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Welcome to Ubud – the “real Bali” like the locals used to call it! The small Indonesian town located in the central foothills of the Gianyar regency was our first stop after arriving at the Denpasar airport. We stayed in Ubud for 5 days and it absolutely became my favourite spot on the island. The small town is surrounded by ample jungle and rice paddies. It encompasses a lot of what I can call “authentic Bali”. The emblematic Ubud is a shrine to Balinese Culture and a well done exotic mélange of sacred temples, tropical nature, rice fields, river valleys, Mecca for yogis and veggies, classical artists’ villages, 1-to-5 star spa centres, art galleries, heritage museums, fashion boutiques… Ubud has it all!
The name Ubud comes from the word Obad and means medicine and also healing. Do you remember the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” with Julia Roberts? Yes, it was filmed in Ubud and actually made it a famous spot for Yoga retreats, alternative medicine and spiritual journey. The heart of Bali is the spiritual home of the island – everybody searching balance and harmony in life is welcome here.
Ubud is very strategically placed for all travellers who want to explore the island. From here you have numerous daily tours to choose from: hiking the volcanoes Agung and Batur, enjoying the surrounding nature, visiting almost all sacred temples. Ubud has the perfect location in Bali! The only one minus is that Ubud has no beaches but almost every villa and hotel has its own swimming pool instead.
Top Things To Do in Ubud
Ubud is about relaxing and enjoying your surroundings and you don’t definitely need a long to-do-and-see list. Anyway, there are several Ubud activities and must-dos that are truly nice to experience.
The Ubud Palace is located on Jalan Raya road in Ubud and is the place where the royal family still lives. The Palace was built 100 years ago in 1917. Typically for Bali, the architecture is beautifully dressed with Hindu ornaments and statues, stone carvings and oriental ornaments and its garden is open for visitors.
Every night, starting at 7:30 pm, you can watch the symbolic for Bali Legong and Barong dance. The Legong dance was typically performed by young girls who have not yet reached puberty. However, nowadays the dancers are men and women of all ages. Barong is probably the best-known dance in Bali representing the fights between good and evil.
A Peaceful Walk Through The Rice Fields of Ubud
Ubud hosts some of Bali’s most iconic natural landscapes including the rice paddies for which the Islands is best known. Your adventure and visit to Ubud could not be complete without having a walk or a bike ride around the rice paddies! There are so many small villages surrounding Ubud where you can enjoy your peaceful morning or evening walk. I won’t recommend going through the rice fields between 10 am and 15 pm – the walk will be everything, but not pleasant because of the high temperatures.
Massage and Spas
The Highest Densities of Spas in the World is in Bali, and the highest density of Spas in Bali is in Ubud! Yes, Bali is not only the Island of a Thousand temples but also the Island of a Thousand Spas! There are plenty spa centres to choose from, ranging from 5 € to mega-luxury expensive procedures. And non-expensive doesn’t mean a bad one at all! A mid-range spa experience (massage, bath, scrub) will have an average price of 20-25 €.
Visit Ubud Market
You should definitely visit the Ubud Market, but do it in the early morning before all people come and before the tourist shops are open. Only then you’ll see the locals and the local offers, bartering and trading housewives, a lot of fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables, and very interesting looking meat and fish. It can be stinky too, but which market is not?! Ubud is also well known for its wooden figures, handicrafts and traditional handmade products. The Ubud market is a good place where you can find some unique wooden ornamentations for your home.
Catch a Yoga And Meditation Class
Ubud has become the World Yoga Mecca during the last 10 years. It attracts yoga teachers, retreat gurus and yogis from all around the world. Ubud has to do with spirituality and a good way to feel it is to take a yoga and meditational class. There are plenty of yoga studios, and the most popular one is the Yoga Barn, which offers many different types of yoga. Also, very popular yoga places are Radiantly Alive, Taksu, Ubud Yoga House, Intuitive Flow and White Lotus Yoga & Meditation Centre are also popular.
If you are keen on “Vodoo” (as I call it) or Alternative Medicine (sounds much better) there is no ending list of therapists and healers in Ubud region. No matter if you want a palm reading, family therapy, acupuncture or crystal healing – Ubud is your place! The best what you can do is to ask the locals for the best healers in town. There are also many noticeboards in town, but these healers are more like a tourist trap.
Be Part of a Ceremony
Bali is best known for its ceremonies Ubud – actually, the Balinese are celebrating almost everything! Balinese have a ceremony for each new period in human’s life: from the birth, naming ceremony, to death ceremony. Remember: if you enter something like a street party – in most of the times it will be a cremation ceremony. The death ceremonies are not likely the ceremonies in the western World – Balinese are celebrating the death! Nobody is crying, nobody is sad – they are having a “street party” instead. Although it sounds like it this kind of ceremony would be a private affair, the entire village and tourists are invited.
Attend a Festival!
Ubud is the right place where you can attend a festival! And there are plenty to choose from: Bali Spirit Festival (in March), New Earth Festival (in April), International Bali Meditators’ Festival (in June), Ubud Village Jazz Festival (in August), The Annual Bali Vegan Festival (in October), Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (in October).
If you are a working nomad (entrepreneurs, freelancers, online business owners, or bloggers) the best place for you where you can work while staying in Ubud, is the awesome Hubud co-working space! The Hubud place looks more like a tree house than an office. There are sooo many events (frequent talks, workshops and brainstorms, weekly welcome brunches) going on there – Hubut is also a perfect place for solo travellers as you won’t feel alone there!
How to Get Around
The traffic in Ubud is CRAZY, especially in the town’s centre! Even out of the rush hour! Ubud is a small town and when you look at the map you’ll guess that a ride will take only a few minutes or even seconds … BUT – the roads are narrow, there are thousands of trucks, motorbikes, cars and taxis – it will take (always!) much longer than expected!
The most efficient way to get around Ubud is to WALK! Some other might suppose renting a motorbike because it is cheap and convenient. And this would be the right option if you’re staying outside Ubud. But for exploring the streets of Ubud, you won’t need a motorbike! The main streets in Ubud operate a one-way system but DON’T BELIEVE that everyone obeys it. Riding is a tricky thing and if you don’t feel comfortable – don’t do it.
Getting a Haircut!
There is no need to mention that getting a haircut in Innsbruck will cost you a fortune (starting at 55 € for a haircut) and the hairdressers (sorry about that) are definitely not the best! So during the past couple of years, I’m getting my hair done when travelling abroad – Lisbon, Sofia, Madrid, Bali … Everywhere is cheaper and better than in Innsbruck!
Where to Stay In Ubud
No matter what you do, stay out of the Town! The centre of Ubud is loud, clogged with traffic, tourists, plenty of restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. The streets of Ubud are a fun thing to experience, but don’t stay here for the night! I highly recommend staying outside the centre, ideally somewhere with a rice field view. There’s a huge range of accommodation in Ubud, but for me, the best place in the town is Masia Villa Ubud! Masia Villa Ubud (link) is located in the rice fields of Ubud, but 1 km from Ubud Market and Ubud Palace! It is a luxury accommodation with fair pricing policy and you’ll get much more than expected!
There is no actual road that connects Masia Villa and Ubud Town – this means you should whether walk or take the free motorbike “shuttle service” offered by Masia Villa. You can call them anytime and they will pick you whenever and wherever in Ubud!
The morning view over the rice fields is something I’ll never forget! The other thing I won’t forget is the frog-concert at night and the rooster-concert in the very early morning.
We ended up falling in love with this place and we wanted to stay for a month or forever here!
Enjoy the day!
Continue reading this series:
Tips for Visiting the Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud ~ Bali