At the heart of Bali’s enchantment is Ubud, a town that embodies the island’s essence. It is a must-visit in Bali – but what are the best things to do exploring Ubud? Learn more in this article.
Ubud – the cultural centre of Bali – and so much more
Nestled amidst lush rainforests and terraced rice paddies, Ubud is renowned for its vibrant arts scene, deep-rooted spirituality, and cultural richness. It’s not just a place; it’s an experience that transcends the boundaries of time and space. Ubud has long been a magnet for artists, writers, and seekers of inner peace. It’s where traditional Balinese culture thrives, where you can immerse yourself in the intricate rhythms of daily life and connect with the island’s spiritual core.
Also, Ubud is famous for amazing jungle spas and yoga retreats. And the amazing nature around, that offers all kinds of activities.
Ubud: Things to do
Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, is a place where the island’s rich heritage and traditions come to life. As you wander through its picturesque streets and lush landscapes, you’ll discover the essence of Balinese culture, steeped in history and vibrant artistic expression.
1. Discover Ubud’s History and Cultural Importance
Ubud’s significance traces its roots back to the 8th century when it served as a pivotal center for trade, agriculture, and intellectual pursuits. It gained prominence as a hub for the arts, scholarship, and spirituality. Today, Ubud remains a sanctuary where ancient customs are preserved, and the island’s cultural legacy thrives.
2. Immerse in the Vibrant Arts Scene
One of the most remarkable aspects of Ubud is its thriving arts scene. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find evidence of creativity and artistic expression. The town’s unique setting amidst natural beauty has inspired generations of painters, sculptors, writers, and musicians. The combination of Balinese traditional arts and the influence of Western ideas has given rise to a dynamic and eclectic artistic community.
3. See traditional Dance and Music Performances
To truly immerse yourself in Balinese culture, attending traditional dance and music performances is a must. Ubud offers a plethora of opportunities to witness these captivating displays of artistry.
From the intricate movements of the Barong dance to the hypnotic sounds of the gamelan orchestra, these performances provide a window into the island’s mythology, spirituality, and storytelling traditions.
4. Join Craft Workshops
Ubud’s streets are lined with art galleries showcasing a diverse range of works by local and international artists. Whether you’re interested in traditional Balinese paintings, contemporary art, or intricate wood carvings, you’ll find it here. Many galleries also offer a chance to meet the artists and gain insights into their creative processes.
For those eager to try their hand at creating art, Ubud boasts numerous craft workshops. Whether it’s batik painting, traditional Balinese dance, or silversmithing, these workshops offer immersive experiences where you can learn from skilled artisans and create your own unique piece of Balinese art.
Exploring Ubud’s Lush Natural Beauty
While Ubud is renowned for its cultural and artistic offerings, it’s also a sanctuary of natural beauty. From tranquil rice terraces to pristine waterfalls and lush jungle treks, the town and its surroundings offer a wealth of outdoor experiences for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
5. Tegallalang Rice Terraces: A Photography Hotspot
Located just a short drive from central Ubud, the Tegallalang Rice Terraces are perhaps the most famous in Bali. The dramatic terraces draw photographers from around the world, especially during sunrise and sunset when the golden light casts enchanting shadows across the fields. It’s not only a place to capture stunning photos but also to appreciate the labor-intensive farming practices that have sustained Balinese communities for generations.
6. Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
For a different kind of natural encounter, head to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in the heart of Ubud. This lush, protected forest is home to hundreds of playful long-tailed macaques. As you stroll through the shaded pathways, you’ll witness the monkeys’ antics and the ancient temples nestled among the trees. It’s a unique blend of nature, culture, and wildlife conservation, offering a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.
7. Ubud’s Beautiful Waterfalls
The region surrounding Ubud is dotted with stunning waterfalls, each with its own distinct charm. Tegenungan Waterfall, with its powerful cascade and lush green surroundings, is a popular choice for visitors seeking a refreshing dip. Others, like Tukad Cepung Waterfall and Gitgit Waterfall, require a bit of a trek through the jungle, adding an adventurous twist to your waterfall exploration.
8. Campuhan Ridge Walk: A Trek Through Nature
For those who enjoy hiking, the Campuhan Ridge Walk offers a gentle trek through Ubud’s natural beauty. The trail follows the Campuhan River and offers breathtaking views of lush valleys and rolling hills. It’s an excellent way to escape the bustle of central Ubud while still staying close to town. The walk is particularly enchanting during sunrise and sunset when the scenery is bathed in soft, golden light.
In Ubud, nature enthusiasts will find a paradise waiting to be explored. From the serene rice terraces to the playful monkeys, hidden waterfalls, and scenic treks, the town and its surroundings offer a diverse array of natural wonders that will leave you in awe of Bali’s breathtaking landscapes. Whether you’re seeking tranquility or adventure, Ubud’s natural beauty beckons you to immerse yourself in the wonders of the island.
