Ubud is set amongst rice paddies in the middle of Bali and is known for being the cultural hub of the island. Surrounded by jungle and lush rainforest, the area is filled with temples, shrines and art galleries and is becoming the hot spot for yogis, artists and writers wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of Kuta and Seminyak. I fell in love with this area and cannot wait to return!
How to Get There
Jetstar flies daily to Bali from most capital cities in Australia. The flight is 6 hours from Sydney and arrives at Ngurah Rai International Airport, located 13 km south of the capital Denpasar. Upon arrival, you can either get on a shuttle arranged by your resort (most decent resorts offer this complimentary), or get a taxi. There are a lot of unofficial taxi drivers in Bali and you will be hassled with offers the second you arrive. Politely thank them and decline, and make your way to the official taxi counter which is located outside the arrivals hall. Advise the attendant of where you want to go and how much you are expected to pay so you can ensure you won’t be ripped off. For a taxi to Ubud you’re looking at around 200,000 rupiah ($18/19AUD). The journey from the airport to Ubud is approximately 1 hour, depending on traffic.
Where to Stay
We stayed at Padma Resort Ubud which is one of the nicest hotels I’ve had the pleasure to stay at. The staff were welcoming and attentive, the rooms spacious and the facilities top notch. The huge pool with views of the jungle covered mountains was a real stand out, and the swim up bar was not too shabby either! They had a huge range of complimentary daily activities on including yoga, mountain biking and archery.
The restaurant had an amazing array of Indonesian food on offer at a relatively cheap price (at least by Australian standards) and they have one of the best buffet breakfasts ever! The only thing I wish was different about Padma is the location – I knew it was outside of downtown Ubud but I didn’t quite realise such how far until we arrived. It was a solid 1 hour drive to the centre of Ubud, and although they offer complimentary shuttles throughout the day, you don’t really want to be doing a 2 hour round trip every day. Having said that, everything at Padma is so nice you probably don’t want to leave!
Another resort I was considering, which is much closer to downtown, is Alila Ubud. This hotel comes highly rated and it’s slightly more convenient location makes this very appealing next time I return.
If you want something more affordable and central to Ubud, check out Teja Home Stay It’s located within walking distance to all the attractions, the rooms are comfy and clean, and you get treated to a homemade breakfast every morning.
What to Do
Puri Lukisan Museum – Jl. Raya Ubud, Ubud
This is the oldest art museum in Bali and houses a huge collection of artworks including Balinese paintings and wood carvings.
Saraswati Temple Ubud – Jl. Kajeng, Ubud
This beautiful Hindu temple is set amongst a huge pond filled with lotus flowers. The temple is dedicated to Goddess of Knowledge (Saraswati) and is filled with many intricate carvings and decorations.
Ubud Traditional Art Market – Jalan Raya Ubud No.35, Ubud
This is the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs for back home and to practice your haggling skills. A lot of stores sell the same things, so do your research and compare pricing to get the best deal. I ended up getting one of those gorgeous round straw bags!
Ubud Monkey Forest – Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud
This is one of the most popular things to do in Ubud, for good reason. This Hindu temple is set in the jungle and is home to over 700 Balinese Macaque monkeys who are allowed to roam free. The monkeys are well cared for by the temple and quite friendly to visitors. You can buy bananas inside the complex to feed the monkeys, which is both a thrilling and terrifying experience!
There are signs throughout the park and staff on hand to ensure everyone is safe, but be careful not to bring any food or drinks into the complex (the monkeys will steal it!) and secure anything loose like sunglasses or your wallet as they will more than likely try to steal that too.
Take a Cooking Class
We booked in for an Indonesian cooking class at our resort, Padma, however there are numerous cooking schools in the heart of Ubud such as Periuk Bali Cooking Class and the Nia Ubud Restaurant & Balinese Cooking Class. We got to wear fancy hats and aprons.
The first thing we made was a Balinese spice paste, this is the foundation for a lot of Indonesian recipes. Ours included garlic, candlenut, turmeric, ginger, lime leaf, lemon grass and red chilli.
Our first dish we made was Lumpia Udang Galah (spring rolls). Prawns and vegetables were cooked together with oyster, fish and soy sauce before being wrapped in spring roll papers. They were then deep fried until crisp and served with a sweet and sour sauce.
Next up was one of my favourite Indonesian dishes, Soto Ayam (chicken noodle soup). We took the Balinese spice paste and added chicken stock to it, then added poached chicken, vegetables and glass noodles. A final garnish of a boiled egg and shrimp cracker finished off this flavoursome soup.
For main course we cooked Pepes Ikan (traditionally made with fish “ikan” we substituted the fish for chicken.) The chicken was marinated in the Balinese spice paste before being steamed in banana leaf until tender.
