10 of the Best Things to Do in Ubud: Exploring Central Bali
Venture away from the coast and into the hills and you’ll find the true beauty of Bali. Rice terraces, volcano views, temples, waterfalls and a forest full of monkeys are all easily reached from Ubud, the most popular tourist town in Central Bali. It’s a great town to just kick back and relax (especially if you’re staying in a luxury hotel surrounded by rice fields — more on that later), but there are heaps of cool things to do in Ubud and you’d be missing out if you didn’t experience some of them.
The Best Things to Do in Ubud
Walk Through the Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Perhaps the most striking scenic attraction close to Ubud, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces are a must-see when exploring the area. You can get a spectacular view of the rice terraces from above, but it’s worth descending down into the valley to get a closer look. It’s easy to escape the crowds and there are various narrow trails through the terraces. You’ll be asked for a “donation” at a few places (which you’ll have to give if you want to pass) so have some small notes handy. It’ll cost you RP 10,000 to visit the Tegalalang Rice Terraces (plus the donations) and they are located around 10 km from downtown Ubud, meaning you’ll need to hire a scooter or organise a car and driver.
Stay in a hotel by the rice fields
We stayed at Solo Villas Resort and Retreat; a really nice hotel set amid the rice fields a short walk from Ubud. It was one of our best Bali honeymoon experiences and I highly recommend it if you’re on a romantic trip. It was so peaceful despite only being a 10 minute walk from bustling Ubud and the hotel even provides complimentary motorbike transfer to town and back, meaning you don’t have to walk home in the dark after dinner in town.
The room we had was massive and pretty luxurious. Gia even got to have a flower bath — a stylish way to finish up our honeymoon!
FURTHER READING: Check out Gia’s review of Solo Villas!
See the Monkey Forest
If you’re in a bad mood take a trip to the Monkey Forest and I almost guarantee it’ll put a smile on your face. Monkeys are always entertaining, and add in the occasional tourist who tries to interact with them (generally with hilarious consequences) and you have one of the most fun things to do in Ubud. If you want to avoid contact with the monkeys make sure you don’t rustle any plastic or take any food out of your bag. We saw a woman willingly invite a monkey onto her shoulder for a photo. It played along for about a second until it spotted her earring, quickly plucking it from her ear and scurrying away. Luckily the earring appeared to be of the clip-on variety!
The Monkey Forest is close to the centre of Ubud — it takes around 30 minutes to walk around (plus time to stop and watch the monkeys) and costs RP 50,000.
Visit a temple
I’ve been a bit spoilt for temples over the years, and it’s fair to say the temples I’ve seen in Bali aren’t that interesting. It’s worth seeing one or two though — I’d recommend Goa Gajah for the cool cave carvings and Saraswati Temple, right next to Starbucks in the centre of town, for a peaceful spot to escape the traffic.
Visit a waterfall
There are a few nice waterfalls close to Ubud, but you’ll still need some form of transport to get there. The pick of the bunch (that we visited anyway) of the waterfalls close to Ubud was Tegenungan, although it was extremely crowded in the late afternoon. We also visited Tebumana and Kanto Lampo waterfalls which were less impressive but a lot quieter.
Hike Mount Batur for Sunrise
Ninety minutes or so outside of Ubud sits Mount Batur, known as one of the best volcanoes to hike in Bali. Make sure to go for sunrise — it’s a special experience but bring a jersey as it gets cold. It takes a couple of hours to hike up Mount Batur and at the top you’ll see one of the best views in all of Bali. You can organise transport from Ubud (RP 400,000 – 500,000 for a car and driver) and you’ll also need to hire a guide when you get there (although apparently it’s possible to do it without a guide). Try and join up with a few other people to split the costs.
Do the Rice Fields Walk
Even if you don’t stay amongst the rice fields you should still walk up there (Jalan Kajeng, next to Starbucks) to see the calmer side of Ubud. It’ll only take 10-15 minutes until you’re surrounded by rice fields and palm trees. There are some restaurants up there and a few different hotels — definitely check out Solo Villas if you’re interested in staying in this picturesque part of Ubud.
The Campuhan Ridge Walk is another option for a short walk. We did it and weren’t that impressed.
Relax in Town
Relaxing is easily one of the best things to do in Ubud. There are heaps of nice restaurants with rice field views, spas and cool little cafes and gelato shops. We ate at Nia Ubud Restaurant a few times and thought the food was really good. We also had a few too many gelatos (it was hot so they were well earned).
See a Kecak Dance
I saw the kecak dance on my first trip to Ubud and it was a good experience (I’m generally a dance fan). Check it out if you’re after a bit of culture. The performance combines really intense chanting with some trippy fire dancing — it’s definitely unique. You’ll be asked to attend a kecak dance many times while walking the streets of Ubud – they happen at night at certain temples in Bali.
Find love like in the movies
Have you seen Eat Pray Love? Or as I like to call it: Eat, Prey on Lonely Older Women so They’ll Buy Your Book and/or Movie, Love. I think the hype has died down a bit, but Ubud still attracts Eat, Prey, Love devotees in search of spiritual enlightenment, love and I guess food. I actually wrote a post about this last time I was in Ubud, so I won’t go into too much detail here!
FURTHER READING: Avoiding Julia Roberts in Ubud, Bali
Are you planning a trip to Ubud? Which places are you most excited to see? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: I was hosted by Solo Villas. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own