The temple at Uluwatu & the ancient Kecak dance experience were the highlights of my trip in Bali this year. The temple is perched 230 feet above a cliff surrounding the magnificent Indian Ocean. Cheeky temple monkeys run around the vicinity adding to the charm of the place. The best time to see Uluwatu is at sunset. Most of the tours stemming from Ubud, Kuta, Sanur & Seminyak includes a dinner-trip to Jimbaran Bay where you end your night with phenomenal seafood, though a bit pricy, is definitely worth it. While in Pura Luhur Uluwatu, make sure to stay for the Kecak dance, an ancient Ramayana monkey chant that Balinese men perform as ritual. It truly is an out-of-this-world experience.
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The Monkeys of Uluwatu
Uluwatu temple is on the tip of Bali. It's a little bit of a tourist magnet, but it is easy to see why with the beautiful temple and stunning views. The place is absolutely infested with monkeys that are extremely comfortable around people. Some people buy food to feed them, but I'd advise against that. Full account here: http://aliscottwhatwegetupto.blogspot.ca/2012/07/kuta-to-padang-padang.html
Pura Luhur Uluwatu caps the steep rocky cliffs of Bali's southern shore. The spectacularly perched temple is one of Bali's holiest locations as it is one of the nine directional temples believed to protect the historically Hindu island from evil spirits. The placement of the temple high above the pounding surf below makes this temple the most beautiful of the main Balinese sacred sites. The hollow waves breaking at the base of the promontory are regarded as world class and highly sought after by skilled surfers. Sunset creates a magical atmosphere at the temple as the cliffs take on gold and orange hues and the ocean with its rolling waves shimmers and glistens in the receding sun's final rays. From Kuta Beach, Uluwatu is about 18 km south towards the Bukit Penninsula. Beware of the feisty macaques guarding the entrance!
One of the best places to watch the sun set is from the cliffs of Pura Uluwatu, or the site of the old Ulu-watu temple on the island of Bali. The dramatic cliffs overlook the ocean, and arriving before sunset allows you to explore the grounds before the sun begins to go down. The temple grounds are inhabited by a large number of monkeys, which are fun to watch but can be aggressive, so avoid wearing sunglasses or jewelry and bringing food, and be careful with your camera. Expect to wear a provided sarong over your pants/skirt/shorts, which is a sign of respect at religious sites in Indonesia (true here for men and women). At one end of Ulu-watu is the place where the rhythmic kecak dance is performed every day at sunset, so you can stay for that, but expect it to be crowded. Ulu-watu is easily reached by car from most places on the southern part of the island. Drivers can be hired from hotels or villas.
Yes, the temple at Uluwatu is one of the most touristy, but the nightly performances are a great way to get a sample of traditional Balinese dance. Dodge the temple monkeys looking for a snack and catch the show in the outdoor amphitheater on the cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean. The dancers recreate Hindi mythology in elaborate costumes and masks against a backdrop of the setting Balinese sun.