This list of things to do in Ubud was last updated on 25/07/2021.
The island of Bali, Indonesia, was the first place I ever visited as a solo traveller back in 2015.
I’d seen Eat, Pray, Love, and, like many before me, became enamoured with Ubud, Bali, the place where Julia Roberts spends the last 4 months of her 12 month trip around the world.
Watching Roberts cycle through rice fields, stroll around local markets and find peace in this tranquil paradise made me yearn for my own Indonesian adventure, and so, I booked a flight to Bali.
Ubud was my fourth stop in Bali (after Kuta, Seminyak and Uluwatu), and as soon as I arrived, I could see exactly why Ubud is considered the cultural capital of Bali.
Not only are there so many things to do in Ubud connected to art, food and spirituality, but the tourist infrastructure in Ubud is great, making it the perfect destination for first-time solo travellers like me.
In Ubud, you will find ancient temples and serene rice paddies just steps away from bustling markets and stores selling handcrafted artisan gifts.
Raw vegan cafes sit alongside gourmet restaurants, and whether you want to try your hand at batik or yoga, there is a class for everything in Ubud.
Ubud might be touristy (I will talk about overtourism in Bali later in this article), and so if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience then a trip to Ubud might not be for you.
However, I absolutely adored Ubud, and I still believe that it is well worth a place on your Bali itinerary. With that in mind, I decided to put together a list of the best things to do in Ubud, Bali!
16 Incredible Things to do in Ubud, Bali
1. Visit Ubud Monkey Forest
One of the most popular things to do in Ubud is visit Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, or the Ubud Monkey Forest. I don’t think I met a single person in Ubud that didn’t visit Ubud Monkey Forest, and it’s no surprise – who doesn’t love cute little monkeys?!
Ubud Monkey Forest is actually a series of three temples dating from the 14th century that sit in a nature reserve.
For a small fee you can meander round and take in the beautiful scenery, all the while surrounded by over 600 wild monkeys, which are said to be spiritual creatures that guard the temples!
The monkeys are extremely tame and not at all bothered by tourists, so it’s definitely worth buying a small bunch of bananas (sold onsite) to feed to your new furry friends, although be aware that the little devils are not afraid of climbing all over you in order to get to what they want, and you should take extra care to protect personal belongings such as sunglasses and cameras as they have been known to steal things!
2. Campuhan Ridge Walk
Campuhan Ridge Walk is located just out of town and is a gentle 2km walk which begins at Gunung Lebah Temple and continues through rolling hills and valleys that seem a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Ubud city centre. For even more exquisite views, come here at sunset.
3. Enjoy sacred vibes at Pura Tirta Empul
This is one of the more spiritual things to do in Ubud, and if you’re visiting Bali to find yourself, you should definitely start here,
For one a thousand years, Hindus have been bathing in the holy waters of Pura Tirta Empul water temple. The sacred springs are said to have been created by the god Indra, and Hindus believe that they have healing properties. There are two purification pools here where you can clean yourself at each of the 30 stations.
4. Visit a coffee plantation
Ubud is home to many coffee plantations which harvest and produce the world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, which can go for as much as 100 USD per cup!
Kopi Luwak is made from the poo of the Asian palm civet. These cute little animals eat the coffee beans and during digestion they pack them full of extra vitamins and minerals, before excreting them ready for us to drink…lovely.
During my visit to an Ubud coffee plantation, the guide told us that the civets roamed freely around in Ubud’s vast rainforests, with the coffee harvesters hunting for the faeces each morning. However, since tourism in Bali has continued to grow and global demand for Kopi Luwak has increased, it seems as though more and more farms are capturing and caging the civets, and force-feeding them a diet of pure coffee, which leaves them malnourished and miserable.
Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend buying a cup of Kopi Luwak, or buying a packet of the coffee to take home, as you can never be 100% sure that civets are not caged and mistreated (many guides will insist that their plantations are ethical, but this is simply not true).
