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Away from the crazy streets of Seminyak, surrounded by green fields and tall trees, you find Bali’s cultural capital, Ubud. This is the place where you go to escape and experience some of Bali’s nature and no trip to Bali would be complete without visiting. There’re loads of things to do here and after spending 4 days in Ubud, I can safely say it has been my favourite place in Bali.
If you’re visiting Ubud for the first time like I was, it can feel like you’re trying to juggle a million decisions at once; where to stay, how to get to places, which tours to do. I’ve put together this guide to help you plan out your stay and share some tips I’ve got to get the best out of your time in Ubud.
You might also like:
- My 3 week Bali itinerary guide
- What’s it like to do the Mt Batur sunrise trek?
- Visiting the Tegallalang rice terrace for sunrise
- 10 top things to do in Canggu
How to get to Ubud
Ubud is located pretty close to the centre of Bali about 37 km from Denpasar International Airport. On google maps, the journey time says it should take just over an hour to get to Ubud from there but Bali traffic can be seriously busy, and if you can’t avoid travelling in peak hours, be prepared for your journey to take longer.
The easiest way to get to Ubud is either by transfer arranged through your accommodation, by taxi from the airport or by using Bluebird or Go Jek which are pretty much the same as Uber. be sure to download the Bluebird, Grab and Go Jek apps before you get to Bali and use the airport wifi to book one when you land.
Where is the best place to stay in Ubud?
Ubud centre its self is busy but just 15 minutes outside of it, you’ll enter a different world completely. I stayed both in and outside of the main part of Ubud and found both to definitely have their pros and cons.
Outside of the city, I stayed at the incredible Pajar House Villas and after driving through the city centre, couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The Villas are located right in the middle of beautiful rice paddies and it looks like there is nothing else for miles. There are a number of villas and more resort type places outside of the centre and it’s the perfect place for some tranquillity and to experience the countryside and villages. Pajar House ran a free shuttle service to Ubud taking just 15 minutes, so you’re really not that far away from everything either. For me, it was the best of both worlds.
In the centre of Ubud, I found a great homestay called Gusti Kalar House. The rooms were spacious, clean and we had breakfast included. The ladies there were really lovely and helped us with any questions we had, and for the price, I really have no complaints. Gusti Kaler sits down a street off of the main road in a quiet spot, but within a couple of minutes, I could be in the heart of Ubud grabbing some delicious food. Homestays are a great option for if you’re travelling on a budget in Bali and they are often in great locations. Be sure to check what’s included such as breakfast, wifi, air conditioning and hot showers to find something that suits you.
Have a look below to find a great place to stay.
What’s the best way to get around Ubud?
Ubud is quite spread out and if you want to see the best of both the city centre as well as the local villages surrounding it, then the best way is to hire a motorbike. The city centre is busy and the surrounds are hilly so a motorbike is perfect for both zipping through traffic and countryside. I love to try and beat the crowds at the main tourist sites and by hiring a motorbike, I was able to visit the famous Tegallalang rice terrace for sunrise and not only was it phenomenal but it was also almost completely empty! You can check out a selection of my favourite photos from this here.
10 Top things to do for 4 days in Ubud
1. Experience the Campuhan Ridge Walk
This spot is located right in Ubud’s centre so it’s really easy to access. The ridge walk is a beautiful walking track taking you over hills alongside a valley, surrounded by jungle greenery. Depending on where you start, you might have to cross over a river by a bamboo bridge but after this point, the route is easy going and a great place for either a stroll or a hike if that’s what you enjoy.
2. Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest
Also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest, this is a huge tourist hotspot in Ubud. Monkeys are seen as sacred in Bali and this forest is their natural habitat. There are around 800 longtailed monkeys living here and there is pretty much zero chance of you visiting and not seeing any. They are everywhere and are definitely not shy about approaching you. Please be careful to pay attention to the signs in the forest telling you to not take food in, not touch the monkeys and to not look them in the eye. They are known for going through your bags so be careful what you take in with you as you might well lose it! Tickets cost IDR 50,000 to enter and as well as the monkeys you will also be able to visit the stunning temples and art gallery within the forest, too.
