6 Top Dos and Don'ts For Pura Lempuyang Temple Bali

September 30, 2019

Pura Lempuyang Temple Bali sits atop Mount Lempuyang on the Indonesian island of Bali. Overlooking Mount Agung and officially named Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang (though locals may also call it Pura Lempuyang Luhur), this Balinese temple is known among tourists as the Gates of Heaven. Lempuyang Temple Bali literally looks like it will lead you straight up to the heavens!

During our time in Bali, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit this iconic Balinese Hindu temple. Among the Balinese, Pura Lempuyang is one of the most venerated and oldest temples, second to Besakih Temple (known as the Mother of all Temples). The Balinese come to Lempuyang Temple Bali to worship, and it’s a great place to experience Balinese Hindu culture.

I had seen many pictures of Pura Lempuyang online. And I wanted to be able to see it in person. But what the pictures don’t show is that there’s more to this temple than just a pretty view. And what the pictures also don’t show is that there are certain dos and don’ts you should follow to respectfully visit Pura Lempuyang Temple Bali.

This post was updated on March 8, 2023.

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Our friends at Pura Lempuyang, photo courtesy of Katherine Lee (December 2019)

What to know about Pura Lempuyang

Like most people, I first heard of Pura Lempuyang on Instagram. This temple is famous on social media for the iconic shots of people standing between the Hindu gates, the mountain in the background, and a reflecting pool in front of them.

Of course, there isn’t actually a reflecting pool, but rather a person holding a mirror in front of the camera (spoiler alert!). But it doesn’t take away from the fact that Lempuyang Temple is a beautiful temple to visit.

Getting to know the Temple Lempuyang complex

The Bali Lempuyang Temple complex itself is divided into several sections. The main entrance is where the famous Gates of Heaven is. But if you climb further up the mountain, you’ll reach some of the prayer areas. The most sacred of the prayer areas are at the top of the mountain, and you’ll have to climb a total of 1,700 steps to reach there. (We didn’t go that far during our visit, but we did get to the first prayer area.)

These days, most tourists who come to Pura Lempuyang, located in the village of Karangasem, come just to take a photo of those gates. But even if you don’t end up getting that Instagram worthy photo, it’s still an amazing temple to visit.

The iconic Gates of Heaven at Pura Lempuyang Temple Bali. Two Balinese temple gates, with the sky in the background.
The Gates of Heaven (September 2019)

Lempuyang Temple history

Pura Lempuyang is known to be one of the six most sacred temples (or six sacred sites) of Bali. The other sites include Pura Besakih, Pura Goa Lawah, Pura Batukaru, Pura Pusering Jagat, and Pura Uluwatu. These six temples make up the Sad Kahyangan. They make up the spiritual pillars or spiritual balance points of the island, and are known to have been established around the 11th century.

This makes Pura Lempuyang Temple one of the oldest temples in Bali! However, because of its daily use, the temple often receives cosmetic restoration. The most recent major restoration of Pura Lempuyang was in 2001.

Pura Lempuyang Temple opening hours and entrance fee

Pura Lempuyang Temple is open every day for worship. If you are coming to take a picture of the Gates of Heaven, you’ll need to come between the hours of 7am and 5pm.

When we visited Pura Lempuyang in 2019, there was no entrance fee, but the temple did accept donations. These days, due to the popularity of the temple, international visitors must pay an entrance fee of Rp. 55,000 (roughly $3.50 USD). There’s also a shuttle fee of Rp. 22,500 (roughly $1.50 USD) for one way, and Rp. 45,000 (roughly $3 USD) round trip.

When we visited in 2019, sarongs were free to borrow. But these days, you’ll need to pay an additional fee to rent sarongs to wear in order to enter the temple.

Want to explore the beautiful island of Bali? Read my Bali post for ideas.

