18 Fantastic Things to do in Ubud, Bali

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 coconut water after a yoga sesh, it’s hard to get bored here. Last summer, Ubud was the perfect place to kick back, relax, and enjoy life for a month while we caught up on some work and enjoyed the digital nomad lifestyle.

Things to do in Ubud

Catch Sunrise at Tegalalang Rice Fields

Natasha At The Tegalalang Rice Fields In A White Shirt

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 millennia in Indonesia. Catch it during one of Bali’s jaw-dropping golden hours, and you’ll be taken back in time—just be prepared to go back to 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, it’s best to head to the terraces in the early morning, around sunrise. There is actually a surprising amount of stuff at the terraces beyond just walking around them and snapping photos. You can participate in any number of the “insta-swings,” learn how to harvest rice, have a coconut, or shop for souvenirs.

I’m sure more activities are already on offer as the whole area is quickly developing—not necessarily in the right ways. That being said, rice terraces are a 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. Personally, we wouldn’t be amiss if you gave this one a skip as it’s just become such a tourist trap.

Visit Pura Taman Saraswati

The Pura Taman Saraswati Crowd Free n The Early Morning

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 are many wood carvings celebrating the goddess and fountains. Those fountains fill a large pool intended for customary bathing and drinking to gain some power from the goddess. As with many temples in Ubud, a traditional show takes place in the evenings that you can enjoy for a fee/donation.

Visit Handara Golf Course Gate

Entrance To The Handara Golf Course Gate

This is just a photo spot outside of Ubud. You’ve likely seen the Handara Gates on Instagram; Instagram made them a thing. They are a set of gates and temples 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 gained popularity on the social media platform. It’s one of the top places to grab a photo in Bali 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 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, it is the entrance to the Handara Golf Club, a popular Bali golf course. They are super popular, and the golf club has begun charging visitors for a chance to grab an Instaworthy shot. It’s best to get here early to avoid crowds.

Walk the Campuhan Ridge Walk

Natasha Walks Along The Campuhan Ridge Walk At Sunset

Campuhan Ridge is a popular spot in Ubud for good reason. We were fortunate to stay right up the road during our month there, 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.

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 is the perfect spot for a sunset or sunrise walk. It’s also a traffic-free place to run and exercise—make sure not to go in the heat of the day and bring lots of water!

Like many gorgeous spots in Bali, it can draw a crowd. As with most other places on this list, getting here at sunrise will give you the most peaceful scene and the best photos. You can walk to the ridge by following the road to IBAH villas. Keep walking until you see the beautiful Pura Gunung Lebah Temple and turn there. Keep walking past the temple until space opens up to the ridge.

Explore Puri Saren Palace

Puri Saren Palace In The Middle Of The Day

This is the Royal Palace of Ubud, located in the heart of Ubud next to the Ubud Art Market. It was built in the 1800s 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 can enjoy the wonderful Balinese gardens inside.

Indulge at Gianyar Night Market

A Balinese Woman Reaching Into A Bowl Of Local Sweets

Night markets are fantastic throughout Southeast Asia, and the island of Bali is no exception. If you are 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 many desserts.  My personal favorites in Bali are Mie Goreng and Nasi Goreng.

See the Cave at Goa Gajah

The Cave at Goa Gajah With Natasha Entering

Goa Gajah, or the “elephant cave,” is a 9th-century sanctuary popular with tourists. 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 a 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 the whole site that deserves more attention. Women and men must cover themselves before entering, but a free sarong is included in the ticket price.

Enjoy a Kecak Dance Performace

Men Perform A Kecak Dance In Bali

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 everyone recommends it. 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 sun sets over the ocean. Pura Dalem Taman Kaja is a 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.

See the Long Tail Macaques in the Monkey Forest

A Monkey Looks At The Camera In Monkey Forest

Most visitors to Ubud visit the Ubud Monkey Forest, which is a classic attraction. I visited twice—once in 2011 and again in 2018—and enjoyed both experiences. The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is 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 monkeys’ 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 enjoyable. If you find yourself curious about the monkeys of Bali and venture into Ubud’s Monkey Sanctuary, here are some things you should know.

Treat Yourself to a Balinese Massage

Getting a massage in Bali

A 90-minute massage for Rp 170,000 isn’t just a good deal—it’s amazing for anyone. There are hundreds of massage parlors in Ubud, so you shouldn’t have difficulty finding a place. If you are into massages, pedicures, manicures, or any spa treatment, the cost-to-service ratio in Bali can’t be beaten.

