The cultural capital of Bali. Ubud is well known for its magnificent rice terraces, waterfalls, yoga retreats, healthy eating and of course some of the cutest little monkey friends around!
It is a great spot for those looking for some well-deserved tranquillity while still keeping in touch with western comforts.
We stayed in Ubud for almost 2 months and absolutely loved it! It completely surpassed our expectations and ended up being way more amazing then we thought! Sure it is touristy, but it’s worth sharing!
The Top 6 Things To Do In Ubud’s Town
1. Explore The Town
Ubud is filled with hustle-and-bustle, culture, art, markets, cafés, vegan eateries, restaurants, moss-covered traditional architecture, graffiti and more!
We recommend spending a good day just walking around the city.
Take in the sites, indulge in the marvellous smells that waft through the air or get a traditional Balinese massage. Be sure to pop into one of the many art galleries or unique clothing boutiques along the street too.
The best way to explore the town is to literally get lost! We just walked into town and chose each turn by feeling. It really helped us get acquainted with the town and discover some hidden treasures.
2. Shop At Ubud’s Art Market
Do you love a good deal and are great at negotiating? Then you will love the hubbub of Ubud’s Art Market.
If you’ve ever felt like scouring endless stalls to find a beauty that captures your soul, to find trinkets that encapsulate your journey or art that tells your story… Or if you’ve ever felt like haggling your way down to half the listed price or learning about all the things you simply cannot leave Bali without… If you’re looking for gifts or souvenirs or even if you’re just hoping to relive that market scene from Eat, Pray, Love…
This is the place to do it!
Some of those alleys are really cramped and it’s often packed with tourists. However, if you’re on the hunt for something in particular, best believe you will find it.
Here you will find all of those Instagram worthy woven bags, dreamcatchers big and small and all kinds of bamboo and wooden kitchen goodies which are great for eco-living!
This spot is even a local food market in the morning.
3. Visit Saraswati Temple
Saraswati Temple is located right in the middle of town. Conveniently next to a Starbucks of course!
Take note that if you are planning on visiting this beautiful temple, what you see is what you get. This picture pretty much encapsulates the entire place. Beautiful, intricate and small.
The temple is unfortunately not open for the public to enter into, but you can go and see the outside of the temple.
4. Monkey Around At The Monkey Forest
Our trip to the Monkey Forest was our first real trip out while in Ubud and it really got us excited to continue exploring. Nature and wildlife are always awesome and there are no cages, restrictions, ‘discipline’ or bad conditions for the monkeys; it’s lovely to pay a visit to their home.
The real hook for us was the Balinese architecture. We had seen LOTS of temples in Thailand, so attention to detail and meticulous design were not new to us – but the style surely was.
The stone-carved sculptures with dappled moss, the shrines built in the most secluded of areas and the feeling of walking into an ancient city is something we cannot get enough of.
In the western world, you only find these kinds of things in the most exclusive and expensive of establishments or theme-based experiences. Here? It’s everywhere!
It feels like we are living in an ancient city (at some points, the mass of traffic dismisses the illusion) and ignites the desire to become the long-lost explorer you were as a kid…
5. Walk Campuhan Ridge
The Campuhan Ridge walk is a favourite amongst travellers for sunrise and sunset and it’s no secret why. You have unrestricted views all around you, the path is easy walking and ambience is a mixture of wind in palm trees with a hint of river.
You will find a lot of people coming here to exercise and get in their daily run.
There is also a swing quite early along the route which you can pay to use if you feel like shaking up your perspective a little.
The section at the end of the walk is filled with cafes, rice paddies and uninterrupted sunsets, it’s sparsely populated but closely connected to town via the ridge. We loved it so much we moved here for month number two and tried out every place along the road!
6. Ubud Rice Field Walk Or The Sari Organik Walk
Oh man! We really wish we had found this walk earlier in our stay!
It is lined with really nice guesthouses, restaurants, cafes, rice paddies, art galleries and we don’t even know what else. We just absolutely loved this walk!
The best part was watching the ducks in the area get released from their enclosures and happily running through the paddies.
The beautiful historical houses we passed were magical and all of the health-conscious cafés just invite you in!
We also enjoyed seeing everyone arrive for their yoga class, doing their salutations and then happily leaving feeling refreshed and revived.
The Top 5 Things To Do In The Outskirts Of Ubud
1. Tegallalang Rice Terrace
Right, so it’s pretty standard that you can’t visit Ubud without making your way to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
Just the drive itself was magical.
Fresh, crisp air, lush forests, babbling brooks, the echoes of birds through the trees and the town slowly coming to life.
The rice fields are absolutely beautiful when the morning light begins to stream through the high palm trees.
There are so many cafés, restaurants, and market stalls to enjoy along the edge of the rice field. You also get the many Bali swings and cute photo spots scattered around too.
2. Balinese Coffee Tasting & Kopi Luwak
They have many coffee and tea plantations scattered around Ubud that offer free coffee and tea tastings. You will encounter many salesmen trying to promote their plantations around Tegallalang, Pura Tirta Empul, and some of the waterfalls.
We were not really tea drinkers back then so we didn’t pay much attention to those, but they really have some amazing local coffees!
Next to Nung Nung Waterfall there is a plantation that also has its own Bali swing and other cute photo spots.
Our recommended must-tries: Bali coffee, mocha coffee, vanilla coffee, cocoa coffee, and coconut coffee.
This is also your perfect opportunity to try out Kopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee. The beans are collected from the Asian Palm Civet that eats the finest and ripest cherries but is unable to digest the bean. If you don’t already know, just consider how they retrieve the beans… A different experience…
3. Pura Gunung Kawi
We highly recommend that you visit Pura Gunung Kawi or as it’s translated: The Temple of the Mountain Poets.
