Ubud has always been a popular place to visit in Bali. Nestled in the cooler mountain districts, it offers a welcome respite from the crazy pace of Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak. Ubud is known as the artistic capital of this tropical island, and many of the surrounding villages are dedicated to particular arts and crafts. Ubud is also known for its spirituality and mysticism, and this has attracted many people to this area. The book and movie, Eat, Pray, Love did not start this movement to Ubud, but it certainly increased the cities popularity.
When you visit the Ubud, you will be amazed at the stunning verdant rice terraces, the surrounding jungles, the Ayung River, the incredible food and the many opportunities for different wellness, yoga and meditation activities. It is in Ubud that you have the chance to understand more about the Balinese people, and just perhaps more about yourself.
Getting to Ubud
While the distance from Ngurah Rai International Airport to Ubud is only 37kms, the traffic is very heavy in Bali. Plan an hour or better still 90 minutes to get to and from. It will take at least 2 hours from Kuta, and a bit more from Legian and Seminyak.
Taxi’s are very cheap in Bali, but make sure that you negotiate the price before you accept. There are many buses that also travel to Ubud and many tour companies who will take you to this popular mountain city. Again, always nail down the details before you accept the offer.
One of the easiest and most popular, and probably quicker ways to get to Ubud, and around Bali is to hire a motorbike, which are available everywhere.
Getting Around Ubud
Ubud is an easy place to walk around. Just be a little careful as the pavements and gutters are quite rough. When it gets too hot in the middle of the day, get a taxi who is ever present.
Here are 7 Awesome Things to do in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
1. Explore the Religion of Ubud, Bali
You cannot avoid the religion of Bali, especially in Ubud, as it permeates everything that the local people do, and believe. The Balinese practice Balinese Hinduism, making them a little different from the rest of Indonesia which is predominantly Muslim.
Everywhere you look, you will see various ceremonies and processions and the people making many sacred offerings throughout the day. These offerings are gifts to the gods, and you will see them everywhere in Ubud and Bali. They are on the sidewalks, in cafes, and on windowsills to appease the gods and to wish for a profitable and happy day. You should explore some the magnificent temples, like Pura Desa Ubud, which is the main temple in Ubud’s main street, and Puri Saren Agung, which is the royal palace. Ubud is a Regency and has a king.
Another temple worth visiting is a 30-minute drive from Ubud. Pura Gunung Kawi is a magnificent 11th-century temple carved into the rock face. It is a very steep walk down, and a hard climb back up but it is worth itClose by is the water temple called Tirta Empul Water Temple, where the Balinese Hindus go here to bathe in the holy waters. Goa Gajah is known as Elephant Cave and is located south of the Bedulu village.
You will undoubtedly witness a religious procession in Ubud, as they occur regularly. Sometimes these will be scheduled festivals and at other time that could be a funeral, which the Balinese consider a transition from one life to another.
2. Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud
The Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali is also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal and is the sanctuary of the Grey Macaques monkeys. It is a sacred site with three temples throughout the grounds. Pura Dalem Agung, Pura Beji, and Prajapati Temple, which is dedicated to village funerals are all within the Sacred Monkey Forest, which is why you need to be respectful when visiting this attraction.
The Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali is a major tourist attraction, and but it never feels busy as you wander through the jungle. The monkeys have a well-deserved reputation for being thieves, and will willingly take anything that you have not secured properly including hats and sunglasses. Regardless they are fun to watch.
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun 08:00 – 18:00
Location: Jalan Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud
3. Art in Ubud
Ubud has long held a reputation as being the artistic capital of the island of Bali. There are museums and art galleries along the street called Jalan Raya in Ubud. The Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) is well worth exploring to discover more about the artist’s history of the awesome Ubud. To appreciate the masks that you will see in many of the traditional Balinese Dances, The Setia Darma Masks & Puppets House is a museum that can be enjoyed.
To see the artists at work and to appreciate the skills you need to go just outside of Ubud. Generations of families work in the one artistic field. Celuk Village, which is close to Ubud is renowned for their gold and silversmith works. The villages of Mas, Jati, and Kemenuh Village are the woodworking villages, and each village tends to specialize in a particular theme – like animals, figures, or concepts that are more abstract. Batubulan is known for stone carvings of gods and animals. Ubud is also home to many art and writing workshops and has become very popular places for bloggers to work.
