Welcome to Ubud, Bali – a place that’s not just a destination, but a serene experience waiting to embrace you. I’ve spent an unforgettable three months living in Ubud, immersing myself in its captivating blend of nature, spirituality, and culinary delights. In my eyes, Ubud stands out as the jewel of Bali. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about this enchanting place. From the must-visit attractions that will leave you awe-struck, to the cozy corners for your stay, and insider tips to make your visit seamless and memorable – I’ve got it all covered. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning admirer of Ubud, this guide is your all-in-one resource for experiencing the best of what this magical place has to offer. Join me on this journey to uncover the hidden gems and the soul of Ubud, Bali.
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Ubud, Bali Travel Guide
Why Visit Ubud?
Why Visit Ubud? Ubud is not just a place; it’s the cultural heartbeat of Bali. This town is a vibrant tapestry of Balinese traditions and modern lifestyle, offering an authentic glimpse into the island’s soul. Here, ancient temples stand as silent yet eloquent testimonies to Bali’s rich spiritual heritage. The air is often filled with the fragrance of incense from daily offerings, and the rhythmic sound of gamelan music sets the backdrop for colorful ceremonies and festivals that are a feast for the senses.
But Ubud’s allure doesn’t end there. It seamlessly blends its cultural richness with the contemporary comforts and trends Bali is renowned for. The town is a haven for food enthusiasts, boasting an array of dining options from traditional Balinese warungs to trendy vegan cafes. Wellness seekers find solace in its numerous yoga and wellness retreats, each offering a chance to reconnect with oneself amidst serene surroundings.
Additionally, Ubud is a hub for digital nomads and creatives, thanks to its myriad of coworking spaces and cafes, each buzzing with inspiration and connectivity. Whether you’re seeking spiritual enrichment, cultural immersion, culinary delights, or a tranquil space to work and rejuvenate, Ubud is the place where all these elements converge, offering an experience that’s both enriching and unforgettable.
Best Things to Do in Ubud, Bali
1. Walk the Rice Fields of Sayan & Tegallalang
Ubud’s rice fields offer a serene dive into Balinese farm life. The lesser-known Sayan rice fields are hidden gems where visitors can experience authentic Ubud farm life, observing local farmers amidst the tranquil, lush green paddies. This off-the-beaten-path destination offers a genuine slice of rural Bali.
In contrast, the Tegallalang rice terraces are a well-known tourist spot. Despite their popularity, they are still fun for what they are. These iconic terraces, with their stunning, cascading landscapes, are a testament to Bali’s rich agricultural heritage. While busier, Tegallalang provides a picturesque and rewarding experience, with many famous Bali swings and photo spots.
Whether seeking the quiet authenticity of Sayan or the celebrated vistas of Tegallalang, both locations are quintessential Ubud experiences, embodying the island’s serene and fertile essence.
2. Visit the Palace/Temples
Ubud Palace and the surrounding temples stand as testaments to Bali’s rich cultural and historical tapestry. The Ubud Palace, known locally as Puri Saren Agung, lies at the heart of Ubud and is a marvel of traditional Balinese architecture. It’s not only a historical landmark but also a hub for cultural events and dance performances.
Exploring the temples around Ubud is a journey into the spiritual core of Bali. Each temple, with its unique charm and history, offers a glimpse into the island’s religious and cultural practices. Here are some of the best temples to visit:
- Pura Taman Saraswati: Famous for its lotus pond and classical dance performances.
- Pura Taman Ayun: A royal temple known for its expansive gardens and moat.
- Pura Gunung Kawi: Renowned for its rock-cut shrines and serene ambiance.
- Pura Tirta Empul: Famous for its holy water springs and purification baths.
Visiting these sites provides a deeper understanding of Ubud’s spiritual heritage and architectural grandeur, making them essential stops for any visitor.
3. Monkey Forest
The Monkey Forest, while a popular tourist destination in Ubud, is an undeniably fun and memorable experience. Home to a lively troop of grey long-tailed macaques, this unique sanctuary is not just about playful monkeys but also features lush forest trails and ancient temples.
To make the most of your visit, it’s advisable to go early in the morning. An early visit not only helps avoid the larger crowds but also ensures a more serene encounter with the monkeys. As the forest becomes busier, the monkeys can become more excited and less predictable.
Enjoying the Monkey Forest in the quiet of the morning allows for a peaceful exploration of its natural beauty and a more relaxed interaction with its furry inhabitants. This makes the experience not just enjoyable but also a quintessential part of any Ubud itinerary.
