My Guide to Ubud, Bali: Where to Go and What to Do
Ubud is one of my favourite places. I fell in love with the town within minutes of arriving and started to doubt whether the 3 night stay we had booked was going to be enough. Set amongst rice paddies and gorgeous greenery, Ubud is seriously picturesque. It’s a photographer’s dream. As well as being picture perfect though, the cultural town also offers endless activities from swimming in waterfalls to hiding from the craziest of monkeys in their monkey forest and don’t even get me started on the food there or the shopping. Both are amazing. What’s so nice about Ubud though is that you actually feel like you’re in ‘real’ Bali. It’s quite a contrast from the extremely touristy beach resorts of Kuta and Seminyak with a more laid back and quieter vibe and a place where you’ll get a dose of true Balinese culture with it’s beautiful temples and traditional dances. I could easily have spent a week here if not two. However long you have to spend in Ubud though, this is my guide for ensuring you have the most incredible time.
How to Get Here
We flew from Singapore to Denpasar, which is located approximately 20km South of Ubud. We then got a taxi to our accommodation in Ubud which took about 1 and a half hours. The bad thing about Bali is that there is always so much traffic. There’s literally traffic everywhere. This means that what should be a short journey often ends up taking a long time so be aware of that if you’re in a hurry. I’d recommend using Grab, a taxi company which is so cheap compared to local taxis. An hour and a half journey in England would cost an absolute fortune but we paid about 150,000 Indonesian Rupiah in a Grab to Ubud which equals about £8. We noticed a few signs throughout Bali advising you to not use Grab or Uber and to use the local taxis instead so they don’t lose business but we never had an issue and if you’re on a budget, Grab is perfect. We were actually recommended the company by some other traveller’s we met who had used it throughout Bali too.
Where to Stay
Having mainly stayed in hostels for the previous 3 months before arriving in Bali, we decided to treat ourselves. We had met another couple in Thailand a month earlier and we all decided to get a villa for a few days. Villas in Bali are surprisingly reasonable. We found an amazing one on Air B&B with a private pool and breakfast. I would highly recommend checking out Air B&B for accommodation in Ubud and Bali in general, especially if there’s a group of you as you can get some amazing deals. If not, Booking.com is also a good option and they often have daily deals with reduced rates. The good thing about Ubud is that you don’t have to stay directly in the centre which is obviously going to be slightly more expensive because if you’re planning to explore and see the sights Ubud is famous for, transport is a must so it doesn’t matter too much where you’re based.
How to Get Around
Like I said, transport is pretty much needed wherever you decide to stay as the majority of the sights in Ubud are located a away from the main shopping streets and away from each other too. Luckily, you can get transport cheaply in Ubud. We hired a driver for the whole day who picked us up from our villa, took us to 4 different sights and dropped us back at our accommodation too all for about £4 each. Alternatively, you can hire a motorbike for approximately 60,000 Indonesian Rupiah a day which is a measly £3.30ish.
How Long to Spend Here
We spent 3 nights in Ubud which I think should be the absolute minimum. Luckily, due to an early flight it allowed us 3 full days to explore. It meant we could do all the sights, wander around the town centre, try out some of the cafes and relax a bit too. However, if I could have done, I’d definitely have stayed longer. I’d probably recommend between 4-7 days here.
What to Do
Monkey Forest. One of Bali’s biggest tourist attractions, the Ubud Monkey Forest makes for a very fun afternoon. I actually thought monkeys were cute before visiting the Monkey Forest but this changed my opinion completely…They are crazy! If you have bananas or sometimes even if you don’t, be prepared for them to jump on you and whatever you do, do NOT tease them. They WILL bite. Oh and hide your belongings too. These monkeys are not shy and they will steal your sunglasses or whatever else they can spot. I spent most of my time in the Monkey Forest running away and trying to hide from the monkeys! Don’t let that put you off though, it’s well worth a visit and these amazing intelligent creatures are so fun to watch.
Coffee tasting. Whether it’s to shelter from the rain if you visit Ubud in rainy season, to enjoy the beautiful views or to just sit back and relax after a day of shopping and sight seeing, Satria Coffee Plantation lets you try different varieties of tea and coffee from cinnamon to vanilla to coconut. They talk you through the coffee making process, explaining how the Balinese Luwak coffee speciality is made (it’s interesting to say the least, if not slightly disgusting!) and then sit you down with a tray of 14 teas and coffees including a cup of Luwak coffee for just 50,000 Rupiah/£2.65. Apparently Luwak coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world so it’s well worth a visit to Satria Coffee Plantation to try this speciality out.
Rice fields. I’d be surprised if you hadn’t seen a photo of The Tegalalang Rice Terrace pop up on your Instagram feed. It’s one of Ubud’s most famous attractions and it’s a must do whilst in Bali. Tegalalang has beautiful views from all directions and you can stroll along the rice fields, taking pictures along the way. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked for a donation at various points throughout the rice terrace but it’s only for a very little amount of money. Just off to the right of the main entrance where everyone is walking in and taking pictures, is the ‘Love Bali’ swing you’ll probably have seen all over your Instagram feeds.
Temples. You can’t come to Ubud and not experience Balinese culture. Head to Saraswati temple, right in the heart of Ubud town to come face to face with beautiful water lilies surrounding a gorgeous traditional Hindu Temple. Despite being in the centre, Saraswati temple is quiet and peaceful and gives you a chance to really admire Balinese beauty.
Waterfall. Situated in Tegenungan village is Bali’s ever so popular Tegenungan waterfall. It’s a very pretty waterfall sitting in beautiful green surroundings and it doesn’t take too much effort to access, making it one of Ubud’s most touristy spots. Consequently, be prepared to wait your turn to snap a cool photo as you queue up behind herds of other tourists. We visited Tegenungan waterfall during rainy season and unfortunately couldn’t cool off in the inviting pools beneath it but usually you can so just try and avoid bad weather days! I can imagine on a hot dry day, this place is a lifesaver to cool off from the heat.
Shopping. Ubud was definitely one of the best if not the best shopping destination in Bali for me. As well as it’s famous Art Market which lines the streets daily offering everything from hand woven bags to souvenirs, Ubud is also home to some gorgeous boutique shops where if I wasn’t on a traveller’s budget, I could easily have spent all of my money in. They also have many market stalls selling the prettiest playsuits and dresses perfect for the hot Balinese weather and at totally cheap prices too.
Where to Eat:
Ubud is a food lover’s dream. My top recommendations and ones that left my taste buds tingling long after I’d left are Watercress Cafe, Milk and Madu, Cafe Vespa and Yellow Flower Cafe. As well as Western owned insta-worthy cafes, Ubud is also home to traditional warungs offering cheap and delicious options. You’ll literally be spoilt for choice when it comes to food!
Healthy chicken salads in Milk and Madu…
Delicious hearty chicken burgers in Watercress Cafe…
Have you been to Ubud before? If you need any further recommendations or have any questions feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Instagram here.