3. Go on a temple tour
If you want to visit temples while you’re in Bali then Ubud is a great spot to do it from. There are plenty of day tours that take you to the most famous and beautiful temples such as Goa Gajah (the Elephant Cave), Tirta Empul with its freshwater pools and the much lesser known Gunung Kawi Sebatu temple.
4. Go waterfall hunting
Ubud is probably the best place in Bali to hunt out some beautiful waterfalls. There are loads to choose from and if you decide to take a day tour from Ubud, you will probably visit a couple. Some of the most popular ones are Gitgit Waterfall, the mystical looking Tukad Cepung waterfall in a cave, and quieter Tibumana. If you’re making your own way there or are hiring a car and driver for the day, I would recommend getting to this first before the tour crowds get there. Some are more tricky to get to than others as well and you can’t swim at all of them, so be sure to do a bit of research beforehand.
5. Visit Tegallalang Rice Terrace at sunrise
I know what you’re thinking, sunrise is really early. Well, yes it is. But the early bird catches the sunrise over this famous rice terrace without anyone else there! You can read about my sunrise trip to Tageallalang here and see some of my favourite photos and I hope I persuade you to go for the early start and experience this incredibly serene place without hundreds of other people.
6. Wander the streets of Ubud
Ubud feels completely different from the other main areas of Bali such as Canggu and Seminyak. These places are essentially set along one main street, but Ubud has more lanes and streets to walk around and explore. Ubud is how I imagined Bali to be and wandering around aimlessly is a great way to find some hidden gems.
7. Go shopping at Ubud Art Market
Located right in the middle of Ubud, opposite the Palace, it would be hard to miss this colourful market. It sweeps along the length of Jalan Karna and is a great place to find locally made goods and practice your haggling. It’s open every day from 6 am till 6 pm and you can find anything here from scarfs to artwork to jewellery.
8. Eat… A lot.
One of the many things that is great about Ubud is that you can get any kind of food that you want. There are some awesome Warungs such as Biah Biah which is always busy, Ayam Yummy for delicious chicken burgers and great Japanese food at La Mien. Don’t miss out on grabbing some amazing coconut ice cream here too. It’s insanely moreish!
9. Conquer Mount Batur at sunrise
One of the biggest tours that run from Ubud is the epic Mt Batur sunrise trekking tour. All around Ubud (and probably in your accommodation) you will see signs offering the tour. My advice is to just go with whoever is cheapest because once you reach the Mt Batur you will join the hundreds of other people climbing it too, so I don’t think it would make too much difference who you take the tour with. I am by no means an experienced hiker and despite having to do the trek in torchlight to make it to the top in time for sunrise, I didn’t find it too difficult and the views are well and truly worth every step. It’s a really early start (around 2.30 am pickup) but it’s definitely a trip you can’t miss for your 4 days in Ubud.
10. Visit Pura Taman Saraswati
Right in the heart of Ubud, you will find the beautiful Pura Taman Saraswati temple. You might have to go down the side of a rather obnoxious Starbucks to get to it, but its beauty definitely makes up for it. The ponds out front coupled with the vibrant and intricate temple structures are beautiful and it’s a little haven amongst Ubud’s busy streets.
Other things to do in Ubud:
- Take a cooking class – unfortunately, I didn’t have time to fit this in but Ubud is one of the most popular places to learn about traditional Balinese dishes and try your hand and cooking them for yourself.
- Explore the north of Bali – many tours run to the north of the island to areas such as Lavina which would be a great way to see this part of Bali with ease. This is something I wish I had done for sure!
- Relax in a spa – Bali is a spa lovers dream and Ubud has loads to choose from. Many of the hotels and villas have their own spas as well as homestays and separate shops along the roads. If you’re looking for a treatment you’re bound to find somewhere to suit your budget.