I'll be honest, you are going to find mixed reviews from travelers about visiting the Uluwatu Temple on the southern tip of Bali. People are going to complain about the thieving monkeys (for good reason), the lack of luster offered by the temple, the crowds, the trash, the entrance fee, and the fact that the temple is somewhat isolated from the other many attractions on the island. However, I am going to make a hard stance that the Uluwatu Temple is worth the visit and that's why I'm considering it as one of the highlights of our trip to Bali!
I will also make the claim that the Uluwatu Temple is the best place to see the sunset on the island of Bali!
Here is my advice for making the Uluwatu Temple a great experience on your trip to Bali:
1) Visit the temple on your own as a part of touring the many amazing beaches located on the southern tip of Bali by scooter (rent a scooter for $6USD for the day in Kuta or Jimbaran). Make a day-trip out of the visit to Uluwatu.
2) Visit the temple at sunset and go for the sunset
3) Carry a stick as you tour the temple to keep the thieving monkeys at bay and heed all warnings that they will steal any lose items off your person in the blink of an eye. Actually I won't limit items to "lose" items. DO NOT TEST THEM! You will lose, but this is all part of the travel experience!
4) Forget the free dance performance. It is too crowded and there are plenty of other opportunities to see a Balinese dance performance while on the island
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Heated Drama on the Edge of the World
Balanced on the edge of Bali, high overhead the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean at what almost seems to be the edge of the world...is Uluwatu Temple. There, every day at 18:00 a Kecak Fire Dance is performed which is the Balinese telling of the Hindu legend of Prince Rama. However, this version relies more heavily on the character of the monkey: Hanoman. A chorus of men chant in a circle in which the drama is performed and visitors sit just outside the chorus surrounding the entire production. The fire is real, the heat can be blinding and the drama... most definitely entertains.
Uluwatu is still a functioning Hindu temple so visitors do need to follow traditional custom by wearing a sash or sarong (if your legs are not already covered). Entrance to the show is the equivalent of 5 USD. The Kecak dance lasts for about an hour and it's recommended to arrive well in advance to get a seat and see sunset over the ocean before you do.