Ubud is often called the cultural hub of Bali. It was our last stop before begrudgingly making the long trek back to the US, and it was nice to be back in an area that was easy to navigate with loads of variety of food. It’s definitely become pretty touristy, and if you’re not careful you’ll leave seeing mostly souvenir shops and loads of taxi drivers. That’s not to say that you can’t find culture in Ubud, or that it’s not worth a spot on any bucket list. It’s still a fun and worthwhile visit, with a similar laid-back vibe we felt in Chiang Mai, and a large expat community. And there is plenty to do… so, here are our top ten things do in Ubud Bali.
Visit the Ubud Palace
The Ubud Palace (Puri Saren)is located across the street from the Ubud market, on the corner of Monkey Forest Road and Raya Ubud Road. It was inhabitated by the last king, and although the monarch has been dissolved, family still live there. It was also one of the first hotels in Ubud and is still in operation!
Souvenir shopping at the Ubud Market
I have to warn you – this market is not for the faint of heart. The women working the stalls will take you by the elbow and firmly usher you into their little shop, and basically try to sell you anything you so much as glance at. It’s difficult to get away, and many of them are selling the same junk and trinkets. It’s all incredibly cheap, and I picked up a new sarong there for $3 US. If you head downstairs, you will find what the traditional market must have looked like before the penis-bottle-opener-selling entrepreneurs took over.
Temple Hopping around Ubud
The temples of Ubud are gorgeous, ornate and provide a glimpse into the rich Balinese culture. They seem to be on almost every corner, but not all of them are open to the general public. We chose to be conservative and respectful of the culture, and didn’t enter unless the doors were wide open. There are also several temples very close to Ubud that are well worth a day trip.
Eat your way through Ubud
The food in Bali is amazing, and Ubud has no shortage of fantastic restaurants – many of which were featured on our guide to Indonesian Food. Our two favorite restaurants in Ubud were Cafe Wayan and Taco Casa. Yes, Taco Casa is not Indonesian. But sometimes you just want something a little different, and Taco Casa has some of the best Mexican I’ve ever had. A close runner up was the restaurant at our hotel, fancy Alaya Ubud, but their prices were definitely a little on the high side.
Visit Monkey Forest
Monkey Forest is famous for it’s cheeky monkeys, but is also home to 4 temples inside the grounds. Having mostly heard about the monkeys, we were pleasantly surprised that there is much more inside the compound. The shade keeps the area cool, and if you go early you can beat the crowds and wander around getting a real sense of the mystical sacred forest.
Get your spa on
Like temples and taxi drivers, there’s a spa on every corner in ubud. Massages are incredibly cheap and so relaxing. Many of the higher end spas offer day packages and sometimes transport. We chose to splurge on Alaya Ubud’s spa since we couldn’t get a late checkout. At $45 per person for a 1.5 hour massage, shower, and tea, I was very happy with that splurge even if it was markedly more than any other spa we walked by.
Visit the surrounding area
There is so much to see within an hour of Ubud: The Jatuliwah rice terraces, several large and famous temples, and even some great beaches are all within an hour or two drive. Trust me, many of the taxi drivers would be happy to take you on a day trip.
Get some clothing made
I got an incredibly cute dress custom made (with pockets!) out of Ikat fabric. It’s light weight and incredibly well made. Plus, it fits exactly like how I asked them to make it – a definite win!
One of my favorite activities in almost any city, town or village is just wandering around, snapping photos, perusing all the small shops, stopping by small temples or monuments and overall not really doing much. You don’t always need a destination or activity, and Ubud is a perfect place to practice this!
Where to stay in Ubud:
There are a lot of hotels in Ubud, with an extreme range of price ranges and locations. I’ve narrowed it down a bit for you below. Of course, there’s always the fabulous option of Airbnb, and with this link you get a $25 credit towards your first stay! No coupon code required.
If you’re looking for luxury (that’s affordable!) look no further than the Alaya Ubud. Fantastic location right down the street from the Monkey Forest, and amazing service, it’s where we chose to spend our time in Ubud. You can read more about our time there here.
Price range: $130-150 USD
Looking for something a little outside of the city for some peace and quiet? Villa Saraswati is perfect, with some of their own areas for walking, and fabulous pool. As a bonus, they shuttle guests into the city as well! Best of both worlds.
Price range: $110-140 USD
A beautiful hotel in close proximity to Komaneka Gallery, Monkey Forest Ubud and the Ubud Market. Gets great reviews too, most of which mention the amazing infinity pool overlooking the lush Balinese jungle!
Price range: $150-200 USD
Great budget option, super close to the Ubud Palace and the center of all the action in Ubud. Fair warning: no AC, but breakfast is included!
Price range: $20-30 USD
What’s in your top things to do in Ubud?
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