Top 5 Ubud Temples to Visit in Bali

Spirituality is the main vibe in Bali, and Ubud, as the center of Bali, came with few of the best temples in Bali. Visiting temples in one of the things to do in Ubud besides the museums, spa, massages, and shopping.

The main religions here is Balinese Hinduism and its temple is known as pura. The term pura is originated from the Sansrkit word that means “walled city” or “palace” and has now evolved aptly to mean temple complex in the Balinese language.

Pura Taman Saraswati temple, Ubud

This temple is built 60 years ago and dedicated to the Goddess of Arts. It is well known for its lotus-filled pond, which is often called the “Lotus Open Pond Stage”. The gardens and pond can be visited during the day but only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. There is also a Cafe Lotus attached where you can slowly soaked in the serenity. This temple hosts a variety of traditional dances on different days and is touted to be one of the best in Bali.

How to get there:
Located in Ubud, this temple can be found at Jl. Kajeng.

Pura Taman Saraswati
Pura Taman Saraswati. Photo by Phil Whitehouse

Pura Dalem Taman Kaja, Ubud

Well-known for its kecak dance, it is touted to be the best place to enjoy this popular dance in Bali. You can find the shows on Mondays and Wednesdays. This temple is located beneath a huge banyan tree and the stairs leading up to it are lit by oil lamps. A truly magical experience going into the temple.

How to get there:
Located in Ubud, this temple can be found at Jl. Raya Ubud.

Forest Temple, Ubud, Indonesia
Forest Temple, Ubud, Indonesia. Photo by McKay Savage

Goa Gajah Temple

Goa Gajah temple is a temple dated back to the 10th century and is known as the Elephant cave. One of its main attractions is its carved entrance of menacing creatures and demons. Inside the cave, you will find statues of the Lord Ganesha (the God with the elephant head). Also within the site are an extensive bathing pools, which are not only excavated until the 1950s.

How to get there:
It takes only 10 minutes drive from Ubud city center.

Goa Gajah Temple, Ubud, Indonesia
Goa Gajah Temple, Ubud, Indonesia. Photo by Kohei

Pura Tirta Empul Temple

Also known as the water temple in Ubud, Pura Tirta Empul has its own sacred spring water with healing properties. This temple dates back to 926 AD and is well revered by the locals. Many will come and climb up to the temple for a bath and meditation in the long main pool. It is believed to bring good fortune and health. Base on a legend, this spring us created by the God Indra as an antidote to the poisonous spring of an evil demon King.

How to get there:
To get to Pura Tirta Empul would take 30 minutes drive from Ubud

Pura Tirta Empul, Ubud, Indonesia
Pura Tirta Empul, Ubud, Indonesia. Photo by Christ06

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.

How to get there:
This also takes 30 minutes drive north from Ubud

Gunung Kawi, Ubud, Indonesia
Gunung Kawi, Ubud, Indonesia. Photo by @yb_woodstock

As you can see, Ubud is a strong spiritual center of Bali with its variety of temples worth a visit. Along with the temples, you will also find shows and festivals that are bound to entertain. When I visited here, I have also chose Ubud as my central place to explore Bali, especially with so many good places to stay.


Where to stay in Ubud

Stay in Ubud for culture, nature, arts and markets. Ubud has plenty of places that tourists will enjoy staying at. There’s the Como Shambhala Estate *, which is a health retreat deep in the rainforest. There’s the Hanging Gardens Ubud *, which has a spectacular view and private pool villas. The Purist Villas & Spa * is another popular place to stay in Ubud, as it’s a stylish boutique villa complete with meal and spa facilities. A popular boutique hotel is Uma by COMO *, which is located on the hillside in Ubud.

Related article:
Top 10 Temples to Visit in Bali
Top 10 Things to Do in Ubud, Bali
1 day Ubud Itinerary – What to Do and See

Borobudur Temple Compounds, Central Java

Borobudur is not a stranger to the world traveling scene, being a unique Buddhist temple of Asia, it is also the largest Buddhist structure on earth. This 8th century stupa and temple complex in Central Java, Indonesia is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Many travelers came here to experience the wonders of this structure and note its unique differences with the other Buddhist temples in terms of architecture and also down to the details of its construction and also the grandness of it. Borobudur is also set against a backdrop of volcanoes enhancing the drama of the place.

