Things To Do In Ubud, Bali
1) Stay Outside Of Ubud Town
Ubud is pretty much crammed with tourists from all over the world and the town centre is full of people and traffic so if you can it’s best to find somewhere to stay outside of town.
We found ourselves a villa in the Penestanan area which lies about 4km from the main town but is a world away from the hustle and bustle.
The area has its own share of restaurants and cafes on a smaller scale but if you want to get into the main town it’s a delightful walk .
The nice thing about the area is not only the relative quiet but all of the paths that criss cross the rice fields and hidden areas to explore.
There’s a supermarket near the area for any grocery needs and some really nice places to eat which we’ll talk about later in the post.
2) Walk The Campuhan Ridge Trail
Just outside of Ubud town centre along the main road you’ll find the start of the Campuhan Ridge walk that winds its way up to a ridge with lush green valleys either side.
It’s an easy trail to follow but quite exposed to the sun on a hot day.
The start point is along the driveway to the Warwick Ibah luxury villas where you’ll see a small sign reading, This Way Trekking Campuhan Ridge.
Follow this and cross the river to get on the trail.
The pathway meanders up the hill and once on top of the ridge you’ll have great views of the surrounding countryside.
If you continue on along the ridge you’ll get to a small settlement where you can grab some refreshments.
The walk isn’t circular so at some point you’ll have to retrace your step back to town.
3) Monkey Forest
Love it or hate it, Monkey Forest is one of Ubud’s most popular attractions.
Not far from the centre of town you’ll find the entrance to the Monkey Forest with it’s population of wild monkeys and lovely forest.
You can read more about our every unpleasant experience of monkey forest with Sue getting bitten by a monkey, here.
Don’t let us put you off though as many people visit the forest without any negative experience at all.
4) Tirta Empul Water Temple
We hired a car with driver and headed out of Ubud to visit Tirta Empul Water Temple.
This is where Hindu’s come to bath in the holy and healing waters.
It’s a pretty temple but we found that there wasn’t much to see unless you want to have a bath in the waters yourself.
5) Watch A Cremation Procession
This may sound grisly but we saw a few cremation processions and ceremonies while we were in Ubud.
It’s not a solemn affair at all but a more upbeat vibe with musicians and brightly coloured traditional dress worn by both men and women.
We were there when the King of Ubud’s sone was cremated and there was huge procession through the centre of town with thousands of people taking part.
The coffin is carried in an ornamental sarcophagus on top of a wooden structure carried by the men.
The procession leads to the cremation site at the far end of town where the coffin in put into a huge structure ( in the case of the royal cremation it was a huge golden bull )and set light to.
This was by far the most traditional thing we saw while in Ubud.
6) Take A Meditation Course
Ubud is the spiritual centre of Bali and hundreds of courses in meditation and yoga are available but most of them are very expensive.
But if you’re staying in Penestanan there is a meditation centre right at the end of the village that runs free courses.
Yes that’s right free!!
We signed up for a 3 week course that all three of us could attend for beginners.
It was a small group but we loved our time there and the teacher was great, leading us through guided meditations.
7) Eat Delicious Food
Bali and especially Ubud is known for its healthy and vegetarian food with some wonderful restaurants.
We didn’t find food inexpensive though.
We’d come from Malaysia where food is very cheap so Bali was expensive in comparison but it’s pretty good.
We ate regularly at a few different places including…..
A lovely relaxed vegetarian cafe with views in the Penestanan area.
Not cheap but we really liked the food, drinks and ambiance of the Yellow Flower.
They make some fantastic wholesome smoothies. I think our favourite was banana and chocolate.
Everything is fresh and healthy and prepared on site by the wonderful staff.
It’s such a nice place to just hang out and while away a couple of hours.
We often went there for a late breakfast or a couple of times we went for their brilliant Sunday buffet.
It gets busy here so you may have to wait for a table or go at a less busy time.
This warung in Penestanan is very cheap but not the best food in the world.
It has simple dishes of club sandwiches, noodle soups, burgers, pasta dishes etc
Annabel loved the Jaffle which is a cheese , banana and chocolate toasted sandwich.
The staff are great and very friendly.
Hidden in the back lanes of Penestanan is the lovely Lucy Lu’s restaurant.
I loved the Sweet and Sour Chicken here and the curries were wonderful too.
It’s not the cheapest place at all but the food is fantastic and well presented banana leaves.
8) Climb Mount Batur Volcano
In the North Eastern corner of Bali lies Mt Batur, one of the many volcanoes that dot the landscape of the Indonesian islands.
We organised a trip to trek up Mt Batur with a couple of other families we knew in Bali.
Normally the trip will leave Ubud at around 2am and get you to the volcano to start your climb to the top for sunrise.
We loved this trip and although the start is very early and the climb is quite tough, the views are stunning of the surrounding landscape.
You can read more about our experience of trekking Mt Batur here.
9) Visit The Library
Most visitors wont be aware that Ubud has a library in the town centre.
It’s a relatively small library but if you’re staying in Ubud any length of time and you love books then it’s great value.
Most of the books are quite worn as they are second hand from travelled passing through but it’s better than buying new.
The library also has workshops and courses held there either put on by the library itself or groups using the facility.
10) Walk Through The Rice Fields
If you leave the Penestanan area and continue to walk then you’ll head out in to rural Bali countryside with lovely walks among the rice fields with views of volcanoes in the distance and local farmers tending their rice crops.
It feels a much more authentic way of experiencing real Bali without all the motorcycle fumes, tourists and noise.
Either early in the morning or in the evening is the best time to walk when it’s cooler but also more atmospheric.