16 Best Things to do in Ubud, Bali • The Spiritual Capital of Indonesia

NatashaAsia, Destinations, IndonesiaLeave a Comment

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Headed to Bali and seeking the best things to do in Ubud? It’s a popular village for tourists in the center of Bali that is well known for its vibrant art scene, yoga retreats, delicious health food cafes, and amazing nature.

Ubud is our favorite area of Bali to visit as it’s where you can find something for everyone. Whether you want to go waterfall trekking, temple hopping, or enjoy a coconut water after a yoga sesh it’s hard to get bored here.

Last summer it was the perfect place for us to kick back relax and enjoy life for a month while we caught up on some work and enjoyed the digital nomad lifestyle. This is a mix of our favorite places and things to do in Ubud.


The Best Things to do in Ubud


1. Catch Sunrise at Tegalalang Rice Fields

You’ve seen these bad boys in just about every Instagram post from Bali. The terraces are pretty mystifying and will leave you wondering about the process, “Subak,” used to create the impressive landscape. It’s a technique that dates back over a millennia in Indonesia and catch during one of Bali’s jaw dropping golden hours and you’ll be taken back in time — just be prepared to go back thousands of other tourists looking for the perfect Instagram shot.

They’re a short drive outside of Ubud and well worth making the stop if you have a motorbike or driver for the day. If you want any chance of a crowd-free photo best to head to terraces in the early morning, around sunrise.

There are actually a surprising amount of things to do at the terraces beyond just walking around them and snapping photos. You can take part in any number of the “insta-swings,” learn how to harvest rice, have a coconut, or go shopping for souvenirs.

I’m sure more activities are already on offer as the whole area is quickly developing – not necessarily in the right ways either. That being said rice terraces are a really stunning sight to see. We loved seeking out a number that are not tourist stops as they’re all over the island so you can still get the experience without all the crowds.

Location: Click here for a Google Maps Pin.

Ubud, Bali


2. Visit Pura Taman Saraswati

This temple offers a reprieve from the madness right in the center of Ubud. It’s a temple dedicated to Dewi Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of art and wisdom.

Inside the temple is a plethora of wood carvings celebrating the goddess and fountains. Those fountains fill a large pool that is intended for customary bathing and drinking in order to gain some power from the goddess.

As with many of the temples in Ubud, a traditional show takes place in the evenings that you can enjoy for a fee/donation.

Location: Click here for a Google Maps Pin.


3. Walk the Campuhan Ridge Walk

One of the best free things to do in Ubud is enjoy the Campuhan Ridge walk. We were fortunate to stay right up the road during our month in Ubud so we made a few stops to clear our heads. If you’re looking to escape the crowds in the center of Ubud,  Campuhan Ridge Walk offers the best scenery and views in Ubud.

It’s a long winding path that rolls over a ridge and provides views over a verdant valley. The path shows off Ubud’s natural landscape and it’s the perfect spot for sunset or a sunrise walk. It’s also a traffic-free place to run and exercise, just make sure not to go in the heat of the day and bring lots of water!

I should warn you like many gorgeous spots in Bali it can draw a crowd. As with most other places on this list getting here at sunrise will score you the most peaceful scene and best photos.

You can get to the ridge walk by following the road to IBAH villas. Keep walking until you lay eyes on the beautiful Pura Gunung Lebah Temple and turn there. Keep walking past the temple until space opens up to the ridge.

Location: Click here for a Google Maps Pin.

Campuhan Ridge Walk


4. Explore Puri Saren Palace

This is the Royal Palace of Ubud and it’s located right in the heart of Ubud next to the Ubud Art Market.  The palace dates back to the 1800’s and it was built during the reign of Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel.

To this day, parts of the royal family still live in sections of the palace. Not all of the palace is open to the public, but you are allowed to enjoy the wonderful Balinese gardens located inside.

Location: Click here for a Google Maps Pin.


