Ubud is the ideal place to relax, enjoy delicious food, unwind with a massage or maybe take a yoga class or two. You could have a great time in Ubud without ever leaving your hotel.
However, there are plenty of attractions within the town to suit people of all ages and budgets. Here are some of the highlights of our two visits to Ubud (in 2016 and 2018):
Lotus Temple (main picture)
The Pura Taman Saraswati (Lotus) Temple is a scenic temple located on Jalan Raya, in the heart of Ubud.
In front of the temple are two large ponds full of bright pink lotus flowers and there are lots of interesting statues to be found around the complex.
The temple honours Sariswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and art. The entrance can be found next to the Lotus Café on Jalan Raya Ubud and admission is free. Modest dress is required.
Ubud Royal Palace
On the same street as the Lotus Temple you will find the Ubud Royal Palace (Puri Saren Ubud). During the day, it is free to walk around the front section of the palace and admire the architecture.
In the evening, dance performances are held for which you need tickets. You only need to spend around half an hour here to get a feel for the palace, which dates back to the 19th century.
Monkey Forest is a bit of a love/hate attraction for me in Ubud. On the one hand, it is a lot of fun, particularly if you have kids and have no aversion to macaque monkeys. On the other hand, the monkeys have become so familiar with tourists that they can be aggressive and grab your possessions.
We visited on our first trip to Bali in 2016 but didn’t make a return visit in 2018. When we were there, visitors would encourage the monkeys to climb on them by deliberately enticing them with food. I understand from their website that feeding the monkeys is now banned .
The forest itself is very scenic but the monkeys don’t make for a relaxing experience and there are plenty of other places in Asia to see macaques in a more natural setting.
Jewellery shopping on Monkey Forest Road
There are jewellery shops to suit every budget in Ubud. Silverware is particularly nice and you can find some unusual and attractive pieces at the jewellers on Monkey Forest Road.
I particularly liked Kapal Laut which has a couple of branches in Ubud and can also be found in Seminyak and Sanur.
Ganesha second hand bookshop
Book lovers will enjoy browsing the shelves of the Ganesha second-hand book shop which has a good selection of fiction and travel books. It is a great place to pick up a holiday read, books about Balinese culture or a travel guide.
You can also help the bookshop support local schools, libraries and charitable organisations through the Books for Bali project. More details can be found on their website: http://www.ganeshabooksbali.com
The Campuhan Ridge Walk
When you imagine Bali, the chances are that one of the first things that come to mind are lush, verdant rice terraces. The best views can be found at Tegalalang, but if you’re pushed for time, then you can get some lovely pictures by taking a short walk from Ubud.
The Campuhan Ridge Walk is a two-kilometre walk starting from the Ibah hotel in Ubud. There is no need for a map: this is a straightforward and well paved walk, suitable for children. The best time to do the walk is early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not so strong. Take some water as there is little shade.
The walk takes you out into the countryside where you will see scenic river valleys and wonderful vistas of rice terraces. There are some cafes and galleries at the top – and even the chance to catch a taxi if you don’t fancy the walk back!
The walk there and back took around two hours. Entrance is free, but you may want to take some money for refreshments.
Neka Art Museum
The Neka Art Museum is a short walk or tuk-tuk ride from the centre of Ubud in the Campuhan area of the town. This makes it the ideal activity to combine with the Campuhan Ridge Walk.
The museum is a good introduction to Balinese art and features contemporary paintings by artists from Bali, other parts of Indonesia and abroad. It’s a nice, peaceful place to spend a couple of hours.
Alongside the paintings, there was a particularly interesting exhibition of keris, traditional Indonesian daggers (in October 2017). Highly ornate and intricately carved, the daggers are said to hold supernatural powers and are passed on through generations.