Ubud is the Zen capital of Bali and the most spiritual place on the island. Yoga, meditation, and vegetarian and vegan food are everywhere.
And despite all the success after being featured in the movie Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud is still one of the most authentic places in Bali.
In this guide, you’ll find the essentials to plan your trip to this memorable Indonesian destination, including location, how to get here, the best hotels, top things to do, and other tips for visiting Ubud.
Table of contents
- Where to stay in Ubud
- Ubud attractions – Top things to do
- Where to eat in Ubud
- Best tours in Ubud
- Tips for visiting Indonesia
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Where is Ubud
Ubud is located in the central part of the island of Bali, Indonesia.
The region is famous for its remarkable rice terraces, lush hillsides, ancient temples, and for being the mecca of yoga in Bali.
Getting to Ubud
To get to Ubud, you must fly to Bali’s international airport (Ngurah Rai International Airport).
Once at the airport, it takes approximately one hour to get to the center of Ubud. The best way is to arrange a pick-up with your hotel, schedule a private shuttle in advance, or take one of the many taxis found there.
Learn more about visas and other practical information for visiting Indonesia.
Getting around Ubud
Although other parts of Bali already accept ride-sharing apps like Go-Jek and Grab, in Ubud, this option is not yet being used due to conflicts with local drivers.
So, the options to get around are the service of collective vans offered by tourism agencies; local drivers on the street offering their services (in this case, tell them where you want to go and negotiate prices in advance); and rental bikes that cost around 50,000 IDR per day.
If you don’t want to worry about any of these, hotels usually have drivers and already give you a fixed price for the day. However, this option might be the most expensive one, with prices up to 3 times higher than negotiating directly with the driver on the street.
Because of this, I recommend arranging a private car with a driver in advance.
Where to stay in Ubud
Ubud’s attractions are a bit far apart, so you need to keep in mind that you’ll need to commute to visit the main attractions.
You can stay in the small center (near restaurants and with access to everything) or in the surrounding areas where the most exclusive hotels are.
In the center of Ubud, with access to restaurants and a couple of attractions, I highly recommend Bisma Eight, the hotel I stayed in on my last trip (see the full post about Bisma Eight), and Calma Ubud.
Further away from the center, these hotels feature spectacular pools, are in a peaceful setting and are perfect for a blissful stay: Hanging Gardens of Bali, Alila Ubud, Padma Ubud, Kamandalu Resort, Mandapa, The Udaya Resorts and Spa, Four Seasons at Sayan, Como Uma, and Como Shambala.
Ubud attractions – Top things to do
One of Ubud’s many temples, Pura Taman Saraswati is dedicated to Dewi Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom, literature, and arts.
The temple’s garden is stunning and has a water garden full of lotus flowers, which brings even more allure to the scene.
Saraswati Temple is located in the center of Ubud, a busy area full of restaurants and cafés, and it should be part of your next trip to Bali.
Tegallalang Rice Field
Indonesia is one of the world’s largest rice producers and consumers, so you can find rice terraces across the entire country.
In Bali, you can find many rice terraces in Canggu and around the island, but Ubud is where the most famous ones are – Tegallalang and Jatiluwih.
Tegallalang Rice Terrace is one of the most photographed places in Bali, and its fame can be attributed to the movie Eat, Pray, Love, as a background landscape for Julia Roberts’ adventures.
The best way to visit Tegallalang is with a guided tour for the convenience of having somebody driving you around. You can also arrange a personal driver with your hotel.
Tirta Empul means “temple of the holy spring” and is known for the purification rituals Hindus perform in its sacred waters.
At Tirta Empul, there are 13 fountains on-site – each with a different meaning or purpose. The temple is one of the most spiritual places in Ubud, so be sure to follow the rules.
Getting to Tirta Empul can be easy with a guided tour that will pick you up at the hotel and drop you off once you are done.
Balinese Cooking Class
So you are in Ubud and love Balinese food? Then, why not venture into a cooking class?
At a Balinese cooking class, you’ll get the chance to go to the local market to buy ingredients, learn how to make a handful of dishes, and eat a lovely meal you helped to cook from scratch.
I made a full post dedicated to the cooking class in Ubud, and you can book your Balinese cooking class here.
When it’s time to go shopping, stop by the Ubud Market.
At the local market, you’ll find everything you need to give as a gift once back home, like bags, sarongs, and Balinese dresses.
However, Ubud Market is also a great place to see the local life, as it has many colorful flowers used in Hindu offerings and products of the local cuisine.
The market is located in the center of Ubud, and it’s very close to the Saraswati Temple so that you can visit both on the same day.
Even if you have never practiced yoga in your life, you can’t leave Ubud without trying it at least once.
As I mentioned, Ubud is the primary place for yoga in Bali, and it has many yoga studios to visit, from small ones to super famous.
The Yoga Barn is one of the best-known places for yoga classes in Ubud for both beginners and experts. Other known and recommended places are Fivelements and Radiantly Alive.
