When you visit Bali, you can be forgiven for just wanting to lie on the beach, soak up some sunshine and enjoy a beach bum lifestyle.
There’s nothing wrong with that and on my first few trips to Bali I did just that. It wasn’t until Dan and I went together that I ventured out of Seminyak to explore what Bali had to offer. And then I realised what I’d been missing.
Although perhaps not as famous for its temples as other places in Southeast Asia like Myanmar, Cambodia or Thailand, there are still three temples which should definitely be on your hit list to visit when in Bali, which to help us remember which was which, called them Temple on the Lake, Temple on the Cliff and Temple on the island.
All were pretty crowded when we visited and that wasn’t peak season so be prepared for big crowds, jostling for position to get that perfect photo, and the occasional stab in the eye by lots of selfie sticks being waved around.
1. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (aka Temple on the Lake) – probably the most iconic temple in Bali – it is featured on the 50,000Rp bank note. Coach loads of Indonesians visit the site, given its significance. We went on a rainy and misty day, which we felt made it a bit more atmospheric, although maybe that was just what we told ourselves to keep our spirits up when it was raining. It would be equally beautiful if the sun was shining and reflecting off the water.
There are actually five temples on the site but Lingala Petak Temple is the main one which everyone wants to take photos of. It’s a good two hour drive from Seminyak to get there so hire a driver and make a day of it – the driver will make some recommendations but a stop-off in Ubud would work well but we opted for the Angseri Hot Springs on the way home, which we would also highly recommend.
2. Uluwatu (aka Temple on the Cliff) – this is a famous Bali sea temple and is perfect to go to see the sunset after a day exploring Green Bowl Beach and Finn’s Beach Club down in the South of the island (See our top 3 beaches in Bali). The views of the cliff are stunning and if you arrive before sunset you can get great photos of both before and after. There is a walk around the cliff where you will come across some pretty playful monkeys. Keep a hold of your belongings though – one managed to prise a flip flip from a tourist when we there, chewed it for a bit then threw it over the cliff. You can also pay to see a Kecak fire dance performance, which starts around 6pm which looked like fun for a family but we were there for the sunset and just wanted to soak it all in.
3. Tanah Lot (aka Temple on the island) – this is much more accessible than the other two temples being situated just further north along the coast to Canggu beach. It’s really easy to get to by taxi or by moto. Again, it is best to go for sunset after a day on the beach at Seminyak or Canggu and you won’t be disappointed. There are quite a few temples and initially we took so many photographs of one specific temple thinking that was it, before we walked further round the corner and saw the main attraction, when we immediately realised why so many people visit this site.