If you are not sure what to do in Bali then you should put ‘Ubud’ on top of your list. This village just an hour drive North from the popular beaches in the South is perched in and between rice fields and is where you will find the authentic Bali feeling. Ubud is a popular spot for travelers that want to get a slice of the real Bali. Ubud is the artistic and cultural center of Bali, but over the years drew the attention of nomads and spiritual people.
Ubud may be the center of yoga in Bali, but it also is the center of adventure. There are many cool places to see and things to do in Ubud so make sure you reserve a couple days to stay around. Admire this green paradise, revitalize in its amazing green resorts, eat delicious and healthy food and enjoy the amazing activities in Ubud and most of all enjoy the laid-back vibe. I am sure you are willing to stay longer than intended! And damn the wide range of amazing Ubud accommodation is not making it easy to just stay for 2 nights.
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Rent a scooter in Ubud
To make the most out of your visit to this lovely village I recommend you to rent a scooter. It is one of the best things to do in Ubud believe me. Everywhere around town you will see signs ‘scooter rental’ and so far I have never heard a bad story about them. I have always been renting from the same lovely lady (+62 812 46774696) for about $4 per day. She is very flexible, delivers the scooter and provides helmets. Driving around on a scooter in Ubud is such a great feeling and to me the best way to see all the Ubud attractions and feel free. Click on the link for tips to drive on a motorbike in Bali.
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Things to do in Ubud
You will see many advertisements saying ‘Ubud Tours’ accompanied with fantastic waterfalls, but is there really a waterfall in Ubud? No! You will have to take a taxi or drive a scooter to these spectacular spots. There are 3 waterfalls around: Dusun Kuning Waterfall, Waterfall Kanto Lampo and Tegenungan Waterfall. A little further out is the Nungnung Waterfall.
1. Tegenungan waterfall
This place is one of the most popular places to see in Ubud and therefore I recommend going here as early as possible to avoid the crowds. Tegenungan waterfall also is a popular day trip for people staying in the Kuta and Seminyak area. From Ubud center it is about 20 minutes south on a motrobike. Once you got down to the water you can cross the river and climb up to the second level where you can try the 10m cliff jump if the water level is high enough. The locals will tell you if it is safe to jump. You can also hike throught the woods to get to the top of the waterfall. This takes about 45 minutes.
Here is a little Tegenungan Waterfall map on how to get there from Ubud center.
2. Waterfall Kanto Lampo
Just 10km out of town is the enchanting Kanto Lampo waterfall. It is a perfect spot to cool down as the water splashing down is not too strong and you can sit in this multi level waterfall. This place makes amazing long exposure photos and there is also a cave to explore of you go a little off the beaten path.
3. Dusun Kuning Waterfall
This is one of the lesser known waterfalls but only 20km from Ubud. It is located in the little village of Dusun Kuning close to Bangli. Away from the tourist trail and fits perfect in a Ubud sightseeing tour. There is a little pool in front of this tall waterfall. There is not much sunlight as the waterfall is completely surrounded by lush green jungle and since the water is not that warm it can get a little cold. Definitely bring a towel!
4. Nungnung waterfall
This is a Ubud must see! The coolest waterfall in Bali I have seen. I actually can’t really call it a waterfall in Ubud anymore as it is about 35km out of town. Though the amazingly scenic scooter ride will not be boring at all as you drive through the countryside and pass little villages on your way. After parking your scooter there are about 500 stairs downhill that lead you to the waterfall. When I was visiting this hidden gem the first time there were only two other people. Unfortunately it started raining like hell as soon as I hiked to the waterfall and I did not get to see it in its most picture perfect settin, but still managed to get this picture in the pouring rain.
Here is a little Nungnung Waterfall map on how to get there from Ubud.
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5. Tegalalang rice terraces
The most famous rice fields and may be even one the most photographed Bali tourist attractions out there. Due to its photogenic scenery the Tegalalang rice terraces are an old time favourite and only a 20-minute scooter ride away from Ubud. It is free to visit, although to get to the remoter areas some checkpoints will ask for $1. Tegalalang is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ubud.
I have been here now a couple times, but never really hiked around. Last time I started exploring the area and I was amazed by what was around the hidden corners. Unfortunately the sun was setting, but next time I will come early and hike around. There are a couple local sheds where you can buy a coconut, water or snacks on your hike around.
