I have reviewed a few temples to visit on Bali. The biggest, most popular and most important from a religious perspective, is Pura Besakih. It’s located on the side of Mount Agun, the highest peak and volcano on Bali. It’s also the most touristy one, with all the good and bad that comes with it!
Pura Besakih is a large temple complex about 1,000m up the slope of Agun volcano, with more than 20 separate temples built over multiple levels. It’s a Hindu temple and the mountain is considered sacred. You reach Pura Basakih through a massive, stone gateway and follow up terraced staircases through courtyards up the hill to the main temple, Pura Penataran Agung at the top. It is a large complex and quite a few interesting temples, spires and yards to explore. From a lot of spots you’ll also have great views over Bali, so enjoy your time in the complex. It is well worth a visit, especially when experienced with a private driver early in the day and combined with a stop at beautiful Lake Batur.
Unfortunately, Pura Besakih is also the most touristy temple, which adds a larger “hassle factor” than at the other, smaller and less visited temples, with various locals trying to make money off you. So here is some help: You have to pay a entrance fee of IDR15,000 per person as well as a parking fee of IDR5,000 on your way to the complex. You also should be dressed appropriately, which includes long pants or a sarong and covered shoulders. While you can walk around the complex, parts might be blocked during ceremonies.
Around the parking lot are lots of local shops and vendors will insist that it you have to buy a sarong to be able to enter (not true). A booth that looked like a checkpoint for tickets is really just another shop, telling you that you have to hire a guide to enter (also not true, but helpful if you want to learn more) and/or that you need to hire a driver (not true, but helpful if the short walk up the hill is not to your liking in the heat). Once you make your way up the street and through the gate towards the top, you will have more “guides” telling you that you can’t enter without them – if there is no ritual, you can go without them. And if there is, you shouldn’t go – with or without them! Don’t let the guides and vendors spoil your time at this impressive temple, just ignore them and enjoy the beauty of the site!