Planning a trip to Ubud and need some tips on things to do? Don’t worry, little buddy, I’ve got you covered. After spending some time in this super-cool part of the world, I’ve uncovered quite a few awesome things to see, great spots to eat and drink and other suggestions for fun, interesting things to do.
I love the way Ubud still reflects the unique Balinese way of life as well as emanating a whole lot of charm and a low-key vibe that’s irresistible. If you’re lucky enough to be heading to Ubud soon, I hope these tips can inspire you to have an amazing time while you’re there. If you’ve been before and have some tips of your own to add, please share them in the comments below.
But first, watch our ‘Must-Do: Ubud’ video!
1. Visit Gunung Kawi at Tampaksiring
One of my favourite places I visited in Ubud, Gunung Kawi will take you off the main road via a winding set of steps, past vendors selling clothes and carved stuff, down to a hidden temple by the water. You’ll see amazing rice terraces and an 11th Century temple which stretches across the Pakerisan river. I loved this spot because it felt like the real Bali, it was a very spiritual place and amazing for photographs. It should cost around 20,000 IDR per person to get in and you’ll need to borrow a sarong too, but there are some men down the steps who will loan you one. This place is pretty easy to find if you’re on a scooter, just ask your hotel or homestay for help. Find out more about Gunung Kawi at Tampaksiring here.
2. Eat at Kafe
A great spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you’ll find Kafe near the centre of town in Ubud. They serve up really delicious food that is well-priced and accommodates all your dietary requirements. I highly recommend the California Burrito and anything in their cake cabinet! It’s a really cool, chilled-out space that’s easy to find on foot or on a scooter and with yummy food too, you really can’t go wrong. Find Kafe here.
3. Visit the Tegenungan Waterfall
Another of my favourite places was Tegenungan Waterfall. This place was seriously awesome! I recommend going early in the day so you can get great photographs of the falls with no other tourists in them and to beat the heat! Again, this place is pretty easy to find if you’re on a scooter, just ask your hotel or homestay for directions, then keep an eye out for a blue sign which goes over the road and says ‘Tegenungan Waterfall’. You can’t swim in the water as it’s dirty, but it makes for some awesome photos. Just be warned, you’ll bust your ass getting back up the stairs to the top. I nearly died. There’s also an entrance fee of 20,000 IDR p.p. Find out more about Tegenungan Waterfall here.
4. Enjoy a cooking class
Love cooking? Love Balinese food? Well, my friend, you are in for a real treat. Sign yourself up for a Balinese cooking class and learn how to make all that yummy Balinese food for yourself. In most cooking classes you will be able to go to a local market to pick out your ingredients for the dishes you’ll be cooking. With a surfeit of vegetation in Ubud there are also vegetarian and vegan cooking classes where you will be able to pick your own vegetables on an organic farm. If you’re interested in taking a cooking class in Ubud make sure to check out Cookly, a website that offers a large selection of cooking classes for travellers, making it easy to book them online. Find out more about cooking classes in Ubud here on Cookly.
5. Visit Istana Tampaksiring
Another amazing temple to visit, Istana is closeby to Gunung Kawi, so if you’re on a scooter you should do both one after the other. Here you’ll find amazing pools with fresh water running into them and locals bathing under them while praying. Again, it’s a really spiritual space and somewhere very unique. You’ll find loads of great photo opportunities too! Entry fee applies (of course!) Find out more about Istana here.
6. Do the Campuhan Ridge walk
If you’re going to do the walk, and you really should, be sure to do it early in the morning or late in the afternoon. If you try to do it in the middle of the day you’ll get heat stroke and die (probably). Also, the light will be better for you at dawn or desk, for photographs. The walk is pretty easy going and takes you through some amazing winding pathways with rice fields and open spaces either side. I found this great guide on Live Love Raw which gives detailed instructions and photographs to help you find it. Find out more about the Campuhan Ridge Walk here.
7. Eat at Copper Kitchen at Bisma Eight
Not only do they serve up really, really delicious food at great prices, the rooftop at Bisma Eight offers an amazing view for the sunset. The rooftop comes alive with twinkling festival lights and you’ll get to see the sun set a brilliant orange over the rice fields. I highly recommend the cocktails and the menu is simple, delicious and amazing. Not only that, the service here is excellent too! (I saw these guys got a few bad reviews on TripAdvisor, but I’m not sure why, cos I really liked it.) Find Copper Kitchen at Bisma Eight here.
8. Ubud Market
If you visit the Ubud Market, do it in the early morning before all the tourist shops open up. This will give you a chance to explore the market how the locals see it! You’ll get to watch people bartering and trading, buying fresh fruit and questionable looking meat. I recommend climbing up the stairs to get a birds-eye-view of the action below. A word of warning; it’s pretty stinky! So, practice your mouth-breathing before you go. Find out more about the Ubud Market here.
9. Get a massage
Go on, get one! Get two! Heck, get one every day if you like. You bloody well deserve it, mate. No specific recommendations from me, just choose a place you like the feel of and go with it.
10. Take a tour of the Green Village
This place is so cool! It’s an amazing village set along the Ayung River, where you’ll find incredible structures made entirely of bamboo. Not only is cool in terms of being eco-friendly, it provides you with a chance to see something you have never seen before and makes for amazing photo opportunities too. They offer tours of the village on weekdays and you can stick around for a yummy lunch, if you like. Find out more about Green Village here.
