You’ve probably heard about this magical city in the heart of Bali. Thanks to “Eat, Pray, Love” and “The Bucket List”, Ubud is becoming more commonly known as being a spiritual mecca with beautiful temples, rice fields, and coffee to die for.
Despite what the films (and the above photo) depict, Ubud is an absolute hotspot for tourists, which can be both good and bad. There are places to find peace and solitude literally right outside of the hustle and bustle, but the center of Ubud can be slightly overwhelming during the high season.
However, there are safe havens to find a sense of calm even in the heart of the city.
Yoga In Ubud
Yoga Barn –
○ Vinyasa, Restorative, Ashtanga, Hatha classes offered
○ Tibetan bowl meditation Tues/Thurs (get there EARLY — at least 90 min
Radiantly Alive –
○ Ubud’s second largest yoga studio behind The Yoga Barn. Multiple beautiful studios, modern feel, good teachers, many different class types. A must visit for yogis in Ubud.
Recommended: Roll and Release and RA Vinyasa Flow
Popular: Salsa dance, Fly high yoga, arm balance workshop, RA Vinyasa
Programs: Yoga teacher training, tons of workshops, holistic therapies, health food store onsite
Taksu Yoga & Healing Spa –
○ At Taksu you’ll find a hidden restaurant in the garden, healing spa offering theta-healing and soundbath, and yoga in one of the most unique studios I’ve ever seen, located down in the jungle in a stone sanctuary above a creek.
Explore the Rice Paddies
Tegalalang Rice Terrace is located slightly North of Ubud and sits at 600m above sea level. This makes the air a tad cooler for the rice farmers.
As you drive up towards the entrance you will notice many touristy shops all with handmade goods and souvenirs. There are also a ton of cafes scattered across the main touristy section.
There is one main entrance into Tegalalang rice fields that can pretty easy to miss, but here you can stroll down the steps and into the terrace. You can reach the other side where it’s a lot quieter.
There are a few swings situated in and around the rice fields as well as the famous ‘Love Bali Sign’. However, there is more to Ubud than Tegalalang Rice Fields.
Jatiluwih Rice Terrace are a great alternative to Teglalalang that will give you a real local Indonesian experience. The word Jati translates to ‘really’ and Luwih to ‘excellent’. So you can expect something ‘really excellent’! Jatiluwih Rice Terrace is a breathtaking scenery that you definitely will not forget.
Budget & Mid-Range
○ Nicks Homestay/ Pension –
○ Ubud Aura – Next to Yoga Barn. Ranges from $20/night
(shared bathroom). $30/night gets you the Superior room which is smaller but with
in-room Internet and air conditioner. Breakfast is included, and the staff is wonderful
○ Ubud Village & Resort Spa – close to Hanuman road
○ Villa Semana
○ Four Seasons
Tukad Sepung Waterfall –
Tukad Cepung Waterfall is definitely one of the more unique waterfalls to visit in Bali. With sun rays that beam through the falls, with a hidden entrance walking (or swimming) through the pools to get there.
The walk to get down to Tukad Cepung was straight forward and easy enough. Although, unlike most Bali waterfalls, this one you had to wade through a knee-high river and over a few rocks to get there. It took all of 15 minutes to get down.
Tegenungan Waterfall –
You can get lucky if you get there early enough to avoid the touristy crowd, but be warned there is a pretty lengthy, steep set of rocky stairs going down to the falls. There is a swimming hole, and a partial cave that you can swim into under the falls.
If the water is murky and brown like this, it’s probably after a downpour. This photo was taken here during the peak of the rainy season.
Monkey Forest Sanctuary
The first thing on my list was to see Monkey Forest. This is where it gets a little more touristy, but again, the earlier you go in the day the better.
The small monkeys were adorable, nothing to be afraid of. They just want your bananas. The bigger monkeys on the other hand… slightly terrifying. The mothers don’t want you anywhere near their babies, and the males are extremely aggressive and territorial.
Be careful! Don’t wear anything shiny, don’t have a nice phone or camera out for too long or they might try to take it. They want your nice things and if you don’t give it to them they may give you this reaction. Seriously. Quick snapshots and nothing flashy.
There is a ton of shopping and food in the heart of Ubud just outside of the Monkey Forest. There were a few other activities that I wanted to cross off my list, but there was one that I knew would be an experience of a lifetime.
Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple
Tirta Empul Temple is a Hindu temple that has been around for well over a thousand years and is still being actively used to this day. Wander around the gardens or admire people who are doing the purification ritual, or even participate in the purification ritual in the water of the holy spring yourself.
The temple is considered one of the most holy temples in Bali. A visit to Tirta Empul will guaranteed be a unique experience, and one that should not be missed.
There are a few things to note for your visit:
- You will have to sacrifice an offering to respect the temple and to keep the holy spirit of the ritual;
- Wearing a sarong is mandatory for both men and women, even if you are wearing long pants. There is no fee to rent the sarong, it is included in the price!
- Find the information on the ritual before entering to know exactly what the ritual is;
- You are not allowed to bring any type of camera into the holy water;
- Don’t enter the water with the sarong that is provided you upon entry, there are special sarong for the ritual;
Hiking Mount Batur
Hiking an active volcano at 3 am to watch the sunrise from the top of the mountain. Mount Batur is 1750 meters high. Due to high daytime temperatures it’s best climbed early in the morning, when you can enjoy the additional bonus of catching sunrise from the top.
We were picked up at 2.30am from Ubud, and after a quick cup of coffee we were given torches and started the walk to the base of the volcano. It was a strange feeling starting the climb in the pitch black, not knowing what surrounded you.
After several photos, we started the descent. We followed a different path to the way up. The first half was on steep, slippery rubble – almost easier to jog down! The path continued back through the forest and soon enough, we were back at our starting point.
Needless to say, we were pretty wiped after this excursion. It was truly an unforgettable experience. There are so many wonderful things to see and do in Ubud – this was all done in just three days! Do yourself a favor and check it out… if not for the sunrise trek, at least try the world’s most sought after coffee – Kopi Luwak!
The Traveling Yogi