Ubud is one of the most popular tourist areas. It is easy to understand why. With its yoga studios, amazing clothes shops, delicious restaurants and many temples there are lots of things to do in Ubud. More than that though, Ubud has a relaxed and Bohemian vibe, which is unique to this part of Bali. To help you make the most of your trip to the city I decided to create a shortlist of some of my favourite things to do in Ubud. The list includes a few of the less well known tourist destinations.
I am reviewing one of my favourite travel apps (and it is an Indonesian company): Traveloka. Often their hotel booking deals in Indonesia are the cheapest. Learn more about the App here.
Here are the highlights of my favourite activities around Ubud. I’ve picked my favourites and then shared some other ideas just in case you want some extra inspiration 🙂
Essential List of 5 Things to do in Ubud
1. Visit Monkey Forest
Staying in Ubud for more than a week helped me deal with my fear of monkeys. One fine day, I decided to visit Monkey Forest (or Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary). The park is open from 8.30 am until 6 pm. The entrance fee is IDR 20,000. It is a very nice place with a lot of monkeys (of course!). Explore the entire area of Monkey Forest and spontaneously laugh with other tourists when they are chased by a monkey and loose your unfounded fears of monkeys.
I saw a young woman, who loved monkeys (very much). She repeatedly gave monkeys rambutan fruit from her bag. While I was watching she got someone to record a video for her putting a rambutan on her head. She actually was in the top level in terms of relationship to monkeys. I respect her!
2. Walk Campuhan Ridge
A lot of people will tell you about the beauty of the Campuhan Ridge Walk. When I finally decided to visit I had trouble finding where to start the walk to Campuhan Ridge (and where exactly the place is) without asking local people. Here I include a few photos so that you can easily find it without having to ask.
I am pleased that I decided to take walk to the top of Campuhan hill. It’s a great trek and I definitely recommend it if you are looking for things to do in Ubud. In total it was around 5 km, a great distance to do some sport during your holiday. I suggest to go early in the morning or before sunset.
3. Swim in an Infinity Pool
The steep ravines that surround Ubud make it the perfect place to put an infinity pool (and most of the luxury hotels have one). The most famous of course are the double infinity pools at the Hanging Gardens of Ubud (something you can only experience if you can afford the $500 a night it costs to stay here). However you don’t need to be a millionaire to swim at an infinity pool in Ubud. You can buy a day pass to swim at the Alila Ubud for a far more reasonable Rp 400,000 a day.
4. Pura Saraswati
I often passed the Lotus Garden Pura Saraswati while in Ubud (obviously because it is located in Raya Ubud road). The temple is part of a big complex with Lotus Restaurant and a Starbucks cafe. Pura Saraswati is small, but very beautiful. I definitely recommend visiting the temple while you’re in Ubud.
5. Gunung Kawi Sebatu
Gunung Kawi Sebatu is a beautful Hindu temple 30-minutes outside of Ubud in the small village of Sebatu. The temple is designed around a series of ponds and pools. It has a really peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. The temple is the perfect place to visit on a day trip from Ubud. You can find a great Ubud day trip itinerary that includes Gunung Kawi Sebatu here.
6. Tegenungan Waterfall
Tegenungan Waterfall is a 10-minute drive to the South of Ubud. The waterfall is in a small gorge. There’s a path that leads to the base of the falls. This is a great place to visit, especially if you are on holiday with small kids. You can swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall and explore around the valley. Tegenungan Waterfall is a really nice option on a hot day.
17 Fun Ideas for Things to Do in Ubud
1. Choose an Unusual Place to Stay
There are a lot of fun and unusual places to stay around Ubud if you want to make your holiday a special one. You can rent a luxurious eco house made of bamboo, spend a night under the stars at the luxurious Sandat campsite and feed the elephants at the zoo when you stay at the Sanctoo Villas (well it’s a 10 minute drive outside of Ubud) for starters.
2. John Hardy: Join a Jewellery Exhibition
John Hardy is a well-known international luxury jewellery brand based in Bali. Their main workshop and exhibition space is just outside of Ubud, and it’s beautiful. You can arrange a free-guided tour of the complex and see how the jewellery is produced all the way from the initial design through to the finished product. Worth the visit if you like nice jewellery and interesting architecture. You can find the review of my visit to John Hardy here.
3. Green School: Bamboo Wonderland
The Green School is another invention of John Hardy. The school has a green curriculum, green workshops and some incredible bamboo building designs. Green School is on the outside of Ubud. If you want to visit you’ll need to join a guided tour (available Monday-Friday). It cases Rp 200,000 per person. It’s a bit expensive, but worth interesting nonetheless.
4. Tirta Empul Temple
Tirta Empul Temple is a 40-minute drive to the North of Ubud. The temple is part of a large Hindu Complex. It is very busy with tourists and locals. The highlight of Tirta Empul are the ritual bathing pools. Most tourists visiting here forget that there’s a whole complex of shrines (along with a large natural spring) behind the pools. Make sure to visit them 🙂
5. Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah is a temple complex is in the small village of Bedulu, on the outskirts of Ubud. It’s a 10-minute drive from the city centre. The name of the temple means ‘Elephant Cave’ (the name doesn’t come from the design of the cave entrance. If you’re interested you can find out the reason here). Goa Gajah is a large site. You’ll need at least 30 minutes to an hour to explore everything.