And last, but certainly not least, was dessert! We made black sticky rice with coconut cream and banana fritters. The bananas were coated in a batter of flour, sugar and baking powder mixed with water and deep fried until crispy. The black rice was steamed until tender and then a simple syrup was mixed through to sweeten it. A final dollop of cococnut cream finished off this delicious finale to our cooking class.
Visit the Local Market
As part of our cooking class, we got to visit the market at Payangan. It was great to experience the hustle and bustle of the locals going about their daily business and there was a huge array of food, drinks and flowers on offer. I always try to visit a local market wherever I am in the world to get a feel for local life.
Take a VW Safari
This is such a fun way to get around the local Ubud area! We hired a VW Jeep via our hotel with Bali Safari Tours and the full day tour came with a local guide, personal driver, lunch and entrance fees included. The “Bali Voyage” day trip we booked included stops at several temples and the famous Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
Our tour also included a stop at a coffee plantation that made and served “Kopi Luwak” or civet coffee, which is coffee made from the partly-digested coffee beans collected from the civet animal’s droppings. The digestion process removes some of the acidity of the beans, producing a smoother cup of coffee with a lower caffeine content. It is considered the world’s most expensive coffee, and a cup we were served retails for $5AUD which is crazy by Bali standards! When we went, we didn’t realise how poorly the animals were treated, and were ignorant to what goes on behind the scenes to force these animals to produce the product as such a high rate. Because of this, I can not promote this part of the tour and I would never do it again. I am sure you can speak with Bali Safari to get an alternative destination added!
Ulun Danu Batur temple
This temple is dedicated to Dewi Danu, the goddess of lakes and rivers, and is the second most important temple in Bali. To enter this temple complex, all visitors are required to swear a sarong around their waist and shoulders must be covered (I brought an additional scarf with me to cover my upper body). Our tour guide had the sarongs on hand to whip out and artfully tie around our waist each time we visited a temple.
Our guide placed rice grains on our foreheads to signify we had prayed before leaving the temple.
The temple was right near Mount Batur, which is an active volcano, and as the clouds parted we got a decent view of it. If I had more time in Ubud I would have loved to hike this volcano – however it does require a 2am start which wasn’t my idea of a relaxing time!
Water Temple (Tirta Empul)
Tirta Empul is a Hindu Balinese water temple and was founded in 926 A.D. Locals and tourists alike flock to this temple to bathe in the holy spring water for purification.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
When I think of Ubud, I immediately think of the rows and rows of green rice paddies. Tegallalang was the last stop on our VW Safari and I must admit I was worried I’d be disappointed! Apart from the hoards of crowds that were unavoidable pretty much everywhere you went, the terraces lived up to their reputation! They were incredibly vibrant and green (we went in the rainy season, which definitely helped) and the rows of rice paddies extended as far as the eye could see. It gets insanely hot out here on the rice paddies so I highly recommend coming in the early morning or later in the afternoon. We got there around 4pm just as the rainy season storms were rolling in, meaning it wasn’t too hot.
Where to Eat
Kismet – Jalan Goutama Selatan No. 27X, Ubud
This gorgeous restaurant dishes up delicious vegetarian cuisine alongside an impressive array of fresh juices, coffee and cocktails. The Kismet Boutique is located next door and is filled with wares by designers from around the world.
Locavore To Go – 10 3/4 Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud
This place serves a hearty array of breakfast and lunch staples featuring fresh and seasonal ingredients. Located 100 metres from Locavore, the high end sister restaurant, Locavore To Go is the place to go if you’re in need of a quick and affordable lunch. On my next trip to Ubud I will make sure to snag a booking at Locavore (10 Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud) to sample their high-end menu.
Kokolato Ice Cream – Jalan Goutama Selatan No. 22, Padangtegal, Ubud
This vegan ice cream store makes their flavours from a coconut base and is the perfect way to cool down in the harsh Ubud heat. I got the cold pressed coffee ice cream which was flavoursome and refreshing.
Ubud Raw Chocolate – Jl. Raya Sayan No.74, Sayan, Ubud
This delicious raw chocolate is handmade in Ubud and is available throughout Bali in cafes, restaurants and health food shops. The creaminess is achieved by blending cacao and coconut and flavours include Raisin & Cashew and Mint & Goji Berry.
Puspa’s Warung – Jl. Goutama Sel., Ubud
For fresh and traditional Indonesian food that’s cheap and filling, head to Puspa’s. The nasi goreng and gado-gado were delicious, as was the jackfruit curry. And I highly recommend you try the “sexy ruby juice!”
Try Babi Guling
Babi Guling is Indonesian roast pork and is basically a pig cooked on a spit. It is served with rice, vegetables and some crispy skin and is seriously delicious. There are numerous places to try this local dish around Ubud, from street markets to restaurants, with Ibu Oka being one of the most popular. I hope you’ve enjoyed my huge guide to Ubud and I have inspired you to book a trip there, pronto. Happy travels!
Love Swah + 1 flew to Bali as a guest of Jetstar. All thoughts and opinions are my own.