Ubud is where life ‘just happens’ and you have the opportunity to relax, refresh and revitalise!
Ubud is Bali’s secret haven. It is the perfect pace to slow down, chill out and get your mojo back! Refresh, rejuvenate and revitalise in Ubud!
Located in the mountains, just an hour’s drive north of Denpasar the village of Ubud has an atmosphere of peace and harmony. Surrounded by stunning scenery with vast rice paddies, white water rapids and dense rainforest. It really will take your breath away!
Far removed from the beach party scene in Kuta, Ubud is considered Bali’s cultural heart and is famous as a farming region and arts and crafts hub. Much of the town and nearby villages are surrounded by rice paddies, artists’ workshops and galleries.
What to see and do in Ubud
There’s much you can see and do in Ubud on your first visit.
Ubud is a picturesque little town with many of the highlights are within easy distance of the town centre.
There are many day trips which will have you exploring rich green rice terraces, ancient temples and palaces and spectacular waterfalls. Take a cycling tour through the hills or go white-water rafting in the nearby rivers.
Hindu temples and shrines are scattered throughout the region and provide an opportunity to visit the ancient holy sites including the intricately carved Goa Gajah “Elephant Cave” and Gunung Kawi, with its rock-cut shrines.
Read more: Goa Gajah – Bali’s Sacred Elephant Temple
Shopping in Ubud
The main shopping area in Ubud is along Jalan Monkey Forest lined with shops, boutiques and outlets as well as many guesthouses and hotels, restaurants, cafes and small day spas.
Ubud is home to hundreds of shops selling antiques, woodcarvings, crafts, textiles, paintings and exquisite jewellery pieces. The Ubud Art Markets are a great place to search for traditional Balinese art, crafts and trinkets, and usually of a higher quality than found in other art markets around Bali.
- Craft markets and art galleries displaying beautiful art pieces and artists painting in their studios as you walk by.
- Tailors with looms at the front of their shops weaving traditional fabrics are a great opportunity to order custom made clothes in beautiful spun silk or other textiles.
- Silversmiths craftsmen designed beautiful handmade silver jewellery.
- Antique Indonesian artifacts and wooden carvings.
Tip: Start at about half the asking price and negotiate upwards until a compromise is reached.
Prices will vary, depending on your bargaining skills! Haggling is expected and indeed encouraged as part of the fun of shopping, but do so politely and with a smile.
The Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud
The Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest is one of the ‘must see’ destinations. Walking distance from central Ubud, this wildlife sanctuary is one of the most fascinating Ubud experiences.
The villagers regard the Monkey Forest as an important spiritual, economic, educational, and conservation centre for the village.
There are around 700 long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) roaming freely amongst the tourists. They are cute and very family oriented but can get very protective especially when their young are nearby.
Despite the park attendants with ‘monkey food for sale’ carts, instructions are clear .. do not to feed the monkeys, don’t touch the monkeys, don’t look them in the eye, don’t move quickly and don’t scream if or when they jump on you.
They are constantly on the prowl for food and have been known to steal handbags, sunglasses, hats and anything else you might carry with you so if you have something that looks like (or smells like) food, be careful.
The monkeys dart around quickly and often will jump onto your shoulder before you are aware of them.
Fast moving, unpredictable, alert and very curious
Mischievous young were swinging from low hanging tree branches and jumping onto their parents as part of their game. Protective of their young, monkey mums and dads lazed about seemingly oblivious to their young clambering all over them.
It was wonderful to see monkey families hanging out and playing together and it was interesting to watch the hierarchy and pecking order of importance in their tribe. When there is a potential threat, the ‘leader’ of the pack puffs himself up and hisses and snarls to demonstrate his superiority.
Move away when one of them starts demonstrating this behaviour as it’s likely he will jump on your shoulders or launch an attack in an attempt to demonstrate his status.
Visit the Temples, Palaces and Shrines
Ubud is a treasure trove of cultural landmarks, ranging from ancient temples and majestic age-old royal palaces, to wonderful panoramas of green hillsides and rice terraces.
One of the most interesting things to do is to visit the Royal Palace where the royal family of Ubud live.
Puri Saren Agung (Royal Palace), built in the early 1800’s the palace has intricate Balinese architecture and is in a charming garden setting.
The main living area for the royal family was behind closed doors but the traditional palace seemed unpretentious and humble. There were no visible guards at the palace gates allowing the public to wander throughout the outer courtyard and garden.
In times of world crisis, they appear to have no concerns about their personal safety or their position in the community, whereas in Europe and England the royals are well guarded and locked away.
The Ubud palace was built during the lordship of the late Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel (1800-1823), and is well-kept by his successive heirs.
Food, food and more delicious food
Ubud is home to some of the most delicious food in Bali. The main street, Jalan Hanuman has a wide selection of quality restaurants and cafe’s selling Indonesian, Western and Indonesian-influenced western food.
Be adventurous. Whilst there are many beautiful restaurants in the main town centre, exploring wider afield gave us some unique experiences that were just a short taxi ride away and so very good!
Our ‘must try’ recommendations:
- Three Monkeys Restaurant – unique and contemporary Balinese overlooking a working rice paddy
- Bridges Bali Restaurant – carved into the riverbank overlooking dense rainforest
- Mozaic – French-inspired Michelin Star Restaurant featuring Balinese and Indonesian flavours.
We decided to dine at Mozaic during our last visit to Ubud and settled on their ‘surprise’ degustation menu. Ushered into the luxurious salon, refreshments were offered while we waited to meet our chefs. After a brief consultation about our food preferences, the chefs vanished into the kitchen to prepare an 8 course feast.
Served in a beautiful garden setting and paired with wines from around the world, this was easily the very best degustation we’ve experienced world-wide and well worth the experience.
Wellness retreats, massages, yoga, meditation and spas
Ubud has a range of spas and wellness centres offering healing packages for visitors and an opportunity to explore traditional therapies.
Massages in Bali are inexpensive and available almost everywhere. Yoga retreats and meditation centres often overlook beautiful lush rice terraces providing the perfect surrounds for pampering.
Check out the natural hot springs found across Bali. Often located deep in the jungle featuring pools with warm water gushing from stone mythical dragon-like creatures. Locals and tourists claim that the hot springs have healing powers and although there is little evidence to support the spring’s magical powers, they certainly relax and restore weary bodies.
Where we stay
We chose to stay at the Alaya Resort, a boutique hotel with all the luxurious touches you could possibly imagine. We stay at Alaya Resort whenever we visit Ubud and love their beautiful Balinese style rooms with enormous stone bathtubs. It’s the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate.
Alaya Hotel had a full range of spa treatments, therapies and luxurious massages available for guests. The ultimate luxury for tired and overworked visitors in need of some pampering.
Ubud is a magical place to refresh, rejuvenate and revitalise. Pin this for later.
Have you been to Ubud in Bali yet? Why not share your favourite experience with us below.