Bali Temple Run (1 of 2): Ubud’s Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul and Kopi Luwak

Visual Journey
Itinerary & Expenses

The sixth stop in our SEA by Train vacation in Indonesia, Ubud.

We allotted three days at Ubud. Too short a time to experience what they call the cultural and artistic hub of Bali. Too short indeed. As much as we wanted to make our own way exploring Ubud, to make the most of our stay, we opted to take our host’s offer of renting his brother’s tour van.

Be Informed

There aren’t that many taxis in Ubud, and most of the ones you’ll find are just dropping off passengers. There are, of course, other ways of getting around Ubud. Cheaper alternatives are hiring a bemo or joining a tour group. If you prefer to see the sights on your own, you can always rent a motorbike or a bicycle.

Taking a private car was our best option. After our operose climb to two active volcanoes (Bromo and Ijen) from just a few days back, we wanted the Bali leg of our journey to be more relaxed. We’re in Ubud after all. The ten-hour tour costs IDR 450,000.

It’s best to prepare a list of Bali temples and places you’d like to visit or better yet, have photos of them saved on your mobile and show it to your guide. The tour is confined to areas around and to the north of Ubud. Kuta and the places of interest to the south will warrant extra payment, I suggest doing this as a separate activity.

Understand that the Bali temples are considered holy places and are still being used for worship and offerings. Everyone is required to wear a sarong, which is often available at the entrance. Though most only ask for donations, others require extortionist amounts for their rental. I suggest bringing your own or buying one from the many stores outside of the temples.

Gunung Kawi

Gunung Kawi is located at the bottom of a valley. The last few of the 300+ steps leading down to the temple complex is quite dramatic, with its high walls carved from the stone mountain, concealing what lies beyond.

Though not as imposing as Borobudur or Prambanan, this Bali temple is by no means less impressive. The most striking feature of Gunung Kawi are the ten 23-feet candis carved into the cliff walls.

Also carved from the stone mountain is the central pura complex. It really is fascinating, thinking how these structures in this Bali temple were made in the 10th century. Make sure to remove your shoes before entering the central pura of Gunung Kawi.

The rice paddies and the lush greenery at the bottom of the valley makes for a stunning view. Souvenir shops line the sides of the steps that lead down to Gunung Kawi, selling some of the most curious and creative things I’ve seen during our trip to Indonesia. Prices at the shops around this Bali temple are also lower compared to elsewhere on the island.

Admission is IDR 15,000 including sarong.

Tirta Empul

Built around natural springs, Tirta Empul is where the Balinese come to bathe and purify themselves. Considered as one of the holiest Bali temples, there are more locals here than tourists, compared to all other temples we visited.

Upon entering this Bali temple, you are greeted by a wide pool filled with huge koi fish, emphasis on HUGE! Some of them are as big as my entire leg.

There’s a solemn vibe to Tirta Empul, watching the people say their prayers accompanied by some graceful hand gestures before laying their offerings and bathing on the spring water. Everyone is allowed to bathe in the pools, just bring extra clothing.

Other curious things seen at Tirta Empul are the stone guardians surrounding the entire temple grounds. This Bali temple has designated entry and exit points where more souvenir shops can be found.

Admission is IDR 15,000 including sarong.

Kopi Luwak

It was already midday when we left Tirta Empul. Before heading for lunch, we stopped by an Organic Farm where you can sample different types of coffee. There are quite a number of these places along the road and they do feel very touristy. Still, a good addition to any itinerary even for non-coffee drinkers, and there’s no admission fee.

You’ll first go through a maze of plants, then to a demonstration of the traditional way of making coffee. We tried 8 different flavors, if you will, of coffee. From the really expensive coffee Luwak (which we already had a taste of at Yogyakarta) to Cinnamon, Coconut, Ginseng, Vanilla, it seems that they make coffee out of every imaginable fruit, flower or seed. Products at their shop are more than double the price compared to the local market.


We had lunch at one of the many restaurants lining the Batur caldera. Buffet lunch costs IDR 50,000/person. There are four dishes and a couple of rice viands. Food is good, though nothing exceptional. A fair price given the awesome view of Mount and Lake Batur.

