It’s hard to pick a favorite temple in Bali. There are so many, and they are all interesting in their own way.

But Pura Gunung Kawi was particularly interesting.

It starts with a long walk down narrow steps past ancient rice terraces and rivers. It was a strenuous but scenic walk.

Usually, the walk to a site is better than the site itself. But as the massive complex of Pura Gunung Kawi loomed into view through the jungle, I knew this place was going to be different.

The walk to Gunung Kawi goes past rivers.
The walk to Gunung Kawi goes past rivers.

An Incredible Place

Gunung Kawi is made up of massive monuments carved directly into the rocks of the surrounding mountains. There are paths and stairs leading all around to different areas with rivers and waterfalls.

It’s said that the monuments are memorials to an ancient Balinese royal family.

It was an awe-inspireing place.

The online guides I used said Pura Gunung Kawi is not touristy. But there were quite a few tourists. I visited this after Tirta Empul. It would have been better to get here first.

Climbing back out was more difficult than climbing in. Everybody but me bypassed Kafe Kawi, which is up more steps. But the views made it a great place to have lunch.

Pura Gunung Kawi is easily seen from Ubud as a day trip. It’s another must-see in Bali.

The monuments are poised dramatically above a river.
The monuments are poised dramatically above a river.
A happy snack lady at Gunung Kawi.
A happy snack lady at Gunung Kawi.
Colorful and awe-inspiring.
Colorful and awe-inspiring.
A beautiful setting for a temple.
A beautiful setting for a temple.
A farmer on the terraces.
A farmer on the terraces.
Me blocking the view from Kafe Kawi.
Me blocking the view from Kafe Kawi.
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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