Bali Destination Guide: Ubud Edition

With its iconic landscape of terraced rice paddies, lush, monkey-filled rainforests and awe-inspiring temples, a unique health-orientated gastronomic scene and a rich sense of traditional and culture, Ubud is one hotspot in Bali that you don’t want to miss. Here is a guide on what to do, places to see, where to eat and stay when visiting Ubud!

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Things to do around Ubud:

 

Hike Mount Bahur

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Waking up at 2am to hike up the steep incline of a volcano may not be everybody’s idea of a fun time, but for hiking enthusiasts, climbing Mount Bahur at the crack of dawn is well worth the effort. This hike is very popular, which means even for capable hikers, local rules require you to pay for a tour guide to take you up the top. Tours can be booked through your accommodation or at tourist stands around Ubud and include hotel transfers, breakfast and a guided hike up the mountain.Bali Destination Guide Ubud (41)

 

Take Yoga Classes at the Yoga Barn

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Ubud is a known hotspot amongst those who wear lululemon, live off green smoothies and feel most comfortable in downward dog position. Even if you don’t fit the diehard yogi description, the Yoga Barn is the great place to try a yoga class as they accommodate for all skill levels.

 

Go see the Green Village and School

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Sustainability is cool. A whole village and school based around the concept of sustainability is even cooler. Both Green Village and Green School, predominantly made up of bamboo structures, are a true display of inspirational architecture.  Located about 30 minutes from Ubud, you can book in for a guided tour of Green Village or Green School (keep in mind you can’t actually visit either place without a tour, so make sure you book in advance).

 

Indulge in a spa treatment or three

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It would be criminal to leave Bali without indulging in at least one massage. After all, aren’t cheap massages and cocktails what we go on holiday for? Either head to a local massage parlour and pay around $8 for a one hour full body massage or splurge out at a resort such as the Four Seasons Sayan to get a full luxurious spa treatment.

 

Places to see in Ubud:

 

Tegenungan WaterfallBali Destination Guide Ubud (41)

 

If you’ve seen a waterfall photo from Bali, you’ve probably seen a photo of Tegenungan Falls. As much as this place has become touristy to the core, it still is unbelievably beautiful. Lush, green rainforest frames the gushing falls, and the shady little waterhole spot makes a great place for a refreshing swim (or a really intense shower) and is only a five-minute walk from the carpark.  Try to come early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.

Gunung Kawi Temple

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For a glance into the local culture and spirituality of the Balinese, Gunung Kawi Temple is a fascinating spot to visit. This 11th century temple consists of five different shrines carved into a seven-meter cliff face. The area is surrounded by rice paddies field and rainforest and is a really beautiful place to explore.

Tegalalang rice fields

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If there is one thing Ubud is known for, it would have to be its infinite emerald rice terraces. Whilst you’ll find dazzling rice fields scattered all around the area, Tegalalang does make for a good place to stop and take a photo and see the fields in all their glory.

Ubud Monkey Forest

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Home to the cheekiest monkeys in the world (and no, I’m not referring to the crazy Aussie tourists), the Ubud Monkey Forest is a favourite for those wanting to get up close and personal with these apes. Be warned though- secure all your loose items before coming here. These monkeys like to steal cameras, earrings, water bottles, basically anything they can get their cute little hands on!

 

Where to eat in Ubud:

The Elephant Restaurant and Bar

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With comfy couches overlooking lush paddy fields and a fantastic menu to suit every taste bud, The Elephant is a hidden gem, located away from the main tourist street of Ubud.  We came here for dinner and couldn’t resist coming back for breakfast! The laksa is packed with flavour and the eggs benedict may just be the best on the island.

 

Down to Earth

Bali Destination Guide Seminyak (1)

Down to Earth café and store is a popular chain in Bali, and for good reason. Offering a vast selection of vegetarian/ vegan meals and treats, it is the perfect place to come for your health-food fix. The highlight of the menu for me was the Mediterranean platter- the falafel was impeccable and it came with plenty of tasty sides. The café also offers a wide range of freshly-squeezed juices and a vast cabinet of raw treats.

