Pura Tanah Lot Temple, Bali

Arguably the most popular temple in Bali, Tanah Lot definitely lives up to its fame, with its dramatic setting. It is one of the six revered, cardinal temples of Bali and is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. Tanah Lot means “Land in Sea” in the Balinese language.

Tanah Lot is located at the edge of the rocks, giving it a breathtaking view and look, especially during sunset. The temple itself is 100m offshore and is only accessible to the Hindus. It cannot be reached by anyone during the high tide. The cliff-side path to the north passes the Pura Enjung Galuh temple (behind which are the best views of Tanah Lot) and then some steps down to the beach and onwards to Pura Batu Bolong temple perched atop a rocky headland.

Nowadays, there are many souvenir stalls surrounding the area, catering to the tourists. There are also some eateries that will open up for sunset drinks and meals.

Pura Tanah Lot Temple, Bali, Indonesia

Pura Tanah Lot Temple, Bali. Photo by Madeleine Deaton

History and facts

Tanah Lot temple was built back to 500 years ago by a Javanese priest and has been part of the Balinese mythology, venomous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple.

Where is it

Pura Tanah Lot temple is located in Tabanan at the north-west of the southern part of Bali, about 20 km from Denpasar or Kuta.

Side view of Pura Tanah Lot Temple, Bali, Indonesia

Side view of Pura Tanah Lot Temple. Photo by Vladimir E

Why visit

Although overrun by tourists, Tanah Lot temple is worth a visit just for its architecture, location and its significance as a very important worship place in Bali. The stroll over ragged ocean stones and the sunset cast over the whole setting will be unforgettable.

When is the best time to go

Many people come here during the sunset to catch the sun’s setting magic but if you want to avoid the crowd, early morning (before 9 am) is also a good magical time to admire the temple in silence.

Kecak Dance is held here every evening after sunset at 6.30 pm for 45 minutes. There is also a ceremony held here every 6 months, check with the place you stay.

Carvings of Pura Tanah Lot Temple, Bali, Indonesia

Carvings of Pura Tanah Lot Temple, Bali. Photo by Ken Marshall

Fees

The fee to enter the grounds surrounding Tanah Lot Temple is 60,000 Rp. (as of 2016). You’re not allowed to enter the temple except to pray. Parking fee for a car is 5,000 Rp. A guide is not necessary.

Opening Times

Open from 7am to 7pm for visitors. For worship purpose it is open for 24 hours daily.

Beach and sea, Pura Tanah Lot Temple, Bali, Indonesia

Beach and sea. Photo by Thomas Schlosser

Get in and get around

From Kuta or Seminyak – about 45 minutes drive
From Denpasar – public transport are limited and it is not available after sunset.

Where to stay near Tanah Lot

The nearest popular luxurious hotel you can find to Tanah Lot temple is the Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort *. This would be a great choice if you want to keep catching the beautiful sunset by the temple. Besides, there are also affordable hotels nearby such as Villa Puspa and Kubu Kedungu *. If you are in a budget, then you are in for luck with this highly rated affordable inn called Kedungu Surf Camp *

-> Find the best hotel deals near Tanah Lot Temple *

Where to eat

Recommended restaurant here is Melasti Tanah Lot. It is on the headland just north of the temple and has one of the most beautiful settings for a restaurant. Here one can enjoy candlelight dinner of fresh seafood while enjoying the famous sunset view. The meal may be a little expensive and the prime view tables are only reserved for evening diners.

Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot Temple, Bali, Indonesia

Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot Temple. Photo by koyne


Nearby tourist attractions

Taman Ayun temple at Mengwi – one of our top temples in Bali, this is more unknown but still a very beautiful royal temple.

Travel Tips

It is recommended to hire a car for the day in Bali for other excursions since all the tourists spots are far from each other. The road to Tanah Lot temple is also dangerous, so it is better to hire a car with a driver to take you there, or get a taxi and ask them to wait while you visit.

If you come early in the day, the paddy fields view along the way is worth the slow ride to take it in. A detour to the rugged beaches nearby such as Pantai Seseh is also recommended.

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Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Bratan, Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Bratan, Bali

Lake Bratan’s temple, called Pura Ulun Danu Bratan and also known as the Floating Temple, is one of the most mesmerizing temples in Bali. It is also one Bali’s most underrated temple compared to Tanah Lot and Pura Luhur Uluwatu temples. Built over 350 years ago, this temple houses waterside gardens and meru shrines that are so well-known in Bali.