Full view of Borobudur Temple Compounds

Full view of Borobudur Temple Compounds

History and Facts

There is no exact detail written record on Borobudur in terms of who built it and why is it created. It is theorized to be made as a religious site in 8th century during the Sailendra dynasty of central Java. For some centuries, Borobudur had been lost to Indonesia until following an Anglo-Dutch Java War, the British governor at that time, Thomas Stamford Raffles took an interest in the history and mystics of Java and therefore investigated and aid in unearthing this amazing monument once again. Raffles are also responsible for the re-discovery of Prambanan, another major religious structure, this one Hindu not far from Borobudur.

Statues and relief panels at Borobudur Temple

Statues and relief panels at Bormbudur Temple

Borobudur was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status at 1991 after it had been fully restored. It had become a major international tourist attraction with its 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues and also detailed wall carvings. Borobudur consists of six square platforms and the highest point is 35 m from the ground.

Borobudur consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms and is decorated with no less than 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues of various types. The main dome, located at the centre of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupas. The square base is 118 m (387 ft) long on each side and the highest point 35 m (114 ft) above ground level. The distinctive shape and structure of Borobudur is the dome and its three circular symmetrical terraces. There are also six different postures of Buddha as you ascend the platforms. The wall reliefs are recounting the life stories of Buddha, from the law of Karma to birth of Buddha and his journey towards searching for the ultimate truth.

Relief panels / wall carvings of Borobudur Temple

Relief panels / wall carvings of Borobudur Temple

Where is it

It is located in Magelang district of Central Java, about an hour drive from Yogyakarta.

Why visit

Borobudur is the largest Buddhist structure in the world and it is entirely unique and different from the rest of the Buddhist temples around Asia.

When is the best time to go

Lanterns at night during Waisak in Borobudur

Lanterns at night during Waisak in Borobudur

If you want to experience Waisak in Borobudur, you should go around May, check for the exact dates of celebration for the year.

Else most times is good for visiting Borobudur, whether it is the dry season (April – October) or wet season (November – March) of the two seasoned Indonesia.

Dry season will have a peak of tourists and also can be really hot while the wet season will see rain later in the day so go early for your visit.

Where to Stay at Borobudur Temple

The most recommended place to stay at Borobudur temple is the Manohara Resort *. Here you can catch the temple at the dawn of light (when you pay for the sunrise tour) or at least be the first to go in when it opens at 8 am. This is the best way to enjoy the temple, when it is at its most quiet, with just a trickle of travelers like you who appreciate the silence and marvels at the beauty with respect.

-> Check out Manohara Hotel’s latest prices at Booking.com * or Agoda.com *

Fees

The entry fees to Borobudur is 25 USD for non-Indonesian Adult and 15 USD for children under 6 (as of 2017). It is 40,000 Rp for Indonesians or foreign holders of work permit.

Borobudur Sunrise tour with the Manohara Hotel * is 450,000 Rp for foreigners, 325,000 Rp for domestic tourists and 275,000 Rp for hotel guest (as of 2017). This will get you in early to catch the sunrise and explore for an hour before the rest of the tourists flock the place.

To hire a guide to explain reliefs will cost about 95,000 – 120,000 Rp per hour. Agree on the price with your guide before starting and it is best to tour in the morning when it is not too busy.

Sunrise Tour at Borobudur Temple at Borobudur Temple

Sunrise Tour at Borobudur Temple

Opening Times

Open to public from 6am to 5pm but only those with sunrise tours can get in before 8am. For walk ins you can get in at 8am.

Get in and get around

Buddha statue against the sun, Borobudur

Buddha statue against the sun, Borobudur

From Yogyakarta to Borobudur, you can take the public bus or hire a car to get there.

From Wonosobo to Borobudur – catch a public bus heading towards Yogyakarta and drop off at Borobudur.

From Jakarta to Borobudur – take a train to Purwokerto and then connect with a bus to Wonosobo and onwards to Borobudur.

From Surabaya to Borobudur – hire a car to get there or take a bus/train to Yogyakarta before connecting to Borobudur.

Nearby tourist attractions

Prambanan – well known ancient Hindu temple built in the 9th century for Trimurti as an expression that God is the Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu) and also the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound lies just 18km east of Yogyakarta and would take 102 hours of car to get there.
Yogyakarta – head back or onwards to Yogyakarta as there are lots of things to do in Yogyakarta.
Mount Bromo – a volcano in East Java that is popular for the sunrise view of the crater. Many travelers attest to this one, don’t miss out!