However, you can still enjoy Ubud’s coffee plantations without trying Kopi Luwak! For a couple of bucks you will get a tour of the plantation, be taught about the process of making Kopi Luwak, and getting a tasting of seven different teas and coffees. I was able to try vanilla coffee, cinnamon coffee, ginseng tea and more, all while enjoying the magnificent views over Bali’s rainforests.
5. Explore Ubud Market
Ubud market is the cheapest place in Bali to stock up on beautiful clothes, jewellery and fabrics, and you can find some stunning handcrafted souvenirs here. Even if you are not looking to buy souvenirs, Ubud market is still a charming place to wander through, so grab a fresh fruit smoothie and enjoy the atmosphere!
6. See some live music
If you’re looking for things to do in Ubud at night, I’ve got you.
Ubud nightlife is less about hedonistic travellers partying till the sun comes up and more about relaxing to live music with friends.
For my 23rd birthday, I went to the Laughing Buddha Bar to see an amazing reggae band play and enjoy cocktails and tapas. The Laughing Buddha has live music almost every night, and showcases everything from jazz to blues, reggae to world music.
Another place that my friends and I loved in Ubud was CP Lounge, which prides itself on being the only place in Ubud where you can ‘get your dance on until the wee hours of the morning.’ CP Lounge is a beautiful open-air lounge bar with palm trees, vines and flowers alongside elegant low sofas where you can drink cocktails, smoke shisha and watch the nightly live music performances, before the party moves inside to the nightclub.
7. Discover Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Visiting Tegalalang Rice Terraces is another one of the most popular things to do in Ubud, and it’s not difficult to see why. These countless layers of rice fields are absolutely magical, and completely free to walk around and enjoy.
Being one of the main things to see in Ubud, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces can get pretty crowded, but if you walk just a little off-the-beaten-track, it is pretty easy to lose everyone. Another option is to visit early in the morning, avoiding the harsh afternoon sun.
8. See a traditional Balinese dance
If you’re not worn out by the monkeys and rice fields, one of the top things to do in Ubud is to go and see a traditional Balinese dance, called a Legong dance. Legong performances are one of the best cultural attractions in Bali, and they tell the story of a maiden who was captured and imprisoned, before eventually being freed.
The shows last for 90 minutes, and I paid around £6 back in 2015. Although I found the plot difficult to follow as I wasn’t aware of the story before attending the performance, 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 while you’re visiting Ubud.
9. Eat Balinese food!
One of the best things to do in Ubud is to EAT, all day every day.
Ubud is a true foodie paradise, and whether your jam is unusual street foods, gourmet fusion food or raw vegan yumminess, you will be spoilt for choice in Ubud.
Ubud was the place where I discovered that tofu isn’t actually awful, that tempeh is a wonderful creation that I wish I’d discovered sooner, and that eating healthily can actually be very fun (and delicious!).
It is partly due to Ubud’s vegan foodie scene that so many digital nomads have chosen to base themselves here – millennials love a good smashed avocado.
If you prefer a bit of fine dining, then Ubud has got you covered as well. Locavore is top of the list on every ‘where to eat in Ubud’ article, and is considered by some to be the most famous restaurant in Indonesia! Locavore is a fusion restaurant, creating locally-inspired dishes with a foreign twist, and their multi-course tasting menus are famous all over Bali.
10. Take a class at the Yoga Barn
Wondering what to do in Ubud to cleanse your body from all of those cocktails? Look no further than the Yoga Barn.
Ubud is famous for its yoga and wellness retreats, and by far the most popular is the Yoga Barn, which offers a wide range of classes for all abilities, including ‘cleansing programmes’ which last for upwards of three days.
While I was in Ubud, the Yoga Barn offered one free class every day, and there are also classes for things such as astrology, meditation and sound healing.
