Ubud, the artistic and cultural center of Bali, is a mandatory stop on your trip to Indonesia. This enclave, surrounded by extensive rice paddies, is what makes Ubud an essential destination for anyone who visits the island.
Ubud is the heart of Bali, so there are a lot of things to do in Ubud and its surroundings. Moreover, this inland village offers many opportunities for those interested in yoga or meditation.
In addition, Ubud is one of the best areas to stay in Bali, since most of the guided tours in Bali leave from here. You only need to spend a day in Ubud, although if you plan to go on some of the excursions that depart from here, staying two or three days in Ubud is better. That way, you can explore the city more thoroughly in the afternoons.
If you’re looking for travel advice to Bali, don’t forget to add these essential places to visit in Ubud to your itinerary.
1. Ubud Market. The most important thing to do in Ubud
The Ubud Market is, without a doubt, a vibrant place to visit in Bali. There, you’ll find thousands of stores where handmade bags, Balinese masks, crafts, traditional art pieces, and all kinds of souvenirs are sold. In addition, you’ll find local food stalls.
Even if you don’t want to buy anything, this market is still an essential place to visit in Ubud. Strolling through its narrow streets, which aren’t yet super touristy, is one of the best things to do in Ubud.
This town is considered the artistic center of Bali, partly thanks to its unique market. However, beyond the Ubud Art Market, you’ll find plenty of independent art galleries where you can buy even more original souvenirs. If you like photography, don’t miss the Nacivet Photo Gallery, on Jalan Monkey Forest Street, which brings us to the second most important place to visit in downtown Ubud.
2. Monkey Forest. An essential place to visit in Ubud
Visiting the naughty monkeys of the Monkey Forest is the most fun thing to do in Ubud.
The Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest is famous for being home to a macaque colony. The monkeys are so used to tourists that they won’t hesitate to approach, play, ask for food, steal things, or even bite you.
Although the little ones may seem harmless, never interact with or feed a wild animal. I let some monkeys climb on me, and one of them bit me. Luckily, I had good travel insurance to Indonesia that helped me with everything, but still you must be very careful.
The entrance fee for the Monkey Forest is IDR 20k ($1.42), although I recommend double-checking the official website.
Inside the forest, you’ll find many monster figures, which give a magical touch to this attraction.
The jungle has grown over everything, so aerial roots unfold everywhere, consuming statues, bridges, and everything within reach. I advise you to go to the areas furthest from the entrance. There, you’ll find more jungle and fewer tourists. This area is one of my favorite places to visit in Ubud
3. Puri Saren Agung. The Ubud Royal Palace
Puri Saren Agung, the Royal Palace of Ubud, is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and admission is free. Visiting this palace, which is located right in front of the Art Market, is one of the best things to do in Ubud. Also, it will take you no more than half an hour.
As the royal family still lives in the palace, entrance to the public is restricted to a very specific area of the complex. The part you can visit consists of an interior courtyard with traditional decoration that, when it’s not full of tourists, emits incredible energy. In fact, legends say the palace was built in that exact location because of the magnetism of the area.
At night, traditional dance exhibitions are usually held in the main courtyard. If you want to know what days of the week to see them and what types of dance will be on, you can find the information at the palace gate itself. Enjoying a Kecak dance show is an essential thing to do in Ubud, although we decided to do it elsewhere in this town, as I’ll tell you about later.
4. Pura Taman Saraswati. The best temple to visit in Ubud Center
The temple of Pura Taman Saraswati was built in honor of the goddess of knowledge, literature, and art. It’s situated on the same street as the market and the royal palace, so it’s one of the temples of Ubud that you should not miss.
Built in the Balinese Hindu style, it is, for me, one of the most impressive buildings to see in downtown Ubud. It stands out for its two symmetrical ponds full of lotus flowers, which you must cross to reach the main area. Entrance to this temple is free, since it’s one of the main temples of Bali. It will definitely surprise you!
If you don’t have much time, these first four recommendations are the essential thing to do in Ubud in one day.
5. Rice terraces in Ubud
Ubud is surrounded by rice fields, and, although it’s true that they aren’t the most popular rice terraces in Bali, if you don’t want to hire a tour to go to Tegalalang, they’re a fantastic option.
The most beautiful are to the west and are accessible by foot from the center. If you don’t know what to do in Ubud at sunset, I recommend that you walk along Jalan Subak Sok Wayah Street to see how the sun sets over the rice terraces in Ubud.
The 0.6-mile trail departs from the main street of Ubud and crosses different rice fields. If you want to see them when they’re intensely green, I recommend you travel during the best time to visit Bali.
To get there, we downloaded the Maps.me app on our phone to have access to an offline map of Bali and asked navigation to take us to Sari Organik, an organic food restaurant where we drank from a coconut before returning to the center of Ubud.
6. Goa Gajah. A must-visit place in Ubud
Although it’s somewhat far, Goa Gajah is an essential place to visit in Ubud.
