Before I go into detail about what to do, where to go and what to eat in Ubud I’m going to give you my suggestions on the most basic, yet essential parts of the trip – where to stay and how to get around.
Where To Stay
There really is an endless amount of places to stay in Ubud – there are hotes/bungalows all around Monkey Forest Road which is where I would suggest anyone to stay. It’s walking distance to the best restaurants, entertainment and everything….I stayed at the Ubud Bungalows and I would recommend it to everyone. Especially someone who is traveling on a budget, but doesn’t want to sleep in a shack. Besides one crabby man at the front desk, the service was impeccable. I was met with smiles and positive vibes (that matters the most, you know). The Bungalows were quite basic, but they were clean and cozy. An added bonus, is the pool.
Oh and breakfast was included in the cost. A delicious large breakfast made fresh to order with a fresh juice or smoothie and of course coffee. Perfect start to any day!
In Ubud there aren’t a lot of taxis. There are a ton of men n the street holding signs that say Taxi. Some of the signs say ‘PLEASE.’ Which further freaked me out because these men were not in a taxi. Or any car at all. I actually think they were homeless. Megan asked about getting a taxi from Ubud to Seminyak and the man at the front desk chuckled and told her there aren’t any taxis.
How can you see all of the awesomeness Ubud has to offer without taxis and without being tied down to a tour guide? Hire a private driver of course! Sheryll, owner/creator/overall amazing human I look up to of The Wonderlust Project and Glamtrotting Magazine, gave me the contact of a driver named, Nyoman and had nothing but positive things to say about her experience with him. Plus he was priced reasonably. For half a day (5 hours) he charged 350,000 rupiah and a full day (8+ hours) 550,000 rupiah.
We initially planned for a half day of sight seeing, but after going over our list with Nyoman and adding a few of his suggestions we ended up doubling out list of things to see and spending the entire day with Nyoman.
Nyoman not only drove us to each place, he also acted as a tour guide. He described each place, process, history, everything. If you’re in Ubud, use a driver! Leave a comment or email me for his contact info and I can get you sorted. You WILL be happy you did.
Ubud is about 1 1/2 hour drive from the airport but Ubud Bungalows picked Meg, Barrett and I for 350,000 rupiah. I think a taxi (a real taxi), might have been cheaper but it’s much easier to go through the hotel. And yes, Ubud is the city where Elizabeth Gilbert lived during her stay while writing her novel Eat Pray Love. I can see why she loved it so much and felt so at peace. The town radiates peace. That doesn’t mean there is less to do – the amount of things to do and see is absolutely endless. I couldn’t do everything, so here are my Top Things to do in Ubud.
1. DO YOGA
I’m a bit biased to this choice because doing Yoga in Indonesia is on my bucket list. But even if you aren’t a ‘yogi,’ I think it would be an awesome experience for anyone. I did yoga at the Yoga Barn and I recommend it to everyone. The place has killer vibes.
If you stay near Monkey Forest you can walk.
2. Check out Monkey Forest
I planned to go to Monkey Forest after my 2am Mt. Batur trek, but I ended up just not going. There’s this notion that monkeys are sweet and fun. I blame Disney based on their portrayal of Abu from Alladin.
Most monkeys are scary, menacing and just evil. I gathered this from my own experience while at Monkey Island. Even walking by the forest freaked me out. But if you want your own first-hand experience of the monkeys (who wouldn’t). Give it a go!
If you stay near Monkey Forest you can walk here. Obviously.
3. Pura Tirta Empul
This Temple was Barrett’s ‘MUST DO,’ and I am so pleased she pushed this onto the list. Definitely top 25 coolest experiences of my life. This temple is the real deal. Yes, there are tourists, but Indonesians come to this temple to ‘purify’ themselves, rid themselves from sickness, diseases, and illnesses (as I write this down I feel a bit odd that I was sharing water with people that might have been seriously ill….neither here nor there). Go to this temple. Embrace the experience. GET IN THE HOLY WATER.
You’ll need a driver for this one!
4. Satria Agrowisata Organic Coffee Plantation
Satria Agrowisata is free entry. You can walk around on your own or someone from the Farm can assist you. Nyoman knew everything about the coffee so we were set. He showed us each of the different plants, seasoning, everything. If I would have walked around on my own I would have absolutely zero knowledge about what I was looking at…or smelling.
Towards the end there is a woman who is cooking the beans and somewhat going over the coffee and tea making process. It was pretty interesting to watch this elderly woman calmly handle the different tasks on her own.
