There is something about Ubud that forces you to slow down and look at life differently. We have now visited Ubud twice in one year and still get the same relaxed feeling when we are there.
Ubud manages to reflect the unique Balinese way of life whilst oozing charm and a low-key vibe that is irresistible. It is a health food lovers paradise! The village has many restaurants, museums, spa’s, yoga studios, art galleries and shops full of local arts, craft and clothing. Ubud has something for everyone!
On both occasions we chose to stay at a hotel outside of Ubud centre. Being outside of the centre of town means that we had the peace and quiet of the country side with beautiful rice paddies and jungle surrounding us and gorgeous views. When we wanted to experience the town vibe we would just hop onto the hotel shuttle and head to the centre of the village. If you don’t have a hotel shuttle, a taxi is always easy to find.
We hired a driver for the day, it cost us AU$40, he took us to all the attractions located outside of the town centre. He was great, friendly and answered all our questions and told us a bit about each area. He also does airport transfers for a better rate than most hotels. His name is Kuany, you can contact him on WhatsApp on +62 822 362 90242 or via email email@example.com.
Here is our list of things to do in Ubud:
1. Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Although there are many rice paddies in Ubud, the most spectacular and most photographed is without a doubt the Tegallalang rice terraces. The terraces are located about 20 minutes northeast of Ubud central.
Make sure you get there early, we arrived at 8am and had the whole place to ourselves. It’s up to you how much exploring you want to do and how much time you want to spend here. You can stand at the top and get some pretty cool photos or make your way down the stairs into the valley and between the rice paddies for some even better photos.
Just beware that some of the farmers will ask for a donation when you walk down into the valley – the going rate at the time seemed to be about 5000 Rupiah per person.
2. Tirta Empel Temple – holy water temple
This is one of our favourite things to do in Ubud. There is just something about this temple that is so calming and spiritual. We made sure we got there just as they opened and we were one of the few people inside the temple area.
You will be given a sarong with your entry fee, however if you wish to get into the water you will need to hire a ‘get wet’ sarong and we highly recommend that you do this. There are change rooms located to the right of the spring area with lockers where you can safely store your belongings. Once you are dressed make you way to the holy water spring.
The water source is believed to be the source of life and prosperity. Climb into the pool at the first fountain (located on the far left of the pool), the way it works is that you bathe under each fountain of holy water. So you start at the first one and then continue to the next until you reach the last one. It’s a magical experience and you will come out feeling not only refreshed but calm and at peace. Make sure you watch the locals as there are two fountains which are only used for funerals.
After you dip in the spring, make sure you walk around the rest of the temple grounds.
Balinese people have come to this temple for more than 1000 years to bathe in the holy water and we now understand why.
3. Gunung Kawi temple
Gunung Kawi is an 11th century temple complex located north-east of Ubud. To access the temple you will need to climb down a few hundred steps and make your way past some stalls and rice paddies. The entrance fee includes a sarong which you will need to wear when entering the temple.
When you reach the bottom of the stairs you will be greeted by a huge 10 stone shrine carved into the mountain/cliff side. The temple stretches across the Pakerisan river and is full of beautiful tropical plants and huge trees. It is a very spiritual place that makes for some great photos.
4. Campuhan Ridge Walk
Another great way to escape the village chaos is to head to the Campuhan ridge walk. The walk is located on the outskirts of the town, you will walk over a bridge, past a temple and finally it will open up to some great views, fresh air and a perfect place for some awesome photos.
The first time we did this walk, we made the rookie error of doing it at midday, it was extremely hot and the sun was beating down on us as there is little shade (there was a stage where we thought we may die of heat stroke 😉 ). So the second time we were much wiser and got up before the sun and headed to the ridge to start the walk just as the sun began to rise. This made for the most amazing photos with candy floss skies! Well worth the effort of getting up early.
5. Visit Goa Gajah temple
Another of Ubuds temples is Goa Gajah otherwise known as the elephant temple. Once again a sarong is provided with your entrance fee, so don’t be fooled by all the stall sellers on the outside. This is yet another great place for photos – Ubud is full of these!
6. Shop at the local market
This is where you will find some great bargains if you bartering skills are sharpened . Our general rule was to offer half of what they asked for and most of the time this is what we got the item for. The market is located near the water temple on one of the main roads in the town centre.
We found some great clothing, woven bags and trinkets at the market. The market opens at about 7am and closes at 7pm most days.
