Welcome to my Ubud Guide! Bali’s inland jungle region is popular with tourists for good reason. Here you’ll find yourself surrounded by lush, green forest with monkeys jumping overhead. Purchase beautiful straw goods at the market, eat brunch at one of Ubud’s gorgeous cafes and wander amongst the rice paddies. It’s also the home of some of Bali’s most beautiful villas and surrounded by culture and religion.
How long should I spend in Ubud?
Ubud is easily manageable as a full day trip from Seminyak, Canggu or Uluwatu, though plenty of visitors choose to spend a few nights here. If you want to see the main sites, I’d suggest 2 days, or 3 to 4 for temple day trips from Ubud.
If you’d like to climb the Mount Batur volcano, Ubud is the easiest place to reach it from.
How long you may need depends largely on what kind of traveller you are. If you’re strapped for time, two nights in Ubud would be ample to enjoy the best of what is has to offer. If you’re in no rush then it’s a great place to chill out, explore more slowly and soak up the mellow jungle vibes.
How to get to Ubud
Ubud is about an hours drive from either Denpasar airport or the Seminyak area of Bali. In reality, it’s worth remembering how horrific Bali traffic can be; that journey can easily take double or triple at the wrong time of day so my advice is to leave early.
If you’re going on a day trip to Ubud from Seminyak, leave by 7am.
With a Driver
This is the easiest way to see Ubud for a day if there’s more than two of you, or you’re not confident riding a scooter, is with a driver. You can hire a driver for an entire day and dictate where they take you. I’ve done this twice with the second time round being most successful because I pre-planned an itinerary and shared it with the driver. The first time, I found him (a different driver) a little pushy in suggesting alternative plans, such as visiting a specific lunch spot rather than the restaurant I wanted to go to. It wasn’t a problem but I did learn to assert myself and my expectations politely beforehand.
A driver is likely to cost you around 500K IDR for a day (around £30) and I’d suggest a tip of 100K if they do a good job. If you need the number for some good Bali drivers, DM me on Instagram!
If you’re confident driving a scooter then it’s definitely the easiest and quickest way to get around Bali! Ubud can get quite busy with traffic but if you avoid morning rush hour (leave before, I’d say) then it’s manageable and there’s plenty of parking, sometimes for a small fee.
A scooter is likely to cost you 60K IDR to hire for a day (about £3.50) and a tank of petrol costs around 10K (little more than 50p). Make sure your travel insurance covers you hiring a scooter and always wear a helmet.
If you’re heading one way to Ubud, especially with luggage, then a taxi is the easiest choice. Use Grab or GoJek (similar to Uber) to book a ride, which will vary in cost depending on peak demand but shouldn’t cost much more than 200K IDR from Seminyak (about £12).
Ubud Guide: Where to stay
If you’re looking for budget accommodation, your best bet is to find a room in a guest house on Airbnb. If you’re new to the site, use the link I included above for a great discount off of your first stay.
- Private Double Room: I stayed here for two nights and found it very clean, comfortable and well-priced.
- Bunk in a Chilled Hostel: only £3 a night! Perfect if you’re happy driving a moped as it’s not in the centre of Ubud.
- Room in Homestay: at £6 a night for a private double, this looks like a great, central option.
- Bamboo Eco Cottage: I found this place on Airbnb and it looks adorable! One to book in advance.
- Amatara Royal Ganesha: if you’re after a deluxe room in a 4* hotel with a pool for £40 a night then you’re in luck!
- Pondok Massas: at just £30 a night for a suite, this is one of Ubud’s best value hotels with a pool and all the facilities you’d expect from somewhere double the price.
- 2 Bed Private Pool Villa: Bali is the Queen of #villalife and I think this is great value for the space and location.
- River Sakti Ubud: gorgeous Balinese hospitality and well-equipped suites make this a great place to relax a few kilometres outside of busy Ubud (which is easily accessible by taxi).
- Alamdini Resort: centrally located suites at a hotel with a large pool surrounded by jungle.
Ubud Guide: Where to eat
Ubud is full of great cafes and restaurants and home to a large vegan scene. It’s also a great place to hang out if you’re a digital nomad because there are plenty of co-working spaces or laptop-friendly cafes.
My favourite spots:
- Bebek Tebasari Resto: this is one of my favourite restaurants in all of Bali! They now have two in Ubud, one a little out of town and one near the Tegallalang rice terrace. The new restaurant looks really impressive but I love the original with it’s rice paddy views and gorgeous bamboo water huts. You must order the crispy duck! If you want one of the prime seats you’ll need to book in advance or be willing to eat at a less popular time of day.
