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The best things to do in Ubud, Bali
Wondering what are the best things to do in Ubud, Bali? Ubud is such a vibrant place to be in Bali. It’s a culturally dense city full of temples, flea markets, and open-air restaurants. It is also home to many of the most popular places in Bali, including the famous Monkey Forest, Pura Tirta Empul, Tibumana Waterfall, and the Campuhan Ridge Walk. Needless to say, there’s a lot to do in Bali.
This town in the centre of Bali is also significantly closer to most of the islands’ natural wonders as well. That makes it very easy to take day trips to Bali’s most impressive temples, waterfalls, lakes, and volcanoes.
In this post, we will guide you through all the best things to do in Ubud, where to eat, where to stay, places to visit, and how to spend your time in the healing capital of Indonesia.
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- Best things to do in Ubud
7 of the best things to do in Ubud
The list of the best things to do in Ubud could easily reach the hundreds if you mention every single place to visit, so we’ve pulled together the absolute BEST places to visit. There are also some destinations grouped together.
For example, the first thing to do in Ubud is visit the Hindu temples, but there are hundreds of temples around Ubud. So we’ll talk about why it’s such a cool thing to add to your itinerary and mention a few of the most popular temples. Let’s dive in.
1. Wander through Ubud temples
If you come to Ubud, you really should spend a chunk of your time exploring central Bali’s temples. Here’s a quick list of the most impressive temples surrounding Ubud.
TOP TIP: Be sure you are dressed appropriately at any of the temples in Bali. Women are not permitted in any Bali temple without a shirt covering their shoulders and shorts/skirt past the knees.
A few temples will have sarong rentals at the ticket office, but do yourself a favour and buy one to use throughout your time in Bali. In addition to a temple covering, you can also use it as a beach towel, a skirt, or even a curtain for semi-public changing.
Pura Tirta Empul: Dubbed the water temple, Tirta Empul is located just a half-hour north of Ubud. The complex is home to more than 30 sacred fountains, which locals and tourists use to cleanse themselves from evil and suffering.
This temple is famous for the pool and fountains close to the entrance, but make sure to set aside some time to explore the rest of the temple. It’s really gorgeous and much bigger than you’d expect.
If you plan on bathing here, there are strict guidelines for what to do before entering the pool. Get a tour guide at the entrance to assist you through the process.
Pura Besakih: This one isn’t technically in Ubud, it’s an hour and a half north. But it’s a top-rated day-trip destination and HIGHLY recommended while hanging out in Ubud. Plan to spend about 2-3 hours exploring the temple complex.
Pura Besakih is the largest and holiest of all Hindu temples in Bali. Mount Agung sits outside the temple, creating an unreal backdrop over the already stunning view of the temple. The entrance fee is 60K IDR ($4 USD), or you can take a guided tour with entrance included in the price.
Pura Taman Saraswati: If you’re staying in Ubud, this temple is literally in your backyard. You’ll only need to walk about five minutes up the road from the Ubud Market to find it. It’s also one of the few temples in Ubud with free entry.
The courtyard is lovely, with lily flower ponds, bridges, ancient trees, and intricate carvings at the foot of the temple entrance. Go early in the morning to be rewarded with fewer crowds and spectacular lighting.
2. Browse the markets of Ubud
In Ubud, the streets are lined with loads of markets and shops. They sell a wide range of goods, including clothes, bamboo dishware, jewelry, incense, essential oils, and other souvenirs. Though, to be fair, you do see the same things repeated again and again, such as the well-known round, straw Bali bag made famous by legions of influencers.
You can find tons of stalls at the Ubud Market and in the areas surrounding downtown.
However, if you’re looking to escape the crowds, check out the collection of stalls and shops just outside the north entrance of the Monkey Forest.
3. Take a waterfall trek
Ubud is a gateway to some of Bali’s most enchanting waterfalls, many within an hour’s drive from the town. One of the best ways to enjoy the waterfalls around Ubud is by dedicating a day to waterfall-hopping. Use a scooter or car to navigate between these natural wonders. All you have to do is choose a few waterfalls, plug them into Google Maps, and go.
