This post was last updated on July 13th, 2020 at 12:28 pm
If you are visiting Bali, then a visit to the artistic Ubud is a must. The town is located in the middle of the rice fields and breathes art, culture, and pure nature.
Ubud is incredibly green, there is a great vibe, you will find impressive Hindu temples almost everywhere, you can eat delicious food (for example, raw chocolate) and there are all kinds of great shops with organic products. And we can go on and on.
During the day you see females in colorful Balinese clothes making offerings in the form of incense, flowers, and fruit. We’re not exactly sure why, but it makes it all the more pleasant to be there.
The expats, tourists, and locals seem to mix perfectly in Ubud and give the village a unique character. Unique, because we haven’t seen anything else like that.
All in all, we can say that it is a really lovely place to travel to.
The center is also quite busy, but somehow the crowds are not disturbing. In addition, you can rest well in Ubud. A minute walk from the main street, and you are all alone with many bright green rice fields around you.
Or you can book accommodation just outside the center. You’ll be in the middle of nature and won’t hear any noise. You can then reach the center in a few minutes by mountain bike or scooter.
The fact that peaceful nature and crowds are so close together makes Ubud extra special for us.
Hopefully, you’ll like this artistic destination as much as we do. Because of the wonderful atmosphere that it has, it is a place where you could stay (much) longer than you initially thought. It has happened to us several times, at least.
Well, we’ve never had such a long intro. You probably noticed that we are quite enthusiastic about Ubud.
In this Ubud guide, we share all our tips on visiting Ubud. From sights and nice restaurants to accommodations and transport. Everything is well-described.
1. Learn to Craft Jewelry at Studio Perak
In Ubud, you will find many artists (not only painters). There are also several jewelry makers in the village. One place we can recommend is Studio Perak, which is centrally located. You can design beautiful jewelry here according to the authentic Balinese silversmithing technique.
For example, if you want to make a ring, necklace or bracelet, the English-speaking employees will be happy to help you master the skill during a 3-hour course.
This may not be something you would expect to find in Ubud, but it is special to try it once. Moreover, it does not have to stay at one session, who knows, you may continue at home? 😉
2. Visit the Impressive Gunung Kawi Temple Complex
If you like temples, be sure to visit the Gunung Kawi temple complex built between the rice fields and rainforest in the middle of a spectacular valley. You reach the temple via a descent of 371 steps. Do not see this as a punishment, because on the way you can enjoy the pure nature around you. You may come across some vendors trying to sell local stuff, don’t let your mood be ruined by them.
What characterizes this temple? The rock walls in which gigantic sculptures are chopped of no less than 7 meters high. Another special feature is that the Pakrisan River runs through the complex. Finally, you will find various meditation caves and a small waterfall for swimming.
Gunung Kawi is a very nice place if you like peace and are a lover of nature. Take your time, sit back and take in all the beauty. Without exaggerating, we can say that this is one of the nicer spots in Ubud and surroundings.
Nearby, at about a mile and a half, is Pura Tirta Empul, the temple of the holy water. Immerse yourself and feel reborn afterward. Unfortunately, it is busy, but we definitely enjoyed it!
A local told us that a section is intended to relieve you of nightmares. One person in our group didn’t have any nightmares for ages, and the following night he did. Quite mysterious and even a bit creepy. Or not? 😉
The Gunung Kawi complex is half an hour to 45 minutes north of Ubud. Please note that it is mandatory to wear a sarong, which can be borrowed for free at the entrance. The trip back to the top of the mountain will cost you some drops of sweat, but you can enjoy a well-deserved drink in the cafe that is located there.
Our Tip – Want to read more about temples in Bali? Check out our Bali Temple Guide.
3. Walk Through the Tegallalang Rice Fields
It is not without reason that the Tegallalang rice fields are considered one of the most beautiful natural sights in all of Bali.
And yes, this is also the main tourist attraction of Ubud, but fortunately, the area is large so there are plenty of quiet places to be found. Enjoy the beautiful green views and take the time to take in all the beauty. Are you looking for a unique photo? With any luck, you can make one here with a local rice picker.
There are also two swings you can sit on to enjoy the views. Be careful though, because in 2018 a serious accident happened here, in which someone died.
