The Top 10 Things to Do in Ubud, Bali

Alila Ubud - Infinity Pool | Courtesy of Alila Ubud / Expedia
Photo of Edira Putri
2 May 2018

Perched on the highlands of Bali, Ubud is an all-round destination not to miss when traveling the region. With scenic a landscape, lively art scene, rich cultural atmosphere, and countless lifestyle attractions, there are no limits to the things you can do in this charming town. From yoga to shopping, discover the top things to see in Ubud, Bali.

Visit Tegalalang Rice Terrace

The scenic stretch of rice terraces has become one of the most iconic sights from Bali. Clear blue sky, tall palm trees, and lush tropical greeneries surrounding different levels of rice fields are surely a breathtaking sight to behold, but Ubud’s rice terraces are more than just a postcard-worthy view. It is a manifestation of an ancient Balinese Hindu philosophy organized by a local social unit called ‘subak’. Tourists can also explore the villages nearby to hear fascinating local stories and observe the customs and lifestyles of people who built and now maintain the glorious rice terraces.

Tegalalang rice terrace | © Sam Sherratt / Flickr

Explore Ubud Monkey Forest

Mainly popular as a calming, lush forest with hundreds of monkeys roaming about, Ubud Monkey Forest is more than just a natural attraction. The 12.5-hectare (30.8-acre) land does offer a serene atmosphere, from the towering trees to traditional stone-carved statues. But the compound was actually built as a manifestation of an ancient traditional philosophy called Tri Hita Karana, the ‘three causes of well-being’, that include the harmony with God, with other people, and with nature; so it also houses temples and social halls to observe.

Spot monkeys galore in Ubud, Bali | © Alexis Gravel / Flickr

Cycle around Ubud

When the outdoors are that good — tropical greeneries, blue skies, and tropical sun — it would be a shame to get around exclusively in an air-conditioned car. Cycling will not only set a more relaxed pace to immerse in the sublime nature atmosphere, it’ll also be an enjoyable exercise to help burn some of that holiday weight from eating too much satay or Balinese grilled pork with beer. You can rent a bicycle and figure your own route through the rice fields and villages or sign up for an organized cycling tour in Ubud.

Watch traditional performances

Known as Bali’s art and culture capital, Ubud is the ultimate place to enjoy various traditional performances, from the notorious Kecak fire dance to local youths practicing their gamelan in the town hall. You can catch one of these performances anywhere from the Royal Palace to restaurants and public places.

Dancing with gamelan music | © William Cho / Flickr

Learn traditional performances and crafts

It sure is fun to observe and shop traditional Balinese arts and crafts, but it’s much more eye-opening to learn how to do or make those yourself. Ubud has various workshops with passionate locals who will show you how to perform a Balinese dance, make pottery, play the gamelan instruments, and all those things that have been fascinating you ever since you got to the neighborhood. Most also have one-day programs and special classes for kids.

Get on the mat

One way to embrace Ubud’s tranquil surroundings and quirky vibe is to get on the yoga mat and hit some poses. The cool air, warm sunshine, chirping of birds, and shady trees will definitely craft a remarkable and unforgettable zen experience. There are numerous reputable yoga studios in Ubud, many of which offer an all-round wellness rejuvenation, such as Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive. But if you’re feeling adventurous, head to Ambar Ashram and try their intriguing laughter yoga.

Courtesy of Samadi Bali | © Samadi Bali

Eat raw

In Ubud, raw food is not reserved for earth-loving hippies and hardcore vegans. Raw food just happens to go well with the overall wellness and chill vibe of the neighborhood. Be sure to try eating raw or at least vegan once when in Ubud. You’ll be surprised to learn how these healthy dishes can taste so good, especially if you get your nutrition fix at the famed Living Food Lab, Sari Organik, or Earth Cafe.

Museum and gallery-hopping

Bali, especially Ubud, with all its quirks and charms, has captivated and inspired countless talented artists. Now, tourists can enjoy some of the best works from some of the world’s greatest in Ubud’s many galleries and art museums. Blanco Renaissance Museum houses the maestro’s artworks in his own mansion overlooking the lush tropical jungles, while the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) and Neka Art Museum showcase assorted collections from both renowned and contemporary artists across the globe.

ARMA Museum Bali | © @yb_woodstock / Flickr

Cultural and spiritual landmarks

Yes, plural. Ubud’s many palaces and temples attest to the neighborhood’s significance and dynamics as a destination. Ubud Royal Palace or Puri Saren Agung is easily one of the neighborhood’s most highlighted landmarks. With ornate carvings and a grand structure, it reverberates a truly regal feel but with a calming ambiance amid lush, manicured gardens. Among the must-visit temples in Ubud are the stone-carved Goa Gajah, Tirta Empul water temple, and Pura Taman Saraswati with the gorgeous lotus ponds.

Entrance to Ubud Palace | © Antonia / Flickr

Shop the art market

After Ubud’s talented artists and craftsmen finish their carved statues, paintings, clothing, or other hand-made goods, naturally, they bring it to the place where passionate and enthusiast tourists hunt for some souvenirs to remember the trip by. And you won’t be disappointed. The Ubud Art Traditional Market and Sukawati Art Market are among the best marketplaces in Bali to get authentic souvenirs at affordable prices.

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