places to visit: (click on the names to know)
About: Bali with its stunning hills and mountains, white beaches and blue sea, lush rice terraces, claims to be the number one island destination of the world. It also has some first class surfing and diving spots making it the place not to be missed for beach goers and vacationers.
Bali’s most popular attraction is its number of temples. You can plan your Bali trip, even if you don’t like beach and the crowd, to see its temples and you won’t be disappointed.
Each village in Bali is required to construct and maintain a number of temples. Also like in many Indian homes, it is customary to keep a temple like structure in family compound.
The most important of all the temples in Bali are the “nine-directional Temples” where nine temples have been constructed in 9 directions across strategic points of Bali to protect the island from evil forces. They are Pura Luhur Uluwatu (found on the western tip of the Bukit peninsula), Pura Masceti (on the south coast near Ketewel), Pura Pasar Agung (located south of the holy Gunung Agung mountain in eastern Bali), Pura Besakih (located west of Gunung Agung), Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (at the central highlands), Pura Ulun Danu Batur (along the eastern highlands), Pura Goa Lawah (situated near Padangbai in eastern Bali along the main road), Pura Lempuyang (on the slopes of Lempuyang mountain near Amlapura), and Pura Luhur Batukaru (on the southern slopes of Batukaru mountain in central Bali).
Before going into the details of the temples tourists visit, let’s take a minute to understand Balinese Temple Design which is unique in its own way.
The Balinese people view the temples as the seat of the Hindu deities in the earth. You won’t find two temples which are alike. Also every design, either in the structure or in the temple decoration, has a certain function to incorporate meanings in people’s lives, be it philosophical or spiritual.
Structurally, all the temples are divided into three sections: the outer courtyard, the middle courtyard and the inner courtyard. The entrance leads to the outer courtyard which serves as the domain of humans and all things earthly. Non-Hindus are allowed here always.
The middle courtyard is the intermediately point between the earthly domain and the realm of the Gods. Another gate leads to the inner courtyard area which houses the deity or deities. There’s a large pavilion in this section which is kept empty to allow the Gods to visit during ceremonies.
The tiered, black-thatched roofs that are seen on temples are made from a palm fiber, which is prohibited to be used for any other purposes. Also these structures over the temple are known as meru, after sacred Mount Meru (the home of the gods in Hindu mythology).
Word Of Advice: Purchase your own sarong before embarking on Temple trip even if you won’t require it after you leave Indonesia, otherwise you will get into a lot of trouble due to this. Purchase it from Ubud Market, where you will get it at a reasonable price.
BESAKIH TEMPLE: Pura Besakih is knowns as the ”mother temple” and deemed the largest and holiest of all temples in Bali. Situated along the side of Mount Agung, the temple complex is actually made up of 22 temples and is said to date from prehistoric times.
I will strongly suggest to take a guided tour here if you want to visit, as this site is infamous for scamming people. Otherwise do not go.
You can contact the below tour agency or do research for any other operators as per your liking. firstname.lastname@example.org
ULUWATU, TANAH LOT & TAMAN AYUN: Of all the temples, these three are the most visited as you can watch some of the stunning vistas which Bali has to offer. Also you can visit the three in one day unlike Basakih Temple and Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.
Uluwatu: The temple itself is not that amazing. But it is temple is located on the rocks of the southernmost point of Bali built at the edge of a high cliff projecting into the sea. If you get there by late afternoon, the sunset is amazing (if the weather permits). You can also watch the Kecak and the Fire Dance here.
Watch out for the monkeys. They are as notorious as the scammers at Besakih Temple
Tanah Lot: Situated at the west coast of Bali, this temple sits on an offshore rock formation. Again not a great beautiful one but the view surrounding the temple makes up for it. The sunset is awesome here too. Non-Balinese are not allowed to enter inside.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan: If you are thinking of visiting only one temple to get the feel of Bali culture along a picturesque backdrop, then this is it. Also known as Pura Bratan, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located at Lake Bratan in the mountainous region of Bedugul, this temple makes the classic postcard pictures of Bali available worldwide.
Be careful as there are some scams involving entrance fee..till this date even I am clueless about the correct entry fee to the temple.
You can combine this trip with Pemuteran as it lies on the way. Or you can get to Tanah Lot from here.
Pura Ulun Danu Batur: Pura Batur located in the Kintamani district, comprises of nine different temples, containing in total 285 shrines and pavilions dedicated to the gods and goddesses of water, agriculture, holy springs, art, crafts, and more. The original temple ground and all the temples except the main temple containing deity Dewi Danu had been demolished during a volcanic eruption at around 1920. The temple complex standing now has been rebuilt.
Combine this temple trip with Penelokan village tour as it will be along the way.
Pura Meduwe Karang: This temple is dedicated to mother earth (temple of the owner of the land) and is worshipped to ensure successful fertilization of crops. One of the interesting carving of this temple is that of a man on a bicycle. You can visit this temple if you are visiting Kintamani district, it’s 1km beyond the Kintamani turnoff.
Kintamani is a village lying in the western edge of Mount Batur. The spectacular mountainous region around Kintamani with its deep Crater Lake and bubbling hot springs, make this region a must visit. So this location is really crowded with tourists and scammers both. I will suggest to stop at Penelokan village where you will get the same view minus the crowds. A climb to the summit of Mount Batur (2hours hike) – which is still an active volcano – to watch the sunrise will be an amazing experience.
A trip to this village located in the Kintamani district, also offers spectacular views of the crater lake and mount Batur. But most of the time the view is cloudy, so be sure to be here early in the morning (before 8am). You can go on the Mount Batur climb from here too.