The Tegallalang Rice Terraces are located about 10 kilometers north of Ubud and are easily reached by taxi. Another option is to drive there by scooter or bicycle. However, you will not get the real authentic feeling – given the crowds. For an authentic feeling, you should visit the rice fields in Munduk or Sidemen.
Our Tip – Read our tips on renting a scooter in Bali.
Can’t get enough of this kind of natural sight? Then visit the Jatiluwih rice fields. From the restaurant, you can enjoy a relaxing view of the green landscape after the walk. By the way, there are various trails to walk, from 450 meters to 7.7 kilometers long.
If you enjoy hiking through nature, Campuhan Ridge Walk is another great option to keep in mind. The environment is definitely worth it, but not as beautiful as for example at the Jatiluwih rice terraces. The advantage is that you can walk there from the center. Ideal for quickly avoiding the crowds. To get ahead of the many tourists, we advise you to go early in the morning. The temperature is also a lot more pleasant compared to the often hot afternoons. At the end of the hike, it is worth having a drink at Karsa Cafe and enjoying the view of the rice fields.
4. Sit on the Highest Swing You’ve Ever Seen
Have you ever heard of Zen Hideaway? Here, you will find a 150-year-old villa with the most special swing in Bali, perhaps in all of Asia.
The sad thing is that you are not allowed to use the swing for a short time. Booking is required, this will cost you about US$250 per night via Airbnb. Quite a lot of money if you ask us. However, you can share the house with six people and thus reduce the costs.
Besides the beautiful villa, you have a beautiful view of the jungle, Mount Agung, rice fields, and the Ayung River. The house is located in the traditional village of Bongkasa where you can get to know the authentic Bali.
And when you have made a reservation, you can sit on the swing as often as you like. Is this something you would enjoy?
Would you like to test your fear of heights or just indulge yourself? Then do it here. The villa is easy to reach, you can drive there from Ubud in 20 minutes.
Besides Zen Hideaway, you can also opt for the Bali Swing. This can be found in Jalan Dewi Saraswati and the views are phenomenal. In addition, it’s much cheaper here, since the swing does not belong to an accommodation.
5. Volunteer at the Bali Animal Welfare Association
As in many other Southeast Asian places, there are also a lot of stray dogs and cats in Bali. Fortunately, the Bali Animal Welfare Association was established to shelter these distraught animals.
Are you an animal lover and do you feel like it’s your calling to give these animals a good life? Then you can volunteer there. Think of tasks such as feeding, washing and simply playing with them. If you have a certain specialization, do not hesitate to indicate this. It may also just be that marketing or vet tasks are waiting for you.
More information can be found on this website.
6. Take a Dip at the Tegenungan Waterfall
As you probably already know, there are many beautiful waterfalls in Bali. One of these waterfalls is Tegenungan, a place that is not overrun by tourists. At least not in the morning.
Once you arrive, you soon notice that you have hit a special piece of nature. The waterfall with the surrounding jungle is beautiful and invites you to cool down. You can climb up from the side but count on quite slippery roads.
It can also happen that you see locals jumping from above into the waterfall. We personally don’t recommend this, quite dangerous if you ask us.
Tegenungan Waterfall is a 15-minute drive from Ubud and is best visited in the morning. The misty landscape and the relative tranquility make it a wonderful spot to be.
In Gianyar, about 10 kilometers from Tegenungan Falls, there’s another impressive waterfall, the Kanto Lampo Waterfall.
This waterfall is less known than Tegenungang and it is a fairly slippery climb down the rocks, but once you arrive you will not be disappointed. You won’t see many tourists there either.
If you want to see even more spectacular waterfalls, we advise you to drive towards Singaraja. A decent 2-hour trip, but this is worth it. Two absolute gems are the Banyumala Twin Waterfalls and the Sekumpul Waterfalls.
7. Go Mountain Biking and Explore the Area
If you want to see the unknown areas around Ubud, we recommend you go mountain biking. Bali Eco Tours is an organization that organizes fun excursions.
After 1.5 hours you will arrive at a breakfast spot with a beautiful view over the crater lake and the special Mount Batur. After you have eaten, probably a banana pancake, you will visit a coffee plantation and all kinds of small villages with super friendly locals.
Coming back to the coffee plantation, you can drink the most expensive cup of coffee in the world here: Kopi Luwak. We do not recommend this, however, because civet cats are kept in cages to make this coffee.
