If your tastes aren’t just limited to traversing around idyllic coasts and partying in hip bars, you will have a blast in Ubud. Also known as Bali’s art and cultural capital, the city has fascinating attractions and stimulating activities you can take part in. Many novels and films have been inspired by this city. It is where traditional Balinese culture imbues every waking moment, colorful offerings adorn streets, and you can hear hypnotic strains of gamelan. Ubud beckons you to relax, rejuvenate, and have a fantastic experience!
Take a look at the Ubud Attractions:
Ubud Monkey Forest
With lush tropical forest, hundreds of monkeys roaming about freely, sacred temples, and ornate traditional statues, Ubud Monkey Forest is an all-around natural, cultural, and spiritual attraction. If you are looking for some peace and quietness, this is where you should be. The 12.5 hectares of towering trees offer a serene atmosphere. In fact, you can sense a mystical vibe of this forest as you go about observing temples, hallways, and statues.
There is actually a series of three temples that date back to the 14th century. It sits in a nature reserve which has also been turned into a conservation area. You can even watch and interact with the friendly, long-tailed macaques. The monkeys here are said to be spiritual animals that guard the temples. You can buy bananas to feed them but take care of your personal belongings. Monkeys have been known to snatch items like sunglasses from visitors.
Goa Gajah means Elephant Cave in Indonesian and is one of the top attractions on the island of Bali. Situated just outside the city in Bedulu Village, this incredible archeological wonder is made up of a huge temple complex. To get to the cave, you have to walk down a flight of stairs that takes you to a charming courtyard. It is the entrance to a cave that is said to date from the 11th century.
The iconic stone-carved façade with ornately crafted demons and embellishments is just one interesting thing about the ancient temple. It is a sanctuary complex with exquisite figures from Hindu and Buddhism. The cave is estimated to originate in the 11th century due to its architectural style. The complex has bathing pools and fountains surrounded by illustrious statues and carved walls worth observing.
This pretty museum overlooks some lush emerald-hued rice fields. It belongs to a Balinese politician called Nyoman Rudana and his wife, a fellow art lover named Ni Wayan Olasthini. It spans three floors of art-related memorabilia. You will find some 400 pieces, including vivid traditional paintings and antique pieces like a calendar made in the 1840s. There are also modern pieces of art. There is also an adjacent gallery where you can buy your own pieces of Balinese artwork.
Pura Taman Saraswati
This glorious water palace has a delicate lotus pond in front of the majestic traditional Balinese gate, which makes it one of the most iconic sights from Ubud. As is evident from the name, this palace honors Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and arts. Checking out the thriving cultural and artistic scene in Ubud, the utmost reverence to the goddess seems fitting, with epic architecture, water overflowing as if an artist has unleashed their creativity, and graceful carvings that honor the Hindu deity. However, beyond that fantastic architecture, Saraswati Palace is also one of the best spots to watch traditional performances.
Tirta Empul Water Temple
Tirta Empul means “holy water spring,” which is at the heart of this beautiful temple. Legends talk about a feud between a king named Mayadenawa and Lord Indra, the Hindu god for the heavens, storms, rains, and river flows. While fleeing the god, King Mayadenawa crafted a poisoned spring that brought down Lord Indra’s troops. But the god immediately created another spring that healed his men. That magical spring continues to be a source of healing and purification, distributed through stone-carved spouts that pour sacred water into the purification pool inside the temple.
The Ubud Palace, or Puri Saren Agung, is one of Ubud’s most prominent landmarks (Ubud attractions) and is centrally located in the neighborhood, surrounded by markets, restaurants, and other destinations. Packed with prominent cultural and historical significance, the palace reflects traditional Balinese architecture at its finest, with tastefully manicured gardens, ornate carvings, and impressively grand gates. During the evening, this palace’s yard turns into a magnificent stage for various traditional performances.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace (Ubud Attractions)
The postcard-worthy scenery of delicate rice terraces surrounded by lush palm trees and tropical greeneries sure makes Tegalalang such a visually appealing sight to behold. But exotic beauty is only part of this attraction’s charm. Ubud’s rice terraces are purposefully built to facilitate effective water resources and organize local social units. In other words, these glorious rice terraces do not only attract tourists from across the globe. They actually bring people together and reflect the values and philosophy of Balinese culture. Tourists can also explore the nearby villages to hear fascinating local stories. They can observe the lifestyles of people who built and currently maintain the glorious rice terraces.
