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What To Do in Ubud: 11 Must Visit Places for Your Next Trip to Ubud

What To Do in Ubud: 11 Must Visit Places for Your Next Trip to Ubud

Known as Bali’s art & culture capital for good reason, in and around Ubud are ancient temples, rice paddies, beautiful markets, waterfalls, the Sacred Monkey Forest, fantastic restaurants and so much more!

Ubud captures the magical essence of the Balinese people and the magnificent island they call home so well. From the moment we arrived we felt welcome and at peace wherever we went.

This guide includes everything you’ll want to make sure you do whilst you’re in Ubud! We personally stayed for around 2 weeks here but if you plan well you could easily see everything in just a few days.

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Getting Around

Renting a scooter in Ubud is definitely our preferred way of transport. The traffic is so congested here and with a scooter you are able to nip around everyone avoiding (bigger) delays.

You can either rent through companies online like Ubud Scooter Rental or you can speak to reception at your accommodation and they will be able to help you arrange one.

💡 Note doing it through your hotel is often more expensive than going direct however it is dropped straight to you ready to use.

Before you go ahead and rent one please be warned that driving a scooter in Ubud is not for the faint hearted and definitely not recommended for beginners.

There are plenty of ways to get around without scooters, you can book taxis or hire a driver for the day. Hiring a driver usually starts from about 500,000 IDR (£30) for around 8 hours and they will take you wherever you want to go!

Where to Stay

We would recommend renting a scooter and staying just outside of the centre, it is a lot quieter and you can get a lot more for your money as well as prettier destinations!

Ubud is made up of many smaller communities, first off we stayed in Sayan which has many luxury villas and despite the luxury they can also be extremely cheap.

The first place we stayed was Villa D’Uma this was a great base to explore for our first few days in Ubud. Not to forget too that it is absolutely beautiful!

We stayed in a Deluxe Garden Villa, this was one of the most beautiful accommodations we stayed in during our travels in South East Asia. You have access to a pool shared with 2 other Villa’s and the staff are there to help you with your every need, I highly recommend it here at Villa D’uma.

Then for our second location in Ubud we chose to stay in Petulu.

During our time in Petulu we stayed here at Dupa Villas. This was also a beautiful destination with a shared pool overlooking the jungle and our balconies opened straight out to the rice paddies! It also featured one of the nicest baths we had and a huge bathroom and comfy bed!

Ubud has many different types of accommodation ranging from all sizes and prices so you will be able to find anything from budget hostels to luxury accommodations so there’s something to fit everyone budget.

11 Best Things to Do in Ubud

The Sacred Monkey Forest

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a natural and sacred site, it is a nature reserve for the resident Monkeys and a temple complex hosting Pure Dalem Agung Padangtegal temple as well as a ‘Holy Spring’ temple and another used for cremation ceremonies.

The Forest is home to long-tailed Macaques and there are 4 different groups of these cheeky creatures here, all occupying different territories.

The mission here is to conserve the area based on the Hindu concept of ‘Tri hits Karana’ the Sacred Monkey Forest Website States: “Tri Hita Karana is a traditional philosophy stating three ways to reach physical and spiritual well-being. When the concept of Tri Hita Karana is properly implemented, there will be harmonization on humans relationship with the Supreme God, harmonization on humans’ relationship with humans, and harmonizing the relationship between humans and his environment.”

The Monkey Forest is easy to get to and has parking for both bikes and cars, it is located, funnily enough… on Monkey Forest Street!

Walking around the Monkey Forest is an experience! The Monkeys are wild and you are reminded of this very quickly with their cheeky tactics. The park recommend you do not look the Monkeys in the eye, not to smile at them with your teeth, as this shows aggression, not to feed them as well as making sure you keep all of your valuables safe – trust me, do not go in with food on show!

I wouldn’t recommend getting too close to them, just like any animal you need to respect its space.

We did see some people getting too close and the Monkey ran at them trying to grab their bags and camera so to avoid any upset just admire from a respectful distance.

Monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest

Traditional Balinese Legong Dance

All along the main road, Jalan Raya Ubud, you can buy tickets for Legong or fire dancing located at the local Temples.

The tickets are 100,000 IDR (£6) each and the shows usually start around 7/7.30 lasting 1.5 hours

We went to the see Theatre Raja Peni which included 3 different dances, Legong Dance, The Barong Dance & The Raja Pedi performance.

The Legong dance is often performed in a palace courtyard to entertain the King and is performed by 3 girls and depicts angels divinely dancing in the heavens, the dancers wear beautiful costumes and golden floral headdresses.

The dance itself has been well preserved over generations, it is a well refined dance including complicated finger and foot gestures paired with facial expressions and eye movements. It is a very skilled and beautiful dance to witness!

The Barong Dance is about Barong, the king of spirits and is a face you will often see on temples or dotted around Bali. The Barong dance features a battle between Barong and Rangda (the demon queen) and symbolises the eternal battle between good and evil.