4. Chase Waterfalls
Ubud is a treasure trove of natural wonders, with its stunning waterfalls ranking high among them. Scattered across the region, especially as you venture north of downtown Ubud into more remote areas, you’ll find a plethora of cascades, each offering a unique beauty and ambiance. These waterfalls are not just about the allure of the falling water; they’re gateways to Ubud’s lush landscapes and a testament to the island’s natural splendor.
Here are some of the must-visit waterfalls in the Ubud area:
- Kanto Lampo Waterfall: Known for its picturesque cascading waters over a rocky face, offering a great spot for photos and a refreshing dip.
- Goa Rang Reng Waterfall: A two-tiered waterfall that combines natural beauty with a sense of adventure, as it includes a cave you can explore.
- Tibumana Waterfall: Famous for its serene setting and crystal-clear plunge pool, perfect for a peaceful swim.
- Suwat Waterfall: Hidden away from the usual tourist path, it offers a tranquil spot surrounded by lush greenery.
Each of these waterfalls provides a different experience, from adventurous treks to serene swims, and is a testament to the diverse and untouched beauty of the Ubud region. Exploring these waterfalls is an exhilarating way to connect with nature and witness the raw beauty of Bali.
5. Visit a Yoga Studio or Wellness Center
Ubud is globally renowned as a sanctuary for spiritual tourism, with its tranquil atmosphere making it an ideal location for yoga and wellness practices. The town is dotted with numerous yoga studios and wellness centers, each offering a unique experience that harmonizes the body and mind.
A personal favorite is the Alchemy Yoga & Meditation Center. With its beautiful new facilities, a range of fantastic classes, and a serene setting, Alchemy stands out as a premier destination for those seeking spiritual rejuvenation. Its gorgeous environment enhances the experience, providing the perfect backdrop for deepening your yoga and meditation practice.
Beyond Alchemy, Ubud offers a wealth of options to suit all preferences, whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or new to yoga and meditation. Embracing this aspect of Ubud’s culture is not just about the physical practice but also about connecting with the town’s vibrant, spiritual essence.
6. Spend the Day at a Pool Club like Cretya
Spending a day at a jungle pool club in Ubud is a delightful way to unwind, especially when you’re with a group of friends. While these spots can be quite touristy and often busy, they offer an undeniably fun and relaxing experience.
One such place that stands out is Cretya. With its lush jungle setting, it provides an enchanting backdrop for a day of leisure and enjoyment. The combination of refreshing pools, vibrant atmosphere, and picturesque surroundings at Cretya makes it a personal favorite.
However, Ubud is dotted with numerous jungle pool clubs, each offering its unique charm and ambiance. Whether you’re looking to lounge by the pool, enjoy a cocktail, or simply soak in the tropical vibe, these clubs cater to all tastes.
7. Dine at the Most Amazing Vegan Restaurants
Ubud is a paradise for vegan food enthusiasts, boasting some of the best vegan dining options I’ve encountered anywhere in the world. The town is a haven for those seeking plant-based culinary delights, offering an array of restaurants that serve up creative and delicious vegan dishes. The variety and quality of vegan food available in Ubud are truly unparalleled, making it a top destination for vegan travelers.
Here’s a list of some exceptional vegan eateries in Ubud:
- Zest: A favorite for its innovative dishes and vibrant atmosphere.
- Moksa Ubud: Offers a farm-to-table experience with fresh, organic ingredients.
- KEMULAN Kitchen & Culture: Blends traditional Balinese flavors with modern vegan cuisine.
- Bella by Sage: Known for its cozy ambiance and delightful vegan menu.
- The Elephant: Offers a panoramic view to complement its flavorful dishes.
- Healthyubud: A great spot for health-conscious eaters looking for nutritious meals.
- Dharma: Perfect for those seeking a fusion of international and local vegan dishes.
- Alchemy: Renowned for its raw vegan options and holistic approach.
Ubud’s vegan scene is ever-evolving, with new restaurants popping up regularly, each bringing its unique twist to vegan cuisine. This ever-growing list of options ensures that vegan visitors will find something to tantalize their taste buds, making Ubud an unbeatable destination for world-class vegan dining.
8. Eat at Local Warungs
A warung is a traditional, small family-owned business in Indonesia, often a simple restaurant or café. These local eateries are quintessential to the Balinese dining experience, known for serving an array of delicious, authentic local dishes at affordable prices.