Beyond world-famous beaches, Bali’s diverse natural landscape stretches far up the hills of Ubud. Tegenungan Waterfall near Ubud is one of Bali’s must-see natural attractions. The waterfall is surrounded by Ubud’s signature lush greeneries and tropical highland ambiance. It is safe to hike and explore up to the top of the waterfall. On certain days when the water is high enough, it is safe to do a 10-meter cliff jump and plunge into the cool water below.
Blanco Renaissance Museum
This museum is located at the famous painter Don Antonio Blanco’s mansion on a picturesque hilltop in Ubud. It presents a unique mix of cultures that inspired and influenced the maestro’s works throughout his life. His mansion has distinct influences of European baroque-style combined with a hint of renaissance grandeur. Although many of Blanco’s collections of paintings, illustrated poetry, and erotic artworks came to being in Ubud, where he relocated, and his art flourished. Aside from the maestro’s best works and the building’s impressive architecture, you also get to appreciate the glorious view from the hills where the mansion stands.
Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA)
ARMA, in Ubud, is well-known for its cultural, artistic, and architectural importance. It is a cozy place to learn about Balinese art, both classical and contemporary. It houses an impressive collection of works by prominent artists from across the Indonesian archipelago, especially Bali. Many of whom are contemporary artists adapting traditional styles. The museum often hosts cultural events like traditional dance and music during the evenings – don’t miss out on these shows!
Things to do in Ubud (Ubud attractions):
Try dinner at Locavore
Did you know that Locavore is the most famous restaurant in Ubud, if not in Indonesia? It has won numerous awards and accolades over the years. If you wish to try some incredible fusion food, this is the place to be.
The chefs Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah cook locally inspired dishes made from food sourced in the area. They serve up tasting menus that can stretch to nine courses. Meals can last upwards of three hours, while you can choose dishes paired with wines as well. Local elements are combined with foreign techniques to satiate your appetite. Famous dishes include smoked catfish and pork shoulder. Don’t forget to make a reservation beforehand, as this place is always packed.
Take the Campuhan Ridge Walk (Ubud Attractions)
If you want to get out and about in Ubud and take in the best of the local scenery, head to the Campuhan Ridge Walk, which is located slightly out of town. The walk takes you through a gorgeous landscape of gently rolling hills overlooking an exquisite valley.
Among Ubud’s many splendid hills and landscapes, Campuhan Ridge remains one of the most visited and popular spots for hiking, cycling, and sightseeing. The area covers the ornate and historical Gunung Lebah temple, rivers, valleys, and a gorgeous stretch of palm trees and fresh tropical greeneries lining up the trek. This neighborhood is also closely tied to Ubud’s ancient history as the meeting point between two rivers. Here the Hindu priest Rsi Markandeya received divine inspiration and built the town’s first temple. An event that later spurred Ubud’s significance as a spiritual escape.
Have a cup of joe at Coffee Studio Seniman
If you haven’t tasted coffee at this self-styled “coffee studio,” then you are truly missing out on something wonderful. It is touted to be one of the best places in Ubud to stop and grab a cup of coffee.
The brews here all come from the region. You can sit in one of the relaxing rocking chairs and enjoy the serene environment. They take their coffee seriously here, and you can enjoy a huge range of beverages. Sample some of the best Indonesian beans in the business at the same time. You can sample a mix of local and international fare as well, along with alcoholic drinks in the evenings.
Check out the Gianyar Night Market
Looking for something to do in the evening? The Gianyar Night Market, located a little way outside the center of Ubud, is a must-visit for sure. It is reputed for its lip-smacking food. Try Balinese snacks such as satay, fried bananas, and dainty little cakes, or ubiquitous roasted suckling pig. You can even indulge in a bit of shopping for clothes and toys – your discounts are available.
