All You Need to Know About Pura Tirta Empul in Bali
If you ever get the opportunity to visit Bali, Indonesia make sure to take a day to visit the Pura Tirta Empul water temple. Only about a half-hour motorbike ride away from Ubud, the spiritual capital of Bali, Pura Tirta Empul is the most celebrated and beloved water temple of the region.
The temple is quite famous for offering tourists the opportunity to receive a water blessing. This means that whatever your religion, race, culture, or creed you can bath in the waters and immerse yourself in the rich Indonesian culture.
The only problem with Pura Tirta Empul is the lack of instructions or explanations when you arrive at the temple. Most advice we received was to either find a guide to take you in Ubud or simply go to the temple looking lost and confused and wait for a guide to come to you. We ended up doing the latter option.
It appeared that typically they would approach you guide you through everything and then expect you to know to tip them once finished. My guess is one-too-many oblivious Westerners showed up and simply thought the guides were “just being helpful” then failed to pay up. Make no mistake, this is their livelihood and if you decide to wait until you get to the temple to find a guide make sure you are prepared to pay them. When we went earlier this year in 2023 it cost us about 100,000 IDR, about $7 USD. Our guide told us from the beginning what it would cost probably hoping to nip all monetary concerns in the bud before starting.
If you do opt for a guide, a benefit is they will take fantastic pictures of you using your phone or camera. They know all the best spots as you make your way through the blessing ceremony. They operate discretely so you receive fantastic candid photos of the experience. A note: if you did not book a guide yourself and are doing the water blessing, DO NOT ask an already occupied guide to take a picture of you. We had a guy behind us do just that to our guide. They will say no, and it will make for an embarrassing situation for you. Remember, this is their job, they will not, and should not be expected, do their job for free.
Are you trying to save a few bucks? You are not required to get a guide prior to the experience. Plenty of locals visit the temple regularly and perform the blessing on their own. If you’d still like to visit Pura Tirta Empul and receive a water blessing, here’s everything you need to know and do, in excruciatingly detailed order.
Pura Tirta Empul was built in the 9th century and was originally used by Indonesian royalty. It is now open to all with operating hours typically from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
If you’d like to visit when the temple is less busy, try to get there early in the morning. Pura Tira Empul can become very busy mid-day resulting in long queues for each fountain in the pool area.
Women are not permitted to enter if they are on their period, as it is considered an unholy time. Although it should be noted that they do not ask, nor do they check.
Before entering the temple and performing the blessings there are several steps that must be completed.
Upon arrival at Pura Tirta Empul you will have the option to park your vehicle and purchase your entry tickets. A parking fee of 5,000 IDR for cars or 2,000 IDR for motorbikes is to be paid when you exit after your visit.
Entry to the temple costs 50,000 IDR and includes a dry sarong rental. To gain entryway into the temple it is required for everyone to wear a sarong. You must also have your shoulders and back covered. You may wear your own sarong or use the brightly colored ones given to you before entry.
There is plenty to see inside the temple. Feel free to take a look around at your leisure. Just be sure to be respectful and considerate of others. Remember: this is a holy place very important to the Balinese people.
#2 Water Sarong and Lockers
If you are interested in taking part in the water blessings at Pura Tirta Empul you must change into a special water sarong. These can be rented for 10,000 IDR, or you can wear your own sarong provided it’s not the same dry one you wore to enter the temple, nor can it be the free sarong provided at admission. Wet sarongs cannot be worn after the blessing is complete. If you are bringing your own sarongs, be sure to have two: one for regular entry and one for the pools.
In the same building you can rent the water sarongs you may also rent a locker for 15,000 IDR. When participating in the water blessings you will not be able to take anything into the pools with you, so lockers are a good idea to keep your things safe. This is also where a friend or hiring a guide can come in handy as you can’t bring your personal phone with you. Others may take photos of you participating in the water blessing; however, no selfies are allowed.
The water sarongs will come in a prominent green color with a red sash. Like most Balinese things these colors have meanings. The bright green is for the god Shiva and symbolizes earth. The red sash represents fire and is for the god Brahma. The elements are further represented by the air surrounding you, and the water you’ll soon immerse in.
#3 The Offering
Before you enter the gates to the pools of the water temple you must provide an offering. These can be homemade, purchased from stores in the area, or purchased at Pura Tirta Empul itself.
These small wicker baskets once again represent the elements. Within the baskets are flowers for earth, an incense stick for fire, holy water sprinkled from a holy spring for water, and is overall surrounded by air.
