My 5 Favorite Temples in Bali, Indonesia

Bali is a magical place unlike any other in South East Asia.  From it’s stunning beaches boasting some of the best surfing spots in the world, to mystical temples surrounded by lush gardens, delectable and creative cuisine to it’s local artists working across all types of mediums it’s no wonder that many who travel here instantly fall in love.  Bali has a feeling of non-pretentiousness, warm people, and rich culture.

My first experience in Bali was so wonderful I decided to come back for another weekend trip and I’ve outlined those temples which particularly stood out as truly unique and beautiful.

1) Pura Luhur Uluwatu

#1 on my list is Uluwatu located on the southern tip of Bali.  A short walk from the car park and it’s easy to see why Balinese chose this site to build their temple thousands of years ago.  A tiny temple situated against a super steep cliff ~200 foot drop to the bottom of breaking waves.  The sounds of waves crashing against the rocks is all you can hear.  Come here during the morning to avoid the crowds of tourists and take advantage of all this natural landscape has to offer.

We sit near one of the pagodas overlooking the ocean and enjoy the moment.  Every couple of yards the stone fence separating the walkway from the steep cliffs we notice an opening.  It later becomes apparent what these openings are meant for.  Suicide drop offs? Maybe, but shorty after pondering this we see a local who may have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  He walks in between the opening on the other side of the fence and continues to vigorously cut the brush and vegetation which is blocking the spectacular view.  He is armed with a blunt machete and flip flops and by the way he’s cutting the shrubbery, you know he has full confidence in his movements.  It’s truly an amazing thing to witness such boldness balanced with gracefulness in each step.

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2) Pura Batu Bolong

#2 is Batu Bolong – a very popular temple to watch the sun set between the natural rock formations that frame any picture effortlessly.  Batu Bolong is also right next to Tanah Lot Temple – another picturesque temple which forms it’s own island during high tide. Although I didn’t particularly like the hordes of tourists peppering almost every shot, Batu Bolong has a particularly special place in my heart because of a very unexpected event.

The water level is low enough to allow us to walk all the way down to the beach – eliminating 90% of the tourists who stay on the cliff to watch the sunset.  Just as the sun disappears across the horizon of the ocean, thousands of bats emerge from the cave entrance and fly over our heads in search for dinner.  The experience is breath taking and also doesn’t make for such a bad picture.

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3) Pura Taman Ayun

There are few places where you can snap a picture on your smart phone and the pictures are just as gorgeous as the ones you see on National Geographic.  Taman Ayun is one of those places where the pictures need little editing.  This temple is surrounded by lush gardens and a moat – unfortunately when we visited, the moat was still under construction but it didn’t make this place any less beautiful.

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4) Goa Gajah

Also known as “Elephant Cave” temple the temple itself isn’t that exiting or particularly special, but the garden area around the temple looked like something out of Lord of the Rings or Avatar.  Criss-crossing stairways, huge ancient fallen statues, a hidden waterfall, and lotus pond put this on my top 5 list for a good reason.  Don’t miss the mini rice patty field next to the garden – all the rice produced here is used for prayer and to support the temple.

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5) Pura Gunung Kawi

Finally #5 on my list is where you can see the locals in action!  This purification Temple – is still where many locals go to prey and worship. It’s on my list because it rounds out my Balinese temple experiences and gives me a true sense of Balinese culture and traditions.

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If you have some time I’d recommend visiting any or all of the above. Thanks for reading! ^.^

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