- White Ginger: this cute little cafe is a great place to enjoy a juice and watch the world go by. I spent a day working here with no pressure and loved their delicious, great valuable brunch menu too.
- Mamma Mia Pizza: it can be really hard to find good pizza in Asia but Mamma Mia nail it with their Italian owner and authentic wood-fired stone oven. It gets busy so book in advance if you’re a bigger party.
Ubud Guide: What do do
Ubud is very popular with tourists and it’s essential that to make the most of all these activities you get up early. Sorry! I’m really not a morning person but it gets very crowded and is so much more enjoyable when it’s peaceful. If you’ve got limited time then prioritise the Monkey Forest and the Tegallalang rice terrace first thing; both become pretty unbearable later in the day.
The Monkey Forest
When people think of Bali, they often think of the Monkey Forest so it was a must to include in my Ubud guide. I’ve been twice now and the first time I was so nervous about being bitten that I almost didn’t go. From my experience, it’s not nearly as intense as people describe as long as you go very early. Get there for opening and you’ll have about an hour or so to enjoy the beautiful rainforest, the gorgeous Indiana Jones-like temple and the cheeky monkeys before the crowds descend.
I love Ubud market, just be willing to haggle. First thing in the morning it’s bustling with locals and fresh fruit, later in the day you’ll find boho home wares, the famous straw bags, spices, clothes and lots of souvenirs. I’d say a good rule for haggling is to never pay more than 50% of the original asking price; be polite about it, but be firm too.
Shop the Boutiques
On Monkey Forest Road there are lots of cute little boutique shops selling lovely clothes. They’re more expensive than in the market of course, but still well priced. I got several pastel coloured dresses that have been so useful throughout my travels.
Bali is a very spiritual place with Ubud being the perfect destination to start or continue your yoga practice. There are lots of yoga centres in Ubud but The Yoga Barn has one of the leading reputations and caters for all levels.
Tegallalang Rice Terrace
The Tegallalang Rice Terrace is an absolute Ubud must see but in all honesty…I hate it. It’s another place you need to visit very early because it gets extremely busy. Why didn’t I like it? I found the forced donations (your path will literally be blocked every few hundred metres until you pay) awkward and I don’t like the overpriced swings and nests people fork out for a photo in. Still, the huge paddies are beautiful and very impressive so set an alarm and beat the crowds.
Campuhan Ridge Walk
If you fancy stretching your legs then the Campuhan Ridge Walk is a great place to take your keep cup full of hot morning coffee and enjoy the fresh air and the views. At a leisurely pace it’s only 30 minutes at the most!
Ubud Guide: Temples to visit
Turta Empul Holy Water Temple
This temple complex is centred around a large, centuries old holy pool filled from a mountain spring. Locals come here to bathe and pray in the sacred water and it’s also open to tourists to join in too. Entry is 15K IDR and you’ll be able to leave your things in a locker and rent the required sarong.
I’ve got slightly mixed feelings about this place. Seemingly, tourists are welcome however a couple of locals I spoke to said they no longer go to these places to pray because they’re overrun by those who do not believe in the faith. Personally, I decided not to visit based on this feedback.
Located in central Ubud, Sarawasti is often overlooked because it’s small. Sure, it’s not as impressive as the huge complexes but it’s free to visit and an ancient, integral part of Ubud’s religious scene. The lily pad ponds are pretty too!
‘Gates of Heaven’ (Lempuyang Temple) and Tirta Gangga Day Trip
Technically, these two temples are not in Ubud. They’re almost two hours away from it in fact but they are some of the most famous and visited in Bali and Ubud is probably the easiest access point. Combine the two for a day trip! You’ll have seen both temples widely on Instagram…which makes them now a little problematic to visit.
Lempuyang ‘Gates of Heaven’: probably the most iconic Bali photo. Nope, I didn’t take it because nothing will make me queue for hours and pay around a tenner to take a photo. It’s so popular now that even first thing in the morning people will queue for a long time for that famous photo (which is a mirror-trick, by the way, there’s no water!)
I’m not saying it’s not worth it, it’s a stunning temple with beautiful views, just decide how badly you want that photo.
Tirta Gangga: this is the serene water temple that you’ll have seen girls in pretty dresses hopping over the skipping stones or pretending to feed the koi carp at. Again, it’s become an Instagram hotspot but it’s still one of Bali’s most beautiful temples.
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