A traveler’s guide to Bali’s temple etiquette
THE Indonesian paradise island of Bali is known for many things: pristine white sand beaches, scenic highland retreats, a vibrant and pulsating nightlife, extraordinary cuisine, and a plethora of sightseeing options.
Spread through the far-flung corners of Bali are its religious attractions, popular with tourists. In fact, it has been said that there are probably more temples than homes on the island.
Visiting these temples is a popular activity for both local and international tourists.
Among the more popular, most-visited sites are Pura Besakih (the oldest, holiest and largest temple in Bali), Pura Tanah Lot (a stunning sea temple), Pura Luhur Uluwatu (which sits atop a soaring 60-meter cliff), Pura Ulun Danu (located next to a picturesque lake), and more.
Although these sacred temples, shrines, and religious compounds, each unique in its own way, are usually peaceful and desolate, they transform into perfect venues during festivals or anniversaries hosting activities such as traditional dance performances.
And with about 10,000 breathtaking temples on the island, travelers will never have to walk too far to find one to visit no matter where in Bali they are staying.
However, because these attractions are places of worship, one must always remember to be respectful. Here are some key rules you should be aware of before visiting Bali’s stunning temples:
Balinese locals are conservative. Both men and women are expected to wear clothing that covers shoulders and part of the upper arms.
Leg coverings such as a sarong and a temple scarf are mandatory as well. Bring your own or rent them at the temple entrance.
For women who are menstruating, it is best to skip the Balinese temple visit. This is because menstrual blood is considered impure.
People who have recently had a family member pass away or people who are bleeding because of childbirth or wounds should also avoid temple visits.
Do not climb over or sit on shrines
Last year, a photo of a Danish tourist sitting on the Linggih Padmasana shrine at the Puhur Lutur Batukaru temple went viral, which drew the ire of Bali’s authorities and locals.
For the uninitiated, the throne-shaped shrine is reserved for the most important deity in Balinese Hinduism, known as the supreme god. Sitting on it is regarded as highly offensive to their faith.
There is a score of things you should not be doing inside the temple including using flash photography or walking in front of locals who are praying. Also, the level of your head should never be higher than that of the priest.