Ubud is a destination that nearly every traveller in Bali hits. With a unique vibe and surrounded by rice flats and jungle, there are so many things to do. Here are my top 6 favourite things to do in this unique town.
ILOVE UBUD. I don’t know what it is about this city that lets it hold such a special place in my heart. It might be the lush jungle. It might be the rich Balinese Hindu culture mixed with travellers and expats from all over the world. Maybe it’s all the exciting adventures you can have in such close proximity. I have visited Ubud twice, but each time I leave I know I will be back someday.
Derek and I had the most incredible week in Ubud. W With so much time to spend, we allowed ourselves to indulge in a more laid back travel style. It was a nice break after a few weeks of non-stop activities and sightseeing. Typically, we got up early and went to go experience one of the many wonders Ubud has to offer. We then would relax for the afternoon, either poolside at our awesome home for the week at Gajah Biru Bungalows, or with cards and bevies at Casa Luna. It was nice to have some quiet time without feeling we were missing out on seeing things.
This list includes my top 5 favourite things to do in Ubud. Please note that there are TONS of other sites and activities apart from these. These are the experiences we chose and loved!
For 50000IDR per day (~$5) we rented a motorbike for the entire week. This worked out so perfectly for us and our style of travel in Ubud. Drivers are expensive – about $60 per day – so you feel the need to cram in as much as possible to get your money’s worth. However, with the scooter we could come and go (or not go) as we pleased.
Every activity I am sharing with you is within ~45 mins from Ubud by scooter. Derek did all the driving for us, while I sat on the back and navigated (all the destinations are on google maps). D said that the hardest part is in the actually city due to traffic. Outside of Ubud’s main strip, roads were generally good. I still don’t recommend this mode of travel unless you know you are comfortable on the bike!
A Week’s Worth of Activities in Ubud
1) TEGALLALANG RICE TERRACES
A visit to Ubud would not be complete without a visit to the famous Tegallalang rice terraces. This massive attraction lies 30mins from downtown Ubud, and are impossible to miss. Just park on the side of the road and descend into the valleys of rice.
Entry into the park is on donation, but even after visiting twice I’m still not sure where you actually donate. We were told by a random man that we had to pay him, but I don’t feel like that was at all legit. All we had to give was 10000IDR, so it was relatively harmless. We donated to something, right?
The scenery is pretty spectacular. The geometric terraces, glistening water filled with green rice plants, and towering palms make for a gorgeous place to explore. Paths run all through the terraces to many lookout points. If you walk around the whole place, you can definitely spend an hour or two!
We headed to the terraces in the very early morning, arriving as soon as the gates opened at 7am. This was the perfect time to watch the sun climb over the palms in one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever seen. The cherry on top? We were the only people in the whole place! Already as we were leaving at 8, the crowds were arriving. Get there early, it will be worth the sleepy start.
4) TIBUMANA WATERFALL
After our days spent chasing waterfalls in Buleleng (read about our favourite here), Derek and I were picky about which of the waterfalls near Ubud we wished to check out. We decided on Tibumana because it seemed less visited by tourists, and looked different from the waterfalls we had previously seen. Tibumana is definitely a little further away from Ubud – about 50 mins by scooter. It is very easy to find on your own: marked on google maps and directed by street signs when you are getting close. Entrance costs 10000 IDR ($1), and the hike down is easy and very beautiful. We headed there not particularly early, but were fortunate to be two of only four people enjoying its beauty! However, by the time we left at around 11, it was teaming with people. Going anywhere earlier is always a safe bet!
The pool beneath the waterfall is nice for swimming, and there is a cool cave area behind the falls! Tibumana Waterfall is a nice place to just go, bring some snacks, and sit and enjoy!
5) PAMPER YOURSELF WITH A FLOWER BATH
Who says you can’t indulge on a backpacker’s budget (besides your bank account)?! Having a flower bath was something I always imagined myself doing while in Ubud, so I decided to pamper myself for an afternoon and just go for it. The aromatic flower baths at Fivelements are relatively affordable, and you get to have a view over Ayung River while you soak among the colours and smells. It was so easy to sit back and relax in the warm water while listening to the rushing river and the sounds of the jungle!
6) UBUD MONKEY FOREST
The Monkey Forest in Ubud is another one of those must-do Ubud tourist stops. The sanctuary is right in Ubud, super close to downtown. Entrance to the park is expensive – 50000IDR each.
The forest itself is actually gorgeous! Huge trees and stone statues, bridges, and hidden pools. And then there’s the monkeys. Absolutely everywhere you look, there are monkeys. The babies are pretty cute but some of the big males are a little scary. Mind your bags, sunglasses and hats because even if you are wearing them the monkeys will steal or go through them.
Inside the sanctuary, people sell the most expensive bananas you will find in Bali ($5 for a small bunch). You can use these the lure the monkeys onto their shoulders for pictures. Word of warning: if the monkeys see you have bananas, they will come and take them all from you! I saw so many people trying to seduce a cute little one into joining them for a picture, only to have their entire bunch of bananas taken by an aggressive alpha male.
I personally don’t recommend trying to hold the monkeys or to feed them. They are wild animals and I have seen them bite people and do some serious damage. Sometimes though, it can’t be avoided. In the photo above, I was just walking on the path and this monkey jumped on me and wouldn’t leave! Note: they smell terrible.
7) TRY LUWAK COFFEE
Ever heard of a luwak? Me neither until about a week ago when I drank coffee that had once been inside of one. That’s right, I drank coffee that had been eaten and pooped out by a racoon-y looking jungle creature (aka a palm civet). The luwaks are fed a diet of fresh coffee cherries. They can’t digest the bean itself, or the casing around it, so they poop it out. The poop is then collected and the whole beans are cleaned and removed from the casing before being roasted and ground like normal coffee. We tasted the difference between the regular Bali coffee (which REALLY has me missing my morning dark roast) and the Kopi Luwak (luwak coffee) really does have a more bold but smooth flavour.
We tried Kopi Luwak, along with a bunch of other teas and flavoured coffees at Bali Pulina Plantation. Our tour and tasting was very comprehensive, and free with the purchase of a cup of coffee (luwak or not). While luwak coffee is certainly the most expensive cuppa joe you will find in Bali, the view alone at Bali Pulina is worth the price. You can do you tasting out on a gorgeous patio overlooking the rice terraces and jungle!
6) VENTURE NORTH
There are so many amazing things to do in Northern Bali. While I recommend staying in the area, you can visit the main sites on a day trip from Ubud. My favourite sites are the Lake Temple, Sekumpul Waterfalls, and seeing the dolphins at sunrise!