With our feet rested and our tummies full, we continue our tour of Bali temples near and around Ubud.

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  1. hotel murah di bali

    This website really has all the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  2. Rainbow Journal

    Hope you'd get to make that a reality! And do visit my blog again when you're planning your itinerary for Indonesia. :D

  3. Dok Tour

    Their culture is rich just like ours. I like the way how they preserve it. You got good photos there! Cool! Wish I could go to Indonesia also maybe next year.

  4. Rainbow Journal

    Hope you'd get to travel SEA soon and that you were able to find some helpful tips from my blog. :)

  5. April Ibañez

    I envy your SEA vacation! One on my bucket list!

  6. Rainbow Journal

    Thanks Meryll! Here's to you getting to visit Bali soon! :

  7. Meryll Catalan

    Great photos! Such rich culture. You're very lucky to see all those places. Hope someday I can visit them.

  8. Rainbow Journal

    I don't think I'm familiar with that channel. :)

  9. Rainbow Journal

    It's great to learn that this post inspired you to want to experience the culture of Ubud in Indonesia.

  10. Slick Master

    I can't really say anything, except on one of your photos: that fish reminded me of that old Living Asia Channel. (sorry, I can't recall the breed name)

  11. Wilkin Felisilda Simo

    I don't have any experience travelling in this place, but this gives me an excitement to travel to this place and see the rich culture in Indonesia..

  12. Rainbow Journal

    I consider myself lucky too. :)
    Given a chance, I'd like to see more. Right now, I'm confined to the PH and SEA due to Visa and budget restrictions. Hehe! :D

  13. Rainbow Journal

    Hahaha! Sa Ubud ko nga lang din nalaman na halos lahat pala ng halaman at bunga eh pwedeng gawing kape! :P

  14. Rainbow Journal

    Naku, at leas nandyan na kayo sa Indonesia. Madali nyo nang mababalikan ang Bali. Oo, maganda sa Ubud, mas tahimik kumpara sa Kuta.

  15. Rainbow Journal

    Thanks Lauren! I'm with you on that, I like taking photos as much as I like looking at them. :)

  16. Rainbow Journal

    I think Bali is a great place to go on a vacation to. There's culture, outdoor activities, shopping and parties. Got something for everyone. I hope you're able to get some tips here for when you visit Bali. :)

  17. Janice Lim

    You are really so lucky to have been able to visit these places. I don't remember how many posts of yours I've already read about your trips. You really have seen a lot!

  18. Jennifer Lopez Gana

    dun ako interested sa coffee, ang dami palang pwedeng sources nun ano?

  19. Jerome Lupisan

    Sayang, hindi kami nag-Ubud nung nag-Bali kami. Dapat palang balikan iyan talaga. Interesado ako sa temples o candi.

  20. Lauren Ashley

    You took great photos. I love taking photos too. You're posts to Bali are amazing and really enjoying.

  21. Pink My Ride

    Nice blog! :) Love love love your Bali photos!!! It's not on my to-visit list for next year but I'll definitely visit someday. :)

  22. Rainbow Journal

    Exactly. When traveling, not everything is peachy. Especially when it comes to budget. Hahaha! Still, the experience we had in Bali is worth every penny. :)

  23. Rainbow Journal

    I'm sure you'd get a chance to see Bali and its many temples, with all the promo fares about. :)

  24. Rainbow Journal

    Took a lot of photos too. Haha! I only chose a few to add into this post. Still, there's quite a number of them. That's why I arranged them in grid format. :)
    Do share your photos when you visit Bali. :)

  25. Kathy Kenny Ngo

    I'm more of a photographer when it comes to these kind of things. I'd definitely want to take a lot of photos when I go to Bali.

  26. Maria Rona Beltran

    wow bali! i wish the temples here too. at least i had a glimpse of because of what i read :) i hope soon to see this place

  27. Fernando Ceballos Lachica

    Your journey continues up to this Sarong thing, but at least experiencing something different from the past.

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