One of the most exciting and memorable moments from Bali was our Bali’s Temple Hopping experience. As 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.
Here is what to do in Bali:
#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, and it’s a good idea to have a motorcycle backpack. 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?