Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Bali

Jessica Peterson

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is exactly what it sounds like — a nature reserve and temple complex with more than 340 long-tailed macaques roaming freely. These entertaining socialites do not hesitate to climb on, steal from, and perch from visitors brave enough to interact with them. We thought all our junk was bolted down, but alas a furry, klepto-maniacal macaque lifted some trash peeking from our bag.

I could visit this park daily, as I love animals and love seeing them uncaged like this. Macaques are incredibly energetic, mischievous, and social and really seemed to enjoy interacting with the visitors, who exhibited a mix of terror and delight. Obviously, I was on the end of delight and didn’t mind them crawling on my lap and even my head (hubby said ‘no way’ to this kind of intimacy). I never picked up any monkeys, but when I sat down they took that as an invitation both to pickpocket and climb me. I’m not advising this because every piece of literature and signage warns against it, but I think retaining a calm demeanor helped, even when I got bit!

See my detailed Bali travel story and my Bali video diary.


Don’t try this at home. I actually got bit by this deceptively cuddly monkey. It was a play bite, kinda like a puppy or a kitten, but I did make sure it didn’t break the skin. All of this to explain the nervous smile you see below.


Dress: Venus.  Shoes: Macy’s (similar).  Hat: Macy’s Mens.  Bag: similar.  Sunglasses: SM Store.

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