They give you 12 different types of teas and coffee to sample which are Ginger Tea, Lemongrass Tea, Red Rice Tea, Mangosteen Tea, Hot Cocoa, Rosela Tea, Vanilla Coffee, Coconut Coffee, Bali Coffee, Ginseng Coffee, Bali Mocca and Safron Tea. My favorite was lemongrass by a landslide.
For 50,000 rupiah you can try the Luwak coffee. Which is coffee beans the Luwak swallowed, fermented and pooped out.
Yeaaa, I tried it. Strongest and thickest coffee I’ve ever tasted.
5. Rice Terraces
We were originally going to go to the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces but it was two hours out of the way and we would have missed other touristy spots on our list because they would have closed. So Nyoman gave us the option to check out the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Still a rice terrace, just much smaller than the Jatiluwih. It is quite possible that the Tegalalang Rice Terrace is much cooler. The hills on this terrace made taking photos an art project. It’s so amazing to see the amount of work that goes into the making of rice!
6. Goa Gojah (Elephant Cave)
I will say my attitude towards Goa Gojah is a bit off due to the fact that by the time I got to this temple it had been about 7 hours without food. I was reeeeal hungry and lethargic. In my hungry, loopy state the only cool thing I can vouch for is the Elephant Cave and super ancient ruins that were recently discovered. You should think of this as a quick stop on your tour. I think I was here for maybe 30 minutes. STILL COOL.
7. Medicine Man
The Medicine Man was another one of Barrett’s picks. She was even able to find the Medicine Man from Eat, Pray, Love – but apparently, he is a very old man and extremely inaccurate. Cool as it would be to go to the same man as Elizabeth Gilbert, we opted for a different medicine man that Nyoman recommended.
It was an interesting experience to say the least. I don’t want to go into detail about what he told me because it is quite personal, but what I will say is the experience is unlike any other. I feel as if I have this new older brother I can always turn to when I want an interpretation about my life. Whether you believe in the magic of meditation and the positive effects yoga has on the body and mind or not, I seriously recommend seeing a medicine man. Where else in the world can you make this happen!?
8. Balinese Dancing
I have three main reasons why you should go to a Balinese dancing show while in Ubud.
1) It is cultural
2) It is cheap
3) You will have nothing better to do (very little nightlife in Ubud).
The balinese dance is a trance dance based on an ancient story that I have no solid knowledge about. It IS said that the females are taught the dance and the movements straight from the womb. Talk about tradition.
During the show I couldn’t take my eyes off of the female performers. Their never changing intense expressions along with their weird body movements I truly felt as if I was in a trance like state. It put me in such a trance I fell asleep for at least 15 minutes of the show because I was so wiped from my day. Oops.
This is a pretty awesome video from one of my favorite travel bloggers, Nomadic Matt.
9. Mt. Batur Trek
Watching the sunrise after hiking 5,633 feet and waking up at 2am is an amazing feeling. Honestly, making it to the top of the mountain and looking down at beautiful Indonesia took my breath away. It was worth feeling delusional the rest of the day. But be warned as beautiful as it is, you can’t forget that it is still a hike and it is no walk in the park. I love hikes and outdoorsy stuff like that, so I had a ball, but I also saw quite a few people struggling to get up the mountain.
But suck it up and get up the mountain because it is worth the climb.
10. The Market
Check out the Market and buy your family and friends a souvenir. It’s near Monkey Forest Road – locals can point you in the right direction. You can buy your family or friends something like this. Seems to be all the rage.
or something a bit more normal like this:
A little something else I’ve included a ‘What To Eat’ section based on my three favorite restaurants in Ubud; Art Kafe, Tacos and Tapas
ART KAFE (OMG)
This AK produced my favorite meal from my ENTIRE time in Indonesia. The roasted vegetable salad is probably one of the greatest salads I have ever had in my life. And they have a juice/smoothie menu that they make without the dreaded and common condensed milk you find all over South East Asia.
I had Tacos the day I went 7 hours without eating and this fat ass burrito was calling my name. I think Meg, Barrett and I looked like we’ve been without food for weeks the way we scarfed our burritos down. We didn’t even care, the situation was a joke.
The woman who worked at Tapas and the Chef in the back spoke in Spanish to one another so without a doubt I was down for some quality Spanish food. The coconuts they gave us were larger than my head (seriously) and every.single.dish was to die for.
As always, if you have any questions (or suggestions about the blog) about Bali feel free to reach out to me!