Amongst the many attractions that draw travellers to the Indonesian island of Bali are the thousands of temples (or, Pura in Balinese) that dot the highlands and coast of the picturesque tropical island. In fact, several temples have become some of Bali’s most iconic landmarks. With more than 20,000 temples scattering the island, visitors are undoubtedly spoilt for choice! So, if you’re in the midst of putting together the pieces of your Bali travel guide, these are the top 5 Buddhist temples that we would recommend visiting.
Location: Legian, Kuta
Located east of the main coastal strip in the surfer’s paradise of Kuta, tucked away from the traffic frenzy in a hidden side street, is the Vihara Dharmayana temple. Founded in 1876 and one of the last remaining untouched hidden gems in Bali, it’s one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Kuta and dates back 200 years. The main structure is surrounded by a turtle-filled moat and is resplendent in brightly coloured, intricate Chinese architecture including giant red pillars, Chinese dragon sculptures and oversized red lanterns.
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Vihara Dharma Giri Temple
Location: Tabanan, West Bali
Amongst the top attractions in Pupuan in Tabanan, West Bali is the Vihara Dharma Giri Temple, best known for its giant sleeping Buddha statue.
Built on three levels (each with a different set of features), the temple also offers visitors a unique sightseeing opportunity with the opportunity to stroll around its peaceful garden complex freely. A visit to the Vihara Dharma Giri temple is a great addition to any trip to Bali.
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Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery
Location: Banjar, Northern Bali
Built in the 1960’s and located near Bajar in Northern Bali, Brahma Vihara Arama is the largest Buddhist temple in Bali. Originally built for the Buddhist community, the temple remains a functioning monastery and is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage destination.
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Vihara Buddha Dharma
If you’re planning on visiting Seminyak during your trip to Bali, the Vihara Buddha Dharma temple will be the easiest Buddhist temple to visit. Newly built in 2007, the temple has become an important place of worship for local and international Buddhists alike.
Vihara Buddha Guna
Location: Nusa Dua
A must-visit on any trip to Bali is the Vihara Buddha Guna. Part of the Puja Mandala, Vihara Buddha Guna is one of five religious temples in the complex, which is dedicated to reflecting the essence of religious tolerance in Bali. Other temples include a Hindu temple, a Catholic church, a Protestant Church and an Islamic Mosque.
Tips for visiting temples in Bali
When visiting temples in Bali, you want to ensure that you visit in a respectful and courteous manner. As a traveller, knowing how to do this may be a little confusing. Here are some simple tips to follow when venturing into Bali’s many puras.
Wear a sarong
Like many places of worship, it’s important that you show respect by dressing modestly. When visiting Hindu and Buddhist temples in Bali, both men and women are required to wear sarongs that cover legs to below the knee. Most temples will have sarongs that visitors can use at the entrance.
Avoid pointing your feet in the direction of the altar
In Balinese culture, feet are viewed as unclean, which means that pointing your feet at the altar is considered poor form. Men will usually sit with their legs crossed, while women will kneel during prayer.
Don’t lose your temper
A large part of both Hindu and Buddhist faith revolves around positive energy and their karmas. When visiting places of worship, try to keep thoughts and language as positive as possible.
Special rules for women
One of the more confronting rules for some travellers when visiting temples in Bali include those rules which apply to women. Specifically, women who are menstruating at the time of their visit aren’t permitted to enter the temple. This stems from the ancient belief that menstruating women were ‘impure’ and the prohibition against unsanctified blood on sacred ground. Similarly, women who are more than 7 months pregnant, or have given birth within 6 weeks of visiting, are advised against entering.
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