 

Where to stay in Ubud:

If you are on a budget…

Narendra Guest House

If you are looking for affordable, basic accommodation, I would highly recommend Narendra Guest House. Narendra is fantastic value for money, offering clean, modern rooms and daily breakfast brought to you on your patio. The staff are super helpful and friendly and will assist in booking activities for you. My only warning is not to hire scooters from the place next door that Narendra recommends- the man in charge ripped us off and was extremely rude to us. (It was the only time in a whole month in Bali that I had experienced any of the locals being impolite)Bali Destination Guide Canggu (136)

 

If you want a touch of luxury….

Kamandalu Resort

Nestled amongst lush rice paddy fields and overlooking an infinite expanse of rainforest, the Kamandalu Resort was a tranquil little haven to visit. Located 10-minute taxi ride from the Ubud town centre, the resort felt far removed from all of the touristy hustle and bustle. Situated in a very quiet location, it makes an ideal destination for couples and honeymooners or anyone wanting to escape to a place of utter serenity. Just let me take a moment to emphasize that this resort is very geared towards couples. This proved rather hilarious as I visited the resort with one of my best friends- we were greeted with a candlelit dinner and what turned out to be a ‘couples’ spa experience. This included one very small rose petal bathtub provided for the TWO of us. Let’s just say there were a few fits of hysterical laughter over the awkwardness of the situation!

Bali Destination Guide Ubud (31)Besides the brief awkwardness, our stay at Kamandalu was pretty special. We had two nights in a Pool Villa, which was possibly the most lavish accommodation I’ve ever stayed at. The Villa had a huge garden, complete with a Balinese day bed positioned next to a massive infinity pool overlooking the jungle. The villa itself was extremely spacious, housing a bedroom with a four-poster king-sized bed, a living room complete with a work desk, television and fridge, and a bathroom with a double vanity, freestanding bathtub plus an indoor AND outdoor shower. Seriously, there was SO much room in this place, I wished I could have invited all my friends to come to stay!Bali Destination Guide Ubud (41)Bali Destination Guide Ubud (166) Bali Destination Guide Ubud (145)The resort offered a few different dining options, including two restaurants, room service and a variety of special dining experiences that could be pre-arranged. On our first night we had an in-villa barbecue, where a table surrounded by cute little lanterns was set up in our garden. We had a culinary team came over and served us up a selection of Balinese and Western dishes, including an array of salads and delicious seafood cooked to order! Dinner on our second night may have been slightly less glamorous but was no less enjoyable- I’m talking room service, PJ’s and Netflix. The daily breakfast buffet was also a treat, with the restaurant positioned to overlook the rice paddy fields. The only real disappointment was lunch, which was limited to a poolside cafe that served overpriced, underwhelming Western food.Bali Destination Guide Ubud (60)Bali Destination Guide Ubud (150)

There were lots of activities offered around the resort, including bike riding tours, trekking, yoga classes in a jungleside pavilion and treatments at a luxurious day spa. The highlight of our stay at Kamandalu was going on a local guided tour through the Gunung Kawi Temples, then partaking in a purifying procession at the Sebatu Waterfall. It is so easy to feel removed from local culture when you’re at a westernized resort, so being able to partake in such a rich cultural experience when we were here was really special.Bali Destination Guide Ubud (146)Bali Destination Guide Ubud (92) Bali Destination Guide Ubud (79)

To find more unique places to stay in the area, check out these 7 Best Value Hotels to Relax in Bali.

You can read up on more of my in adventures Ubud here, or check out my destination guide to Canggu, another place you must visit if you are planning a trip to Bali!

N x

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Carly
    April 29, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Loved this post Nicola! Such a great guide – for the last few days I have been googling like crazy trying to find where to stay in Bali so this guide came at the right time! Just wondering, if you had to choose only one, would you recommend Ubud over Canggu or vice versa? Thanks so much for your advice!