Ubud’s Role as a Spiritual Hub
Ubud has long been revered as a spiritual hub, drawing seekers, practitioners, and curious travelers from all over the world. Nestled amidst the lush jungles and rice terraces, this town exudes an energy of tranquility and spirituality. It’s a place where ancient Balinese traditions meet modern wellness practices, creating a unique and transformative spiritual experience.
9. Visiting Ancient Temples
A visit to Ubud would be incomplete without exploring its ancient temples. These sacred sites are not only architectural marvels but also repositories of spiritual wisdom. Among the must-visit temples are:
- Pura Taman Saraswati: Known for its beautiful lotus pond, this temple is dedicated to the goddess of knowledge and the arts, Saraswati. It’s a serene place for quiet contemplation.
- Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave): This archaeological site features a cave adorned with intricate stone carvings, meditation chambers, and bathing pools. It’s a place of historical and spiritual significance.
- Pura Gunung Kawi: These massive rock-cut shrines are surrounded by lush green rice terraces. It’s a serene place for meditation and reflection.
- Pura Tirta Empul: Famous for its holy spring water, this temple offers a unique opportunity for a purifying ritual known as “melukat.”
10. Experiencing Yoga and Meditation
Ubud is a haven for yoga and meditation enthusiasts. Numerous studios, retreat centers, and experienced instructors offer a wide range of classes and retreats catering to practitioners of all levels.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi, you can find a practice that resonates with you. Practicing yoga and meditation in Ubud’s tranquil surroundings allows you to tap into the island’s spiritual energy and find inner peace.
11. Ecstatic Dance at the Yoga Barn
The Yoga Barn is something like an institution for international expats and digital nomads. while it is far away from being an authentic Balinese place, this center for all kinds of practices is a popular place for people all over the world that want to dive into practices for the mind and body. One famous way of arriving in Bali is to join the ecstatic dance and just vibe with everyone!
12. Exploring Holistic Healing and Wellness Centers
In Ubud, holistic healing and wellness are not just trends; they are a way of life. The town is home to a plethora of wellness centers, spas, and holistic healing practitioners. Whether you’re seeking traditional Balinese healing therapies like Balinese massage or exploring alternative therapies like acupuncture, sound healing, or energy work, Ubud provides a nurturing environment for your well-being journey.
Some wellness centers also offer wellness retreats, detox programs, and transformative workshops. These experiences allow you to reconnect with yourself, find balance, and gain a deeper understanding of holistic health practices.
Ubud’s role as a spiritual hub is deeply rooted in its cultural heritage and natural surroundings. Whether you’re exploring ancient temples, practicing yoga and meditation, or indulging in holistic healing, Ubud invites you to embrace the spiritual essence of Bali. It’s a place where you can nourish your body, mind, and soul, and embark on a profound journey of self-discovery and inner peace.
13. Consult a Balinese spiritual healer
Meeting with a Balian, a balinese spritual healer is on the list of many people visiting the island. Ubud is a great place to do so, as here and around the area many Balian are at home. If you are interested in meeting with a Balinese spiritual healer, read this or contact us for an organized consultation.
Food and Dining – Enjoy the diverse cuisine of Ubud
Ubud’s culinary landscape is a melting pot of flavors, drawing inspiration from Balinese, Indonesian, and international cuisines. From humble warungs (local eateries) to upscale restaurants, you’ll find a wide array of dining options to suit every palate and budget.
14. Traditional Balinese Cuisine
Exploring Balinese cuisine is a must when in Ubud. Sample dishes like Nasi Campur (mixed rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles), and Ayam Betutu (stuffed chicken). Don’t forget to try Balinese satay and sambal, the spicy chili condiment that accompanies many meals. For a truly immersive experience, dine at local warungs, where you can savor authentic flavors prepared with love and tradition.
15. Vegan and Vegetarian food in Ubud
Ubud has gained a reputation as a vegetarian and vegan-friendly destination. The town is dotted with restaurants and cafes that cater exclusively to plant-based diets. These eateries serve up creative and delicious dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Whether you’re a dedicated vegan or simply looking to explore healthier dining options, Ubud’s vegetarian and vegan restaurants won’t disappoint.
16. Fine Dining
Besides traditional, raw and vegan food, there are also plenty of world class restaurants in and around the area.
17. Join Eco-Friendly Activities
Ubud is known for its commitment to sustainable and eco-friendly tourism. You’ll find a range of unique and environmentally conscious accommodations that allow you to stay in harmony with nature. Consider these options for a memorable and eco-conscious stay:
18. Stroll through Ubud’s Shopping Streets & Art Markets
Ubud’s shopping streets are a treasure trove of unique finds, where you can immerse yourself in the town’s artistic and cultural heritage. As you stroll through these vibrant streets, you’ll encounter a variety of shops, boutiques, and stalls that offer an array of goods, from traditional crafts to contemporary fashion.
