I visited Bali’s most notorious temple with phone-stealing monkeys | Travel News | Travel

Whilst it is perhaps the biggest cliche commonly heard when discussing travel within Asia, Bali is an incredibly unique and spiritual island, featuring a wide variety of temples that have stood on the Indonesian island for over 1,000 years.

Of these, perhaps the most impressive that I visited was Uluwatu Temple, located on the south coast, around half an hour from the island’s main city of Denpassar.

However, in addition to the quite frankly stunning scenery, Uluwatu Temple has gained a reputation for the creatures that inhabit the overall area – the macaques monkeys.

Various nature documentaries, including some from David Attenborough, have documented how these monkeys in particular act, however, they are best known for pinching items from unsuspecting tourists.

However, the risk of primates stealing my things did not put me off visiting the historic temple during a recent visit to the beautiful island.

Taking a coach tour to the temple, when we arrived in the car park, the tour guide warned us repeatedly to leave any unnecessary items that could be targeted by the monkeys, such as hats, glasses and electronic devices.

Whilst no item was expressively banned from being brought onto the site, visitors effectively had to keep a very firm grip on them if they wanted to make sure they were still there for the journey home.

Feeling brave, and with my camera in both hands, I disembarked from the coach, adorned a sarong, which must be worn when visiting temples, and climbed the steps to Uluwatu Temple.

It did not take long before the monkeys arrived. From seemingly out of nowhere, a pack of no fewer than 100 raced across the path we were walking along – a good minute of macaques.

Whether they had spotted something on the other side of the pathway or simply wanted to intimidate us, I am not entirely sure. However, it was enough to scare even the tour guide, who positively screamed at us tourists to hide our phones.

Being conscious that we humans were not the only ones at the temple that day, nobody from my group had anything stolen from the monkeys of Uluwatu Temple. However, I did spot a considerable amount of randomly placed flip-flops and glasses.

As for the temple itself, Uluwatu is unique in being built directly on a cliff. Since it is an active temple, tourists cannot go directly up to it. Nevertheless, I was able to get some very pleasant photos of the overall peninsula it was built on.

Tourists can, however, walk through a number of different courtyards, with the majority featuring various statues. Perhaps the most interesting of these is the set of two dual-headed elephants at the entrance.

Whilst the animal is not native to the island, elephants are said to depict Ganesha, a Hindu god that represents happiness and positivity whilst preventing danger.

In all, Uluwatu Temple is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Bali. The site not only offers a sample of the spiritualism of locals and wildlife but also history and impressive views of the surrounding forests and coastline.

Whilst it can get relatively busy, particularly during the evenings when travellers flock to the temple to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean, admission is relatively affordable at 50,000IDR (around £2.40) for adults and 20,000IDR (£0.95) for children.

Nevertheless, tourists who do choose to visit Uluwatu are advised to keep their wits about them for monkeys and, at all times, be respectful to the local residents throughout their time at the temple.


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