Incredible Cultural Experiences in Ubud, Bali

Come face to face with a long-tailed macaque on your journey inside the Ubud Monkey Forest
Come face to face with a long-tailed macaque on your journey inside the Ubud Monkey Forest | © Travel Wild / Alamy
Photo of Edira Putri
10 September 2021

One of the best ways to experience Ubud, Bali, is through the captivating cultural activities on offer here. Whether you’re looking to watch traditional performances, learn a local craft or even try spiritual healing, these activities will grant you a remarkable insight – and sweet memories – of Ubud.

With Culture Trip, you can enjoy a traditional Balinese cooking masterclass in Ubud as part of our immersive 12-day Bali adventure.

Watch the Ramayana Ballet in Ubud Palace

The ancient epic Ramayana doesn’t only make for a dynamic theatrical performance, but the story inspires the life of many Balinese Hindu and helps shape their everyday customs. Ramayana Ballet is one of the most popular performances in Bali; catch it at Ubud Palace, your experience will be intensified by the grand backdrop.

The Ubud Palace makes a magnificent backdrop for the Ramayana Ballet | © Edmund Lowe / Alamy

Visit a traditional healer

This cultural-spiritual activity has become more popular among tourists since the movie Eat Pray Love (2010), which shows Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) visiting healer Ketut Liyer in a village in Ubud. While this respected medicine man from Bali passed away in 2016, the traditional healing scene has thrived. Whether or not you believe in this kind of thing, meeting a traditional shaman here can enrich your perspective on life, wellness and – at the very least – culture. Many even come with real-life problems and swear by its efficacy.

Traditional healing in Ubud has become increasingly popular since 2010 movie ‘Eat Pray Love’ | © Gabriela Lukacijewska / Alamy

Sign up for a cooking class

It’s no secret that food can tell us a lot about a culture. So, why not take it up a notch and learn to cook local dishes instead of just eating them? Many restaurants and villas in Ubud have cooking classes you can join – conveniently, all materials and ingredients are provided. And who knows, maybe you can entertain family and friends back home with excellent Balinese dishes. With Culture Trip, you can enjoy a traditional Balinese cooking masterclass in Ubud as part of our immersive 12-day Bali adventure.

Learn to cook traditional Balinese food, such as chicken satay | © scott biales / Alamy

Visit the Saraswati Palace

One of the most iconic attractions in Ubud, this temple was built to honour Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, literature and art. Also known as the Ubud Water Palace, it has grand, traditional architecture plus a delicate lotus pond and water garden. This palace is also one of the best spots to catch traditional performances. If dressing up sounds like a cultural experience you’re all for, rent traditional Balinese attire on site.

The Saraswati Palace is one of the top landmarks in Ubud | © Elena Ermakova / Alamy Stock Photo

Undergo a cleansing ritual at Tirta Empul Temple

Tirta Empul Temple is one of the most prized water temples in Ubud, and not just for the beautiful architecture and adornment. It is known for its purification ritual, which can be done in the ornate bathing pool. The pool has water spouts, each symbolising elements of cleansing. Tourists are welcome to join the procession as long as they follow the rules — don’t hesitate to ask around or, even better, ask a local to join or guide you through.

Each spout in the Tirta Empul Temple pool represents an element of cleansing | © Michele Falzone / Alamy Stock Photo

Visit the museums

Ubud is considered the art and culture capital of Bali for a reason. It’s hosted, nurtured and inspired artists from across the globe, whose works are available for mortal eyes to see and appreciate. Blanco Renaissance Museum houses the works of renowned artist Antonio Blanco and is actually located in the artist’s own mansion. Agung Rai Museum of Art, on the other hand, showcases collections from various artists from around the world and across different genres and eras.

The Blanco Renaissance Museum sits in a mansion owned by the artist himself | © Shaun Higson / Alamy

Explore Tegalalang Village

For years, the name Tegalalang has been almost synonymous with rice terraces, but that’s not all there is to it. It’s a fascinating village of farmers and artists, where you can observe the captivating local culture. Stop by one of the art shops or traditional warung, and interact with the resident farmers.

Tegalalang is more than just the attractive rice terraces | © DeGe Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

Learn traditional crafts

True, you can buy lovely handmade souvenirs in the lively traditional market in Ubud, but learning to make one is surely more eye-opening. Not only will you go home with an authentic craft of your own making, but you’ll also have learned a new skill and perhaps found a new hobby. Take your pick from pottery, batik-making, wood-carving or crafting jewellery from silver.

If you don’t want to make your own, you can always buy hand-crafted gifts from the bazaar | © imageBROKER / Alamy

Explore Ubud Monkey Forest

This attraction in Ubud is mainly known as a calming lush forest with hundreds of monkeys – but this forest was not built just for fun. The compound follows an ancient traditional philosophy called Tri Hita Karana (the three causes of wellbeing), which include harmony with God, with other people and with nature. You’ll find the trio in the forest, sacred temples, town halls and thriving nature here.

Find harmony (and monkeys) in Ubud Monkey Forest | © Elizaveta Galitckaia / Alamy

Get on the yoga mat

For the people of Bali, yoga is more than a fad. As Hindus, they practise yoga in a spiritual manner that will present you with a unique experience and perspective. People come from all over the world to learn and teach yoga in Ubud, so you’ll get a whole spectrum of options according to your taste and preference. Among the excellent yoga studios in Bali are a couple of local favourites: Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive. Sound like your kind of thing? Our exclusive small-group Bali trip includes a Flying Yoga class in Ubud, giving you the chance to learn a unique kind of aerial yoga which was pioneered in Ubud in 2012.

Yoga is a spiritual place to practise yoga | © Denis Moskvinov / Alamy Stock Photo

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