10 Must-Do Activities in and around Ubud, Bali
Ubud is the cultural and spiritual heart of Bali and many start their Bali trip right here. There’s so much to see and do that it can get quite tough to pick the best things, especially during a short stay. I’ve stayed in Ubud for 5 days and packed as many activities into my schedule as I could. The below activities were my absolute favorite and I’d love to share them with you. If you’re planning a shorter stay, check out this 2-day Ubud itinerary.
Play with Monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
One of the first places I visited when I was in Ubud was the iconic Monkey Forest. You see pictures of this location all over Instagram so you know it’s a must visit. The forest is quite easy to get to as it’s close to the center of Ubud. What many don’t know is that the sanctuary is also part of a Hindu temple. Therefore, the Ubud Monkey Forest describes its mission as conservation of the area within its boundaries according to the Hindu principle of Tri Hata Karana (“Three ways to reach spiritual and physical well-being”), which seeks to make people live harmoniously during their lives. Currently, there are over 600 Balinese long-tailed monkeys, a type of macaque, living in the forest.
Eat Local at Nomad Balinese Restaurant
By this point, you probably already want to get your fingers onto some delicious local Balinese food. I stumbled upon this gorgeous place in the center of Ubud called Nomad that offers Western comfort food as well as local Balinese, Indonesian and Asian fusion dishes. As I had never had Balinese food before, I went with the Balinese Tapas platter to be able to try as many different dishes as possible. The dish consists of 12 tapas, including tofu goreng, spring rolls, chicken satay and grilled fish, to name a few. At 135,000 IDR or $9.45, this is an absolute steal.
Enjoy a Balinese Dance Show
A lot of hotels and villas in Ubud offer free shuttle buses to the center of Ubud, which is around Ubud Palace. At some point, you probably going to hear about the nightly Balinese dance show that you can purchase tickets for right there. The theater area is open on all sides which makes it a unique experience. I had seen Balinese traditional outfits before on the Internet and was intrigued to see them in action during a traditional dance. The dance is part of a play about love and the gods. Musicians play traditional instruments live on both sides of the stage and female and male performers act out the play.
Get Pampered with a Flower Bath
One of my personal highlights of my stay in Ubud was a luxurious flower bath at Fivelements about 20 minutes outside of Ubud. Fivelements is an eco-luxury retreat combining spa treatments with Balinese traditions and philosophies tailored to you. Carefully taking advantage of the healing powers of plants and Balinese village remedies, Fivelements exclusively uses all-natural and superfood ingredients in their beauty rituals, bathing, skin care, and massages. For the flower bath experience, a tub is filled with hot water and colorful Balinese flowers and Ahimsa bath oil are added. Guests can enjoy the relaxing flower bath alone or with a partner (cue: honeymoon!). The whole experience takes up to one hour and costs 490,000 ($35 USD) for single visitors and 595,000 ($45 USD) for couples.
You can also stay at Fivelements overnight (it’s a luxury resort with a limited amount of rooms!). As an alternative, you can also check out these affordable private villas with private pool in Ubud.
Tukies Coconut Shop
Easily identifiable by the pile of coconuts outside its door, the Coconut Shop Tukies has become a favorite among travelers in Ubud. Besides the cold, whole coconut or freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, most people come here to sample their coconut ice cream. This creamy delight is topped with coconut brittle and coconut “jelly”, making it the ideal tropical treat. The coconut ice-cream, as well as a couple of other desserts, are vegan and home-made. You can also pick up a jar of locally made coconut butter and candies at the store.
Shop at Ubud Traditional Art Market
Locally referred to as ‘Pasar Seni Ubud’, Ubud’s traditional market is located opposite Ubud Palace and is open daily. Here, you can pick up things like beautiful silk scarves, lightweight shirts, handmade woven bags, baskets or hats, as well as statues, kites and many other hand-crafted items. Most of the goods are crafted in villages around Ubud and bargaining is essential to get a good deal.
Explore the Rice Fields and Terraces
There’s plenty of rice fields in and around Ubud. Rent a scooter or simply go for a walk and you’ll come across green lushness. However, if you are keen to visit one of the famous rice terraces, Tegalalang is your best bet. Located only 30 minutes from Ubud, it is a popular destination for travelers staying in Ubud. If you don’t have your own car or scooter, simply hire a driver for a day trip. Ask at your hotel or bargain with one of the drivers waiting for customers around Ubud Palace in the city center.
Get Blessed at Water Temple Pura Tirta Empul
If there’s one thing Ubud isn’t short of, it’s culture. With temples on every street, you might wonder what makes Pura Tirta Empul so special. Well, this temple is no ordinary temple but a Hindu Balinese temple dedicated to water. Pura Tirta literally translates to ‘holy spring’ and is famous for its holy spring water. Balinese Hindus come here to take part in purification rituals. The temple is located 30 minutes north of Ubud, making it a popular destination for a day trip.
Catch the Sunrise at Campuhan Ridge Walk
One of my personal highlights of my stay in Ubud was the Campuhan ridge walk. I went there on my last day in Ubud right before leaving for Nusa Dua. Even though it is a popular place to watch the sunrise, it isn’t crowded at all in the early mornings. This free nature trek is an absolute delight to explore. Getting there is quite easy. Look for Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas and Spa and you’ll find the main access to the ridge walk just down from this hotel’s main entrance. Just follow the sign “Going to The Hill” with an arrow pointing left and you’ll get there.
Drink Authentic Kopi Luwak
Luwak coffee averages at €550 / US$700 per kilogram, making it one of the most expensive coffees in the world. What makes this coffee so ridiculously expensive is the way it is made. You might be surprised to hear that this coffee is made using the Asian palm civet, a cute local animal, that eats coffee cherries and poops them out. Then, they are roasted and made into coffee. Kopi luwak is produced mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago. You can visit coffee farms, such as Kampung Kopi Kemenuh outside of Ubud and try your way through the many local varieties, including Luwak.
Are you ready to visit Ubud?
Ubud is a place I could explore over and over again. I’m sure I’ll return to this beautiful city sooner or later for some relaxing and soul-searching. Enjoy your trip to Ubud and be sure to check out some of the must-do activities in and around Ubud mentioned in this post.
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