Some closer waterfalls, like Kanto Lampo, Tegnungan, Tukad Cepung, Suwat, and Tibumana Waterfall, are less than 30 minutes from Ubud. However, for those willing to venture about an hour north, the experience expands to include spectacular sites like Banymalan Twin Waterfall, Sekumpul, and the cliff-jumping hotspot of Aling Aling Waterfall.
For those preferring organized excursions, several guided tours offer comprehensive day trips to these waterfalls. Alternatively, for a more flexible and personalized experience, visitors can rent a motorbike or car. This DIY approach allows the freedom to create a unique waterfall itinerary.
4. Relax at a Spa
Ubud is known to be a serene place, ideal for a health and wellness vacation. As a result it has some of the best (and cheapest) spas anywhere in the world! Most of them offer a variety of massages, facials, and mani/pedis for about $6 USD per hour.
However, if you want something extra, check out the complete 4-hour treatment package at Nick’s Spa. They have a package that includes a full-body massage, body scrub, facial, flower bath, tea, and smoothie for just 350K IDR ($24 USD). There are many other spas as well.
Typically, when the masseuse identifies a knot, they do not shy away from digging in, so don’t be afraid to speak up if it’s uncomfortable.
There are a lot of spas to choose from un Ubud! Some recommended spas include Four Seasons Hotel, Chapung Sebali spa at Jungle Fish, Bali Botanica Day Spa.
5. Visit the Monkey Forest
One of the most popular things to do in Ubud is the Monkey Forest. If it’s your first time in Ubid, then it’s certainly a wild experience having so many friendly (and unfriendly) monkeys around you. However, it’s a little expensive as far as Bali attractions go, and you’ll see plenty of monkeys around Ubud, even if you don’t pay to get into the Monkey Forest.
So, if you’re trying to save money, explore the roads and walkways surrounding the forest to take some pictures with the local monkeys. And beware – they have been known to steal from tourists and scratch. My advice is to keep everything safely locked up in a bag or purse, including phone and sunglasses. And if you carry any food in your hands, prepare to lose it.
6. Stay in a jungle resort
Do you want to know where to stay in Ubud? On top of all the food, history, and unique things to do in Ubud, there are some truly incredible hotels, resorts, and even jungle villas in Ubud. And they are relatively affordable (especially compared to Western standards). Ubud has options for every type of travel budget. But don’t overlook checking the prices for the jungle villas. There are so many with insane views of the rice terraces and lush mountains near the city.
Affordable guesthouses and villas, complete with pools, are available in Ubud for $25-40 USD per night. For those with a higher budget allocated for their Bali trip, Ubud also boasts some exceptionally stunning resorts, with prices starting just above $100 USD per night. You can even get your own private pool villa.
7. Take a day trip from Bali
Since Ubud is right in the middle of Bali, it is the perfect place to base yourself while exploring the island. Most guided tours provide pick-up in Ubud, so it’s relatively easy to travel outside the city. However, if you’re not looking for a tour, just rent a motorbike and leave lots of time for spontaneity. Here are some of the best day trips to take from Ubud!
Padang Bai: Padang Bai is a beautiful turquoise lagoon on the east coast. The bay is excellent for sunbathing, and the crystal-clear waters are perfect for snorkeling. You can hang out at the main beach, but it’s even more impressive if you go to the next cove.
The beach is called Blue Lagoon, and it’s much less crowded than its next-door neighbor but has the same beautiful cliffs and crystal waters. Snorkeling gear alone costs about 30K ($2 USD). You can also easily find a guide to visit great snorkel spots nearby.
Mt. Batur Sunrise Trek: Bali’s most famous volcano is Mount Batur. Hundreds of tourists climb every morning, starting from the base at 3 am to catch the sunrise. Mt. Batur may not be the highest peak in Bali, but it’s definitely one of the most accessible.