11. Pura Taman Saraswati
Pura Taman Saraswati is a Hindu temple in the heart of Ubud dedicated to the goddess of wisdom and art, named Dewi Saraswati. As well as stunning carvings of the goddess, you will also find a large pond covered with lotus flowers, where Hindus believe that if you bathe in the waters or drink from the pond, you will receive some power from the goddess.
Pura Taman Saraswati is a haven of tranquility in the centre of Ubud, and there are traditional Balinese dances held here every night.
12. Take an art or cooking class
If taking a yoga class in Ubud doesn’t sound like your thing, there are an abundance of other classes that you can take in order to learn more about Balinese culture. From batik to painting and jewellery-making, to traditional Balinese cooking classes, there are so many options available that you will be spoilt for choice!
13. Hunt for waterfalls
Close to Ubud lie some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Bali, popular with locals and tourists alike (for this reason, it is best to visit in the mornings and on weekdays). Some of the best waterfalls near Ubud include Tegenungan Waterfall (one of the most popular), Tibumana Waterfall and Kanto Lampo Waterfall.
14. Get a massage!
All across Southeast Asia are very cheap massage parlours, offering 60 minute massages for as little as £5! Ubud is known for its fancy spa retreats, but if you are travelling on a budget then there is no reason why you have to miss out on a little bit of pampering – not a week went by during my time in Southeast Asia where I didn’t get at least one massage, and Ubud was no exception.
15. Puri Saren Agung – Ubud’s Royal Palace
Puri Saren Agung, or Ubud Royal Palace, is located in the centre of Ubud, close to the art market. Although sections of the palace are still home to the Royal Family, the gardens are available to walk around and admire, and there are traditional dance performances here in the evenings.
16. Pura gunang Kawi
Pura Gunang Kawi is an 11th century temple located 30 minutes from Ubud (close to the sacred water temple), where you can see shrines carved into the rock at the bottom of a river valley.
As with the waterfalls and other Balinese temples, Pura Gunang Kawi is best visited early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Know before you go – Things you should know before visiting Ubud
There are so many things to do in Ubud that you will want to stay there for at least 3 nights, or more if possible. I stayed in Ubud for 5 days and there were so many things that I didn’t have time to do!
If you’re planning a day trip from Ubud, Uber is very affordable and common in Bali. My friends and I used Uber to travel all around the island and it was often the cheapest method. You can also use Grab, which is a similar app.
Ubud is a safe place, although petty crime is on the rise, and muggings from people on scooters and motorbikes is common. Most people recommend wearing a bag across your chest, but I don’t recommend this because if somebody tries to snatch it, you will go flying along with your bag. I know a girl that had this happen to her and she cracked her head open on the pavement. Carry your regular bag (on the side of your body furthest from the road) and keep your valuables stored in different places.
Watch where you’re going – the pavements around Ubud are notoriously uneven and damaged, with potholes and broken drainage holes injuring travellers all the time. Taxi drivers often congregate on the pavements offering their services, street food vendors and shop displays take up a tonne of space and the daily Hindu offerings in small baskets (canang) are placed in front of businesses and have to be stepped around.
Never travel without buying travel insurance. I NEVER travel without insurance, and I’ve seen too many others get landed with huge medical bills as a result of not having had insurance, that it’s something I’ll never neglect to buy. My recommendation for great travel insurance is World Nomads and you can read my review of them here.
Remember that all ATMs in Bali give you your money first, and then there is a delay before your card is returned. I lost my bank card in Ubud this way – I simply took my money and walked away, forgetting that I hadn’t received my card back! This is way more common than you think and I know tonnes of people that have made the same mistake!
Dress respectfully when visiting temples and at Monkey Forest – most temples in Bali provide sarongs for men and women to wear, often for free (or sometimes there is a small charge). You must also remove your shoes before entering temples in Bali.
The tap water is not safe to drink in Bali, so make sure to bring your own bottle (most hostels will have filtered water that you can top up with), or a bottle with a built-in filter.