Some hotels in Ubud also offer classes (which may be complementary or paid) for guests.
If you want an Ubud tour that includes yoga, massage, and lunch, take a look at this one.
Don’t miss the opportunity to relax in Ubud. The spas I recommend are Kaveri (at the Udaya hotel), Karsa Spa, and Fivelements – all for a relaxing massage, Balinese Boreh, and a dreamy flower bath.
Javanese Lulur is also another spa treatment I recommend trying while in Ubud (and Bali!).
Campuhan Ridge Walk
For physical activity in Ubud, go on a quiet, beautiful hike on Campuhan Ridge Walk. This trail can take 25 minutes or 2 hours of your day, depending on how far you want to go.
If you are staying in the hotels near the center of Ubud, you can just walk to the beginning of the trail. Or, if you are staying on the outskirts, you may need to arrange a driver or a tour.
Also, plan on visiting Campuhan Ridge Walk early in the morning or at the end of the day, when the heat and humidity aren’t so bad.
If you are one of those that need to stay active and do things while traveling instead of relaxing by the pool, I feel you!
If you need to get involved in projects or learn something new while traveling, Gaya Ceramic offers pottery classes and has a studio that is also open for a visit.
If you want to go further and explore the heart of Ubud, take time to explore Nungnung, Tibumana, and Tegenungan waterfalls.
Visiting a waterfall in Ubud is better with a waterfall tour, where they offer pick-up and drop-off at the hotel.
One of the famous attractions in Ubud is the trekking to the active volcano Mount Batur.
The best way to visit Mount Batur is early morning for the magical sunrise views.
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Sacred Monkey Forest
Another trendy thing to do in Ubud is to visit the Sacred Monkey Forest.
In the Sacred Monkey Forest, you can see closely and interact with the monkeys in their natural habitat.
Where to eat in Ubud
- Locavore: One of the top 50 restaurants in Asia, Locavore has a unique menu made from local seasonal ingredients. Be prepared for an exhilarating experience (advance booking is advised).
- Wanna Jungle Bar: A Beach Club with drinks, food, and an impressive pool.
- Folk Pool & Gardens: A bar to spend the day, where you can have snacks and drinks around or in the pool.
- Earth Café: A vegan restaurant with macrobiotic principles and organic foods.
- Mudra: A cafe and restaurant with an Ayurveda-based menu.
- Alchemy: 100% raw vegan coffee.
- Habitat Cafe: Asian cuisine restaurant near the Sacred Monkey Forest, where you can see from there when one of the monkeys decides to take a walk through the streets of Ubud.
- Copper Kitchen & Bar: Copper is one of Bisma Eight’s restaurants.
- Nusantara: Locavore’s family restaurant, Nusantara serves authentic Indonesian cuisine with dishes from around the country to celebrate the unique flavors of the archipelago.
Best tours in Ubud
One of the best ways to explore Ubud and to visit its main attractions is with tours. There are many great tours in these parts of Bali, and here are some excellent ones:
Tips for visiting Indonesia
- Visa: for current information about Indonesia’s visa, currency, and other travel updates, please visit my post on What to Know for Visiting Indonesia.
- The best time to visit Bali is from April to October.
- Always carry some cash with you, as some places do not accept credit cards.
- In Canggu, you can get Grab and Go-Jek (apps that work like Uber). In Ubud and Uluwatu, the apps don’t work (because of local disputes), so you’ll have two options: rent a motorcycle, or negotiate with taxi drivers to take you to the places you want to go. There is also the option of booking a car with a driver at the hotel, but it can end up being the most expensive option if you don’t plan to travel a lot.
- Travel Insurance: I recommend purchasing travel insurance for every international trip, and the same applies to Bali. My recommended and used travel insurance tool is SquareMouth, a platform for searching for the best option amongst travel insurance companies. It allows travelers to instantly purchase a travel insurance policy from every major provider in the US and it also makes clear each policy’s COVID-related coverage.
Best tours in Bali
- Sunrise Mount Batur Hike with Breakfast: have an early start to your day on this tour to watch the sunrise from above the clouds at Mount Batur’s summit.
- Monkey Forest, Rice Terrace & Tanah Lot Private Tour: this is one of the best tours to take in Ubud because you’ll see the Tegallalang Rice Terrace, visit the Sacred Monkey Forest, learn about Luwak coffee, and catch the sunset at Tanah Lot Temple.
- Best of Nusa Penida Tour by Fast Boat: on this full-day tour from Bali you’ll go to the heavenly Nusa Penida to see some of the main attractions of the island – the gorgeous Kelingking Beach and Broken Beach.
- Instagram Highlights Tour: visit the most Instagrammable places in Bali near Ubud. It includes Lempuyang Temple, Tegallalang, and Tirta Gangga.
BALI PACKING TIPS
Do you have more time and want to see other parts of Bali? Check out this post to help you in choosing which part of Bali is the best for you
Do you want me to plan your trip to Bali? Get in touch with me!
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