Staying Safe Around Monkeys in Bali: Tips and Precautions

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.

 

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 behavioural 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.

 

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.

 

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

  • 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

 

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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