The Top Things to Do in Ubud, Bali

Alila offers a chance to decompress amid the wilds of Ubud | Courtesy of Alila Ubud / Expedia
Photo of Edira Putri
4 September 2021

Perched in the highlands of Bali, Ubud is a destination where scenic landscapes, a lively arts scene, rich culture and countless attractions have been charming visitors for years.

Thinking about visiting? You can spend two nights in Ubud on Culture Trip’s immersive small-group Bali adventure, led by our local insider.

Visit Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Tegalalang rice plantation terrace near Ubud | © Daphnusia / Alamy Stock Photo

This scenic stretch of rice terraces has become one of the most iconic sights in Bali. Clear blue sky, tall palm trees and lush tropical greenery surrounding multiple levels of rice fields. It’s a breathtaking sight, with tourists also able to visit nearby villages to hear fascinating stories and meet the people who built and now maintain the glorious terraces.

Explore Ubud Monkey Forest

The residents are extremely confident at Ubud Monkey Forest | © bayazed / Alamy Stock Photo

A calming, lush forest home to hundreds of monkeys, Ubud Monkey Forest is more than just a natural attraction. The 13ha (31 acres) park offers 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, or the “three causes of well-being”, so there are plenty of temples to explore too.

Cycle around Ubud

A family bike excursion into the rice fields of Ubud | © Elizaveta Galitckaia / Alamy Stock Photo

When the landscapes are this gorgeous — tropical greenery, blue skies, mountains — it would be a shame to get around exclusively via air-conditioned car. Cycling will not only set a more relaxed pace but it’ll also help burn off some of that satay and Balinese grilled pork. 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

Catch a Kecak Fire Dance performance in Ubud | © Guillem Lopez / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Learn traditional performances and crafts

A design pattern for tenun ikat fabric in Tenun Ikat Putri Ayu workshop | © CNMages / Alamy Stock Photo

It sure is fun to observe and shop traditional Balinese arts and crafts, but it’s much more eye-opening to learn how to make them yourself. Ubud has various workshops with passionate locals who will teach you how to perform a Balinese dance, make pottery, play the gamelan or whatever else takes your fancy.

Get on the mat

Ubud has long been a centre for yoga | © Julie Francoeur / Alamy Stock Photo

One way to embrace Ubud’s tranquil surroundings and quirky vibe is to get on the yoga mat and strike a few poses. The cool air, warm sunshine, chirping of the birds and shady trees all make for a relaxed 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.

Eat raw

Sambal Matah, a Balinese salsa of lemongrass, shallot and chilli | © Ariyani Tedjo / Alamy Stock Photo

In Ubud, raw food is very much a part of local culinary culture. 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. With Culture Trip, you can uncover the secrets of traditional Balinese cuisine by taking part in a cooking masterclass in Ubud as part of our specially curated 12-day Bali trip.

Museum and gallery-hopping

The Antonio Blanco Museum is an arts hub in Ubud | © agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Cultural and spiritual landmarks

Puri Saren Agung Palace Temple with its characteristic lotus pond | © imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Ubud’s many palaces and temples attest to the town’s significance as a religious and cultural hotspot. Ubud Royal Palace or Puri Saren Agung is easily one of the area’s most highlighted landmarks. With ornate carvings and a grand structure, it gives off a regal feel 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 its gorgeous lotus ponds.

Shop the art market

Pottery is a key local industry in Ubud | © Viacheslav Iakobchuk / Alamy Stock Photo

After Ubud’s talented artists and craftsmen finish their carved statues, paintings, clothing, or other hand-made goods, they bring it all to market. 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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