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The Ultimate Travel Guide To Ubud, Bali
Thinks rice paddy views, nurturing yoga studios, healthy eating, writers festivals, loads of tourists and we have Ubud!
Ubud’s amazing for holidaymakers who love nature, culture, food, wellness & a tiny bit of adventure.
Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali – a bustling town in the heart of Bali surrounded by lush river valleys and rice paddy fields . It takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive from Seminyak to Ubud and 1.5 hours to get there from Bali’s international airport.
Ubud has always been a beloved tourist destination but it gained in popularity increasingly after Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘Eat Love Pray’ followed by the movie starring Julia Roberts. However, since ancient times, Ubud has been a cultural town, home to artists and craftsmen. There are museums to visit and you can still visit the artisan towns around Ubud to buy handicrafts and artwork or even furniture straight from the local artists and woodworkers. Ubud could also be named the capital of yoga and spiritualism.
Yogis, yoginis, spiritual seekers and health food lovers all come to Ubud to connect with themselves and with nature, practice yoga at amazing places, meditate and meet like-minded people. Families also love Ubud, home to the Sacred Monkey Forest and Ubud Palace where you can see traditional performances. Around Ubud, there are many more landmarks to visit such as Pura Tirta Empul and there are plenty of fun family hot spots and activities, too, such as POD Origin chocolate farm, Bali Zoo, Bali Elephant Camp and Bali Bird Park and white water rafting on the Ayung River.
Quick facts about Ubud
- Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali
- Ubud is a vegan paradise
- Ubud is a yogi and yogini magnet
- Ubud is wonderful for families
- Ubud is home to Bali’s royal family
- Ubud is surrounded by artisan villages
- Ubud is home to fabulous coffee cafes, exquisite restaurants and bars
- Shopping, nightlife, dining for all diets, spas, yoga, temples – Ubud has got is all!
- The main gateway to get to Mount Batur and do the sunrise hike to the summit
Here is a quick list of fun activities in Ubud:
- Campuhan Ridge Walk (the famous rice paddy walk starts from the centre of Ubud) – make sure you are prepared for a bit of a trek as it starts off quite hilly.
- Down-hill cycling tour through rice paddy fields
- White water rafting on the Ayung River
- Cultural performances at Ubud Palace
- Yoga classes at The Yoga Barn or any other of the many yoga studios around the area
- Experiencing traditional Balinese spa treatment (try Ubud Traditional Spa and get the ‘rice farmer massage’
- Monkey Forest walk
- Chocolate tour at POD Origin (great with kids!) and combine it with Bali Elephant Camp
- Bali Zoo & Bird Park
- Goa Gajah elephant cave
- Water temple Tirta Empul & Unesco monument Gunung Kawi
- Sunrise at Mount Batur
- Day trip to Kintamani
- Visit ARMA Museum and Museum Rudana
- Silversmith class / Batik class / pottery / cooking class and more workshops
Things to do in Ubud
Lovers of culture, nature, shopping, yoga, arts, vegan and raw food and stunning villas perched on the edge of a deep river gorge – you will love Ubud! The centre of Ubud is small enough to explore on foot but also around Ubud, you can visit beautiful places, see amazing things and do fun stuff. The following comprehensive guide will clearly show you where to stay, what to do with the kids, where to shop, the best day spas and the best yoga studios.
Shopping in Ubud
Ubud has got plenty of boutique shops and handicraft stores. You can also spend some hours strolling around Ubud Market but be prepared to bargain hard (it can be fun!). Want to find unique craftwork and buy it directly from the artist? Head over to the famous craftsmen village of Mas.
Best restaurants in Ubud; 20 of the best places where you can eat vegan, organic or go hard with as much meat as you can handle.
There’s no shortage of fine dining, hipster cafes, casual family friendly restaurants and a whole bunch of vegan eateries. So for yourself!
1. Moksa Plant-based restaurant & permaculture garden
Now there are more than a handful of farm-to-table restaurants in Bali (and especially in Ubud), but Moksa Plant-based Restaurant has something the others don’t: the organic garden is directly accessible from the restaurant. Talking about fresh food on your plate! Just harvested from the land, full of vitamines we love, this is a great Ubud eat! Every Tuesday and Saturday, Moksa hosts a farmers market.
2 Hippie Fish
Hippie Fish in Ubud is the place to be for authentic Mediterranean flavours and exquisite seafood. Organic cuisine bu also frequent art exhibitions, live music and other happenings, Hippie Fish is more than just a restaurant. They even have their own wine cellar, one of the largest collection of imported wines on the island. Hooray!