11. Catch a yoga class
Ubud is all about the spiritual world and there are few better ways to experience that then taking some time out for a yoga class. I visited Radiantly Alive Yoga studio, which offered a really lovely Gentle Flow class at 125,000 IDR p.p for a drop-in class. It was an amazing way to start the day and I loved the space, where you can just pop in and use the mats provided. Yoga Barn is probably the most well-known studio in Ubud, but I chose to skip it and opt for something a little more quiet.
12. Eat at Bali Buda
I found this place on day one of arriving in Ubud and loved it! If you’re a vegetarian, like me, you’ll lose your mind when you see how much great stuff you can eat on the menu. The hot picks include a vegetarian Nasi Campur and an amazing Lentil Sunshine Stew. They have great options for vegans but also plenty of stuff for meat-eaters too. The food here is simple, honest, delicious and leaves you feeling great! They’re undergoing a name change, so you may find it called Bali Bunda. Find Bali Buda (Bunda) here.
Don’t forget to watch our Bali for first-timers video!
13. Visit Goa Gajah
Another of Ubud’s super cool temples, Goa Gajah is known as the elephant temple. This place came about in the 9th Century and offers an amazingly spiritual space. Like all great places, it has an entrance fee, but it’s cheap and worthwhile. You’ll find Goa Gajah on the same big loop as the two temples at Tampaksiring but before them both and closer to Ubud. Just ask your hotel or hostel for instructions on how to visit. Find out more about Goa Gajah here.
14. Avoid the Ubud Monkey Forest
Yep, you read that right, I wrote avoid! I didn’t love my visit to the sacred monkey forest, but in saying that, if you’re a monkey fan, you may love it. I saw a few people get bitten by monkeys after they jumped on, admittedly while they were standing near to them or holding bananas to feed them with. The whole time I was there I felt really tense and anxious, the idea of getting bitten did not appeal to me at all. I couldn’t wait to leave. Decide for yourself if it’s worth your while. Find out more about the Ubud Monkey Forest here.
15. Eat at Cafe Pomegranate
This place was a little tricky to find and takes a fair amount of confidence if you’re trying to get yourself there on a scooter. Be brave, my friend, because it’s one of the coolest places you’ll find to eat in Ubud. The menu here is simple but tasty and really affordable. But the real reason to go is that it’s an amazing experience, navigating your way along a tiny pathway in-between rice fields, then entering a billowing open white tent and gazing over open rice fields over to the mountains. If you get lost trying to find, just ask locals for directions to Sari Organic, they’ll know where to send you. Find Cafe Pomegranate here.
16. Visit a medicine man
If you’ve read Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll know all about Balinese medicine men like Ketut Leyir, known locally as Balians. These very special people have an understanding of things we’ll never really know and offer to heal on all kinds of levels. There are many different healers you can visit in Ubud, each offering something different depending on their knowledge and skills, from palm readings to much, much more. My advice to you would be to research them online for yourself and choose the person who resonates with you best. If you’re unsure, just ask around locally when you arrive and see what names pop up that sit well with you. Let your instincts and heart guide you.
17. See the Tegalalang Rice Terrace
The most photographed rice terrace in Ubud would have to be Tegalalang rice terrace. You can visit this spot during your big loop around Ubud and it shouldn’t be too hard for you to find. It’s incredibly photogenic and a really great place to visit either early in the morning or in the afternoon, to catch that pretty light. Find out more about Tegalalang Rice Terrace here.
18. Have a super romantic riverside dinner
If you’re in the mood for a romantic dinner, be sure to visit Swept Away at The Samaya. This place is where romance is born and bred. One dinner at this spot and your sweetie will be like putty in your hands! Alright, that’s a bit dramatic, sorry. But seriously, we’re talking tables with candles everywhere, set among the banks of the river. It’s like one of those ridiculous dates off The Bachelor or something. Enjoy! Find Swept Away at The Samaya here.
19. Climb Mount Batur and watch the sunrise
Not for the faint at heart, the climb up Mt Batur is brutal but worthwhile. You can organise the tour when you arrive in Ubud, via your hotel/homestay or a local tour organiser and it should cost around 300,000 IDR p.p. You’ll need to wake up at 2am, drive a couple hours then drag your tired butt up a huge mountain in the dark. If you want to read a funny story about my last time doing it, you can do that here. It hurts at the time, but it’s pretty magical. Find out more about Mount Batur here.
20. Sign up for a bike tour
If doing a huge walk or hike up to Mt Batur doesn’t really take your fancy, there are easier ways to do things. A number of local companies offer some great bike tours around the area, which is a great way to see more of Ubud and get some awesome photos of rice fields and other cool nature related stuff. You can just ask one of the local tour organisers when you arrive or book something online if you prefer, totally up to you. Find out more about Bike Tours in Ubud here.
21. Visit the Saraswati Temple
The water temple, formally known is Saraswati Temple, is something straight out of your Cambodian-Angkor-Wat dreams! It’s a great place to visit in the afternoon as the light softens and things start to look all kinds of magical. Entry fee applies, you guys! Find out more about Saraswati Temple.
22. Eat at Luxe Cafe
A great place to get a delicious bite to eat, Luxe Cafe gets rave reviews and serves up some pretty amazing food too. Set in a great location, with awesome views, you’ll find the restaurant delivering western-style food like incredible burgers and more. Yes, I know, you don’t really go to Indonesia to eat western food. But sometimes your tummy gets a bit tired of a different cuisine and you need to feed it some food it knows. Luxe Cafe will cure what ails you! The food is great, awesome atmosphere and it’s well-priced too. Find Luxe Cafe here.
And finally, this video shows why I love going back to Bali…
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.