So the next stop on my trip to Bali was Ubud, which was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Not only was I lucky enough to meet up with friends from my hostel in Seminyak, but I also celebrated my birthday there and met a guy that I had a cute holiday romance with, à la Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love.
Ubud is absolutely brimming with things to do, and as well as being home to lots of middle-aged women ‘finding themselves’ through a medium of yoga and tofu, it’s also extremely popular with young backpackers looking for a place to kick back and chill.
So, what would I recommend?
1. Monkey Forest
Monkey Forest is probably what Ubud is most famous for, due to the fact that every single backpacker ever goes there. For a small fee, you can wander around the vast nature reserve and temple complex, taking in the beautiful scenery, all the while surrounded by over 600 monkeys! The monkeys are extremely tame, so it’s definitely worth buying a small bunch of bananas to feed to your new furry friends, something that will no doubt provide you with endless amusement as the little critters bombard you and your friends.
2. Visit a coffee plantation
Ubud is home to many coffee plantations, which harvest and produce the world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak. Kopi Luwak is made from the poo of the Asian palm civet. These cute little animals eat the coffee beans, and during digestion, pack them full of extra vitamins and minerals, before excreting them ready for us to drink…almost. Because of Ubud’s vast rainforests, the palm civets are free to roam around in the wild, with the coffee harvesters having the wonderful job of searching for their poo in the jungle every morning!
For about £1.50, a guide will take you through the coffee plantation, explaining the process of making Kopi Luwak, before presenting you with free tasters of around seven different teas and coffees, from blackcurrant tea, to vanilla coffee and hot chocolate. As the Kopi Luwak is so expensive, a mug of that will set you back around £2.50, but it’s something you have to try.
3. Explore the markets
Although not overly cheap compared to the likes of Bangkok, Ubud market is still ridiculously good value for money and the cheapest place in Bali to stock up on beautiful clothes, jewellery and fabrics. I arrived in Ubud on my birthday and so decided to treat myself to some cute trinkets and a gorgeous printed dress that made me fit right in with hippy dippy vibe of the place.
4. See some live music
Ubud’s nightlife is less about hedonistic travellers taking drugs and partying til the sun comes up and more about relaxing to live music with friends. For my birthday, I went to the Laughing Buddha to see an amazing reggae band play and enjoy some good quality Spanish tapas. Definitely not a venue to be missed.
5. Explore the rice fields
Ubud is famous for its vast and impressive rice paddies, and it’s no surprise why. Free to walk around, these rice fields are really a sight to behold. If you have the stamina, try to walk a bit off the beaten track and you’ll lose the tourists and see just how beautiful Ubud really is.
6. See a traditional Balinese dance
If you’re not worn out by the monkeys and rice fields, one thing you have to do is go and see a traditional Balinese dance. Performances start at 7:30pm and cost around £6 for a 90 minute show. Although I found the plot hard to follow (you’re supposed to read the story first, like with an opera or ballet), it didn’t stop me from enjoying the show and I was blown away by the stunning dancing and incredible costumes. My ears were ringing afterwards due to the (quite frankly unnecessary!) volume of the music, but overall I’d definitely recommend seeing a show at somepoint before you leave.
7. Party at CP Lounge
CP Lounge is the only place (to my knowledge) that stays open late in Ubud, and it’s still one of my favourite places in Asia. CP Lounge is relatively quiet and chilled out until around midnight, with live music and plants everywhere. Then, at midnight, a small room opens and a DJ turns the small space into a party until around 3am. CP Lounge is the perfect venue whatever you’re looking for. If you’re on a date, it’s perfect, if you’re with a huge group of people, it’s perfect, if you’re an older traveller – perfect. I cannot recommend this place enough.
I don’t care whether you eat street food, fancy restaurant food, or in one of the many vegan/raw food cafes that are dotted everywhere. When you’re in Ubud, you have to eat, purely because everything is so damn good. Whether you want to munch on tofu and tempeh, share some Spanish tapas or devour something mysterious from a street vendor, you can guarantee that your tastebuds won’t be disappointed. Ubud for me was the best place in Asia for food.
9. Do yoga
So due to my friend and I not being diligent enough to check the timetable properly, we missed out on the free yoga classes that The Yoga Barn offers daily. However, a friend of ours did make the class on time and enjoyed it immensely. Or, you know, you could pay for a class. That works too.