We've made it to the third and final instalment of our “What's the Bali destination for you?” series.
In this article, I'll discuss the second most popular destination in Bali: Ubud. Compared to Seminyak, Ubud is a lot more laid back. It's a part of town where you can fully experience Balinese craftsmanship. While Seminyak is a good place to shop and party, Ubud is great if you want some more spiritual and nature-oriented activities.
If you visit Ubud I don't suggest staying in the middle of town. Meaning doesn't stay in the main streets because they can get quite busy, especially because of the markets nearby. A great location would be anywhere that's 10 to 15 minutes away from the main town. Still close enough to enjoy all the cafes and stores but far enough from all the traffic and noise. Now let's talk about what to do when in Ubud!
Ubud Traditional Art Market
I'm starting with one of the main things I went to Ubud to see. The Ubud Traditional Art Market. If you are an avid trend follower and love looking at the latest bloggers then you will be familiar with a certain woven bag. The one that has been making waves on Instagram, that has been worn by popular influencers on all their trips. For a while, I was wondering where I could find this bag.
Being from the Philippines I thought that I would be able to find it here but alas the weaving technique is very different. And then I found out about the Ubud Market. It's a street long market full of crafts, rugs, hats, pottery, and accents for your home. But most importantly, they have infinite designs of woven bags. I'm not kidding when I say I left there with 4 bags in tow. Like any market, be ready to haggle. Especially if you look like a tourist, you should aim to get it at half the price they initially offered. Above all, never buy from the first stall you visit. I assure you that you'll find more options down the line for better prices.
Arguably one of the most popular tourist attractions in town because there are monkeys roaming around that you can interact with. A little warning, although monkeys look quite adorable and fun in photos, please proceed with caution when in the forest. They can get quite excited and a little aggressive. So don't try to engage them in a manner that might set them off.
Also, take extra care of your possessions such as phones and cameras because they do like to pick up things. As long as you're careful it will still be one of the most memorable experiences of your trip. Make sure to be properly dressed because there are some temples inside the forest. Just make sure to cover your legs and shoulders. Most places will have sarongs for rent.
A lot of the major temples are about 15 to 30 minutes away from Ubud. I don't suggest you go to all of them if you are only staying for a few days. They're quite beautiful but visiting one will give you more than the full experience. One temple not to miss out on is the Pura Tirta Temple. It's one of the most famous water temples in Bali. If you only visit one temple, this should be the one!
As long as you have a sarong (which they offer at the entrance in case you don't) you can bathe in their waters. Although it is a little smaller than other temples I've seen in Bali, the experience is truly one of a kind. After bathing in the healing waters you can take a walk through the courtyards and explore.
Rice Paddies & Terraces
One word comes to mind when I think of Ubud: lush. It's so full of greenery. There are rice paddies as far as the eye can see. They truly are a sight like no other. Their layered rice terraces look like stairs built into the fields. It's almost like a natural amphitheatre. Your driver will easily be able to take you there. There is no entrance fee to walk through the fields. They will just ask for a minimal donation. It's quite a photogenic experience.
There are even some restaurants placed in the middle of the rice paddies. Most are vegan or offer other special culinary experiences. I don't recommend visiting the rice terraces around lunchtime and the hours after. Not only will it be extremely hot but that is also when most of the crowds end up going. If you really want to enjoy it and would like to take a lot of photos without photo bombers you can visit early in the morning. It will be a lot more relaxing.
But for a truly spectacular view, you could go around 5 pm and see the terraces during the golden hour. There will be quite a number of people there but seeing the sunset cast the last light upon the rice terraces is something so magical.
Swings & Hanging Pods
A drive away from the infamous rice terraces is one of the coolest photo ops I've ever seen. You will find some of the biggest swings set against a backdrop of forestry and rice terraces. Can you imagine? You will be strapped into a swing and pushed out into the forest. It was one of the most beautiful things I did, you feel like you're flying! And this coming from someone who is terrified of rollercoasters.
But if the thought of sitting in a swing suspended hundreds of feet up in the air scares you I have a slightly more reasonable option. They also have hanging pods that are quite adorable. You can climb in them and sit for a photo. It's your Tarzan dreams that come to life.
Take A Class
Ubud is the perfect place to pick up new talent. It's particularly a hot spot for yoga practitioners. Not only are there a number of yoga studios with incredible views but you can also purchase pretty affordable class passes if you are staying there for a longer period of time. It's a place where even as a beginner, I was inspired to just slow down and be fully present. Alternatively, you can take a cooking class. I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to learn how to cook a dish from the locals. It's such a colourful experience and a great way to meet other travellers. Ubud has one of the richest culinary experiences.
If anything, I hope this three-part series has opened you up to the wonderful world of Bali. In truth, three articles are not enough to show all the incredible things that Bali has to offer. It's a great place for both solo travellers and groups alike. Although, it's a special experience to go spend some time there alone. Especially if you're a digital nomad, you can easily find an affordable homestay in Ubud or outside of Ubud. So what are you waiting for? It's time to go Eat, Pray, and Love!
Bali Digital Nomad Paradise
Ubud is on our list of best places for digital nomads in Bali, find out what other places in Bali feature.