By the way, don’t think this is going to be a tough day, the tour is mostly downhill and quite easy. The last 5 kilometers are uphill, but this is worth it. You will then be rewarded with a tasty lunch.
You can also climb the above-mentioned Mount Batur. Put on good shoes, e.g. running shoes, and witness the sunrise from the highest point on the mountain. A guide is required, it is a fairly tough climb. You will be picked up around 2 o’clock at night.
Not in the mood for a tour? Then go and visit Batuan, Belega, and Bona. These are nearby villages where you can see artists at work, something very characteristic of the Ubud region.
You can make it even more colorful and cycle to the top of Mount Kintamani. We did this and it was quite a heavy expedition. Only, once you arrive and sit at the Sari Mountain View Restaurant, you can be sure of one thing: it was worth it. Tired but satisfied you can eat and drink there, with a beautiful view in front of you. Fortunately, the way back is a lot easier.
8. Go Rafting like a True Adventurer
If you are in need of some adrenaline then it is very cool to go rafting on the beautiful Ayung River, which is considered the best whitewater rafting spot in all of Bali by several tour companies.
We recommend you take this trip with Bali Adventure Rafting. This is a good option for beginners, since it is not the wildest trip there is. However, even if you have rafted before, it is a must to do. The rainforest that you sail through in about 2 hours is unbelievably beautiful. On the way, pay close attention to the birdsong and the monkeys playing in the trees.
Furthermore, the clothing and food are all well taken care of. Along the way, you have the opportunity to swim and cool down under the falls. You can also take a hot shower at the end of the adventure.
9. Work with Travel-Loving Entrepreneurs in a Coworking Space
This is a surprising one, we admit it. But since we have an online business ourselves, we are always interested in workplaces when traveling. In Ubud there is Hubud, a spot where (online) entrepreneurs and other people from all over the world come together to work.
Meet these people, find out what kind of business they run and tell them more about what you do. If you have set up or want to start something yourself, this is a very inspiring place to take a look and come up with refreshing ideas. Not only people can help you with this, but the view you have from your desk over the rice fields is also a source of inspiration in itself.
Good to know is that the Wi-Fi is super fast here, at least you will not be bothered (anymore) by buffering videos. There are also meeting rooms available if you need them.
Hubud is centrally located in Ubud and is easy to reach. We will tell you right away that it is quite expensive. For example, you pay US$220 per month for unlimited use and a day ticket costs US$17.
Another great place to work on your projects is Outpost. This workplace is located in a wonderfully quiet environment and the large windows provide plenty of light. Or what about taking a seat on the balcony overlooking the jungle? You also have free access to the Bali Spirit Pool. The daily price is US$16 and a monthly pass will cost you US$190.
10. Relax at Infinity Pools in the Middle of the Jungle
About a 40-minute drive from the center, you will find the beautifully situated Kayon Jungle Resort. With prices starting at US$400 a night, it’s a pretty expensive place, and probably way out of your budget.
The reason why we write about this luxury resort is not the spectacular room offer, but the beautiful infinity pools that are surrounded by an endless seeming jungle. You pay between 200,000 IDR and 300,000 IDR (maximum US$20) entrance, depending on the place you choose. A considerable amount, although you get a lot of good things in return.
Look at the picture above. Can you imagine a better setting?
11. Do Yoga at Yoga Barn Ubud
Even if you don’t do yoga, we still recommend you to go there.
For example, most of us are not yoga practitioners, but a local asked us to meet at the Yoga Barn. A really nice spot to be. Just sitting and watching the friendly people around you is very relaxing. There is a very nice atmosphere, one that we can hardly describe in words. In addition, we have seen some people do things that really amazed us. Including a man who did the walking handstand, a woman who stood completely relaxed on a man and someone who performed all kinds of complicated tricks with a stick.
There are also countless yoga and meditation classes to follow. Moreover, you can eat very well at Garden Kafe.
Do you have a “full” mind, experience stress, problems, or do you just want to relax or take a class? Then definitely go here.
The Yoga Barn is indeed the most famous yoga school in Ubud. You have plenty of choice in that regard and you can decide for yourself which school suits you best. For example, we spoke to several yogis who were very positive about the Dragonfly Village retreat and about Titi Batu (discussed below).