The Raja Pedi performance is performed by the Raja Peni troupe. Carefully observed the elements offer a profound insight into the way the Balinese understand the universe and their place within it. The performance expresses a loving oral tradition that no one member of the troupe could recite alone but with communal effort there is full expression.

Traditional Balinese Legong Dance

Ubud Art Market

Just off the main road down a side alley you will find the Ubud art market.

The market is open daily from 8am – 5pm but if you would prefer to beat the crowds then arrive early, before 10am is best.

It is bustling with colour and gives you the perfect asian street style feeling.

As you walk around the market the locals will call out to you encouraging you to take a look at their stall or recommend something for you to look at. Do not take this as aggression, it is just their way of selling.

It is very different to what we are used to in the West so if you find it too overwhelming just smile politely, say no thank you and keep walking.

If you do find something you like however try to ensure you have a rough idea of what you would like to pay for it before you ask how much. Haggling in these markets is encouraged so do persist until you both reach a compromise.

‼️ Please note that even though haggling is expected don’t take it too far, please consider that what could be small change to one is a days money to another.

Many of the goodies you can find in the art market are handmade and are special to Bali, most are made in the surrounding villages and are the perfect authentic souvenirs or gifts.

Ubud Art Market

Tegegunan Waterfall

A must visit when staying in Ubud, locally known as ‘Air Terjun Tegenungan’ it is the biggest and best waterfall in the area.

It is the busiest waterfall in the area, however, do not let this stop you visiting, Tegegunan waterfall is stunning, it is huge and one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen.

When you arrive you will be directed to the parking and then head to the ticket office to purchase your entry. Tickets are 20,000 IDR (£1) each.

Walking down the hill past many stalls and restaurants you will then see the waterfall emerge on your left hand side, take a moment to admire it and to gather yourself before the 200+ steps down to the bottom.

There are small changing rooms, toilets and lockers available here if you want to go in the water and would prefer peace of mind about your valuables.

You can also walk up to the top of the waterfall but this costs an extra 20,000 IDR (£1) so ensure you keep some cash on you if you want to do this otherwise you’ll have to head back to your locker.

After you’ve snapped a few pictures of the waterfall make sure you take some time to sit back and admire its beauty nestled in the lush jungle surroundings.

Tegenungan Waterfall

Tibumana Waterfall

Located down a small windy road that takes you right through the heart of the rice paddies. You can park up then prepare to walk down to the valley floor then along through jungle to reach the waterfall.

Tibumana is locally known as ‘Air Terjun Tibumana’ this waterfall is a beautiful hidden spot and is a lot quieter than Tegegunan.

It used to be completely unknown, just a little secret however with it being shared on Instagram it’s now becoming more and more popular. If you want to get it all to yourself try arriving at about 8/9am.

With one narrow stream of water coming down surrounded by the jungle greenery it really does look like paradise.

Parking is free but the entrance fee for Tibumana is 15,000 IDR (80p) and you pay next to the car park.

Tibumana Waterfall

Kanto Lampo Waterfall

The parking here is free and the falls are located just a short walk down from the car park.

The Kanto Lampo waterfall was created by an avalanche that hit the Kanto Lampo river region, this is another beautiful waterfall however due to it’s small size it can get very busy.

Outside of peak times the waterfall would be a peaceful glimpse into the Balinese jungle.

However picture a queue of people just waiting to climb onto the waterfall before taking a picture and leaving again, we didn’t really enjoy it here.

I would recommend stopping by to see it but I wouldn’t plan to spend too much time there.

& if you only have time for one waterfall make sure its Tegegunan

Kanto Lampo Waterfall in Ubud

Campuhan Ridge Walk

The Campuhan Ridge Walk is located just out of the centre head to Jl. Bangkiang Sidem road and keep left, here there is a small free car park where you can leave your scooter and the walk itself is free.

Most people start by the entrance of the car park however if you walk to the end of it towards the main road and along round the back of the building you’ll find steps down to the river.

This place is like a little sanctuary, like a secret underground place that no one knows about. There are carved rocks all the way down that have been made into shapes and faces, I thought they were so interesting and quirky.

You can then cross over the river on a little bamboo bridge before walking up the stairs towards the temple then round to the Ridge Walk path.

The Ridge Walk itself is beautiful and a lovely way to get out of the Ubud traffic for a while.

Walking high on the ridge you can admire the palm trees and green jungles either side. I would recommend doing this either morning or late afternoon.

It can get very hot along the path and there is not a lot of shade so the walk could become quite challenging.

The walk itself takes about 25 or 30 minutes each way however if you have more time you can walk on further.

Tirta Empul Temple – Holy Water Temple

The Tirta Emplu Temple locally known as ‘Pira Tirta Empul’ is the busiest water temple in Indonesia and is considered sacred by the Balinese Hindu community.

This temple has holy springs that are believed to of been created by The God Indra and it’s believed that if you bathe in them the water will purify you.

