Ubud, Bali, Indonesia: 7 Things You Can't Miss [Travel Guide]
Updated: Sep 26
What is special about Ubud Bali?
Ubud, Bali is a famous little town in central Bali tucked in the midst of rice terraces and jungle canopies.
Bali gets it's name, Island Of Gods, from the essence of what you experience in Ubud, Bali.
The Island of Gods:
Bali is referred to as the Island of Gods because of the vast amount of temples you can find in any given area of Bali.
The temples are known as the seat of the gods and are heavily respected for that reason.
Social Media Tourism:
Traveling to Bali can be quite enticing due to the lively beach clubs, digital nomad culture, picturesque beaches, and the "Instagramable" photo ops.
However, there is much more to Bali than the recent wave of social media tourism reveals.
Connecting With Culture:
The culture has a lot to teach and you should make an effort to learn during your stay. Ubud, Bali is known as the center of culture and arts on the island.
I recommend you spend a few days in Ubud town to immerse yourself in local life.
There are many cultural activities you can take part of while visiting Ubud. Read on to discover nine activities you can't miss while in Ubud.
Is it worth staying in Ubud Bali?
The short answer is, Yes. Even if your trip to Bali is quite short, a day or two in Ubud should definitely make it onto your Bali itinerary.
Ubud, Bali is the center of culture and arts.
Your trip to Bali may have been inspired by your favorite travel influencer on Instagram and yes, the flower baths, the beach clubs, and the crystal clear teal water are all beautiful sites, but there is more to the island than what meets the eye.
The Balinese way of life has much to teach, especially to a westerner like myself.
Luxury Travel or Cultural Immersion?
I believe travel is an essential component to developing a multi-faceted perspective on all issues.
If you come to Bali to experience the same luxuries and amenities you can find in your home country, you miss out on the other side of travel.
Which is to experience another way of life.
Some parts may not be glamorous but they are not supposed to be.
Step outside your comfort zone to learn about a new culture, become comfortable being uncomfortable, and expand your world view.
How many days are enough to visit Ubud?
Ubud, Bali is a small town with a lot of depth. The answer to this question depends on your intentions of visit Ubud or traveling there.
If you are on a quick, 2-week trip, mainly sightseeing, 3-4 days is enough to see all of Ubud.
If you are traveling to learn about Balinese traditions and culture, a longer amount of time here would be better so you can immerse yourself in this way of life.
I have spent 1 month in Ubud, Bali and I will say that I found myself a bit bored at times, searching for something to do.
However, the reason I booked so much time in Ubud knowing that it isn't a town with a lot of hustle and bustle or nightlife was to retreat for a while and immerse myself in the culture.
So, I would refer to the boredom as peace and enjoyment of a slower pace of life.
If you end up falling in love with Ubud, you can apply for a digital nomad visa and stay for an extended period of time!
What is the best way to get around Ubud?
The roads in Bali can get a bit crazy at times, especially in Ubud center. I have found that is best to let the experts do the driving.
Gojek, The Uber of Bali:
While in Ubud, use Gojek to get around. Gojek is like the Uber of Bali, except you can choose between a ride on a motorbike or in a private car.
Motorbike is typically much faster due to the frequent traffic jams in Ubud. Gojek is very affordable, as most things are in Bali, and the perfect way to get around Ubud town.
Rent a Scooter:
If you would like, you can also rent a motorbike and drive yourself.
This may be the better option if you are traveling with a partner or a friend so you can ride together.
To find a place to rent a motorbike, ask your Air Bnb host or the staff at your hotel. They will either have scooters for you to rent or a local place to recommend.
Should you stay in central Ubud?
The Ubud town is a bit chaotic so I would recommend staying just a few minutes outside of the heart of the town centre.
Below is a map of the Ubud area.
I have circled my favorite area that would be the best spot to find accommodation.
This area is peaceful, surrounded by jungle and some rice fields and terraces, but still close enough to the center.
7 Things You Can't Miss In Ubud, Bali
Let's delve into nine things you simply can't afford to miss while exploring this captivating town in central Bali.
1. Hang Out With the Monkeys in the Sacred Ubud Monkey Forest
If you are an animal lover, do not skip out on the Sacred Ubud Monkey Forest!
Located in Central Ubud on Jalan Monkey Forest, the Sacred Monkey Forest serves as an eco-tourism monkey forest and sanctuary.
