacular. One of the most popular tourists sights for kids visiting here are the monkeys that inhabit the local forest and the surrounding area, and who will steal things from you if you’re not careful. At around 5pm each evening you can watch the Kecak dance take place here, usually lasting for between one and two hours and well worth checking out.
Even though they are gorgeous, out of respect for the locals you should not take photos in the temples or of any religious ceremony you see taking place. It’s considered extremely impolite and certainly won’t make you any friends, so don’t do it.
You could spend your whole life going to Bali temples and never get bored, so take your time and take it all in; the more time you take, the richer the experience will be.