Bali Monkeys: How to See Them & Avoid Confrontation

Bali Monkeys, more formally named the Long-Tailed Macaques, are a breed of monkeys found in Bali. Tourists often pull out their cameras to capture a picture of these adorable creatures. However, despite their cuteness, they can also be quite aggressive. Therefore, this guide aims to provide information on where to find the monkeys and how to have a positive experience when encountering them

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    About Bali Monkeys

    The Bali Monkey Has Multiple Names:

    “Bali Monkeys” is a term used to refer to a breed of monkeys called the Macaque. In Bali, these monkeys are known by a few different names.

    • Bali Monkeys: This is a slang name that visitors of Bali use, and it is not official.
    • Long-Tailed Macaque: This name is derived from the fact that they have a long tail which is bigger than their bodies.
    • Crab-Eating Macaque: This name comes from the fact that they are often seen searching for crabs on beaches.
    • Monyet: This is the name that Indonesians use to refer to this monkey.

    These Monkeys Live All Over Asia:

    The Bali Monkeys are a species of Macaque monkey found throughout Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, India, the arid mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as the temperate mountains of Japan, northern China, Morocco, and Nepal. The Macaque monkey is known by various different names in each country.

    How the Monkeys Behave:

    The Macaque exhibits different behavioral characteristics in each country. For example, during my travels in Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia, I found them to be the most aggressive towards humans in Bali. While I am unsure if this is a fact, it was my personal experience.

    Bali Monkeys often reside in social groups that consist of three to 20 females, their offspring, and at least one male. As a result, tourists may encounter more than one monkey at a time. These monkeys are often found near beaches, searching for crabs to eat, or in forests. They tend to sleep at night and are most active during the day.

    Here's Where You Can Find Bali Monkeys:

    Monkey in Ubud Monkey Forest

    Bali Monkeys can be found all over Bali, but there are certain areas where their presence is guaranteed. Here is a list of the top five spots where you are likely to see them.

    • Monkey Forest Ubud: Ubud’s Monkey Forest (Mandala Suci Wenara Wana) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bali. It is a sanctuary that preserves the Long-Tailed Macaques in their natural habitat, and over 1,000 Bali Monkeys live in this forest. Visitors can explore the forest and observe the monkeys interacting with each other throughout the day.

    • Uluwatu Temple: Bali Monkeys have a long-standing association with the famous temple in Uluwatu. They have inhabited the temple grounds for hundreds of years, and according to Balinese legend, the monkeys protect the area from evil spirits. Tourists who visit this temple will encounter hundreds of monkeys as they walk down the path in front of the Indian Ocean.

    • Sangeh Monkey Forest: This forest, which is located in the Badung Regency of Bali, is home to hundreds of monkeys. The forest spans over 35 acres and is also inhabited by about 22 different species of birds.

    • Pulaki Temple: This is a Balinese Hindu temple located west of Singaraja in Bali. The monkeys that inhabit the grounds are believed to protect the temple. Cages were constructed around the sacred area where Indonesians pray because monkeys were disrupting their prayers and consuming the offerings that were intended for the gods.

    • Beaches: Bali monkeys can be found on many beaches throughout Bali, but they are most commonly spotted on beaches that are close to forests.

    How Bali Monkeys Can Be a Nuisance:

    Monkey in Uluwatu Temple

    Bali monkeys are scavengers and have a tendency to search for things to hoard and eat. It is not uncommon for Bali monkeys to exhibit the following behaviors (which I personally witnessed during my visit to Bali):

    • Eat a person’s food: Bali Monkeys won’t hesitate to quickly snatch any food they see. When visitors attempt to lure Bali monkeys towards them for a photo opportunity, they often wave 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 display a sense of humor. A common trick of theirs is to snatch sunglasses straight off 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. It’s very funny.

    • Steal Items from a Person’s bag: This trick is most common in places where people are unsuspecting, such as beaches. Sometimes, when Bali Monkeys see an unattended bag, they will open it and take anything 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, it will often growl, and if provoked enough, it may bite. This is not a common occurrence, and a Bali Monkey will never bite if unprovoked. However, 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:

    Monkey in Ubud Forest Taking Visitors Bag
    • Don’t leave any items unattended: 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!

    Bali Monkey in Ubud Monkey Forest

    The monkeys in Bali are adorable, and an encounter with them will surely be memorable. Let’s be honest; they make for great pictures and stories to share with your friends. 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, you can have a great time.

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    34 thoughts on “Bali Monkeys: How to See Them & Avoid Confrontation”

    1. Omg – this is such a cute post! I’ve heard they can be quite sassy – I think I’d be keeping my distance, but they are so entertaining! Love the little one with his tongue out haha.