6. Gunung Kawi
Gunung Kawi is set in a deep river valley next to towering cliffs. The site is most famous for the five funeral shrines that are carved into a tall cliff at the centre of the complex. The shrines are are each over eight meters high. They were dedicated to a long dead Balinese king. It’s an impressive site and just a 30-minute drive outside of Ubud. I’d recommend visiting if you have time. You can check out this article for a complete guide to Gunung Kawi.
7. The Pod Chocolate Factory and the Honey Bear
There are several great chocolate producers based in Bali. My favorite is Candidasa near Charlie’s Chocolate Factory in the South of Bali. The Pod Chocolate Factory (official site) is a good choice though if you are based around Ubud. During a tour you can see how chocolate is made, try some chocolate and even hug a honey bear. Or maybe I should reverse the order, hug a honey bear, try some chocolate and see how chocolate is made 😉
8. Stop off for a Coffee
There are so many nice, unique (and healthy) restaurants and cafes in Ubud. I love to try different places. Some of my favourite cafes in Ubud include Alchemy, Seniman Coffee Studio, Kismet Cafe and Boutique and KAFE restaurant. Alchemy is on Penestanan Road, open from 7am – 9pm. Seniman Coffee Studio is on Sriwedari street, opens 8 am – 7 pm. I love their coffee, the way they serve the coffee and the rocking chairs!
Kismet Cafe and Boutique is on Goutama road No. 17. Kismet is a small nice cafe with style. They provide a great breakfast and coffee. Finally KAFE is on Hanoman 44b. This is one of my favourite places with good internet connection and nice coffee. They also provide great healthy food and drinks!
9. Try the International Cuisine
From traditional Balinese Babi Guling through to European Haute Cuisine you can find almost anything in Ubud. Some of my favorite restaurants in the city are the small local spots. For example Warung Bahagia that serves delicious Nasi Campur and Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Bu Mangku. For some more traditional choices for nice restaurants you can check out this post (it’s just photos and restaurant names).
10. Shop till You Drop
I love shopping in Ubud. The boutique stores in Ubud are a melting pot of different fashion ideas and styles. There are also the shops that cover all your interior decoration needs. And finally there are the art markets, textile markets and handicraft markets. Two of my favorite places are Uluwatu and Frockk. The exhibition at Threads of Life is also rather fun. They showcase textiles from all over Indonesia.
11. Zen hideaway: Take a Leap of Faith
Aaah… The first time I saw the swing at Zen Hideaway I fell in love. Taking a leap of faith over the deep gorge with a view of the Ayung River and forests below you is going to be amazing. Of course this was made for Instagram and your friends will fall in love with the photos. At more than $250 a night it’s expensive. It’s on Airbnb, Worth it if you can afford the price tag.
12. Stay in a Tree House at Bambu Indah
Ubud has a lot of great hotels. There are the dozen or so luxury resorts with infinity pools overlooking the jungle. Nice boutique hotels like Tegal Sari with funky decoration. If you’re looking for something really different though you have to check out Bambu Indah. The resort has a range of rooms including luxury tree houses and beautiful teak cottages. It’s one to remember.
13. White Water Rafting on Agung River
If yoga’s not your thing you should try white water rafting on the Agung River. Most packages provide morning pickup from your hotel in the morning and drop you off just after lunch. The rapids are classed 2-3, which is fun, but not dangerous. It’s suitable for most age groups. You can find out more about it here. Not suitable for kids under 11 years old.
14. Canyoning down the Falls
For a real adrenalin fuelled day of activities you need to try a day canyoning around the waterfalls in the North of Bali. You’ll spend the day abseiling down waterfalls, jumping off cliffs into deep ponds and generally having a lot of fun. You can find out more about the canyoning and the different packages available here.
15. Yoga Barn: Find Your Inner Zen
Ubud is Yogi central in Bali (though Canggu is starting to get popular). The most famous spot to do Yoga is the Yoga Barn. It’s on the outskirts of Ubud surrounded by rice fields. Classes and workshops are held every day from 7 in the morning through to 8 at night. Here’s a link to the official website.
16. Tegallalang Rice Fields (and the others)
Almost every part of Bali is covered in rice terraces. They are built into gorges and cover the valley floors. It’s picturesque and part of what makes Bali so popular. One of the most famous viewpoints overlooking the rice terraces is Tegallalang, which is on the way to Mount Batur. For the best photos visit in the early morning while the mist is still on the valley floor.
My favorite place to see rice fields is on the road from Ubud to Candidasa. It’s less popular with tourists and I think the view is a million times better.
17. Join a Bicycle Tour Around Ubud
One of my favorite ways to explore Ubud is by bicycle. It doesn’t really matter which direction you go, the countryside surrounding Ubud is all rolling hills, paddy fields and villages. While you can join a guided bike tour, it’s nice to just rent a bike for the morning and explore with your travel companions.
So, that’s my recap of doing touristy things in Ubud. I love the city. There’s so many ways that you can fill your time (including sitting down and doing nothing at a cafe). I hope that the article has given you lots of ideas and inspiration for your holiday in Ubud.
So, are there any touristy things in Ubud that you really enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.