Visitors at Pura Lempuyang, the Gates of Heaven in Bali, Indonesia, waiting their turn for a photo opportunity between the two gates overlooking Mount Agung.
Visitors waiting their turn for a picture at Pura Lempuyang (September 2019)

Getting to and from Pura Lempuyang

From the village of Amed, in the east, Pura Lempuyang is about 13 km away (about 8 miles), or roughly a forty-five minute drive. To get to Lempuyang Temple from Ubud, in central Bali, this temple is roughly 70 km away (about 43 miles). Driving there will take between two to three hours. And from Kuta or Denpasar, the drive will take two to three hours as well, even though it’s about 10-16 km (about 6-10 miles) farther.

What to know about Pura Lempuyang Temple Bali tours

Public tours are available for visiting the Gates of Heaven Lempuyang Temple from many of the tourist offices around Bali. However, we ended up hiring a private driver, which was much easier to do with kids. The cost from Amed to Pura Lempuyang was Rp 500,000 (roughly $35), round trip. From Ubud, you can expect to spend around Rp 200,000-400,000 more.

While not necessarily the cheapest option for our Indonesia travel budget, hiring a private driver allowed us to arrive and leave at our own time, instead of being tied to a tour schedule.

If you want to pre-book your private Pura Lempuyang Temple Bali tour, take a look at these options:

Wonderful Bali In 3 Days Private Tour

Full-Day Eastern Gate of Heaven at Lempuyang Temple

East Bali Highlights: Gate of Heaven, Water Palace and Waterfall

Our kids walking up to Pura Lempuyang (September 2019)

Dos and don'ts of visiting Lempuyang Temple

Visiting Pura Lempuyang was such a wonderful cultural experience for our family. We had a chance to experience a Balinese prayer, and we learned a lot about the Hindu traditions of Bali.

But visiting Lempuyang Temple isn’t as easy as just going to the temple and taking your picture. If you want to be a responsible traveler, and a respectful visitor to the temple, there are a few things you should know. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts of visiting Pura Lempuyang.

The steps leading up to the prayer area (September 2019)

1. Do get there early

Because of the popularity of the Gates of Heaven photos on Instagram, Lempuyang Temple can get pretty full pretty fast. If you want to get your Gates of Heaven photo, you have to take a number and wait your turn.

To ensure that you don’t have to wait too long for your photo, the best time to go to Lempuyang Temple is right when the sun rises. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of getting a high number. 

When we visited Pura Lempuyang Temple Bali, our family arrived around 9am and were given #154, with over 100 numbers ahead of us! We had to wait for up to three hours just for a photo, since it would take a few minutes per person ahead of us. In the end, we opted to skip out on having that Instagram photo op.

Visitors dressed in shirts and sarongs at Pura Lempuyang in Bali, Indonesia waiting their turn to take a picture at the Gates of Heaven.
Photographers and visitors at Pura Lempuyang (September 2019)

2. Don't forget to wear a sarong

Like most Balinese temples, you’ll need to wear a sarong. This is part of the Pura Lempuyang Temple dress code, and as responsible visitors, we should be respectful of the dress codes of the temples. 

We brought our own sarongs, but there are also sarongs you can rent during your visit. If you want to plan ahead before your trip to Bali, you can purchase a long batik sarong online before leaving home, which you can use for visiting temples and visiting the beach.

Modest attire when visiting temples is an important part of Balinese Hindu culture. Another element of the Lempuyang Temple dress code is a plain top that covers at least your shoulders and back, as well as a sarong that will cover your legs. Even men will need to adhere to this dress code. In some cases, you may need to wear a scarf around the waist as well. So if you’re planning to visit temples during your visit to Bali, be sure to bring appropriate modest attire.

Properly dressed in our sarong and shirts (September 2019)

3. Do follow the rules of Pura Lempuyang

Besides the dress code, there are other rules that visitors to Pura Lempuyang should adhere to. Drones are not allowed to be used for taking pictures of the temples. Additionally, climbing or sitting on the walls, raised platforms, or statues of the temple are prohibited.

