10 Most Famous Temples in Bali

Bali is known as the Island of the Gods, and it’s not hard to see why. This beautiful Indonesian island is home to some of the most stunning temples in the world. 

The temples of Bali are not just places of worship, they are also works of art and are an important part of Balinese culture. 

Visitors to the island are often enchanted by the intricate carvings, stunning architecture, and peaceful atmosphere of these sites. Visiting Bali’s temples is a must.

1. Pura Besakih

Pura Besakih is a Hindu temple complex located in the village of Besakih. It is considered to be the most important temple on the island and is known as the “Mother Temple of Bali.” The temple complex consists of more than 20 separate temples, with the largest and most important being Pura Penataran Agung.

Pura Besakih is a significant pilgrimage site for Balinese Hindus and attracts thousands of visitors each year. The temple complex is located on the slopes of Mount Agung, the highest volcano in Bali, and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

The temple complex has a long and rich history, with the earliest records of its existence dating back to the 10th century. Over the centuries, it has been rebuilt and expanded many times, and today it is a complex of terraces, courtyards, and pavilions that are interconnected by a series of steps and gateways.

Pura Besakih is renowned for its unique architecture and stunningly beautiful setting. It is also an important cultural and religious center for the Balinese people and plays an important role in the island’s spiritual and social life.

When to Visit: It’s best to plan a visit to Besakih early in the morning. By noon, tourist groups gather in the temple complex, and it becomes too crowded to navigate, especially if there is a large ceremony taking place that day. Additionally, there is a high chance of fog after lunchtime, as the pagodas are situated at an altitude of over 1000 meters above sea level.

Small ceremonies take place in the temples of the Besakih complex several times a day, which foreign visitors can observe and photograph. However, it is strictly not recommended to enter the altar area during sacred rituals.

To enter the temple complex, it is necessary to wear a sarong. They can be rented or purchased at souvenir shops near the temple. The rental cost is around 25,000 Indonesian rupiah, while they can be purchased for 50,000 rupiah.

Admission fee: Rp. 60,000 per person / Rp. 5,000 per car 

Opening hours: 08:00 – 17:00

2. Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun is a Hindu temple located in the village of Mengwi, about 8 kilometers southwest of the town of Ubud. The temple is surrounded by a large moat and was built in the 17th century during the reign of the Mengwi dynasty.

The name Taman Ayun means “beautiful garden,” and the temple is indeed situated in a stunningly landscaped park with a series of lotus-filled ponds and gardens. The temple complex consists of a number of courtyards and pagodas that are interconnected by a series of gates.

The main pagoda in the complex is a multi-tiered structure that is beautifully decorated with intricate carvings and gold-colored roofs. The temple complex is surrounded by a moat and is accessible via a bridge that leads to the main gate.

Admission fee: Rp. 20,000 for adults / Rp. 7,500 for children 

Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:00

3. Gunung Kawi

Gunung Kawi is an ancient temple complex located in Tampaksiring. It is situated in a valley surrounded by lush green rice fields and is a popular tourist destination on the island. The temple complex consists of 10 rock-cut shrines, each measuring approximately 7 meters high, that were built in the 11th century during the rule of King Anak Wungsu.

To reach the temple complex, visitors must descend down a steep flight of stairs that leads to the Pakerisan River. Once across the river, visitors must climb up a series of steps leading to the main temple complex. The rock-cut shrines are located in two separate groups on either side of the river.

The shrines are carved directly into the cliff face, and their elaborate carvings depict Hindu deities, mythological figures, and scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics. The complex also features several meditation caves, a bathing pool, and a number of small shrines.

Gunung Kawi is considered an important historical and cultural site in Bali, and it is believed to be the burial site of King Anak Wungsu and his family. The temple complex is surrounded by beautiful rice paddies and verdant greenery, making it a popular spot for photography and sightseeing.

Admission fee: Rp. 15,000 for adults / Rp. 5,000 for children 

Opening hours: 07:00 – 17:00

4. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a Hindu water temple located on the shores of Lake Bratan. It was built in the 17th century to honor Dewi Danu, the goddess of water, and is one of the most iconic landmarks of Bali.

