Ubud is a melting pot of culture in Bali and our favorite place to visit on the island (though Uluwatu is a close second). Its central location makes it a great jumping off point for wherever your wandering heart desires to go. This gem is home to a wide variety of culinary delights ranging from local cafes and warungs to resort style restaurants. Take a walk around the streets of Ubud and you will find hundreds of shops and large street bazaars, many selling goods from the region’s artisans (good time to practice your bargaining skills!). Take some of the back alleys and you will find gardens, rice fields, and swimming ducks. As we discovered on Lonely Planet before we arrived, “there’s somewhere to stay for every budget, and no matter what the price you can enjoy lodgings that reflect the local Zeitgeist: artful, creative and serene”.
We found that the cheapest and most convenient way to get to Ubud from the Denpasar area was hiring an Uber or Grab (local Uber). It is a quick hour and 15-minute drive from the airport and will cost you around 90-130k IDR. Local taxis and other shuttle services will try to charge upwards of 300-500k+ IDR to make the short journey into Bali’s central, cultural hub.
Ubud’s reputation continues to blossom, one because it is so awesome and two due to all the hype generated by Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love. Traffic in the cities center can be a bit chaotic, but it is easy enough to walk around that you don’t really need a motorbike or taxi unless you are staying outside of town.
We recommend anyone visiting Bali to spend at least a few days in this beautiful cultural intersection, although days can quickly turn into weeks here.
Recommendations for Ubud, Bali:
Lodging in Ubud
There are many great Airbnb options from around $30 US per night (sleeps 4). New to Airbnb? Get $33 off your first booking on us. If you’re like us and want a little bit of peace and quiet, stay a few miles outside of Ubud and rent scooters to get to and from the village (30-60k IDR per day). We stayed two nights at a cozy, bright two-story villa with a friendly, peaceful atmosphere and delightful (and very deep!) swimming pool.
Of course, if you are looking to spend a little less per night there are many great hostel options to choose from. We recommend staying at Puji Bungalows which offers a great social atmosphere perfect for meeting new travel companions. We were lucky enough to meet an adventurous couple who are traveling the world together for a year and we spent the next few weeks traveling the Gili Islands and Uluwatu with them.
Restaurants in Ubud
Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka #3 (a must for Anthony Bourdain fans keen on devouring some top-notch suckling pig), Umah Pizza (best bargain we found for great pizza and pasta), Spice by Chris Salans (amazing cocktails and friendly service), Nomad (great for happy hour, buy one get one deal on tasty dragon fruit mojitos), Sari Organik (healthy food at a good price).
Day to Day Exploring
Day 1: Spend the day walking around Ubud getting familiar with the area, the people, and settling into your villa/hostel. There are numerous streets, great local cafes, western restaurants, lots of shopping, outdoor markets, off the beaten path back alleys and so much more. Just spend some time meandering and you’re sure to find plenty that you like.
Day 2: Visit the Ubud Monkey Forest. For 50,000 IDR you can spend the afternoon walking through a beautiful jungle filled with playful monkeys. They are super friendly – if you adhere to the guidelines that are clearly marked when you enter the forest (common sense stuff like not trying to pet the monkeys or chasing them when they steal your stuff). Don’t take any food in with you or they will attempt to dig it out of your bag. TJ even got groomed by an especially playful one who thought he’d find a buffet in his hair.
Day 3: Rent a car for the day and visit the Tegalalang Rice Terraces. Pro tip – make a stop at the Luwak coffee plantation on the way to the terraces for the world renowned Luwak coffee (also known as “Cat-poop-ccino” as the beans are processed by a Luwak who can only digest the berry and leaves the seeds behind!). The best part is that you get to try 12 different flavors of coffee and tea for free (however, a cup of the Luwak brew will cost 50k IDR)! After you trek through the rice terraces you will want to cool off, so hop in the car and head over to swim at one of the awesome Kanto Lampo or Tegenungan waterfalls.
Day 4: Rent bicycles and cruise around Ubud to all the temples. Pro tip – If you are looking for a truly authentic Balinese experience, then rise with the sun and check out the Ubud morning market. There are two big markets in Ubud, one for tourists and one for locals. The catch is, you must get there early before the sun rises to truly get the local experience, as most of the locals have finished their shopping by 9am (market opens at 4am and the majority of the restaurants get their food from here) and the market turns into more of a tourist destination.
Next stop, head on over to the Gili Islands and Lombok!
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