Despite it being a sacred place for locals, tourists are welcomed as well to join in and experience the beauty of the purification rituals.

I would highly recommend adding this Temple to your to do list when in Ubud. Only around a 40 minute drive from the centre you can get here either by renting a scooter or a driver for the day.

The entrance fee is 50,000 IDR (£3) each and you pay on arrival next to the entrance. Parking is 5,000 IDR (30p) for cars and 2,000 IDR (10p) for motorcycles.

As when visiting any temple ensure you dress respectfully, the temple provide you with sarongs to wear which are free of charge, just make sure you return them when you leave.

If you would like to take part in the Holy Water Ritual ensure you bring some extra money with you, it costs 10,000 IDR (60p) each to rent a water sarong and 25,000 IDR (£1.50) for a locker to keep your belongings in.

The ritual sarongs are green with a red sash. Men wear them tied at the waist with the sash tied around. For women it’s best to hold it open at your lower back and cross over your chest then tie behind your neck, tying the band around your waist to hold it all in place.

If you’re not sure just ask someone there to show you how they tied theirs (that’s what I did).

You’ll also want to make sure you pack your swimming gear and some towels for when you get out.

There are certain rules the temple ask you to follow, which are:

  • To sacrifice an offering to respect the temple and the holy spirit of the ritual
  • To find the information about the ritual before entering so you know exactly what the ritual is
  • You are not allowed to bring any form of camera into the holy water
  • Do not wear a sarong provided on entry, please rent a special ritual sarong
  • Women are not allowed to enter during their period

You can either go and carry out the ritual alone but I would recommend using one of the guides to ensure you follow the rules above and fully understand what you are doing.

If you would like to use a guide just stand looking a little lost and someone will approach you offering to help.

Our guide helped us prepare an offering of a small bundle of flowers with an incense stick to respect the temple and the holy spirit of the ritual.

He also talked us through the different holy water pools and notified us which fountains we were allowed to use and which are reserved for locals.

Having a guide was extremely useful as he provided us with lots of information throughout the process and was there to help us get in and out of the slippery pools. The guides at the end will ask you for a donation to thank them for their services and to support the temple.

Overall we had a great time experiencing the Tirta Empul Temple and came out of it feeling very grateful to be allowed to share such a sacred experience with the locals.

Picture this too, when I was about to approach one of the fountains a water snake curled out of its crack in the wall and came right out next the fountain before retreating back! That’s definitely an experience I won’t forget.

If you only have time to visit one temple in Bali make sure this is it.

Tegallalang Rice Terraces

After our visit to the Tirta Empul Temple we drove over to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces and were blown away by the size of them!

There are many different entrances to the rice terraces but the entrance fee at our one was 15,000 IDR (90p) per person.

One of the locals will follow you in and offer to guide you around the area, they will ask for a donation at the end so if you would rather explore alone you can kindly refuse.

The stunning rice terrace is part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It has become a popular tourist hot spot which is no surprise as it’s truly magnificent.

The best time to visit Tegalalang Rice Terrace is first thing in the morning or around sunset as it gets extremely busy during the day.

Located inside the Rice Terrace is a couple of swings and a restaurant so if you fancy stopping at either of those make sure you bring some money along with you.

Tegallalang Rice Terraces

Goa Gajah – Elephant Cave

The Goa Gajah Temple or sometimes known as the ‘Elephant Cave’ located just outside of Ubud is believed to have been built in the 11th century and was used as a sanctuary.

The leading theory suggests the cave was built by Hindu priests completely by hand and although it is accredited as a sacred Hindu site it is also believed to have significance to early Buddhism.

The entrance to the cave is rather spooky and looks as if you are entering a giant mouth, some believe this is the entrance to the underworld.

Despite the belief that it dates back to the 11th century the cave was only discovered in 1923 by Dutch archaeologists and the fountains below were not discovered until 1954.

It’s incredible to think that such beautiful architecture was hidden for so long.

Once you’ve explored the cave you can head down the steps to the Buddhist garden admiring the moss covered boulders that frame a waterfall.

The entrance fee for Goa Gajah is 15,000 IDR (90p) per person, sarongs are provided free of charge on entrance.

The parking is 5,000 IDR (30p) for cars and 2,000 IDR (10p) for scooters.

Women entering Goa Gajah cave

Taman Saraswati Temple – Water Palace

Located between Cafe Lotus and Starbucks, it is free to visit.

You are not allowed into the main temple however make sure you stop by to admire the thriving lily ponds that surround the entrance.

It is a beautiful spot to step out of the busy streets of Ubud and just take a breather while admiring the temple.

Taman Saraswati Temple Water Palace, Ubud

Final Thoughts

All in all I have to say we were very happy with our stay in Ubud.  It is filled with incredible restaurants and there is everything from the bustling markets to the quieter rice paddies. Ubud really has something for everyone – we felt comfortable and very much at home here.

Are you planning a trip to Bali? If so you must make sure Ubud is on your list and don’t miss these 11 spots!

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