4. Dance in Ubud, Bali
There are many opportunities to see the traditional Balinese dances in Ubud. One of the most interesting is the Kecak Dance Performace, a fire dance accompanied by hypnotic chanting. You can see the Kecak Dance Performace at Dalem Ubud Temple, or at Padang Tegal Kaja Ubud. These are performed at sundown. To see a very special performance on the nights of the full moon, you will need to head to the Arma Ubud Museum to see this spectacle.
A very popular thing to do in Bali is to see a performance at the royal palace, the Ancak Saji Ubud Palace. Here you will see and hear the Legong Jobog Dance and the Ramayana. Both are based on myths and legends of the island, and are a good versus evil, with spectacular costumes, masks, makeup, and music.
5. Outdoor Activities
Ubud is a very beautiful area and is well known for the stunningly beautiful Tegallalang Rice Terraces, which are about 9km from the town. Expect to have many hawkers ask you to buy things, and that is part of the charm. The rice terraces are so stunning that you won”t mind the hassling. Another way to explore these terraces is to do rice fields walk. You start at the end of Jalan Kajeng in Ubud and walk through the Tegallalang Rice Terraces to Sari Organik. It is not a hard walk, but it will take you most of the day. Take lots of water because it is very humid in Ubud.
Another excellent outdoor activity is to do the Campuhan Ridge Walk, which you need to start early in the day. Start at the Ubud Traditional Markets on the Corner of Jl. Monkey Forest and Jl. Raya Ubud, you will be on your way. Most people aim to make it to Karsa Kafe for a local Bintang before heading back. It can take as long as you like as you meander through villages and stop at all of the photo opportunity spots. The minimum time would be 2 hours, but you should take longer. Again, bring water and sunscreen and a sarong should you want to enter a temple.
6. Get Well and Get Fit in Ubud
Ubud is the home to everything to do with spirituality to wellness. There are classes for everything, but it would be remiss not to join at least one yoga class. Massages are virtually compulsory and range from very cheap to very expensive in the super luxurious resorts that abound in Ubud.
Ubud is also the place to meet with a traditional Balinese healer or to have your palm read. There is nothing that is not offered in Ubud. It will surprise you.
You will find many ex-pats in Ubud who have moved here for their spiritual growth.
7. Eating and Cooking in Ubud
Food and travel are always important as it is Ubud. You can expect to find more vegan and vegetarian cafes, and more smoothies and fruit shakes than many other places in Bali. Sitting very happily next to all of these is, however, the signature dish of Ubud, the suckling pig. Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3 is considered to have the one of the best ‘babi guling’.
The markets are full of fresh fruits, and there are many places to eat from local warungs to 5-star restaurants, such is the diversity that is Ubud.
Another favorite thing that people like to do in Ubud are to attend cooking classes, and there are many cooking schools to choose from.
Where to Stay in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Best Budget Hotel in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia – Tegal Sari
Tegal Sari is your home base to explore the uniqueness of Ubud. They offer tranquility, privacy, and comfort in Ubud’s famous relaxing atmosphere.
Amidst this scenery nestles Tegal Sari Accommodation, located only 15 minutes walking distance from central Ubud, Gianyar, Bali.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia – Murni’s
Murni’s Houses Offering a spa and wellness center as well as a restaurant.
Murni’s Houses is located in Ubud, 800 m from Ubud Market, 800 m from Ubud Palace and 1.4 km from Ubud Monkey Forest, Bali Denpasar International Airport is 28 km.
There is also a dining area with minibar, refrigerator and coffee/tea making facilities. Featuring a shower, private bathrooms also come with free toiletries. You can enjoy garden view from all the rooms. You will also find a garden and a terrace.
Best Luxury Hotel in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia – Hanging Gardens of Bali
Hanging Gardens Ubud offers villas with a private infinity-edged pool overlooking the Ayung River.
Hanging Gardens Ubud is a 30-minute drive from central Ubud and a 90-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport.
Featuring traditional Balinese décor, the villa at Hanging Gardens Ubud have a large terrace. Each spacious villa is well-equipped with a TV and a bathroom with bathtub. Bathrobes are also provided. Its 5-star facilities include a spa, three dining options, and free internet.
Guests can enjoy a relaxing body massage at the spa or go on a cycling trip. The resort provides car rental services and free shuttle services to Ubud Centre.
About the Writer
Gordon Arthur is a travel writer at Travel Bloguer, a site specializing in weekend getaways and short breaks. He works with his wife Paula McInerney on this site. Gordon and Paula are the perfect teams, who get divorced in every city starting with B but manage to get over it quickly, and have one if the most successful business and love partnerships.