Mini Guide to Ubud in Bali

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Ubud was my first stop in Bali. This small town located about 40 minutes north of Denpasar Airport is a good spot for those wanting to escape the craziness of Kuta and explore the northern and central parts of Bali. While Ubud is still a touristic area, it doesn’t have nearly as many tourists as the southern parts of the island.


Where to stay in Ubud

As I was traveling with my someone, I was looking for a good place to stay and not a hostel. I recommend the two places I stayed at:
Luxury retreat: Hanging Gardens (view my full review here)
This place offers an amazing infinity pool, private villas, and a 5-star experience. Ideal for a honeymoon or romantic getaway.
Price: around $450 a night, but totally worth it!DSC00515


Mid-tier budget retreat: Suly Resort & Spa
A beautiful resort close to the town center, but located in the middle of a rice field. The hotel offers a swimming pool and a spa which comes with a complimentary massage.
Price: around $40 a night.
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How to get around Bali

The best way to get around Ubud is by renting a scooter as it’s cheap and quick. Everyone in Bali drives a scooter so there’s no need to be afraid as long as you’re careful. If you’ve never driven a scooter, please be careful and don’t repeat my calamity of crashing into a wall after only 5 minutes. All you really need to know is that twisting your hand down accelerates the scooter and its quite sensitive. Just take it slow in the beginning and you’ll be fine.DSC00611



Visit the Monkey Forest

The most popular spot in Ubud is definitely the Monkey Forest. While you stroll among the gorgeous temples you can see the monkeys hanging out everywhere and feed them with bananas. For a wildlife freak like me it was amazing! I recommend buying some bananas upon arrival at the temple and taking some cool photos with monkeys chilling on your head. However, be very careful as these monkeys can be quite dangerous. They won’t hesitate to jump at you when they want to grab some food that you’re hiding and if you don’t give them anything, they might bite you. I was actually bitten by one monkey who most likely felt angry that I ran out of bananas, but don’t worry – I didn’t even need a rabies shot.

Selfie with a monkey!

Selfie with a monkey!

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Watch a traditional Balinese performance

I actually didn’t have to go very far to watch a performance as it was organized at the Suly Resort & Spa where I stayed. You can hear some traditional Balinese music which you will most likely either love or hate. On the one hand, I heard it described as extremely peaceful but on the other, my ex insinuated that it sounded like copulating whales. I guess you need to check it out for yourself – I liked it!bali-dance-welcome-dance


Get a spa treatment

Did I mention that Ubud is known for its spas? You can get a traditional massage, body scrub, or a fish massage for just a few dollars.


Visit a silverware place

Bali produces a lot of silver jewelry and there are places where you can not only purchase it but also make your own set. I was very keen on doing it but I guess I didn’t realize that it wasn’t as easy as many people online claimed it was. In the end I visited a local jeweler’s place and helped make a ring.

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Trying to make a ring


Try some “cat-poop-ccino”

Do you know what the most expensive coffee in the world is? It’s called Kopi Luwak and it comes from Indonesia. You can actually find these coffee plantations pretty easily around Bali. Let me tell you a bit more about the coffee first and why the Balinese call it a “cat-poop-ccino.”

This is how coffee grows!

This is how coffee grows!

First, coffee beans are given to an Asian civet, known as a Luwak in Indonesian, who eat them and later poop the beans out. After the beans are digested by this cat-like animal, they are roasted, made into coffee, exported, and sold for an ungodly amount of money in the western world.

When I visited the coffee plantation I had no idea what to expect. You can see some Luwaks sitting in cages which might be disturbing to a lot of visitors. When I asked if they’re let out of the cages, I was told that they’re only kept in them while they’re digesting the coffee beans. I didn’t see any roaming around though so whether or not this is actually true, I can’t say. DSC00549


Anyway, I was given 12 different cups of coffee and tea to try for free, including the Luwak coffee for a small fee. To be honest my favorite was the coconut coffee, not the Luwak, especially if I would have to pay minimum $50 for a cup in the US.


Visit the rice terraces

While in Ubud you should definitely visit the nearby village of Tegallalang to see the rice terraces. We went there during lunch time so it was quite busy, but we were still able to enjoy the view of the terraces while eating some Indonesian food. You can also cycle there!DSC00582

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Did I miss something? Let me know if I did!

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21 Comments

  1. Jan 31, 2015 / 8:35 pm

    I have a love-hate relationship with Bali. As an Indonesian, I find the island way too crowded these days but Ubud I love! I stayed there last year for 3 days and really enjoyed the vibe. Love this mini guide, useful for first timer in Ubud!