6. Visit an Ubud coffee plantation
There are many places to try coffee and they all say they have the best coffee in Ubud. I have been to a couple different ones. All of them are nice to visit, but of course they all want you to buy some coffee in the end. My best experience I had at Bali Geo close to the Tegalalang Ricefields. I told them straight up that I was not interested in buying coffee but they did not care. They guided me around the plantation and let me try 14 different shots of coffee and tea. I was so overwhelmed that I gave them $3 tip; I actually could have better bought a bag of coffee, as they are probably even cheaper! LOL
7. Campuhan Ridge Walk
There are a couple Ubud hiking trails, but the most scenic is the Campuhan Ridge Walk. The hike follows the Tchampuan river gorge and will pass through villages, a forest, rice fields, luxurious villas, and charming local houses. The hike offers fantastic views over the hilly countryside.
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8. Bike tour Ubud
This is a great way to see more of the backcountry of this lush green paradise. I once joined a bike tour and I really liked it, but don’t underestimate this. More than half of the group had to walk a lot, as riding a bike is not easy in the hilly countryside. There are several Ubud bike rental places, but I would recommend joining a group as the skilled guides bring you to the best-kept secrets of Ubud plus there is a lunch included which is super yummy!
9. Monkey Forest
Welcome to one of the most notorious activities in Ubud. The monkey forest is close to the city center and a fun place to go when walking around town, but be careful! Somehow these monkey are among the rudest I have ever seen. The best thing is to don’t bring anything, as they are cheeky bastards. They open zippers, steal sunglasses, throw water bottles and so on. It is fun to see as there are always people around that try to play with them, but mostly they end up running away scared. Nothing serious will happen if you don’t really interact with them, but there are many tourists who get scratches or bites from the monkey here.
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Close to the city center there is a rafting station for white water rafting in the rivers around. There are a couple different grades depending on the season. I have never done it myself as I think it is a bit pricey, but I have heard very good stories. Best is to book with one of the many travel agencies around town, they all include a pick-up and a drop-off.
For sure yoga is one of the most popular things to do in Ubud. The yoga scene is huge here and telling people that you are not here to practice it will sometimes make eyebrows frown. Apparently it is a big thing and many fanatics come together here. It gives Ubud an extra chill vibe plus its healthy vegetarian and vegan food scene is vibrant and out of this world.
Day trips from Ubud
As you have noticed there are many places to visit in Ubud. The numerous rice fields, the spectacular waterfalls, coffee plantations, great resorts and cool hikes. The list of tourist attractions is long and therefore it is wise to not just make a day trip to Ubud, but also stay here for a couple days. Where to stay in Ubud? I will talk about that later, keep on reading.
High tea with a view over the jungle in Ubud can also be organized!
Where to stay in Ubud
Welcome to the jungle, literally in this case! If you are looking for a place to stay in Ubud you are spoiled for choice. I tell you this is going to be a hard choice as there are so many amazing Ubud accommodations that making a decision is going to be very though. Firstly you have to decide what is your budget. There are decent Ubud hotels for $25 per night but you can also find the Ritz Carlton in Ubud where you will pay $750 per night. If people ask me for recommendations where to stay in Ubud I always tell them somewhere quiet! Nowadays Ubud can be very hectic and all you want is a place to enjoy the serenity of the rice fields, right? The last thing you want to hear is traffic in your room. Therefore I always tell people to look for accommodation in Ubud North of the city center. At least I would try to avoid South Ubud as it can be super busy.
Luxury resorts in Ubud
If you are looking for luxury hotels in Ubud I can recommend you two places I have stayed at: Maya Ubud and Padma Ubud. Maya Ubud is located very close to the city center on an incredibly massive lush green plot perched in the hills of the jungle, topped off with a jungle pool all the way at the end of the resort. Their private pool villas guarantee you the silence you are looking for.
Jungle pool at Maya Ubud.
Spa time in a jungle setting with the river in the background at Maya Ubud.
Padma is another special place to stay in Ubud because it has the largest outdoor pool in Ubud and the best thing about it is that it is heated. So if you want to take a dip in the middle of the night watching stars then this is where you want to be. Padma Ubud has more like a resort feel and is about 20 minutes North of the center in a completely isolated area. Perfect for those looking to escape the daily life!
Mid range hotels in Ubud
For those on a smaller budget it is the worst to find a place to stay in Ubud because there are hundreds of places to choose from. I have stayed in Blue Karma Ubud a boutique private villa resort a couple kilometers north of Ubud in a quiet lush green setting, very much recommended. This place will definitely give you the holiday feeling and because they only have about 10 private villas there is a huge personal touch. Read the full review about Blue Karma Ubud here.
Also north of the center and kind of the same is Ulun Ubud, an all-time favorite where not only me but many other travelers rave about. Amazing views, a little cheaper and simpler, but great value for money.