#4 Meditation and Prayer
Once you’ve obtained your offering you may kneel or sit in the provided area in front of the pool gates. Hold your offering in both hands and spend a small amount of time in prayer or mediation. It is important to pray or meditate before entering the pools threshold. You may do either, whichever you are more comfortable with spiritually.
When praying/meditating there are 3 things you must recite to yourself:
- Permission: ask for permission to enter
- Intention: state your intention while in the pools
- Thanks: give thanks for the opportunity of being at Pura Tirta Empul
Once you have finished your meditation you may place your offering on the offering table at the head of the prayer area and make your way to the pool’s gates.
#5 Fountain Prayer Procedure
While in the 3 pools of the water temple you will visit 13 individual fountains and perform the same prayer procedure at each one.
- Prayer: Hold your hands in prayer pose at heart center, pray according to the healing purpose of each fountain (listed below).
- Wash Face: wash your face 3 times by splashing water from the fountain over your face with your hands.
- Wash Lips/Mouth: wash your lips and mouth 3 times by touching the water from the fountain to your lips, swishing the water in your mouth, or drinking the water if you like.
- Wash Head: dunk your head under the fountain spout 3 times.
Doing each step, aside from prayer, in sets of three is very important. The temple is often very busy, so it is important to be considerate of the visitors around you. Take your time at each step and let yourself enjoy the fresh, cool water, but also understand there are plenty of others who would also like to participate and be respectful of their time as well.
#6 The Pools
Let’s talk about the structure of the temple and the four pools that reside there. When visiting each fountain, you will do the same blessing procedure found above.
The first, and largest, pool is made to cleanse and purify the body. In this pool you will find 13 fountains, each similarly spouting water. Starting from left to right you will wade through the waters and bless yourself in each of the fountains EXCEPT the very first one, and fountains 11 and 12. You will do the 13th fountain.
NO: #1, #11, and #12
YES: #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #13
The first fountain is only used for special ceremonies, and fountains 11 and 12 are meant to be used during funerals, cremation blessings, and other death ceremonies.
While fountains 2-10 will focus on your physical body and cleansing the inside and outside of it, the 13th fountain is meant to purify your sleep and clear your mind of bad dreams.
When you have finished with each of the fountains in the first pool you will climb the dividing barrier to the second pool. Be careful as this barrier is typically very slippery.
The second pool in the temple is meant to bless your karma and luck. Both are large factors in many Indonesian religions. You must put good out into the world to receive it in return. In the second pool you will bless yourself in only the first two fountains. The other fountains are again, for special circumstances and religious ceremonies.
The first fountain in the second pool is to cleanse the karma of your tongue. This means any swears you’ve spoken, misinformation you’ve spread, or speaking illy of others.
The second fountain is to cleanse your karma of the lies you’ve told and the promises you have broken.
Next, the third pool, is a bit easier to climb in and out of from pool two, as there are stairs and mats provided. If you visit on a busy day this is where, in our experience, it tended to get a little backed up and we had to wait in line a good while before actually getting into the pool and making it to the fountains.
You only need to use one fountain in this pool, the very first fountain. The other fountains in this pool are used exclusively by the locals during special occasions and celebrations.
This fountain, and pool as a whole, is about your specific blessing. It’s whatever you want! You may ask for a blessing for just about anything or anyone. It is the final fountain, so you are in theory, cleansed completely of body, mind, and karma, and can now focus on your specific desires.
The fourth pool is inaccessible to the public. It is used for special occasions and holidays only. Usually, it is saved for those of higher rank to perform blessings in. You can peek in but will not be able to access even if you tried.
#7 Enjoy Your Blessings!
If you’ve opted to head straight to the water blessing afterwards is a great time to look around at the other features within the temple grounds. Pura Tirta Empul holds a beautiful coy pond, relics of the royal throne area, and the natural fresh-water spring that feeds holy water into the pool. You can also watch the locals come in prayer in a special reserved part of the dry temple.
And with any great tourist attraction, you will enter through a gift shop! Only this “gift shop” comes in the form of dozens of small market-style shops presented by the local people.
Overview of prices:
Parking fee: 5,000 IDR for cars, 2,000 IDR for motorbikes
Entry ticket: 50,000 IDR per person (includes dry sarong in price)
Water sarong rental: 10,000 IDR per person
Locker rental: 15,000 IDR per locker needed
Guide payment: ~100,000 IDR
We hope this article was helpful for your journey to Pura Tirta Empul in Bali, Indonesia! For more on our time in Ubud and Denpasar, Bali checkout our articles here.