9 Best Temples To Visit In & Around Ubud
The temples of Bali are a big part of the whole “Eat, Pray, Love” experience. You will find thousands of temples scattered all over the island, as a majority of people here follow Hinduism. Temples in Balinese are called Pura. This is a Sanskrit word meaning space surrounded by walls.
When you look at a traditional Balinese-styled temple, you’ll know exactly what this word means. Each of these temples seems like a labyrinth, with carefully sculpted creatures and demons symbolising ancient tales. Right from the carvings to the distinct high gates, every part of a Balinese temple is worth seeing. If you’re in Ubud, you’ll have the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful temples of Bali. We pick the best ones for you.
Ubud’s Most Iconic Temples
1. Pura Taman Saraswati
Pura Taman Saraswati is located right in the centre of Ubud’s main street. The temple’s architecture honours the Hindu goddess of knowledge and art, Saraswati. When you enter the premise, you’ll be awed by the beautiful orange and grey Balinese structures in front of you. To reach the temple, you have to walk a pathway that’s flanked by two ponds of pink lotuses on either side. In the evenings the temple hosts the popular Kecak dance performance.
2. Pura Gunung Lebah
This is another centrally located temple in Ubud. It lies at the western end of the Jalan Raya Ubud main road. The temple is beautifully set amid a lush natural setting, overlooking the eastern side of the Campuhan Valley. The name Gunung Lebah translates to ‘small hill’ in the local dialect, as it is located at the valley where the tributaries of Sungai Cerik merge. It comprises of three courtyards, which host Balinese-styled shrines and structures. The temple has a calming vibe, as it is quiet and all you hear are the soothing water sounds of the two rivers.
3. Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal
The name of this temple translates to the great temple of death. The temple is located in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in the southwest part of Ubud. It is used for worshipping the god Hyang Widhi, who is the personification of Shiva. This temple is one of the three temples located in the Monkey Forest, the other two being Pura Beji and Pura Prajapati.
4. Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah means “Elephant Cave”, which probably gets its name from the nearby Elephant River, or the fact that the temple holds the statue of the Hindu god Ganesha, who has an elephant head. The highlight of this temple is the striking face carved into the rock wall at the entrance of the temple. If you explore further, you’ll find many structures here that reveal Hindu as well as Buddhist influences.
5. Pura Tirta Empul
This is one of Bali’s famous water temples, built around a natural spring in the 10th century. The highlight of this temple is the collection of freshwater pools lined with over 20 carved fountains. The locals visit this temple to bathe in the healing waters of this pool. They queue on the left side and wash underneath each of the spouts until they reach the end of the pool. Bathing in this sacred natural spring is believed to bless you with good fortune and health. You too can partake in this ritualistic dip and then explore the courtyard built around the spring.
6. Pura Gunung Kawi
This temple is located close to Pura Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring. It is a unique temple with impressive high shrines cut into the cliff and yet hidden in the Pakerisan River valley. You need to take 200 steps down from the parking lot to access the shrines, but this is a scenic descent as you will pass beautiful terraced rice fields and the river.
Iconic Temples Accessible From Ubud
Ubud is located in the central northern region of Bali. Most people choose to stay here because of its cultural vibe. If you are spending a few days here, you can catch up on some of the iconic temples in Bali, which are best accessed via Ubud.
1. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
You’ll recognise this temple from the image on the IDR 50,000 note. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a picturesque landmark located in the highlands of Bedugul. This area is in the northern side of Bali, surrounded by mountains. The main temple structure is located on Lake Bratan and appears to be floating in the water. It makes for a stunning sight, especially with the mountains and thick clouds in the background. It is on Lake Bratan in the Bedugul area, which is about an hour and 15 minutes’ drive from Ubud.
2. Pura Ulun Danu Batur
Pura Ulun Danu Batur is another significant Balinese temple set against the breathtaking backdrop of Mount Batur. The original temple was located at the base of Mount Batur but was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. The temple is now on the base of Lake Batur, and consists of nine different temples and hundreds of shrines. It has five main courtyards from where you can enjoy the view of the gorgeous Batur range.
3. Pura Besakih
Pura Besakih is considered the Mother Temple of Hinduism in Bali. It is the biggest and holiest temple of the island, and is surrounded by rice paddies, hills, mountains and streams which together make for a gorgeous sight. It is located in the village of Besakih, on the slopes of Mount Agung (Bali’s most sacred and largest active volcano). The whole complex has 23 temples scattered around six levels of the terraced slope. There are stairs that lead up to the sacred mountain that takes you to the many temples that vary according to type, status and function.
How To Get Around Ubud
- Renting a scooter is not only the best way to get around these temples in Ubud, but also the most economical. Hiring a scooter for a day will cost you around IDR 75,000 (Rs 360, or US$ 5.2). While most rental places won’t check for your licence, it would be ideal to have an international licence when you’re hiring a scooter.
- If you prefer a more relaxed mode of transport, you could hire a driver to drive you around the temples for about IDR 400,000 to 600,000 (Rs 1,900 to 2,870, or US$ 28 to 41) a day.
- Bali also has cab services like Uber and Blue Bird Taxis that you can opt for. Download their apps and check the prices before you book them.
- Some temples have an entry fee. Keep some change around to pay this entry fee, as they don’t accept card payments.
- You must be properly dressed, with your shoulders and legs covered when entering a temple. Carry a scarf or a sarong to cover up. Some temples also provide sarongs when you enter for free or at a minimal cost, which you have to return when you exit the temple.
- Some temples have a lot of stairs, so make sure you wear comfortable footwear to walk around.
- Watch out for offerings placed on roads around temples and everywhere in general. Don’t accidentally step on them.
- As a tourist you’ll only be allowed to explore the temple complex and not the actual worship area. Be careful not to venture in places where you’re not allowed.