Is Lempuyang Temple Worth Visiting in Bali?
If you’re asking “Is Lempuyang Temple worth visiting?” the short answer is YES. Beautiful Lempuyang Temple is one of the most popular Instagram spots in Bali but do you really want to go? And what can you expect when you’re there?
Lempuyang is one of Bali’s most sacred temples. From a historical and religious perspective, this famous Balinese temple is definitely worth visiting. Home to the popular Lempuyang Gates of Heaven, the Lempuyang Temple complex has a stunning location overlooking sacred Mount Agung and it’s one of Bali’s most visited shrines.
I enjoyed my time but there were some drawbacks. Even in the low season, a lot of people were visiting and the lower temple area was packed full of tourists waiting for photos at the Instagram-famous Gates of Heaven.
What is the significance of Lempuyang Temple?
Lempuyang Temple or Pura Luhur Lempuyang is one of the most important temples in Bali. It’s one of the 9 directional temples that keep Bali safe from evil spirits and maintain the balance of the universe. This ancient shrine is dedicated to the worship of the Hindu God Icwara and dates back to the 11th century AD.
Set in a stunning location, 1175 metres above sea level, with views of mountains, rice fields and the ocean, Lempuyang Temple is one of Bali’s best-known attractions. The stunning Gates of Heaven in the lower section of the Lempuyang Temple complex open to sweeping views of sacred Mount Agung, an active volcano that last erupted in June 2019.
Visit Lempuyang Temple on a full-day Instagram Highlights tour. Have your photo taken at the famous Lempuyang Gates of Heaven and see some of Bali’s most famous sites.
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So what can you expect when you go?
You can expect panoramic views from the temples on Lempuyang mountain. The famous Gates of Heaven at the entrance overlooks Mount Agung and creates the perfect frame for an amazing picture.
But unfortunately, the lower Temple complex is often overrun with tourists. It’s a favourite place for photographers and very popular with Instagrammers.
The lower parts of the temple receive thousands of visitors each day and there are long queues of people waiting to have their photo taken with a reflection at the Gates of Heaven.
Queuing for 3- 4 hours is common and visiting the Lempuyang Gates of Heaven is far from a peaceful experience.
TIP: When you pay your entrance fee, you’ll be given a number, and this is your place in the queue to have your photo taken at the Gates of Heaven. You then wait for your number to be called and it can take hours. Each party of visitors has a number and the photo shoot may include photos of the group and individual photos. So get there early to beat the crowds and reduce the wait time.
Thankfully not many visitors explore beyond the lower temple complex and the upper Lempuyang temples remain largely unvisited by the masses. While most of the worship areas are closed to visitors, the strenuous walk to the top of the mountain delivers spectacular views and a more authentic temple experience.
I walked up the road to the second temple in the Lempuyang complex and was completely alone. There were no other tourists just stray dogs and hawkers selling drinks and overpriced fruit. It was very quiet and the views were stunning.
The Lempuyang Temple photo trick
The famous photo that is seen so often on social media is stunning and gives the illusion of a lake reflecting the spires of the Lempuyang Gates of Heaven. But the lake is fake, manufactured using trick photography. There is no reflective pool in front of the gate and the photo is created using a mirror effect on mobile phones.
So is Lempuyang Temple worth visiting?
Yes! If you want the famous photo and you’re willing to queue for hours to get it then it’s definitely worth visiting Lempuyang Temple. Even though the lower temple is full of Instagram-obsessed millennials posing for photos (and they have many, many poses and will photograph them all if they can!) the views are stunning. The people-watching and the whole tourist photo scenario are an experience.
It’s also worth walking up the mountain to see the other 6 temples in the Lempuyang complex. The views from the mountaintop are lovely and the temples themselves are quite atmospheric. Simply walk past the self-absorbed people posing for photos on the lower platform and keep going up the hill.
If you’re looking for a quiet, spiritual experience you’re more likely to find this in the temples further up the mountain than in the lower Lempuyang Temple area.
And if you want a peaceful, authentic atmosphere, Bali has many beautiful temples to visit. Perhaps Besakih and Batukaru Temples are better choices than Lempuyang.
How much time do you need at Lempuyang Temple?
The amount of time you’ll spend at Pura Lempuyang depends on when you go and how many other people are already there. If you arrive during the day, you can expect long queues of people and a long wait of 3 – 4 hours to get your photo taken at the Gates of Heaven.
I arrived at the ticket office at 5:45 AM at first light and was ticket number 6. This meant I was 6th in the queue for the photo. I was in the lower temple near the Lempuyang Gates of Heaven for around 45 minutes.