Known as the Elephant Cave, it is believed that this sacred grotto helps scare away evil spirits. On the outside, the face of a terrifying monster is carved into the rock through whose jaws you can access the cave.
Once inside, you’ll see a figure of Ganesh (with an elephant head) with a lot of offerings at his feet.
The cave is tiny, but what really makes this a recommended place to visit in Ubud is its surroundings.
Just in front of the cave, there are two rectangular pools that are filled with purifying water by female stone statues. However, my favorite area is the furthest from the entrance, where you can see a tree with exposed roots that was planted the same year in which the construction of the temple began.
Visiting Goa Gajah costs 15k IDR ($1 approx.). If you don’t bring your own sarong to cover your legs, you can borrow one at the entrance.
To reach the Elephant Cave, you can walk 3 miles from Ubud (1h approx.) I didn’t dare rent a motorcycle in Bali (Dani did during his 10-day trip to Bali), so I rented a bicycle to get to the Elephant Cave. However, if you rent a scooter in Ubud, taking the scooter would be the best option.
These first six sites round out the list of our recommended things to do in Ubud in two days. The following recommended places to visit in Ubud are only suggested if you have more time.
7. Campuhan Ridge Walk
Campuhan Ridge Walk is one of the best walks to do in Ubud. On this 1-mile cobbled trail, you’ll stroll through vegetation and rice fields dotted with giant palm trees. From this path, you’ll probably glimpse one of the most postcard-worthy views in Bali.
The route starts at Warwick Ibah, an amazing villa right next to the Pura Gunung Lebah temple, west of Ubud. At the end of the road, you’ll arrive at Karsa Spa, where you can do something essential to do in Ubud: give yourself an authentic Balinese massage.
The trail is quite easy, and you can do it in 2 or 3 hours at a leisurely pace. Although it has sections of ups and downs, it is suitable for everyone regardless of your physical condition.
The best time to visit it is at dawn, since being devoid of shadows, this is not the best place to walk in the middle of the day in hot weather. Additionally, it’s essential to bring water, since on the first part of the path, there are no coffee shops nearby.
8. ARMA. Something to do in Ubud when it rains
If you don’t know what to do in Ubud when it rains, write down this idea. The ARMA museum has a fantastic collection of art pieces compiled by Agung Rai, a Balinese man who has dedicated his life to the preservation of traditional masterpieces.
The gallery is located inside the 4-star Arma Museum & Resort. Museum entrance costs IDR 80k ($5.6), although if you’re staying at the resort, you get free entry to the museum.
Another of the main attractions of the visit is the incredible tropical garden in the complex. However, unless you’re an art lover, I would not consider this an essential thing to do in Ubud Bali, although of course, it’s your best option if it’s raining.
9. Pura Dalem Ubud. Something to do in Ubud at night
There are numerous temples in Ubud with traditional dance performances. The days and places where these performances take place vary, as well as the types of dance. Possibly the most popular is the Kecak Fire and Trance, where fire and mysticism are the central elements.
Since the day we had free to see this dance was a Monday, we decided to go to the Pura Dalem Ubud. The entrance fee was 75k IDR ($5.30 approx), and although the temple is not an essential place to visit in Ubud city, the exhibition was worth it.
The Kecak is music without instruments, where all the sound comes from the voices of a group of more than 100 men. These men, dressed in black-and-white-checkered sarongs, seem to enter a trance-like state during the show.
Repeating sounds are accompanied by a story presented by human characters and monsters with very striking outfits that dance hypnotically.
If it’s your first time on the island, this is a must-do in Bali, although I warn you that it’s not an experience I’d repeat on a second trip.
You can check dates, times, locations and types of traditional dances in Ubud on this list.
10. Ubud surroundings
There are so many things to see in Ubud and its surroundings that we have left the last point on our list for telling you, very quickly, about other places that you can visit from Ubud. This list is quite long, since most Bali excursions depart from this town, so we’ve focused on places that are a 30-minute drive from the center of Ubud.
The 9 points above are things to do in Ubud in three days, but if you have some more time, dedicate it to exploring Ubud and its surroundings in more depth:
- Tegalalang: The most popular rice fields in Bali are only 17 minutes north of Ubud. In fact, Dan took a bike tour to visit them, so they are fully accessible from Ubud.
- Ubud Swing:One of the most popular swings on the island, the Bali Swing, is 20 minutes west of the center of Ubud. If you want to swing with incredible views of the jungle you will have to pay 385k IDR ($27.30). As you can see, it isn’t cheap, although close to the previously mentioned swing, there’s an Airbnb, the Zen Hideaway, with a swing with equally spectacular views for a price of 250k IDR ($17.80).
- Waterfalls in Ubud:Also 20 minutes from Ubud but to the east, there’s an area with many waterfalls. The most impressive are those of Wisata Air Terjun Kanto Lampo and that of Air Terjun Tibumana.
- Temples near Ubud:Finally, half an hour from the center of Ubud to the north, and very close to Tegalalang, there are two temples that are worth seeing near Ubud: The Tirta Empul, popular for its sacred waters, and the Pure Gunung Kawi, which stands out for its Candi, where the souls of royalty are buried symbolically. Visiting these two places would be something to do in Ubud in 4 days.