Indonesia has some of the strictest drug laws in the world so please do not buy drugs in Bali. Simply being caught with some marijuana on you could land you up to 4 years in jail, and if you’re caught smuggling drugs, you can face the death penalty.
Where to stay in Ubud
I always stay in hostels when I travel, and so here are my hostel recommendations for Ubud. If you prefer to stay in hotels or guesthouses then I recommend using Hotellook for the best rates. They have a wide variety of different accommodation types, from family guesthouses to fancy resorts and quaint wooden bungalows.
Alternatively, you could also try house sitting. House sitting enables you to stay in someone’s empty home for free, on the condition that you just take care of it (water any plants etc.). You can use TrustedHousesitters to see if there is anything available for your dates!
The best hostels in Ubud
Kuna Bali – with a huge swimming pool, free yoga, BBQ nights and even free massage, Kuna Bali is one of the top rated hostels in Ubud and it isn’t hard to see why. To view rates and availability at Kuna Bali, click here.
Puri Garden Hotel and Hostel. Some of the things on offer at Puri Garden include free massage, free yoga, free manicure/pedicure, PUPPY THERAPY, live music, traditional Balinese dancers, movie nights in their own cinema room, a free healthy breakfast and more. This boutique hotel and hostel really has it all. To view rates and availability at Puri Garden Hotel and Hostel, click here.
Arya Wellness Retreat. The clue is in the name here, and Arya Wellness retreat offers ‘the perfect balance for a healthy, eco-friendly and social stay.’ Free daily activities include meditation, yoga, pilates, healing circles, fitness classes, cooking classes, spa treatments and their restaurant has an abundance of delicious vegan food. To view rates and availability at Arya Wellness Retreat, just click here.
You can check out the full list of hostels in Ubud at Hostelworld.
Getting to Ubud
Ubud is around a one hour drive from Denpasar airport. You can use a taxi app such as Uber or Grab, or take a local taxi. To book your airport transfer in advance, you can click here to book with i’way.
Driving motorbikes is very common in Bali but I would only recommend doing this if you are an experienced driver, and be aware that unless you have a licence in your home country, most insurance providers will not cover you for motorbike/scooter accidents when you’re travelling.
If you’re planning a trip to Bali and are thinking of renting a car while you’re there, I recommend using Qeeq. Click here for a $50 coupon off your car rental and FREE Covid-19 protection!
Best time to visit Ubud
The best time to visit Ubud (or Bali in general), is from April to October, when it is hot but not too humid and there is little rain. The quieter (and cheaper!) months will be April, May and October, as they are the shoulder season months.
A few words on Bali and overtourism
Just like many other destinations worldwide, Bali has unfortunately suffered from the effects of overtourism, with traffic and air pollution being two of the major problems in Bali. In addition to this, tourists are sometimes incredibly disrespectful, trespassing on private property or protected land in order to take Instagram pictures, littering and wearing revealing clothing at sacred religious sites.
That is not to say that you should not visit Bali and Ubud. Ubud is a wonderful place, and it would be a shame to miss out on experiencing its beauty.
A few tips to keep in mind if you do not want to contribute to the overtourism in Bali are as follows:
Try and stay for a few days in Ubud. Day trippers do not contribute much to the economy and create huge crowds in the afternoons.
There are hotel chains popping up around Ubud. Try and stay at local guesthouses instead.
Do not trespass in order to take the perfect photograph.
Do not dress immodestly when visiting temples.
Try to visit Ubud in shoulder season. This is when it will be less crowded and when the residents need income the most.
I wrote a whole blog post about how to tackle overtourism and visit popular destinations responsibly here if you’re interested in learning more!
So, here concludes my list of 16 incredible things to do in ubud! I absolutely adored ubud, and I would visit ubud again in a heartbeat. bali is one of the most beautiful islands in Southeast Asia, and i highly recommend adding it to your bucket lists!
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