Allow another 4 hours for the return walk to the top of the mountain to see the other temples. It takes around 2 hours to hike the steep path to the top and there are around 1,700 steps to climb before reaching the atmospheric temple at the top of Lempuyang mountain.
What is the best time to go to Lempuyang Temple?
The best time to visit is early in the morning or late afternoon. The ticket office opens at first light and photos start at 6 am at the Lempuyang Gates of Heaven.
At both sunrise and sunset, you’ll get an atmospheric picture if the weather is clear. The Gates of Heaven face Mount Agung and see the setting sun, so in the afternoon you can watch the sun setting from the Gates of Heaven and enjoy some lovely colours in the sky.
In the morning, through the Gates of Heaven, you’ll see the first rays of the sun lighting up Mount Agung. And there’s a spectacular view from the top of the temple stairs just behind the main entrance.
During the wet season (November to April) early morning is the best time to go. In December and January, the weather tends to be clearer early on. Heavy clouds can obscure the view later in the day. But the clouds of the wet season can also create stunning skies with reflected colours at sunrise and sunset.
Where is Lempuyang Temple?
Lempuyang Temple is in eastern Bali on the slopes of Mount Lempuyang just over 2 hours drive from Kuta. If you’re staying locally, you can travel to Lempuyang Temple independently from Amed or Tirtagangga. I hired a local motorbike taxi from my homestay in Tirtagangga and it took 20 minutes to get there. The trip to Lempuyang from Amed is 12km and takes around 35 minutes.
Visiting Lempuyang Temple can be done on a day trip from Kuta, Seminyak or Ubud. You can hire your own transport or join a tour.
Popular tours to Pura Lempuyang
On the Bali full-day Instagram highlights tour you’ll discover Bali on a customizable day trip and visit the most recognizable locations. From the Gate of Heaven to rural Ubud’s rice fields, experience first-hand photos you’ve seen already on Instagram.
The Besakih and Lempuyang gates of Heaven private tour takes you to Bali’s most famous Temples. Besakih, the mother temple of Bali and Lempuyang. Admire the ancient Gateway to Heaven at Lempuyang Temple and snap some magical photos. This tour also includes Tirta Gangga, the most beautiful former royal water palace in eastern Bali.
Lempuyang Temple is open from 6 AM – 7 PM
The shuttle buses start ferrying people from the lower car park at 5:30 am.
The entrance fee for Lempuyang Temple was 55,000 IDR in February 2023, at the time of writing. There was a parking fee of 5,000 IDR and the mandatory shuttle bus from the car park cost 45,000 IDR.
From Tirtagangga, hiring a motorbike taxi hire with a driver for the day was 450,000 IDR
TIP: You can avoid the shuttle bus if you arrive at Lempuyang Temple by motorbike. Motorbikes can park near the ticket office and you’ll save 45,000 IDR on the shuttle bus fare. But if you come by bus or car you must park in the lower car park and catch a shuttle to the ticket office.
From the ticket office, it’s a short but very steep walk to the Lempuyang Gates of Heaven.
** If you don’t want to walk you can pay for a ride on the back of a motorbike taxi.
What to wear & temple etiquette
- Wearing a sarong and sash is required at the Lempuyang Temple complex and also when visiting other Balinese temples. Sarongs are supplied when you buy your entrance ticket.
- To respect the local culture, make sure your knees and shoulders are covered when you visit Lempuyang and any other temple in Bali.
- Lempuyang Temple is a sacred place so visit it respectfully and quietly.
- Some areas of the Temple are closed to visitors and reserved for prayer and religious ceremonies. Lookout for the signs as these areas are usually marked.
- Women who are pregnant or menstruating and people who are dying are not allowed to enter the temple.
- Public displays of affection are not allowed.
- Drones are not allowed at Pura Lempuyang
- Check the weather forecast before you go as the view depends on the weather.
- Make sure you’re ready when your number is called and have your camera ready to give to the photographer.
- Plan how you want to pose in your photo. I was given 6 different poses and the photographer called out “first pose… second pose” etc. There’s no time to think while the photos are being taken.
- Climb the temple stairs just behind the Gates of Heaven for a lovely view of the mountain. Use the left or right staircase. The central staircase is reserved for ceremonial use and the temple itself is out of bounds for visitors.
The Tirtagangga Water Palace is a beautiful place to visit and a great addition to a day trip to Pura Lempuyang.
Tirtagangga is a former royal palace named after the Ganges River, a source of holy water for Hindus in India. The Water palace is a lovely garden built around a natural spring with fish-filled ponds, fountains and arched bridges.
Built in 1948 by the King of Karangasem, the Tirtagangga Water Palace gardens are a beautiful peaceful place to relax. You can buy ice cream, coffee or a meal inside the Water Palace and there’s a market outside the entrance for other shopping.
