If you are traveling to Bali, mark the city of Ubud at the top of your list. This magical and enchanting city provides endless opportunities for fun and adventure. Beware though, you may never want to leave.
Kyle and I were lucky to have spent a full thirty days in Bali in January 2018. During that month, the majority of our time was spent in this captivating town. Here you can do anything from spa days to waterfall hopping to playing with wild monkeys. This is not the type of place you have to worry about being bored in, that I promise.
My advice – Get yourself a motorbike and go see everything this island has to offer. The island of Bali is at your fingertips and Ubud is the perfect place to make your home base in the meantime.
What should I do in Ubud?
This may seem like a complete tourist trap, and well…it is. With that being said, it was one of my favorite things I did in Ubud. Have you ever wanted to feel like you are flying over a vast and beautiful jungle? Well, this is your chance. To fly on the swings and to use their other attractions, you have to pay $30. This may seem a bit pricey for just a swing, but with that comes unlimited rides, free soft drinks, and a free dessert. They have five different swing sets, each increasing in height. So, don’t worry if you are afraid of heights, you can work your way up to the big ones.
Just like most things, I would recommend going early in the morning before it gets too crowded. This is especially important for the Bali Swing because as the day goes on the lines get really long. So, you might find yourself waiting for a while and getting shorter rides. If you want to avoid this and the heat, wake up a bit earlier and try to be there when it opens!
Tegallalang Rice Terrace
Even if you don’t know much about Bali, you have probably seen photos of the unique and captivating rice terraces that are sprinkled throughout the island. The largest of them being the Tegallalang. Nothing is quite like walking through scenes of rice patties with great vantage points giving you a chance to capture some pretty stunning photographs.
I will admit this can be a bit difficult to find. After a few wrong turns and several conversations in broken english with locals, you will start to come across white vans filled with tourists and signs for “rice trekking”. You will be asked to pay a donation upon your arrival, but the minimum is only 5,000 IDR which is the equivalent to forty cents, so don’t worry this venture won’t break the bank.
Just a heads up, a local will probably try to follow along to take pictures for you. At the end, they will inform you that you owe them money for their services. This is either extremely annoying to you or you view it as helpful and worth the money. If this is something you don’t want, you are allowed to tell them no. Just always be kind and respectful and be prepared for this to happen.
Bali is the home of infinity pools, especially Ubud. You may find many hotels charge a pretty penny for an entrance fee. So if you are anything like Kyle and I, paying $200 to hang out by the pool for a few hours just wasn’t in the budget. Still craving a day by a pool that hangs over the Balinese jungle, we came across Jungle Fish. They still charge an entrance fee, but the price is only around 150,000 IDR each (around $11). We even got luckier by coming on a day where it was half off, so Kyle and I both entered for 150,000 IDR total.
Spending the afternoon at Jungle Fish was one of Kyle and my favorite things we did throughout our time in Ubud. It really doesn’t get much better than a day at a luxury infinity pool that is completely removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. Talk about being in vacation mode. My recommendation: get yourself a fresh fruit smoothie or a cocktail and don’t move until you have to. Jungle Fish is a “must visit” during your trip.
Campuhan Ridge Walk
This is the perfect activity for a early morning sunrise or a romantic sunset walk in Ubud. You will find it is much more crowded in the evening than it is in the morning, much like most places. If you are looking for a peaceful and quiet walk, Kyle and I absolutely loved taking our motorbike to the trail head and walking around sunrise. Here you get amazing views of the jungle, you can capture beautiful photographs, all while getting in your daily exercise. In my opinion it is the perfect way to start the day. Remember, you can always go back to your room after and take a nap if the sound of a sunrise walk is a little too ambitious for you.
Step into an oasis of peace and serenity at Karsa Spa. Kyle surprised me with a spa day as a part of my Christmas present and all I can say is it was the best massage I have ever had. The property of this spa is set upon a series of rice patties with beautiful trees in the skyline. To get there, you can easily ride a motorbike or you can actually take the Campuhan Ridge Walk. You will follow the path all the way down till you reach the small art town where you will find Karsa Spa located at the end.
You can get anything from a Balinese massage, a Chakra reading, to both if you purchase the package deals. In America and many other countries around the world, massages and other spa treatments can be quite expensive. In Bali, you will find some of the best service in the most relaxing spas for a third of the price. Kyle and I each did the Buddha Package which consisted of three different treatments over the course of three hours. The price for this package was only 450,000 IDR (around $32). Not bad for a spa day if you ask me. If you are looking for a day of relaxation in the midst of all your adventure days, Karsa Spa is the place to do it.
BOOK IN ADVANCE! Call or Email, they are always busy.
The. Best. Thing. About. Ubud. If you are an animal lover like me, the idea of feeding and playing with a forest of monkeys is a dream come true. If this idea freaks you out, still go. The ticket for the Monkey Forrest costs 50,000 IDR (around $4) and from the moment you enter the park you will start to see families of monkeys in the brush around you, as well as, swinging through the trees. One of the coolest experiences and definitely not something you see everyday.
If you are worried about it being unsafe, you will be happy to know they have wildlife security throughout the park helping people interact with the monkeys safely. They will also worn you ahead of time to not bring in any accessories (i.e. sunglasses, hats, earrings, etc.), as well as, any food because the monkeys will find you and try to take your things. The last thing you want on your vacation is a fight with a monkey over who gets to keep your Ray Bans. Go prepared and leave anything you think a monkey would want at home.
