Ever wondered what it’s like actually to visit The Gates Of Heaven in Bali? Chances are, if you’re going to Bali, this will be on your list of things to see and do. Most people want to visit The Gates Of Heaven to get the epic shot between the Candi Bentar – the gate. The Candi Bentar is a split gateway seen in almost all Balinese entrances of religious compounds. These gateways usually have stairs to reach the center in the middle. The two sides represent the Balinese concept of duality and the importance of maintaining a balance between dark and light forces.
While you will see Candi Bentars everywhere in Bali, however, The Gates Of Heaven at Lempuyang Temple is by far the most famous. Instagram has made this location even more famous as people seek a photograph that looks as if the Gates of Heaven float on a clear body of water, giving a reflective shot that looks like the gates are floating. Most people do not know that there is no water, and most people do not know that there’s a process to attempt this photoshoot.
Lempuyang Temple, also known as Pura Luhur Lempuyang, is one of the oldest temples in Bali. Some believe it is the oldest Hindu temple in Bali. Lempuyang Luhur is one of the Sad Kahyangan Jagad or the “six sanctuaries of the world,” This makes it the sixth holiest place of worship on Bali, believed in providing Bali with spiritual balance.
Getting to Lempuyang Temple
Lempuyang Temple is located on Bali’s east side, and it’s a long drive to get there from popular locations like Ubud or Kuta.
You can either book a tour with a tour operator, or you can arrange a private tour through your hotel. Private tours seem to be a little more expensive than group tours, but they have advantages. For example, if you hire a private driver, you get to set your own agenda and route. And, you have no restrictions on time.
We chose a private tour because we wanted to visit Tirta Gangga, a former royal palace in eastern Bali, en route to The Gates Of Heaven Bali.
However, there are many options for joining a group tour, and some of them do combine stops at other temples along the way:
Map Of The Gates Of Heaven Bali at Lempuyang Temple
Entering The Gates Of Heaven Bali At Lempuyang Temple
When you arrive at the temple, you will be dropped off at the bottom of the hill. Entrance is free; however, it’s customary to donate. I recommend around 10,000 – 20,000 IDR per person, or if you are a couple donate 50,000 IDR. 50,000 IDR is approximately $3.60, extremely affordable.
Once you have donated, you will receive a wrap that is required to enter the temple. You can bring your own wrap. If your outfit coordination is important to you, you will want to pack your own wrap or be at the mercy of available.
The locals will “wrap” you up, and then off you go up the steep hill to the entrance.
Inside Lempuyang Temple
The second you walk into the temple, you will see hundreds and hundreds of people. In fact, it’s quite shocking to see. Everybody is sat under the shaded huts waiting for their turn to take their photograph at the Gates Of Heaven.
To the right of the entrance are three Candi Bentars. You cannot climb or access these:
Video Of Inside Lempuyang Temple
Getting Your Photograph At The Gates Of Heaven Bali At Lempuyang Temple
You can’t simply show up and take your photo. Upon arrival, you get a ticket with a number on it and then wait. And be prepared to wait for at least an hour. You don’t need to wait in line to get a photograph. In fact, if you’re smart or take my advice, all you need to do is position yourself in the right spot in between photograph sessions. You can get yourself in a photograph without anybody else in it. You could do what we did, the DIY version!
Place yourself behind the photographer and directly in the middle of the Gates of Heaven.
Please wait for a change of person or wait until the gates’ person is small enough that your silhouette covers them.
Snap away. It will take you a few times to get the perfect shot.
Photo edit and crop your images
You can see the originals in the photos below, and the one I photoshopped is in the middle. Not perfect, but good enough, at least for me.
The Secret Behind The Reflection Shot
You may have seen a ‘reflection’ shot like the one here. This photo is an illusion, and it’s created by using a small mirror under your camera. The locals who take photographs will be happy to help you capture the reflection shot if you are going for this. Just remember, if you have your heart set on capturing this type of image, you will need to grab a ticket and wait in line.
Note: Getting your photograph is free, but it’s customary to tip the photographer. This is, assuming you are going to get a ticket and wait your turn.
What To Wear At The Gates Of Heaven
Recall that I mentioned you need a cover-up? Here are some popular choices:
Sarongs and Cover-Ups
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to park?
The parking fee is 5,000 – 10,000 IDR.
Are there toilets on-site?
Yes, there are some toilets at the base of the temple.
How far is The Gates of Heaven from Ubud?
There are about 50 miles from Ubud, and it takes anywhere from two to three hours to drive the route.
Everyone will tell you that no visit to Bali is complete with visiting The Gates Of Heaven. I agree in the sense that you are already there, so why not? And, let’s be honest. We all want to experience the things we see that motivated us to visit in the first place. This being said, Lempuyang Temple is hard to reach, is tiny compared to many other temples, is a tourist trap, and is underwhelming.
We traveled hours to get to Lempuyang Temple and spent a total of twenty minutes there. Brian, completely irritated at this point, said he’d be happy never to see another temple again. When I asked him why he said, “they are all the same, all have the same gates.” He is correct. All of the temples have gates!
So does this mean you should not go – absolutely not? You are already in Bali so go for it. Just know what to expect. And, if your time is limited, Lempuyang Temple is not the most beautiful or impressive.
Looking for more posts on things to do in Asia? Start here:
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job and travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.