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.
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 that 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 IDR50,000 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.
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.
3. Visit the Tegenungan Waterfall
Another of my favourite places was the 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 you’ll 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 IDR20,000 per person.
This tour offers the Best of Ubud (including the Tegenungan Waterfall)
4. Do the Campuhan Ridge walk
If you’re going to do the Campuhan Ridge Walk, 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 dusk, for photographs. The walk is pretty easy and takes you through some amazing winding pathways with rice fields and open spaces on either side. I found this great guide which gives detailed instructions and photographs to help you find it.
5. Visit Istana Tampak Siring
Another amazing temple to visit, Istana Tampak Siring 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!
6. 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 the 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.
Book a Private Hosted Market Tour and Cooking Class here
7. Catch a yoga class
Ubud is all about the spiritual world and there are few better ways to experience that than taking some time out for a yoga class. I visited Radiantly Alive Yoga studio, which offered a really lovely Gentle Flow class at IDR125,000 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 quieter.
8. 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.
9. Eat at Copper Kitchen and Bar at Bisma Eight
Not only do they serve up really, really delicious food at great prices, but the Copper Kitchen and Bar rooftop also offers an amazing view of the sunset. The rooftop comes alive with twinkling festival lights and you’ll get to see the sunset 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.)
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, but it also 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 Green Village on weekdays and you can stick around for a yummy lunch if you like.
11. Eat at Bali Buda
I found Bali Buda 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!
12. 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 as 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.
13. Visit Goa Gajah
Another of Ubud’s super cool temples, Goa Gajah is known as the Elephant Cave. 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.
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.
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 Cafe Pomegranate is 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 it, just ask locals for directions to Sari Organic, they’ll know where to send you.
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. 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.
18. See the Tegalalang Rice Terrace
The most photographed rice terrace in Ubud would have to be the 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.
19. 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 Ubud. 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!
20. Sign up for a bike tour
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 ask one of the local tour organisers when you arrive or book something online if you prefer, totally up to you.
21. Climb Mount Batur and watch the sunrise
Not for the faint-hearted, the climb up Mt Batur is brutal but worthwhile. You’ll need to wake up at about 2 am, drive a couple of 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 read that here. It hurt at the time, but it’s pretty magical.
We booked our 6-Hour Guided Mt Batur Sunrise Trek Tour here
Where to stay in Ubud
Booking.com and Agoda are great websites for finding suitable accommodation options in Ubud and its surroundings. Below are a few options worth looking into:
|Plataran Ubud Hotel & Spa||Read our review|
|Viceroy Bali||Luxurious, mountain views|
|Four Seasons Resort Bali At Sayan||Exceptional luxury|
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