Awesome things to do in Ubud, Bali
Searching for what to do in Ubud? Ubud has so much more to offer than just a visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest… and it’s a place where you could easily lose track of time between rice fields, yoga, palaces, organic food… Ah, I feel at peace just thinking about Ubud. For me, Ubud is synonymous with Bali. Maybe that’s because it is the first place I visited in Bali, but for me it encompasses everything: the incense burning everywhere, the Hindu statues decorated with marigold necklaces, the rice terraces.
Planning your trip? In this Ubud guide you’ll find 5+ things to do in Ubud and where to stay in Ubud.
Rice Field Cycling Tour
Spend half a day cycling through picturesque rice terraces, meeting locals and tasting luwak coffee with Banyan Tree Cycling Tours. The tour ends with a plate of delicious nasi goreng at the owners’ house, made by his wife. Doing a tour like this is one of the best things to do in Ubud because it gets you out of the tourist areas and into the more local residential parts of the area, giving you a more authentic taste of what life is like in Bali.
We did a cycling tour when we visited Ubud, and loved the experience. Just keep in mind that Bali is very hot, so if you are taking part in a physical activity, you’ll likely get verrrrry sweaty.
Find your zen at the Yoga Barn
When I was in Bali I wanted to get as chilled out as possible – of course massages and yoga were a part of that plan! On our last day in Ubud we headed over to the Yoga Barn for a session which just about killed us, but left us floating through the rest of the day. Going to the yoga barn is really an experience in itself.
This is the place yogi dreams are made of – and I’m not even a yogi. It is a huge, beautiful wooden open air building which you could easily find yourself staying in all day, if you could only do a continuous day of yoga. After yoga, you can head over to the cafe to get a fresh smoothie or bowl to recharge.
If you can’t find your zen here… then just forget about it! This was one of the best yoga classes I’ve ever had. I imagine one day in the future, dropping everything behind and going to Ubud for a couple weeks just to visit the Yoga Barn every day to find some renewal…
I honestly don’t think any itinerary in Ubud is complete without doing a little yoga while you visit. To me there is really no better spot in Bali that makes me feel more relaxed than Ubud.
If you’re looking for more great spots to do yoga in Ubud, check out this very extensive list from Never Ending Voyage.
Wander into the rice fields… and head for an organic restaurant
On our first day in Ubud we wandered past the Ubud Palace and toward the rice fields (take the street next to Abangan Bungalows, on the right coming from the palace). Once you head up this road, keep walking and soon you’ll be headed through the rice terraces, with a few restaurants and bungalows along the way greeting you.
All of them looked good to me, but we tried Sari Organik, a lovely open air restaurant (which restaurants aren’t open air in Bali?), serving a delicious menu of organic foods. When we sat there it started pouring down with rain… which only made our experience there even better!
Sari Organik is one of my favorite places to chill in Ubud – the food and drinks are great, and you’ll always be surrounded by a laid back travel crowd.
Wandering this route is one of my favorite things to do in Ubud, and I’ve done it again on my most recent visit. I would suggest spending half a day wandering around here.
Check out this post for more great places to eat in Ubud
If you are up for a longer walk, you can follow this route all the way to Tegallalang Rice Terrace. Admittedly, this isn’t my favorite rice terrace in Bali – I actually think it is pretty touristy and much prefer Jatiluwih Rice Terrace, but this is the one that you’ve seen with the famous swing and is all over Instagram at the moment.
Campuhan Ridge Walk
If you’re up for more walking, head over to the Campuhan Ridge walk, which runs a bit parallel to the path that Sari Organik is on. The Campuhan Ridge walk can be reached by following Jalan Raya Ubud and turning right at the Warwick Ibah hotel. You’ll follow the path down to the bridge, cross the river, and begin your walk there.
To be honest, I think the path where Sari Organik is located (Jl. Subak Sok Wayah) is much more beautiful, but this is also a great way to get some exercise if you’ve been chilling by the pool a bit too much!
Visit Ubud Water Palace
It’s a quick one, but it shouldn’t be missed. The water palace is one of the main points of interest in Ubud and is just down the street from Ubud Palace, and in my opinion was much more impressive! The lily pads, the lotus flowers, the orange color of the temple against the darkening grey skies with impending rain… This place is beautiful. The only shame of it is that it is located next to a Starbucks. But, if you do insist on visiting Starbucks, there is an outside terrace where you can view the temple from. In my opinion however, its always better to get coffee at local restaurants! If you’re looking for more temples to visit, check out this guide to Bali.
Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest
Of course this had to make it on this list, but it’s obvious! Surround yourself with the macaques at the Sacred Monkey Forest, or if you’re like me, spend your time there scared of a monkey attack. The Ubud Monkey Forest is probably the single most popular thing to do in Ubud, so I’d say you really can’t miss it. Buy a ticket, walk around, spot the monkeys, and be careful with any food you have cause they’ll probably steal it straight out of your hands.
Just a word of warning: I’ve met someone who was bitten by a monkey in the Ubud monkey forest, and she had to urgently ensure she didn’t have rabies. Do yourself a favor, and stay away from the monkeys, don’t do anything to encourage them to climb on you or get close enough to bite.
Just wander around Ubud
Ok, I know this seems like such a generic tip, but trust me on this. Ubud is a perfect town to wander around and it is extremely walkable – way more walkable than pretty much any other destination you’ll visit in Indonesia.
As I mention below, I strongly suggest to stay in the center of Ubud. Then you can wander amongst the restaurants, cafes, and shops, not to mention the Ubud market. I personally love to just wander around Ubud and take it all in. You’ll just have to make sure you watch your step, since tiles are missing all over the place in true South East Asian style.
I would suggest taking at least a few hours to spend time exploring Ubud and snapping photos. For me that is one of the best things you can do on a vacation, and Ubud has tons of picturesque spots around every corner. Oh, and many of the cafes in Ubud open up on small rice fields: so even when you’re in a restaurant you’ll likely still have a great view.
More things to do in Ubud, Bali
You might have come here looking for instagram spots in Ubud. Well, well, well, I’ve given into your wishes.
Ubud has always been popular, but lately I’ve seen it exploding in popularity on Instagram. It seems that some clever folks in Ubud have realized the mantra If you ‘gram it, they will come is true. Admittedly, I’m not much into these places which have been built for the ‘gram, but there are tons of them around Ubud.
Rice Terraces: The most famous instagram spot in Ubud is probably Tegalalang Rice Terraces. Just a word of warning: there are people waiting every 50 meters who will try to charge you as you walk through the rice terraces. It is honestly a big tourist trap, but nearly every tour through Ubud will include it. It is my duty, dear reader, to call these things out for you.
If you really want to visit a beautiful and AUTHENTIC rice terrace in Bali, hire a driver go to Jutiluwih Rice Terraces instead. Jutiluwih is easiest reached from Canggu, so save it for later in your Bali itinerary.
Swings: Oh, swings. I thought we left you behind at the playground but no. A swing photo is probably the best way to show your Instagram followers how careful and full of childlike wonder you are. After all, your beautiful shot on a swing was probably candid and captured just by chance, wasn’t it? Er, I guess you can sense my sarcasm here. Anyway, swings in Bali have also seemed to balloon in popularity, so if you insist check out this list of Bali swings so you can do it for the ‘gram.
Just a word of advice, Indonesia isn’t a country with the most stellar safety track record…so just ya know… think twice.
For a complete list of instagram spots in Ubud, check out this post from the Bali Bible.
Where to stay in Ubud
We stayed at Pertiwi Bisma 1 during our time in Ubud, and we loved it so much we decided to stay an extra night! Pertiwi Bisma 1 is very affordable – I think we paid around $35 per night. Not only is it conveniently located just a short walk from all the best sights of Ubud, but it also has an epic infinity pool that looks out over the jungle. I never ever wanted to leave…
Another great choice, where we’ve also stayed is Artini 2 Cottages. Artini 2 Cottages has a typically Balinese style, and though it is located centrally, it is set back pretty far from the road so it says nice and quiet. The pool area is great, and a perfect place to relax after wandering through Ubud.
Both these choices are great because they allow you to walk anywhere in Ubud – including the Campuhan Ridge Walk and Sari Organik. They are both located in the city center which is one of the best areas to stay in Ubud. If we don’t have to rent a scooter, we prefer not to, and these two locations allow you to explore the city by foot and stretch your legs a bit.
How to get to Ubud from Denpasar Airport
If you’re headed to Ubud after landing in Denpasar, you’ll be immediately inundated with taxi drivers offering their services. The ride to Ubud takes about an hour from Denpasar with no traffic – which is pretty rare. So unless you’re landing late in the evening, expect plenty of traffic.
You shouldn’t pay more than 350,000 IDR for your taxi ride. We managed to get away with paying 300k (€18), and I would argue that anything more than 350k is just stealing money from you. So don’t believe any drivers who might try to make you pay 600-700k, it just isn’t necessary!
Looking for more Bali tips? Check out these posts:
- The one week Bali itinerary
- The no-BS guide to Uluwatu
- Where to stay in Canggu
- What to pack for Indonesia
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!
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Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.