Bali’s Temple Hopping On The Cheap In 6 Simple Steps

One of the most exciting and memorable moments from Bali was our Bali’s Temple Hopping experienceAs I have mentioned in my previous notes, Bali consists of more than 20,000 different and yet unique puras (Indonesian word for a “temple”). As first, you may think that exploring temples for a whole day or two (like we did) might be boring, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, if you prepare yourself properly for a Temple Hopping, it can be one of the best Bali experiences during your travels.

Temple on top of the hill
Temple on top of the hill

Here is what to do:

#1 Make A Temple Choice.

First thing you need to do is choosing the temples you would like to visit. If you are not sure, you can ask locals for advice. It all depends on what kind of experience you want to have. For example, Tanah Lot is one of the most picturesque spots in Bali and the best place to watch the sunset. You should definitely make it there if you are a photography passionate. It is placed at very scenic location- on a rock just offshore so you can take some amazing picture.

If you want to feed monkeys with bananas and watch the local dancers, make it to Pura Luhur (Uluwatu) Temple.  The inner sanctum of the temple is perched majestically on the edge of a steep cliff that towers above the legendary surf breaks of southern Bali. The cliff, the Kecak dance the sunset – a magnificent way to spend a couple of hours in Bali.

When visiting Bali’s temples, moderation is the key. Visiting 3 temples a day would be more than enough and seeing more will just make you tired. Before setting off, make sure you do some research on the temples. Read about its historical background, customs and the importance of each temple to local community. Getting a basic knowledge will make you appreciate the temples more.

#2 Rent A Scooter.

If you want to do Temple Hopping on the cheap, you should rent a scooter for 24 hours or more. This will allow you to be absolutely independent and flexible with temple choices and getting around the island. Scooters cost only IDR50.000 ($4.50) a day and if you find a travel buddy, you can share the expenses! The petrol is only IDR6.000-7.000 ($0.50) and it will last you for more than 10 hours of ride. You can rent the scooter at your hostel or any local shop. They are healthy, eco-friendly and affordable.

Before having a ride, make sure you have an International driving licence, you read the terms and conditions of rental properly and always wear a motorcycle helmet. The traffic in Bali can be really heavy especially in the morning (8:oo- 10:00), lunch time (12:00-13:00) and late afternoon (17:00-18:00) so drive slowly!

#3 Dress Properly.

When visiting Bali’s temples (as well as other temples in Indonesia) you should dress modestly and act quietly. When it comes to Balinese locals, they are very conservative so when in or near Balinese temples or rural settlements, respect their customs. Try to dress as modestly as possible. You will be expected to wear shirts that cover shoulders and part of the upper arms (both men and women). Flip-flops are perfectly acceptable, so long as the overall look is modest. There are also leg coverings mandatory for both men and women before entering a Balinese temple: sarong around your legs and temple scarf around your waist.

You should always remember to pack a raincoat when vising Bali during the rain season, put some sunscreen and sunglasses on and cover with arms with a shirt so you will not sunburn.

#4 Pack Your Own Food.

It might be a long ride, so if order not to waste too much time on food search, you can pack some fresh fruits, veggies, almonds, a lot of WATER, crisps and cookies. Most of hostels can provide you some cooking appliances so you can make some sandwiches in the morning and have a picnic on the way. Balinese street food is very affordable as long as you stay away from Western restaurants and food stalls located in a busy city center. In order to eat on the cheap you have to eat what locals eat and visit small, rather bad-looking “kitchen-outside” local restaurants where all the cheapest and most delicious dishes are served. For example, an Indonesian noodle soup with chunks of pork and chopped veggies will cost you around IDR7.000 ($0.62), a cup of black tea is IDR2.000 ($0.18) and a spicy chicken served with rice and veggies is only IDR15.000 ($1.32).

#5 Ask Others To Join You.

There is definitely more fun when you go with some other people who you have probably met in a hostel. Some of them might be more experienced drivers so you can follow them. Moreover, you can all share food and gas expenses and take pictures of each other when visiting the temples.

#6 Ask Locals For Direction.

In case you get lost, don’t hesitate to ask locals for a right direction. They will be always happy to guide you and show you the quickest way to the temples. We sometimes stopped in the middle of the road and asked scooter drivers where we were and how we could get to our temple and they always explained the way. If you feel tired as the ride is too long for you, it’s good to have a break, drink some water, sit down and relax before hitting the road again. When going with someone else, you can swap seats.

Follow these 6 rules and you will have an amazing Bali’s Temple Hopping experience. In this way, you will not only enjoy the scenery, visit some off-the-beaten paths, talk to locals and admire the beauty of Balinese puras, but also save up some money!

Have you even done a temple hopping in Asia? If so, how was your experience? 

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61 Comments

  • Great blog! I was just telling my parents about Bali. Bryan and I did not like the beaches but we are kind of spoiled in that regard.

