Ubud is known for being the cultural centre (almost literally, check the map) of Bali. Its streets are filled with motorbikes and tourists, and lined with guesthouses, restaurant and shops. Accommodation can be found for each budget, restaurants surprise to be looking out over rice fields in the middle of the city, and the shops are nothing like the typical tourist shops selling Bintang shirts and sunglasses (looking at you, Kuta). Do watch where you’re going, as the sidewalks have extreme height differences and parts are missing from time to time.
We spent the first part of our one week stay in Ubud at the pool from our fancy hotel, called Anumana Ubud Hotel. We celebrated New Year’s Eve there as well, which was a great experience. The second part of the week, we stayed at a guesthouse called Desak Putu Putera Homestay, which was more within our usual budget. That was when we went out and explored Ubud and its surroundings instead of relaxing by the pool. In this blogpost, we’ll give you an overview of what to do in Ubud.
Go on a motorbike day trip around Ubud
Our first time on a motorbike was immediately a whole day trip, during which we visited some of the most popular tourist attractions near Ubud, including tasting the (in)famous Luwak coffee at a coffee farm. You know, the poopoo coffee.
The highlight of our day was definitely the view at Mount and Lake Batur. However, the shrines at Gunung Kawi were really impressive as well, and we were fortunate to behold the lines of people waiting for ritual purification at Tirta Empul.
Visit Monkey Forest in Ubud
When in Ubud, or even Bali, don’t miss out on Monkey Forest Ubud (40,000 IDR entrance fee per person). It’s a jungle in the city, preserving all kinds of trees and plants, housing some temples and home to over 600 macaques, Balinese long-tailed monkeys. The monkeys just roam free, so you can walk the jungle among them.
If you dare, you can buy some bananas to feed them or lure them to your shoulder for a nice picture or even selfie. We didn’t try it, but returned home with tons of cool pictures anyway. The monkeys look cute, but these greedy creatures are not to be trusted, so read up about how to survive Monkey Forest in Ubud in another one of our blogposts.
Eat a fancy lunch at Locavore in Ubud
You can choose between two set menus: the Locavore Menu and vegetarian Herbivore Menu, each consisting of seven courses. It’s possible to skip two and go for the slightly cheaper five course menu and you can opt for paired drinks. We really enjoyed our lunch at Locavore in Ubud, tasting some amazing and creative food. Definitely worth the splurge!
Get a Balinese massage in Ubud
Oddly enough we’ve spent almost two months in Thailand without getting one of their famous and very cheap massages. So during our visit to Bali, we decided we couldn’t leave Southeast Asia without one. We booked a Balinese massage at Spa Hati in Ubud for 180,000 IDR per person for 60 minutes. This would be our first massage ever, so we didn’t really know what to expect.
Upon arrival, we received a sarong, some paper underpants and slippers, and were left to get changed. We met again in the “massage room”, where we had to choose the scent of the massage oil. For the first part of our massage we were laying face down on the massage table, the sarong only covering our butt. They used their hands and elbows applying pressure, rubbing and pulling. Sometimes it hurt a bit, but they asked from time to time if the pressure was OK. After half an hour we were asked to change positions, time for our front to be massaged. Again, only our underpants was covered with the sarong. Brecht got a blindfold over his eyes, me one over my nipples.
I never really felt uncomfortable laying there almost naked, but it’s not an “activity” we’ll spent a lot of money on in the future. Maybe a foot massage is more up our alley. We did like the tea and jacuzzi session afterwards, and enjoyed unlimited use of the sauna and pool.
There’s plenty more to do in Ubud, but we only spent three days outside of our hotel, so not enough time to do it all. We did enjoy all of the above activities and hope you have fun as well!