Take a guide and you will understand far more about each temple. As the layout and style of most temples is the same, it is the history that brings out the life in them. Always be appropriately dressed and observe temple rules.

  • Pura Luhur Uluwatu -- This is a dramatically perched sea temple on the cliffs above the legendary surf break Uluwatu. It is possibly Bali's most spectacular shrine. The best time to visit is at sunset. Be sure to take in the nightly Kecak show and mind the gap -- the railings are few and far between.
  • Pura Goa Giri Putri -- This is quite an extraordinary experience. You enter the cave, on one side of the mountain, on your hands and knees through a small gap in the rocks, and then pass 450m (1,500 ft.) inside the mountain only to come out the other side on to a beautiful valley. A visit here justifies a day trip to Nusa Penida on its merits alone.
  • Pura Gunung Kawi -- Bali's "Valley of the Kings" is hewn in the cliffs, and on both sides of the river are massive commemorative monuments to 11th-century kings and queens. Strictly speaking, Gunung Kawi is not a temple, but it is nevertheless considered a holy place. A visit here is an unforgettable experience.
  • Tirta Empul -- This temple is built around a sacred spring, Tampak Siring, and its two bathing spots have been used by the Balinese for a millennium. It is believed that the springs have magical powers and bring good health and prosperity. Pack your bathing suit, go at sunrise, and experience the springs as the Balinese do.
  • Pura Ulun Danu Bratan -- This temple sits on the edge of Lake Bratan and is worth a visit if only for its beautiful surroundings. The part of the temple that gets all the attention is the 11-roof meru, situated on a point of land, jutting out into the lake. Sadly, the lake and the surrounding area can get overrun with litter from visiting tourists.
  • Pura Luhur Batukaru -- This is one of the six axial temples sacred to all Hindu Balinese and one of the most ancient sacred sites on the island. Majestically nestled in the jungle, at the head of the valley on the slopes of Batukaru, this is a wonderful place to wander round in wonder.
  • Pura Lempuyang -- Only for the fit and willing, it takes some 1,700 winding steps up through the forested slopes of Mount Lempuyang to reach Pura Lempuyang, and the views on to Mount Agung are divine.
  • Pura Besakih -- This makes the "Best of" solely because of its importance and spectacular ceremonies. It is the largest and the holiest, known as the "Mother Temple" and translates literally as the "Temple of Spiritual Happiness." Go early, avoid the crowds, and take your own guide.
  • Pura Tanah Lot -- Otherwise known as Pura Pakendungan, this temple sits dramatically on a rock, surrounded by black sand and pounding surf, and is possibly the most picturesque and most photographed temple on the island -- especially so at sunset. It is reachable only during low tide. It can get very busy with coach-loads of tourists so it is best seen in the early morning.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.