Some of Bali’s travel itineraries are frankly getting a bit stale. And this couldn’t be more true of its temples. Every tourist recommends Tanah Lot for offshore beauty, Uluwatu for cliff-side sunsets, Goa Gajah for carvings, Tirta Empul for water fun, and Besakih for its religious importance. But on an island where the number of temples wheels around the 20,000 mark, it’s time to refresh the shortlist with some holy places that will delight even the most fatigued of expats.
One of the oldest and most important temples on Bali, Lempuyang’s regularly (and unfairly) outshone by Besakih in guide books. Named after the mountain, it sits on in the highlands of Karangasem, it towers 1,175 meters above sea level, at the top of some 1,700 steps. But getting to the top is worth it. Often sitting above the clouds, the landscape of mountain, jungle, and sky, wedged between its candi bentar—imposing split gateway—is unforgettable.
2. Gunung Kawi
Many Balinese temples fall victim to their own success, but not Gunung Kawi Sebatu. Dedicated to Wisnu, it’s an oasis of tranquility, full of green gardens, serene ponds, colorful lotuses, and gushing springs. Despite being only 20 minutes from Ubud, it’s not yet on mainstream travel tours. This may change in the future, however, as the temple slowly gains traction with guides that specialize in Central Bali. So visit while there’s still time!
3. Batu Ngaus
A Tanah Lot for the cognoscenti, Pura Gede Luhur Batu Ngaus temple is not much further south than its famous sibling (though annoyingly, thanks to the road-system, is nine kilometers by car along the Tanah Lot bypass). Lacking crowds and boasting a just-as-impressive backdrop from its black-lava perch by Mengening Beach, however, its black sand, coral reefs, and smudgy sunsets ultimately make it a superior choice.