Bali daytrips: Goa Gajah Temple

If you’re based in Ubud, then you should take a couple of hours to see Goa Gajah temple, also known as ‘Elephant Cave’. Nope, the name isn’t a literal one – so don’t go there with the expectation of seeing some elephants roaming about the place.

Alarm set for 7:00 am and overnight oats packed in Tupperware boxes, we took a walk through the paddies and arrived at the temple just after it opened, avoiding the crowds.

History of Goa Gajah

Quick history lesson so you don’t have to spend time clicking around on Wikipedia. The exact time Goa Gajah was built is up for some debate but falls roughly between the 9th and 11th centuries. Either way, we can all agree that it’s old. Historians are still not sure what the actual purpose of the Goa Gajah temple was, but the general consensus is that it was a place of worship for Hindus and Buddhists.

Goa Gajah: Is it worth it?

Yes, yes, yes. There you go – an easy answer. We’re the kind of people who are suckers for all things old. Any ancient site and it’ll immediately earn a spot on our places to visit. If you’re a similar type of tourist, then this Goa Gajah is a good choice for you too.

The temple is nestled at the bottom of a basin-like slope. We admired the view for a few minutes before walking down the stairs to weave in and out of the thatch-roofed structures, and then into the jungle where the mosquitoes devoured us. Rather than inadequately describing the scenery, we’ll let our pictures do the talking.

Times and Costs

On some websites, Goa Gajah is listed as being open 24 hours a day. Ignore that. The opening times are from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Ticket prices will vary between adults and children as well as foreigners and nationals. One foreigner adult ticket will cost you IDR 50k (3 euros). Bargain. But be sure to bring cash, as card isn’t accepted.

We’re the type of people who enjoy that smug, self-satisfied feeling that comes when you beat the crowds. Honestly, there’s nothing better than leaving just as things start to get busy and we left after an hour of looking around. We’d suggest you do the same too. Too much noise would just ruin the atmosphere, and an early start means that you’ll also be avoiding the hottest part of the day – so you can save that SPF 50 for later.

Getting to oa Gajah and what to wear

We’re based in Ubud so getting to Goa Gajah was no issue for us. Depending on where you’re based, you can walk to the temple (like we did) or get a Grab. If you decide to walk, then bear in mind that the temple is next to a busy road – and ‘busy road’ in Bali is a whole other level. We had to walk single file, and still only just managed to narrowly avoid hits with motorbikes (some of the dead snakes we saw clearly weren’t as lucky).

It’s a temple so the usual rules apply here. Legs and shoulders need to be covered (though we noticed they were pretty relaxed about the latter). There are also sarongs available at the entrance, at no added cost, so you won’t need to buy one from any of the stall vendors.


Abysmall pun aside, if you’re now planning to visit Goa Gajah then make sure to check out some of the neighbouring rice paddies which are a short walk or drive along the road, as well as some cafes. Let us know what you think and send any pictures our way (partly to show Ellie how it’s done).

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