The temple complex is comprised of four main structures, each dedicated to a different Hindu god or goddess. The most prominent structure is the Meru tower, which has 11 levels representing the 11 layers of heaven in Hindu cosmology. The tower is beautifully decorated with intricate carvings and colorful ornamentation.

One interesting fact about Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is that the temple is built on a small island in Lake Bratan, giving it the appearance of floating on the water. The temple is surrounded by beautiful gardens and scenic views of the lake and surrounding mountains, making it a popular spot for photography.

The temple is also an important site for Balinese Hindu rituals and ceremonies, including the annual water ceremony where local villagers gather to honor Dewi Danu and seek blessings for their crops and harvest.

Another interesting fact is that the temple was featured on the Indonesian 50,000 rupiah banknote from 1999 to 2004, further cementing its status as an iconic symbol of Bali.

Admission fee: Rp. 60,000 for adults / Rp. 10,000 for children 

Opening hours: 07:00 – 17:00

5. Pura Tirta Empul

Pura Tirta Empul is a Hindu water temple located in the village of Tampak Siring in central Bali. The temple is famous for its holy spring water, which is believed to have purifying properties and is used for various Hindu purification rituals.

Interesting facts about Pura Tirta Empul:

  • The temple was founded in 960 AD during the Warmadewa dynasty and was built around the sacred spring of Tirta Empul, which was believed to have been created by the Hindu god Indra.
  • The name “Tirta Empul” means “holy spring” in Balinese.
  • The temple complex is divided into three main sections: the Jaba Pura (outer courtyard), the Jaba Tengah (middle courtyard), and the Jeroan (inner courtyard).
  • Visitors are required to wear a sarong and sash to enter the temple, and the temple provides them for free.
  • The holy spring water is believed to have curative properties and is used for spiritual and physical purification rituals. Visitors can participate in these rituals by bathing in the spring water.
  • The temple is also home to several shrines and pavilions dedicated to various Hindu deities, including Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma.
  • The temple is a popular tourist destination and attracts both domestic and international visitors. It was also visited by former US President Barack Obama and his family during their trip to Bali in 2017.

Admission fee: Rp. 15,000 for adults / Rp. 5,000 for children 

Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:00

6. Pura Luhur Lempuyang

Pura Luhur Lempuyang is a temple located in East Bali. It is one of the oldest and most highly regarded temples in Bali, with its origins dating back to the 11th century. The temple complex consists of several smaller temples spread out over a series of terraces, with the main temple located at the highest point.

One of the most famous features of Pura Luhur Lempuyang is the Gate of Heaven, or the “Gates of Lempuyang”. This is a series of ornate gates that create a stunning reflection of the temple on the water below. The view of the temple and the surrounding landscape from the gates is considered one of the most iconic and picturesque sights in Bali.

To reach the temple, visitors must climb a long staircase that is flanked by lush tropical foliage. The climb is considered a pilgrimage by many Balinese Hindus, and it is believed that the journey up the stairs helps to purify the soul.

Another interesting fact about Pura Luhur Lempuyang is that it is one of the six major temples in Bali that are believed to be the spiritual pillars of the island. The other five temples are Pura Besakih, Pura Goa Lawah, Pura Uluwatu, Pura Batukaru, and Pura Andakasa.

Admission fee: donation 

Working hours: 08:00 – 17:00

7. Pura Goa Lawah

Pura Goa Lawah, also known as the Bat Cave Temple, is a Hindu temple located in eastern Bali. 

Some interesting facts about the temple:

  • The temple’s name, Goa Lawah, means “bat cave” in Balinese. The temple is built around a cave that is home to thousands of bats.
  • The temple is believed to have been built in the 11th century by Mpu Kuturan, a Hindu sage who is also credited with establishing several other important temples in Bali.
  • Pura Goa Lawah is considered one of Bali’s six most important temples, and is particularly significant for its role in protecting the island from evil spirits. According to Balinese Hindu beliefs, the temple’s cave is home to a giant dragon that serves as a protector of the island.
  • Visitors to Pura Goa Lawah can explore the temple’s grounds, including the cave and several pavilions. The temple is also located near a black sand beach that offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean.
  • Pura Goa Lawah is still an active temple, with regular ceremonies and offerings taking place throughout the year. Visitors are welcome to observe the ceremonies, but are advised to dress modestly and show respect for the temple’s traditions.
  • The temple is located in the village of Pesinggahan, which is about an hour’s drive from the popular tourist areas of Sanur and Kuta.

