Bali is one of the most beautiful places I have visited and part of that, of course, is down to the incredible temples that are dotted across the island. Although there are more than 10,000 temples on the island, there are definitely some that I would consider to be must visits – the best temples in Bali.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Bali over the last few years and with lots of temples crossed off of my list, I thought I’d share some of my favourites. With lots of trial and error regarding the best times to visit, I’ve learned that every temple has it’s own ‘sweet spot’ and so I thought why not share that with you too.
So, here are the best temples in Bali to visit:
Best Temples In Bali
The Gates of Heaven (Lempuyang Temple)
Over recent years, Lempuyang Temple has become one of the most popular destinations in Bali as the result of a viral Instagram trend, While it’s 100% worth it for the photo alone, there are so many other reasons you should visit this incredible temple.
To Balinese locals and the Hindu culture, Lempuyang Temple is actually one of the most sacred places in Bali. The temple, otherwise known as ‘The Gates of Heaven’ is located in the eastern part of Bali within the highlands of Mount Lempuyang. If you’re travelling there from Ubud it will take around 2 hours and if you’re travelling from Canggu or Kuta, it’s roughly 2 and a half hours.
The gates where people take the famous temple are located part way up Mount Lempuyang and are best reached by shuttle bus as the roads to the top are very steep. You can purchase tickets for the shuttle bus once you arrive, then they’ll take you as close to the temple as you can get via road.
Here, you’ll need to rent a specific sarong before purchasing your entrance ticket (and photo spot),
There is then a short, but very steep hike, to the entrance of the temple, otherwise known as The Gates of Heaven. Here you will found hundreds of people taking the same photo, using a mirror to create a reflective surface below you. For a detailed guide to the process when it comes to getting the viral Lempuyang photo, you can visit my post here.
As mentioned, however, there are lots of other great reasons to visit The Gates of Heaven.
For me, personally, it was one of my favourite views of Mount Agung. I could have sat there for hours watching the stunning volcano peak out from the clouds.
As you enter the temple and turn right, you will see the main entrance to the 7 temples that sit a top Mount Lempuyang. These three grand staircases almost disappear into the sky and knowing this is just beginning leaves a sense of mystery that makes you want to explore more.
Of course, you can go further if you wish, however there are around 1200 steps to the top.
This temple is so much more than the viral photo, so I HAD to include it on my list of the best temples in Bali.
When To Visit Lempuyang Temple
If you want to visit the temple before things start to get busy, my recommendation is to arrive at the shuttles at around 6am. Although this mean a very early morning if you’re travelling from afar, it’s worth it to save yourself a long wait. Plus, the sunset views on the drive are definitely worth it.
I have been twice and arrived at both 6am and 7am and even then, I ended up waiting as long as 45 minutes for my photo spot. I have had friends wait between 3-5 hours for their photo when arriving any later than 7am and of course, that can take up what limited time you may have in Bali. To ensure I got there on time and found my way, I used Get Your Guide to book the experience.
Tirta Empul, the holy water temple, is another of Bali’s most sacred temples to visit. Dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu, this temple is famous for both its holy spring and the water fountains that make up the purification ritual.
The holy spring, which you are not allowed to enter but you can view, is said to be the holiest water in the Hindu culture.
The water fountains, however, are accessible to the public. The main way in which to experience these properly is to take part in a water purification ritual. During my last visit to Bali I decided to finally take part in the ritual and I am so glad that I did. This ritual is a way to offer thanks to the gods and to ask for forgiveness for the things you may have done in your past. Religious or not, it’s a very humbling experience and a great insight into the importance of rituals like this to Balinese locals.
In order to take part in the purification ritual, you will need to speak to the guides that are there. They will walk you through the correct process in return for a tip, which you can set yourself. For a full guide to the water purification at Tirta Empul, click here.
Other than the water ritual, there are lots of things to discover at the temple. From the koi ponds to the dedications to Hindu gods throughout, it’s well worth a visit with or without the purification process and definitely one of the best temples in Bali.
When to Visit Tirta Empul
As one of the busiest temples in Bali for both tourists and Balinese locals, the best time to visit is as soon as it opens at 7:00am. Wait times for the purification rituals can be incredibly long so if you want the best experience, get there as early as you can.
Pura Tanah Lot
Pura Tanah Lot is a temple with an incredible view. Literally translating to the ‘earth’ and ‘sea’ this temple is located on a cliff face and is one of seven ocean temples in Bali.
Although this can be quite a challenging temple to get around, it’s definitely worth visiting if you want to see the incredible views across the ocean. Depending on the time of day you visit, you can enter the temple during low tide. I didn’t get chance to do this, but I am definitely planning on it next time.
When to Visit Pura Tanah Lot
Although you cannot enter the temple during this time, the best time to visit Pura Tanah Lot is actually at sunset. The views across the ocean and behind the temple are absolutely incredible, even if it does make it a little busy. Make sure to get here roughly an hour or so before sunset to get a good spot.
Pura Taman Saraswati
Pura Saraswati, known as the Lotus Temple, is located in Ubud and easily accessible from Ubud Palace and the Art Markets. This architecturally beautiful temple is well known for it’s stunning lotus pond and is dedicated to honour the Hindu Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning, literature and art.
When to Visit Pura Taman Saraswati
This temple is busy throughout the day and so again, the best time to visit is in the morning. The temple regularly holds ceremonies so make sure to double check this before you visit, as it can be difficult to get in if that is the case.
Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave, is definitely worth adding to your list of the best temples in Bali to visit. Although many people believe it’s called Elephant Cave because of the statues located within the temple, it actually gets its name from its close proximity to Elephant River. The carvings and statues, however, are the main reason people visit.
With both Hindu and Bhuddist temples and ruins within Elephant Cave, there’s lots to explore once you arrive. You can do this with a guide or on your own. When I visited, our driver walked us around and shared everything we needed to know about the temple (and then some). This was booked through an Ubud tour on Get Your Guide and was well worth it when it came to getting the lay of the land on our first day there.
When To Visit Goa Gajah
The temple can get busy throughout the day, so the best times to visit are early in the morning or just before closing. This time changes throughout the year, so make sure you’re checking before you arrive.
Bonus: Tirta Gangga Water Palace
Although Tirta Gangga is not a specifically temple, it is a very sacred place to Balinese people. This holy water palace is famous for the Karangasem royal water palace, the bathing pools and its Patirthan temple.
The main reason people visit, however, is to see the beautiful koi fish in the surrounding ponds.
As you enter the temple you can purchase fish food so that as you walk around, you can bring the koi fish to you. It makes for the perfect photo, but is also an incredible way to see these magnificent fish up close. I honestly LOVED Tirta Gangga and would go back time and time again, just because it’s so beautiful.
When To Visit Tirta Gangga
I have been to Tirta Gangga a number of times, at various points of the day, and it has never been too busy. There is often a small queue for photo spots but other than that, it’s quite a quiet and serene place to be.
I’m visiting Bali a number of times over the next few years so as I explore more of the island, this blog post will only grow and grow. With so many incredible temples to explore, I can’t wait to see what else Bali has to offer.