With its iconic landscape of terraced rice paddies, lush, monkey-filled rainforests and awe-inspiring temples, a unique health-orientated gastronomic scene and a rich sense of traditional and culture, Ubud is one hotspot in Bali that you don’t want to miss. Here is a guide on what to do, places to see, where to eat and stay when visiting Ubud!
Things to do around Ubud:
Hike Mount Bahur
Waking up at 2am to hike up the steep incline of a volcano may not be everybody’s idea of a fun time, but for hiking enthusiasts, climbing Mount Bahur at the crack of dawn is well worth the effort. This hike is very popular, which means even for capable hikers, local rules require you to pay for a tour guide to take you up the top. Tours can be booked through your accommodation or at tourist stands around Ubud and include hotel transfers, breakfast and a guided hike up the mountain.
Take Yoga Classes at the Yoga Barn
Ubud is a known hotspot amongst those who wear lululemon, live off green smoothies and feel most comfortable in downward dog position. Even if you don’t fit the diehard yogi description, the Yoga Barn is the great place to try a yoga class as they accommodate for all skill levels.
Go see the Green Village and School
Sustainability is cool. A whole village and school based around the concept of sustainability is even cooler. Both Green Village and Green School, predominantly made up of bamboo structures, are a true display of inspirational architecture. Located about 30 minutes from Ubud, you can book in for a guided tour of Green Village or Green School (keep in mind you can’t actually visit either place without a tour, so make sure you book in advance).
Indulge in a spa treatment or three
It would be criminal to leave Bali without indulging in at least one massage. After all, aren’t cheap massages and cocktails what we go on holiday for? Either head to a local massage parlour and pay around $8 for a one hour full body massage or splurge out at a resort such as the Four Seasons Sayan to get a full luxurious spa treatment.
Places to see in Ubud:
If you’ve seen a waterfall photo from Bali, you’ve probably seen a photo of Tegenungan Falls. As much as this place has become touristy to the core, it still is unbelievably beautiful. Lush, green rainforest frames the gushing falls, and the shady little waterhole spot makes a great place for a refreshing swim (or a really intense shower) and is only a five-minute walk from the carpark. Try to come early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.
Gunung Kawi Temple
For a glance into the local culture and spirituality of the Balinese, Gunung Kawi Temple is a fascinating spot to visit. This 11th century temple consists of five different shrines carved into a seven-meter cliff face. The area is surrounded by rice paddies field and rainforest and is a really beautiful place to explore.
Tegalalang rice fields
If there is one thing Ubud is known for, it would have to be its infinite emerald rice terraces. Whilst you’ll find dazzling rice fields scattered all around the area, Tegalalang does make for a good place to stop and take a photo and see the fields in all their glory.
Ubud Monkey Forest
Home to the cheekiest monkeys in the world (and no, I’m not referring to the crazy Aussie tourists), the Ubud Monkey Forest is a favourite for those wanting to get up close and personal with these apes. Be warned though- secure all your loose items before coming here. These monkeys like to steal cameras, earrings, water bottles, basically anything they can get their cute little hands on!
Where to eat in Ubud:
The Elephant Restaurant and Bar
With comfy couches overlooking lush paddy fields and a fantastic menu to suit every taste bud, The Elephant is a hidden gem, located away from the main tourist street of Ubud. We came here for dinner and couldn’t resist coming back for breakfast! The laksa is packed with flavour and the eggs benedict may just be the best on the island.
Down to Earth
Down to Earth café and store is a popular chain in Bali, and for good reason. Offering a vast selection of vegetarian/ vegan meals and treats, it is the perfect place to come for your health-food fix. The highlight of the menu for me was the Mediterranean platter- the falafel was impeccable and it came with plenty of tasty sides. The café also offers a wide range of freshly-squeezed juices and a vast cabinet of raw treats.
Where to stay in Ubud:
If you are on a budget…
Narendra Guest House
If you are looking for affordable, basic accommodation, I would highly recommend Narendra Guest House. Narendra is fantastic value for money, offering clean, modern rooms and daily breakfast brought to you on your patio. The staff are super helpful and friendly and will assist in booking activities for you. My only warning is not to hire scooters from the place next door that Narendra recommends- the man in charge ripped us off and was extremely rude to us. (It was the only time in a whole month in Bali that I had experienced any of the locals being impolite)
If you want a touch of luxury….
Nestled amongst lush rice paddy fields and overlooking an infinite expanse of rainforest, the Kamandalu Resort was a tranquil little haven to visit. Located 10-minute taxi ride from the Ubud town centre, the resort felt far removed from all of the touristy hustle and bustle. Situated in a very quiet location, it makes an ideal destination for couples and honeymooners or anyone wanting to escape to a place of utter serenity. Just let me take a moment to emphasize that this resort is very geared towards couples. This proved rather hilarious as I visited the resort with one of my best friends- we were greeted with a candlelit dinner and what turned out to be a ‘couples’ spa experience. This included one very small rose petal bathtub provided for the TWO of us. Let’s just say there were a few fits of hysterical laughter over the awkwardness of the situation!
Besides the brief awkwardness, our stay at Kamandalu was pretty special. We had two nights in a Pool Villa, which was possibly the most lavish accommodation I’ve ever stayed at. The Villa had a huge garden, complete with a Balinese day bed positioned next to a massive infinity pool overlooking the jungle. The villa itself was extremely spacious, housing a bedroom with a four-poster king-sized bed, a living room complete with a work desk, television and fridge, and a bathroom with a double vanity, freestanding bathtub plus an indoor AND outdoor shower. Seriously, there was SO much room in this place, I wished I could have invited all my friends to come to stay!The resort offered a few different dining options, including two restaurants, room service and a variety of special dining experiences that could be pre-arranged. On our first night we had an in-villa barbecue, where a table surrounded by cute little lanterns was set up in our garden. We had a culinary team came over and served us up a selection of Balinese and Western dishes, including an array of salads and delicious seafood cooked to order! Dinner on our second night may have been slightly less glamorous but was no less enjoyable- I’m talking room service, PJ’s and Netflix. The daily breakfast buffet was also a treat, with the restaurant positioned to overlook the rice paddy fields. The only real disappointment was lunch, which was limited to a poolside cafe that served overpriced, underwhelming Western food.
There were lots of activities offered around the resort, including bike riding tours, trekking, yoga classes in a jungleside pavilion and treatments at a luxurious day spa. The highlight of our stay at Kamandalu was going on a local guided tour through the Gunung Kawi Temples, then partaking in a purifying procession at the Sebatu Waterfall. It is so easy to feel removed from local culture when you’re at a westernized resort, so being able to partake in such a rich cultural experience when we were here was really special.
Check out my destination guide to Canggu, another place you must visit if you are planning a trip to Bali!