Pura Besakih © Benjamin
Locally known as the Mother Temple of Bali, Pura Besakih is located on the slopes of Mount Agung and is the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temples. Dating back to the 14th century, the three main temples are dedicated to Shiva, Brahma and Wisnu, and another 18 separate sanctuaries belonging to different regencies and caste groups surround these. The complex has been built over centuries and is very impressive; however, the magnificence of the experience can be somewhat blighted by the insistent local touts at the site. Apart from paying the official entrance fee visitors are coerced into paying 'donations' to the temple and are forced into hiring tour guides. Many tourists have reported feeling harassed which detracts from the impact of this otherwise remarkable and worthwhile site. For this reason you may be advised to skip Pura Besakih in favour of some of the less famous and less crowded temples. Being aware of some of the common tourist scams makes the visit easier: it is possible to explore without a guide but you will be endlessly bothered so it is preferable to be with a local. If you do visit Pura Besakih, or any other temple for that matter, it is customary to wear a sarong out of respect for local traditions. Despite the hassle of dealing with touts this is a beautiful and interesting attraction and many will find it rewarding regardless.