Visit Hippie Fish: Jl. Raya Ubud No.14, Ubud. Ph +62 812-4641-8938
3. Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique
A world-famous fine dining restaurant by the famous Chris Salans, Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique bring two worlds together: The best of French Haute Cuisine inspired by Asia. The dining setting is also pretty spectacular with alfresco dining tables surrounded by bamboo forest and high swaying palm trees. The perfect place for a special (romantic!) evening out!
Visit Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique, Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Kecamatan Ubud. Ph +62 361 975768
4. The Sayan House
Japanese Latin fusion food? Does that even exist? It sure does at The Sayan House and it’s as sensational as it sounds. Exciting contrasting and complementary flavours combined with astonishing views of the dramatic Sayan river valley, come and experience this place for yourself.
Visit The Sayan House, Jl. Raya Sayan No.70, Sayan, Kecamatan Ubud. Ph +62 361 4792592
This popular Ubud Restaurant requires a reservation long before your actual date night. Contemporary European cuisine prepared with local seasonal ingredients, Locavore has got a delightful tasting menu paired with Indonesian craft drinks.
Visit Locavore, 10 Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud. Ph +62 3619 777 33
6. Sage Bali
Vegan fusion cuisine awaits you at Sage Bali. From spring rolls to salad bowls and fragrant curries to jackfruit tacos, cauliflower fritters and the most delicious desserts. It’s a feast!
7. Casa Luna
Casa Luna honours Bali with traditional cuisine, local customs and warm Balinese hospitality. It really is a landmark in the Ubud dining scene and the Balinese paella is legendary! There are many vegetarian and vegan options and everything is made with local organic ingredients. Casa Luna offers some amazing cooking classes, too, if you’re interested in learning the tricks of Balinese cooking.
8. Bebek Bengil
Immensely popular with locals, expats and tourists, Bebek Bengli is the best place on the island to get your taste of the famous ‘Bebek Betutu’ (Balinese crispy fried duck with chilli sauce). There are indoor and fabulous outdoor dining options with rice paddy views.
9. Bali Buda
An all-time favourite for those who like to eat organic at affordable prices, Bali Buda has restaurants all over the island from Ubud to Seminyak to Sanur and Uluwatu. They also have an organic shop on-site where you can buy fresh produce and home-baked bread.
Visit Bali Buda, Jl Jembawan #1, MAS, Kecamatan Ubud. +62 361 976324
10. Lacasita Fonda Mexicana
Awesome Mexican mojitos, delicious tacos and spiced up burritos, if this is your style, you won’t be disappointed at Lacasita Fonda Mexicana in Ubud!
11. Spice by Chris Salans
Chris Salans is the founder of Mozaic Restaurant and with Spice, this culinary genius aims to provide visitors with an affordable haute-cuisine dining experience. What to expect: Indonesian cuisine with a genius French twist. On top of that, all the ingredients are locally-sourced and organic.
12. The Elephant
Lovely open-air sitting spots, delightful views and delicious vegetarian food, The Elephant is all about earth-friendly cuisine with locally-sourced ingredients processed in sustainable ways.
13. The Seeds of Life
The Seeds of Life is a raw food cafe and restaurant in Ubud and it’s also Bali’s one and only Toaist Tonic Bar. A great place to detox and get healthy! They even have a Raw Food Culinary Academy. How cool is that?!
14. Warung Sopa
Who doesn’t love a bowl of soup in the middle of the day? Warung Sopa has 2 restaurants in Ubud and they’ve got the best veggie soups in town from cauliflower to broccoli, sweet corn, dahl, miso and many more.
15. Naughty Nuri’s Warung
The best pork ribs on the island are served at Naughty Nuri’s – everybody knows that! After the great success in Ubud, they’ve also opened a restaurant on Mertanadi Street in Seminyak.
Visit Naughty Nuris, Jl. Raya Sanggingan No.88X, Kedewatan, Kecamatan Ubud. Ph +62 361 977547
Come to Soma Cafe Ubud for organic food and high vibes. Tucked away on a little lane in the centre of town, this restaurant often has live jam sessions after dinnertime. A great place to meet people and have fun.
17. Ibu Oka Warung
The place to be for authentic Babi Guling – the traditional Balinese suckling pig. Always packed with locals, expats and tourists, this humble local eating place sits right across Ubud Palace in the centre of town. Go try it out!