5. Indulge at Gianyar Night Market

If you’re looking for things to do in Ubud at night then you should definitely hit up the Gianyar Night Market. Night markets are fantastic throughout Southeast Asia, and the island of Bali is no exception.

If you staying in the Gianyar area I would recommend planning a night to go to the night market. This is where you can get cheap, good, and local food. Some great stapes are Gado Gado, Bakso, Ayam Betutu, Babi Guling, and a plethora of desserts.  My personal favorites in Bali are Mie Goreng and Nasi Goreng.

Location: Click here for a Google Maps Pin.


6. See the Cave at Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah, or the “elephant cave” is a 9th-century sanctuary that now is one of the most popular things to do in Ubud.  Goa Gajah is an ancient Hindu and Buddhist temple with a very small cave used for meditation. If you like temple hopping this is a beautiful place to head to for quick stopover.

Honestly, I was expecting more out of the cave at Goa Gajah, but in reality, the cave is very small and it is really the whole site that deserves more of the attention. Women and men must cover themselves before entering, but a free sarong is included in the ticket price.

Location: Click here for a Google Maps Pin.


7. Enjoy a Kecak Dance Performace

Kecak is a Balinese form of dance that combines music and drama. The spectacle is a must see when visiting Bali so it’s little wonder why everyone recommends the show. The chants of a male chorus forming a ring make a sort of “enclosure” that sets the stage for the show.

Inside the circle are dramatic faces, elaborate costumes, and vivid actors and actresses that often tell the story of a battle from the Ramayana. The most popular place to see this dance is at Uluwatu Temple every night as the sunsets over the ocean, but it is also popular to do in Ubud.

Pura Dalem Taman Kaja is Hindu Temple in the center of Ubud that has shows a few nights a week at 7:30 pm. Best to ask around in Ubud first for the show days as they change frequently depending on the season.

Location: Click here for a Google Maps Pin.

Traditional Wear in Bali


8. See the Long Tail Macaques in the Monkey Forest

The Ubud Monkey Forest is a classic thing to do in Ubud for most visitors. I’ve visited twice – once in 2011 and again in 2018 and enjoyed both experiences. The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is indeed a sacred temple where around 800 long tail macaques live and can be observed by visitors.

115 species of trees have been identified here with many considered holy to the Balinese. Aside from being open to visitors, Ubud Monkey Forest is also a center for research and institutions to study monkey’s social behaviors.

Monkey Forest can be hit or miss for most people and you either love it or hate it. Even though we’ve seen wild gorillas in Uganda and gone chimp trekking in Rwanda, we still found the monkey forest in Bali to be a fun thing to do if you have an hour or so to kill.

If you find yourself curious about the monkeys of Bali and venture into Ubud’s Monkey sanctuary here are some things you should know.

Location: Click here for a Google Maps Pin.

Uluwatu Temple


9. Treat Yourself with a Cheap Massage

A 90-minute massage for Rp 90,000 isn’t just a good deal, it’s an amazing deal for anyone. There are literally hundreds of massages of parlors in Ubud so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a place.

If you are into massages, pedicures, manicures, or any kind of spa treatment the cost to service ratio in Bali can’t be beaten. Seriously, we’ve tried to find cheaper massages in Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam and it can’t be done.

There are so many massage establishments it can be really hard to find a clean and reputable one. My best advice is to look at Google and Tripadvisor to find businesses that have good reviews. We always like to see if others mention things such as hygiene and cleanliness.

Some of the better ones may require you to wait, or if you really want to play it safe and make sure you’re getting an A+ massage to pay a little more (Rp 300,000) to go to a proper spa at a hotel or resort.

Bali was my first trip in Asia and below was the first my friend and I got cheap massages in 2011!

Getting a massage in Bali

hot and sweaty after our hot stone massage


10. Practice Yoga

Bali is well known for being a spiritual place in the world. It’s well known in Indonesia that Bali is the Island of the Gods and is often listed as one of the best places around the globe to engage in meditation and yoga.

