Bali is the most popular island in Indonesia. And yet, it is one of the islands where I spent the least time during my 2-month trip across Indonesia. Mainly because I chose the less touristy destinations. But of course, Bali is populair for a reason! The island has a lot to offer especially in terms of nature and culture. My favorite destination in Bali was the town of Ubud. In this mini travel guide you will discover all the things to do and see in Ubud!
What to do in Ubud
Ubud is located in the middle of Bali surrounded by an oasis of green rice fields and jungle. Many beautiful travel photos of Bali are also taken in the area around Ubud. It’s not without reason a much visited destination and quite touristy. For me it was a little too crowded, but that is mainly because I previously traveled through Sumatra and followed that up with 2 weeks in Java where it’s much less touristy.
That means that there’s plenty to do and see and you will not get bored easily! If you decide to spend 3 days in Ubud but end up staying there for a week, you’re not the only one!
I really enjoyed exploring the sights by a rented scooter, but the traffic is pretty chaotic. Some driving experience is therefore recommended. If you are not up to driving yourself, you can also hop on the back of a motorcycle taxi or a regular cab. The Southeast Asian taxi app Grab often doesn’t work in Ubud, as the regular cabs dominate the area, so keep this in mind.
Spot monkeys in the Ubud Monkey Forest
Monkey watching is not very difficult in Bali, because the island is overrun by macaques. If you haven’t spotted them yet, the Monkey Forest in Ubud will make it very easy for you. For IDR 80,000 you can enter the park to walk a route.
The monkeys can just walk in and out of the park over the walls so they are free to do as they please. However, the staff makes sure to keep as many monkeys in the park as possible for the visitors. They do this by feeding the monkeys in which they sometimes also teach the monkeys a trick.
Macaques are clever mischievous animals and are not afraid to steal a bottle of water or a bag of chips from your bag. It frequently happens that a visitor is attacked by dozens of monkeys. So make sure you put everything in your bag and keep it closed during your visit!
Go for a swim in one of the waterfalls
The Kanto Lampo waterfall is one of the most beautiful and touristy waterfalls in the Ubud area. If you don’t mind standing in line with dozens of others for a photo, it is a beautiful place. To be honest, for me it was not a great success and I quickly turned around. Therefore, visit the waterfall very early in the day. If you would like to grab some lunch before or after your visit, be sure to head to Bubur Bali between the rice fields, which serve very tasty and dirt cheap food!
The Tengenungan waterfall is also a very impressive location. For IDR 20,000 you can visit this waterfall. There are several entrances, but if you enter through the village on the east side, you only have to pay one entrance fee to get to the top of the waterfall.
Ubud is packed with beautiful temples. If you drive around for 30 minutes on your scooter, you’ll discover dozens of beautiful temples.
The Tirta Empul is one of the most popular temples in Ubud (see photo below). It is known for its sacred water source where visitors can bathe according to a ritual. To do this, you bend down under the icy cold water of each of the fountains. Entrance is IDR 50,000 and if you want to cleanse yourself, you pay IDR 10,000 for a special sarong. For a locker, you also pay IDR 15,000.
I found the Candi Tebing Gunung Kawi a very impressive temple without the hordes of tourists. What characterizes this temple are the giant carved statues in the rocks. To see the statues you have to walk down many steps, which you obviously have to walk up again. Admission is IDK 50,000 and if you are coming by scooter, you pay IDR 2,000 for the parking.
The Gunung Kawi Sebatu, not to be confused with the Candi Tebing Gunung Kawi, is a very beautiful temple complex even without too many tourists. Here you can also cleanse yourself through the ritual for 1,000 IDR. It’s a nice and quiet alternative to the much busier Tirta Empul.
Stroll through the rice terraces
Ubud is surrounded by beautiful nature and rice terraces. Therefore, a walk through the Tegallalang rice terraces (photo below) is something you really can’t miss when in Ubud! It’s only a 20-minute drive from Ubud and you’ll be asked to pay IDR 15,000 if you want to enter the rice terraces.
If you don’t mind traveling for 1,5 hours, then the Jatiluwih rice fields are highly recommended. These rice fields are located at the foot of the Gunung Batukaru and cover an area of no less than 600 hectares. They are called the most beautiful rice fields of Bali for a reason!
Visit a traditional dance performance
A popular activity in Ubud is to witness the traditional Fire and Trance Dance, also known as Kecak. The performance is a Balinese and Hindu dance and music drama where the dancers tell a story through their dance. I found it a very special show and highly recommended if you are interested in the Balinese culture!
Walk along the Campuhan Ridge Walk
For a scenic walk through nature, close to the city, head to the Campuhan Ridge Walk. This paved path of about 2 kilometers runs right through the valley and palm trees. Around sunset it’s often very busy, but if you prefer walking around at a quiet moment, then it’s best to come around sunrise.