13 Fun Things to Do in Ubud
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Having gained fame as a setting for the film Eat, Pray, Love; Ubud is recognized by many as Bali’s cultural heart. A flourishing crafts center boasting hundreds of shops and studios selling everything from antique wood carvings to locally-made jewelry, it sits in the cool mountains just an hour north of the island’s airport. Also home to spectacular landscapes and fascinating historic and cultural sights, you’ll find a huge number of things to do in Ubud. The 13 on our list are open daily.
1. Admire Puri Saren Agung Royal Palace
Ubud’s royal palace finds itself right at the heart of town even two centuries after its construction. Free to visit, not only is the site a brilliantly-preserved example of traditional Balinese architecture, but also one set within an amiable setting amid lush gardens that acts as a repository for Balinese arts from literature to dance. The palace’s performing stage, itself ornately decorated with guardian statues, hosts nightly performances by beautifully-dressed dancers and gamelan orchestras — a xylophone-like instrument that is the undisputed sound of the island.
Good to know: The palace has dance performances everyday starting from 7:30 pm. The ticket for the dance performance is priced at IDR 100,000 (roughly USD 7).
Visit the Royal Palace along with other highlights of Ubud on this day tour.
2. Shop till you drop at Ubud Art Market
Just across the street from the royal palace you’ll find another Ubud attraction, its art market, or Pasar Seni. The colorful stalls are a great place to check out locally-produced handicrafts as well as to pick up some souvenirs to take back home, with most of the goods on sale produced in the neighboring villages of Pengosekan, Tegallalang, Payangan and Peliatan. Take your time to get to know the stall holders and you’ll find everything from beautifully-decorated silk scarves and lightweight shirts, to woven hats and baskets by way of wooden-carved statues and even kites.
Good to know: Visit the market early morning when the shops have just opened and the shopkeepers are willing to sell their items at better bargain rates.
3. Marvel at Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Even if you don’t visit nearby Tegallalang village to witness its crafty men and women at work, you should make the short drive north of Ubud to take in the spectacular rice terraces of the village. One of the island’s most sublime landscapes, the terraces are a centuries-old irrigation system set among the area’s green valley slopes and palm forests.
Good to know: A local elder and farmer who owns the land is very welcoming, offering a refreshing green coconut drink and happy to pose for photographs for a small fee. You will often find him by the entrance gate to the rice terrace.
Take a cycling tour around Bali and visit Ubud and the Tegallalang Rice Terrace on this 8 day tour.
4. Play with our primate cousins at Ubud Monkey Forest
Ask a local what to do in Ubud, and they’ll probably point you in the direction of Ubud Monkey Forest, one of several places in Bali known for its population of inquisitive long-tailed macaques. With males sporting fabulous moustaches, and both sexes bearing Mohican-like tufts of fur on the tops of their heads, these grey monkeys are much more photogenic and endearing than their coat color might suggest. Also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal village, this community-led project is a place of scientific research and spirituality, with intricately-carved temples half-engulfed by forest within the grounds.
Good to know: Do not carry water bottles or food items out in the open where it is visible to the monkeys. They are known to snatch such items from the visitors and can get aggressive if confronted.
Go on a day tour to the Sacred Monkey Forest and Tanah Lot temple with this tour.
5. Unearth history at Goa Gajah Elephant Cave
Although you won’t find any elephants at Goa Gajah, the site is still one of the top things to do in Ubud since it is one of the region’s most important and spectacular archaeological sites. Just six kilometers from the center of Ubud, south of Bedulu village, visitors are able to explore temples and a bathing pool as well as the eleventh-century cave richly-decorated with rock-wall carvings inside and out.
Good to know: Adult tickets cost 15,000 rupiah (roughly USD 1).
Opening hours are 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
6. Enjoy a Kecak Dance Performance
There are several places to watch the intricacies of Kecak dance performances unfold around Ubud, but one of the best and most authentic is in the village of Junjungan. A 60-strong chorus of male villagers provide a backdrop of haunting chants while performers tell the stories of the Hindu epic, Ramayana through dance. All 150 families in the village take part in the nightly performances, with proceeds from the 75,000 rupiah (USD 5.50) admission going to the upkeep of the village temple.