Admission fee: Rp. 10,000 for adults / Rp. 5,000 for children 

Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:00

8. Pura Tanah Lot 

Pura Tanah Lot is a Hindu temple located on a rock formation in the middle of the sea, just off the coast of Bali. 

Some interesting facts about the temple:

  • The temple was built in the 16th century and is dedicated to the Balinese sea gods.
  • It is one of the seven sea temples along the coast of Bali, which are believed to form a chain of spiritual protection around the island.
  • The temple is only accessible at low tide, and visitors can walk across the sand to reach it.
  • According to local legend, the temple was built by a Hindu priest who used his magical powers to move a rock from the main island to its current location in the sea.
  • The temple complex includes several smaller shrines and a freshwater spring that is believed to have healing powers.
  • Tanah Lot is a popular spot to watch the sunset, and visitors can enjoy views of the temple from a clifftop park nearby.
  • The temple has undergone several restorations over the years, including a major renovation in the 1980s to reinforce its structure against erosion.
  • During major religious ceremonies, the temple is closed to non-Hindu visitors.
  • In addition to its religious significance, Tanah Lot is also a popular tourist destination and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Admission fee: Rp. 60,000 for adults / Rp. 15,000 for children / Rp. 5,000 for parking 

Hours of operation: 07:00 – 19:00

9. Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah is an archaeological site and a temple complex located in Bedulu village, Gianyar Regency, Bali. 

Interesting facts about Goa Gajah:

  • Goa Gajah means “Elephant Cave” in Indonesian. However, the name is misleading as there are no elephants in the cave, nor is it actually a cave, but rather a man-made structure.
  • The exact origins of Goa Gajah are unknown, but it is believed to have been built during the 11th century as a sanctuary for meditation and spiritual practices.
  • The main entrance to Goa Gajah is a large menacing demon’s mouth, with the entrance representing the entrance to the underworld.
  • The complex includes a central courtyard, several small temples, bathing pools, and meditation rooms carved into the rock walls.
  • One of the most interesting features of Goa Gajah is a statue of the Hindu god Ganesha, who is half-human and half-elephant. The statue is located inside a small alcove and is believed to be one of the oldest representations of Ganesha in Bali.
  • In the early 20th century, the site was rediscovered by Dutch archaeologists and was extensively restored in the 1950s.
  • The site is also known for its beautiful and lush surroundings, including rice fields, coconut groves, and a nearby river.

Admission fee: Rp. 15,000 for adults / Rp. 5,000 for children 

Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:00

10. Pura Luhur Uluwatu

Pura Luhur Uluwatu is a Balinese sea temple located on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean in the village of Pecatu, south-west of Bali. 

Interesting facts about the temple:

  • The temple is believed to have been built during the 10th century by the Javanese sage, Empu Kuturan.
  • The name “Luhur” means “something of divine origin” and “Uluwatu” means “land’s end rock”.
  • The temple is one of the six key temples believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars.
  • The temple is home to a group of mischievous monkeys, known to snatch food and objects from unsuspecting visitors. Visitors are advised to keep their belongings well secured.
  • Pura Luhur Uluwatu is also famous for its traditional Kecak dance performances, which are held every evening during sunset.
  • The temple offers stunning panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, especially during sunset.
  • Pura Luhur Uluwatu is considered one of the nine directional temples in Bali, and is believed to protect the island from evil spirits that come from the south-west direction.

Admission fee: Rp. 30,000 for adults / Rp. 15,000 for children / Rp. 5,000 for parking. 

Opening hours: 07:00 – 19:00