Address: Jl. Tegal Sari No.2, Ubud. Ph +62 361 976345
18. Ibu Susu Bar & Kitchen
Asian fusion food and delicious cocktails by co-owner Ketut – a Balinese bartender who lived in Melbourne for an extensive period of time, you know where to get your cocktails in Ubud! Located on Monkey Forest Road, this dining features a gorgeous design with French wooden window shutters and Japanese ceramics.
19. Living Food Lab
Plant-based food, slow-cooked on low temperatures or raw, always organic and incredibly creative with unique fusions, Living Food Lab surely is an interesting place to come in for a meal and it is a foodie haven for vegans and health-food addicts.
20. Buddha Bowl
Thai and Vietnamese food in a bowl – you just know it’s good! The lovely open-air restaurant makes up for a great pit stop any time of the day. Hot steaming Vietnamese Pho, crispy spring rolls, healthy salads – you could even come in for breakfast and try their smoothie bowl. Buddha Bowl knows bowls, alright!
Best yoga studios for beginners in Ubud
1. The Yoga Barn
The most famous place to go for a yoga class in all of Bali is The Yoga Barn and it happens to be located in the centre of Ubud – the original yoga hub. This yoga studio is like an oasis in the centre of the action with 7 yoga studios and many classes and workshop going on every day. They also have an on-site juice bar, health restaurant and treatment room.
” Bali Villa Escapes Tip: The Yoga Bar is about a 5 minute scooter ride from the main area of Ubud so you might need a taxi to get there”.
The Yoga Barn, Jl. Hanoman, Pengosekan, Kecamatan Ubud Ph +62 361 971236
2. Radiantly Alive
If you want to have a go at Sky Yoga Flow, head over to Radiantly Alive and join a class. This Ubud Yoga Studio has 3 shalas and over 80 yoga and movement classes including Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin yoga, QiGong and more. They also do inspirational retreats and yoga teacher trainings.
Radiantly Alive, Jl. Jembawan 1 No.3, Ubud Ph +62 361 978055
3. Ubud Yoga House
Ubud Yoga House is located a bit further away from the centre which results in an incredibly peaceful atmosphere and wonderful unspoiled surroundings. A great place to re-connect your body, mind and soul and get back to nature. Ubud Yoga House is a small studio with a friendly, welcoming ambience.
Ubud Yoga House, Jl. Subak Sokwayah, Ubud Ph +62 821-4418-1058
4. Ubud Yoga Centre
They call themselves ‘the hottest yoga studio in Bali’. Perhaps their Bikram yoga classes have something to do with it. Ubud Yoga House features a contemporary double-storey yoga studio with a striking design by Balinese architect Popo Danes. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls maximize the magical valley views all around while you are in the yogic flow. This place also has a wine bar and a kids centre – the perfect mix, we would think.
Ubud Yoga Centre, Jl. Raya Singakerta No.108, Banjar Dangin Labak, Kecamatan Ubud Ph+62 811-3803-266
Best places to buy souvenirs in Ubud
1. Ubud Art Market
Let’s start with the most obvious one, Ubud Art Market. This double-storey complex located in the centre of town is the place to be for all kinds of souvenirs. Do be prepared to bargain – you will need to bargain hard to get a fair price from these seasoned sales ladies.
“Bali Villa Escapes Tip: the best time to visit the art market is late afternoon as it is far too hot during the day to shop”.
Ubud Art Market, Ubud, Gianyar Ph +62 815-1515-5881
2. Artisan villages around Ubud
If you want to buy original souvenirs straight from the artists and craftsmen, explore the famous artisan villages around Ubud and get your shopping done. Villages like Celuk, Mas, Batuan and many more. Hop on a scooter or go for a day tour with a driver, it’s a great, unique shopping inexperience.
3. Tegalalang Market
If you want to buy handmade wooden masks or other intricately carved woodwork, Tegalalang Market is a good place to go.
” Bali Villa Escapes Tip: after you’ve visited the market take a relaxing walk around the Tegalalang rice fields and get that perfect Instagram photo”.
4. Threads of Life
Support local communities across Indonesia and buy the highest quality handmade textiles at Threads of Life. Local materials, natural dyes and traditional methods, this fair trade shop helps women from around the archipelago to overcome poverty. Lucky for you, this non-profit organisation has a shop in Ubud. The fabrics are stunning!
