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.

GIrl walking in Uluwatu Temple in front of two Bali Monkeys

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:

Monkey in Ubud Monkey Forest

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 yearsit’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:

Monkey in Uluwatu Temple

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:

Monkey in Ubud Forest Taking Visitors Bag
  • 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!

Bali Monkey in Ubud Monkey Forest

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.

This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Sarah Camp

    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.

    1. Jess

      hahah, yeah … they are sassy for sure. they’re super cute and I def loved watching them from afar 🙂

  2. Rhonda Albom

    I loved this place also. You got some really amazing shots, especially that one with mom and baby. It was a highlight of Ubud.

    1. Jess

      Thanks, aw that’s cute! Seeing the babies with their moms was adorable for me, too.

  3. Alice

    So cute! I was definitely a bit scared of them in Bali though! 😅

    1. Jess

      I had the same feelings! They were so cute and I was also a little scared, haha!

  4. Olivia

    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!

    1. Jess

      Anytime, glad you had a good time at the Monkey Forest, we did too!

  5. Shelley

    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. Jess

      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! 🙂

  6. Claire

    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. Jess

      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.

  7. Kelsey

    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!

    1. Jess

      omg, haha! I would have died if a monkey lunged after me for any reason! Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. Shay

    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!

    1. Jess

      Yikes!! Haha, gotta hold on to your belongings for sure 🙂

  9. Melissa

    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. Jess

      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.

  10. Lana

    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. Jess

      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 🙂

  11. Shany

    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. Jess

      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!

  12. Catherine

    Wow I love monkeys they are so cute and my fav animal!! Def good tips, thanks for sharing!!

    1. Jess

      You’re welcome, yes they’re adorable and super fun to watch!

  13. Chelsea

    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. Jess

      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!

  14. Travelling Tam

    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. Jess

      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!

  15. Emma

    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. Jess

      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!

  16. mytravelatte

    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.

  17. Kelli

    Amazing photos!

  18. Awww they’re adorable! I’ve had similar experiences with the monkeys in the Amazon. One would make funny faces to distract you while the other one opens your backpack lol.

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