    We loved renting a scooter and exploring the interior, especially since the rice terraces were so green in April. Watch out for the temple scams! Geez, those were frustrating! Oh, and also the coffee, tea plantation scam. It was interesting to see the farm and sample coffees but the whole civet, most expensive coffee in the world stuff is really upsetting when you see the humane side of it. Poor, cute little critters. :-( Better just not to support them.

    We should have a blog on Indonesia this summer now that we are home! Flores was our favorite!

    Safe, Happy Travels guys! :-)

    • Hi Kristin!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed your stay in Bali. We spent a few hours on the beach surfing, jogging and swimming, that’s all. Exploring the temples and locals sightseeing spots were the priority for us! :D Coffee was so good, I must admit that.

  • Thanks for sharing those tipps Agness. They are a really great help. I would definitely make use of them when I head to Bali. I’m just a bit scared of driving a scooter haha. I never did it but I hope it’s not to hard to manage Bali’s traffic ;)

  • Great tips! Bali is one of those places where you can spend a ton or very little. The temples were very beautiful. I didn’t fall in love with Tannah Lot like you did… It was soooo crowded, and the tourist market and giant parking lot surrounding it made it feel almost like an amusement park to me! You guys are so brave renting a scooter – the driving there was crazy! :)

  • Great tips Agnres, the only thing I would say is that it is not that hard to become ‘templed out’ as it were, and people need to be mindful of that. I saw a number of temples in one day in Luang Prabang for example, and then looking back over the photos it almost got to the point where I thought they were all of the same temple complex! The key is to find temples with something incredibly unique about them, that makes them stand out. Nice work as always. The photos with the mist are stunning!

  • All of the temples look incredible but Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
    would be my first choice! That’s amazing on the inexpensive cost of the street food. How do you two know what to trust as a safe outside kitchen vs one you would steer away from? Also Agness, do you drive with your hair in your eyes all of the time to make the traffic look less terrifying? LOL :)

    • Can’t wait to see you there! I bet you would take some amazing photos there :-). (with your excellent photography skills)!

  • This sounds (and looks like) the most awesome day-long road-trip. I absolutely love riding around on a scooter and though many temples are samey there are also a lot that are quirky, individual and very different!

  • WOW! Love this blog! The information on this site is better and useful than any lonely planet guide. a lot of thanks!. ;-)

  • We went to a few of temples around Ubud, Uluwatu included and we were quite disappointed. We are not surfers and neither our friends who we went there with, neither the driver did not mention it, so we ended up on the cliff, watching waves with no beach around. we found a little one a few km further, but was so packed that we just left.
    We visited also Besakih Temple and we were shocked what we saw there. Scams all around… BUt the complex was beautiful, that’s sure thing :)

  • Great tips guys for budget travellers like me. I have to admit I’d love to ride around on a scooter without any restriction of time and completely free to go where ever I like… It’s still something I have to do though, easier said than done considering I’m a real clumsy one! :)

  • Excellent tips, thanks so much for sharing! Might not be heading to Bali in my upcoming travels but will definitely be applying these tips to my temple hopping in other parts of SE Asia.

  • This is a wonderful post on Temple Hopping, it might as well apply if you want to do it in India!! Some people find temple hopping boring, but I find it soothing and find ways around it to have some fun as well :)

  • All good tips and it’s exactly how I did half of my temple hopping. . I motorbiked out to Depansar and getting back home in the dark was something that was a little scary but I’m glad I did it. I ended up finding a cheap one-day budget tour that had a lot of activities I could do on my own and Tanah Lot was included.

    • Christine, I’ve read all of your posts already and I know how much you enjoyed Bali, especially Ubud area.

  • All good tips Agness and yes, I’ve been temple hopping in Asia. I like temples, churches, museums, and the like, but I would also say take the time to move around the temples by yourself as people tend to be rushed through or you’re they’re for only 5 minutes, or something.
    Sit down. Breath the atmosphere in and imagine, what it was like before in time gone past, especially if it’s now a ruin.

  • Bali looks amazing! Fantastic tips, especially about renting a scooter, that intimidates me a little but sounds like a great way to get a feel for the countryside. I want to visit Tanah Lot so badly, gorgeous photos!

  • These are great tips! I’ve never been to Asia at all but almost every time I read your Asia posts I’m tempted to buy a ticket right away. :) I do agree though that it’s important to read up on the history behind a religious building, otherwise it’s just a pretty place with no meaning. The traditions can be so fascinating too!

  • Totes hitting Bali up early January, can’t wait to scoot my way to see all the temples in real life. :) It seems like one really special place, the food, people and tradition. *squeal*

  • Really useful tips here Agness – I’m going to Bali for the first time next month and have been wondering about which temples to try and see during my time there so this has given me a better idea – I think the highest on my list is that one you’ve snapped in black and white – looks really beautiful! Quite excited!

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