It consists of 10 massive, beautiful Balinese rock carvings that were carved into stone hundreds of years ago. In the 11th century to be exact.
The legend goes that these carvings are dedicated to King Anak Wungsu. The carvings are said to be memorials or tombs built to honour the late Balinese King, his family and his concubines.
The 7-meter rock-cut candi are mesmerising with their complexity and attention to detail, but are not the only reason for the visit.
The temple grounds are surrounded by fields of rolling rice terraces that are visible as you make your way down the ± 300 stairs. Walking around the valley you can admire the Pakerisan river, waterfalls, religious temples and amazing hand-craft stalls along the way.
There is even a secret waterfall just off the path, around the furthest temple on the right. The highlight for us, personally, was the wending paths surrounded by thick tropical foliage, sheer cliffs and water trickling throughout it all!
4. Goa Gajah, Elephant Cave
This demon-mouthed cave is a popular social media snap-spot but is really only a small part of the attraction! The entire cave can be explored within about 1 minute.
There is a bathing temple adorned by statues of seven women holding pitchers, representing the seven holy rivers of India. The rest of the compound is filled with lush, untouched nature, waterfalls, rivers, streams, ponds, trees, caves, carvings, temples and very few restrictions; allowing you to explore as you wish.
5. Pura Tirta Empul, The Holy Spring Water
Pura Tirta Empul is said to have been created when the God Indra pierced the ground with his staff and formed sacred healing springs as a defence against the evil King Mayadenawa, whom he defeated a little later.
The temple is known for ritual purification via washing under showers of spring water, prayer, meditation and offering.
It is a religious site and there is a correct procedure should you wish to partake in the ceremony; ask a local who is willing to help, or ask for a guide at the entrance – 50,000 IDR is a common rate.
Don’t forget to explore the rest of the compound where you can find ponds, temples, natural springs and of course, friendly people!
The 4 Best Waterfalls To Visit In Ubud
1. Kanto Lampo
Kanto Lampo is a stunning waterfall that boasts bright white water cascading against rich black rocks.
The river extends on either side of the waterfall, both sides offering great places to set up a comfortable arrangement to relax. But if you’d like to spend some time taking it in, it’s best to arrive before the crowds.
2. Tibumana Waterfall
This is by far our favourite waterfall on the island!
The perfect bridal-veil surrounded by rich, dark cliffs and decorated with lush green vegetation. The turquoise pool that draws you in as the mist gently rises and fills the air with the fresh scent of nature.
It is the epitome of the perfect waterfall and if you get to experience it by yourself, it’s unparalleled.
Locals and foreigners alike come to pray, meditate or simply relax at this very place and you’ll be glad you made the journey too. Even the walk back up can be magical!
3. Pengempu Waterfall
Otherwise called Cau Blayu Waterfall, Pengempu doesn’t seem very impressive in pictures, but is still well worth the visit.
Not only did we have the entire place to ourselves and experience the most beautiful sunrise, but we actually really enjoyed the tranquillity of the river and the waterfall.
The water is so warm and the river was amazingly peaceful! We recommend bringing some coffee and a snack, a light picnic or just a book to actually spend some time recharging right here.
4. Nung Nung Waterfall
Nung Nung Waterfall is one of the most powerful waterfalls we have ever come across. It is impressive in height, sound and misting!
You just kind of stand there and stare… It’s magical.
Even getting there early may not allow you the place entirely to yourself, but as close as you can get.
Swimming is possible, scary, but possible. There are also no toilets or change rooms at the bottom, so bare that in mind and pack everything into a waterproof bag if you can.
A Few Favourite Cafes & Restaurants in Ubud
Like mentioned before, Ubud is the perfect location for healthy eaters, vegans and fans of DELICIOUS food.
Here are a few of our favourites…
A Video Guide For ALL The Best Things To Do In Ubud
This is our complete itinerary for the best things to do in Ubud; the costs, the times, the tips & tricks and everything in between!
Where To Stay In Ubud
That depends on what you are looking for. Are looking for a luxury hotel, an Airbnb, an eco-stay or just a more budget-friendly option?
Our first month was spent in a very nice Airbnb. For our second month, we went searching on foot for different accommodation options, hoping to find a cheaper long term stay option.
For more information on it, you can read our post 10 Reasons Why You Should Stay In A Private Villa In Bali.
We suggest staying closer to town if you want easy walking access to all of the cool cafes and boutiques. Alternatively, stay near the Ubud Ricefield Walk or near the Campuhan Ridge Walk. They are beautiful and have amenities close by.
You can, of course, also use our AirBnb code to get some money off your first trip.
Your Transport Options
We recommend renting a scooter. It is an easy, freeing and quick way to get around. But PLEASE be careful! Don’t rent one if you can’t drive one or if you don’t have an international driver’s license.
(Trust us, we didn’t have one and got into a lot of trouble for it). Also, Ubud’s town is very busy with tourists, bikes and cars, so you have to be vigilant.
Otherwise, you can hire a driver for the day. Unfortunately, e-hailing apps like GoJek and Grab are not available in Ubud.
The Best Time To Visit Ubud
We visited during June / July. The weather was lovely and sunny, but a little chilly in the evenings, so make sure you have some clothes to warm you up.
Maybe try to go anytime between June – September before the rainy season.
Where To Go Next
As our video guide suggests, you can conquer all the best things to do in Ubud in about three days – so where to next?
Possibly our favourite trip ever followed on directly from Ubud, and that was Nusa Penida! This is one of our favourite places on the planet and is so easy to get to from Ubud.
Looking for the best way to travel around Ubud and Indonesia? Check out 12Go Asia or search below!
Ubud, Bali was featured on our Top 5 Travel Destinations for 2020, did it make it onto your list? Have you visited already? Share your experiences with us below!
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