Ubud is the centre of Bali and where all aspects of Balinese life come together plus more. It’s a tourists paradise no matter the budget and it’s where you’re going to want to spend some time. The village of Ubud itself is small but the surroundings only add to the number of things to do in Ubud.
Ubud is where you’ll find culture, art, good food and shopping. Lot’s of shopping. It’s where yogis flock to to enjoy the serene settings just off of the busy streets and where visitors come to indulge in the local lifestyle through cuisine and the nature.
Ubud is as much spiritual as much as it is a tourist centre and this unique combination makes Ubud one of the top destinations not only in Bali but in the world so it’s a must-visit during any trip to Bali.
What's in this article
- 1 Bali Essentials
- 2 Things to do in Ubud
- 2.1 Brave the Ubud Monkey Forest
- 2.2 Get Your Instagram Game on at Tegallalang Rice Terraces
- 2.3 Visit Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)
- 2.4 Shop Through the Ubud Market
- 2.5 Stop by Ubud Palace
- 2.6 Stroll Along the Campuhan Ridge Walk
- 2.7 Watch Sunrise from Mount Batur
- 2.8 Visit Pura Taman Saraswati Temple
- 2.9 Marvel at Tegenungan Waterfall
- 2.10 Get Blessed at Tirta Empul Water Temple
- 2.11 Get Your Yoga On
- 2.12 Take a Cooking Class
- 2.13 See the Most Instagramable Spots in Bali
- 2.14 See a Traditional Balinese Dance
- 2.15 Learn Traditional Dance
- 2.16 See History at Pura Gunung Kawi
- 2.17 Chill Out with a Massage
- 2.18 Visit the Bali Swing
- 2.19 Cycle Down a Volcano
- 2.20 Swing by Tibumana Waterfall
- 2.21 Check Out the Bamboo Forest
- 2.22 Get Adventurous and Go White Water Rafting
- 3 Ubud Accommodation
- 4 How to Get to Ubud
- 5 Getting Around Ubud
- 6 Travelling around Bali? You’ll love these articles too
All prices are quoted in Indonesia rupiah. Check up to date conversions here.
Things to do in Ubud
Find what to do in Ubud to keep you busy for 2 days to 1 week. There are so many Ubud activities and places to visit in Ubud that your time spent here can vary a lot depending on what you want to do during your Ubud itinerary.
Brave the Ubud Monkey Forest
If you’re as terrified of monkey’s as I am then avoid this place at all costs. Don’t ask why I still went, I suppose it was just curiosity to see what all the hype was about as this is one of the top things to do in Ubud. The area is actually a Sacred Monkey Forest that is a sanctuary for the 700+ grey long-tailed macaques that live in the area. The forest is not huge but it is beautiful when you’re not trying to dodge monkeys. Besides the monkeys, you’ll see some temples, one which is dedicated to village funerals.
The monkeys themselves are quite used to humans so do not bring in any food, plastic water bottles or wear jewlery. You may have a new friend or a few if you do.
Ubud Monkey Forest is located in central Ubud and is within walking distance of any accommodation that is in town. The entrance fee is 50,000. And be careful around Monkey Forest Road as some of the monkeys do come out of the forest!
Get Your Instagram Game on at Tegallalang Rice Terraces
The Tegallalang Rice Terraces are one of the most famous Bali attractions and one of the best things to do in Ubud. They were made famous because of their natural beauty even though it’s really just a place where farmers do their work. The rice terraces use the traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system and are one of three rice terraces in the region.
You are free to walk through the rice terraces for an entrance fee of 10,000 but you will also be asked to give a donation each time you cross into a new farmers property. The terraces offer incredible views from above for drone shots but also are stunning down on land.
If you don’t feel like trekking through the terraces (beware don’t go after it rains!) then you can get a beautiful shot on the famous ‘Love Bali’ swing that sits just outside of the terraces at one of the cafes that lines the street.
Visit Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)
This 9th century sanctuary is most famous for the face of the cave that has intricate details carved into the stone’s surface. But walk around and you’ll see the beauty of the rest of the area. Don’t let its name fool you though, this cave is not where you’ll find elephants. Instead, there are bathing pools, rock-wall carvings, fountains and a meditational cave.
Goa Gajah has significant historical and spiritual value as it was originally built as a place for meditation. It is located just outside of Ubud’s centre and has a 15,000 rupiah entrance fee. Many tours will include a stop at this famous spot.
Shop Through the Ubud Market
Ubud is the top place to shop in all of Bali and the Ubud market is the centre of it all. It’s located right in the heart of Ubud and offers a splendid selection of souvenirs from clothing to jewelry, bags, trinkets and much more. Many hand-crafted goods can be found here that come from the neighbouring villages as Ubud is the centre of multiple art producing villages.