Budget accommodation in Ubud
For people traveling on a budget to Bali I can recommend the following hotels:
- Pondok Prapen Guesthouse has a rating of 9.3 out of more than 500 reviews and cost around $20 per night in a great location. WINNER!
- Puri Payogan Villa cost about $30 per night and is rated at 9.0 out of 100 reviews. Click here to see the actual prices.
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Remember to stay north of Ubud as it is simply more amazing, the best places to see in Ubud are in this area, there is less traffic and more nature! And please rent a scooter because you will only get the real Bali feel if you jump on a scooter and get lost in this place. You will thank me later, trust me! Click here for tips for renting a motorbike in Bali and know how to stay safe. If I can, you can! :)
For a complete where to stay in Ubud guide click here!
Where to eat in Ubud
Best restaurants in Ubud
It is hard to give you a guide to the best restaurants as there are popping up new eateries constantly. According to some locals I had to try out Spice restaurant and I am glad I did. This fine dining has creative preparation techniques, which will make the food a unique tasting experience. The amazingly spontaneous and talkative manager/chef prepares super tasty food. I tried the salmon/tuna burger with the homemade sauce. WOW! The place is a little more pricey, but the quality is out of this world. Definitely try to have a bite at Spice.
2. AA Juicery
A much more simple place, but definitely one of my favourites is AA Juicery. It is a little out of town and you need a scooter to get there, but you will love going trust me. This super laid-back family-run vegetarian restaurant serves all the healthy options you can think of plus the best juices in town. Try the Tempeh Stake!
3. Hujan Locale
Another restaurant in Ubud that is well worth going is Hujan Locale. Here in this local restaurant they give a little twist to local dishes. This results in Cutch Indonesian cod croquettes, Lake Toba snapper ceviche, Tuna tartare with watermelon. Seriously all these dishes were so extremely yummy that I can't choose my favorite restaurant in Ubud. It is either Hujan Locale or Spice. You should try them both and decide for yourself what is the best restaurant in Ubud.
4. Bridges Bali Ubud
Overlooking the gently flowing Wos River Bridgers Bali Ubud is the place to eat if you are looking for romantic things to do in Ubud. The multi leveled lovely restaurant feels like the real authentic Ubud. Cheers with friends on local food or have a romantic glass wine with your lover. The lush green surrounding is the best restaurant setting possible you can find in Ubud and the food is delicious!
Look at this amazing setting, do I need to say more?
5. Clear Cafe Ubud
Don't go here if you are bad in making decisions. When I saw the menu the first time I simply had no idea what to order as I could eat almost anything on the menu. I wish they would have a sample platter! I do heard you can go for brunch here, which definitely would be an idea for next time I travel to Ubud. Eating at Clear Cafe also is a guarantee for meeting people. It is a well-known place to eat in Ubud an can be busy sometimes, so have some patience waiting for a table. Every time I visit Ubud, I go to Clear Cafe. Oh yeah and the entrance is so cute it feels like walking into a fairytale.
For more local restaurants in Ubud click here and I will show you my 5 favorite cheap eateries.
Where to go in Ubud
As you can see it was really easy to make a list with things to do in Ubud, I found already 14 things and probably forgot a couple as well. But believe me there is more to explore in this lovely area of Bali, sightseeing never stops. There are many backroads to discover and for sure in the next times I visit I will find some more interesting places to see in Ubud. Do you have any cool spots that definitely can not be missed or some cool activities in Ubud to add? Let me know in the comments and I will surely check them out next time!
When in Bali an adventure up North is a must do and my tip is to explore this mountainous region on a scooter and drive around to see all the amazing places to visit in North Bali. If you are really comfortable on a motorbike then I have the best adventure for you: Nusa Penida! This island lies only about 1 hour Southeast of Bali an is seriously magical. I saw manta rays, unbelievable nature and spectacular views. Check it all out including a video about my trip including drone footage in my Nusa Penida Blog.
Is Bali one of your favorite islands to travel as well? I have not always loved Bali actually, long story but now I am totally in love. Why is that? It is a magical island full of inspiring people, I feel free driving on a scooter in Bali, the fabulous nature and I can come up with many more reasons to travel to Bali! Are you traveling on a budget? This island has great value for money but then you need to know where to go. Let me give you tips for traveling Bali on a budget. Click on the link and I will help you make it an amazing trip for just a couple hundred bucks!
Also when looking for Ubud hotels, this is your complete guide fo choosing the best hotel for your budget in Ubud.
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