Ubud, one of the popular town in Bali, being centrally located and also metaphorically as a cultural center of the island. Many people come to Bali to first experience Ubud, which had been well known for arts, culture, people and food. There are also beautiful architectures to behold, many attractions to see and things to do.
Though Ubud may be said by some that it is now fashioned towards tourist business, but there are still many local livelihood that permeates the place. It is made of 14 villages that is run by their very own banjar (committee). In Ubud you can still find terraced fields along the rivers and away from the town centre there is still quiet village life going on as usual.
Ubud, Central Bali Map
Where is it
It is located at the south of Central Bali, about an hour from Bali’s Airport in Denpasar.
Imagine a town bursting with activities, energies, arts and culture while surrounded by rolling rice paddies. If you head out to south or southeast of the town your breath will be taken away by the greenness of it all. While at the northeast of this town in Tegalalang, you will find the classic rice terraces of Asia that everybody so admire. Imagine picturesque backdrop along the way as you explore Bali whether in a car or on a bike flanking by rice fields as far as the eye can see.
Rice fields terraces, Tegalalang, Ubud, Bali
As for the other side of town, north of Kintamani area and opposite of Campuhaun, Sanggingan and Kedewatan areas, you also get landscapes such as gorges, limestones and lush dramatic valleys. Here is one of the places where it is best explored by a motorbike.
There are also key historical sites like attractions such as Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul and Pura Kehen. A local guide would be nice to help understand and appreciate the cultural and spiritual significance of all these sites besides marveling at all the beauty.
Pasar (Market), Tegalalang, Ubud, Bali
When is the best time to go
It is hard to say when is the best time to go to Bali as you would be hard-press to choose between good weather of dry season which is peak season or less tourists during low season which would be wet season. Nevertheless, it would be your choice cause Bali is actually good to visit all year round. The dry season is April to October while the wet season is November to March but normally only rain in the afternoon.
If it is your thing, come here for Ubud Writer’s Festival in October. Or other Bali Indonesian festivals as Ubud is the center of it like Galungan and Nyepi.
Balinese Hindhu festival, Tegalalang, Ubud, Bali
What to see
Neka Art Museum
Yoga Hall, Ubud, Bali
for traditional paintings
Agung Rai Museum of Art for the many cultural activities, and home to many well known international Balinese artists. There is also a kafe (cafe) with tea and coffee here.
Museum Rudana boasting 400 paintings with a wide range on both traditional and contemporary Balinese styles.
Museum Puri Lukisan with impressive carvings and beautiful garden
Seniwati Gallery of Art by Women, a gallery featuring arts only by women
What to do
Watch traditional dances such as Legong and Barong dance at the south of Ubud on main road to Sanur, which is about a story of never ending battle between good and evil or Kecak dance which is an impressive fire dance.
Legong and Barong Traditional Dances, Ubud, Bali
Walk the Ubud market at Jalan Raya Ubud, located just the corner of Jalan Monkey Forest. This double story building are filled with stalls selling all sorts of things like wood carvings, batik, sarongs, souvenirs and such. Shopping tips here is to go upstairs where the price are often lower but you would need to hone your haggling still here for a good bargain.
Take up a cooking class here to learn Balinese cuisine which is well known for delicious. Famous classes are such as Payuk Bali Home cooking Class or Paon Bali Cooking Class.
Or you can go for relaxation with either spa, massage or yoga, your take as all are well available here in Ubud.
Spa at Purist Villas, Ubud, Bali
Take a motorbike ride out and explore the north of Kintamani area for the gorges, limestones and lush dramatic valleys. Head out west over Campuhan Bridge and all the way via Jalan Raya Sanggingan to Kedewatan. You will not be short of an impressive ride through mesmerizing landscapes.
What and where to eat
Few famous must eat places in Bali that are well recommended by fellow travelers are Naughty Nuri for its BBQ pork, Sari Organik for fresh off the farm food and Bebek Bengil for the crispy duck. For cheaper and budget options, you will be spoilt for choice for various local warung (stalls) around.
Crispy Duck at Bebek Bengil, Ubud, Bali
Where to stay
Ubud has a big selection of choices from luxury to specialty to budget accommodations to choose from. Many travelers would choose to stay in the outer area from town center for its beautiful view of the famous rice terraces. That said living on the outer area means it is harder to get around so you would need to get a transport of sorts. For budget places to stay, you can go to Jalan Monkey Forest or Hanoman or north of Raya Ubud.
How to get there
First fly into Denpasar, Bali airport, from either internationally or domestic flights from Jakarta, Surabaya and other major airports in Indonesia. There are many flights whether international or domestic that flies to Denpasar as it is a really popular tourist location.
From Denpasar airport in Bali, there are few ways to get from Denpasar to Ubud:
The easiest way which will cost about 200,000 Rp. Some taxis are metered while some would like to set a price before leaving, just make sure you check before going off. Official Denpasar airport taxi will cost 250,000 Rp
Cheaper option from Denpasar to Ubud, you can catch one of the buses which runs four times a day. The bus will take you to Perama terminal which is unfortunately not in the center of Ubud, where you need to get another bus to get to town center.
Kids at a temple, Ubud, Bali
How to get around
You can cover central Ubud by foot itself but if you want to venture further a transport of sorts will be needed. Be careful when walking around as there are many vehicles around and sidewalks are not necessarily available.
Rent bicycle at Ubud, Bali
Ubud can be quite large if stretch out the the quieter areas and all the beautiful serene surroundings. Many tourist find it fun to rent a motorbike
and do self exploration but be careful when driving especially in hectic town center. A motorbike rental will set you back about 50,000 Rp a day.
You can also go around by metered taxi or rent a local car transport with driver for trips further afield. A short trip should not cost more than 30,000 Rp. Or you can rent an ojek (motorbike taxi) for half the price to closer destinations.
You can also rent a bicycle for nearer places that cannot be cover by foot for 20-30, 000 Rp a day cost. You can get a lot of choices for bicycle rental at Jalan Monkey Forest. Though be warned cycling here is not in best condition especially within town but riding through the rice paddy fields is a really wonderful experience though hilly.
Where to go nearby
Check out our Top 10 Must Visit Places in Bali for more places to go nearby Ubud!
For further escape, you can catch a boat out of Bali to Lombok or Gili Islands.
As in matter of most famous tourist places, touts are everywhere. Beware of your surroundings, take care of your belongings and all else travel safety measures apply here. But most of all, come here with an open mind and heart and you will find that you can enjoy Ubud despite all the facades and touristic setups.
Farmer working at rice field, Ubud, Bali
Photo credits from top: Burmesedays, Pandu Adnyana, VasenkaPhotography, Steve Davidson, Joanna Penn, Arian Zwegers, The Purist Villa, Naotake Murayama, Alexis Cozic, Made Yanuarta and Sean McGrath