Made popular by the film Eat Pray Love
, Ubud is located in the uplands of Bali
, Indonesia. Beautiful Hindu temples and iconic rice fields are the sight to see in this popular cultural, artistic and religious hub on the island.
Though Ubud is hot and humid during the day, it is still cooler than coastal areas. Still, temperatures linger between mid-70's and low 90's year-round, so it is likely you'll experience warm weather, regardless of when you visit.
Ubud's wet season is from November to June, which makes it an unpopular time for travelers. January and February are when Ubud experiences the heaviest rainfall, so it may be wise to avoid visiting at this time, especially since weather will limit activities, bring out insects, and cause landslides and possible flooding.
Dry season runs from July through October, which is high season for travel. Even during dry season, Ubud is extremely humid, so pack lightweight clothing that breathes and lots of sunblock.
Ubud is the central hub of culture and art, and you'll find plenty to explore when it comes to learning about Indonesian culture and especially Hindu religion.
There are many temples to visit such as Pura Kehen, one of the most beautiful, largest, and oldest temples in Bali with its carvings, monuments, and giant Banyan tree. Located about half an hour from Ubud, this one is definitely off the beaten track for those who want to soak up culture in a quiet space. As with all temples, dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees. The entrance fee includes sarong rental, in case you forget.
Titra Empul, about 20 kilometers northeast of Ubud in the city of Tampaksiring, is another temple worth visiting. Built around hot springs, many locals believe that the water in the temple and springs is holy and thus, they visit for spiritual ablution.
In the central Ubud, start with the Royal Palace which is smack dab in the middle of town and free to enter. Built in the early 1800s, it's a great site to take in traditional Balinese architecture and beautiful gardens.
Just down the road is the Sacred Monkey Forest, which is possibly the most popular place to visit in town. As the name implies, it is a forest full of monkeys where visitors can interact and feed the monkeys. Most monkeys are friendly, but don't let your guard down, as some are not shy to approach and even steal food right out of visitors' hands. If a monkey takes something from you, do not try to pull it back. And if you prefer to avoid or lower the likelihood of interaction altogether, leave your food at the ticket counter.
Take a bemo to the famous Goa Gajah, or elephant cave in Bedulu village near Gianyar. Built in the ninth century as a sanctuary, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site known especially for its intricate carvings. The complex contains temples, ancient baths, and Buddhist relics and is located in the jungle.
Stop in at an art museum or gallery, like the Blanco Renaissance Museum, which exhibits works by Spanish artist Antonio Blanco. Museum Rudana displays both traditional and modern Balinese art and the Neka Art Museum displays an important art collection, which manifests Bali's history, lifestyle, and myths through various art media.
Go off-roading on a bike tour with Greenbike Cycling Tour to explore a coffee plantation, dense forests, and rice paddies. If you're not up for a bike ride, motorcycles are inexpensive to rent and can facilitate your own easy ride on self-guided tour to the famed Tegalalang Rice Terrace, just 10 kilometers north of Ubud.
For an even closer historical site visit, ride five kilometers to see the Pejeng bronze kettle drum, which is highly revered by locals and the largest relic of Southeast Asia. The drum, also known as the Moon of Pejeng, is the largest, single-cast kettle drum in the world, over 2000 years old, made around 300 B.C.
Just a leisurely short walk away is the Campuhan Ridgewalk, where you can stroll through the rice fields for beautiful views of Bali's landscapes.
Thrill-seekers can go white-water rafting and swimming in the Ayung River and explore hidden waterfalls. The Mount Batur Volcano, a sacred mountain to Hindus, is just a little more than 40 kilometers northeast from Ubud, and a popular excursion for those who want to make the ascent to see a beautiful sunrise. Bali Trekking Tour provides guided hikes and transport from your accommodation in Ubud.
Shopaholics and window shoppers will want to visit the Ubud Market for paintings, wood carvings, and hand-crafted items, such as baskets, kites, and batik clothing. As in all of Asia, don't be shy to bargain!
Practice yoga at Ubud's largest and most popular yoga studio at the Yoga Barn, which offers up to 15 classes a day. For a quieter and less bustling yoga class, stop by Taksu, located in a spa complex in Ubud's center, but is still far enough away from the noise of the city. Taksu's classes can be as small as three students for more attention and a personalized experience.
Food and Dining
There's no shortage of diversity in cuisine in the cultural hub of Bali. Whether you're craving Euro, Western, Asian or local food, Ubud has a restaurant for you.
Taco Casa is a cheap and simple option for delicious Mexican fare, offering hard-shell tacos, wet burritos, and solid margaritas.
Whether you're craving wood-fired pizza, generous portions of pastas, or fresh and delicious garden salad, you'll be sure to find Italian comfort food at Mamma Mia. Try the roast chicken with mushrooms for a hearty and rich meal.
For an all-in-one overview of Indonesian fare, dine at Warung Enak. Try the nasi campur or the Rijsttafel, translated as "rice table," which is a four-course tasting menu consisting of up to 18 different items in small portions so that you can taste Indonesia while saving your stomach for the next course.
Minami may not be kind to your money belt, but it's certainly the place to go for a high-end beautifully-presented sushi in a modern restaurant with romantic ambiance. Diners rave about the bento boxes of fresh sashimi and chocolate mousse.
For a substantial meal, drop into Cafe des Artistes, where you'll find a variety of Asian, European, Belgian and local fare. They're known for their steaks, but also serve up solid vegetarian dishes, like gado-gado and nasi goreng.
Ubud is toward the center of Bali and does not have its own airport, so you'll need to take a car to get in. The most comfortable and stress-free way to Ubud from South Bali is taxi, though it is among the most expensive. Plan ahead to book a return trip to get back, as there is a 30% fee to go out of town.
If you'd like to drive yourself, rental cars are also inexpensive, safe, and a great way to go at your own pace. Give yourself extra time on top of Google Maps' ETA and learn a few local phrases in case you need to stop and ask for directions.
Public buses do not serve Ubud, but you can find charter buses with Perama Tour and Travel. Perama will drop you off about two kilometers south of Ubud in Padang Tegal. Because quality of buses are inconsistent, it may be wise to check out the buses first and buy tickets at the station, rather than in advance, so you know what you're paying for.
Bemos or minivans are the least expensive way in from Batubulan Station in Denpasar. The ride takes about an hour and most bemos leave in the morning, so plan ahead as you won't catch one after 4 p.m. Expect to stop during the ride to pick up and drop off other passengers and don't forget that even transportation prices are negotiable.
While you can easily walk the center of Ubud, you'll likely want to rent a vehicle to get to the attractions on the outskirts or outside the city. However, taxis aren't typical in Ubud so you can either take a bemo or rent your own vehicle.
Bicycles and motorbikes are plentiful and available for hire at low costs; just ask around on main streets and compare prices. Again, bargaining is expected and can even be used when renting vehicles. Keep in mind that Ubud is a hilly town, so be prepared for challenging rides, heavy traffic and careless drivers.