Lush greenery, landscaped gardens, stunning scenery, temples, outdoor water pools, monkeys, elephants, elegant cuisine - these are just some of the many truly amazing things that can be found in Ubud. Ubud is an Indonesian town on the island of Bali. It is one of the more well known tourist spots, perched high on the slopes of the island’s central mountains. Though visiting Ubud is an entirely different experience from visiting the south Bali tourist resort of Seminyak. Here you will find elements of the Balinese culture every which way you turn.
Located among rice paddies and the foothills of the mountain, Ubud has an interesting geography: forests filled with monkeys and greenery that seems to spring up all around. The town became prominent because of its source of medicinal herbs and plants. The name Ubad actually comes from the Balinese word for medicine, ubad. Tourism in Ubud boomed after the arrival of the famous German painter, Walter Spies who, along with other painters entertained famous celebrities during their stay in the region. The area today is regarded as the cultural centre and arts and crafts hub of Bali.
Where to Stay
Ubad has a wide range of places to stay. From world class resorts to family run guest houses and bed and breakfasts or self-catering accommodation all to yourself. There is a wealth of choice when it comes to where to stay in Ubud. Whether you want to make the most of the surroundings and stay somewhere amongst the lush tropical forest or you’re more drawn to a modern build complete with private pool, there is something for everything in this region.
Things to see and do
There are many ways to get immersed in the culture of Ubud. With music and dance shows, various courses for visitors, cuisine sampling, spa days and tours of the island you will be spoilt for choice. The Ubud Monkey Forest is a ‘sacred’ nature reserve with a temple and gardens, housing approximately 340 Crab-eating monkeys. Traipsing through the forest with monkeys all around has a distinctly Indiana Jones feel to it. As well as monkey’s there are also some magnificent archaeological and other sites to be found. There are several art museums in Ubud: Museum Puri Lukisan and Neka Art Museum both house an impressive collection of Balinese art, labeled in English and the Agung Rai Museum of Art is the only place in Bali to see the influential works by artist Walter Spies. There are also several natural parks and gardens, such as Petulu which houses several unusual and interesting species of bird. The Ubud Botanic Garden encompasses 6 acres of green expanse with local species of plants such as orchids and vanilla. If you’re interested in the temples here, Pura Taman Saraswati temple, just west of Ubud is a good one to visit surrounded by beautiful gardens and lotus flowers. If spending the day chilling in beautiful gardens, getting pampered in a spa or relaxing by your villa pool seems just a bit too passive, you can always get a bit more involved with one of the many courses on offer. Casa Luna Cooking School offers regular cooking classes, where you can learn how to make the delicious Balinese cuisine of the island.
As Bali is best known for its arts and crafts, shopping in the region tends to be dominated by carved homemade items such as homeware and furnishings. As such, Ubud is a great place to pick up some authentic decor for your place back at home, or as a great souvenir gift. Sarasar is an arts and craft store, selling handcrafted Balinese masks, made by mastercraftsman, Wakjaka. You can also find several shops around the region specialising in clothes and accessories, from traditional pieces to modern ethnic finds.
Indonesian cuisine is fragrant, flavoursome experience. Traditional dishes include chicken satay, rice, bamboo skewers and prawn rolls. Dishes are infused with spices like lemongrass. Notable restaurants around the area include Nasi Ayam Kedewatan, an open air restaurant high in the mountains, Mozaic, where French fusion meets Indonesian in a world-class combination, Three Monkeys, a fusion of Asian classics with an ambient atmosphere, Sopa serving vegetarian food with a distinctly Balinese twist, and Warung Teges best known for its delicious suckling pig.
Getting around Ubud is mostly done on foot, especially in the central part, but to venture further you will either need to invest in a rented vehicle or some description or hire a bike, be it pedal or motor. Bemo is also a great way to get around as they serve most of the area, but be warned: they stop running in the late afternoon. You can also get around by shuttle bus, by far the cheapest mode of transport. You can often actually hire these shuttle bus services through your host - a great way to get from your villa to all the best sites.