Indonesia

The Mysteries of Bali Guide

Jetting off to Bali soon? We dare you to visit these special destinations to add an extra thrill to your vacation.

When you think of Bali, you might picture beautiful beaches, palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze. But there is more to Bali than meets the eye.

One of the world’s leading beach holiday destinations, Bali is a province of Indonesia, located east of Java and west of Lombok, and includes a few smaller neighbouring islands; notably Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Often referred to as The Island of Gods, thrill seekers will testify to Bali’s exceptional charm surrounding all things spiritual and supernatural. These are our top picks if you’re looking to deep dive into the mysteriously divine side of Bali.


Lempuyang Luhur Temple

Home to the insta-famous ‘gates of heaven’, the temple is known as Pura Lempuyang Luhur to locals. It’s one of the island’s oldest and most revered temples, resting at 1,175m above sea level on the peak of the namesake Mount Lempuyang in East Bali. The sacred temple boasts impressive historic architecture and a gorgeous mountain view, although it’s mostly known for its cultural and religious importance to locals.

Although there is no verified documentation on the temple’s history, legend has it that the religious site was built when the earth was only 70 years old—alongside Bali’s ‘mother temple’, Besakih—as a project initiated by Lord Pashupati and his children to help stabilise the island’s nature.

To reach the highest point in the temple, you’ll need to climb up 1,700 steps in a respectful manner and without complaint; locals believe that those who complain about the journey will never make it to the top. Pilgrims who do make it to the top will have the privilege of enjoying splendid panoramic views of the eastern Bali mountain range and coastline alongside lush surroundings and fresh mountain air.

Getting here: There’s no access to Lempuyang Luhur Temple via public transport, so we recommend hiring a car for the journey.
Tip: Wear a sarong while visiting this temple complex, making sure bare knees and shoulders are covered, as you’ll be denied entry otherwise.
Address: View map


Padang Galak beach

Located in Padang Galak Village, Sanur, the beach is home to year-round big waves that attract surfers, while strong winds welcome traditional kite-flying enthusiasts between June to August for the Bali International Kite Festival.

There’s a local legend about a female sea goddess who lords over the beach with a wild and fierce energy that binds and drowns unsuspecting victims; some even say the wind that blows along the coast carries the final screams of the sea goddess’s victims… but whether or not you choose to believe this urban legend, Padang Galak beach remains to this day a popular destination for surfers and visitors.

Getting here: Take a five-minute bike or car ride from Denpasar city (or a 25-minute journey from Denpasar Airport). The beach is easily accessible via most modes of transport.
Tip: If you want to catch the annual Bali International Kite Festival, make sure to visit when the event is usually held between July and August, depending on weather conditions.
Address:
View map


Taman Festival Bali

If you take a short walk from Padang Galak Beach, you’ll likely venture into Taman Festival Bali, also known as Bali’s ghost town, fuelled by local belief that old abandoned sites are home to lost spirits. As you wander around, the former theme park’s desolate surroundings, with its dilapidated structures and ornamental figures overrun with vegetation, can get a little unsettling.

First opened in 1997, Taman Festival Bali promptly shut down soon after due to marketing and financial limitations, its fate left in the hands of the local government. Today, you’re free to explore the park grounds without any entrance fee or prior permission.

Given its somewhat post-apocalyptic setting, the park is popular among photographers looking for isolated locations or ominous backdrops. It’s also separated from the main Sanur crowds, attracting adventurous travellers and paranormal enthusiasts.

Getting here: You can access Taman Festival Bali by riding a bike or renting a car to take you to the end of Jalan Padang Galak Beach, just north of the main hub of Sanur.
Tip: Take extra care during your visit as the rusty and crumbling structures could cause injury.
Address:
View map


The Ghost Palace Hotel

More formally known as the PI Bedugul Taman Rekreasi Hotel and Resort, the Ghost Palace Hotel lies abandoned and overgrown with moss, vegetation, and local legends. Located on the mountains in the central highlands of Bedugul, completion of the building was halted midway in the early 1990s.

Some say that the Ghost Palace Hotel was built by Tommy Suharto. The youngest son of former Indonesian President Suharto, Tommy went to prison after he was found guilty in the contract killing of a Supreme Court judge. Construction of the hotel later ground to a halt when funding and leadership went awry.

Others say it was built by a crooked developer who tried to curse his rivals out of the way, but instead became cursed himself due to his corrupt business practices and subsequently, went bankrupt.

Whichever story you choose to believe, most locals refrain from entering the long-abandoned site as it’s rumoured to be haunted, but it’s precisely the mystery surrounding the building that attracts curious travellers. Presumably due to its growing popularity, ‘security guards’ now keep watch over the site’s sole entry point, collecting entrance fees from visitors.

Getting here: It’s an uncomplicated journey to this destination, so we recommend either taking the scenic route on your rented scooter or hiring a private car. You will be charged Rp10,000 to enter.
Tip: Take extra caution when exploring the hotel; the deteriorating structure is around 20 years old with no proper maintenance.
Address: View map


Trunyan Village

Often times also spelt as Terunyan, this remote mountain village is tucked on the eastern lakeside of Mount Batur in central Bali’s Kintamani highlands. The settlement is widely known for its indigenous Balinese community, the Bali Aga, who have unique burial rituals.

Unlike the majority Balinese Hindus on the island, the Bali Aga community do not hold elaborate funeral ceremonies for the deceased, who are instead left to decay within the village’s designated boneyard. Once the bodies are wrapped carefully, villagers sail their dead in canoes to a village graveyard, where they are then laid out on the ground around a large ancient fragrant tree known as Taru Menyan, with just a protection cloth and bamboo cage to safeguard the remains from scavenging animals. Oddly enough, locals say there’s no odour from the decomposing bodies, crediting this to the tree’s myrrh-like fragrance that neutralises the rotting smell.

Not for the faint-hearted, skulls and bones on moss-covered soil and pathways are no stranger to the scene here.

Getting here: To Trunyan Village, it usually requires a short 20- to 30-minute boat ride from a local dock in the village of Songan, on the caldera lake’s accessible western side. When you reach the dock, a small fleet of boats are usually waiting across the lake. Approximately three hours from Bali’s capital, Denpasar, you can choose to travel to the dock via public transportation or private car.
Tip: Make sure to have your cameras ready as the crossing generously provides you with panoramic views of the lake and mountain.
Address: View map


Other important exploration tips

Keep these in mind as you visit these thrilling and sacred sites :

  • Remember to adhere to local customs and beliefs, and take necessary precautions when exploring these sites.
  • If at any time you are unsure of visiting a destination, hire a local guide to help with your exploration journey. Ask for recommendations from your accommodation hosts or hotel staff.
  • Make sure all your routes are planned in advance as some sites are in isolated locations and will not be accessible via public transport or walking paths.

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