Wander down any busy road in Bali and you’ll immediately notice the islands unique culture. Offerings are of incense and flowers are left at the entrance of hotels and restaurants. Processions of men and women wearing crisp white robes walk up and down the main roads of Ubud (can find a guide of things to do here) playing instruments as the sunsets. It’s an enchanting experience and part of the reason why so many tourists fall in love with the island. Many of these cultural activities are centred around the various temples that dot the island.

Bali was once split into eight kingdoms. Each kingdom had its own royal family, its palaces and temples. While still in use to this day, many of the main temples and palaces have become popular tourist attractions. In fact I’d go as far as saying a few of the temples of Bali are simply a must see if you are visiting the island for the first time.

3 Best Temples in Bali (You Have to Visit)

1 – Lempuyang

Lempuyang is located in the highlands of Bali on the peak of Mount Lempuyang. It is one of the oldest temples on the island and is often referred to as the ‘mother temple.’ Getting to the temple is a steep climb, there are 1,700 steps, and you need to be reasonably fit. The view from the top of Mount Lempuyang is worth it though and if you arrive on a clear day you can even see Mount Rinjani in Lombok.

Price: Rp 15,000 per person

2. Gunung Kawi Water Temple

You might not have heard of it before, but… Gunung Kawi is probably my favourite temple in Bali. The water temple is 15 minutes outside of Ubud in a peaceful village. The first thing you see when you get to the temple is the large pond in a tranquil garden with a pagoda. As you enter the complex you’ll pass several other pools and ponds, which are fed by natural springs. It’s a beautiful place to explore and it’s not unusual to have the place to yourself. You can combine your visit to Gunung Kawi with Tegallalang rice field. Highly recommended.

Price: Rp 10,000 for adult

3 – Tirta Gangga Water Palace

Tirta Gangga water palace is a little slice of heaven in Bali. The setting is beautiful with fountains, lakes and natural pools filled with carp. You are naturally led around the palace grounds on a journey where you use stepping-stones to cross the pools and follow small winding paths around the edges of the lakes. If you bring your swimming stuff you can even take a dip in the swimming pool filled with fresh spring water. It’s a really beautiful place. You can find some more pictures of the site and a video I made about Tirta Gangga Water Palace here. If you’re planning a romantic few days away I’d recommend staying at the Tirta Ayu Hotel and Restaurant, which is in the palace grounds.

Price: Rp 10,000 for adult

Ideas for Temples to Visit in Bali

4 – Ulun Danu Beratan

Ulun Danu Beratan is one of the most photographed temples in Bali. It’s built on the edge of Lake Beratan, which is in the highlands of Bali. For the best photos you’ll want to visit in the wet season when the water level is high. If you come early in the morning fog swirls above the waters of the lake. Unfortunately Ulun Danu is also the busiest temple in Bali (I kind of said that already). The road leading to the temple is only small and you can guarantee you’ll hit traffic jams on the way. Expect to spend a few hours in the car if you visit.

Price: Rp 30,000 for an adult
Rp 15,000 for a child

5 – Uluwatu Temple

I can understand why Uluwatu Temple is famous. You get a great view of sunset from the top of the cliffs. The temple also hosts the best performances of the fire dance, which is well worth watching. However, while I love the setting I’ve never found the temple very interesting. If you have the chance join the huge Pawuk Ceremony, which is held every 210-days. btw, don’t wear fancy earrings or shiny things to the temple. There are lots of monkeys here who have been taught to steal your stuff.

Price: Rp 20,000 per person

6 – Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot temple complex is perched atop a rocky island just off the coast of Bali. The setting is beautiful. Your first site of the temple is from the top of the cliffs. You can, and should, climb down to the beach for a closer look. You can walk across the rocks and enter the temple at low tide (after you’ve received a blessing). The best time to visit is around sunset when you get all the funky colours in the sky and the water.

Price: Rp 30,000 for adult
Rp 15,000 for a child.

7 – Goa Gajah

Located 4 km East of Ubud, Goa Gajah, Elephant Cave, is a temple cave that dates back to the 11th century. The entrance of the cave has been carved into the image of a head, so it is almost like you are walking into the figures mouth. Near the exit to the caves are two bathing pools. Read the Complete Guide to Goa Gajah for more information about the temple.

Price: Rp 10,000 for an adult
Rp 5,000 for a child

8 – Tirta Empul

Tirta Empul is a water temple that attracts both Buddhist and Hindu worshippers. The temple is located on top of some natural hot springs in the village of Manukaya in Central Bali. The highlight of the temple is a large stone pool, which is filled by 13 sculpted spouts that line the edge of two pools. You can read about my visit to Tirta Empul here.

Price: Rp 15,000 per person

9 – Batukaru

Batukaru Temple is in the highlands of Bali. The setting is beautiful. The temple is surrounded by rainforest and set against the backdrop of Mount Batukaru (the second highest volcano in Bali. I know, it’s a bit confusing). A lot of Balinese people come to worship at Batukaru, but very few tourists visit. Even though it is one of the largest Hindu temples in Bali, it is also one of the most tranquil.

Price: Rp 15,000 per person

10 – Gunung Kawi Sebatu

Gunung Kawi Sebatu is one of those few temples in Bali that you could really call a hidden gem and if you’re in the area it should be included on your list of things to do in Bali. The temple is built around a series of pools filled with carp and lotuses and surrounded by open courtyards. If you’re in Bali at the right time you can attend one of the large ceremonies that are held at the temple every first full moon of the Balinese calendar. Find out when the next festival will be held and more about Gunung Kawi Sebatu here.

Price: Rp 15,000 per person

11 – Ujung Water Palace

Another water palace in Karangasam, Ujung predates Tirta Gangga. The palace was built around a large series of pools, with the main palace set in the centre of the lake. Around the edge of the palace complex is a hill with a viewpoint over the surrounding countryside. From here you can see over the rice fields to the ocean beyond. On a clear day the white buildings, blue sea and green vegetation. Well worth the visit if you’re in this part of Bali.

Price: Rp 10,000 per person