Best tours from Ubud
As we mentioned at the beginning, Ubud is the best place to stay in Bali, since many tours leave from here. One option is to book tours from Ubud for the morning and leave the afternoon to visit the center of Ubud.
These are the most important excursions to do in Ubud:
- Sunrise at Batur Volcano: I took this tour during my 7-day Bali trip and it was, without a doubt, the best experience of the whole trip.
- Ubud Surroundings: This private tour takes you to Tegalalang, Tirta Empul, Goa Gajah, and Monkey Forest.
- Tegalalang by bike: You can also take this tour to go by bike to the rice fields of Tegalalang which was the excursion that Dan did on his Bali itinerary.
- Eastern Temples: This is the only tour that combines the essential temples to visit in the east of Bali in one day: Pura Besakih, Tirta Gangga and Pura Lempuyang.
- Bedugul + Tanah Lot: Also from Ubud, one of the few tours departs that takes you to my favorite temple: the Ulun Danu Bratan. In addition, it includes the rice fields of Jatiluwih and the incredible temple of Tanah Lot.
Best accommodation in Ubud
Ubud is an essential place to visit in Bali, so it isn’t surprising that it has the largest hotel offer on the whole island. In addition, it has some of the best villas in Bali, located mainly in the jungles and rice fields adjacent to the city. These Ubud villas, usually have free shuttle service to the center of Bali, so they’re usually the best option for couples or honeymooners.
If you’re looking for simpler and more affordable hotels in Ubud, don’t worry. In Ubud, there are cheap accommodations that are also very high quality. To help you choose where to stay in Ubud, we’ve selected the 4 best options and sorted them according to budget.
Adiwana Monkey Forest is located 1 mile from the Ubud market. This hotel has 21 suites, which mix the charm of the Monkey Forest with the indigenous culture of the area. Wondering where to stay in Bali? If you want greater immersion in Balinese culture, this is one of the best hotels thanks to its healthy and traditional gastronomic offerings.
B Saya Villas is a complex that has simple, traditional-style villas with wooden furniture. Since it’s located among rice fields, you’ll have fantastic sunset views from your terrace. In addition, every morning, they organize yoga sessions. For me, it’s one of the best accommodations in Bali, with prices starting at $40 per night.
Even with all these great options, I recommend you not book your hotel without first having a look at the Bali villas around Ubud. You may be surprised, but there are some for less than $100 a night.
Where to eat in Ubud
Finally, I’d like to advise you about some places to eat in Ubud. If there’s something fundamentally important to do in Ubud, it’s to try as many warungs as you can.
If you still don’t know what warungs are, these are the typical places to eat in Bali. They are usually family restaurants where traditional, homemade food is served. In Ubud, there are countless of them. In virtually every corner, you can find a warung in Ubud that’s tasty and cheap.
My favorite place is Dewa Warung, on Goutama Street. This small restaurant serves traditional, homemade Balinese food. We tried a coconut dessert that had just been taken out of the oven, and it was delicious. Another thing that I like about this warung is that it’s so small that you’ll probably have to share a table with other customers.
To have an exquisite Nasi Goreng (typical Indonesian rice), I recommend the Igalenca Warung. The restaurant is on the same street as Raya Ubud and overlooks it. The special thing about this place is that a delicious cup of tea is included with each dish.
If you prefer Western-style food in an exclusive setting, the best option is the Three Monkeys Café. The place is beautiful, especially at night, since they light it with candles. Its terrace, in a rice field, is more than recommended for a romantic dinner. However, I would recommend it only for a special occasion. Personally, when I am in Bali, I prefer to eat in traditional warungs. Your wallet will thank you, too.
How to get to Ubud
Ubud is in the center of the island of Bali, approximately 45 minutes from Denpasar airport.
To get to Ubud from Denpasar airport, the fastest and most convenient way is to hire the transfer before your trip, so that a driver picks you up at the airport and leaves you at your hotel in Ubud for a fixed price (approximately $31 per vehicle with 4 seats).
If you go without booking the transfer to Ubud from the airport , you can also negotiate the price with local taxi drivers. This way, you’ll pay 320k IDR ($22.50 approx.) after begging for a while.
You can also go from the airport to Ubud by public transport, in vans called Bemos, although you’ll need to get off in Batubulan and get another bus to Saka. The total price would be 40k IDR, which is the cheapest way to go from Denpasar to Ubud.
Map of Ubud Bali
That’s all, folks! Here is a map of Ubud Indonesia with all the places we’ve mentioned throughout this article. Also, remember that you can download our tourist Bali map to find all the places of interest offline.
Before you go, I’ll leave you with the essentials for your trip to Bali:
ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR TRIP TO BALI
I hope you find this guide to Ubud Bali useful. If you think we’ve forgotten to mention something important to do in Ubud, please leave us a comment and we’ll add it.