10 ways to get the most out of Ubud

Ronda and I absolutely loved Ubud!  Its a must see for anyone visiting Bali, Indonesia.  You can cram everything you want to see into a few days but that will leave you wishing you were back in Ubud like we were.  We returned for another 2 nights after our stay on the Gili Islands!  Check out these favorites from our week in Ubud and follow us @LiveTravelTeach for more awesome Indonesian adventures.

All photos were taken by either Ronda Christensen or Mike Still

1. Sacred Monkey ForestDSC_0285

Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest was by far my favorite experience during our stay.  I loved it so much that I went back a second time.   Monkey’s are my favorite animal and you might remember my favorite photo from last year.  But even if you aren’t a monkey you will certainly have a great time!  At 40,000 IDR its a bargain and the fees go towards conserving the natural habitat.

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Over 600 monkeys live in this forest at the heart of Ubud.  There are dozens of  park rangers around at all times making sure tourists don’t overstep the boundaries with mother nature.  The monkeys here are as close to wild as a human can safely interact with.  They are quite friendly but be careful.  They are still wild animals.  Don’t take valuables or anything loose that the monkeys can steal._DSC4553

I plan on writing a larger post about the forest soon so stay tuned for more info and photos!

Places to visit in Bali Indonesia


2. Kecak Fire Trance Dance

Another must see in Ubud is the Kecak Fire Trance Dance.  There are different dances every night at temples around the city but this was by far our favorite.  We saw a Barong dance one morning and while interesting the Kecak Fire Trance Dance was infinitely better.

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One reason the Fire dance is so much more enjoyable because the accompanying music is provided by almost 100 chanting men dressed in traditional garb.  A story unfolds with exquisitely designed costumes, masks and a few surprises.  The 75,000 IDR admission fee goes to the temple and is well worth the price.  Ask your hotel or just about any local on the street and they’ll sell you a ticket.

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Make sure you arrive early!  The first show we arrived 20 minutes early for a 7:00 show and were able to get decent seats.  We loved it so much that we went to a second at a different temple.  We arrived 30 minutes early to a 7:30 show and ended up needing to stand to see past all the people!  The later show was a little nicer but it really doesn’t matter which you see as long as you go

Tourist Attractions in Bali


3. Tegalalang Rice Terraces_DSC4255

Sit and enjoy a meal overlooking them or trek through these beautiful rice terraces.  Tegalalang is actively farmed by the local community and yields a crop 3 times every year.  At any stage of the harvest you’re sure to enjoy these beautiful landsapes.

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To get here hire a driver from Ubud and add it to a tour package or spend the whole day.  We saw the Elephant Temple (Goa Gajah) and  watched a show in the morning before our rice trekking.

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Make sure you wear shoes that can get muddy (or flip flops like we did!)  At various places along the paths locals have donation booths and will ask for a few dollars as toll or to buy a coconut.DSC_0970

Where to go in Bali Indonesia

On our trek we met Wajah, an old farmer and his topless grandmother wandering the fields.  Yes, she seemed a little crazy  but hey its hot in Bali.  She disappeared into the rice paddies areRonda and I bought a cocunut from Wajah who serenaded us with a traditional song while we soaked in the scenery.
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4. Beji Ayu -Ubud’s most sacred healing sanctuary

Spa FlowerWhile you’re in Indonesia you should treat yourself to at least one massage.  Ronda and I wandered along Monkey Forest Road and found a sign for Beji Ayu.  I am convinced that their self proclaimed “most scared healing sanctuary” is completely accurate after an hour massage followed by a gorgeous flower bath while we listened to the tropical birdI.

The couples package cost about 330,000 IDR.  At less than $15 per person for a 90 minute treatment this place is a steal!  Whatever you get I’m sure you’ll feel perfectly relaxed at the end.

5. Elephant Temple (Goa Gajah)

Bali is known as the Island of the Gods because of its 13,000 temples.  Goa Gajah is one of the most famous because of its beautiful elphant carving as t he entrance to a cave.  It is quite close to Ubud and well worth stopping by.  Stroll around the temple grounds to see ancient structures and a beautiful fountain.  If you’re lucky an old man will bless you for a small fee or might offer to be your guide.  Built in the 9th century this sanctuary is full of intricute motiffs carved throughout.