Borobudur Temple Compounds upclose

Borobudur Temple Compounds upclose

Travel Tips

Try to go in at the earliest hours that it is opened to public to truly enjoy this massive and unique Buddhist temple. You will appreciate the serenity and peace and fully immerse in its significance without the hordes of tourists spoiling it. If you do not want to pay for the sunrise tour then get in at 8 am once it is open for walk in, the effort is well worth it.

Photo credits from top: Prayudi Hartono, Rachel, Rachel, Imam Hartoyo, Thrillseekr, Rachel and Rachel

Related Articles:
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Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Bali

Quickly becoming the top destination in Indonesia, and even in Asia, Bali has a lot of tourist attractions to offer. Since it is well trodden by tourists from near and far, the wonders here despite its crowd, are world class and definitely worth the hustle for. Here you can find a good range and variety of attractions, such as beautiful ancient temples, rice fields, romantic sunset dinners, traditional dances, mountains and beaches. What more can one ask for during traveling with choices from art to culture to nature that are sure to please every sense of wonder and exploration?

There are definitely more than just 10 attractions in Bali but here is a list of the top ones for you.

Side view of Pura Tanah Lot Temple, Bali, Indonesia

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

Pura Tanah Lot Temple

Arguably the most popular tourist attraction in Bali, Tanah Lot temple 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. Located at the edge of the rocks, it gives a breathtaking view and looks, 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.

Kecak Dance at Bali, Indonesia, Indonesia

Kecak Dance at Bali. Photo by Meru Muhammad

Kecak Dance

Kecak dance is one of the traditional dance and musical drama in Bali that is enchanting and one of the top attractions to tourists. This dance is from the legend of Legong and Barong, a dance from the south of Bali, with a story of a never-ending battle between good and evil. It is more commonly known as the fire dance that is set to impress. The best place to watch it is on the temple grounds of Puri Dalem Taman Kaja, where you will find an authentic atmosphere and setting. Another popular place to watch this dance is at Tanah Lot temple, with a dramatic setting.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, Bali Indonesia

Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, Bali. Photo by melburnian

Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple

Pura Luhur Uluwatu or Uluwatu Temple is a famous Balinese sea temple in Bali. It is one of the nine directional temples of Bali meant to protect it from evil spirits. This spectacular temple is one to marvel with as it perched at the edge of the rock overlooking the sea as if on guard. The inner sanctum of the pura (temple) is perched at the edge of steep cliffs which tower over Bali’s legendary surf breaks at the south. Most travelers enjoy the view of this temple from two different vantage points, from both northern and southern part of the area.

-> See Best Luxury Hotels in Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple

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. 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.

Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Bratan, Bali, Indonesia

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

Rice fields of Tegalalang

The rice fields of Tegalalang near Ubud is one of the top attractions in Bali because of its beautiful landscapes. Lined with rice terraces, running through with brilliantly blue streams with dramatic limestones and valleys as a backdrop, the view is an unforgettable one. The best way to explore this area is on a motorbike so that you can feel the cool refreshing wind while you hear every sound and see every sight in person. At the northeast of Tegalalang, you will find the classic rice terraces that are so revered all over Asia. Riding here will keep you well entranced as you see the greeneries stretch out as far as the eye can see. If you are not keen on motorbike, then you may find one of the rice fields trekking tours that will take you around.

Rice fields terraces, Tegalalang, Ubud, Bali

Rice fields terraces

Ubud’s Monkey Forest

Thanks to its good location at the famous Ubud, Monkey Forest is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Bali. This area of lush forest is perched at the bottom end of a busy shopping street. It is home to hundreds of cute but cheeky Balinese Macaques. Be careful though of your belongings as they can be menacing. Tickets to the sanctuary include a useful map with locations and explanations of the three temples located there. It is well worth a visit and noted for its good maintenance by the local community. The forest is also home to 115 species of rare plants that are used for religious and medicinal purposes.


Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali attractions

Monkey Forest, Ubud. Photo by ValeriosVeo

Ayana bar on rocks

We had two temples on the cliff, and now we get to drink off a bar perched on yet another cliff at Ayana bar resort * in Bali. This bar is known as the best bar in Bali, having a long line of people daily trying to get in and have a drink or two with some bites (which is surprisingly good) while overlooking the sea crashing into the rocks below. Think about drinking, chilling and also dancing atop a cliff with the roaring sea stretching behind you to infinity while you watch white water crashed onto the side of the wall creating a spectacular natural show. If you decide which is the one bar you must go to in Bali, Ayana bar on the rocks is the place. You may get special access to the bar as a guest of Ayana Resort and Spa or RIMBA Jimbaran by Ayana *.