    2. I admit I was a little nervous about visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest after hearing that the monkeys can be quite mean, but we managed to leave without any confrontations. Great tips and photos!

    3. This is great info!! Wish I had it before visiting the Monkey Forest in Bali a few years back… luckily, I wasn’t bit, but someone in my group was! She was fine, but yeah, you must be careful with the monkeys. They are incredibly unafraid of humans & love to steal food, so I love that you recommend not to feed them, though there are people selling you bananas to do so.

      1. Oh yikes, I haven’t actually heard of someone actually being bitten. Our tour guide warned us that it could happen but I semi didn’t believe it. Thanks for sharing your story! :)

    4. Oh those little monkeys make look cute but they are very mischievous indeed. I saw quite a few naughty ones in the Ubud sanctuary. Thankfully they’ve always been good to me but it definitely helps knowing how to behave around them

      1. Yea it def does! I think the Monkeys in areas that are frequented by tourists (like the sanctuary) can be the most “misbehaved” because they’re so comfortable with people.

    5. This is such good information!! While I was there, I had a glitter holder for my hand sanitizer on the outside of my purse and a large monkey came after me for it! I had to put it inside the bag quickly so it would not attack me! I was also told before I went to not smile at them (or tease them) because this is an act of aggression!

    6. I encountered a cousin of these monkeys in Gibraltar (same monkeys but without tails). I completely agree with all your tips because one almost ran off with my purse!

    7. Funny enough – I spent 3 weeks on Bali and never saw a monkey once! I heard some stories from friends and I’m sure your tips would have helped a lot haha.

      1. Wow, I’m amazed that you never saw any monkeys! We mostly saw them in places that were famous for having them (like the Monkey Forest in UBUD and the Uluwatu Temple) … but, we also saw them on a couple of beaches “in the wild.” There weren’t any roaming freely in cities like Ubud or Canggu, though.

    8. OMG! This guide is essential for visiting Bali! I had no idea how aggressive these monkeys were until one tried to bite me in Malaysia! In the Ubud monkey forest in Bali they stole my sunglasses and we saw a group attack a man for trying to take a photo with one! Soo scary!

      1. Its def something people don’t tell you about until you go there, right? Haha. So funny to hear that they stole your sunglasses…although I’m sure you didn’t feel that it was funny at the time :)

    9. Great information! I was never in Bali but I saw monkeys in Thailand and they weren’t afraid of humans. They were chasing us for food which was pretty scary at the time.

      1. Oh, wow! I’m sure that was scary! I saw them in Thailand too but more or less kept my distance because I had heard stories like that and was coming from Bali where they were crazy!

    10. IT is interesting to read that you found the monkeys to be a nuisance in Bali. I haven’t been to Bali but I have seen them in Thailand and didn’t find them to be annoying. I think this was the case because we saw them from afar; we threw them bananas from our boat (we were encouraged to do this by our tour guide) but didn’t actually get up close and personal. They definitely seem like smart animals being able to unzip things etc!

      1. I found that the behaviors of the monkeys were different in Bali vs. Thailand. I experienced the monkeys in Thailand too and found that they more or less kept their distance and were more “afraid” of humans than they were in Bali. Funny that the same kind of monkey can behave so differently in different environments!

    11. After meeting someone who caught an infection that made his whole face swell and go red after a monkey sat on his shoulder, I’m always so cautious of monkeys haha! They’re a real pest in parts of Asia and they just eat trash that tourists leave behind which upsets me. I love seeing them in the jungle though but for those wanting to see them elsewhere – this is a useful guide!

      1. Oh my gosh, he got an infection just from a monkey SITTING ON HIS SHOULDER!? That’s so absurd! Poor person, hahaha. They’re definitely cute and fun to watch … but yeah I agree, it’s good to keep some distance!

    12. Great tips, I’ve had more than one encounter with these things in China and they are crafty, persistent and aggressive. It’s no surprise though when people constantly feed them. But this is some sound advice I really hope people pay attention to

      1. I’ve heard that they’re more aggressive in China than other countries in Asia. I wonder why that is? I’ve never been to China but you’re not the first person that’s shared a story like this that’s been there!

    13. I’ve been wanting to visit Bali and this is a great tip once I am able to visit the country. I’m really scared of monkeys particularly of the aggressive ones who are grabbing something from people.

    14. We were in Malasia about 8 or 9 years ago and went to a huge cave that m nkeys swarmed into from a opening in the top of the mountain .That is the only time I have seen monkeys in the wild. WQe were warned not to touch or put anything down, but they still grabbed people’s bottles and packets and anything they could reach Why are there so many orphaned ones with people raising them on line?. I love watching them .

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