The charm of warungs lies in their simplicity and the opportunity to enjoy home-cooked Balinese cuisine. While many warungs offer similar menus, featuring classic Indonesian fare, the key is to find one near your accommodation for convenience. Exploring different warungs allows you to immerse yourself in the local food culture of Ubud, enjoying tasty meals that are both budget-friendly and rich in local flavor.
9. Enjoy the Amazing Coffeeshop Scene
Ubud’s coffee scene is a delightful aspect of its vibrant culture, featuring an abundance of incredible coffee shops that cater to every taste. The town is a hotspot for coffee enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of cafes, each with its unique ambiance and specialty brews. Ubud is also renowned for its Kopi Luwak, the world-famous coffee known for its unique production process and rich flavor.
For those looking to indulge in Ubud’s coffee culture, here are some top coffee shops to visit:
- Kopi Pangeran Ubud: A cozy spot known for its traditional Balinese coffee.
- BGS Ubud: Popular for its friendly vibe and excellent coffee selection.
- Seniman Coffee: A favorite among locals and tourists for its artisanal approach to coffee.
- Den O Coffee Ubud: Offers a tranquil setting to enjoy a cup of coffee.
- Ubud Coffee Roastery: Known for roasting and serving its fresh, high-quality beans.
Each of these coffee shops provides a unique experience, allowing visitors to savor not only the taste but also the rich coffee culture that Ubud proudly boasts. Whether you’re a coffee aficionado or just looking for a cozy spot to relax, Ubud’s coffee scene has something to offer everyone.
10. Go on a River Rafting Adventure
Going on a river rafting adventure in Ubud is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience, one I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying twice. The river rapids in Ubud strike a perfect balance, offering enough excitement to be thrilling without being overly intense.
As you navigate the waters, the experience is heightened by the stunning backdrop of the tropical jungle. Gazing upwards at the lush greenery, swimming under cascading waterfalls, and being serenaded by the calls of birds and other wildlife truly immerses you in the heart of nature. This adventure is not just about the thrill of rafting but also about connecting with Ubud’s natural beauty in a unique and exciting way.
There are numerous companies in Ubud offering river rafting experiences, each providing all the necessary equipment and guidance to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey down the river. This activity is a must-do for anyone seeking a blend of adventure and natural wonder in Ubud.
11. Rent a Scooter & Explore on Your Own
Renting a scooter in Ubud is an affordable and convenient way to explore the area on your own terms. There are countless rental options available, often with the convenience of arranging a rental directly through your accommodation. This not only simplifies the process but also supports their local business.
For me, some of my most cherished memories of living in Ubud involve cruising around on a scooter. There’s a sense of unparalleled freedom in weaving through the scenic streets, discovering hidden gems and experiencing the local culture up close. The freedom to explore at your own pace, stopping wherever and whenever something catches your eye, truly enriches the travel experience.
Riding a scooter around Ubud, with the wind in your hair and the vibrant landscape unfolding around you, remains one of the most exhilarating highlights of my travels. It’s an adventure that offers both independence and an intimate connection with the beauty of Ubud.
12. Campuhan Ridge Walk
The Campuhan Ridge Walk, easily accessible from downtown Ubud, is a scenic and tranquil escape into nature. This lovely walk offers stunning views of the lush jungle and gently winds into to a local village, where you’re greeted by picturesque rice terraces and quaint warungs.
Best enjoyed in the early morning, the walk provides not only breathtaking scenery but also a peaceful atmosphere, away from the bustle of the town. It’s an ideal spot for those looking to combine leisure with exercise, offering a gentle yet rewarding outdoor activity. The Campuhan Ridge Walk perfectly encapsulates Ubud’s natural charm and is a must-do for visitors seeking a serene and picturesque experience.
Where to Stay in Ubud
Ubud Bali offers a myriad of accommodations catering to all preferences. From luxurious resorts nestled in tranquil rice fields to charming homestays in the heart of the town. Ubud ensures a memorable stay for every traveler.
A personal favorite is Devi’s Place, a serene haven that epitomizes the peaceful Balinese lifestyle. This boutique accommodation, set amidst flourishing gardens and traditional architecture, offers a unique blend of comfort and authentic Balinese hospitality, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a tranquil retreat. I always stay here when in Bali.
When choosing where to stay in Ubud, consider the various areas each offering a distinct experience:
- Sayan Region: Renowned for its quieter ambiance, the Sayan region is a top pick for those looking to immerse in Ubud’s best food, yoga, and cultural experiences without the hustle of crowded areas. The lush surroundings and serene atmosphere make it perfect for relaxation and introspection.
