Ubud is known as the arts and culture heart of Bali, Indonesia. But as is often the case, when a place is discovered by mass tourism, everything changes. The center is nowadays filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, and guesthouses on seemingly every corner and the roads deal with all-day taxi jams. Does this mean you shouldn’t go to Ubud anymore? Not at all! I loved my time in Ubud. The only thing I would say is to adjust your expectations. In this blog post, I will share 6 wonderful things to do in Ubud.

1. Explore the Ubud Royal Palace

Ubud Palace was the very first item on our list of Ubud things to do. It is right in the city center, so super easy to get to. As the name suggests, this is where the royal family lives. A part of the complex is open to the public. It’s not very large, but it’s beautiful to see the ornate doors and gardens. In the evening, the palace courtyard is also used for traditional shows. There’s something different every night.

Entrance: free entry, a ticket for the evening show is 100,000 IDR per person.

2. Admire the lotus pond at Pura Saraswati

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Bali, it’s that ‘pura’ means temple. The island has countless temples. It starts with the fact that every village has at least three temples: an origin temple (Pura Puseh), a village temple (Pura Deseh), and a death temple (Pura Dalem). The three temples are dedicated to the three main gods: Vishnu – the preserver, Brahma – the creator, and Shiva – the destroyer. In addition to public temples, there are also numerous private family temples to honor ancestors.

Pura Saraswati is a five-minute walk from Ubud Palace and is dedicated to the goddess of knowledge. It is also called the water temple because of the beautiful lotus pond in front. Visitors can only admire the outside of the temple; the inside is for those who come to pray. Just like Ubud Palace, shows are also organized in the evening.

Entrance: free entry, a ticket for the evening show is 100,000 IDR per person.

3. Take a ricefield walk

Ubud is surrounded by lush green rice paddies that you can easily walk to from the city center. I enjoyed the two walks below:

Bungkuan Rice Trail

Among tourists, it’s known as the ‘cafe trail’ because of the restaurants annex yoga studios along the way. When we walked there, the morning class had probably just ended because there were about fifteen to twenty women in nearly identical sports tops and leggings heading to a cafe for a post-workout breakfast. I must say that this part of the walk didn’t inspire me much, but it gets better as you go further. You slowly leave the cafes behind, and the path takes you deeper into the rice fields. For navigation, start at Nando Warung and end at Nyoman House.

Campuhan Ridge Walk

This walk starts just after the Campuhan Bridge over the river. Water is considered sacred here and is often part of temple ceremonies. The first section passes by Pura Gunung Lebah and consists mainly of a tiled path over a ridge. Honestly, I found this part a bit boring. There was no view due to the high vegetation. But persistence pays off because at the end, there are the rice fields (at Karsa Spa). It’s nice, but I have to say that I liked the views better on the Bungkuan Walk.

Another popular rice field walk is the Juwuk Mantis/Orange Walk Trail. The starting point is at the end of Ubud Market.

4. Visit the Ubud Monkey Forest

One of the most famous places to visit is the Ubud Monkey Forest, a natural park with hundreds of macaques that roam freely (no cages). The history dates back to the 14th century. The creators aimed to implement the Hindu principle of ‘Tri Hata Karana,’ which is the harmony between humans, gods, and nature. It is symbolized by more than 180 species of trees and around 700 monkeys. Unfortunately, monkeys and tourists are not always a good combination. To get the best photos tourists lured the animals with food. This made monkeys become more aggressive and eventually attack tourists.

During my visit (2023), the situation seemed to be improved. At the entrance, the dos and don’ts are clearly indicated, and only the staff feeds the monkeys. However, I did see a booth in the park offering ‘monkey selfies.’ Also, the staff lures the monkeys so that visitors can take photos with them. So yeah, I have mixed feelings. It’s impressive to see so many monkeys freely roaming, but there is still a lot of focus on monkey selfies.

Entrance: 80,000 IDR per person on weekdays, 100,000 IDR per person on weekends.

5. Goa Gajah – the Elephant Cave of Ubud

You might be thinking, after monkeys, there are also elephants in Ubud? No. In Goa Gajah, you won’t see any elephants. It’s a temple in the form of a narrow, small cave with a Ganesh statue inside. This Hindu god is shown with an elephant head, which is where the name comes from. The best thing about this cave is the front. You actually walk through the open mouth of a monster. The theories about this vary, but the fact is that it looks quite bizarre. Besides the cave, the gardens are also worth a visit.

Entrance: 15,000 IDR per person.

6. Take a stroll through the Tegalalang Rice Terraces

Tegalalang is a valley of rice terraces, located 20 minutes from Ubud. It’s very pretty but also very touristy. Think Instagram swings and various bamboo seats in the shape of a heart. When I saw this, I considered making it a short visit. But luckily, I stayed because the further you walk away from the entrance, the quieter and more beautiful the valley becomes. Follow the sign that says ‘hike’ for a nice walk.

To get here, we ordered two Grab scooters for Uma Ceking. This entry point sells tickets for 50,000 IDR per person. If I had done my research, I probably would have chosen a different entrance point. Uma Ceking is nicknamed the swing complex, and I’m not interested in that at all. I also hear that you pay slightly less at other ‘unofficial’ entry points (10-20K). Lastly, go early in the morning to avoid the large tourist groups.

things to do Ubud
things to do Ubud

Vegan Restaurants & Cafés in Ubud

The yoga vibe in Ubud means that there’s no shortage of vegetarian and vegan food (which is a plus for me). Here are a few of my recommendations:

In Da Garden – the tastiest vegan Nasi Campur in Ubud, plus bunnies in the garden
Sun Sun Warung – the second tastiest Nasi Campur in Ubud
Mudra Cafe – a beautiful cafe (popular digital nomad place) that looks like a treehouse
Warung Krishna – a small cafe in the alley leading up to our hotel
Monkey Bar – a small cafe on the Bungkuan Walk that offers a good smoothie bowl

Where to stay in Ubud?

Our choice of accommodation was a good one: Ayu Sari Guesthouse. It’s small-scale, has a beautiful pool, and breakfast is served on your own terrace. The downside: it’s located at the end of a long alley, and that walk did get a bit tiresome after a while. Prefer a different hotel? Take a look at these hotels in Ubud.

And that’s it. Naturally, there is a lot more you can do, but these were my six favorite things to do in Ubud, Bali? Have you been to Bali? What are your favorite things to do in Ubud?

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