As you may or not know “Pura” means temple in Balinese. During our trip to Bali, we visited quite a few temples. In total 5 of them in 5 days, this is not bad but there are loads though.
Based on my experience, here is my ranking:
It is located between Padang Bai and Candidasa, East of Bali. I read about this temple and the comments and reviews were very good. I thought it was a must. Well, the cave was full of bats, thousands of them, it was very impressive. However, if you are thinking of specifically going there, I would say it´s not worth the effort. If otherwise, you are staying at Candidasa or Padang Bai, or passing by by any chance, then go for it.
It is located at the very South of Bali. The scenery is beautiful. The temple is located on top of a cliff, and the views are breath-taking. Then you may be asking “why is it the 4th out of 5?”, right? It is far, very far. South of Bali is well-known for its waves, so if you are planning to stay in there and you are not a surfer and not going to rent a bike, it is not your place. It´s not easy to get around if you are not renting a bike and the main attraction there are the waves. If otherwise you are not staying in Uluwatu: think beforehand if the trip is worth the effort; as a reference, we spent between 2-3h on the road to get there from Kuta, even though google maps estimates 43 minutes from Kuta beach to get there, or 37 minutes from the airport. The roads can get very busy, even more during the high season. Nevertheless, if you love sunsets, it is the perfect location. However from my experience the trip wasn´t worth the effort.
Also be aware that the monkeys will try to steal your belongings. Don´t leave anything on the floor. They love opening bottles and pouring the liquid, slowly slowly.
3. Pura Tanah Lot:
Located north of Kuta or Seminyak. It is a tourist trap, it is made for tourists. All the stands and shops around confirm the trap. It is different though from other things that I have seen. Seeing a temple on top of a rock in the sea, it´s not a usual thing. However, expect to be surrounded with loads of tourists and travelers. If you are thinking of giving it a go, the perfect time is during the sunset.
Well, it is not a temple, it is a Palace. So if you are purist, you will think what am I doing including Tirta Gangga in the list. Well, to be brutally honest, initially I thought it was a temple, it was not ’til a couple of days ago, when I was checking the spelling, when I realised it was a Palace, not a temple. Anyway, it is kind of a funny place. We had a fun time walking through the little “burger stones” in the main pool, it reminded me of “Fūun! Takeshi Jō” (click on the name to watch an episode), a TV programme I used to watch when I was little, hilarious TV programme, promise. From my point of view, it is also a different place. Perhaps because it surprised me, mostly because my expectations were low in this case, it is definitely one of my favourite spots. I really liked it, I had a great time there. Interestingly enough, those who are getting married go there to get their wedding shots taken. Apparently it is trendy nowadays in Bali and I can completely understand why.
1. Pura Tirta Empul:
The atmosphere is magical at Pura Tirta Empul. It made me feel very relaxed from the very beginning. The ritual, getting changed and going into the spring waters and getting under every ray of water was reenergising. Also because it was so hot, and it helped to cool down a bit 🙂 The place is beautiful and we had the chance to embrace the culture, it was full of locals and a mix of travelers. Definitely it is a must.
There are no bad nor right choices when talking about temples. All of them are beautiful and unique. The ranking I made it is just a personal preference and based on what I felt.
My best tip: Enjoy them, embrace them and respect them. Dress carefully and appropriately. It is an important part of their culture.
And, of course, stay around!!