Lovina was the name coined by the late King Buleleng for his lodge built in this area. Now the name Lovina is used for the stretch of seven traditional villages located in the north of Bali. Temukus, Kalibukbuk, Anturan, Pemaron, Tukad Mungga, Banyualit and Kaliasem. Kalibukuk is the main hub of this area and is often thought of “Lovina town centre”.
This area offers another laid back ambience very common to Bali. You can walk around, rent a bicycle or a motorbike to roam about. Your hotel will repeatedly offer to arrange Dolphin sighting trips in the mornings though whether you will see or not depends (as always) on luck.
Two boats are especially good choices: ‘Beautiful Fish’ is a speedboat, which dolphins tend to like and to play in the waves it creates (250.000 Rp). Popeye (boat number 1, since the drivers’ father set up the organization) provides very good trips (source Wikipedia)
You can go to Brahma Vihara Arama ( Bali’s largest Buddhist monastery located near the village of Dencarik.), the beautiful highland of Munduk in the south, the beaches of Pemuteran to the west, and the city of Singaraja to the east from here if you are in this area. Ask your hotel to arrange the trips.
Running down from the northwestern rim of the Bedugul caldera, this small, simple village offers some stunning vistas which tourists often overlook. If you want to get the multimillion dollar shot of sunrise/sunset..go to Munduk to capture what am talking about. Other than enjoying the cool weather after the hot humid one of Bali, there’s nothing much to do except trekking. Munduk is a great place if you just want to follow a jungle trail through the chorus of cicadas.
This is a small laid-back village on the northern coast of West Bali (4hours drive from Kuta depending on traffic) which is becoming increasingly popular with tourists. The area is extremely beautiful. Just walk around or rent a bicycle to soak in the beauty of the place.
Bio rock and Coral Reef: If you really enjoy underwater habitations, give this place a visit. Because firstly, it is right on the main beach. And it’s free. You just have to hire the goggles and snorkel at the marked places. You can spend a whole day snorkelling..the reef is so large.
Dolphins can also be cited from here. Ask you hotel to arrange a boat ride. You can go to West Bali National Park from here.
The only national park in Bali, is situated at the north west of the island near to Pemuteran. One hundred and sixty species of bird have been recorded in the park, including the near extinct Bali Starling, mammals include Banteng, a species of wild cattle, Javan Rusa and Indian Muntjac deer, wild Boar and Leopard cats.
Many tourists come here only to snorkel. According to them this is the best snorkelling spot. You can also dive to see the underwater world. This place is easily accessible from Pemuteran.
If you like diving, Tulamben is the right place in Bali. During high season, divers jump into the ocean to see the UUS Liberty Shipwreck (a US Army Transport ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942). Dive in the morning to avoid the boats that come streaming after 7am. The dive is renowned for its bump heads. You can also do snorkelling but it won’t be that interesting.
This waterfall located on the northern part of Bali and can be accessed from both Kuta and Seminyak. You have to get down through a steep climb (a 30minute downhill which will take 40minute on way back) to get to it. But if you have a good set of knees, it’s not very tough. And I think this is the best waterfall Bali has to offer.
It’s not as crowded or commercialized as Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Best time to visit when the fields are lush green that is during august to October. Starting from November it’s harvesting season, so the fields will be bare. Try biking specially in the morning.
A small island off the southeast coast of Bali, is a paradise where you won’t find either the hawkers or traffic or the crowd. The water is absolutely cerulean blue..and you can surf, dive, snorkel without the risk of being bumped on the head with another people.
Devil’s Tears: An attraction at Nusa Lembongan, you can get mesmerized by seeing waves after waves breaking on the rocks. Visit during sunrise or sunset or in between the time. Nothing’s to see after the sun sets. You will enjoy walking around the area as you can explore little rock pools and some stunning vistas.
Tirta Gangga: The phrase Tirta Gangga literally means water from the Ganges (a holy river in India) and it’s a holy site for the Balinese. But the place is widely known for the water palace, owned by Karangasem Royal.
Originally the palace was built in 1950s but destroyed by volcanic eruption of Mount Agung in 1970s. It was again rebuilt and restored. Its known as water palace as the palace is surrounded by pools and lush gardens with fountains, stone carving and statues. There’s no need to book a tour or hire a guide. Best time to visit in the afternoon when the crowd thins down. Combine this trip with Taman Ujung which is nearby.
Taman Ujung: This was a former palace of Karangasem Regency but now it is known as Ujung Park. The garden is well maintained. You can see the blue ocean of east Bali as well as the majestic Mount Agung and the surrounding rice terraces and expansive lush rolling hills from the top.
Kuta: One of Bali’s first tourist developments, best known for surfing and party-centric atmosphere. You can find many surfing and diving instructors here. Also this beach is in walking distance from Seminyak, Tuban and Legian.
Am not going into the details of the type of activities you can enjoy here. Just follow the below link for details:
Sanur: Sanur Beach, Bali’s earliest beach resort, features a relaxed coastal ambiance mad is continuing to maintain most of its charm. Located on the eastern side of the island’s isthmus, it is the opposite of Kuta, both in characteristics and nuance.
Jimbaran: If celebrity watch is high on your list, go for Jimbaran. The beach and the bay of Jimbaran offer small secluded areas, where tranquility and peace prevails. But Jimbaran is the realm of luxury hotels only.
Nusa Dua: Nusa Dua is designed to be an ‘all-inclusive’ type of tourist destination. The pristine complex of world-class hotels, an jazzy shopping complex with well-maintained facilities, a luxurious 18-hole golf course, white-golden sandy beaches are what makes up this beach.