Ubud, translated as “place of healing”, is the second most visited city in Bali, but, unlike Kuta, Ubud has managed to preserve its traditional atmosphere and its welcoming character. It is a good place to base yourself on the island and learn more about Balinese art and culture. Also in Ubud and its surroundings have many things to see and do Today we are going to tell you which are the 20 essentials for us.
:: The best things to do in Ubud ::
1. In the heart of Ubud is the Puri saren (known as the Royal Palace). It is the home of the royal family, so you can only visit the central courtyard. Admission is free.
2. Don’t confuse it with the temple Pure Taman Saraswati, a few meters away, dedicated to the goddess of arts and wisdom and with a beautiful pond full of pink lotuses. It is an oasis in the middle of the city, and it is also free.
3. Contemplate a balinese dance show, in which dance, music and theater are mixed. Ask at the tourist office (there are usually every night) and prices are around IDR 75,000-100,000. Although a good idea is to see it in the Royal Palace itself and thus you already kill two birds with one stone. We recommend that you buy your tickets with some anticipation and arrive early to take the seats in the first rows.
4. Take a walk around the traditional art market, in front of the Royal Palace, and the local market, next. It is a good place to buy a typical souvenir and learn more about local traditions.
5. One of the main things to do in Ubud is to visit the Monkey Forest, a small tropical forest where a peculiar community of monkeys lives. The walk is very pleasant, in addition there are some quite beautiful temples. But please, do not bring food and try not to interfere with their natural behavior, it is best to always leave the animals free, at their own pace. Not just because of them, they can sometimes jump and roll. The entrance is 50,000IDR (about € 3).
6. If you have had a rainy day, do not despair: Ubud has several museums and art galleries. These are the most prominent options:
– The ARMA Museum (Agung Rai Art Museum), an open-air gallery with a magnificent collection of traditional Balinese art.
– The Puri Lukisan Museum, with specimens from the different Balinese art schools and a beautiful garden.
– The Antonio Blanco Museum, with the work of the extravagant Filipino-American painter, with a high erotic charge and nods to the work of the great Dalí
– The Neka Gallery, with samples of 20th century Balinese painting and other works by European painters.
7. You can also take shelter in one of the prettiest coffee shops in all of Southeast Asia. Having a tea or coffee between rice fields is something that you have to remember from this trip! We recommend the Lazy Cat Cafe, the Gangga coffe and the Cafe du Monyet.
8. The gluttons will also be in luck, Ubud is the gastronomic capital of Bali. There are countless small family restaurants where you can try local specialties, in this post we recommend 7 restaurants where you can eat well and cheaply in Ubud.
9. Another thing you can do in Ubud is sign up for a course, either from batik (a typical Indonesian pictorial technique), from surf or from balinese cuisine. We did the latter and it is one of the best experiences to take you home, more than anything because now we can prepare typical Indonesian dishes whenever we want). Here you can see more information.
10. Ubud is surrounded by beautiful rice fields where to get lost. It is possible that your accommodation is close to one, although if you really want to enjoy a memorable walk, you have to go to Campuhan Rige Walk, a scenic route through trails that will take you through the mountains and rice fields. You pass through a town and a small cafe where you can rest for a while and have a drink. They are like 5 or 6 km (two hours round trip) and it is best to do it as early as possible, to avoid the heat of the day (bring water!).
11. If what you need is relaxation in Ubud you can go to one of the spa and massage centers that are distributed throughout the city. They say the best is the Jaens Spa (The Relaxation Spa Package lasts 3.5h, includes Balinese massage, scrub, and bath, and costs 500,000IDR).
12. You can also join a yoga group. There are dozens of options, both for beginners and more experienced people (there are even courses and stays of several days). Some of the best rated are Ubud Yoga House and The Yoga Barn.
13. A very interesting and quite rare temple is the Goa gajah (known as Elephant Cave). A large terrifying mouth carved into the rock gives the entrance to this cave where the Balinese have come to pray and meditate since the 10th century. The natural environment, with gardens and swimming pools, is very welcoming, you cannot miss it! Admission costs IDR 15,000.
14. Simply get lost in the streets of Ubud: sometimes it is the best way to see places full of charm and find your favorite corners. You will see typical Balinese houses, craft shops, altars, more humble and cheaper restaurants (warung) and friendly people.
15. Accommodations in Bali are usually spectacular and at very affordable prices. Ubud is no exception. For the same price as a room in a normal hotel in Europe here you will have a super balinese villa with pool and breakfast! Take a look and compare the accommodation to stay in Ubud).
:: The best excursions from Ubud ::
You have three options to know the surroundings of Ubud:
- The first (our favorite and not only because it is the cheapest, bad thought, but also because of this hehe) is to rent a motorcycle
- The second is to hire a private driver (calculate about € 40 for renting a car with a driver for about 8-10 hours)
- The third is to sign up for tours.
ANDwhat to see and do around Ubud? These are the routes and places that we recommend:
16. North Route: that will make you go through the Tegalalang rice terraces, a site as handsome as it has been visited and possibly one of the most photographed in Bali. Here are two of our favorite temples: the Gunung kawi, a set of rock-hewn shrines in the 11th century. And the Tirta Empul whose pools are believed to be curative. And finally you get to tour the Lake Batur area, with splendid viewpoints of the lake and the volcano.
17. Northwest Route: something more complicated to do than the previous one, but with a special charm. The prominent places are the Taman Ayun temple, with the typical religious buildings. The next stop is at the foot of the sacred Mount Batukaru, the second highest volcano on the island, and is the temple Luhur batukaru, an especially sacred place for Balinese Hindus. Then it will go through the Jatiluwih rice terraces, named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. And if there is still energy left, we will do the road that passes through the three lakes, and we will visit the famous temple Ulun Danu Bratan, the temple on the lake, which will sound safe.
18. Eastern Route: for the true adventurers. The essential stops in this part of the island would be the pure Besakih temple, also known as “the mother temple”, more than 1,000 meters high. The actual pools of Tirta gangga, whose name literally means “waters of the Ganges.” The Lempuyang temple, at the top of Mount Lempuyang, 1,058 meters high, preceded by nothing more and nothing less than 1,700 stairs! And our last stop along the way would be the Taman Ujung water palace.
19. If the early rises do not matter to you (especially if they have a wonderful adventure with them) then you have to go up to the Mount batur and see the sunrise from its top. They are excursions that are done during the day, they pick you up at your accommodation around 2 or 3 in the morning, they take you to the beginning of the trek (it starts around 4 o’clock) and you go up to the top, from where you can contemplate the sunrise, they give you a breakfast there,
and then back to the hotel (you arrive around 10 or 12). You can book the tour here.
20. In the surroundings of Ubud there are also a few waterfalls that the more adventurous will want to explore. The best are: Tukad Cepung Waterfall (about 30 km from Ubud, towards Pura Besakih in case you want to combine the visit), Tegenungan Waterfall (only 10 km from Ubud), Tibumana Waterfall (about 15 min from Ubud) and the Kanto Lampo Waterfall (about 11 km from Ubud).
And of course don’t stop reading this post where we tell you 35 things to see and do in Bali 🙂
Have you visited the Island of the Gods? What do you think about it? Do you know more things to see and do in Ubud? Leave us a comment, we would love to expand this list with more recommendations.
* Photocredit: Shutterstock