The gorgeous volcanic lake of Danau Bratan is also the favourite of many local tourists but not as well known with foreigners, therefore relatively still unknown, it is a true gem to discover. What makes it truly special is that since it caters for the local tourists, weekdays here would be the best time to enjoy the lake and the park at peace.

History and facts

This Hindu temple was built in the 17th century in honor of the lake goddess Dewi Danu, marking the significance of Lake Bratan as the main source of water in Bali. The history of the temple dates back to the Mengwi kingdom of that time. The 11 stories meru shrine here is dedicated for Shiva and his consort Parvathi. Ulun Danu itself literally translates to “head of the lake”. After several eruptions from Mount Batur, the temple has been shifted and rebuilt along with the village.

Pura Ulun Danu is the core of all the water temples in Bali. It is one of the main structure in the irrigation systems that draws the water from Lake Batur into Subak. This unique system is one of the many UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Indonesia. It also serves as a symbol of social and religious unity in Bali.

Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Bratan, Bali, Indonesia

Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Bratan, Bali. Photo by whyyan

Where is it

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is located at Lake Bratan in Bedugul Highlands of Bali. The lake is also worth a visit to take in the breathtaking views.

Why visit

One of our top temples to visit in Bali but still relatively unknown to foreign tourists, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan has its own charmed with its interesting thatched roof layered with reminiscence of pagoda structure and located just at the edge of the temple, allowing chance of reflections of its grandeur.

Festival at Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Bratan, Bali, Indonesia

Festival at Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Bratan, Bali. Photo by alex hanoko

When is the best time to go

If you are lucky and here during one of the many festivals held here at the temple, you will be in for a real treat. If not, you will still have a good time marveling at the beauty of this Hindu temple that is unlike the others.

Get in and get around

There are public transports that take you here to Lake Bratan from Denpasar or Lovina. There is also shuttle buses between the southern beaches and Lovina, it takes 45 minutes to get to the Pura Ulun Danu temple from Lovina. From Ubud, it will take a 1.5 hours drive and from Kuta, a long 2 hours drive.

Fees

The entrance fees is 50,000 IDR (as of 2016)

Opening Times

Daily 9 am to 8 pm

Where to stay nearby

There are some hotels and resorts dotted along the beautiful Lake Bratan ranging from indulgent retreats to budget hotels. One of the popular and luxurious resort here is the Puri Candikuning and the nice budget options are Strawberry Hill Hotel and CLV Hotel and Villa *.

-> Find the best hotel deals near Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Booking.com *

Things to do

Taman Rekreasi Bedugul (Bedugul Recreation park) – one of the best places for water sports such as canoes, banana boating, parasailing and jet-skiing, minus the high waves and high prices compared to the southern beaches.

Souvenir shops – the many shops lined up here are a must to visit. It sells different brands of tacky stuff when shopping in Kuta or Seminyak and at fixed prices designed for the local Indonesians, hence no hefty tourist prices here.

Secret tiny temple – visit this one from the outside at the west-end of Pura Ulun Danu temple. Beware of the pesky monkeys!

Hike the walking path – there is a path that starts opposite the fruits stalls skirting the lake and heads along the ridge to the top of Mount Mangu. This is a six-hour beautiful return hike. Strawberry Hill Resort nearby the park can arrange guides for hikes to nearby waterfalls and vanilla plantations, and around Buyan and Tamblingan lakes.

Take a 15-minute speedboat ride on the lake, passing upmarket villas, strawberry farms and of course the temple itself.

Have lunch at Bedugul restaurant overlooking the lake and under the towering volcanoes. This restaurant is located at the southern end of Lake Bratan. Don’t forget to try fresh gurami (grouper fish) and udang (prawns) with various sauces.

Nearby tourist attractions

Try out the popular dolphin watching at Lovina.

Candikuning – sizeable Muslim community with farmers’ market.

Bali Botanic Garden – one of the only four in Indonesia and the largest, it houses the local flora and the famous Green Rose.

Wanagiri lookouts over the twin lakes of Buyan and Tamblingan.

Jatiluwih rice terraces.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Bedugul, Bali, Indonesia

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Bedugul, Bali. Photo by alex hanoko

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Top 10 Temples to Visit in Bali

Spirituality is one of the central vibes of Bali and it is no surprise that the place is dotted with many temples. The main religion here is Balinese Hinduism and a Hindu temple here is known as pura. Most of the pura (known as temple) in Indonesia is concentrated in Bali though you may find some in other parts where there are many Balinese people. The term pura is originated from the Sanskrit word which means “walled city” or “palace” but now the word had evolved to be known as a temple complex in The Balinese language.