The “Instagram Bali Gate”
This famous gate that has taken Instagram by storm is quite removed, so prepare yourself for a whole day event. I recommend pairing this activity with a few waterfall adventures that are about thirty minutes away from the gate.
Again, I recommend leaving early in the morning because the motorbike drive to the gate is easily over an hour and a half. Now if you are going, chances are you are going purely for photos so you aren’t going to want to be there when it’s swimming with people. Kyle and I left early in the morning and when we arrived around 9am, there was no one there! We got extremely lucky and ended up getting some amazing photos.
Is the gate overrated? Maybe a little. But what makes the trek there worth it is the amazing views from your motorbike ride to the gate. Talk about really seeing the island. The only way to truly discover how beautiful Bali is, is by going out and seeing more than just the touristy places. This ride will allow you to do just that.
Address: Desa Singaraja-Denpasar, Pancasari, Sukasada, Pancasari, Buleleng, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81161, Indonesia
Sekumpul Waterfall – This is the ideal adventure to pair with the Bali Gate as I mentioned above. Just a 30-40 minute motorbike ride from the famous gate, you will come across a camp where you will purchase tickets and a guide for 150,000 IDR (around $11). There is no way to get around having a guide for your waterfall tour. I can say it is 100% worth it and the guides Kyle and I had enhanced our experience. They made sure our tour was exciting and not rushed.
The amazing thing about this tour is that you will not only see one waterfall, but you will see several! Our guides were excellent photographers and knew exactly where all the photo spots were, as well as, taught us all the tricks to swim underneath the raging waterfalls to make our experience an unforgettable one. Even better, Kyle and I had the waterfalls to ourselves the entire time, definitely the perks of going to Bali in the low season. Though your trade off is a lot of rain.
Bring your walking shoes because the hike down is quite steep. If you have any injuries, please prepare accordingly because the walk is a little strenuous. Also, if you aren’t totally comfortable on your motorbike, I would pay extra to ride down with the guides. Kyle and I might of had a hard time on some very narrow stone roads hanging on the edge of a cliff on our ride down to the trail head. No one wants an accident and they won’t worn you ahead of time so please take this into consideration. If you do choose to drive, it’s doable, but good luck…you’re going to need it.
Only a twenty minute motorbike ride from the heart of Ubud sits Kanto Lampo. This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen and not many travelers know about it. When Kyle and I arrived there was only one other group there and they were leaving by the time we got to it. This waterfall doesn’t have a central area you can swim in, but you can stand or sit on the rocks around the waterfall. Just let the water splash over your body for a nice cool down from the humidity.
Just like everywhere, there will be locals trying to take your photos for money. If you don’t want that, you can say no. They are all very kind and aren’t looking for any issues so just respectfully decline their offers.
Traditional Art Market
The famous Ubud art market is located just a five minute walk away from Patra Homestay (if you read my last post). Meaning it is in the center of everything! If you are hoping to do any souvenir shopping, I recommend saving it until you get to Ubud. Here, you can get a wide variety of handmade goods, accessories, silk scarves, paintings, and wood carvings. Perfect for an afternoon stroll, you might find something you didn’t know you needed. The market is vibrant and full of life. Prepare yourself to be called at and hounded to buy objects by vendors. If you can get through that, the Traditional Art Market is very fun and has a lot to offer.
Kecak Fire Dance Ceremony
Treat yourself to a completely new cultural experience and get tickets for the traditional Kecak Fire Dance Ceremony performed at one of the many temples throughout Ubud. Kyle and I were on our way back from a motor bike adventure in the outskirts of town, when we were stopped by a man selling tickets outside one of the main temples. In a burst of spontaneity we decided this was the perfect way to spend our evening. Man, was this a cultural treat.
Famous for it’s dominant use of human vocals, this dramatic dance and acting performance will keep you captivated and entertained from start to finish. You will find it to be very loud, repetitive, and maybe a little hard to understand, but something you will have never experienced before. When you are traveling to a new country, I always recommend you do something to learn about the history and values of the local people. This allows for growth and a change of perspective that you won’t get if you just go to all the “hot” food spots (though that is also recommended). The Kecak Fire Dance is a fun and entertaining way to get a taste of the Balinese culture.
Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple
It’s hard to oversee the cultural energy that captivates the locals and fills the city of Ubud. To fully experience the magic of this town, it is imperative that you take the time to visit at least one of the many temples.
The Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple just happened to be a highlight of our trip. Our Patra Homestay family set us up with sarongs and scarves to wear because to enter most temples, there is a strict dress code. You may need to rent a sarong for this temple if you want to cleanse yourself in the holy water pools.
Kyle and I spent around two hours here. We really enjoyed getting in tune with our spirituality by going through the cleansing routine. This may not be for everyone and that’s okay. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, I definitely hope you take the time to experience this cultural tradition.
*Dress Code: always have your shoulders and knees covered*
YOU MADE IT TO THE END! Congrats!
I hope this gives you an idea of everything Ubud has to offer. There is truly something for everyone here. I promise you will find it difficult to leave by the end of your stay.
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