As a full time traveling yogi I was not going to miss my chance to experience the many great yoga studios around Bali. Ubud is the spiritual mecca of the island and you’ll find plenty of yoga studios to practice. Getting in touch with my spiritual side through yoga is easily my favorite thing to do in Ubud.

Even if you have never tried yoga before a trip to Bali is not complete with at least a stab at your downward dog – beginners are welcomed everywhere! My personal favorite is Intuitive Flow, which was right down the road from Yellow Flower Cafe, my favorite post yoga spot. The real magic of Ubud is the ability to relax and enjoy a healthy lifestyle drinking turmeric lattes while reading a new book with a great view.

The views over the jungle here set the mood for any yoga session and it’s location away from town creates a quiet and peaceful environment. A drop in class starts at Rp 100,000. Make sure to grab a fresh cold coconut in their reception after, for 15,000!

Location: Click here for a Google Maps Pin.

Yoga in Bali


11. Shop At the Boutiques

If you like shopping at cute boutique stores you will love the shops on Jl Raya Ubud, the main street of Ubud. This is easily the most chaotic street in Ubud, but it’s also where you will find more of the shopping.

There are plenty of boutique shops to grab a few dresses, bathing suits, shoes, and whatever else you could need. I was even surprised to see a Starbucks here!


12. Raft Down the Ayung River

Adventure lovers don’t have to go far for some adrenaline in Ubud. The Ayung River is a great place to go white water rafting for a few hours. I’ve been white water rafting five times and this was among one of more challenging (but not scary like the Nile in Uganda) white water experiences I’ve enjoyed.

Our guide was knowledgeable and showed us cool waterfalls and hidden gems along the river. The best part about the experience is that it is very inexpensive compared to white water rafting ventures in the west. One can have a half day of rafting with lunch included for around Rp 450,000.

indonesia-potentially-dying-in-bali


13. Take a Cooking Class

One of the best things to do not only in Ubud, but all of Bali is to learn about Balinese cooking. Cooking classes are very popular and it’s easy to understand why as Balinese food is incredible!

Most cooking classes last a half day and will start with a local family host taking you to the local markets to pick our fresh produce and ingredients, from there many hosts will explain more about Balinese culture and food before teaching you how to make a set dish.

Then it’s time to dive into the delicious food! Most cooking classes run about 400,000 IDR per person.

Here’s one that we recommend!

How Travel Bloggers Make Money - Tasha in Bali


14. Visit Handara Golf Course Gate

This isn’t really a thing to do in Ubud, but more of a photo to take outside of Ubud. You’ve likely seen the Handara Gates on Instagram, hell Instagram made the Handara Gates a thing. They are a set of gates that and temple that date back several centuries.

For a long time they just sat along the road and no one paid any mind to gates, until they gain popularity on the social media platform. Now, it’s one of the top places to grab a photo in Bali just because it’s a cool setting for a photo in the mountain mist.

The Handara Gates are located in the highlands of Bedugul and are very easy to miss if you are just driving by, although they can easily be seen right from the road. Although, these gates look like they’ll take you back to ancient times in photos in reality it is the entrance to the Handara Golf Club.

They are super popular and the golf club has begun to charge visitors for a chance to grab an Instaworthy shot. It’s best to get here early to avoid crowds.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm073h2FX3J/


15. Marvel at Aling Aling Waterfall

Still wondering what to see in Ubud? One of the top things to do in Bali is to chase waterfalls! Aling Aling waterfall isn’t exactly in Ubud, but it makes for a great day trip away from the cultural capital. Aling Aling is located in the north of Bali and one of the most impressive waterfalls on the island. It takes over an hour to get to from Ubud and Canngu, making it less popular than other Bali waterfalls and the perfect spot to enjoy nature. There are also three waterfalls around Aling Aling.

