Ubud is said to be the cultural heart of Bali, and during a short stay, I soon realized this to be true. Ubud is a bustling town with absolutely stunning scenery surrounding it. While it seems like there are never ending activities and sights to see, here is a list of just 10 things to see and do in and around Ubud.
1. Tellagalang Rice Terraces
Bali is famous for its rice fields and terraces, and Ubud is home to some of the most beautiful. Any trip to this part of Bali must include some time at the Tellagalang Rice Terraces. Located about a 30 minute drive from Ubud, the terraces are a great place to spend a few hours just admiring the Balinese landscape. There are plenty of cafes to grab a bite or a drink if you are hungry or thirsty. The area is also home to lots of artists workshops, there to capture the stunningly beautiful view, that you can browse.
Cost: Free! If you want to walk up and down the terraces, there are some points where locals ask you for donations to continue upkeep of small bridges and paths for tourists. A 5,000 IDR bill (less than 50 cents) should be more than enough per person at each donation point.
Insider Tip: Parts of the path through the rice can be muddy and slippery due to the irrigation system in place. While I did wear flip flops, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Read more about my visit to the beautiful rice terraces here!
2. Sacred Monkey Forest
In the heart of Ubud is the Sacred Monkey Forest, home to over 600 macaque monkeys! This is a great spot to visit if you are traveling with kids, or are a kid at heart yourself. The forest is full of paved paths on which visitors can walk and observe the monkeys in their natural habitat. If you want, you can also interact with them by buying some snacks to feed to them. It is a super fun way to spend some time and always extremely entertaining! The forest itself is also a beautiful example of the lush Balinese jungles that cover the island.
Cost: 40,000 IDR for adults, 30,000 IDR for children
Insider Tip: As many of the staff members will warn you, never look the monkeys in the eye. This is a sign of aggression and could cause them to want to fight. Also, leave any plastic bags or water bottles at the main ticket office. The monkeys go bananas for plastic water bottles and may harrass you in an attempt to steal them from you!
Read more about my close encounter with the sacred monkeys here!
There are tons of shops in Ubud where you can find all kinds of things to take home with you as souvenirs. While the Ubud Market is full of clothing and small items, you should also spend some time exploring the artists shops. Part of the fun is looking for that one of a kind item, and with all of the many streets full of arts and crafts, you are bound to find something extraordinary.
Cost: Items range in price depending on what you would like to purchase.
Insider Tip: Make sure to haggle for a better price! If you buy a few things, you have even more bargaining power and can ask for a discount.
4. Try Luwak Coffee
A beverage unique to Indonesia is Kopi Luwak coffee, known as the most expensive coffee in the world. The coffee is special because it includes coffee cherries that have been eaten and then defecated out by a small critter called the palm civet (which the locals call a luwak). It sounds a bit disturbing, but the locals love it for the unique taste. The process of making the coffee is time consuming (from collection of the feces by farmers, the washing, drying, pounding, and finally roasting of the digested coffee), making it a bit more expensive than your average cup of joe.
Cost: A cup will cost you around 50,000 – 60,000 IDR, around $5-6 (much cheaper than the $100 it cost to drink in places like London!)
Insider Tip: Many coffee farms in Ubud will include a tour and explanation of how the coffee gets made as well as free tasting of some teas and other hot beverages. If you would like, you can then purchase a cup of luwak coffee to try!
5. Kajeng Walk
Just a few minutes from the city center, is a walkway with stunning views of rich green rice fields. Many people think of the huge rice terraces, like Tegallalang (see #1) when they think of Ubud, but these rice fields are just as beautiful and much closer. To find them, walk down Jalan Kajeng (the street just next to Starbucks near Saraswati Temple). Follow this road as it curves to the left and soon you will come up a hill and find yourself surrounded by rice fields on either side! There are a few restaurants on the street that would provide an excellent lunch view.
Insider Tip: Although you can walk all the way here from Ubud center, we drove our motor bikes to the top of the hill and walked from there.
6. Pura Tirta Empul
A visit to Pura Tirta Empul is a unique experience I encourage you to try if you find yourself in Ubud. This water temple is home to holy springs that the Balinese believe to be capable of cleansing a visitors mind, body, and soul. Taking a dip in the pool, for me, was a beautiful and spiritual experience that I will never forget. The grounds of the temple are also quite beautiful and worth a look.
Cost: 15,000 entrance fee (free sarong, can’t get wet); 10,000 for a sarong to get in the holy water; 10,000 for locker rental
Insider Tip: I highly encourage you to try a dip in the pool fed by the holy spring water. Even if you do not personally believe in the healing qualities, it is incredibly refreshing water on any hot Bali day.
Read more about my mind, body, and soul cleansing here!
7. Campuhan Ridge Walk
A great way to get away from the constant buzz of the motorbikes is the Campuhan Ridge Walk. Located just five minutes from the center of Ubud, this easy hike provides beautiful sweeping views of the Balinese jungle while surrounded by seas of tall, green grass. The walk is often very quiet; you may only encounter a few locals and the occasional tourist. A great way to start or end any day in Ubud.
