Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali and a must do on your Bali trip. Everyone goes there, so again, I can hear the travellers looking for authenticity thinking “another touristy place ? No thanks !” But please give Ubud a chance and you won’t be disappointed.
We originally wanted to stay 4 nights and head to Lovina beach to spot some dolphins and stay in a more quiet and retrieved part of Bali. But Ubud got to our hearts and we extended our stay for 2 more nights.
I get why so many people visit Ubud, extend their stay and even settle there. When I think about Ubud I think about the scents. It is a mix of frangipani flowers, coconut and ginger, massage oil and incense. It is loud and quiet, relaxed and frenetic at the same time.
We spent a week there, taking our time, taking it slowly, exploring what the city had to offer, it was one of the best time we ever had on our travels. We got to enjoy so many great activities and restaurants that we had to share with you what we loved the most.
Where to stay
We stayed at Sama’s Cottages on Jalan Bisma and absolutely loved it. It was 570,000/night (around 37€) for a beautiful room in our own little cottage with canopy bed and mosquito net, delicious breakfast served on our private terrace surrounded by a lush garden. The fact that it has a swimming pool is a great plus, especially after a day of walking and sightseeing ! We didn’t try their spa because there were cheaper options in town but the menu looked amazing though. And of course, the staff was lovely, but that’s no surprise, I’ve never had a bad service in Bali.
Where to eat
The smell of food is one of my strongest memory of Ubud, probably because we tried sooo many different restaurants that were all amazing. Our top 5 :
- Warung River View on the main road is the perfect combo between a central location, great decor and view and good food. Try their Ayam Opor.
- Sari Organik Cafe on Campuan road has the best views on the rice fields and the best juices.
- Dian restaurant on Monkey Forest road has probably the cheapest menu for the location and quality of the food : iced tea, nasi campur, fruit salad for 40,000. Try their Laksar Ayam (chicken in coconut milk), it is divine.
- Sushi Rouge. If you are a suhi lover like us and want to indulge yourself, go to Sushi rouge on Jalan Bisma. The owners are a couple of French designers and the interior design is a good enough reason for you to go there. And of course, the sushis are excellent. They also have villas to rent and a spa, which I’m definitely trying next time I go to Ubud.
- Ayu’s kitchen. It’s only on our last night that we discovered this little gem off Monkey Forest road and were disappointed to have discovered it so late as the temple-like architecture of the courtyard, the deliciousness of the food and the prices are the 3 best reasons to make it your next canteen.
What to do
Pamper yourself in one of Ubud’s many spas
They are seriously all over the place, just pick one. The cheapest traditional Bali massage we got was 60,000 IDR, and it was the best we had ! They can usually cost around 80-100,000. Above 100,000 is usually a nicer place with good quality product, but we didn’t try any as we were quite content with the cheaper ones.
For the budget traveller who still wants to relax and enjoy a good massage I recommend Daisy spa on Monkey forest road and one which I don’t remember the name but was located in an alley off Jalan Raya Ubud, right opposite Jalan Bisma.
Walk amongst the Rice fields
There are several walks to do, we went on the far west one, on Campuan road, which goes to Ubud Yoga House and Sari Organik Cafe. Continue down to the river, you’ll find a beautiful little river beach there. Just be careful when walking down the path as it can be quite steep, wear good walking shoes and mosquito repellent.
See more pictures here.
Ubud is overflowed with classes and courses, you can learn traditional dancing, painting, carving, massage, yoga, cooking, balinese… there is really anything you want.
I have been practicing yoga for almost a year without going to classes to save money, but now since the prices were fairly cheap I decided to try one at Ubud Yoga House. A class is 150,000 IDR and they do a special price if you book 3 sessions. It was Antoine’s first time doing yoga and he did two classes in a row ! The house is in the middle of the rice fields, close to Sari Organik café and such a great and relaxing place to practice yoga. Go to the meditation class on Wednesdays, you will get to enjoy the sunset while you’re practicing your mindfulness meditation. Priceless.
I know it sounds so cliché to go to a cooking class as a couple but our trip so far was cliché anyway so we went for it ! All the cooking classes in Ubud cost pretty much around 350,000 / person. We booked one with Cantik, through an agency called Ubudians near the bridge on the west side of town and got a 10% discount each. You just have to choose the menu you like the most really. We went to Ubud market in the morning, learning about spices and ingredients most used in balinese cuisine and then got drove to Laplapan Village, a village close to Ubud where we spent the morning cooking tasty balinese dishes and devouring tasting them for lunch !
There is one almost every night in Ubud, we personally went to the one at the Lotus Pond which I thought was an amazing set for a dance show. We paid 80,000 each at the entrance, but there are people selling the tickets all over the city centre (although at first I was afraid it was a scam).
The “tourist market” as some people call it, is where you will find loads of souvenirs and tourist traps of all sort. But I’m not judging, the girly girl in me was happy to shop a dress, a tshirt, pants, sandals and 2 pairs of earrings for a few euros. But what I really enjoyed was the food market, which is downstairs. The fruits you’ve never seen before, the smell, the colours… make sure you go early, before 9am, to get everything fresh !
Visit temples & museums
And of course, but you already know that, visit the museums and temples. The whole city looks like a temple anyway, sometimes you think you’re entering one and it’s actually a guesthouse or a spa. Just remember when visiting a temple that you have to cover yourself with a sarong or the equivalent (we bought actual sarongs for the fun but I’ve seen a lot of people using long scarfs).
As for museums, we really liked visiting Puri Lukisan museum, the works of art, the buildings and gardens are just beautiful.
Day tours outside of Ubud
There are a lot of places right outside Ubud that you can visit in a day or even just an afternoon. Just avoid the tourist bus tours like we did, and rent a scooter. We had one day left, and to be honest, for once we didn’t want to bother with organizing the whole day trip so we knew what we were getting into, but it sounded just easier than renting a scooter and getting lost or scared on the road.
After asking for prices in about 10 different places in Ubud they are all at 180,000 IDR per persons not including entrance fees and food. The driver wasn’t nice, the car wasn’t comfy, we didn’t have enough time to enjoy the places we were visited, but at least we met some lovely people and got to see some of the must dos in a day :
- Goa Gajah, Elephant cave
- Spring water temple : bring your swimsuit and a change of clothes if you want to bath in the holy waters. Also it is forbidden to enter the temple with wet clothes so visit the temple first.
- Kopi Luwak plantation where we tasted the Luwak coffee with a view on the rice fields
- View on Mont Batur and lake
- Besakih temple : you don’t need a guide to enter even though they will tell you it is mandatory, plus the guide is useless.
- Buffet lunch at a restaurant with views on rice paddies with Mont Agung in the background
- Kertha Gosa Palace : this one I really loved, actually better than Goa Gajah and the spring water temple I think. Maybe because we were almost the only ones visiting !
See more pictures here.
There was nothing that put me off in Ubud, I just love everything about this city and cannot wait to go back and not just as a tourist but maybe to stay for a few months, practice yoga, eat my weight in nasi campur and learn the traditional balinese massage !
How about you ? Have you been to Ubud ? What was your favourite restaurant/place to stay/thing to do ?