7. Visit the water temple in the town centre
This water temple is located right in the centre of the town. It is a beautiful temple surrounded by water and lotus flowers. Best time to visit is late afternoon for the best lighting, it is another great place for some nice photos.
8. Spend the day at Jungle Fish
Jungle fish is an Ubud must, they describe themselves as a ‘no beach… beach club” and who needs a beach when you have a beautiful infinity pool and views of the jungle.
Get there before 11am to ensure you get a good spot to spend the day, there is an entrance fee which includes the tanning bed, towel and use of the pool (check their website here for prices). There were 4 of us so we managed to get a 4 person hanging bed, where we lazed, played games, tanned and ate delicious food.
While there, make sure you treat yourself to a massage at their spa, which too has gorgeous views of the jungle, we had one of the best massages in Bali there!
Ubud has some truly awesome restaurants, and I think you would have to spend a couple of months there to try them all – these are a few that we tried and would highly recommend.
9. Eat at Atman Nourish Kafe
This wonderful cafe has two locations, although we only visited the one – The Nourish Kafe. We loved it so much that we visited everyday whilst we were in Ubud. Some days we just stopped in for a healthy dessert and a turmeric latte after dinner and other days we had lunch here. The front of the cafe faces the street where you can watch passers-by, but as you walk through towards the back you will see the view of one of the few remaining rice paddies in the centre of the village.
The cafe has a huge menu consisting of hot and cold drinks, craft beer, breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. They also sell a nice selection of gifts, essential oils and some healthy snacks for takeaway. The staff are friendly and the cafe has a great relaxed vibe where you could spend hours contemplating life.
10. Walk through rice paddies and eat at Sari Organik
Sari Organik is a restaurant and farm located just outside of the centre of town, between the rice paddies. The only way to get there is by scooter or foot, you will follow a narrow path that winds around and through the paddies and eventually leads you to the restaurant. The actual restaurant is called Warung Bodag Malaih – so don’t get confused (like we did) when you arrive there and see the sign.
They have a large menu with a variety of healthy food and drink options and for those looking for beer, they offer some craft beer that is brewed locally. The Beard said it was delicious!
Sari Organik serve up fresh, veggie-centric, earthy food with exotic flavours, most of their ingredients are grown on site in their organic farm. Their food and drinks are all delicious, the restaurant has a relaxed down to earth vibe and you could spend hours here gazing at the view sipping on healthy drinks and meditating.
Use google maps to find them.
11. Eat suckling pig at Ibu Oka
To be honest we had never heard of Balinese suckling pig before we arrived in Ubud, but we were told we have to try it. It is a Balinese style whole roasted suckling pig. The entire pig is stuffed with a combination of spices used in Indonesian cooking – turmeric, coriander seeds, lemon grass and more.
After a full day of exploring our driver took us to Ibu Oka 2 which is located on the outskirts of the town. The restaurant was packed downstairs, however they showed us upstairs to a more relaxed and peaceful area with cushions on the floor and low tables.
We ordered the special which comes with a little bit of everything and gives you the opportunity to try it all. Everything was very tasty, although we didn’t enjoy the sausage which is basically a blood sausage. The restaurant is only open for lunch and until all the pork is sold out for the day.
12. Eat at Clear Cafe
Located in the centre of town, Clear cafe is a tranquil oasis restaurant that serves delicious healthy food. As you enter the restaurant you will notice a huge round revolving door which welcomes you into a half garden, half cafe restaurant. You will be asked to leave your shoes at the door before you step inside.
They have a large menu of delicious food and tasty drinks and we found their prices really good. They do however not serve alcohol, but it is worth giving up just to taste their food!
13. Eat at Warung Biah Biah
This was the first place we ate in Ubud and probably our cheapest meal in Bali. The menu has loads of small dishes which we ordered to share, this way we got to taste a bit of everything.
Warung Biah Biah a small restaurant that is always packed, make sure you get there early or be prepared to wait for a seat. A great place for a quick, cheap and tasty meal.
14. Rooster Nights
If you’re looking for something a little more ‘fancy’ to do then make sure you go to Rooster Nights. With pretty interiors, beautiful tasty drinks & friendly staff, this place was a treat. We visited for pre-dinner drinks and tried some of their inventive cocktails which were really delicious. They also have a very tasty looking snack menu if you are feeling hungry. Rooster Nights are part of Locavore which is a Michelin Star restaurant just a couple meters up the road.
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