There are also certain cultural practices that you’ll need to keep in mind when visiting Lempuyang Temple. If you’re a woman who is menstruating, you are not allowed to enter the prayer areas of the temple. And if you have a baby who is less than 105 days old, they are also not allowed inside the temple.

Decorative steps at Pura Lempuyang, home of the Gates of Heaven in Bali. A stone offering stand in the foreground, next to a stone dragon which decorates the front of the steps.
Steps leading up to prayers (September 2019)

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4. Don't act disrespectfully

As visitors to Pura Lempuyang, being respectful of the Balinese culture and of worshippers who actually come to the temple to pray is important. This is one complaint that Balinese have about Pura Lempuyang these days.

There are so many tourists that visit, it’s actually difficult for real worshipers to perform their prayers. If you’re visiting Lempuyang Temple, do show respect to the Balinese who come to the temple for actual worship.

One of the rules of the temple related to being respectful is to not do yoga poses where your feet are high off the ground. Kissing at the temple is also a sign of disrespect, and is not allowed while visiting Pura Lempuyang. And finally, having negative thoughts and language is prohibited when visiting the temple.

Getting ready to walk up to the prayer area (September 2019)

5. Do take time to experience a Balinese Hindu prayer

As travelers who love to learn when we travel, taking part in cultural activities is important to us. One of the amazing parts of visiting Lempuyang Temple is having a chance to participate in Hindu prayers. Even if you’re not Hindu, you can still enter the prayer area as long as you have the intention to pray.

Worshippers must bring offerings to the temple to pray. They are small baskets made of palm leaves, called canang, filled with flowers, leaves, and flowers, and can be purchased at the fruit stand just outside of Pura Lempuyang.

The ritual of a Balinese Hindu prayer involves purification with holy water and incense, then a series of 5 silent prayers, called sembah. The first prayer is made to God, with just your hands pressed together at your forehead. The second, third, and fourth prayers are made to the sun, to all the gods, and to our wishes, respectively. They are made with flowers in between your fingers, as your hands are pressed together up at your forehead. The final prayer is made with empty hands again, as you meditate on what you’re thankful for.

My kids and I took part in the Balinese Hindu prayer, and it really was an amazing cultural experience for us. One of the people at the temple was kind enough to walk us through the ritual. And he let us take a picture after our prayer.

After the Balinese prayer (September 2019)

6. Don't feel pressure to take an Instagram picture

Even though getting the reflection photo at Lempuyang Temple is popular among tourists, don’t feel like you need to get your picture. The temple is beautiful in its own right. For being one of the oldest temples in Bali, it has certainly withstood the test of time.

Waiting in line for a photo opportunity was stressful. We were constantly listening for our number, and calculating how many more minutes we had to wait before we could get our picture taken.

When we gave ourselves permission to opt out of the photo op, we automatically felt ten times better. We could actually enjoy our time at the temple, rather than stress out about waiting in line just for a photo.

Want to learn more about traveling responsibly? Read my sustainable travel posts.

Posing for a photo outside of Pura Lempuyang (September 2019)

Diving into Balinese culture at Pura Lempuyang Temple Bali

Like any travel experience, a visit to Pura Lempuyang is what you make of it. For many tourists, Lempuyang Temple is just an opportunity to get that Instagram worthy photo between the Gates of Heaven.

But if you really make an effort, you can have a unique and spiritual cultural experience as well when you visit Pura Lempuyang. For our family, this temple gave us a glimpse into a culture that is still deeply rooted to its ancient beliefs and rituals. And to me, that is so much more valuable and meaningful than a photo.

Have you visited Pura Lempuyang in Bali? What was your experience like? Share it with me in the comments!

Are you planning to visit Bali as part of a long term travel adventure? Get my family gap year guide, Hey Kids, Let’s Go Travel! for resources, advice, and actionable steps for planning your trip.

Dos and Don'ts for Visiting Pura Lempuyang Temple Bali, Indonesia | The Wandering Daughter | Pinterest pin of the Gates of Heaven at Pura Lempuyang in Bali with clouds in the background, and text overlay.

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