Insider Tip: The ridge walk is best enjoyed in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not at its hottest. At sunrise and sunset you can witness a spectacular sky.
Read more about the walk and directions how to get there here!
8. Dine with amazing views
- Sari Organik – This honestly might have been my favorite restaurant in Ubud. Though it is a little off the beaten path, the view and food are worth it. After all, it is not everyday you can enjoy a completely organic meal while overlooking rice fields. The food taste even better knowing many of the fresh ingredients come from the farm right across the road. Can’t beat that farm to table!
- Kampung Cafe – Another dining option with fantastic views and delicious food is the cafe located in the Kampung Resort. With the backdrop of the Balinese jungle, dine on Indonesian dishes like crispy duck or Western classics. It is hard to find a bad seat here, and you will want to linger to take it all in for quite some time.
- Kepitu Restaurant – If you’re looking for something a little more classy, head to the Kayon Resort and their restaurant, Kepitu. What struck me here was the world class service (for example, visitors are escorted from the parking lot to the restaurant under umbrellas to shield them from the sun). The food is, of course, excellent, and the views divine.
9. Tegenungan Waterfall
A short drive from the city is an amazing waterfall that is easily accessible. No need to hike through the jungle, just climb down several flights of stairs and you can swim in the shallow water underneath the thundering falls. In addition to swimming beneath (or even behind) the falls, you can also climb up and take pictures with the waterfall right next to you!
Cost: 10,00o IDR
Insider Tip: This waterfall is popular with tourists and locals alike. Avoid crowds by going earlier in the day.
Read more about my visit to the waterfall here!
10. Take a class
Traveling is a great time to try something new you have never done before. In Ubud, there are a range of classes you can take to get a better feel for the local culture.
- Cooking: There are lots of places in Ubud offering traditional Balinese cooking classes if you are looking to expand you culinary skills. Most of them are very highly rated, but the number one is Paon Bali Cooking Class, which includes hotel pick up, a visit at a market to sample local produce and a stop at a rice paddy, before heading to the class portion, where guests cook about 8 dishes. Afterwards, enjoy a lunch of all the foods in the class and take home a recipe book!
- Yoga: There is no shortage of yoga studios offering classes in Ubud. Some of the more well known and highly praised include Ubud Yoga House and Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio. Ubud Yoga House has great views of rice fields, which will certainly help you to relax and find your center while Radiantly Alive offers a range of classes that can be both challenging and fun as well as yoga teacher training. Check their websites for pricing.
11. Bonus! Treat Yourself!
I am including an 11th item because after long days exploring Ubud, you must relax and treat yourself to a spa treatment! It is hard to recommend just one spa or wellness centre since there are so many good ones but here are two:
- Karsa Spa: Remember the Campuhan Ridge Walk (see #7)? Well next to Karsa Cafe is a spa that has unbelievable views along with amazing treatments. Stop by for a few hours (or a whole day!) and get pampered the Balinese way. Truly a great experience. And afterwards, or before, enjoy the ridge walk or some food at the cafe. Perfection.
- Tai Ji Wellness Centre: Another great option for spoiling yourself is the Tai Ji Wellness Centre. With a free welcome drink and herbal tea after treatment, this spa takes great care of you from the beginning, middle, and end of your visit. They have many massages available, and some claim the best massage in all of Ubud.
There are several ways to get around Ubud:
a) Rent a motorbike – This is the method I recommend. Having lived in Thailand for some time, I am very comfortable with motorbikes and therefore found it a no-brainer to rent one for my stay. This gave me the ultimate freedom to see and do what I wanted, when I wanted, and for much cheaper than hiring a driver for the day or taking a taxi everywhere. The only downside is that I had to do all of the navigating on my own, but Google Maps and I are old pals and it never steers me wrong. You can easily rent a motorbike from your hotel or hostel for around 30,000 to 50,000 IDR a day (like $3-$5!). This option is not a good one for people not familiar with driving motorbikes as the traffic and Balinese drivers are even worse than those in Thailand at times.
b) Rent a bicycle – This option is similar to renting a motorbike but safer for those who have never driven a motorbike. Cost is a little less but the area of Ubud is not completely flat. Be prepared to pedal up some serious hills; then again, be prepared to coast down the other side!
c) Join a tour – Another way of seeing things is to sign up with a day tour. Tours usually go to several places in one day and provide hotel pick up and drop off. Pros: you get to see a lot in one day and you don’t have to worry about how to get anywhere. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Cons: You have less freedom as most stops are timed and it can be expensive. At least triple the price of renting a motorbike if not more.
d) Taxi/Driver – As you walk around Ubud city center, there are lots of guys standing (more often sitting) around offering taxi services. I personally did not take a taxi once since I had my own means of transportation, but it is not hard to find one. Prices can be negotiated.
e) Walk – This last option is the cheapest, but the most time consuming. You will not be able to see everything as some points of interest are located more than an hour walk away from the city center. There are some things you can easily get to by walking, but look into some of the other transportation options to see things like the rice terraces and waterfall.
Have you been to Ubud, Bali? Share your favorite things to see and do in the comments!
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.