Beautiful Ubud. You know how much I love it. In my previous article on 3 Reasons Why To Choose a Villa In Ubud, I described that after living there and visiting more than 15 times in my last 5 years of nomadic travel, it became like a second home. A second home that I would love to share with you. So let me attempt to get out all my wealth of knowledge on the jungle heaven part of the island of Bali.
Getting To Ubud
Bali has 1 airport – “Ngurah Rai” located south of Kuta. It went through a recent renovation and is actually a very big and beautiful airport.
From the airport, you can take a fixed-price taxi to Ubud or you can arrange a driver ahead of time to collect you. A driver will cost about 300,000 rupiahs (approximately AUD$30). The journey will take around 1.5 hours depending on traffic. Drivers can be found anywhere from TripAdvisor reviews to Bali Facebook forums or simply ask the Owner of your villa to organise his, most villas have them.
Getting Around Ubud
The traffic in Bali is bad, but scooters can get around much faster and easier than joining the throng of cars making their way across the island. They are also much easier to park, especially in the small centre of Ubud.
You can hire a scooter for around 600,000 rupiah per month (AUD$60) or around 50,000 rupiah per day (AUD$5). Helmets are included with the scooters; it is a legal requirement that the driver wears one. Usually, there’s no paperwork or deposits so don’t get stressed when they just hand over the bike.
Filling up petrol (gasoline) is easy – look for small shops selling fuel in glass Vodka bottles. These usually cost around 15,000 (AUD$1.50) for a large bottle – enough to fill up a scooter tank. Simply pay the shopkeeper and they will do the filling up for you.
Most Australian’s don’t carry an international license with them when driving, however, it will help if you’re pulled over by the police. No international license? Most police will accept a small bribe – around 50,000 rupiah (AUD$5). Just be sure not to flash all your cash in your wallet, as that bribe will triple. My best advice is to keep a 50k note separate in your pocket or bra so it’s easy to reach as the “only money” you have. I do not recommend bribing the police, but if they ask you – you’ve been warned.
Ubud does not have any regular metered taxis and in fact, is run by a very strict mafia. You’ll constantly see signs demanding the prohibition of Uber and the like. Nearly every Balinese is a taxi. You’ll usually see them standing on the side of the street either calling out or holding a small sign. A journey into and out of town (from the outskirts) will usually cost about 50,000 rupiah one way (AUD$5). They will always ask for more so make sure you use those awesome bartering skills before getting in.
Where To Stay In Ubud
What Language Do They Speak In Ubud?
The official language is Balinese and Bahasa Indonesian, but you should have no trouble speaking in English.
What Money Do They Use In Ubud?
The official currency is Indonesian Rupiah. At the time of this article, $1 Australian dollar roughly equates to 10,000 rupiah. Some businesses charge in USD, but this is largely frowned upon and slowly being fazed out.
I’ve never had any problems using an ATM, but your bank may charge quite a high fee and most ATMs only release between $200 – $300. Some banks offer no-charge ATMs so check that out.
When changing money, it is better to use an airconditioned indoor dealer. Be careful when dealing with scrupulous street money exchangers. Always count your money before walking away and check the exchange rate on your own calculator (not there’s!).
Finally, I do use my credit card at supermarkets and restaurants without issue. As always let your bank know and check your receipts when you get home.
22 Things To Do In Ubud
You’ve come to Ubud for rest and relaxation and you are bound to get that. But, if you are after more you will find more too. Here are my favourite things to do in Ubud.
Tegallalang Rice Terrace – Only a 20-minute ride from our Ubud Villa was is these stunning and simple rice terraces. I’d heard about this place a thousand times. I’d seen hundreds of pictures. And now I’ve finally seen it for myself. The Tegallalang rice terraces offer a scenic outlook that spreads down before you and away to the rice paddies on the slopes across the valley. Incredible photo location.
Bali Swing – Looking for more photogenic locations and not afraid of heights? Bali Swing has five single swings (5m, 10m, 15m, 20m, and 78m!), a tandem swing, and two cute nests overlooking the valley with amazing views of the canyon and waterfall. It’s pricey, but the price includes open bar and a buffet! You can also find a similar swing at Zen Hideaway. Here the swing hangs between coconut trees, high atop a hill overlooking the Ayung River, a mini waterfall, rice fields and Mount Agung. You’ll also find one at Luwak Coffee Plantation.
Yoga – Ubud is the spiritual hub of Bali, so you will find plenty of yoga and spiritual healing classes. My favourite class was in the Yoga Barn. About 120,000 rupiah (AUD$12) per session.
Massages – So cheap in Bali! On average you can get a 1-hour Balinese massage for 80,000 rupiah ($8 AUD), a pedicure for 70,000 rupiah ($7 AUD) and young girls can get their toes painted for around 30,000 ($3 AUD). Of course, you can find places for more or less. My favourites are Sedona Spa (near Bintang supermarket) and Rembulan Spa (1st spa on Hanoman Rd). Or visit a complete wellness retreat, like this one.
Bali Quad – I have done this several times and cannot get enough of it. Canyon Tubing with the team at Bali Quad is one my absolute favourite things to do in Ubud. You take a four-wheeler down into the canyon, hope in a tube and spend the next two hours serenely floating down the river taking in the luscious tropical rainforest. Oh, did I say serenely? Well, except for all those white rapids in between.