The market was also the location for a scene from Eat, Pray, Love. When you come here make sure you’ve got your bargaining skills ready.
Stop by Ubud Palace
Ubud Palace was built in the 1800’s and is a main landmark in Ubud. It sits on a busy street but step through the gates and it will be peaceful to admire the traditional Balinese architecture that has been extremely well preserved. It is also a popular place to watch dance performances in the evening.
Stroll Along the Campuhan Ridge Walk
Another natural hot spot in Ubud is the Campuhan Ridge Walk that allows visitors to escape from the hectic Ubud centre streets. This hilltop walk is just outside of the centre and is a magical place to catch sunset and get a workout through the rice fields, ravine and lush green setting. It’s a 9km walk from start to finish up and down moderate hills that makes you feel like you’re further away from town than you really are.
Watch Sunrise from Mount Batur
Mount Batur is technically not in Ubud but the town acts a main spot for visitors to catch a ride to the active volcano. Mount Batur is an hour drive away in the town of Batur and is where many flock to to catch the sunrise from the volcano’s summit. It is claimed to be the easiest volcano trek in all of Indonesia, but if it’s considered easy I don’t want to know what the others are like! (That’s coming from someone who is lazy and doesn’t work out).
The trek itself is about 2 hours up steep and sometimes loose rock or volcanic ash but the sunrise view from the top of Mount Agung on Bali and Mount Rinjani on Lombok is breathtaking.
Visit Pura Taman Saraswati Temple
This scenic temple is in central Ubud and is an escape and oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Step in here to admire this water temple that has ponds filled with blooming pink lotuses and traditional Balinese architecture, making it one of the best temples in Ubud. Entrance into this temple is free but if you wish to dine with an excellent view of the lotuses then make sure to have a meal at Cafe Lotus. Dance performances are also held here.
Marvel at Tegenungan Waterfall
Tegenungan Waterfall is a powerful waterfall that is about a 20-minute drive outside of the town centre. It’s the most easily accessible waterfall in the region that is between Ubud and Denpasar. Since its location is so good it is extremely popular so aim to go early before the crowds of tourists arrive.
Entrance is 15,000 and there are about 100 stairs to get down. There are some Instagram worthy spots on the way down too including a giant swing in front of the waterfall. There is a large pool of water that you can swim in as well.
My personal favourite part of the area was the small waterfall that you can see on the left hand side of the stairs about half way down. There’s less people, it’s beautiful and there’s also a small swing.
Get Blessed at Tirta Empul Water Temple
This temple is a national heritage site that was built in 960AD and tells the story of good versus evil through carvings on the stone walls. Tirta Empul means ‘holy water spring’ and the temple was named such because of the holy water spring that is within the temple complex. It’s here that many locals come multiple times a year on important dates to get blessed under the spouts of water that have the holy water flowing from into purification pools where a few fish also live. Visitors are welcome to take part in the blessings.
Tirta Empul Water Temple is outside of Ubud, about a 20-minute drive and I highly recommend going with a local guide or doing research beforehand so you can properly perform the ritual for blessings under each spout of water and know what each statue pouring water out stands for. This temple really is the best of Ubud.
Get Your Yoga On
Ubud is the epicenter of yoga in Bali and for good reason. The peaceful practice suits its surroundings well with tranquil and quiet nature of rice fields, forests and flowing water down the river. Yoga retreats can be found in abundance within Ubud village and the surrounding areas. Classes are also available at the many studios for those who wish to practice only once or a few times. The most popular and well-known yoga studio in all of Bali is Yoga Barn which is in Ubud. I can vouch that it’s a great place to practice!
Take a Cooking Class
Cooking classes are available all around Bali but there are tons in Ubud. Most are just outside of town and though they are a more expensive Bali activity they are totally worth it. You will learn to make traditional Balinese dishes, see the techniques used and then get to taste just how delicious all of the dishes are from soups to mains to desserts.
See the Most Instagramable Spots in Bali
Doing tours from Ubud is not uncommon either as Ubud acts as a great base. The Mount Batur Sunrise Trek is one of them (well technically it’s only the morning) but another great one is visiting the Gates of Heaven at Lempuyang Temple which is in the northeast of Bali. Instagram tours of Bali are also available, with guides who take you to the best spots and some even have photographers ready to capture the perfect moments in the best spots on the island.
See a Traditional Balinese Dance
Ubud is the hub of all things relating to art in Bali from painting to hand-made crafts, music and even dance. If you want to see a traditional Balinese dance then Ubud is the place to do it as you’ll have the most options here. Each dance tells a story and the colourful costumes and make-up are worth seeing alone. Balinese dancing is very unique and worth seeing as it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. There aren’t many things to do in Ubud at night but this is one of your options.