Relax at the Lembah Spa
Lembah Spa is one of the best spas in Ubud and is located on the majestic Patanu River. If you really want to pamper yourself and spend some much-coveted “me time,” go ahead and choose from treatments that last up to 2 hours. There are even packages available for couples. Some of the best treatments come with lunch or dinner overlooking the stunning river vistas, and you can also swim in the onsite pool.
Don’t miss the Threads of Life Indonesian Textile Arts Center (Ubud Attractions)
This is an awesome textile gallery, which is also part of the Threads of Life charity that aids the local area monetarily via the sale of sustainable textiles. All pieces sold are created using natural dyes and native Indonesian weaving techniques. You can enjoy centuries of handicrafts’ traditions right here. Pick up a few pieces as souvenirs from an adjacent shop. If you want to learn the art, you can participate in one of the in-house textile appreciation courses.
Try yummy vegan food
Vegans have select food choices, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise. One of the local legends in Ubud is Alchemy Cafe where you will find some of the best raw and vegan food on the island. Every item is made onsite – you can enjoy dishes like vegan cheesecake and a full salad bar. They also make raw vegan chocolate at their in-house chocolaterie and various raw, freshly pressed juices. There is also an adjacent health store and a holistic clinic upstairs where you can get a range of beauty treatments.
Visit the Petulu Heron Colony
You need to travel a bit outside the city, but it is a remarkable place for a full-day trip. This little village is known for the herons that fly in every evening to settle down in the trees for the night. There is a slightly eerie feel to the proceedings as the birds are meant to be sacred and represent the dead’s souls.
Check out a Legong dance performance (Ubud Attractions)
One of Bali’s best cultural attractions is the Legong dance, which is based on a legend from East Java that dates from the 12th century. The story is of a maiden who had been kidnapped and then imprisoned. It also describes in detail how she is later freed. The scintillating dance moves and hypnotic music leaves you mesmerized. This dance is performed at numerous venues in and around Ubud, such as Puri Saren, Peliatan Village, and Pura Dalem Puri.
Hone culinary skills at Casa Luna Cooking School
Since Bali is renowned for its food, you can have a go at making some of your own at the Casa Luna Cooking School. Your cooking class not only involves learning to whip up tasty Balinese dishes, but you also learn about history, culture, and religious beliefs associated with food in Bali.
Every traditional ingredient being used is explained, while participants are given recipe cards that they can take home, along with class notes. So you don’t forget what has been taught. Dishes change regularly. At the end of each class, you get to sit down and eat what you have prepared with other class participants.
Shop away at Ubud Market
Ubud Market is actually a series of different markets throughout the day and may look familiar. It was used as a location for the film Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts. You can get fruits and veggies in the morning, while the attractive arts and crafts pieces on sale during the afternoon are sure to catch your attention. Do get here as early as you can to get the best deals because it gets pretty crowded as the day progresses.
Do take a class at the Yoga Barn
Ubud is known for its yoga retreats, and one of the best-loved is the Yoga Barn. While a spa is great for some R&R, yoga works to improve both physical and mental health. There is a range of classes depending upon different levels of ability. There are several studios to take your pick from. Still, regardless of your choice, you can perform yoga moves while enjoying the idyllic surroundings at the same time. You can sign up for a single class or opt for the full cleansing program that takes place over three days.
Taste the duck at Bebek Bengil (Ubud Attractions)
Another one of Ubud’s most famous restaurants is Bebek Bengil, which translates to “Dirty Duck. The restaurant backs on pretty rice paddies. The story goes that when the restaurant was being built, a group of ducks waddled through and gave the building its name. As you would expect, duck features heavily on the menu. You can get traditional dishes such as crispy duck rubbed with a Balinese blend of herbs and spices. It was first pioneered here in the 1990s, or you can enjoy fusion dishes such as duck salad with melon.
Now that you know what Ubud has to offer, why not start planning your vacation right away? It can get quite crowded during the peak season, so you might have to make reservations for accommodations well in advance. Don’t leave your planning to the last minute. You don’t want to waste time looking for hotels instead of enjoying what Ubud has to offer!