Bali Monkeys: How to See Them & Avoid Confrontation
Bali Monkeys or more formally named, the Long Tale Macaque are a breed of monkeys in Bali. Tourists often whip out their cameras to nab a picture of the adorable creatures. While these monkeys are in fact, quite adorable, they also can be a bit aggressive. This is a guide for where to find the monkeys and how to have a good experience with them when you encounter them.
About Bali Monkeys
The Monkey Has Multiple Names:
Bali Monkeys are a breed of the Macaque monkey and has a few different names in Bali:
Bali Monkeys: This is what visitors of Bali call them, it’s a slang name and not official.
Long Tale Macaque: Given name because they have a long tail that’s bigger than their bodies.
Crab Eating Macaque: Given name because they often look for crabs on beaches.
Monyet: This is what Indonesian’s call this monkey.
These Monkeys Live All Over Asia:
Bali Monkeys are the Macaque monkey species, which can be found all over Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, India, arid mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and temperate mountains in Japan, northern China, Morocco, and Nepal. The Macaque monkey is called various different names in each country.
How the Monkeys Behave:
The Macaque also has different behavioral characteristics in each country: for example, I encountered this monkey in Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia but found them to be the most aggressive towards humans in Bali. I’m not sure if there is any fact behind this, but it just was my personal experience.
Bali Monkeys often live in social groups that contain three to 20 females, their offspring, and at least one male. Because of this, tourists often encounter more than one Monkey at a time. You’ll often find them near beaches, scouring for crabs to eat or in forests. They often sleep at night and are the most active during the day.
Here's Where You Can Find Bali Monkeys:
Bali Monkeys can be found all over Bali but there are some areas that they are guaranteed to frequent. Here’s a list of the top five spots that you’ll see them.
- Monkey Forest Ubud: Ubud’s Monkey forest (Mandala Suci Wenara Wana) is one of the top tourist attractions in Bali. It’s a sanctuary that preserves the Long Tailed Macaques in their natural habitat. Over 1,000 Bali Monkeys live in this forest. Visitors can roam through the forest and watch them interact with one another throughout the day.
- Uluwatu Temple: Bali Monkeys have a long history with this famous temple in Uluwatu. They have inhabited the temple grounds for hundreds of years—it’s said in Bali legend that the monkeys protect the area from evil spirits. Tourists that visit this temple will encounter hundreds of the monkeys as they walk down the path of the temple, which is in front of the Indian ocean.
- Sangeh Monkey Forest: This forest is located in the Badung Regency of Bali and is inhabited by hundreds of monkeys. The forest covers over 35-acres and is also home to about 22 different species of birds.
- Pulaki Temple: A Balinese Hindu temple that’s located to the west of Singaraja, Bali. The monkeys that live on the grounds are said to protect the temple. Cages were built around the sacred area that Indonesian’s pray in because Monkeys were interrupting their prayers and eating the offerings that were laid out for the gods.
- Beaches: Bali monkeys can be found on many beaches throughout Bali. They are most commonly seen in beaches that are in close proximity to the forest.
How Bali Monkeys Can Be a Nuisance:
The monkeys in Bali are scavengers. They like to look for things to hoard and eat. It is not uncommon for Bali Monkeys to do the following (I saw them do most of this with my own eyes when I visited Bali):
Eat a person’s food: They won’t hesitate to grab any food that they see as quickly as possible. When visitors want to entice Bali Monkeys to come towards them for a photo opp, they often waive a banana which almost always guarantees that at least one monkey will approach.
Grab sunglasses off of someone’s head and wear them!: These monkeys are hilarious to watch and often have a sense of humor. A common trick of theirs is to grab sunglasses straight off of a visitor’s head. The monkey will then sometimes put the glasses on their own head to taunt the visitor that they took them from. Very funny.
Steal Items from a Person’s bag: This trick is most common in places with unsuspecting people, such as beaches. Sometimes, when Bali Monkeys see a bag left alone, they’ll open the bag and take anything that they can find. I once saw a monkey steal food and a camera from a tourist’s bag at Uluwatu beach.
Growl & Bite: If a Bali Monkey feels threatened, they’ll often growl and if provoked enough, bite. This is not a common occurrence and a Bali Monkey will never bite if unprovoked but it’s often a good idea to give them their space and respect the fact that you’re in their territory when visiting.
How to Avoid Confrontation with Bali Monkeys:
- Don’t leave any items unwatched: Don’t leave a bag with valuables out on a beach without someone to guard it.
- If a monkey tries to grab something from you, don’t panic and just let it go: If you try to fight back they’ll likely bite.
- Keep valuables close to your body in a closed, secure bag: Bali Monkeys can open zippers, laces, ties, etc. so be sure to have everything tightly secured. This is especially true if you are walking through an area with a high monkey concentration such as the Ubud Monkey Forest and Uluwatu Temple.
- Don’t feed the monkeys: This will lead to tons of monkeys approaching you and they’ll always want more food than you have available for them.
- Don’t touch the monkeys: They definitely won’t like this and will most likely bite you if you try to get close.
- Avoid Eye Contact: Bali Monkeys will perceive direct eye contact as an act of aggression.
- If approached by a monkey, be calm: Sudden movements (such as throwing your hands in the air) will startle them and cause them to become aggressive
...and the Most Important Tip, Enjoy!
The monkeys in Bali are adorable and an encounter with one will surely be memorable and let’s be honest, they make for great pictures and stories to share with your friend. They’re tons of fun to watch, which is why tourists flock to places like the Ubud Monkey Forest to see them. As long as you follow safety measures and don’t provoke them, then you can have a great time.