Our driver picked us up bright and early in Lovina and after a few more nauseating hours in the car we arrived in beautiful, green Ubud. A trip to Bali would not be complete without a visit to Ubud. The town is charming and loaded with temples, galleries and amazing restaurants. Often referred to as the cultural center of Bali, Ubud has experienced a huge increase in tourism since appearing in the movie Eat, Prey, Love. In spite of this, there are still tons of things to discover in Ubud and the town has managed to maintain much of it’s personality.
Our hotel was on Monkey Forest Road about halfway between the Sacred Monkey Forest and the palace. We wanted a central location so that we could walk to many of the tourist spots on our list. This location was perfect for that. However, if you’re looking for something a little quieter there are tons of gorgeous villas and hotels just outside of town with all the peace and quiet and stunning views you could ever want. Ubud has a huge variety of accommodation ranging from luxury to economy and most of the hotels located outside of town are only a quick taxi ride from the attractions.
The Sacred Monkey Forest is home to three temples and a troop of Balinese Macaques. The forest itself is beautiful and quiet with tall trees providing a welcome reprieve from the heat of the day. If you enjoy being around monkeys the Sacred Monkey Forest will not disappoint. They roam freely through the park and for a small fee you can hand feed them or take a picture with them climbing on you. Initially I was super nervous about going into the Sacred Monkey Forest. Signs outside the entrance warned against carrying food or water into the park and wearing sunglasses or hats that can be easily snatched by sneaky monkeys. Even making eye contact with them was forbidden as it can be seen as an act of aggression. I gave all the monkeys lots of room and thankfully did not have any unpleasant encounters with them. Jonathan wasn’t quite so lucky. After getting too close to one with the Go Pro he was chased by a vengeful monkey who grabbed onto the hem of his t shirt and ripped it. T shirt incident aside, we made it through the park unscathed and really enjoyed watching the monkeys swinging from jungle trees and splashing around playfully in the fountains. I would definitely recommend including a stop here on your Ubud itinerary. Just don’t get too close-these monkeys mean business!
The Agung Rai Museum of Art was top of my list for Ubud and did not disappoint. The museum has a huge collection of paintings ranging from traditional to contemporary housed in several buildings. Exhibitions include Balinese, Indonesian and foreign artists who lived and worked in Bali. I could have spent all afternoon sitting in the shady gardens of the Agung Rai. School children practiced traditional Balinese dance in the courtyard while artists painted under the shade of umbrellas. We were also lucky enough to catch a very moving performance art piece in one of the buildings.
Having researched the attractions in Ubud ahead of time, we knew that the Campuan Ridge walk was something we wanted to check out. However once we got to Bali and realized we are terrible at coping with the heat (excessively sweaty is not a good look for me) a 9 km walk through rice fields didn’t seem like the best plan. Then Jonathan had the brilliant idea of starting the walk at 5 am so we could catch the sunrise from the ridge and escape the heat of mid day. We left our hotel in the dark and made our way up the ridge as first light started to break through. There was no one else around at this time so we were able to enjoy the sunrise with just the sounds of the jungle waking up around us. The path winds through fields of elephant grass along the ridge with the Wos River in the valley below. Eventually the ridge leads into the village of Bangkiang Sidem and the surrounding paddy fields. We carefully made our way along the narrow path through muddy fields as the morning fog lifted around us, all the way passing farmers who nodded hello on their way to work. We finished the walk around 8 am as the town was waking up for the day. It was the perfect way to start the morning and by far one of my favourite parts of our trip.
On our last day in Ubud we visited the beautiful temple Pura Taman Saraswati. The temple is surrounded by a pond that is filled with giant lily pads. Intricate temple carvings honour Dewi Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and the arts. We also made a stop at the Ubud Art Market to pick up some souvenirs and to hone our terrible bargaining skills. Seriously, if you don’t like to haggle this isn’t the place for you. I am always really uncomfortable with the whole thing but I suppose it’s part of the experience. The process will be slightly less awkward if you go in with your bottom line price in mind, don’t bargain unless you seriously intend on buying and always remember to smile and keep your sense of humor.
Some Recommendations that I didn’t already mention:
We stayed at Pertiwi Resort on Monkey Forest Road and really liked it. The location is great, the rooms are comfy, and the pool cannot be beat. Although it is on a fairly busy street the rooms are set back from the road and surrounded by beautiful gardens. Breakfast is included in your room rate.
Neka Art Museum. Home to the massive private collection of Suteja Neka, the museum has several buildings, a gift shop, and a cafe. You will need a whole afternoon to fully experience this place.
Room 4 Dessert is owned by celebrity chef Will Goldfarb and exclusively caters to those with a sweet tooth. It’s a great place to end the evening with a cocktail and a sweet treat.
Yoga Barn offers classes in various different styles of yoga in an open air setting. Pilates and dance classes are also available.
There are so many different cooking schools to choose from in Ubud. Most of them have vegetarian dishes and usually pick you up at your hotel and include a trip to the market to pick out ingredients. We didn’t end up having time to take a class but Casa Luna Cooking School and Mozaic are recommended by Lonely Planet and have great Trip Advisor reviews.
If you need a break from Indonesian fare check out Taco Casa for delicious fresh Mexican food. If you need a coffee after there is a Cat Cafe across the street!
Three Monkeys. This place was across from our hotel on Monkey Forest Road. It was so good that I have entire post dedicated to it. If you are going to Ubud you need to eat here!
Thanks for reading! Next week I will be sharing a video that Jonathan made with footage from our trip to Bali. In the meantime leave me a comment below and tell me your monkey stories! Have you ever been around free roaming monkeys? Do you think they’re cute or scary?