It’s impossible to climb without a guide due to the danger of hiking by yourself in the middle of the night, but there are many tour groups and private guides that can take you up the mountain. It’s not terribly expensive either. You can book online to get the most cost-efficient deal.
White water rafting the Ayung River: White Water rafting probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when planning a trip to Bali, but it’s a great thing to do in Ubud.
The Ayung River cuts through one of the most beautiful canyons in Southeast Asia. It feels like a scene straight out of the jungle book, with lush vegetation all around, vines hanging overhead, and waterfalls cascading down the canyon’s walls. It is honestly magical. That said, it is crowded and not the most thrilling experience, so know keep your expectations in check. Tickets are less than $25 USD. This includes snacks, gear, transportation to and from the river, and a local guide.
Best places to eat in Ubud
Atman Cafe: Atman Cafe is a vegan-friendly restaurant with low lighting and bamboo seating. The food here is fresh and incredible. Its boho atmosphere, fresh kombucha, and delicious food make it one of our favourite cafes in Ubud. There is even a separate gift shop named Atman Collections, where they sell unique homeware, jewelry, incense, and yoga supplies.
Dian Restaurant: Dian Restaurant is a spa and eatery with outdoor seating and a delightful atmosphere. They specialize in authentic Indonesian dishes yet offer an international selection of Mediterranean, Italian, and Japanese platters. There is something for everyone, and it all tastes delicious.
Taksu Restaurant: Taksu Restaurant is an affordable Ubud, Bali eatery with a classic selection of Indonesian dishes. Very affordable. Most plates will set you back less than 75K ($5 USD). This dining establishment also has a full-service spa, wellness programs, and unique menus for lunch and dinner.
Warung Little India: Warung Little India is a hole-in-the-wall joint that is not far off the main street in Ubud. They served affordable and delicious Indian food. We had curry, lentil dal, lassi, and naan bread.
Honourable mention: Yellow Flower Cafe, Zest, Sage, Bebek Tepi Sawah, Alchemy Cafe.
Three ways to get around Ubud
Assuming you are flying into Bali from another country, the first step is to get from the Bali Airport to Ubud, and then you can worry about how to actually get around the city. One of the best things about Ubud is that the main area is walkable. As long as you’re staying somewhere near the centre of Ubud, it will be easy to walk to many restaurants, markets, and spas.
But there are a few options if you want to get outside the city. Many tourists choose to rent a scooter in Ubud. This is the best option, but you’re not out of luck if you’re uncomfortable driving yourself.
Grab / Go-Jek apps. These apps make it so easy to get around in Bali. You should download Grab and/ or Go-Jek once you get to Bali so that you always have the chance to hail a taxi in an emergency.
These apps are officially banned in some parts of the island, including Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak, and Kuta. You will see a lot of signs around the cities discouraging you from using these companies, but there are no laws against it.
Take a public taxi: At roughly 10-15K ( $1 USD) per km, taxis are the most expensive form of transportation on the island. Going from the airport to Ubud (37.5 kilometres) will cost about 350-400K ($20-25 USD).
You can also use the My Bluebird App to find local taxis and taxi stands near you.
Rent a motorbike: If you decide to rent your own transportation (which we highly recommend if you’re an experienced rider)), you only need a knack for adventure and a little help from Google Maps to discover some wild places around Ubud.
There are many roadside stands where you can rent a motorbike, but your accommodation hosts usually offer the best price or refer you to someone who won’t rip you off! You can also reserve a scooter online to be delivered to your hotel.
The longer you rent, the more you can negotiate the price, but a safe bike should not cost you more than 150k ($10 USD) per day.
Final thoughts: Best things to do In Ubud
Ubud is one of the island’s most diverse places to visit and deserves a spot on every Bali itinerary. If you can afford to spend about 4-5 days in Ubud, you will have the time to explore the city, spend a day trekking to waterfalls, and take a longer day trip to Mt. Batur or Pura Besakih (these take a full day).
These are all the best places to visit and the best things to do around Ubud, Bali. Hopefully, this article inspires you to visit Ubud.
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