Before we came to Bali and especially Ubud, I didn’t have a lot of idea, what we will see, because Maruša did a thorough study. Now that I look back on our trip, for me, Ubud was the best place of whole Indonesia. It is just enough organized, that westerner can easily survive in it and just enough disorganized, that it gives you insight in Indonesian way of life.
We stayed in Ubud for three days. We believe that if was just enough, as we manage to see everything that we planned. In short, here are 10 things you simply can’t miss in Ubud and surroundings:
It’s one of the most famous (if not the most famous) attractions in Ubud. With more than 600 monkeys in the spot, it is a very lively forest. You can take a stroll around it, but be careful for your belongings, they can be quite agressive towards people.
Rice fields and terraces
If you don’t have a possibility to visit any rice terraces (the closest are a few kilometres out of Ubud), try visiting at least some of the fields in town. We would recommend a dinner in Three monkeys restaurant (on the main road, which leads to the Monkey forest), because they have an up close view on a field. You virtually sit in the edge of the rice field.
If you have time, try the Campuhan ridge walk. You walk around the rice fields, observing people that work in the sun.
Or grab a ride and get yourself to Tegalalang rice terraces. This are one of the most beautiful terraces on Bali. It is not far from Ubud, less than 30 minutes by scooter.
Walk around town
Ubud is very clean and well organized. In general we had a feeling that Bali is cleaner than the rest parts of Indonesia that we visited.
In town there are many different shops, even surfing ones (Billabong), restaurants and cafés with live music at night. We even saw a Starbucks neatly built according to surrounding buildings.
Temples, temples, temples
Ubud is literally full of them. Almost everywhere you look, there is a temple. One you can fin in monkey forest. And there are many of them on the main road (Ubud Palace and Pura Taman Saraswati were the most memorable ones for us).
Opposite to Ubud Palace, there is a local market. There are a lot of shops, selling different (or somewhere the same) souvenirs by very high prices. They are, of course, all negotiable, which soon brings you to some reasonable price. But you still need some skills.
To really get a feeling of local life and market, you should go inside and downstairs. There are people selling meat and fish, together with spices, bras, etc. Of course with a company of dogs, rats and probably some other animals. Sight, not suitable for everyone, but hey, this is Indonesia.
Woodcrafts, glass crafts, furniture stores just outside the city center
On the way to Tegalalang and on to the Water temple, we saw plenty of woodcrafts with different products at very cheap prices that would fit perfectly in our home. We bought a wooden picture for just 3,5€. We would buy a whole lot more, but the problem was with the transport back home.
Pura Tirta Empul – The Water Temple
A little further from Tegalalang rice terraces, in Tampaksiring, there is Water temple. We didn’t actually know the way, but we asked the locals, who gave us exact instructions.
Pura Tirta Empul is a holly place for the locals. This of course means dressing according to customs. No knees showing (men, and women). But don’t worry, you will be given a proper clothing (a skirt, that is). There is spring of holly water. It’s really extraordinary and it’s understandable how they see this as a holly place.
Ubud is full of different accommodations neatly hidden in town. We saw a lot of bungalows, lodges, etc. with pools, bars, restaurants or rice terraces, where you can relax and shut your brains off for a few moments. Our choice of accommodation was Ubud Heaven. It was a little out of town, but a perfect relaxing spot.
Enjoy the food
In our opinion Asian food is the greatest. The variety of tastes, and spices, meals are healthier… It’s just amazing. Although it is somewhat similar to other SE Asian countries, it is still a bit specific. So when you go out for a meal, don’t stay traditional, but try some new dishes. Local specialties are Mie Goreng (fried noodles) and Nasi Goreng (fired rice). You’ll be surprised whit the combination of ingredients.
Kopi Luwak coffee farms
It is being advertised as one of the best coffee in the world. It’s not the best coffee we’ve tried, but it’s definitely the most expensive one. You can try it at the coffee making farms almost everywhere on Bali.
It’s made out of grains that small, nocturnal animals (Luwaks) eat and digest. These grains are than opened and processed the same way than all the others. It is very valuable and is sold for up to 60 GBP per cup in bars in London. Yes, really, that expensive!
We didn’t like the poor animals in small cages and the whole thing left us a bad impression. We’ve also read that some places they cage the animals and force them to eat the coffee grains, so they would digest and produce the grains more quickly, because the profit from this coffee is so big.
If you visit a farm, they’ll explain you the process, show you the encaged animals and take you through small forest of different trees (banana, pineapple, chili, vanilla…). On the farm that we visited it’s possible to try different types of coffee, hot chocolate and tea. For Kopi Luwak, we had to pay extra (3,5€). We liked the variety of teas and hot chocolates that they have, which you can also try. Among all the different tastes, the lemon grass and mangosteen tea was our favorite. At the end you have a small shop, where you can buy all of the products.
Even though Ubud is very touristy (which we usually don’t really like) we fell in love with it. It’s a good base to explore other parts of the island as well.