The Monkey Forest houses thousands of free-roaming monkeys in a picturesque jungle landscape.
There are many temples inside the Sacred Monkey Forest which contributes to its sacredness. Because of this, make sure to dress appropriately.
There are often ceremonies inside the monkey forest so modest clothing is highly encouraged.
Hold On To Your Belongings!
The monkeys roam freely in the area so be prepared to have some close encounters. Many people have said that they are prone to steal your belongings however this didn't happen to me. So don't say I didn't warn you!
The Ubud monkey forest is such a unique experience and it reminded me of the monkey forest in the game, Temple Run. It looks almost identical!
2. Have Dinner on the Tegalalang Rice Terraces
The Tegalalang Rice Terraces are just as, if not more, marvelous in person than they are in picture. I had dinner at Tis Cafe which is a bamboo restaurant with a pool overlooking the Tegalalang Rice Terraces.
The cafe is about 18 minutes from the heart of the Ubud market and I recommend you take a car over a motorbike due to the longer drive.
They even have a pool if you'd like to spend the day there and catch some rays!
Mount Batur is an active volcano about 2 hours from Ubud. I had the pleasure of taking a sunrise jeep tour of Mount Batur and it was marvelous.
I departed Ubud, Bali, early morning at 3:00 AM and took a taxi to the area below the volcano.
There, I transferred into my Jeep for the day and the driver took me to the top of the volcano.
We parked and sat on the jeep overlooking Danau Batur, the lake below Mount Batur, and Mount Agung a volcano neighboring Mount Batur.
They served a simple breakfast with a choice of coffee or tea while we waited for the sun to rise.
As the sun rose, I marveled at the 180 degree view while sitting on the top of one of my dream cars, a vintage Suzuki Samurai.
It was one of the coolest days of my life, without a doubt.
After the sun had risen, the tour continued to the acres of lava rocks which sit at the bottom of the volcano.
An eruption in 2000 wiped out a village and left behind thousands of tons of lava rocks.
Our next step was to the hot springs located on Danau Batur.
The area has been converted into a bit of a tourist hotspot with healing pools and ferris wheels.
An interesting combination but a beautiful site to say the least.
The Coffee Plantation:
On the way back to Ubud, our last stop was a coffee plantation.
As a coffee connoisseur, I particularly enjoyed this stop. We were shown the coffee trees, cocoa trees, and various teas and herbs they grow on the plantation.
I even learned about Luwak Coffee, which you must try despite its seemingly disgusting "growth" process.
A Luwak Coffee is a delicacy in Bali which may come as a shock to you when you discover how they make it.
The Luwak is an animal native to southeast Asia which also goes by the name of Asian Palm Civet.
This cat-like animal has become addicted to caffeine so it lives near coffee plantations and snacks on coffee cherries.
I am not sure whose idea this was or where they got it but they began to collect the Luwak poop, which consisted of digested coffee cherries.
Not they clean the digested coffee beans, roast them, and grind them into coffee.
The end result is a smoother, less acidic, and less caffeinated coffee now known as Luwak Coffee!
4. Attend A Balinese Ceremony
Ceremonies play a pivotal role in Balinese spirituality.
They have a variety of ceremonies that vary in importance and meaning.
During my stay, I luckily was able to be in Bali for a large ceremony that only occurs once every five years.
Ngaben, a Balinese Cremation Ritual is a Hindu funeral ceremony that serves as a farewell and transition into the afterlife for anyone who has passed in the last 5 years.
Ngaben, a Balinese Cremation Ritual:
Each village has their own ceremony and I was invited to attend by my Air Bnb hosts. My host family dressed me in traditional Balinese clothing, a sarong and a blouse for women, and brought me to the ceremony with their family.
I observed the village preparing for the ceremony for an entire month before it commenced.
I would watch the men of the village build statues to use in the ceremony while the women crafted the offerings.
It was amazing to me to witness the effort, energy, and intention that is put into every aspect of this ceremony.
From the hundreds of hand crafted offerings to the gods to the 8 foot tall hand made statues that serve as caskets to their passed loved ones, every part of Ngaben has a meaning and a purpose.
The ceremony commenced with a drum performance and a parade down the street to the ceremony grounds with the statues the village had created.
Each statue served as a remembrance to those who have passed in the last five years. They featured photos of their loved ones and offerings to honor them.
