What Ubud lacks in sandy beaches and coastlines, it makes up for with green lush valleys, nature adventures, historical sites, an arts district and a groovy shopping scene.
Start your Ubud Bali adventure wandering along the Jalan Raya Ubud main road and be sure to stop along all the side streets you will encounter in search of hidden gems and coffee shops.
Surrounding villages offer adventures of a new kind including cascading rice paddies, sacred water temples, archaeological sites, master painters, woodcarvers and goldsmiths.
Ubud is more than a day trip, it is a place so laid back you could totally stay awhile. From yoga retreats and spas to the mysterious and magical, a trip to Bali is not complete without a visit to Ubud.
Ubud Monkey Forest
The Sacred Monkey Forest is located in the village of Padangtegal, and fun fact; the forest is also owned by this village. There are several points of interest beyond the 700 monkeys who roam the forest including 186 species of trees and several interesting statues to admire.
We learned in advance the monkey’s can bite, and be brats, and since they are wild animals, their behaviour is not surprising.
These critters are smart so if you are brave enough to have food, water or anything of attraction available on your person, you will become a monkey target too.
Since the Monkey Forest is mostly shaded with trees it’s a nice day experience to have as it allows a reprieve from the hot Bali sun.
Spending a day at the Sacred Monkey Forest observing how the monkey’s interact with themselves and tourists is definitely an experience one must have while visiting Ubud.
Do your research before you go, be prepared and always be on alert
Stroll through Tegalalang Rice Fields
The cultural landscape of Bali has been listed as one of Indonesia’s eight unique Unesco World Heritage sites with five rice terraces and their water temples covering 19,500 ha.
The cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, dates back to the 9th century. Tegallalang Rice Fields was created using a subak, the traditional Balinese irrigation system.
This system, according to the Balinese, signifies the connections that exist between the human, spirit and natural worlds.
Tegalalang Rice Fields is one of Bali’s most popular tourist locations and it can get busy, but it’s really more than that.
The ancient valley offers a timeless quality and slightly larger than life experience.
The out skirts of the rice fields provides cafes for a beverage break, restaurants if hungry, art market vendors for souvenirs and is only about a 30 minute drive from Ubud.
The steps taking you down through the fields are steep and one will need to be prepared to make the trek.
Goa Gajah Elephant Caves
Discovered in 1922, Goa Gajah dates back to the 11th century and is known as the elephant temple created as a spiritual place for meditation.
The cave itself is small and your tour through the grounds will not take very long. It is however an archeological attraction showcasing the Hindu temple, statues, ponds and fountains.
When you first arrive you must pass a myriad of vendors trying to sell you their wares and locals acting as tour guides.
A tour guide is not required to explore the grounds and if you pre-purchased sarongs as we suggested in another post, you will not need to buy one here. Best advice, blow right past the vendors, the guides and do your own self guided tour.
Once you have experienced the cave, wander around the pool and follow a narrow path leading deep into the jungle and down a ravine. You will see waferfalls, an ancient forest, caves, giant bamboo trees and additional ruins left in their resting place.
You are required to wear a sarong to enter Goa Gajah
Ubud Art Market
In the heart of Ubud you will find the Ubud market place sure to awaken all your senses and give you the full Balinese cultural experience.
Shopping in this traditional market is not necessarily about the purchase, but more about the bargaining process and careful viewing of unique craftsmanship and artistry of the Balinese people.
The shopping here is very different than what you would find in Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur or any of the other touristy shopping areas. It’s more authentic and it feels more like the real deal as you chat with the vendors about their products.
Here you will find many things like beautiful silk scarves, sarongs and dresses, lightweight shirts, handmade woven bags, baskets or hats; statues, kites, wooden boards, hand painted figurines and many other hand-crafted goods.
Our kids learned the art of bartering and the skills of negotiating and conversing with the locals. This experience is something they will always be able to reflect upon.
Learning to barter is a skill that can take a few times to get right. The vendors are fun to barter with and will typically only drop in price until they can no longer offer a deal. Enjoy the experience!
Go Treasure Hunting
A unique experience for kids of all ages includes Geocaching. We’ve geocached our way through Western Canada for the last 10 years and it never gets old.
Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Treasure hunters (us) navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the hidden geocache or treasure typically found in any size of container hidden at that particular location.
It’s as simple as visiting geocaching.com to create an account and then finding a cache near you.
Some times it involves taking something from the cache (box), mostly when the kids are young as there are small toys you can take if you leave an item behind. Signing the log book and leaving tips or hints online is a fun part of the process.
We totally switch modes when we are geocaching and become quite competitive with each other while trying to find the cache.
Both my boys are involved with Scouts Canada as both a Scout and Leader so finding a cache while in Bali was a high priority.
We successfully found a cache while in Ubud, dropped a trackable and a few Scouts Canada Badges, returned the cache and were on our way to find a new adventure.
Other notable mentions:
Local food experiences we loved: Three Monkeys Cafe Bali, visiting French cafe, Daily Baguette for cheese, bread, and sandwiches, eat with locals and discover Warungs, try local pizza at Umah Pizza, chill out at Atman Cafe, Frozen Yogi – need I say more.
Experiences on our radar for next time Campuhan Ridge Walk, visit the Neka Art Museum or Antonio Blanco Museum, Lotus pond at Saraswati temple and visiting a medicine man.
Enjoyed reading about our trip? See also:
- 15 Experiences to have in Bali
- 5 Things to do in Yogyakarta
- 5 Things to do in Ubud
- Souvenirs You Should Buy in Bali
- Foods to try in Indonesia
- Cooking with Bali Manggang in Indonesia
- Traveling to Bali with Kids
What experience would you like to have in Ubud?