Bali is filled with temples. It isn’t possible to see all of them. So you could opt for the biggest and most touristy ones such as Tanah Lot, Uluwatu or Besakih. Or you could opt for these 5 temples, who have a little more edge to them and fewer tourists visiting. Are you ready for water gods and a bat cave?

1. Gunung Kawi

Gunung Kawi isn’t really a temple but one of the largest ancient monuments in Bali. It lies in Tampaksiring just outside of Ubud and close to Tirta Empul. To reach it, you’ll have to take a strenuous walk down a staircase road and through the rice fields. You’ll end up by a lush green river where 10 huge candi shrines were carved out of the rocks.

The candis look like grave monuments but were actually made in the 11th century in honor of the Royal Udayana family. The 8m high tomb-like rocks left me wondering why on earth you would honor someone by giving them a grave.

Gunung Kawi Candi Shrines

Gunung Kawi Shrines

2. Tirta Empul

Tirta Empul was discovered in 962 and is to this day believed to have magical purification powers. The holy water of the greenish turquoise bubbly spring leads to a large bathing pool. People slide into the pool and move from fountain to fountain to bade in the sacred water and offer gifts to the gods.
If the thought of shared bathrooms makes you shiver, this place will make you run screaming.

Tirta Empul Holy Spring

Tirta Empul Boy Washing

Tirta Empul Fountains

3. Goa Lawah

Goa Lawah is also nicknamed the bat cave temple. It houses thousands of bats and has a funky smell to it. Legend says that the temple has an underground passage that leads all the way up to the Besakih temple.

Try to find the golden bat and ask the temple guard about his friend Koen Degraeve. I’m not sure if you will find scarier, the bats or the guard’s actor shrine.

Goa Lawah Golden Bat

bat cave temple bali

Goa Lawah bats

4. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Ulun Danu Bratan is a temple that was made to worship the water goddess Dewi Danu. The temple lies on a small island amidst the Bratan lake and has an impressive mountain backdrop view. Come early to avoid tourists, the incoming fog and the locals in pedalo boats. The animal statues and the entrance plate are the strangest things I have encountered at a religious place.

pura ulun danu bratan

pura ulun danu bratan


pura ulun danu bratan statues

pura ulun danu bratan entrance sign

5. Batukaru

You’ll need willpower and a fierce driver to get to Batukaru. It lies amidst the jungle by the foot of Mount Batukaru and is quite difficult to reach. The great news is, that this makes the temple almost tourist free! See how the jungle is slowly devouring the temple.

Batukaru temple entrance

Batukaru temple fountain

Batukura statue

So which temples in Bali did you visit? Which were your favorites?

Do It Yourself

Gunung Kawi and Tirta Empul can be easily reached from Ubud. Just rent a motorcycle.
You’ll need a driver to take you to Ulun Danu Bratan, Batukaru and Goa Lawah.Entrance prices range in between 10.000 and 40.000 rp.