Paradiso Cinema – This small movie theatre in the middle of town is the world’s first organic vegetarian cinema. Tickets are 50,000 rupiah (AUD$5) per adult and the kids a little cheaper, but the bonus is whatever you spent on tickets you receive a voucher for your food bill. The cinema is equipped with lounges, cold air-conditioning, and food that gets delivered right to your seat.
Monkey Forest – A must visit, despite the hostile nature of the monkeys. The Forest is a beautiful walk and the recent upgrade makes parking and entry really easy. You can buy bananas to feed them and get that classic picture, but beware… If they are sitting on you eating, they are likely also to pee.
Reuse Centre –This one if for the kids. But it gives you time to go get that massage 😉 The lady who started the Reuse Centre use to work for Google and is passionate about recycled crafts. You can drop your children off for an hour, or stay with them and create anything you like using all the amazing recycled craft items. The staff is happy to help with ideas.
KidsWorld – Another one for the kids and to give you a small break. Nothing beats trampolines and inflatable bouncy castles. Have your kids bring along a swimsuit because outside is a fun-sized swimming pool with mini waterslide.
The Campuhan Ridge walk – Also known as the Tjampuhan hike crosses along a high ridge in Ubud so that you can see for miles and miles. Take in the temples and rice paddies, but make sure you bring lots of water. The Campuhan Ridge Walk spans approximately nine kilometres, passing over the Sungai Wos River. On clear mornings you might spot the breathtaking backdrop of Mount Agung.
Temples – There are several temples you can tour in and around Ubud. Tirta Empul temple with its freshwater pools, lines with over a dozen water fountains under which pilgrims seek spiritual purification. Or Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave which dates back to the 11 Century. Or right in the middle of Ubud, you can find Pura Taman Saraswati which boasts Balinese architecture and is surrounded by delightful lotus pools. You can head to Café Lotus for some of the best views of this temps and to catch the traditional Balinese dance performances.
Legong Dance – As mentioned above the Café Lotus is a good place to catch the traditional Balinese dance or you may like to head to the Ubud Palace. Every day at 7:30 pm there is a traditional Balinese folk dance featuring young women wearing colourful clothing and elaborate headdress. The dance tells the story of the King of Lasem and his failed attempts at wooing a princess from a rival kingdom through mesmerizing finger movements, complex footwork, and expressive gestures. Note: they may choose other dances too so check you are watching Legong that night.
Feast – Whether you are looking for the best Mexican in the world or a romantic night out Ubud will tickle your taste buds. Check out our Where To Eat post for more information on my favourite restaurants.
Stay – Don’t just come to Ubud for a day trip. Those tourists witness nothing, but the busy streets of the city. I recommend finding a villa and spending time on the outskirts, as much as you do in the centre. You can read more here.
Pedal Downhill – 3 hours of cycling may sound like a trial in the humid Bali sun, but this three hours flew by. And there was hardly any pedaling as the majority of the journey is downhill. You can start with breakfast overlooking the volcano before starting the 26km journey through rice fields, around a 500-year-old banyan tree and stopping to visit a family compound. It’s a great way to see Bali and learn more about the culture.
Take a ride on the scooter – The streets of Ubud are perfect for scooter riding. You barely go over 40km with the winding roads. And the scenery is incredible. Just meander down the streets or head off down a small concrete path like those in Penestanan to stumble on unique restaurants and delightful rice paddies. Scooter will set you back about 50,000 rupiah ($5AUD) a day, including a helmet.
Tegenungan Waterfall – After all those rice paddy photos you’re going to want to add a waterfall to your collection. I don’t recommend going for a swim in the dirty water, but if you adore chasing waterfalls then this one is for you.
Develop your cooking skills – Another one of the best things to do in Ubud. Balinese food is delicious and learning how to make it is a treat that keeps on giving long after your vacation ends? My best friend and I got our cooking skills on with Puspa at the Paon Bali Cooking Class. Morning classes will include a market visit to identify and buy the ingredients. The best part is after all that cooking, you get to sit down at a traditional Balinese dining setting and eat.
Catch a festival – It was by pure luck that we were riding our scooter through the back roads, just enjoying the scenery when we soon realised we needed to pull over. Before us throngs of people were marching down the street, dressed in their finest ritual outfits. Locals on the side of the road bowed in prayer and also admiring the progression. You probably won’t be able to make this happen, but if you stumble on it, it’s a beautiful and spiritual sight.
Shopping at Ubud market – Even if you are not after a wooden penis bottle opener the market is an experience in itself and one of the things to do in Ubud. You can people watch as tourists and locals barter and trade. Go early in the morning to see the locals buying food or later in the afternoon to collect your tourist souvenirs.
Animal café loving – Love animals? Ubud is taking a leaf from the Japanese café scene and have started a whole host of animal cafes. The Maha Restaurant brings you up close and personal with fluffy white bunny rabbits while Cat Café opposite Taco Case has you dining with fat, lazy cats.
Tour the Green Village – The last of our things to do in Ubud. After our visit to the eco-friendly resort in West Bali, this place sparked my interest. It’s an amazing bamboo village set along the Ayung River. Great for photos and to witness a truly unique eco-friendly environment.
Explore With Erin Wrap Up
There is so much more to do in Ubud then just these 22. These just happen to be my favourite so far, but I am sure the list will continue to evolve and grow. Until then let me know if I missed any of your favourites? What do you love to do when in Ubud?
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