Bali is an experience by itself. If you enjoy a laid-back vacation, filled with luscious greenery, gastronomical treats, intricate architectural beauty, heavenly massages and let’s not forget the warm hospitality, then Ubud is the place to go.
You have landed in Ubud with the travel pictures you had seen online. Believe me, they did not do justice to the place. Ubud is an experience you have to go through by yourself. The Ngurah Rai International Airport at Denpasar, Bali, itself is so quaint that it charms you with its simplicity.
From Denpasar to Ubud is about an hour to an hour and a half journey depending on the time of the day. You could either hire a cab from the airport (rates could vary depending on the time of the day and your negotiation skills) or you could ask the hotel where you are staying to send for a pickup. We opted for the second option as we were a large group travelling (and have no regrets about the decision as we got a fantastic driver/guide Darma whom we hired to take us around for the duration of our stay at a reasonable cost).
We couldn’t see much of the city as it was after sunset and the streetlights were on. What caught my attention was the absence of harsh streetlights. The streets were well lit but there was something muted about the light; it made the surroundings look calm and soothing.
All the major junctions or traffic islands had huge statues of the mythological characters, primarily from Ramayana or Mahabharata (both are revered Hindu epics for the Hindus).
We had chosen Adiwana Resort Jembawan, a tranquil oasis tucked in one of the lanes located in the centre of the city making it a convenient location and a much-needed refuge after a day of site-seeing and travelling (the restaurant, Herb Library, had the most sumptuous breakfast one could ask for!).
The 4 days ahead had been planned in such a way that we get to enjoy the place to the max. It worked out great for us. Hope you enjoy the stay at Ubud as much as we did.
Things to – do on Day 1
Ubud Art Market
We started the day with a stroll down the main road of Ubud, the Jl Regan. This is the central road. We reached the Ubud Art Market which was just down the street. The irresistible wares on display can convert anyone into a shopaholic. From colourful souvenirs to handmade rattan bags and hats, cotton/linen clothes, silk scarves, carved wooden items, and exotic masks – it’s all there and at a reasonable price. As most of the shops offer similar goods, remember to look around and then bargain to get a good deal (start off from 50% and then work out what’s best).
Right opposite the Ubud Art Market is the Ubud Palace, officially known as Puri Saren Agung. A beautiful complex, with ornate architecture. Go on, get some Insta-worthy clicks! The royal family resides in a part of the palace and that part is out of bounds.
Dance Recital at Ubud Palace
The dance recital is a true experience of the rich culture of Bali. The dance is based on the popular Hindu epic of Mahabharat. The ornate dresses, the use of traditional musical instruments and the dance itself are not to be missed. Pre-Covid, the dance program was held at the Saraswati temple but now it is held at the Ubud Palace after sunset.
Sacred Monkey Forest
The Sacred Monkey Forest is a reserved area for the long-tailed Balinese macaques. It’s a comfortable walk from the Ubud Palace to the Sacred Monkey Forest. The walk is beautiful with the winding roads and quaint little shops tucked along the way. Shuttle buses are also available from the city centre to the Monkey Forest, in case you don’t want to walk. The Monkey Forest is, well, full of monkeys of all sizes. Please follow the instructions carefully to be safe as the monkeys are known to get aggressive if they see food.
Places to visit on Day 2
Started the day early and went straight to the Ubud Swings. It’s a must-stop for THE photo-ops and is worth it. You could either take pics yourself or hire a professional photographer to get some awesome clicks.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
The Ceking terraces offer one of the best views of the green rice fields. The rice terraces are clearly outlined and can be reached using the steps made on the slopes. You can park at the ‘Sentral Parkir Ceking Terrace’ and purchase entrance tickets from here to avoid hassles. The walk down is comfortable and picturesque. If you want to walk in the rice fields, be prepared for the bog and slush.
Goa Gajah is a cave with exquisite carvings on the entrance and has many small temples inside it. They are more like small nooks carved into the cave wall and each has one deity placed there. The idol of Ganesha is in the centre nook as he is worshipped as the god for auspicious beginnings.