12. Workout and Relax at Titi Batu Ubud Club
Whether you want to swim in an infinity pool, exercise, detox in a steam cabin, do yoga, or simply relax with a snack and drink, Titibatu Club is the ultimate place to go.
This hip, beautifully decorated shop is built entirely in Ubud atmospheres and an afternoon stay will give you a wonderfully relaxed feeling. Moreover, the location is nice and quiet, about 4 kilometers outside the hectic center.
We went into the gym and then steamed in the 105-degrees hot sauna. In the evening it is extra atmospheric around the pool as the whole is beautifully lit.
Closeby you can find Warung Gula Bali The Joglo, a beautiful restaurant in the middle of the rice fields. You can also eat relatively cheaply here, especially if you compare this place to Titi Batu.
13. Get a Massage at Ida’s Body & Soul Massage
You probably know them. Those fancy Asian massages that you can get in almost every country. Ubud is also bursting with massage parlors. Nice of course, but making a choice can be quite a task because of this wide range. That is why we’ll help you.
A very good spot is Ida’s Body & Soul Massage, also known as Ida’s BodyWork. The ritual is not without pain, because the masseuse consciously searches for the tense and painful parts of your body. However, after the session, you will feel reborn.
Ask for Mary or – obviously – Ida. The two therapists are sisters to each other. Admittedly, this salon is not cheap, but you pay for what you get.
14. Detox Your Body with Pure Products
Ubud is a place where you will find all kinds of organic, pure products. Great for your body and mind.
One of those products is, for example, raw chocolate. And the best chocolate we’ve ever had (no we’re not exaggerating), we ate at Ubud Raw. It’s quite pricey, but try a block and we’re sure you’ve been sold too. You can also visit their official chocolate factory, the Pod Chocolate Factory. This is an hour’s drive from the center.
Looking for something fresh? The tastiest – or one of the tastier – juices from Ubud can be found at Wayan’s Coconut Bar. They make fresh juices with a slow juicer here, which makes the taste extra intense. Okay, it costs a bit, although we promise you it’s worth every penny. Try the “classic green with beetroot” there. Delicious!
To continue with the healthy products: have you heard of the Indonesian drink jamu? This orange vitamin booster consists of turmeric, ginger, tamarind, and a little salt and pepper. That is, if you buy the Miss Eka variant. Completely organic and without preservatives. We always love to start the day with this. You can get it at Namaskara Coffee & Superfoods and at Pizza Bagus.
15. Eat the Tastiest Dishes in Special Places
In addition to its artistic character, Ubud is known for its great (organic) restaurants, with both local and Western dishes. And the locations are sometimes to dream of.
Our tip is Sweet Orange Warung, where you have a view over the rice fields while eating. The way there is actually a party in itself. Via the main street, you walk into a side road, and before you know it you walk in a completely green environment.
If you go for the setting, besides Sweet Orange Warung, The Elephant is a vegetarian restaurant where you will not be disappointed. Moreover, you have a beautiful view of the Campuhan Ridge Walk, which we spoke about earlier. The smoothie with mango and tarragon fruit is recommended here.
Are you a coffee lover? Then Anomali Coffee is the place to go. The coffee is super tasty and – no less important – you can relax very well here. In addition, the WiFi is fast, which makes it a nice workplace. The Seniman Coffee Studio is close by, cozy but on the pricey side. If you’re looking for a quieter setting, head to the lesser-known Papilas Coffee House in Jalan Suweta.
Another special place, in our opinion, is 9 Angels. The special thing is that this place works on the basis of good faith. You pay an x amount for each dish (such as egg, beans, rice, and tempeh). It’s up to you to be honest and leave enough money in the bottle after dinner. Furthermore, everyone washes their own dishes here. It is a very nice and pleasantly decorated spot where many yoga practitioners come. And it’s also cheap.
Furthermore, Mama’s Warung is a nice local place to try good traditional Indonesian dishes. The “gado-gado” and the “pepes tuna” are our favorites. Also get to know “Mama” herself, a friendly woman who is always up for a chat.
Then there’s the Sayuri’s Healing Cafe, a mecca for vegans and anyone else who likes vegetables. The salads simply taste excellent.
Do you already know about Masakan Padang? Food from Padang, on the island of Sumatra. You can find these restaurants all over Indonesia and they often have really nice menu items. In the main street of Ubud there’s also such a restaurant, named Sumbar Hidup. Try the “rendang” and the green sambal. Preferably go around 11.30, because they will prepare fresh food around this time.