There are so many massage establishments it can be hard to find a clean and reputable one. We suggest looking at Google and TripAdvisor to find businesses with good reviews. We always like to see if others mention hygiene and cleanliness.

Our favorite massage places are the mid-range establishments that provide spa-like services in a nice setting, and the massage is typically as good as a five-star resort. Ubud Traditional Spa is a little bit outside of the city, but it’s our favorite spot for a massage as they deliver an excellent experience in a nice setting.

Practice Yoga

Yoga in Bali

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. It’s the perfect place to visit when seeking a tranquil yoga retreat. Ubud is the spiritual mecca of the island and you’ll find plenty of yoga studios to practice.

Even if you have never tried yoga before, a trip to Bali is not complete without at least a stab at your downward dog—beginners are welcome everywhere! Our favorite is Intuitive Flow, right down the road from Yellow Flower Cafe, our favorite post-yoga spot. The real magic of Ubud is the ability to relax and enjoy a healthy lifestyle like drinking turmeric lattes while reading a new book with a great view.

Shop At the Boutiques

Small Budha Statues In Bali

If you like shopping at cute boutique stores, you will love the shops on Jl Raya Ubud, Ubud’s main street. 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 dresses, bathing suits, shoes, and whatever else you need. I was even surprised to see a Starbucks here!

Raft Down the Ayung River

White Water River Rafting In Bali

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

Our knowledgeable guide 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.

Take a Cooking Class

Natasha On A Rooftop In Bali

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.

Marvel at Aling Aling Waterfall

Natasha Stands Next To Aling Aling Waterfall

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 is one of the most impressive waterfalls on the island. It takes over an hour to get to Ubud and Canggu, 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 slide down (Kroya waterfall), one that you can cliff jump from, and one that you can 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. It is only there to watch you swim and ensure you don’t die.

Eat Healthy/Cafe Hop

Natasha Eating At A Cafe In Ubud

You will never want to leave Ubud if you watch what you eat and enjoy lemongrass chilled tea with an acai smoothie bowl. Seriously, there are so many good eats around here, and for a fraction of what you would pay for healthy food back home.

While traditional Indonesian food may not be the healthiest, the Balinese have caught on to visitors’ desire 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 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-eyes for stating you’re a vegetarian here.

Some of our favorite places to eat in Ubud are:

  • Yellow Flower Cafe
  • Sari Organik
  • Healthyubud
  • Moksa Ubud
  • Herb Library Bali

Sekumpul Waterfall

Natasha Stands In Front Of The Sekumpal Waterfall

The Sekumpul village anchors this dreamy waterfall. Sekumpul consists of multiple cascades gushing downwards in slightly different styles. Only the determined tourist will take a trip to this waterfall; besides what seems like 500 steps of stairs, you have to deal with the slippery nature of the paths and vegetation.

Visiting Sekumpul waterfall costs just 20,000 IDR. Once you arrive at the town entrance at the top of the falls, you will have locals telling you to pay 175,000 IDR to enter. However, this is not necessary unless you want a guide. The trek is not hard if you are reasonably fit, and you do not need a guide to take you to the waterfall.

The cascades, the surrounding vegetation, and the rocky floor of the waterfall are stunning vistas and make for some memorable photos. You could spend hours taking pictures – that’s how magnificent the scenery.

Rent a Motorbike

Natasha Drives Through Hills On A Motorbike

There are a few ways to get around Ubud. Many of the things I mentioned are walkable, depending on the location of your accommodation. Renting a bicycle is also possible, although sometimes the streets and sidewalks can be hectic. The most popular way to get from point to point efficiently and quickly in Ubud is with a motorbike rental.

Motorbike rentals in Bali generally start at 90,000 IDR a day, but in the low season, you can negotiate that down to 70,000 IDR. Many hotels or guesthouses will have their motorbikes or know someone with a motorbike, so that should be your first point of contact for nabbing one. If you can’t find a reputable motorbike seller, walk into any laundromat or fuel station, and they should be able to help you. Please, for the love of God, wear a helmet!

The Best Places to Stay in Ubud

Natasha Walks Through A Rice Terrace In Pink Day Dress

These days, the center of Ubud has become 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 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.

How to Get to Ubud from Ngurah Rai International Airport

Natasha On A Traditional Doorstep In Bali

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, getting an early start is best.

Natasha Next To A Waterfall In Ubud

It’s also possible to get a private taxi for an affordable price. We did this 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. We have also used Grab and GoJek, apps similar to Ubud in Bali, and found their prices to be competitive.

Plan For Your Trip

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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