10 ways to get the most out of Ubud

by Mike Still
10 things to do in ubud banner

Ronda and I absolutely loved Ubud!  Its a must-see for anyone visiting Bali, Indonesia.  Therefore, I have brought to an exciting list of fun things to do in Ubud. You can cram everything you want to see in 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

We highly recommend getting travel insurance before heading to Ubud.  I use World Nomads and love the peace of mind I get knowing that if I get hurt I’ll be covered.

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1. Sacred Monkey ForestFun Things to do in Ubud

All right, on our list of fun things to do in Ubud, Sacred Monkey Forest is the very first entry. 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.   Monkeys 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. That is why it is on the list of fun things to do in Ubud.

Things to do Ubud
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.Things to do Ubud - Monkey Playing on The Trees

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.

Kecak Fire Trance Dance

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. Thus, it is one of my favorite fun things to do in Ubud. 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.

Kecak Fire Trance Dance - Dress Men

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 TerracesTegalalang Rice Terraces

This entry in our fun things to do in Ubud is special in its own way. 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 landscapes.

Tegalalang Rice Terraces - A Beautiful Landscape

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.

morning before our rice trekking

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.Fun Things to do in Ubud

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, it gets hot in Bali.  She disappeared into the rice paddies where Ronda and I bought a coconut from Wajah who serenaded us with a traditional song while we soaked in the scenery. This is more than just fun things to do in Ubud.

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Having Coconut

4. Beji Ayu -Ubud’s most sacred healing sanctuary

Spa FlowerWhile you’re in Indonesia you should treat yourself to at least one massage. Consider it an essential part of all the fun things to do in Ubud.  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 birds.

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.

If you’re looking for a relaxing trip to Ubud you’ll want to check out these great infinity pools in Ubud (and other resorts too).  Be sure to grab a sweet photo and let me know your favorite of this list.

5. Elephant Temple (Goa Gajah)

Let us take you to a spiritual journey with the next entry of Elephant Temple in our fun things to do in Ubud list. 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 elephant carving as the 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 intricate motifs carved throughout.

Elephant Temple Elephant Temple

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 picturesque 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.

Bedagul Temple

7. Pura Taman Ayun – (Royal) Family Temple

Yes another temple in our fun things to do in Ubud list. 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 surrounded 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.

Pura Taman Ayun - (Royal) Family Temple

Travel to Bali Indonesia

Bali Indonesia

8. Attend a Yoga class

How can we forget one of the best fun things to do in Ubud? 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 offered cheaper classes too.  Ronda and I found 2 yoga classes later in the trip for only 100,000 IDR each.

9. Eat amazing food!

It’s a list of fun things to do in Ubud and it is not complete until we include the “”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 pasta, pizzas, burgers and even Mexican throughout Ubud.  Make sure you check out this food guide for Ubud!

10. Shop, Shop, Shop!

Are you thinking that we are closing up this list of fun things to do in Ubud without talking about shopping? The unique 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 forget to walk away for the absolute best prices to be shouted as you leave their shop.

So, these are the best fun things to do in Ubud. I hope you like it.

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

Try cycling in Bali!
Ever thought of Ayung River Rafting!
Canggu is another hotspot for tourists and expats!

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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!

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Indrani November 19, 2016 - 6:39 pm

Wow! What a great mix of things to do!
I would definitely want to listen to local music. Those instruments look so different.

Claudia November 20, 2016 - 10:15 am

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.

mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:52 pm

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

Punita Malhotra November 20, 2016 - 11:44 pm

I think more about rice terraces than the beaches when I hear of Bali. I guess the weather has to be just right to get stunned by those gorgeous green scenes. Hoping to get there soon.

Rosemary November 21, 2016 - 12:27 am

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!

mike.j.still@gmail.com November 21, 2016 - 2:20 pm

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.

Mags November 21, 2016 - 8:12 am

Looks like some great things to check out. I would love to check out the monkey forest. Those guys are too cute!

mike.j.still@gmail.com November 21, 2016 - 2:17 pm

Monkeys are my favorite 🙂

Jaxon May 19, 2017 - 12:30 pm

Good Website! I wanted to ask if I could quote a portion of your web page and use a few points for a school asignnmest. Please let me know through email whether or not that would be fine. Thanks

Mike Still May 24, 2017 - 7:35 pm

Hey Jason,

Please email me at mike.j.still@gmail.com with whatever you are using. I would be happy if you quote it and would love to see the project too!


Mike Still May 24, 2017 - 7:35 pm

Hey Jaxon,

Please email me at mike.j.still@gmail.com with whatever you are using. I would be happy if you quote it and would love to see the project too!


Juliette | Snorkels to Snow November 21, 2016 - 11:31 am

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!

mike.j.still@gmail.com November 21, 2016 - 2:17 pm

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!

Holly November 21, 2016 - 12:42 pm

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.

Jenna November 21, 2016 - 3:52 pm

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!

Carla Abanes November 22, 2016 - 9:21 am

saving this!!! so timely because Im headed to Bali and Ubud in December. Thanks for sharing!

mike.j.still@gmail.com November 22, 2016 - 2:00 pm

So glad you’re getting to go! Let me know if you have any questions about the area 🙂

Vishal Vashisht November 22, 2016 - 1:20 pm

I know this place can amaze anyone. I’ve also heard that there are activities for people of all ages. Hopefully one day, I will visit there.

mike.j.still@gmail.com November 22, 2016 - 1:59 pm

I hope you visit one day soon! Its definitely a family friendly stop good for all ages

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