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The Two Faces of Besakih Temple

I wasn't told what to expect when I planned on visiting Besakih Temple atop Mt. Agung, but I wasn't expecting to get ripped off.

I normally research about the places I plan on visiting, or ask around, before I decide going to them, but as soon as I saw the pictures of Besakih, I told myself I would visit this temple.

The Two Faces of the Mother Temple Besakih

Getting to Besakih was quite an experience because it was almost a two-hour motorbike ride from Ubud. I saw the droves of locals going up the side of the mountain making their offerings to their Hindu gods. I was taken to a booth which is allegedly for the "required guides", I saw one of the men there show me a sheet of paper with names of people and large amounts of "donations" for the guide, the "names" on the list came from different countries with donations of more than 400,000 IDR each. I was taken aback by the large amount of money needed to get a guide, what I didn't realize till much later was, that it was all a scam, and everyone in the temple was in on it, at least that's what I felt. I was also supposed to pay for a sarong amounting to 400,000 IDR! What a joke! I managed to bargain down the amount I gave for the supposed guide and sarong, but I still felt ripped off. Initially, I just shrugged it off and tried to enjoy the temple.

There was a festive mood permeating in Besakih. There were locals dressed in traditional costumes, and there was traditional Balinese music blaring. There was dancing and a general feeling of happiness at the foot of the temple.

I had to wear a funky and retro sarong (because it was the cheapest one I got for 50,000 IDR, still felt ripped off though).

The Mother Temple of Besakih is the largest and oldest Hindu temple in Bali. This temple is said to be at least 2,000 years old. Besakih consists of 22 temples and stepped terraces that lead to various courtyards.

This was the imposing gate before you enter one of the courtyards in the Mother Temple.

There were a few locals and tourists praying to the gods in the temples.

I was fortunate enough to run into other tourists who were walking around the temple premises without a guide. I asked them if it was required and they told me that it wasn't. Right then and there I was irate, I told my "guide" that I wanted a refund. I stormed out of the temple complex and went back to the booth and demanded my money back, which I fortunately got back. I paid 200,000 IDR and managed to get 150,000 IDR back. I tipped my guide 50,000 IDR for the trouble he went through, and went all the way back to the temple.

I didn't want the bad experience of getting ripped off ruin my stay. I went to all of the trouble getting to the Mother Temple, I wanted to enjoy the rest of my stay there. The temple gave me the vibe that there were ninjas lurking around, I was waiting for them to fly out and jump from one temple to another.

I couldn't help but think of how everything seemed contrived, from the guards to the "guides". It seemed that everyone was in on the scam. I didn't like that feeling because of the history and the sheer beauty of the Mother Temple. This was supposed to be a religious temple, but it felt like a scam, the vendors outside took advantage by selling sarongs at extremely high prices. The guards were also in on the action because they didn't reprimand the so-called "guides" or the vendors in the complex. I was fortunate enough to get some of my money back, compared to others who didn't get a cent back.

The only fee you have to pay is 20,000 IDR, you don't need a guide, and it is better to bring your own sarong to avoid getting ripped off. I combined my trip to Besakih with my day trip to Ubud. I paid 125,000 IDR for the motor bike with driver for the whole day.


  1. Looks like you enjoyed the festivities with matching sarong also to be part of the celebration.

  2. I hate the feeling of being ripped off in travels myself. What a terrible experience it is. An example of a local tourist spot where I felt ripped off was Pagsanjan Falls. The boatman we got was ruthless!

  3. It's sad to learn about this scam. Don't they have the conscience? Don't they even feel guilty about it? It's a good thing you were able to ask around and managed to get a refund. Good luck on your travels.

  4. Ah it pays to research before going to an unknown place. That's the sad part of touring I guess.. the possibility of being ripped off. Hope other people will know that so that they won't be scammed