If you want to see the kecak fire dance I recommend seeing it at the Uluwatu Temple which is the most famous place to see it with sunset over the temple and ocean behind the dancers.
Learn Traditional Dance
Instead of just observing, why not try learning Balinese dancing for yourself? It’s a unique way to understand the culture a little better and to try the unique style of dance that can be harder than it looks!
See History at Pura Gunung Kawi
Pura Gunung Kawi is a very Balinese temple in the way that it has rice fields across both sides of the path the leads you down to the temple. It’s a unique archeological site because of the carvings that are carved directly into the rock. It is said that the man who made the carvings did it just using his own nail. On-site there are also a number of shrines and the site overlooks a river that flows down from Tirta Empul Water Temple.
This temple is a 20-minute drive outside of Ubud and has 300 stairs down. Entrance is 15,000 rupiah.
Chill Out with a Massage
Spas are scattered all across Ubud so there is no need to fear if there is not a spa on-site at your accommodation. Ubud is the perfect place to chill out and relax and what better way is there to do that than with a massage between temple hopping or yoga sessions? Spas in Ubud range in price with the cheapest being very affordable with an hour Balinese full-body massage for 70,000. Many are walk-in’s but some require appointments.
Here are a few options ranging in price for spa experiences that you can book:
Visit the Bali Swing
Have you seen pictures on Instagram of girls swinging above a lush green forest with long dresses blowing behind them on a swing in Ubud? If you have then there is a very high chance that it was taken at the Bali Swing. It’s an Instagram lovers paradise where there are multiple swings to try and other props for pictures such as a birds nest and more. It’s quite expensive at $10USD just for entrance or $35USD to use a swing…though it does come with lunch.
I’ve been told by other travellers that there are very similar options at a fraction of the price, so do some looking around and you might score yourself a better deal and go someplace where not all the tourists go.
Cycle Down a Volcano
Want to get active and feel adventurous without too much effort? Then the Downhill Bike Tour is for you. You’ll spend the day riding down Kintamani volcano for scenic views over Ubud and stopping in the hottest spots outside of town such as the famous rice terraces. Don’t worry, you get driven up the volcano to start!
Swing by Tibumana Waterfall
If you want to see a waterfall near Ubud that isn’t packed with tourists then a stop by Tibumana Waterfall is a must. This secluded waterfall is one of Bali’s better secrets, and though it’s popular enough that there is an entrance fee of 10,000, there are still very few people there. This waterfall may not be as powerful as Tegenungan Waterfall but the serene setting and quiet atmosphere make this simple waterfall a picturesque destination.
Check Out the Bamboo Forest
Also just outside of Ubud is the Bamboo Forest, another hidden gem that isn’t so hidden yet not very many people check it out. You can visit it on your own to get some stellar Instagram shots or you can choose to do a bike tour through the forest and enjoy your surroundings.
Get Adventurous and Go White Water Rafting
Ubud is popular for river rafting, which is surprising to a lot of people. But Ayung River runs through the surrounding area making excellent rapids for travellers to enjoy. Step away from the cultural side of Ubud for a while and enjoy some adrenaline through the beautiful surroundings.
Read my detailed Ubud accommodation guide to find the best places from budget to luxury, hostels to hotels and villas.
How to Get to Ubud
Getting to Ubud is the same as everywhere else in Indonesia, you have to drive. From the Bali airport, taxis will be the most expensive at 300,000 but private drivers booked in advance can be very affordable (more so than a taxi!). This is because Ubud is actually quite a distance from the airport and it will take 1-1.5 hours to get to Ubud. You can try to negotiate with private drivers for a better price or organize through your accommodation.
From other areas of Bali you can get a taxi or private driver or for a more budget-friendly option choose to use Grab, Uber or Go-Jek (the Indonesia version of Grab and Uber). These drivers will usually try and negotiate a higher price with you but stick to your price and you’ll find a driver. Shared transfers to or from other areas of Bali are crazy affordable too.
Lastly, scooter rentals are 50,000 a day and you can drive yourself.
Getting Around Ubud
The town of Ubud itself is very small and you can easily walk to all of the main Ubud attractions in town within 20 minutes from one end to the other.
The rest of the main attractions in Ubud are located outside of Ubud itself, though they’re still considered things to do in Ubud. To get to things such as waterfalls, rice terraces and temples many people choose to book day trips and tours that will take them to all of the main highlights.
You can also hire a private driver where they will take you to the highlights or you can choose to make your own itinerary. Private drivers start at 500,000 for the day. Or once again, you can choose to get yourself around on a motorbike for 50,000 a day. Ubud is very nice to drive around once you’re outside of the main centre.
Enjoy your time in Ubud, I hope this helped you find all of the top places to see in Ubud and where to go in Ubud!
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