Do you want to eat chicken soup, or “soto ayam”? Definitely, because it is a typical Indonesian specialty. Our favorite local place is Pak Kumis, which you will find near the big statue in Jalan Raya Ubud.
Right next to it you will also find a local warung where the food is super cheap and very tasty. We are talking about Warung Ali. Be sure to try the “nasi kuning” or rice made with turmeric, ginger, and coconut.
We also want to suggest Warung Sandat. You can find this place in the street of the same name. The owner is a bit peculiar, but when you come there more often she becomes more and more friendly. Keep in mind that you always have to wait for your food here (from 20 minutes up to half an hour), although this is all worth it. The vegetable soup is delicious and we have never eaten a better tuna steak than here. And that for only US$2. Warung Sandat is the best food shop in Ubud center, judged by the price-quality ratio.
Finally, we advise you to eat “soto ikan kepala”. This is a soup with the head of a fish as the main ingredient. This may not sound too tasty, but we found it really surprising. The place to try this is Warung Mak Beng.
One more thing: if you like organic food, go shopping at the Ubud Organic Market, which is held every Wednesday and Saturday at two different locations in the village.
Tips on Accommodation and Transport
To help you get started, in the last section we give several suggestions for accommodation and transport.
Since we have been Ubud several times, we can recommend some very nice guesthouses. They are quiet places with lots of greenery, the smell of incense, and all kinds of beautiful Hindu details, such as small temples.
A homestay that is very nice to stay in is Deko House. Deko and Kadek have three brand new rooms, each with their own balcony. We went there for a few weeks and slept wonderfully.
Right next to it – on the same complex – is the slightly more basic Kamar Suci, also a place where you can relax. We stayed there for 3 weeks. Ayu, the daughter of the owners, is also very nice and helps you with everything. Oh and if you love animals: the dog (Rusko) and cat (Nellie) are super cute.
A plus to the aforementioned homestays is that you are close to both the main street and nature. If you turn right, you will walk to the lively center and if you turn left and walk down the street, you are in the rice fields.
Honestly, it’s not easy to make a bad choice in terms of accommodation in Ubud. The nice thing is that they are usually quite cheap. For US$10 you usually already have a comfortable room. The above homestays are all located in Jalan Sri Wedari, which contains high-quality accommodations. Jalan Suweta, the street that runs parallel to Jalan Sri Wedari, is also a place where you will find nice guesthouses.
A downside – especially Jalan Sri Wedari – is the many roosters that the locals usually have there. They often start crowing in the middle of the night (sometimes as early as 1 a.m.) and can keep you awake. We weren’t bothered by this at Deko House, but certainly at other homestays in Jalan Sri Wedari. That’s why we went to look a little further and found Jerogadung House. And we were happy, because finally no more crowing of roosters.
Finally, it is very relaxed to book an Airbnb just outside the center. We spent two weeks in the middle of the peaceful nature in a lovely bungalow with a swimming pool. Especially if you stay a little longer, you can negotiate the price. Below some pictures of the infinity pools:
From Denpasar airport, it is about an hour and a half drive to Ubud. This can be done with a taxi or scooter. Taxis cost anywhere from 250,000 to 300,000 IDR (maximum US$20). Don’t pay any more! You can also use Gojek or Grab applications. In addition to car taxis, they also offer scooter taxis. For example, we went from the airport to Jalan Raya Ubud (the center) for 89,000 IDR (~ US$6.30).
To protect the local taxi industry, it is hardly possible to order a Grab or Gojek in Ubud. For example, we wanted to take a Grab bike to the airport, but this turned out to be impossible. You will, therefore, need to arrange a shuttle bus, car taxi or motorbike taxi in Ubud. Since “taxi” is constantly called to you, this will not be a problem.
You can rent scooters for 50,000 to 70,000 IDR (maximum US$5) per day. You have a good mountain bike for 30,000 IDR (~ US$2.10) per day.
Coming back to the shuttle buses, this is the cheapest way to travel to other destinations in Bali. Although such a ride sometimes takes longer than you would expect. To get to the airport, one also stops in Sanur and Kuta, depending on which location customers have booked. It is difficult to estimate how long this trip will last. It can be 2 hours or longer.