Bar on rocks @ Ayana, Bali

Bar on rocks at Ayana, Bali. Photo by Fabien LE JEUNE

Mount Batur

One of the more popular mountains in Bali, Mount Batur is an active volcano standing at 1700m, many travelers hike a do this short but can be quite tough 2 hours hike up the mountain to have a sunrise view over Bali and its surrounding islands. Getting here from Ubud might take some time but the climb and the view of the landscape and Lake Batur is all worth it in the end. It is also one of the popular activities to do when you are visiting Bali long enough to get bored of the beaches and sea and want to do some excursions.

Hike Volcano Mountain Batur, Bali, Indonesia

Hike Mount Batur, Bali. Photo by Kevin Poh

Kuta Beach

Further down the line from the city Kuta is the Kuta beach. Thanks to its location, this is definitely one of the beach that almost every tourist in Bali would visit. The waves are higher here and the currents are strong making it a perfect beach for surfers. The beach is always crowded with locals or tourist, mostly for the vibe and energy that circles around here. At night you can find the Kuta beach parties among the beach clubs that are guaranteed to entertain. The local Hard Rock Cafe Bali is situated here so you can eat, drink and party whole day and night. Best hotels with quick access to Kuta Beach would be either the famous Poppies Bali * at Kuta or D’Kubu Legian Hotel * at Legian.

Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

Kuta Beach, Bali. Photo by Kojach

Sunset dining at Jimbaran

One of the most popular meal in Bali for every tourist is the romantice seaside dining at Jimbaran Bay. Walk down along this beach and you will find it dotted with warungs and candle-lit tables like mushrooms after the rain. Here you can dine on fresh seafood like prawns, squids and fishes fresh of the sea onto your table, almost literally. Couple it by feasting over the sun setting over the horizon make this authentic setting much more atmospheric. Unsurprisingly, as one of the popular area for people to stay, Jimbaran hotels * are people’s favourite.

Seafood dining at Jimbaran Bay, Bali, Indonesia

Seafood dining at Jimbaran Bay, Bali. Photo by Güldem Üstün


Best Accommodations in Bali

Booking.com is my favourite site to book a place Bali when I am planning my trip. The main reason is that most of the bookings can be cancelled right up to the trip, allowing flexibility. Here are a few of the best accommodations that we recommend to stay in Bali:

    Luxury (from 150 USD)

  • The Oberoi, Seminyak
    For those who are looking for privacy and to splurge for a honeymoon or special occasions. With quick access to Seminyak beach, this Balinese inspired accommodation is built on 15 acres of tropical gardens. The Frangipani Cafe inside here is famed for its cuisine. Notable are their open-air massage pavilions and outdoor pool overlooking the ocean. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
  • Tandjung Resort, Sanur
    For those who appreciate traditional architectures and design. This hotel, built way back in 1962, encapsulates the Balinese style and spirit. Among the spacious gardens are thatched roofed bungalows, pavilions, sculptures and fish ponds. It also has direct access to the Sanur beach. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
    Mid-range (50 – 150 USD)

  • Sri Ratih Cottage, Ubud
    For those who is looking for unpretentious comfort with Balinese charm. Located in Ubud, our favourite place to stay in Bali, the Balinese style cottages with carved wood furnishings are set in beautiful gardens with a pool. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
  • Resort Courtyard by Marriott Bali, Seminyak
    Marriott is a trusted brand for many and this one in Bali lives up to its name. This secured luxury is located just 5 minutes walk to Seminyak beach. A noted feature is its private terraces for relaxation, hence making it a favourite of couples. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
    Budget (below 50 USD)

  • Nick’s Pension, Ubud
    For those who are seeking a mixture of peace and action in the heart of Bali – Ubud. The rooms come with traditional Indonesia architecture and air-condition. There are also a swimming pool, restaurant, Wifi and parking provided. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
  • Linda Villa, Sanur
    For the budget conscious, this guesthouse in Sanur is a steal, featuring swimming pools, clean air-conditioned rooms and a simple breakfast. It is located at a quiet place with only 15 minutes easy walk to the beach. Prices starting from only 24 USD! Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *

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Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Indonesia

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.

Related articles:
Top 10 Temples to Visit in Bali
Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, Bali
Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Bratan, Bali