Like the Gates of Heaven, Tirtagangga is popular with Instagrammers posing for photos, but the grounds are large enough to escape the photo frenzy around the main pond with the stepping stones. Spend the afternoon relaxing on a swing, feeding the fish or swimming in the natural spring water pool.
Tirtagangga is just 20 minutes from the Lempuyang temple complex and the drive takes you through lush green rice paddies and mountain scenery.
Bali Asli Restaurant & Cooking School
Stop off at Bali Asli Restaurant for a fabulous meal and a culinary experience you won’t forget. Nestled in the foothills of Bali’s most sacred mountain, the view from the restaurant extends across the rice paddies to misty Mount Agung. The head chef runs cooking classes and you can learn how to make the best sate chicken and peanut sauce you’ve ever tasted.
Bali Asli Restaurant is located in Gelumpang village about 25 minutes drive from Lempuyang Temple.
Amed is a secluded fishing village that sits in the shadow of Mount Agung on the east coast of Bali. It’s a very beautiful part of the island and a good place to swim and snorkel. The protected beach at Amed stretches for miles and the black volcanic sand is dotted with colourful Balinese fishing boats.
With coral reefs, colourful fish and a shipwreck to explore under the water, Amed is popular for diving and snorkelling. Along the main road behind the beach, there’s a selection of places to stay and some inviting coffee shops and restaurants that cater for tourists.
Amed is a 35-minute drive from Lempuyang Temple a good place to visit if you’re in the area. Ferry boats to the Gili Islands and Lombok leave from the wharf at Amed.
Besakih Great Temple
Besakih Great Temple is around an hour’s drive from Lempuyang and a lovely addition to your itinerary on a day trip to the Gates of Heaven at Lempuyang.
Besakih Temple is also known as the mother temple of Bali and is the most sacred shrine on the island. It’s the largest, most important and holiest of all the Hindu temples in Bali and it has an ancient history, dating back to the 10th century AD.
The Besakih Temple complex consists of more than 80 Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva. Set on the slopes of broody Mount Agung, the peaceful surroundings at Besakih temple are a lovely place to visit and there are sweeping views from the upper temples in the complex.
Where to stay near Lempuyang Temple
You can stay near Lempuyang Temple in the small village of Tirtagangga and in the fishing village of Amed on the coast. Tirtagangga is closest to Lempuyang but Amed has a better range of accommodations and restaurants.
Budget – Pondok Batu Indah Homestay offers basic accommodation with a stunning view in a good location 20 minutes from Lempuyang Temple. The Homestay is just a short walk from the Tirtagangga Water Palace. There was an interesting vibe at this homestay but the family did their best to make sure I enjoyed my time there. This homestay is over a kilometre from the main road and the bus stop so it’s easier if you have your own transport. But the homestay will provide transport for a fee if needed.
Mid Range – Mejore Beach Hotel in Amed is a new hotel with a beachfront location and pool. The rooms are clean and comfortable but there are no tea and coffee facilities or in-room safes. Overall I enjoyed staying here and liked the selection of restaurants and cafes nearby.
Amed Cafe has a central location right on the beach in Amed. With its own cafe, restaurant and pool, this hotel is opposite the bus stop where the shuttle bus drops off passengers from Ubud and Kuta.
I’m glad I went to see the Lempuyang Temple in Bali and overall I enjoyed the experience. I love the photos taken at the Lempuyang Gates of heaven but the lower temple areas were full of tourists. Even at 6 am in the morning the tourist trade was booming. It was fascinating to see how enterprising locals have made a thriving business out of photographing visitors at the Lempuyang Gates of Heaven.
But I was overwhelmed by the Instagrammers and found the queues tiresome. The photo taking was fun for a short time but I soon wanted to escape the endless posing for photos and the self-absorbed young people.
I would also suggest taking the time to climb to the top of the mountain if you really want to get a feel for this lovely Balinese temple but the path is very steep.
And, if you have time, spend a few days in the area. The scenery around Lempuyang Temple is incredibly beautiful and you’ll see another side of Bali that’s very different from the busy tourist areas of Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud.
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It is nice that they have a photographer there. I like the idea of doing a little research in advance so you know what your poses will be. Good tip for getting there early too.
Bali’s been on my bucket list for ages. Love the architecture and the views!
I know my favorite part would be to trek to the top of the mountain so I could get a feel for this Balinese temple. I love to look down from high perches on cities and monuments when possible.
WOW, first of all, it’s so nice to learn more about the incredible place beyond the Instagram photos. Secondly, I had no idea there was no pool there, lol!