Once the statues were brought down the street to an open field, the drumming continued and the people of the village began to fill the statues with the offerings for their loved ones.
Each family was designated a statue.
The statues varied in sizes depending on status and royalty. Once the statues were filled, the burning commenced.
They lit the statues on fire and the village watched as the offerings burst into flames.
The ceremony is said to be the vessel that sends those who passed to heaven and the offerings are there to thank the gods that bless us with happiness, wealth, love, and a beautiful life.
What I Concluded From The Ceremony:
I have to say, this was one of the most unique and beautiful events I have witnessed.
It was quite an interesting site as a westerner as the nature of the ceremony was fun and up lifting.
I asked my host, "Why is it that everyone is so cheerful, even though this is a funeral" she explained to me that most of these people passed years ago so the pain is not so fresh.
Because they have had time to heal and move on from the sadness, this ceremony serves as a celebration of life.
5. Visit A Balinese Medicine Man
Ubud got its big break after the famous movie "Eat, Pray, Love" starring Julia Roberts released in 2010. Since then, more and more tourists have been drawn to visit Ubud and to do a bit of soul searching.
Eat, Pray, Love:
During my time in Ubud, I visited theLiyer Spirit House, just like Julia Roberts.
Ketut Liyer, who starred in "Eat, Pray, Love" has now passed yet his son, Wayan, continues his legacy as a medicine man.
I visited Wayan for a palm reading and a water blessing. I will say, it was just like the movie. I highly recommend visiting him during your stay in Ubud.
You can set up a visit by messaging, here.
You can even stay on their property at their guest house! The guest house is located in the heart of Ubud in walking distance to everything.
This is a great place to stay for a short and relaxing visit.
6. Stroll Through The Campuhan Ridge Walk
The Camphuan Ridge Walk is a beautiful site that extends the bustling hub of Central Ubud to the serene streets that stretch between rice paddies.
You can find the entrance to the Campuhan Ridge Walk on Jalan Raya Ubud just after IBAH Hotel.
The walk talks about 20-30 minutes and is a great work out. It is quite hot and sunny typically so don't forget sunscreen, a hat, and some shades!
7. Purchase Handmade Knick Knacks at the Ubud Art Market
Woven through the heart of Bali's cultural epicenter, Ubud's Art Market is a treasure trove of handmade knick-knacks.
You can find the Art Market while on Jalan Raya Ubud. There are many streets with vendors so if you walk around for a bit, you are bound to find a few.
As I strolled through this vibrant and bustling market, I couldn't help but be mesmerized by the intricate craftsmanship on display.
Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-timer in Bali, a visit to art galleries and the Ubud Market is an absolute must for a glimpse into the island's rich artistic heritage.
Ubud's Art Market, often referred to as 'Pasar Seni Ubud,' is a haven for those seeking unique and authentic souvenirs.
The market opens in the, and I found that arriving before the crowds allowed me to leisurely explore the stalls.
In the Ubud Market, every purchase tells a story, and every item is a testament to the skill and creativity of Balinese culture.
So, if you're looking for a unique memento of your visit to Ubud, be sure to visit the Ubud Art Market and let the vibrant culture and artistry of Bali weave its magic into your travel memories.
How Ubud Differs From Other Areas Of Bali
When you think of Bali, it's likely that images of pristine beaches and lively beachfront towns come to mind.
While Bali certainly offers its fair share of stunning coastal destinations, there's one place that stands out for its unique charm and character – Ubud.
Nestled in the lush heart of the island, Ubud sets itself apart from the rest of Bali in several distinct ways. Experience the local way of life in this Balinese town.
1. Cultural Hub:
Unlike the beachfront areas of Bali, Ubud is a cultural epicenter where tradition and artistry thrive.
The town is home to countless art galleries, museums, and traditional Balinese dance performances.
You can immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Bali by visiting the sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary or witnessing the intricate process of traditional batik weaving.
Ubud's thriving arts scene and reverence for local traditions make it an entirely different experience compared to the more touristy coastal regions.
2. Breathtaking Scenery:
While Bali's coastlines are undeniably beautiful, Ubud boasts a different kind of beauty – a stunning, verdant landscape of terraced rice fields, lush jungles, and emerald-green rivers.
The Tegallalang Rice Terraces are a must-visit, offering a glimpse into Bali's agricultural heritage.
