Besakih is by far the largest and most sacred temple on the island. It should be very high on any tourist’s agenda, at least in theory.
Yet, before visiting it, you have to be warned that local guides are a real pain in the ass. Balinese, who come from the whole island to pray there, seem to rather accept this behavior, typical of the moutain people (dasar orang gunung “that’s the way they are those moutain folks”).
My advice : get somewhere else. Besakih is the largest but far from the nicest of Balinese temple.
As soon as you approach the premise, some guides will run into you (I came by car and a guy chased me on motorbike on 200m!) and harass you to hire one of them. They can be quite pushy as I heard from various sources.
Let’s be clear, their sole purpose is to make money from tourists. I came with my family in September 2016 and I settled immediately for 100,000Rp for 4 people (including the entrance of 15,000/pax).
The “guide” wasn’t ashamed to explain to me (in Indonesian) that they ask sometimes for $20 / pax… Some hawkers tried to sell offerings to my mom and my sister saying it was mandatory to enter the temple (bullshit). In the end the guy even offered me to give me a commission for each client I will send to him (every Balinese gets a commission for every client he brings to someone).
Explanations he provided about the place were rather confused.
It’s a real shame because Besakih really deserve some decent guides to provide explanations about the purpose of the different area, the caste systems, the divinities …
In many ways, the local mafia is similar to the one that runs Gunung Batur. But Batur guides offer a pretty good service to their clients, even though it’s clearly overpriced.
Bali’s authority should clean up this place and set up a clear system :
- Guide are now mandatory for anyone who wants to visit.
- A standard rate is defined for a tour. Any guest is free to take his own guide or to join a party, let’s say as soon as there is 10 people, a guide takes them on a tour.
It’s exactly the system in place for rangers in Komodo National Park and it works like a charm.
Current entrance fee:15,000Rp per person (not including the “guide”).