Beyond idyllic coastlines and hip beach clubs, the soul of Bali lies in the highlands of Ubud – with all of its natural, artistic and cultural charms. From the postcard-worthy rice terrace to contemporary art museums, discover how to spend 48 hours in Ubud, Bali.
Want to travel to Ubud and have all the details taken care of? Book yourself onto Culture Trip’s 12-day adventure to Bali and the Gili Islands, encompassing temples, waterfalls and the summit of Mount Batur.
One of the best times to visit the iconic rice terrace of Ubud is during the first rays of the day. The warm hues of sunlight add a dramatic effect to the already scenic view. Tegalalang is a very popular spot that can get crowded during the day, so it’s best to visit earlier for a more peaceful experience. If you’re feeling adventurous, go beyond the photo-taking spot and walk around the rice fields – or even to neighbouring villages for a deeper feel of rural life in Bali.
There are no ordinary meals when you’re in Ubud. While you’re near the rice fields, pick one of the local warungs – small, family-run restaurants serving traditional cuisine – lining up the streets for a breakfast with a view. Boni Bali Restaurant and Cafe Dewi are among the most popular here.
This water temple gushes holy water believed to have healing and sanctifying powers due to the legend that encircles the place. During ceremonies, tourists can observe Balinese Hindus performing cleansing processions through the stone-carved spouts that pour water into the purification pool. Tourists can even sign up for a special healing or purification program by local elders or shamans. But even if you don’t get to experience or observe ritual bathing, the temple itself is a breathtaking sight to behold, embellished with exquisite carvings.
This lush forest and habitat of over 600 friendly monkeys is an unmissable attraction while in Ubud. Towering trees, tropical greenery and carved statues fill in the 12.5ha (30-acres) of open space – where you can spend the afternoon strolling around, immersing yourself in the serene tropical atmosphere and observing and perhaps interacting with the loveable macaques roaming freely. The forest is also home to three sacred temples you can only observe from outside.
Adored for the stunning traditional Balinese architecture, Ubud Palace or Puri Saren Agung is one of Ubud’s most representative landmarks. As the dwelling place of the Ubud royals, this palace reflects Balinese architecture at its finest – with beautiful gardens, ornate statues and carvings, as well as grand gates that have become one of Bali’s most iconic sights. Vibrant Balinese culture comes to life here as various traditional performances take place in the outer yard during the evening.
After a mindful day of cultural and natural spots, it’s time to see the other side of Ubud – a lively town reverberating with live music, dancing and a youthful, creative crowd. Being the art and culture capital of Bali, many of the best musical talents of the island have set up camp in Ubud – performing at the many bars which line the main streets. From jazz and blues at Laughing Buddha Bar, eclectic world music at Bali Bohemia, to pool and classic video games at Melting Pot, Ubud has the nightlife for every taste.
Start your day right with a good amount of tropical sunlight, fresh air and physical activity with a mesmerising view. Campuhan is a gorgeous hill to hike or cycle: imagine a stretch of lush greenery on either side while you’re immersed in the first rays of sunlight. Go for a short walk up to the Karsa Kafe – or continue for another 9km (5.6mi) to the nearest villages on the other side of the hill.
This artisan coffee place is one of the best spots to get your caffeine fix in Ubud. A self-proclaimed fourth wave in coffee production, Seniman serves high-quality coffee sourced from across Indonesia, Africa and the Americas. Moreover, the lovely, laidback ambience goes well with the energising cup of joe to kick off your day.
Even if you’re not hardcore vegans or earth-loving hippies, eating raw is one of the most sought after experiences in Ubud. The Seeds of Life serves unimaginably scrumptious raw food you wouldn’t believe – from appetizers to tasty cakes. Clear Cafe is also one of the best in the neighbourhood, with an extensive healthy menu – raw or otherwise.
This museum of Don Antonio Blanco’s art is perched on a gorgeous hilltop in Ubud, within the artist’s European-style mansion. Cherishing his years living and creatively flourishing in Ubud, the artist’s collections of paintings, illustrated poetry and erotic art are now showcased in this museum. Even the building is a wonderful sight in itself – a baroque mansion with a touch of renaissance grandeur, creating a unique and authentic mix of European charms and Balinese muses.
From one art museum to another, the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) houses a vast range of art from classics to contemporary – and from legendary artists to emerging local talents. The impressive collections can be found in several exquisite traditional buildings among beautiful Balinese gardens, creating a mindful and serene atmosphere to enjoy culture in Ubud at its best. The museum complex also hosts art classes, cultural events and performances – be sure to check their schedule so you won’t miss your chance.
An excellent culmination for your Ubud exploration, the Yoga Barn will conclude your cultural and spiritual experience in the most sophisticated way. From Tibetan Bowl Meditation to Yin Yang Yoga or dance classes, the Yoga Barn has a wide range of classes to choose from that run until 7pm. As one of the most popular and reputable yoga studios in Bali, no matter what classes you choose, you’re definitely in good hands.