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6. Bedagul Temple 

One of Bali’s most iconic photos is of Bedagul Temple sitting calmly on a serene lake with a mountainous backdrop.  There’s not much to do other than explore the temple gardens  but this pictureesque landscape is well worth the trip from Ubud.  We combined Pura Taman Ayun and Bedagul for a half-day trip.  Ronda and I found a guide/driver when walking Monkey Forest Road.  We about paid 600,000 IDR for a private car & driver for the whole day.

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7. Pura Taman Ayun – (Royal) Family Temple

Our driver told us Pura Taman Ayun was a Royal Family Temple but some careful Googling makes it appear to have been for all families.  Either way this magnificent structure is worth stopping by since its only 18 km from Ubud.  Built in 1634 the ancient buildings are surounded by a moat and Taman Ayun literally translates to “beautiful garden”.  We combined this stop with Bedagul in our half-day trip since you only need an hour or so to walk around the whole complex.

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Travel to Bali Indonesia

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8. Attend a Yoga class

Bali is a yoga capital and Ubud even more so. Check out Yoga Barn for dozens of different classes all priced at 130,000 IDR.  You can find a bunch of other studios that might offere cheaper classes too.  Ronda and I found 2 yoga classes later in the trip for only 100,000 IDR each.

9. Eat amazing food!

Stay tuned for specific restaurant recommendations in a future post but get ready to try some amazing food while in Ubud.  There are dozens of high end restaurants that cater to foreigners with Western or Indonesian meals all for under $10.  Its easy to find a meal for less than $5 and in many cases a snack for less than $1.  I loved the Indonesian staples Gado Gado (steamed vegetable salad with peanut sauce & boiled egg) and Nasi Campur (Rice with assorted other side dishes)

If you’re less adventurous of an eater there are plenty of places to find pastas, pizzas, burgers and even Mexican throughout Ubud.  Make sure you check out this food guide for Ubud!

10. Shop, Shop, Shop!

The unqiue styles of Indonesia are available at markets throughout Ubud.  The best prices were found near the Monkey Forest and in Ubud Market.  If you’re headed elsewhere on Bali I still recommend shopping in Ubud since prices got higher and selections worse in other areas.  Be ready to haggle!  Vendors often agreed to prices less than 1/4 of their initial offer.  For a shirt or pair of shorts they might start at 150,000 or 200,000 IDR and then agree to 40,000 or 50,000 IDR.  Have a price in mind before you ask and the trick is to wait.  Don’t say anything.  Vendors might jump from 200,000 immediately to 100,000 just because you stood there.  Don’t forge to walk away for the absolute best prices to be shouted as you leave their shop.

Still want more to do in Ubud?  Check out these bonus items from other bloggers!

Bonus #11 check out my friend Allison’s page all about cycling in Bali!

Bonus #12 why no go Ayung River Rafting!

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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded www.LiveTravelTeach.com as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

26 thoughts on “10 ways to get the most out of Ubud

  1. Good friends of ours moved to Ubud many years ago. They love the people and landscape of Bali and Indonesia. As you’ve described, it’s a very special place to visit. Still need to get there one day to visit the temples and eat the delicious food.

    1. Ubud should be on everyone’s bucket list. Glad you already had it on your radar. Hope you get to visit your friends soon

  2. Ubud/ Bali has been on my list since the famous – Eat, Pray, Love. Have yet to make it there and will do so soon. Really interesting reading about the trance dance. Is it done for any particular holiday or festival, or is simply to raise money for the temple? Lovely post!

    1. Rosemary, I absolutely loved Eat, Pray, Love! My uncles showed it to me many years ago and now I want to read the book. As far as I could tell the dances were just a normal thing for the locals and it has become a way for tourists to help support the temples. All the costs of the tickets went to the temples.

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  3. I would love to see the rice terraces! That’s really great the monkey park is a natural monkey habitat where people can view them in their own territory and they are protected from human handling + abuse. We are visiting the snow monkeys in Japan next year (so excited!) and it is a park that we go to, rather than them being kept captive anywhere. The fire trance also sounds amazing! We get a lot of fire dancing here in Fiji which I’m determined to give a go before I leave!

    1. I’m jealous of your trip to see the snow monkeys! I just might have to add it to my Japan road trip for NYE. The trance dance was an absolute favorite. I’ll have to check out the dances on Fiji too!

  4. I hope to do everything on this list soon. I really want to go to Bali. Shopping wise I just need some souvenirs, nothing too crazy. I hear the monkeys are very aggressive.

  5. Great suggestions–Bali looks so amazing! Bedagul Temple looks beautiful and the money forest sounds like a lot of fun. The rice terraces would be interesting to see, as well!

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