- Ubud Downtown: If convenience and accessibility are your priorities, staying in downtown Ubud is ideal. This area, while bustling and touristy, puts you in the heart of the action. You’re steps away from famous attractions, markets, and a wide array of dining options, though it comes with the usual buzz of a busy center.
- Penestanan: A quaint and artsy neighborhood, known for its laid-back vibe and picturesque cafes. Ideal for those who enjoy a blend of tranquility and creative inspiration.
- Tegallalang: Famous for its stunning rice terraces, this area offers a more rural experience. It’s perfect for nature lovers and those seeking a deeper connection with Ubud’s natural beauty.
I highly suggest staying outside of downtown Ubud for the best experience. Many people come to Ubud, only visit downtown and then leave. To really experience everything Ubud has to offer, you have to get out of downtown.
Tips for Visiting Ubud
Here are some essential tips for visiting Ubud Bali:
- When to Visit: The ideal time to visit Ubud is during the dry season, from April to September. You’ll enjoy sunny days and lower humidity, making it perfect for exploring and participating in outdoor activities.
- How Long to Visit For: A stay of at least 3-5 days is recommended. This gives you enough time to experience Ubud’s main attractions, indulge in the local culture, and even take a day trip or two.
- Get Out of the Tourist Zone: To truly appreciate Ubud, venture beyond the tourist areas. Explore the smaller villages, rice fields, and local warungs for a more authentic and enriching experience.
- Go Out Early in the Day to Avoid Crowds: Many of Ubud’s popular spots can get crowded, especially in peak season. Start your day early to enjoy these places with fewer people and a more relaxed atmosphere.
- Always Be Respectful of the Local Culture: Balinese culture is rich and unique. Respect local customs, dress modestly when visiting temples, and be mindful of cultural nuances.
- Try the Local Cuisine: Ubud is known for its fantastic culinary scene. Don’t miss out on local dishes and flavors, which are a big part of the Balinese experience.
- Stay Hydrated and Protect Yourself from the Sun: The tropical climate can be dehydrating. Drink plenty of water and use sunscreen to protect against the strong sun.
- Rent a Scooter for Flexibility: Renting a scooter is an affordable way to explore Ubud at your own pace, but ensure you’re comfortable with the local driving conditions.
- Join Local Workshops and Classes: Participate in local workshops like cooking classes, yoga sessions, or art classes to immerse yourself further into Ubud’s culture.
Following these tips will help you make the most of your trip to Ubud.
Best Daytrips from Ubud Bali
Ubud’s central location on the island of Bali makes it an ideal hub for exploring the northern part of this tropical paradise. Its strategic position allows for easy access to a range of diverse and captivating destinations. From the lush countryside to the mystical mountains, the options for day trips are plentiful and varied.
- Jatiluwih Rice Terraces: A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are a breathtaking example of traditional Balinese irrigation known as subak. The expansive green fields provide a serene and picturesque setting, ideal for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts.
- Air Panas Angseri Hot Springs: Hidden away in a lush bamboo forest, the Air Panas Angseri hot springs offer a soothing and authentic experience. The natural, mineral-rich waters are perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation, surrounded by the tranquil Balinese landscape.
- Northern Bali: Exploring Northern Bali reveals a less-traveled side of the island, known for its waterfalls, serene beaches, and the famous Ulun Danu Beratan Temple. This region presents a peaceful contrast to the southern part of Bali, showcasing the island’s diverse beauty.
- Mt Batur Trek: For the adventurous, a trek up Mt. Batur to witness the sunrise is a must-do. This active volcano offers stunning panoramic views from its summit, making the early morning hike a rewarding experience.
- Renting a Motorbike: One of the best ways to experience the authentic Bali is by renting a motorbike and driving through the northern countryside. This allows for a flexible and up-close encounter with the island’s charming villages, hidden temples, and lush landscapes.
Each of these day trips from Ubud provides a unique way to explore Bali beyond its typical tourist spots.
In conclusion, Ubud is not just my favorite part of Bali, but it holds a cherished spot as one of my favorite places in the entire world. This enchanting place, with its lush landscapes, rich culture, and genuine warmth, offers an experience far beyond the ordinary.
The magic of Ubud truly unfolds when you step off the beaten path and immerse yourself in its vibrant life. From the tranquil rice fields to the mystical temples, each corner of Ubud resonates with a unique harmony and peace. Its charm lies not just in the scenic beauty or the myriad of activities it offers, but in the soulful connection it establishes with those who visit.
Ubud is a place that stays with you long after you’ve left, and I know, without a doubt, that it’s a place I will return to someday, to once again lose and find myself in its captivating embrace.