Here in Bali, the most important pura (temple) is the Mother Temple of Besakih, known as the largest and holiest of all temples in Bali. Since there are so many puras built here on Bali, it had been aptly called “the island of thousand puras”.

Since there are thousands of temples (maybe less but a lot) of temples in Bali, it would be pretty hard to cover all of it during your travel to Bali. Here is our take of Top 10 Temples in Bali for you:

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Besakih

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Besakih

Besakih Temple (Mother of Temple)

Pura Besakih is the most well-known and the holiest temple in Bali and being the mother of all temples as aptly named, this pura so one of the oldest in Bali. It is revered for its importance and being over 1000 years old. Mount Agung that stood nearby erupted in 1963 but the lava flows jut off the temple by few meters, and people had taken it as a sign from the gods. The temple’s main axis align with the peak of Gunung Agung, which is the tallest mountain in Bali, making them significant. Besakih temple complex consists of 23 separate temples, with some dating back to the 10th century.

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Luhur (Uluwatu Temple)

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Luhur (Uluwatu Temple)

Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur)

Uluwatu Temple, also known as Pura Luhur, is a famous Balinese sea temple. It is one of the nine directional temples of Bali which are meant to protect it from the evil spirits. This spectacular temple is perched at the edge of the rock overlooking the raging sea. The word Luhur means “something of divine origin” and ulu means “land’s end” while watu means “rock” in the old language, and as you can see it is aptly describing this inspiring temple. It is one of the six most important temples after Besakih temple. Most travelers enjoy the view of the temple from two different vantage points – northern and southern.

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Tanah Lot

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Tanah Lot

Pura Tanah Lot Temple

This temple is known as the “land in the middle of the sea” as it sits off the coast on a majestic rock. Pura Tanah Lot is another very popular temple in Bali, being well known for its serenity and cultural significance. It is part of the seven temples that form a ring at the southwest of Bali. Traveler’s tip is to go there during low tide so that you can walk across the water to the temple, an experience you do not want to miss! This temple dates back to the 15th century and believed to be the work of the priest Nirartha, whereby after spending a night on that same place, he instructed the local fishermen to build a temple there.

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Tirta Empul

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Tirta Empul

Pura Tirta Empul Temple

Another one of the six important temples of Bali, Pura Tirta Empul is known for its sacred spring water with healing properties. This temple dates back to 926 AD and well revered by the locals. Many people climb up to the temple for a bath and meditation in the long main pool because it is believed to bring good fortune and health. Legend has it that this spring is created by the god Indra as an antidote to the poisonous spring by an evil demon king.

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (Bedugul) Temple

Another very significant temple, especially to the rice farmers in Bali, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan at Bedugul is situated on the shores of Lake Bratan. It is the primary temple of the many temples that is for the popular Bali’s subak irrigation system. The temple is dedicated to worship the goddess of lakes and rivers and one of the section seems to float on the lake just off the mainland of the temple complex. It also has a towering pagoda over the beautiful placid lake.

Best Temples in Bali: Goa Lawah

Best Temples in Bali: Goa Lawah

-> Find the best Bali hotel deals at Booking.com *

Goa Lawah, which means “bat cave” is located in the southeast of Bali. It was founded in 1007 AD and as its name, is filled with thousands of bats. It is also one of the directional temples that is protecting Bali from the evils spirits. The temple is a popular site for post-cremation purification that is culturally important to the Balinese people. It is believed that the Javanese priest Nirartha had visited the cave before and that the interior of the cave extends over to connect with Pura Besakih.

Best Temples in Bali: Taman Ayun Temple

Best Temples in Bali: Taman Ayun Temple

Taman Ayun Temple

This royal temple of Mengwi empire is located in Mengwi village. Not exactly a well-known temple to travelers but it is well worth a visit as off the beaten tracks. It is a family temple, built back in 1600 by King of Mengwi. Now it survives as a beautiful example of a royal public temple. Taman Ayun means beautiful garden, and this complex stands surrounded by a moat that makes it appear as if floating on water. The front courtyard has an ornamental gate while the inner courtyard has a number of multi-tiered pagodas (meru).

