The famous arts and crafts hub Ubud is located in central Bali. It is a place for cultural and spiritual experiences far away from the party and the beaches of Kuta. Ubud can be considered as the cultural center of whole Bali. At first Ubud seems like one small town, but in fact it consists of fourteen villages, each run by its own banjar (village committee). Although Ubud has grown rapidly during the past, due to the rising numbers of visitors, it still has kept its flair. Most of the development is designed in the local style and fits in perfectly while being sympathetic to the current zeitgeist. You will still find a lot of rice terraces along the rivers and some quiet and regular village life away from the super busy and commercialized center.
How to get there?
From Denpasar International Airport you can reach Ubud in about 1 1/2 hours by taxi (depending on the time and traffic). Travel agencies offer good and cheap connections as well.
While in Ubud our highlight definitely was to enjoy the intense beauty of the landscape and gracious hospitality of its people. A must-see sure are the rice terraces. We highly recommend to visit the rice terraces at Tegallalang as the whole scenery is quite impressive (although it is very touristy). On the way you will also be able to experience some traditional village life and see a lot of the nature surrounding Ubud. Another destination for a nice day trip is Tembuku’s Antugan Hill with its amazing viewpoint. Again the way leading you to the place is simply beautiful and we loved our 1 1/2 hour scooter ride up there. And we managed to eat our cheapest lunch ever (a tasty Nasi Goreng for only 70 cents) in the small village of Undisan.
How long to stay?
Ubud is famous for its spiritual atmosphere and has lots to offer. We stayed for a total of 4 nights and would recommend to at least stay here for a similar number of nights. Exploring the city can be done within a day, but there are so many shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, that you might need some more time to properly enjoy what Ubud has to offer. Exploring the surrounding villages and sites takes a bit more time – the roads are tiny and you therefore need to plan in some more time than you usually would. Traffic can get horrible too, as sometimes big tourist buses try to make their way through the tiny roads as well. If interested you can also put some time for meditation, art or handicraft workshops or spa treatments on your itinerary.
Where to stay?
As our time in Southeast Asia came to an end while in Ubud, we decided to treat ourselves to a bit more pricey place to enjoy ourselves before we would be living in a car for the next weeks. We chose the Ubud ArtVilla for 55 EUR per night. The whole place is super pretty and has a great pool, the staff is amazing and the rooms are all super nice. Some have their own little garden area and a pretty open air bathroom with bathtub and hot shower. Breakfast is included, the Wifi is good and the place is located very convenient next to some rice paddies in a quiet street. The only sounds you hear at night are the sounds of nature. You can easily reach the Ubud center by foot and some shops and nice restaurants are just around the corner.
Restaurants “Eat. Pray. Love.” – and repeat. Some people think this is the perfect slogan for Ubud and when it comes to eating we often felt like in food heaven. There are so many nice restaurants, bars and cafes offering you the best out of the whole wide world. You will also find lots or organic, vegetarian and vegan food in the area. Here are our favorites:
Warung Mendez Nice place offering traditional Indonesian cuisine and also some Thai dishes for fair prices. Their Sambal is the best we ever tried in Indonesia. Super spicy – so use it carefully.
Moksa A permaculture restaurant next to some nice rice paddies. While eating you can also enjoy the restaurants own permaculture garden. They serve vegan and vegetarian dishes and the menu changes based on the availability of seasonal foods – all freshly picked from their garden.
Menjual A tiny local Warung which probably offers the best Nasi Campur. It is located right next to the “Moksa” on the right hand side when standing in front of it. It only has a small sign saying WMJ, so look carefully to not miss it.
Warung Made This great little restaurant also offers accommodation and is located in the village of Penestanan. It offers great and very tasty local cuisine at fair prices.
Yellow Flower This place is located in the little known cafe strip which is only accessible by foot and therefore a kind of secret area. They offer a variety of organic main dishes and also decent coffees, cakes and smoothies.
Warung Citta Ovest In case you are hungry for some Italian food make sure to visit this place in the heart of Ubud.
Jungle Fish During a hot day the lush green nature of Ubud is best enjoyed in a pool. This might be the perfect place to be if you are looking for an affordable infinity pool with a great view or if your hotel does not have a pool. It is quite pricey, but once you paid for a sunbed and a towel you are fine. The staff is super friendly and nobody will force you to buy overpriced food or drinks. Although their flavored ice tea is quite nice.
Ubud Center The center of Ubud is located close to Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Agung) and the Ubud Traditional Art Market (Pasar Seni Ubud). You will find lots of nice restaurants, bars, cafes and shops in this area and it can get quite busy, especially the traffic can be horrible. The market is supposed to be a traditional market offering a variety of traditional and artistic souvenirs made by local people, but in our opinion (and due to the fact that almost all stalls sell the same products) it is just a big pile of vendors selling cheap souvenirs. You sure can find pretty stuff here and make some good deals, but we would rather recommend to visit some local shops in the village to get the “real handicraft” products. The Ubud Palace is the official residence of the royal family of Ubud. Sacred Monkey Forest The Ubud Monkey Forest lies within the village of Padangtegal, which owns it. The village’s residents view the Monkey Forest as an important spiritual, economic, educational and conservation center for the village. Besides around 700 monkeys, you can see 186 species of trees in 12.5 hectares of forest. Campuhan Ridge Walk This free and easy nature trek is quite popular among repeat visitors to the central highland town of Ubud. If you love to walk in the countryside with natural scenery view and some fresh air, then you should definitely give it a try. The southern start of the walk is located quite close to the Pura Gunung Lebah. Just follow the road to the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas & Spa, turn left and follow the signs and steps until you reach a small path. Gunung Kawi Temple Up for some Indiana Jones feeling? Make sure to visit this temple located north east of Ubud. It is one of Bali’s oldest and largest ancient monuments and do not forget to bring a sarong, as parts of the site are considered holy.