One that you can literally slide down (Kroya waterfall), one that you can cliff jump from, and one that you can just admire (although I have seen videos of some people jumping around it). The one that you can admire and the tallest is Aling Aling. All waterfalls are close together and connected via an easy cement path.

It costs Rp 20,000 to enter and view the waterfalls, but you will need a guide if you want to swim. The guide costs Rp 175,000 and is completely unnecessary and only there to watch you swim and make sure you don’t die.

We opted for the viewing ticket only. Although, Cam did take a dip in the pools anyway. Don’t forget to stop at the rice fields and snap a photo on the way in, and grab a coconut on the way out! See more of our favorite Bali waterfalls here.

Aling Aling Waterfall


16. Eat Healthy/Cafe Hop

If you are one that watches what you eat and enjoys lemongrass chilled tea with an acai smoothie bowl you will never want to leave Ubud. Seriously there are so many good eats around here and for a fraction of what you would pay for health food back home.

While traditional Indonesian food may not be the healthiest, the Balinese have caught on for visitors want for Buddha Bowls, leaf-wrapped veggie burgers, tofu scrambles, and almond chai juices. You can find a hip cafe on almost every corner of Ubud and although it is more expensive to eat here than at a true local (or warung) in Bali, at 60,000 IDR for a turmeric smoothie bowl it’s hard to complain.

It’s also worth noting that Bali is one of the few places we have found in the world that truly caters to vegan and vegetarian diets. Seriously, on every menu, you can find amazing vegan and vegetarian dishes. No more side eye rolls for stating you’re a vegetarian here.

Some of our favorite places to eat in Ubud are:

Things to do in Ubud


Tips for Visiting Ubud

Rent a Motorbike

There are a few ways to get around Ubud. Many of the things I mentioned are walkable depending on where your accommodation is. It’s also possible to rent a bicycle although sometimes the streets and sidewalk can be a bit hectic. The most popular way to get from point to point efficiently and fast in Ubud is with a motorbike rental.

Motorbike rentals in Bali generally start at 70,000 IDR a day, but in the low season, you’ll be able to negotiate that down to 50,000 IDR or so. Many hotels or guesthouses will have their own motorbikes or know someone that has a motorbike so that should be your first point of contact for nabbing one. If you can’t seem to find a reputable motorbike seller walk into any laundromat or fuel station and they should be able to help you out. Please for the love of God wear a helmet!

Nusa Penida


The Best Places to stay in Ubud

The center of Ubud these days has turned into a loud, noisy, and traffic congested mess. We spent three weeks hanging around Ubud and tried to keep our time in the town center to a minimum. The best areas around Ubud are the outer villages filled with villas, homestays, and resorts.

Most of our time was spent in the village of Penestanan. The small villages and neighborhoods of Ubud are filled with tons of great hidden gems like local warungs, cafes, yoga studios, and plenty of villas. It’s easily where I would tell anyone to book their accommodation in Ubud.

See our favorite places to stay in Bali here.

Bali packing list


How to get to Ubud from Ngurah Rai International Airport

There are a few ways to get from the airport to Ubud. The first and cheapest option is to take a public minibus, or bemo, which can cost anywhere from Rp 10,000 to 50,000 depending on how good your haggling skills are. If you want to travel to Ubud via bemo it’s best to get an early start.

It’s also possible to get your own private taxi for an affordable price. This is what we did from our airport hotel and the drive took us about 1.5 hours. We paid Rp 350,000 and it was well worth the convenience of having our own private taxi to chill out in and bring us right where we needed to go. However our taxi driver kept asking us if we wanted to stop at random shops (likely his friends’ businesses) where we were expected to spend money on things we had no interest in. A polite no thank you is all you need to say should this happen to you.