Threads of Life, Jl. Kajeng No.24, Ubud Ph +62 361 972187
Things to do with the kids in Ubud
Are your kids above 5 years old? Take them for some water fun on the river! Just a short drive from the city centre, in a deep river gorge, rushes the Ayung River and it is awaiting you! The rafting trip takes around 2 hours and it is great fun. Beautiful surroundings, rapids that are never too scary but always exciting, swimming spots and waterfalls – the perfect activity on a hot day.
2. Chocolate and elephants
Just outside of Ubud, in a Balinese village called Taro, lies a chocolate farm and factory where the little ones can see exactly how chocolate is made and where it comes from. They even get their go at making their own chocolate elephant. Talking about elephants – an ethical elephant park lies just next door.
3. Meet monkeys in a sacred place
The Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud is the best place to get close to the Balinese macaque monkeys. It really is a forest in the centre of town, easy to reach on foot from your villa and it is home to lots of monkey families. You can feed them and take photos with a monkey on your shoulder or head. Do be careful with sunglasses and hats – the macaques are easily on the run with your favourite sunglasses.
Ubud Monkey Forest, Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud. Ph +62 361 971304
There are plenty of them! Ubud is a cultural town, perfect for your kids to learn from local artists and craftsmen. Silversmithing, Balinese cooking, Batik, spa products, Balinese dance, pottery, ceramic – you pick! These are things of true value for your kids to take home.
5. Rice fields & temples
Rice fields are ready to be explored within walking distance from the centre or a short taxi ride away as is the popular Tegalalang rice fields ( as shown below – bring your walking shoes as it’s quite steep!! ). Start early (kids are early-risers anyway) and do the Campuhan Ridge Walk or take them on a down-hill cycling tour. You also can’t miss out on the ancient temples around Ubud. How about a cave shaped like an elephant with a temple inside? (Goa Gajah) or a water temple where you can take a ritual bathing?
5 best day spas in Ubud
1. Karsa Spa
Located on the Campuhan Ridge in Ubud, this fabulous spa boasts fantastic views of the rice fields and lush tropical surroundings. Karsa Spa has professionally-trained massage therapists and they use special ayurvedic and organic oils. Great value for money!
Karsa Day Spa, Jl. Markandia, Banyar Bangkiang Sidem, Keliki, Tegallalang. Ph +62 813-5339-2013
2. Taksu Spa
Taksu is a renowned health centre in the heart of Ubud. You can expect treatments of the highest quality, tranquil tropical surroundings and nothing but pure essential oils as well as eco-friendly shampoo and soap. Prices are mid-range. To give you an idea, a 1-hour Balinese massage costs Rp. 600.000
Taksu, Jl. Goutama Sel., Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud. Ph +62 361 4792525
3. Ubud Traditional Spa
Make a booking before you go! Ubud Traditional Spa is a family spa located just a short drive from the city centre, surrounded by jungle and rice fields. Experience traditional spa treatments or perhaps the best massage you’ll ever have (go for Rice Farmer Massage!). The setting is traditional Balinese and the prices are very affordable.
Ubud Traditional Spa, Jalan Rsi Markandya I Payogan. Ph +62 361 8989540
4. Cantika Spa
Handmade spa products (you could even consider joining a workshop at Cantika Zest and make your own…), Cantika Spa is also known as ‘house of natural health and beauty’. This spa has a real Balinese feel – a great place to recharge and rejuvenate!
Cantika Natural Spa, Jl. Subak Sok Wayah, Ubud. Ph +62 813-3972-9980
5. Ubud Bodyworks Centre
From beauty to herbal to healing treatments, Ubud Bodyworks Centre is tucked in a traditional Balinese compound and it was founded by spiritual teacher Ketut Arsana back in 1987. Come in here for spa time, yoga, guidance – whatever!
Ubud Bodyworks Centre, Jl. Hanoman No.25, Ubud. Ph +62 361 971393
Where to stay in Ubud
Ideally, you want to be located near the main tourist hot spots like; the monkey forest temple, art market and the Royal Palace. This way getting around is easy. Traffic in Ubud, especially during peak holiday periods can get quite busy so the less you have to travel the better. You could say the centre of Ubud is at the intersection of Jalan Raya Ubud and Jalan Raya Monkey Forest Road so anywhere within 5 km’s of here is ideal.
Thinking about renting your holiday villa in Ubud?
We’ve got villas in the centre of town and in the surrounding villages set amidst rice paddy fields built on the edge of river valleys.
This travel guide was written by Steven Waldberg one of the founders of Bali Villa Escapes who likes nothing more than getting on his scooter and driving around Ubud’s tiny street searching for the next best cafe, hip art gallery or new yoga studio.