Pura Gunung Kawi is in Tampaksiring Bali, around 30 minutes from Ubud and exceeded our expectations for what Bali could deliver. Gunung Kawi is one of Bali’s oldest and largest monuments and should definitely be on your activity list for a trip to Bali.
“Pura” means a Balinese Temple and place of worship
“Gunung” means mountain
“Kawi” is classical Javanese, the language of poetry
When you first arrive you are greeted with views over rice fields lining the valley and lush green surrounds. The steep decent down the stairs starts after crossing a water channel and passing many vendors. We arrived early and didn’t feel harassed at all, as most vendors were still setting up.
Once you arrive at the bottom of the stairs you can’t help but be in awe of the surroundings and feeling like you are in an Indian Jones inspired movie set. There are carved rock faces on both sides of the river and paths to explore down to the water and around the area.
The carvings stand around 8m high and are believed to be memorials to members of the 11th century Balinese royalty. Once you cross the river you can explore the meditation caves (head to the right after the bridge, you can the see the caves along the hillside) and the temple courtyard.
Adult 50,000 IDR, Child 20,000 IDR which includes a sarong. Being a place of worship it is best to dress appropriately, although adults will still need to wear the sarong. Women are not permitted if they have their period, but I will leave that one up to you as an individual to decide (No-one is going to check! Up to you whether you want to respect the customs).
Getting there is easiest via taxi or renting a scooter. We paid 350,000 IDR (AUD$35) for a half day trip from Ubud to cover Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul Temple and Ceking Rice Terrace (Tegallalang).
Tips for Visiting with Children
With over 270 steps and the Balinese heat, this walk can be tiring for children (and adults!). Go early in the morning and reward them with an ice-cream when they get back to top! Also, we only found one toilet which was a squat style. Whilst I am fine with squat style toilets, Noodle (7 year old) is terrified of falling-in, so I had to squat in-front of him and hold him up. If you think your child will be scared of the squat toilet then encourage them to go before starting the walk down.
Extend Your Visit
Combine a trip to Gunung Kawi with a visit to Tirta Empul Temple and Ceking Rice Terrace (Tegallalang). Visiting Tirta Empul Temple after Gunung Kawi is a great combination as it is only a short (and mostly flat!) walk from the car-park to the temple, BUT more excitingly you get to see spring water bubbling up in the temple pool which actually provides the main source of water to the Pakerisan River, which is the river that flows past Gunung Kawi! I found seeing the source of a river very exciting (can you tell?!).
- Central Ubud to Gunung Kawi 30 mins
- Gunung Kawi to Tirta Empul 5 mins
- Tirta Empul to Ceking Rice Terrace 10 min
- Ceking Rice Terrace to Ubud 30 min