To-Do List: Seven Ways to Explore Ubud, Bali

There are so many  fun things to do in Ubud, it’s no wonder why so many visitors flock to this region of Bali. As my wife and I discovered, Ubud offers an amazing variety of attractions — from delicious dining to gorgeous temples.

During our time in Ubud, we enjoyed the classic tourist activities, but we also found a few fun things to do that were off-the-beaten path:

1. Dig into the food scene.

The large variety of food options in Ubud amazed us, with international cuisine seemingly outnumbering the Balinese restaurants. Of course, there are also plenty of local warung, small family-owned places serving satay, nasi ayam and other island favorites. Our pick for Indonesian fare was Warung Laba Laba on Jalan Hanoman.

Quick Tip:

Ubud offers several top-notch Balinese cooking classes. You should absolutely book one! Don’t eat anything beforehand, however, as all participants are well fed during the session.

2. Hang out in a Sacred Monkey Forest.

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is the closest I’ve ever come to so many (surprisingly bold) monkeys! My wife and I enjoyed watching families of macaque monkeys walking around like they owned the place. The macaques are never too shy for a photo; we happily snapped some of our favorite Ubud shots here.

3. Explore the Balinese temples.

The huge diversity of temples in Ubud is reason enough to visit the city. Don’t miss stand-outs like Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi and Taman Hayun, which are particularly impressive. The temples varied in color and design, and it was fascinating to walk the grounds and witness the sacred rituals.

4. Discover the beauty of Balinese dance.

Wandering the city on foot is one of the best ways to explore. We were fortunate enough to witness a beautiful Balinese dance while walking by a community center near the Ubud Market. Instructors were teaching young local girls traditional dance moves and choreography, and it was interesting to see them so focused amid the chaotic surroundings — and to stay in the moment with many eyes of passersby on them!

5. Explore the dynamic art scene.

The Ubud arts scene includes offerings from all over the world. One of our favorite places was the unique Blanco Renaissance Museum, which celebrates the life and work of Antonio Blanco, an eccentric Spanish painter who created a number of truly intriguing works. For more traditional Balinese and Indonesian art, we really enjoyed the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) Museum, which features incredible gardens and a number of different artistic mediums, from sculptures to paintings.

Quick Tip:

One of the best ways to see Balinese art first-hand is via the Ubud Art Market. You’ll find a huge range of handicrafts and textiles on display and for sale. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir!

6. Venture into the countryside.

It’s hard to believe that idyllic pastoral landscapes are so close to the bustling streets of Ubud. But the surrounding countryside is like a different world — and it’s just a short bike ride away. We ventured out of the city for a bike tour that started at a scenic overlook showcasing views of a lake and the impressive (and volcanic) Mount Agung. Riding our bicycles essentially downhill from there, we stopped along the way at the intensely sloped (and photogenic) Tegalalang Rice Terrace. The bike ride continued through flatter rice farms and villages, and we felt as far away from our busy lives as we could get.

7. Relax at a spa.

After eating, exploring and enjoying everything about Ubud, our joints and muscles needed some pampering. Luckily, Ubud is the perfect place to get a massage, with abundant relaxing spa treatments available. We shopped around before randomly selecting a reasonably priced spa, and we were happy with our choice.

During our vacation, we stayed in many parts of Bali and Indonesia, but Ubud left a lasting impression. One week there wasn’t enough; it’s now on my (growing) list of return trip destinations.

Where to Stay:
Marriott’s Bali Nusa Dua Gardens

Carl H. is a travel writer living in Durham, North Carolina.