Ubud's natural surroundings invite visitors to explore on foot or by bike, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
3. Spiritual Retreat:
Ubud is often referred to as Bali's spiritual center.
The town is dotted with serene temples and meditation centers, and you can easily find yoga retreats and wellness resorts that cater to those seeking inner peace and tranquility.
The famous Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) and Tirta Empul Temple are spiritual sanctuaries where you can partake in sacred rituals and connect with Bali's spiritual roots.
4. Culinary Delights:
While the coastal areas of Bali, Indonesia offer an array of international cuisine, Ubud specializes in authentic Balinese and Indonesian dishes.
The town's eateries serve up traditional culinary delights like nasi goreng (fried rice), sate ayam (chicken satay), and bebek betutu (slow-cooked duck).
Ubud's food scene is a reflection of its cultural authenticity, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and age-old recipes.
5. Tranquil Atmosphere:
Ubud's relaxed and tranquil atmosphere is a world apart from the bustling beaches of Kuta or Seminyak.
Here, you can find pockets of solitude amidst the serene landscapes.
Whether you're strolling through the vibrant Ubud Market, practicing yoga in a lush rice field, or simply sipping on a cup of freshly brewed Balinese coffee in a quiet cafe, Ubud offers a peaceful escape from the more crowded and party-centric areas of Bali.
Ubud, Bali, distinguishes itself from other areas of the island with its rich culture, breathtaking scenery, spiritual offerings, authentic cuisine, and tranquil ambiance.
While the coastal regions of Bali, Indonesia have their own allure, a visit to Ubud offers a unique opportunity to experience the heart and soul of the island, making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the diverse facets of Bali's beauty and culture.
7 Things You Cannot Miss In Ubud, Bali | A Recap:
With its lush landscapes, ancient temples, and rich traditions, Ubud offers an array of unforgettable adventures.
In this recap, we'll delve into seven must-visit attractions that will make your journey to Ubud an extraordinary one.
1. Ubud Monkey Forest:
Start your Ubud adventure with a visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
As you wander through this mystical jungle, you'll encounter cheeky long-tailed macaques and marvel at the ancient temple ruins hidden within.
Interacting with these mischievous monkeys is a memorable experience, but remember to be cautious with your belongings!
2. Tegalalang Rice Terraces:
The Tegalalang Rice Terraces are a testament to Bali's agricultural heritage.
Carved into the hillsides, these iconic rice paddies create a breathtaking mosaic of vibrant green.
Stroll along the narrow pathways and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this living masterpiece, a photographer's paradise.
3. Sunrise Jeep Tour of Mount Batur:
For the adventurous souls, a sunrise jeep tour to Mount Batur is an absolute must.
Witness the daybreak from the summit of this active volcano, surrounded by a sea of clouds.
The exhilarating journey through the dark forest and the rewarding sight of the sunrise will leave you in awe.
4. Balinese Ceremonies:
Ubud is steeped in Balinese culture, and you might be lucky to witness a traditional ceremony during your visit.
These colorful and spiritual events are held throughout the year and provide a glimpse into the deep-rooted rituals that define Balinese life.
Participating or simply observing these ceremonies is an enriching cultural experience.
5. Visit A Balinese Medicine Man:
Ubud is known for its spiritual energy, and a visit to a Balinese medicine man, or "balian," can offer insight into the healing practices of the island.
These traditional healers use a combination of herbs, rituals, and intuition to treat various ailments.
Whether seeking physical or spiritual healing, their wisdom is both fascinating and enlightening.
6. The Campuhan Ridge Walk:
If you're looking for a leisurely yet scenic walk, the Campuhan Ridge is the perfect choice.
This picturesque trail takes you through lush hills, offering stunning vistas of the surrounding countryside.
The cool breeze and serene atmosphere make it an ideal spot for reflection and relaxation.
7. The Art Market:
No visit to Ubud is complete without exploring its bustling art market.
Located in the heart of town, this market is a treasure trove of Balinese crafts, textiles, and souvenirs.
Haggle with local artisans for unique keepsakes and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this cultural hub.
Ubud, Bali, is a destination that captivates the senses and nourishes the soul. With its blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and spiritual depth, these seven experiences are just a glimpse of what Ubud has to offer.
As you explore each of these attractions, you'll find yourself immersed in the heart and soul of this enchanting place, creating memories that will last a lifetime on the Island of Gods, Bali, Indonesia.