Idylic Ubud is the antidote for bustling Kuta. A place where a cheeky monkey is easier to spot than a rowdy backpacker, this famous arts and crafts hub is Bali’s undisputed cultural mecca. A town with a relaxed atmosphere and remarkable food, the sound of traditional gamelan music and the sight of rice fields are never far off in the distance. With vast kilometres of unspoilt countryside to explore nearby, if Ubud sounds like an oasis to you, it’s because, well, it is!
Unlike elsewhere in Bali where attractions lie mainly on the beach, Ubud is crammed full of unmissable attractions. Many of the island’s key historical sites such as the Goa Gajah elephant cave and the 10 ancient rock shrines at Gunung Kawi are located within 20 kilometres of the town, while in Ubud itself is the iconic Pura Puseh Batuan Temple and famous (or is that infamous?) Monkey Forest Walk. Taking a stroll around the beautiful rice fields is another quintessential Ubud experience, with Bali’s most iconic terrace of rice fields located just north of the village at Tegallalang.
Eat And Drink
Ubud is a diner’s delight and visitors will find all kinds of tasty treats in the town. The main street, Jalan Raya, is where you’ll find the greatest concentration of cafes and restaurants, but poke your head down adjacent lanes and you’ll uncover a great number of delicious delights. One of the most popular places to eat and drink in Ubud is Ibu Oka, a little shanty cafe famous for its suckling pig. These days franchised across the island, Ubud is where you’ll find the original Cafe Lotus, a classic meeting place for local artists and backpackers back in 1982. To really indulge, the Franco-American run Mozaic is considered by many to be Bali’s best restaurant, while Ubud is also home to a treasure trove of organic and raw-food restaurants such as Clear Cafe and Sari Organik.
Where To Stay
From luxury world-class resorts set on hectares of tropical gardens, to the comfortable family-run inns scattered around the town’s outskirts, you’ll have no problems finding somewhere comfortable to stay in Ubud. Every establishment has its own perks and charms. The more luxurious hotels line rice fields while the personal touch of staying with a friendly owner is a great reason to stay at one of the smaller hotels. If you’re coming to Ubud and don’t mind a bit of rain, keep in mind that great discounts can be had in low season, when you’ll have the town’s main sights almost entirely to yourself.
It’s definitely not the humidity that will make you drop in Ubud! Serious shoppers can go wild in Ubud and your first stop should be Ubud market. Located right on the corner of Jalan Raya and Monkey Forest Road, fine tune your haggling skills by bagging bargains on local arts and crafts. Scattered around town you’ll find many more arts and antique stores. The quality of items in Ubud’s centrally-located stores is generally high, but often so are the prices. A better bet can be to head to the craft villages between Ubud and Sanur, where the streets are literally lined with furniture and homeware stores. Don’t worry about suitcase space, because many stores provide a shipping service.
Ubud Like A Local
Okay, you might not ever be able to cook exactly like a local but you can at least (try to) get close by taking a Balinese cooking class in Ubud. With well over 10 different offerings in town, competition is stiff for who offers the best classes. Pulu Bali Cooking Class is definitely near the top of the list while Casa Luna’s week long classes are the most comprehensive. Don’t write off the other excellent cooking schools though. Starting with shopping for ingredients at the market and finishing it with the feast you’ve been taught how to cook up during the day, most offer an informative day that will show you exactly what it’s like to live like a local.