A highlight of any trip to Ubud is to witness a traditional Balinese dance. There are three main types of traditional Balinese dances to watch: Kecak, Barong and Legong. Each has its own cultural significance, eye-catching costumes, and cultural significance.
The Kecak Dance (“Tari Kecak” in Indonesian) is a dramatic telling of the Ramayana story – a tale of Prince Rama and his adventures – performed by a circle of 50-60 bare-chested men wearing checkered Balinese sarongs. There’s fire, there’s chanting, there’s rhythmic and synchronised arm movements, and most interestingly, there’s no music! The entire dance is performed to the chants of "cak," which creates a mesmerising and enchanting atmosphere.
Barong Dances depict the eternal battle between good (Barong) and evil (Ramada), with a mythical lion representing good, and a demon queen representing evil. Often performed during religious ceremonies and temple festivals, the Barong Dance combines storytelling, music, and elaborate animal costumes and is as captivating as it is educational.
Finally, the Legong Dance is a refined and graceful dance performed by young women that's characterised by small finger movements, eye and facial expressions, and complicated footwork. Legong Dances originated in the 19th century as royal entertainment and depict angels divinely dancing in heaven, with dancers wearing elaborate and vibrant costumes and headdresses – making it incredible to watch how elegantly and quickly they move to the music.
While these dances don’t exclusively take place at temples, the spectacle is amplified when surrounded by the grandeur of temple architecture.
Great for families, these shows usually take place in prominent temples like the Ubud Royal Palace (Puri Saren Agung) and the Pura Dalem Taman Kaja.
The temples are free to enter during the day and are a nice place to visit in their own right – but they come alive in a different way at night, filling the courtyard with vibrant costumes, live music, rhythmic dancing and more. It’s as enjoyable and entertaining as it is an educational immersion in Bali’s traditions and heritage.
The Ubud Palace dance performances take place every day at 7:30pm (except for Nyepi, the holy Hindi Day of Silence), whilst the one at Pura Dalem Taman Kaja is every Monday and Friday. Tickets are available for purchase at the door, but you will see flyers being handed out during the day on the streets of Ubud as well. We recommend you arrive more than 30 minutes early to secure a good seat. As the performance takes place outdoors, it’s a good idea to apply mosquito repellent and wear a light jacket.
Cost: IDR 100,000 (~AUD$10)
Jl. Raya Ubud No. 8, Ubud, Gianyar Regency, Bali 80571
Open Stage Pura Dalem Ubud 80571, Indonesia
13. Dance to live music at the Laughing Buddha