    Carly

    • Reply
      polkadotpassport
      April 29, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      Hey Carly! Oh yay I’m so happy it could come in handy! I would probably recommend visiting Ubud over Canggu, particularly if it’s your first visit. Canggu is a cool spot if you are after laid-back, surfy vibes, it’s good for cafes and meeting lots of cool travelers but it’s not as unique or stunning at Ubud. Ubud is such a special place, and there is so much to see and do around the area so that would be my pick- but if you have a chance, spend a bit of time in Canggu as well and also check out Uluwatu for stunning beaches!! Hope that helps xxx

      • Reply
        Carly
        May 2, 2016 at 11:29 am

        Thanks so much Nicola! I really appreciate your advice :) I was leaning towards Ubud, but now I think we’ll have to add a few extra days to visit Canggu and definitely Uluwatu too!! Xxx

  • Reply
    LisaLDN
    April 29, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    I am now feeling incredibly bad, as I’ve been assuming that Bali was ‘just’ another island where People got drunk and pretended to be into yoga.. How wrong was I! That temple and the waterfall looks absolutely stunning! :) Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      polkadotpassport
      April 29, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Don’t worry Lisa, I thought the same thing for a long time! In fact, I almost didn’t want to visit Bali for that very reason. I’m so glad I did get to see another side to the place- you’ll definitely find the drunkards and try-hard yogis, but there is certainly more to Bali & Indonesia then meets the eye!

  • Reply
    Lia Levina
    April 29, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    This makes me really, really miss Bali! There are indeed tons of things to do and explore and indulge ourselves in in Bali. I seriously had a thought in mind to leave everything in where I am right now and move to Ubud. That place offers tempting tranquility and healthy lifestyle that when compared to a city like Jakarta, it simply wins big time. Thank you for writing this post!

  • Reply
    Elle Kirsten
    April 29, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Absolutely love this post Nicole! I actually have flights booked to Bali in July and am just about to start planning where I’m going to stay/what I’m going to do, so this post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been dreaming of the Mt Batur hike FOREVER and wondered if you could advise me on the company that you went with?

    Can’t wait to see what’s next for you!
    xx Elle

  • Reply
    Pauline
    April 30, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    I love your blog so bad <3 it makes me want to travel even more :D but I have 2 more years of School to go… after that I want to make work&travel in Australia. Do you recommend flying to Bali bevore heading back home? Is it safe to stay in Bali solo?
    Love from Germany :*
    Paulie <3

  • Reply
    Becki
    May 2, 2016 at 1:16 am

    I’ve just booked a spontaneous trip to Bali so this post couldn’t have come at a better time… Ubud is definitely high on the list as well as fitting in some beach time. Can’t wait!

  • Reply
    Ella @ Wide-Eyed Wanderer
    May 3, 2016 at 5:08 am

    You’ve really sold me on visiting Bali at some point. I first heard of the place through Eat, Pray, Love but never really knew what the appeal was. Bali is not close to my country and many people don’t travel there from here. But this post has definitely convinced me that I should make a visit sometime and experience this place. Great photos and info! :)

  • Reply
    Rachel Gault (@rachelgault)
    May 3, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Wow, this looks amazing! I’d love to visit Bali!

    http://smalltownsandcitylights.com

  • Reply
    cerisedg
    May 4, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Love this post! Im currently planning a trip to Bali so this helps a lot :-)

  • Reply
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    May 8, 2016 at 7:28 am

    […] Ubud travel guide. […]

  • Reply
    the travelogue (by Anna & Vanessa)
    May 31, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Thanks for all the information, really helpful! We would love to visit Bali and Ubud someday. Seems to be an incredible experience <3
    xx Anna & Vanessa

  • Reply
    Delphine - Bons Baisers de
    June 12, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Beautiful pictures !

  • Reply
    pallaviwashivale
    July 19, 2016 at 5:48 am

    you make me wanna go to Bali sooner than I planned <3

    • Reply
      polkadotpassport
      July 23, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Yay do it! I definitely enjoyed Bali more than I expected to :)

  • Reply
    Jhon jaka
    August 4, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Island full of beauty

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  • Reply
    Taylor G Dangerman
    November 3, 2016 at 2:58 am

    My roommate & I are going to Bali in February and we will be staying in Ubud, we can not wait, reading your post just confirms we made the right choice. We have rented a Villa for the week!

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  • Reply
    StephanieA
    November 12, 2016 at 1:41 am

    I loved Bali. I only had about two to three weeks for Bali and the Gili’s. Sadly I did not hike Mount Bahur :( and I still regret it. But maybe next time I visit Bali :)

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