Best Temples in Bali: Gunung Kawi Temple

Best Temples in Bali: Gunung Kawi Temple

Pura Gunung Kawi Temple

This temple, known as the “valley of the Kings’ is located in the cliffs between rice fields at the south of Tampaksiring, Bali. The Pakerisan river flows through the ravine and flanking the river is the shrines and carved stones that are meant to commemorate the 11th-century kings and queens. Though technically not a temple, it is still revered as a holy place by the locals. This site is more of an actual tomb for the royalties that are cremated here base on Balinese customs.

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Luhur Lempuyang

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Luhur Lempuyang

Pura Luhur Lempuyang

This temple is one of the most obscure of the lot but not lacking in importance as a religious site. It is one of the six sad kahyangan (temples of the world) which is dedicated to the supreme God – Sang Hyang Widi Wasa and also one of Bali’s nine directional temples to protect from evil spirits. Visiting this temple requires a bit of an effort as you need a serious 1.5 hours hike to the top of 1,700 steps, which cuts into the mountainside jungle. At the peak, you also get a grand view of Gunung Agung with the temple gate framing it. One of the best time to visit here is the day after Galungan to see the Lempuyang during its odalan.

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Saraswati

Best Temples in Bali: Pura Saraswati

Pura Saraswati

Though small in size, this temple is beautiful in its own rights with beautiful lotus ponds on it temple grounds. A temple dated back to the 19th century, it was built by the royal family of that time to dedicate to the Goddess of Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge and Learning). The temple has exquisite exterior design while the interiors resemble the typical Balinese temples with stone carvings. The splendor of this temple is because it stood amidst the beautiful lotus pond lined with trees. Pura Saraswati is also used for many dance performances on Thursday evenings. You may visit the temple for free but there is a fee for the dances.

Photo credits from top: nerdwithoutglasses, Ricky Qi, Madeleine Holland, Christ06, Jesus AbizandaJesus Abizanda, Jos Dielis, Arian Zwegers and David Stanley

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3 Days / 2 Nights in Bali Itinerary

Q: My family is planning to visit Bali for 3 days and 2 nights this Sept. if you can help us to plan places to visit. We have 2 children to go along with.
Appreciate for your help. Thanks.
– Sheila

With only 3 days, one important tip is that you should consider hiring a driver and a car to take you around as Bali island itself is huge and would take quite a bit of time to get from one place to another. It would be serious moving around with children, so maybe you should consider choosing what you like among the must visit places in Bali. Also check out our Top 10 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Bali for some ideas.

If you want to stick to the tried and tested route, visiting the best attractions, here are our suggested itinerary for 3 days in Bali:

Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, Bali Indonesia

Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, Bali. Photo by melburnian

Day 1 – Arrival, Uluwatu and Tanah Lot Temples and dinner at Seminyak

Try to arrive early since you only have 3 days to visit this beautiful island, and stay in one of the strategic places in central or south of Bali. Hire a car in advance and use it to head straight to two of the most famous temples in Bali. First head to Uluwatu Temple and double back to Tanah Lot Temple, in time to enjoy the amazing sunset there. If you are also in time, catch the famous Kecak Dance here that is set against the backdrop of this beautiful temple. End the day with a good dinner at Ultimo in Seminyak.

Kecak Dance Performance at Uluwatu Temple, Bali Indonesia

Kecak Dance Performance at Ubud, Bali. Photo by Meru Muhammad

Day 2 – Ubud, rice fields, beach and seaside dining

Ubud is the place one must explore when in Bali. Walk around the city would be a delight, there are many boutiques to shop around, spas and massages to pamper yourself and art or attractions to visit. Next, head out to the north to the neighbor town of Tegalalang to find classic rice terraces of Asia. Many tourists also like to stay in Ubud * as it is quite central to many of the attractions around Bali and yet away from the crowd in Kuta. After visiting Ubud, choose one of the beaches in Bali and get some swim and tan, popular choices are Balangan or Padang-padang beach. At sunset, head to Jimbaran and enjoy a seaside romantic dining.

Rice fields terraces, Tegalalang, Ubud, Bali

Rice fields terraces at Tegalalang. Photo by Pandu Adnyana

Day 3 – Temple or shopping or beach

Depending on how much time you have left and what your preferences are, you may squeeze in one of two more things before heading to the airport for your departure. If you still want to explore more of Bali’s amazing temples, then I would recommend the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, a beautiful mirrored temple by the lake. Or if you would prefer to pack in some last minute shopping, there are few shopping places in Bali. Or if you still have not enough of the beaches, you know where to find more beautiful beaches in Bali to hang out.

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