Photography by Sylvia Le Dung
Bali is renowned as a beach paradise, however, if you can bear to tear yourself away from the island’s myriad beachfront activities, you may want to undertake a sight-seeing expedition to explore the many interesting, cultural attractions that gorgeous island jewel has to offer. Here are the top five places to visit in Bali:
The Tanah Lot Temple is a stunning sea temple built on a rocky promontory off the coast of Bali. The temple is fronted by a cave, inhabited by poisonous sea snakes who are believed to be the guardians of the temple. A priest, who arrived in Bali from Java in the 16th century, built this temple. During high tide, this temple, whose name translates to ‘Land in the middle of the sea,’ seems to be swallowed by the sea. The Tanah Lot Temple is one of Bali’s prime attractions and it is best viewed at sunset for it presents a truly spectacular site.
Pura Besakih/The Mother Temple
Bali is often referred to as an ‘island of a thousand temples’ and the Pura Besakih or the Mother Temple is one of the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temples. This temple, which is located on the slopes of Mount Agung, dates back the 14th century and features three main temples dedicated to the triumvirate of Hindu gods; Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. The temple also features 18 other sanctuaries, which belong to other regencies and cast groups.
The Pura Kahen is the oldest and second largest temple in Bali. This garden temple, which dates back to the 11th century, was founded by a priest, Sri Brahma Kemuti Ketu and is an important sacred site in Bali.
The active Gunung Batur Volcano, which is the second highest peak in Bali at 1,700m (5577 feet) is said to symbolize the female element on the island. Meanwhile, the male element is represented by Gunung Agung, the tallest peak in Bali at 3,100m, (10170 feet), which hosts a smaller volcano. You can choose to hike or drive up to the crater of Gunung Batur, which hosts a lake. However if you are visiting with kids, it’s better to drive up to the lake at the crater, rather than hike, for the up-hill walk is quite arduous. The best time to visit is before daybreak for the views from the top are quite breath-taking in the early hours of the day.
Ubud is a charming town located in the hills north of the city of Denpasar. A holiday destination in its own right, Ubud, which is surrounded by verdant paddy fields, is the cultural heart of Bali. The town of Ubud is home to numerous Balinese artisans who produce exquisite paintings, woodcarvings, handicrafts and woven goods, all of which are offered for sale from the many shop-houses and galleries that line the streets of the town. Ubud also hosts several temples, a vibrant marketplace and many restaurants, reputed to serve the best food on the island. Other attractions in Ubud include the Neka Museum and the town also affords easy access to prominent Bali attractions, like the ‘Mother Temple’ of Besakih. (Further reading: A Walking Day Trip in Ubud, Bali)
Related Story: Bali for Families – The Insider Guide