Good to know: Junjungan’s Kecak Dance is performed every Monday starting from 6:30 pm.
If you're looking for a solo journey through Bali and Ubud, try this Beautiful Bali tour and enjoy the Kecak dance, a highlight of the tour.
7. Stretch your legs on the Campuhan Ridge Walk
There’s no better way to take in the fresh air of Ubud than by following the path along the free Campuhan Ridge Walk. An easy hike with a metaled path, it enables you to momentarily escape the hustle and bustle of the town center and replace it with the region’s famed undulating hillside vistas. Beginning at Pura Gunung Lebah temple complex by the Campuhan River, it stretches nine kilometers.
Good to know: The best time for the walk is closest to sunrise or sunset when the climate is at its coolest and the views at their most remarkable.
8.Take the plunge at Tengenungan Waterfall
Just 30 minutes from Ubud along roads passing through traditional villages dotted with paddy fields, Tengenungan Waterfall is framed by dense green foliage and boasts an impressive volume of tumbling white water throughout the year. The footpath to the falls from the car park also has impressive panoramic views over the valley and allows visitors to reach the plunge pool at its base for a cooling swim.
Good to know: It costs 10,000 rupiah (or less than one US Dollar*) to visit the falls. The waterfall can get quite crowded so make sure to arrive early.
Take a tour around two of Bali's beautiful waterfalls with this tour.
9. Relax at Pura Taman Saraswati Temple
This beautiful water temple is located in the center of Ubud, off the main Jalan Raya road behind the fittingly-named Café Lotus. The grounds before the temple feature ponds filled with the pink blossom of water lotus, and entering its precincts you’ll instantly forget the hubbub of market stalls and tuktuks you’ve left behind. Instead, embrace the serene simplicity of the temple and its reliefs honoring the Hindu god of knowledge and the arts.
Good to know: Entrance is free, but requires a sash and sarong around the waist like other temples in Bali.
10. Delight in the Bird and Reptile Park
A great family attraction, the Bali Bird and Reptile Park lets visitors stroll around two hectares of fine tropical gardens housing more than 1000 exotic birds from Indonesia and around the world. Several bird species take advantage of the climate to roam free on open tree perches or in the ponds that weave through the park, while the main attraction of the adjoining reptile park is undoubtedly the Komodo dragon, otherwise only found on the tiny Komodo Island.
11. Enjoy a cultured afternoon at Blanco Renaissance Museum
The mighty sculptures that mark the entrance to Blanco Renaissance Museum have become an unofficial landmark and should be on any list of things to do in Ubud. Rising several stories, they are the brainchild of the now-deceased Philippine-born artist Don Antonio Blanco who used them to decorate his home and studio. Located on a hilltop overlooking the serene Campuhan Valley, the museum collection includes paintings, collages and illustrated works of poetry.
Good to know: Admission costs 50,000 rupiahs (USD 4), with guided tours available.
The museum is open everyday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
12. Indulge your sweet tooth at the Pod chocolate factory and cafe
Australian Tony Garritt founded Pod in 2010 as a means of producing chocolate where the raw ingredients are grown. The result are bars that were cocoa pods just a few days before. Using organic and sustainable farming methods, visitors can see for themselves how the chocolate is made, as well as trying out the result in the café. Across the river from Ubud in Carang Sari village, entrance costs 95,000 rupiah (USD 7).
Good to know: You can mould your own elephant shaped chocolates at the factory.
13. Explore art old and new at Agung Rai Museum of Art
The Agung Rai Museum of Art (or ARMA) has sought to both preserve and evolve Balinese art for more than twenty years. The collection of works by Balinese, Indonesian and foreign artists ranges from traditional to contemporary. Among the historic pieces are Kamasan paintings on tree bark, and the only works on the island by Javanese artist Raden Saleh. A special place in the museum is also kept for German artist Walter Spies, who moved to Bali in the 1920s.
Bali’s cultural hub, Ubud is artistic, creative and yet also serene. Things to do in Ubud range from exploring its history and cultural traditions to discovering its natural landscapes and wildlife. All in all, Ubud is not to be missed on any Bali schedule.