7 Must Visit Sites in Central Bali, Indonesia

Rice terraces of Bali

 

Bali is one of the most interesting and beautiful places I have visited by now. It literally stole my heart and I can’t wait to return and explore more of its gems, its temples and the wonderful nature.

If you plan to visit Bali, here are my top seven recommendations of what things you should visit in the Central part of the island.

 

1. Ubud

If you plan to visit Bali, you should not miss Ubud – it is a cultural centre of the island and this is one place where you just can’t be bored. There is something for everyone in Ubud: from cultural events like dance and music performances to tons of amazing places to eat, shop and enjoy the day and night life. There are also some beautiful temples in the city as well, for instance the magical Pura Taman Saraswati Temple. You can get great spa treatments and massages there as well for as cheap as 6€ for a whole hour! It is great for budget travellers since you can get great accommodation deals through Airbnb. What else do you need? 🙂

 

2. Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

When in Ubud you can’t miss the Sacred Monkey forest either. It is a really beautiful place with walk ways surrounded by hundreds of years old trees, there is a mysterious old temple and hundreds of monkeys are jumping and running all around. It is so much fun to see how they behave and interact with each other. You can also feed them but you should be very careful with your belongings because they love to steal. Be sure not to bring any extra valuables unless needed. If you take a camera make sure you have it attached to yourself with a neck or a hand strap.

All in all I am sure you will enjoy this place. Monkey forest lies in the centre of Ubud and the ticket costs only 3.5€.

 

3. Rice Terraces

When I think Bali I think green rice terraces and palm trees. No wonder, since Bali is full of them. So this is one thing you just can not miss and believe me, you won’t regret seeing it.

Walking through the rice paddies and soaking in the breathtaking green colour was like a feast for my soul. It makes me feel so at peace and I love to see how Balinese people appreciate the nature and would do anything to protect it. I think we all should learn something from them. Did you know that in Bali there is a prison penalty if you cut down a tree? I really love that.

But back to rice paddies.. 🙂 In my opinion the best time to go is really early in the morning. This is great for two reasons: you can experience the light changes as the sun goes higher and higher (also great for amazing photos:) ) and it is not going to be crazy hot and crowded just yet.

There are plenty of rice terraces that you can visit in the area. The most famous ones are the Tegallalang rice fields but I prefer the less touristy ones. Just ask a local which ones they recommend and they will tell you where to go.

 

4. Gunung Kawi

Bali is full of temples, actually there are around 20 000 temples in Bali! It is also called The Island of Gods so I guess that explains this fact. 🙂  I love temples, I think there is a really special energy there and I love to experience the culture of Balinese people. Balinese are actually Hindus but their religion has many unique traits which are only found in Bali. You can read more about that in this post: Fascinating Facts About Balinese Hinduism.

Among all the temples I visited by now, Gunung Kawi was my favourite. It is set in a serene natural surroundings. To get to the sacred part you have to walk quite a while through the beautiful green rice terraces and cross a jungle river which is surrounded with breathtaking trees and plants.

I would love to stay there for days and meditate on those huge rocks you can see in the photo below!

The temple complex itself was built in the 11th century by a king Anak Wungsu. It consists of 10 rock-cut shrines that are 7 metres high and carved in the cliffs on each side of the Pakerisan river. If you wonder what the name actually means: Gunung is a mountain and Kawi means ‘made by humans’.

Best time to visit the temple is early in the morning because later during the day it gets really crowded.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Tirta Empul – Tampaksiring

Another very unique temple which is also very close to the Gunung Kawi temple is called Tirta Empul. The name means ‘The Holy Spring’ and it was built on the spring of the Pakerisan river. In the temple area there are rock carved pools in which Balinese people bath themselves as a purification ritual. Tourists are also allowed to do so. It is really nice to see people practising their rituals – it really brings you closer to the culture. The temple was built around the 10th century A.D.

 

6. Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot temple is the most photographed temple in Bali and it is not hard to see why. It is yet another unique temple, which is built on a small rock close to the shore and when the sea rises, it becomes a tiny island. On the other side, there is another sacred site which lies on a long cliff above the sea. These temples can’t be entered by tourists (only Balinese priests can go inside) but you can admire their beauty from the shore. The temple complex is beautiful at sunrise, at sunset and during the day. But I would still recommend you to come as early as possible, if you want to avoid the huge crowds that pour into the place later on during the day.

 

7. Bratan Lake and Temple

A bit more to the North lies another beautiful sacred site – Bratan Lake and Ulun Danu Bratan Temple. This temple is dedicated to the water goddess Danu as well as to the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu. The temple was built in the 17th century. It stands besides a huge lake which is actually the second largest lake in Bali and it is located besides the mount Bratan. The place is very peaceful and I highly recommend you to check it out when you visit Bali. I think you won’t regret it.

So these are my seven recommendations for things I think you shouldn’t miss if you visit Central Bali.

 

Have you visited Bali or any of the above listed places before? If so, what was your favourite?

I would love to know your opinion and your recommendations so let me know in the comments down below.

Happy travels! : )

Katja

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