One simply cannot visit Ubud and not fall head-over-heels in love with this unique and artsy little slice of paradise. From the endless, rolling rice fields to the abundant art and yoga scenes, there’s always something to be discovered.
1) Explore the countless temples
The top three temples to check out in the surrounding area are the Goa Gajah Elephant Temple, the Tirta Empul Water Temple, and the Gunung Kawi. When visiting the temples, you must cover your legs. Luckily, the temples lend visitors the shawls to wrap around themselves. Many people enjoy the water temple and choose to do the water cleansing ceremony when they visit. Keep in mind, you must bring your own covering if you decide to participate. My favorite temple was the Gunung Kawi, which made me feel like Indiana Jones as I explored the various ruins. All the temples are a bit out of town, so you either have to rent a car, hire a driver, or rent a scooter. All the temples are highly accessible and easy to do as a day trip, however, and hiring a driver for the day is ridiculously cheap.
2) Get a great photo op amongst the miles and miles of rice fields
The only thing more abundant than temples are the rice terraces, and you don’t have to travel far to find them. While the most popular of these is the Tagalalong Rice Terrace, which is just on the way towards Tirta Empul, you can also explore the rice fields just within the town limits.
3) Sample the amazing food
There is no shortage of amazing food in Ubud. Fresh, whole, and healthy, you’ll be able to indulge in the amazing cuisine without feeling an ounce of guilt. You can eat as expensively, or as inexpensively as you want as there are restaurants to fit all tastes. However, you shouldn’t leave Ubud without sitting down at one of the countless local warungs, which serve many traditional Balinese dishes. My two personal favorite meals were from The Yoga Barn, which specializes in healthy vegan dishes and Sweet Orange Warung. Ubud also has amazing, specialty coffee and is only a short drive from the Luwak Coffee Plantation.
4) Check out the art scene
Ubud is world renowned for its immersive art scene. When walking down the street, you will encounter several artisan boutiques selling paintings from local artists. There are also two major art museums, Blanco Museum and Pura Saraswati, which are definitely must-sees.
5) Haggle at the market
The Ubud Market is absolutely bustling with unique and beautiful crafts and souvenirs. From paintings, handcrafted statues, and clothes galore you will be sure to encounter something you like. I confess, I went a bit overboard myself, and bought more clothes than I probably needed. However, at less than $5 per article of clothing, who can blame me?
6) Stretch yourself with a yoga session
Ubud is home to many yoga studios offering retreats, workshops, and classes on health, wholeness, and the art of meditation. Many of them also welcome drop-ins of any and all skill levels, so feel free to join in. While I was in Ubud, I went to The Yoga Barn, which is a well-known and highly reputable yoga studio. When I went, I signed up for the beginner’s class. The staff was very welcoming, and they treated all people, from the newbies to the regulars like family. As a bonus, they also have a spa and amazing vegan restaurant. One could easily spend an entire day (or week) there, and many people actually do.
7) Hike a volcano at midnight
Though its not quite on the same level as Mt. Rinjani as far as difficulty, the view from the top of Mount Batur is equally grand. This active volcano is only a 3 hour drive from Ubud, and many tourist centers offer night hiking trips up the mountain in order to see the sunrise. The group will usually head out around 2 in the morning and bring you back around 10-11. The hike itself is maybe only 2-3 hours, but it is straight uphill on rough and slippery terrain. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and overcast on the day I went to Mount Batur, so I wasn’t able to see the sunrise. However, that didn’t dull the experience and the hike down offered views to make up for it.
8) Relax with a Balinese Message
Once you completely tire yourself out with all the other tourist activities, catch up on some nice R&R by treating yourself to a message. In Bali, you can find spa packages ranging from $20 to $200, depending on your taste and budget. While I was in Ubud, I treated myself to a full body massage, facial, and mani/pedi for a little over $20. If you want to get really experimental, you can even try a fish spa.
9) Watch a traditional dance
On my first night in Ubud, I decided to see a Legong Dance Performance. These dances are modeled after the traditional palace dances performed for the king. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the event. The costumes were dynamic. The performance was fun and interactive, with a live band and mixed male and female dancers.
10) Chill out at your hotel pool
Considering that at least 3/4’s of the hotels and resorts in Bali have a pool of some kind, why not take advantage of the amenities your accommodations have to offer and spend an afternoon hanging out poolside? I often found myself coming back to my hotel for a few hours every day to do just that. If you are staying somewhere that doesn’t have a pool, many of the hotels allow non-guests to still use theirs for a small fee. If you’re feeling really luxurious, you can even stay at a hotel with an infinity pool.
The great thing about Ubud is that you can hit up all the major tourist sights in a few days. I had about three and a half days there, and I definitely pushed myself to experience everything I wanted to before I moved on. It was exhausting, but totally worth it.
Did I miss anything? Let me know what your favorite things to do in Ubud are!