The art and culture capital of Bali has a lot to offer if you’re looking for something more than idyllic coasts and hip bars. From natural attractions to art galleries, discover the must-visit attractions in Ubud, Bali.
With lush tropical forest, hundreds of monkeys roaming about freely, sacred temples, and ornate traditional statues, Ubud Monkey Forest is an all-round natural, cultural, and spiritual attraction. Tourists will be presented with a serene atmosphere amid the 12.5 hectares of towering trees. There’s a mystical vibe to this forest while you go about observing the temples, halls, and statues. You can even watch and interact with the friendly, long-tailed macaques. All you have to do is walk around and get lost inside this beautiful, ancient Balinese world.
The iconic stone-carved façade with ornately crafted demons and embellishments is just one interesting thing about the ancient temple. Goa Gajah (which means Elephant Cave) is a sanctuary complex with exquisite figures from Hindu and Buddhism. The cave is estimated to originate in the 11th century due to its architectural style. The complex has bathing pools and fountains surrounded by illustrious statues and carved walls worth observing.
This glorious water palace has a delicate lotus pond in front of the majestic traditional Balinese gate, which makes it one of the most iconic sights from Ubud. The palace honors Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom, knowledge and arts. And seeing the thriving cultural and artistic scene in Ubud, the utmost reverence to the goddess seems fitting, with epic architecture, water overflowing like Ubud artists’ creativity, and graceful carvings that honor the Hindu deity. But beyond that excellent architecture, Saraswati Palace is also one of the best spots to watch traditional performances.
Tirta Empul means ‘holy water spring’, which is at the heart of this beautiful temple. Legends tell stories about a feud between a king named Mayadenawa and Lord Indra, the Hindu god for the heavens, storms, rains, and river flows. While fleeing the god, King Mayadenawa crafted a poisoned spring that brought down Lord Indra’s troops. But the god immediately created another spring that healed his men. That magical spring continues to be a source of healing and purification, distributed through stone-carved spouts that pour sacred water into the purification pool inside the temple.
The Ubud Palace, or Puri Saren Agung, is one of Ubud’s most prominent landmarks and is centrally located in the neighborhood, surrounded by markets, restaurants, and other destinations. Packed with prominent cultural and historical significance, the palace reflects traditional Balinese architecture at its finest, with tastefully manicured gardens, ornate carvings, and impressively grand gates. During the evening, this palace’s yard turns into a magnificent stage for various traditional performances.
The postcard-worthy scenery of delicate rice terraces surrounded by lush palm trees and tropical greeneries sure makes Tegalalang such a visually appealing sight to behold. But exotic beauty is only part of this attraction’s charm. Ubud’s rice terraces are purposefully built to facilitate effective use of water resources and organize local social units. In other words, these glorious rice terraces do not only attract tourists from across the globe, they actually bring people together and reflect the values and philosophy of Balinese culture. Tourists can also explore the villages nearby to hear fascinating local stories and observe the customs and lifestyles of people who built and currently maintain the glorious rice terraces.
Beyond world-famous beaches, Bali’s diverse natural landscape stretches far up the hills of Ubud. Tegenungan Waterfall near Ubud is one of Bali’s must-see natural attractions. The waterfall is surrounded by Ubud’s signature lush greeneries and tropical highland ambiance. It is safe to hike and explore up to the top of the waterfall. On certain days when the water is high enough, it’s safe to do a 10-meter cliff jump and plunge into the cool water below.
Among Ubud’s many splendid hills and landscapes, Campuhan Ridge remains one of the most visited and popular spots for hiking, cycling, and sightseeing. The area covers the ornate and historical Gunung Lebah temple, rivers, valleys, and a gorgeous stretch of palm trees and fresh tropical greeneries lining up the trek. This neighborhood is also closely tied to Ubud’s ancient history as the meeting point between two rivers where the Hindu priest Rsi Markandeya received divine inspiration and built the town’s first temple – an event that later spurred Ubud’s significance as a spiritual escape.
Located at the legendary painter Don Antonio Blanco’s mansion on a gorgeous hilltop in Ubud, this museum presents a unique mix of cultures that inspired and influenced the maestro’s works throughout his life. Even though many of Blanco’s collections of paintings, illustrated poetry, and erotic artworks came to being in Ubud, where he relocated and his art flourished, his mansion is a European baroque-style building with a touch of renaissance grandeur. Aside from the maestro’s best works and the building’s impressive architecture, tourists will also appreciate the glorious view from the hills where the mansion stands.
ARMA, in Ubud, is popular for its cultural, artistic, and architectural importance. It’s a cozy place to learn about Balinese art, both classical and contemporary. It houses an impressive collection of works by prominent artists from across the Indonesian archipelago, especially Bali, many of whom are contemporary artists adapting traditional styles. The museum often hosts cultural events like traditional dance and music during the evenings.