Skip to Content

New Controversial Tourist Activity Launches At Of Bali’s Most Famous Temples

Share The Article

One of Bali’s most popular temples has launched a new activity for visitors. Uluwatu Temple is one of the most famous temples on the island and is popular with tourists who want to admire the stunning view of the Indian Ocean and also interact with wild monkeys.

MOnkey at Uluwatu Temple.jpg

There are dozens of opportunities to observe wild monkeys in Bali. Tourists can see Bali’s monkeys in places like the Ubud Scared Monkey Forest or even truly wild monkeys out in the West Bali National Park.

There have been hundreds of viral videos over the years showing scenes of monkeys, well, being monkeys.

Everything from biting tourists to stealing phones, ransacking handbags for snacks, and ripping glasses off people’s faces. It’s wild!

@simonboles POV: breakfast on exam day 📍Uluwatu Temple, Bali #baliindonesia #uluwatutemple #uluwatu #monkeysofinstagram #balitravel ♬ original sound – Simon Boles

The monkeys at Uluwatu Temple are particularly notoriously badly behaved.

We say badly; they’re actually incredibly clever and have simply learned how to adapt to get benefit from having so many people around.

The monkeys at Uluwatu Temple, cute as they may be, have a pretty savvy system in place. 

They are known to set their sights on a tourist from afar, and when the target is preoccupied with taking photos or looking at the view, the monkey jumps in and nabs their phone, bags, jewelry, hat, glasses, or anything they can get their hands on.

The monkeys have learned that if they steal things belonging to humans that the guards and other tourists will try to bribe them with food.

So it’s simply become a game to them or a smart way to get their primal needs for food met. 

Top 5 Travel Insurance Plans For 2023 Starting At $10 Per Week

Easily Earn Points For Free Travel

@meanderwithmia Bro these monkeys suck, especially at #uluwatutemple #bali #monkeys ♬ original sound – Mia Chloe | travel & living

So, what is the controversial activity now being offered at Uluwatu Temple? 

Officials at the temple have launched a new tourist program where visitors can come and directly feed the monkeys.

A move they hope will help improve awareness among tourists, help curb the dangerous behavior of the monkeys and encourage visitors to feel more confident around the animals.

@sebomijang Bali Monkeys at Uluwatu temple can be very aggressive 😮‍💨 #balitravel #balitravelguide #balitraveltips #baliholidays #uluwatutemple #balimonkeys ♬ Makeba – Jain

The Uluwatu Temple Tourism Management Manager, I Wayan Wijana, exampled to tourists that the new feeding activity will happen every Sunday at 4pm.

Wijana hopes that the activity will help dispel negative perceptions about the monkeys. 

Wijana said he and his teams are “Providing free food [and the monkeys] choose selectively. From management, visitors may interact with the monkeys for free and remain under supervision.”

He shared that tourists will be able to “get close to the monkeys and take pictures with the monkeys.”


He noted that there are six different familial groups of monkeys who live in and around Uluwatu Temple.

Some of them are known to be aggressive, while others have proven so far to be more predictable in their behavior.

Wijana said that temple guides will communicate with tourists about which monkeys are safe or not safe to approach.

Wijana said that “We prohibit [tourists] from bringing their own food and giving it without our supervision. So there must be a companion from our team.” 

When asked about the overall management and husbandry of the wild monkeys, Wijana said that he and his team are on the ball when it comes to monitoring for rabies.

He said that the 650 known monkeys in the Uluwatu Temple area are under close health observation. 


Wijana added, “We routinely carry out vaccines every six months; even if there is an issue of rabies or not, we will still vaccinate.”

Nevertheless, he said, it is of the utmost importance that tourists must remain ‘vigilant and careful’ when in proximity to the primates. 

While some people believe that interacting with wild monkeys is fundamentally harmless, since they are now so familiar with humans, the consequences in the long term are hugely risky. 


Last month World Animal Protection, the international animal welfare organization, shared the results of their undercover investigation that found there to be no ethical animal tourism experiences in Bali or Lombok; this includes interactions with wild and semi-wild animals. 

The organization, along with many others, advises against engaging in any activities that promote close encounters with wildlife.

Close interaction between humans and wildlife, especially primates, is particularly dangerous for both the health of humans and monkeys and can severely disrupt the wildlife’s natural behaviors and social hierarchies. 

Remove All Ads & Unlock All Articles… Sign up for The Bali Sun Premium

Plan Your Bali Holiday:
Book The Best English Speaking Drivers For Airport Transfers & Tours
Choose From Thousands of Bali Hotels, Resorts, and Hostels with Free Cancellation On Most Properties
Book Cheap Flights To Bali
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance That Covers Medical Expenses In Bali

For the latest Bali News & Debate Join our Facebook Community


Enter your email address to subscribe to The Bali Sun’s latest breaking news, straight to your inbox.

Denise Buckland

Saturday 22nd of July 2023

I was there 2 weeks ago. The Temple Guides accept money to get items off the monkeys. Usually it's valuables such as prescription glasses, phones, cameras and necklaces. If the guides, who expect a tip, don't intervene, the monkeys throw the items over the wall and into the sea or just destroy them. I found the whole experience terrifying


Wednesday 19th of July 2023

Misbehaving monkeys are OK.


Wednesday 19th of July 2023

Let tourists feed the monkeys? As usual the wrong solution to a human created problem.

Why not ensure the monkeys have plenty of food from the nature at Uluwatu (fruit trees, insects, seeds)? Oh I see. Not possible as overdevelopment taking over the area and pushing the monkeys into begging/stealing food.


Thursday 20th of July 2023

@Exp, Precisely and humans should not interact with wild animals. This will make the monkeys totally dependent on humans for food.


Wednesday 19th of July 2023

Ubud's "Scared" monkey forest is absolutely correct. It's scary to visit there, those monkeys are fast learners from the natives. They'll steal anything from tourists that they can lay their hands on.

Wayan Bo

Friday 21st of July 2023

@Firechef, natives are learning monkeys what they shouldn’t do, but obviously there was some misunderstandings.

Wayan Bo

Tuesday 18th of July 2023

The true problem is that monkeys are learning bad behavior from the tourist's.