Some of the most popular shopping streets in Ubud include Jalan Raya Ubud (Ubud’s main street), Monkey Forest Road, and Jalan Hanoman. Each street has its own character and a diverse range of shops to explore.
Unique Souvenirs and Gifts
When shopping in Ubud, keep an eye out for unique souvenirs and gifts that capture the essence of Bali’s culture and craftsmanship. Here are some ideas:
- Balinese Batik: Batik clothing, including sarongs, dresses, and shirts, features intricate hand-drawn designs and is a popular choice for souvenirs.
- Wood Carvings: Balinese wood carvings are renowned for their intricate detailing. Look for sculptures, masks, and figurines crafted by local artisans.
- Silver Jewelry: Ubud is famous for its silver jewelry. Shop for beautifully designed rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings created by skilled silversmiths.
- Balinese Paintings: Ubud is an art hub, so you’ll find a wide range of paintings, from traditional Balinese art to contemporary works by local artists.
Art Markets and Handicrafts
In addition to the shopping streets, Ubud is home to several vibrant art markets where you can browse a wide selection of handicrafts and traditional goods. Two of the most renowned markets are:
- Ubud Art Market (Pasar Seni Ubud): Located at the heart of Ubud, this market offers a plethora of handmade crafts, textiles, sarongs, baskets, and souvenirs. Don’t forget to haggle to get the best prices.
- Sukawati Art Market: Just a short drive from Ubud, this market is known for its extensive collection of traditional Balinese art, clothing, and crafts. It’s a great place to find affordable souvenirs.
- Gianyar Night Market: In the evenings, Gianyar comes alive with its bustling night market. Sample local street food, snacks, and sweets while immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere.
Zoos and Animal Experiences
19. Elephant Safari Park
Visit the Elephant Safari Park in Taro, where you can interact with these gentle giants, take an elephant ride, and learn about elephant conservation efforts.
20. Bali Bird Park
Located in Gianyar, this park is home to a wide variety of exotic birds from Indonesia and around the world. It’s a great place for birdwatching and learning about avian conservation efforts.
Monkey Forest – Well, we mentioned it before.
Sports Outdoor Activities
While Ubud itself is a captivating destination, it also serves as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding areas of Tegallalang, Gianyar, and more. These nearby adrenaline driven attractions in Bali offer diverse experiences that complement your Ubud adventure. Here are some to do in or near Ubud:
21. Ayung River Rafting
Embark on an exhilarating white-water rafting adventure along the Ayung River. Navigate through lush forests and thrilling rapids while enjoying the stunning natural scenery.
22. Cycling Tours
Join a cycling tour that takes you through the picturesque countryside surrounding Ubud. Explore traditional villages, rice fields, and local life at a leisurely pace.
23. Mount Batur Sunrise Trek
For a more challenging adventure, consider a predawn trek to the summit of Mount Batur. Witness a breathtaking sunrise and panoramic views of Bali from above the clouds. (This is abot a 2 hours drive away)
Dive into the heart of Ubud’s wild terrains. Navigate through tight crevices, rappel down waterfalls, and swim in crystal-clear pools. Canyoning provides a blend of thrill and nature, pushing your limits while appreciating Bali’s untouched beauty.
25. ATV Rides
Experience Ubud’s rugged landscapes on a four-wheeler. Traverse muddy trails, pass through lush forests, and race across paddy fields. ATV rides offer an adrenaline-pumping way to explore the island’s interior while enjoying panoramic views.
Soar above Ubud’s verdant jungles and river valleys. Feel the rush of wind against your face as you glide from one platform to another. Zip-lining offers unparalleled aerial views, making it a must-try for both adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.
Travel Tips and Local insights
- Traffic Considerations: Bali’s roads can be congested, especially in popular tourist areas like Kuta, Seminyak, and on peak hours also the route to Ubud. Be prepared for occasional traffic jams, particularly during peak hours.
- Currency Exchange: You can exchange currency at the airport, but it’s advisable to exchange a small amount for immediate expenses and then seek better rates at banks or currency exchange offices in Ubud.
- Language: Balinese and Bahasa Indonesia are the primary languages spoken, but English is widely understood, especially in tourist areas like Ubud.
- Local Etiquette: Balinese culture places a strong emphasis on politeness and respect. If you learn a few basic phrases and greetings you will make friends easily.
- Safety: Bali is generally a safe destination for travelers. However, exercise caution with your belongings, and be aware of common tourist scams.
- Dress Modestly: When visiting temples and religious sites, it’s important to dress modestly. Wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees as a sign of respect.
- Local Cuisine: Don’t miss the opportunity to savor authentic Balinese cuisine. Ubud has many restaurants and warungs (local eateries) that serve delicious Balinese dishes.
In the heart of Bali, Ubud stands as a captivating and enchanting destination that weaves together the tapestry of culture, nature, spirituality, and artistry. As we conclude this comprehensive guide, let’s take a moment to recap Ubud’s unique offerings and offer some parting thoughts and inspiration for travelers.