We have also used both Grab and GoJek, apps similar to Ubud in Bali and found their prices to be the most competitive.

womens packing list for bali


What to Pack for Bali

Water Shoes

Cameron laughed at me a few times when we were exploring the Bali waterfalls, but I got the last laugh with my beautiful feet protected by water shoes. Seriously, if you plan to spend time hiking around the waterfalls in Bali and going in the water it’s worth it to pick up a pair of cheap water shoes. There essential when thinking about what to take to Bali will help you grip the slippery rocks and protect your feet from sharp rocks.

Sunblock

Once you get to Asia it will be hard to find your favorite sunscreen, and when you do you will pay a premium for it. So make sure to bring yours from home. We personally choose eco-friendly sunscreen when we are going into the ocean so that we don’t release chemicals into the environment. This is the exact kind we traveled with to Bali. If your packing for Bali in just a carry on consider at least bringing a travel sized bottle with you.

Flip Flops

Flip-flops are never a bad idea at beach destinations and should be on every traveler’s Bali packing list. My favorite brand is Rainbow Sandals as they last forever and are super comfortable once the leather forms to your foot.

My other favorite, more fashionable sandals for women at the beach are Plaka. Plaka sandals are handwoven women’s sandals with a hard rubber sole that is good to wear anywhere in the summer. All of these sandals are hand-made and water resistant and can really dress up a beach casual look. I have a pair in almost all of their styles! (Psst here is a  code for 20% of your next pair on Amazon: PLAKAS18)

Just make sure you bring your flip-flops inside with you at night. I had one of my flip flops stolen from me by a cheeky stray dog on Nusa Lembongan.

Bathing Suit

Bali is fantastic for its temples, culture,  and health food but you also don’t want to neglect the beaches. I would suggest also going to some on Lombok, the Gilis, or the Nusas for those luscious white sand blue water ones. When I travel I always bring at least two suits so that I have a dry one to always change into.

Casual Clothes

If you’re wondering what to wear in Bali I would recommend at least a few outfits of light and loose clothing. It can get very hot, humid, and sticky on the island so you don’t want to bring all stiff clothes that cling to your body.

My favorite casual pants are these from prAna. I wore my Mantra Hemp pants almost every day as they’re antimicrobial, look stylish, fit a number of occasions, and keep you cool. Cameron refused to wear informal pants for a long time but has since found the men’s Vaha Pant, to be his favorite pair of pants ever and they fit perfectly in Bali.

Yoga Pants

We spent almost three weeks in Ubud alone so you can bet there was some yoga gear in my suitcase. Ubud is the spiritual and cultural capital of Bali and there seems to be a yoga studio on just about every corner. If you plan on practicing yoga I would suggest bringing some yoga pants, my favorites are eco friendly ones from Yogavated and Yoga Democracy (use code TWP20 for 20% off).

Most studios will provide you with a mat; however, I travel with my own yoga mat now so that I can always stretch and practice

Eco Friendly Straw

Have I mentioned that Indonesia has a trash and plastic problem? When considering what to pack for Bali think about all the plastic you could be saving by cutting out one time use straws. We brought metal straws to Bali to try and cut down on that when we order coffees and smoothies.

We both have these exact metal straws and they are great since they have a rubber stopper for your teeth. However you don’t have to just get metal – Bamboo or paper straws get the job done too.

Travel Insurance

We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads.  Natasha is a bit of a worry wart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads is ideal for flexible and great plans!

Water Bottle

The tap water in Indonesia is not drinkable. Make sure to bring a travel water bottle and fill up from the large tanks which can be found almost everywhere. Indonesia and Bali have a huge plastic waste problem so try your hardest not to contribute to it. We love the Grayl puffier water bottle!

Adapter

Indonesia uses the Europlug. Pick up a good universal travel adaptor before you arrive.

See our full Bali packing list here.

THANKS FOR READING!

Hey, we’re Cameron and Natasha — We’re the head writers and creators of The World Pursuit. Over the last five years, we’ve traveled around the world. Let us send you some great tips and inspiration straight to your inbox every month.

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