Tourists disappointed after finding out popular Bali destination is 'faked' for Instagram

Chelsea Ritschel

Tourists are expressing their disappointment after visiting a popular Instagram destination in Bali - only to find it is edited to appear differently in photos for social media.

Lempuyang Temple in Karangasem, often referred to as the “Gates of Heaven,” sees thousands of visitors each year.

Many of these tourists come to recreate pictures they’ve seen on Instagram of people standing in the middle of the temple, with water mirroring their reflection back at them.

However, in reality, a mirror is used to artfully craft the photos, as there is no water at the Hindu temple at all.

The realisation has led many disgruntled tourists to leave one- or- two-star reviews on TripAdvisor, where they have lamented the “fake” landmark, as well as the queues.

“Without editing, most photos will look rather ordinary,” one person wrote. “Photos you see online look pretty because the shots are taken with a mirror, giving the impression of a reflection on water.”

Another said: “I don’t know what to say… I feel both blessed to have visited this holy temple but also mislead by the many pictures… Prior to doing my research, I was convinced that this place was nestled between a beautiful, clear pond and the gate.

There is no water at the temple in Bali (Getty)

“To my surprise, this place does not have a pond/lake/or any kind of water. The illusion is the mirror placed beneath your camera to give it the ‘mirrored effect’...

“While this place is beautiful, I’m not sure if I’d recommend it. If you MUST have your IG picture then yes, but be sure to arrive early and expect at minimum a two-hour wait for a deceiving picture.”

Last week, Fortune editor Polina Marinova shared her own shock at the temple’s real appearance on Twitter.

“Proof that Instagram influencers have ruined everything,” Marinova wrote alongside an edited photo and a real photo of the attraction. “My hopes & dreams were shattered when I found out that the ‘water’ at the Gates of Heaven is actually just a piece of glass under an iPhone.”

Marinova’s tweet has since gone viral, prompting others to comment with their own experiences visiting the temple.

“And Instagrammers don’t tell you about the long queues and hours of waiting,” one person commented, while another said: “True story, visited the place. Looks nothing close to what people put on Instagram.”

However, other people have commended the locals for the idea to use a mirror to make the temple look even more beautiful in photos for tourists.

“Love the ingenuity displayed by everyday people,” someone wrote.