Tirta Empul temple
Tirta Empul is a Hindu temple, sacred to the Balinese people. The water from the holy springs is believed to have magical powers which cleanse the soul. The water bubbles out to the surface and then goes through the ornate waterspouts in the bathing area. The pilgrims must go through each of the spouts to complete the ritualistic cleansing. Sarongs are a must for all.
Campuhan Ridge Walk
Perfect for an exciting evening walk, the Campuhan Ridge Walk is a pleasant stroll through the rice terraces and valleys with the gurgling sound of the stream in the background. The view from the ridge is breathtaking. You can see the rice fields on the slopes. Even those not used to the physical exertions will find climbing up the ridge not so difficult especially if the reward is to witness the sunset. Keep to the paved blocks and don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes.
Exciting Day 3
Trek to Mt Batur
Sunrise from Mt Batur is an experience you are not going to forget ever. The trek is moderate in difficulty and takes about 5 hours in total. The trek starts off at 4 am from the base. Take a guide – he will provide motivation, encouragement and a hearty yet simple breakfast on reaching the top! We were lucky to get a fantastic guide who kept us engaged with lively conversation and bonded really well with everyone.
If you’re planning to go trekking to Mt Batur, remember to carry a jacket or sweatshirt as it gets a little cold and windy on the top. Also, for those of you who don’t feel like climbing, there are dirt bikes on hire.
A trip to Ubud is incomplete without a visit to the spa. Ubud is the centre for wellness and a holistic lifestyle. There are many wellness centres and spas offering packages to suit everyone. And after the trek, you deserve to get pampered. We took a package at Adiwana Resort Jembawan and it was totally worth it. Some of us tried the foot massage at the Goldiana Spa and felt totally rejuvenated.
Our trip to Beratan got a little washed out because of the rains that evening but it was a beautiful drive through the cloud-covered fields and forests. Surreal! Beratan is one of the iconic temples of Bali. It is constructed on a cluster of islands and is dedicated to the Goddess of Water. It inspired many photographs as the mountains and clouds formed the fantastic background to the serene temple complex.
Temples to – see on Day 4
Start the day with Baisakih. It is considered the mother temple for the Hindus in Bali and had the patronage of all the eight kings of that time. It is situated nearly 1000m above sea level and offers spectacular views from the top. The temple complex has 22 temple structures and is dedicated to Basuki, the Snake God. Somewhere in 8CE Rishi Markendeya came from India and set up the temple. Though some parts of the temple are still old, most of it has been reconstructed after the eruption of Mt Agung in 1963.
If you’re familiar with the Hindu mythologies, there are statues on either side of the steps which are based on the Pandavas and Kauravas from the Mahabharata, representing the good and the evil within the human being. This is the only temple where you will see the temple complex has a separate complex based on the Hindu caste system.
A very interesting place to visit and a must-see.
Teerth Ganga is the garden for the queen and other ladies from the royal family, who could spend time here. The water garden was almost completed destroyed by the eruption of Mt Agung in 1963 and was then rebuilt. There are several ponds filled with koi fish. The highlight is the 11-tiered fountain. Enjoy feeding the colourful fish or take a boat ride amidst the lotus blossoms.
It is considered one of the holiest temple complexes in Bali. It is a complex of seven temples set in the verdant surroundings of Lempuyang. From the parking, there are small open buses which take the visitors to the main temple complex. Sarongs are a must for everyone and are included in the entry fees. From there, it’s a short, steep climb but worth every step. The view is spectacular as your eyes gaze over the hills and forests. The iconic symbol of Bali, the Gateway to Heaven, is a must-do photo-op but has a long wait period.
Every good thing comes to an end. and so did the stay at Ubud.
The 4 days were magical. One can’t do justice to a place like Ubud in 4 days; but then a lifetime would still not be enough. We were able to do all this and more. You can plan a longer evening enjoying the sunset at the Campuhang ridge or walk around the quiet lanes of Ubud. Or soak in the dance recital at the Ubud Palace. Or just chill with your friends in any one of the warungs (they are like the local hang-outs serving local fare at reasonable prices). You could decide what suits your convenience and plan the days accordingly. Either way, it’s a win-win situation.
I’ve used the affiliate links given below to show some of the things I found useful during the trip. In case you do use the links, remember that I could get a small commission with no additional cost to you. so go ahead and plan your trip.