    If I could add, probably cycling/hiking around the rice paddies. There are some really nice trails around Ubud.

    And btw, bravo for renting a motorbike. Even for me who is used to riding a motorbike, it was rather daunting!

    • Jan 31, 2015 / 9:01 pm

      Renting a motorbike resulted in a lot of bruises and cute hehe 🙂

  2. Feb 1, 2015 / 1:05 am

    Tylko czekać, aż jakaś strona z Bali znowu poleci 😀

  3. Feb 1, 2015 / 5:00 pm

    I miss Ubud, I like this place very much, What I missed out is traditional Balinese performance – hope I will have a chance to see it. And Kopi Luwak because they started to catch free animals and put them into cages to make more easier to collect their poops. I hope I will have a chance to visit Ubud soon 🙂

  4. Feb 1, 2015 / 10:35 pm

    so was the coffee worth its price? I’m not a big coffee fan but I’d try that one for sure!

    • Feb 1, 2015 / 11:34 pm

      Balinese price ($5) yes, but if it was in the US or anywhere in Europe then nope 😉

  5. Etem
    Feb 2, 2015 / 9:59 am

    Hi Anna,

    does people need international driving licence to rent a scooter? How much is the daily rent?

    • Feb 2, 2015 / 4:11 pm

      Nobody asks you about it when you rent a scooter – they just need a regular license. But if the police is gonna stop you (and there is 80% chance they will because you’re a tourist) you’ll pay a fine for not having an international one. Scooter is approx. $6 a per day.

  6. Feb 3, 2015 / 12:44 am

    Very nice pictures! And I saw post before about hotel – so amazing but also very expensive – any discounts for bloggers? 🙂

    • Feb 3, 2015 / 1:23 am

      I was doing a press tour there, so I guess so 😛

  7. Adam
    Feb 3, 2015 / 12:58 am

    I’ve always wondered whether there are enough things to do, did you do all of the stuff above in a day or was it over a few days?

    • Feb 3, 2015 / 1:23 am

      It was over a few days 😉

  8. Feb 3, 2015 / 1:02 am

    ostatnio Gonciarz mówił, że luwaki są wykorzystywane przemysłowo – meczone i w klatkach. zawsze chciałem spróbować tej kawy, ale – jak ostatnio często w podróżach – pojawia sie dylemat… wiesz cos nt. tych “dobrych” i “złych” plantacji?

    also, hotel za $450, wow, jak wy to robicie? 🙂

    • Feb 3, 2015 / 1:28 am

      Oh, wycieczka prasowa do hotelu 😉
      Hmm… na pytanie o te dobre plantacje niestety nie moge odpowiedziec 🙁 Sama sie nad tym zastanawialam…

  9. sharon
    Apr 4, 2015 / 9:05 am

    Hi Anna,

    My name is Sharon and I am the outreach intern for Pink Pangea. I enjoyed reading your blog, especially the intersection between narrative and visuals, and would love to publish more of your adventures on our women’s travel site, Pink Pangea. If you’re interested please email me at pinkpangeaeditor@gmail.com.

    Thanks! Sharon

  10. Jul 20, 2015 / 7:37 am

    Thanks for the post. I like it very much. you give it a lot of fun when traveling in Bali. and are which is you choose is a very appropriate location, there is Ubud Bali. I really liked it, there is many exotic and luxurious resort. and can do a lot of fun activities. Currently we are planning a vacation to Bali end of the year, and the area which is we choose is Nusa Dua Bali. it may also be an enjoyable trip for us. thanks.

    • Jul 20, 2015 / 12:36 pm

      Enjoy your trip! 🙂

  11. Han
    Sep 30, 2015 / 8:40 am

    For rice terraces, I find Jatiluwih village are better and you can do trekking around the area too!

  12. Trevor
    Feb 19, 2016 / 5:50 am

    Thanks Anna for writing a balanced account on Bali – seeing your photos just invoked a sense of `missing the place’ and realizing my connection with many parts of Bali particularly the forests, rivers, and the wildlife. It’s such a shame that there’s so much development but that is happening everywhere – hopefully Bali can evolve into a much better place retaining its natural and spiritual beauty and that energy that only certain people can connect with. I do believe if you go there with an open mind your rewards will be many – as clearly you have discovered. Thanks again for your good work. I will be following your blog

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