If you should find yourself with several hours spare whilst on a layover in Bali, I would highly recommend booking a day tour around the island. On a recent trip to Indonesia, I was faced with an eight-hour wait in Bali airport for my connecting flight to Cendrawasih, so rather than sit around in a cold airport we hired Agus a private guide for the day, who took us on a picturesque tour of the famous water temples of Bali. Find out more on Agus at the end of this post.
Before telling you all about my day tour around Bali, I want to talk you about the Subak system, something I was completely unaware of prior to my trip. It is an ancient irrigation system dating back to the 9th century, however, it’s no ordinary system as it embodies the people, the rice fields and the water temples, which are all linked together and were built by the first Kings of Bali to decide which rice fields would be watered first. This impressive ancient system unifies the religious beliefs, the human world and the nature of Bali and is now included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Pura Tanah Lot Temple
Perched high up on the rocks above the crashing waves is, Tanah Lot is one of the most iconic ancient Hindu temples in Bali. Popular with tourists for its picturesque location and steeped in religious history for the local Balinese people.
Our private guide, Agus, made sure this temple was first on our itinerary and drove us straight there from the airport to avoid the crowds. Even though we arrived at 8 am it was already starting to get quite busy, so I highly recommend getting there as early as possible. Lucky for us, Agus is well known amongst the locals and easily led us to all the best spots through the crowds, whilst jokingly holding up his umbrella for us to follow him in true tourist style.
Balinese mythology has it that several venomous snakes created by the Sea God to protect Tanah Lot are still living in and around the base of the temple. Take a close look around whilst you are there and if you are lucky you might just spot a few!
One of the best times to visit Tanah Lot Temple is during the Odalan festival and by pure luck, it happened to fall on the day we visited. We got to witness the stunning ritual of local Balinese women draped in traditional Indonesian Kebaya as they gracefully carried their handmade offerings to the temple.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
Next stop on our day trip was to one of the most spectacular rice terraces on the island, Jatiluwih, which dates back to the 9th century and as it forms part of the Subak system mentioned earlier in this blog, it is also a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sadly, the weather had taken a turn for the worse by the time we arrived, so we did not get to see the rice terraces in all their glory, however, it was hard not to still appreciate the wonder of this unique and ancient site. With hardly anybody else around apart from a few farmers tending to their paddy fields cascading down the mountainside, you were filled with a real sense of peace and tranquilly as the cool tropical air hit your face.
Ulun Danu Bratan (Beratan) - The Floating Temple
The stunning mountain setting and importance of this Hindu water temple amongst the locals make it one of Bali’s most visited by the Balinese and tourists alike. Set on the shores of Lake Bratan the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (Beratan) is made up of several sacred shrines, one of which mysteriously floats on the Lake in devotion to the lake goddess, Dewi Danu. Be sure to take your time to explore the temple grounds as there are so many little hidden gems, from hand-painted statues to megalithic artefacts of a sarcophagus and stone tablet.
Sitting approx. 1,200m above sea level and surrounded by beautiful mountainous landscape, a cool tropical climate with fog and rain is not uncommon, however as the thin mist rises from the lakes and surrounds the temple it makes for the perfect ethereal photo.
TIP: Due to the high altitude it can get quite wet and chilly so I would highly recommend taking a couple of extra layers along with you but If in doubt don’t worry I’m sure Agus will be right by your side with his umbrella!
Taman Ayun - The Royal Family Temple Of Mengwi
The Royal temple, located in the village of Mengwi, Badung and was built by the first king of Mengwi, whose ancestors still regularly visit the temple to worship, maintaining the spirituality of this remarkable place.
Dating back to the 17th century this temple is also recognised as A UNESCO World Heritage site as it forms part of the ancient protected Subak system.
Huge intricately hand-carved wooden gates lead the way to several multi-tiered Meru Shrines set amongst the striking tropical gardens and surrounded by pools of water which are still used by local farmers within the Subak system today.
So, if get stuck with a long layover in the airport or simply have a spare day during your trip to Bali I would highly recommend booking a private tour guide. We chose to hire Agus as he came highly recommended on Trip Advisor and I’m so glad we did, as he was extremely friendly, funny and most of all knowledgeable whilst having the most infectious smile! Agus has been working in the tour industry for many years and has become a well known face amongst the Balinese. Check out his different tour options here: www.agusbali.com
This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.