Where to stay, where to go, where to eat (non-healthy stuff)
Ubud is a little village in Bali, an island in Indonesia. The island is known for its Hindu heritage but also for its beautiful scenery, that has given it the title ‘island of the Gods’.
Ubud and the surrounding villages are seen as the cultural hub of Bali, as its where most of the island’s artisans and crafts are from. It is located in the mountains and surrounded by beautiful rice paddies, rice terraces, waterfalls, forests and temples.
WHERE TO STAY
If you’d like to stay within close distance to Ubud’s main attractions (the palace, temple, the market and Monkey Forest) then definitely look for somewhere around Jalan Raya Ubud (the main road) or Jalan Monkey Forest. But be prepared to face the mobs of tourists and the intense traffic.
If you’d like to stay somewhere a bit more quiet and experience the local life, or if you ‘re planning on a long stay, I’d recommend staying in one of the surrounding villages, like Sayan or somewhere in Penestanan, overlooking the rice paddies
You’ll need a motorcycle to get around, or be prepared to walk the 3 to 5km to the centre, otherwise you’ll have to rely on the local taxi services. But I’d still 100% recommend staying somewhere around Ubud, rather than Ubud itself, for a better experience.
Tip: I’d avoid the main Penestanan street (Jalan Raya Penestanan) where the Alchemy is; it’s expensive and not really worth it. Look for accommodation closer to the Yellow Flower Cafe or Cafe Vespa or, as mentioned, closer to the rice paddies will be even better (close to Paddy Point).
(Here’s £15 off on Booking.com when you use this link to book your stay)
WHAT TO DO
There are beautiful landscapes just 10min outside the centre of Ubud. Most times, it’s completely empty, and totally worth the sweat and effort. Here are our top three:
Rice paddy walk ‘paddy point’
OK, so we don’t know the name of this one but it ends at Paddy Point, so we’re naming it that. We found it by accident when we were looking for a house, and it was by far the most stunning one (unfortunately we didn’t have the camera with us, so this is the only photo we’ve got!). We found an entrance from Jalan Raya Lungsiakan, on the left past ‘Fly Cafe and Cuisine’ and ‘Terracota restaurant’, and walked all the way till Paddy Point. It was beautiful. You’ll suddenly be in the middle of literally nowhere (well, it’s a rice paddy) and it’s gorgeous. Watch out for snakes though. There are several nice spots at the end where you can stop for a drink. It doesn’t show up on Google.maps but it does on maps.me (best app EVER!)
Magic rice field walk
This was the name on the wooden arrow pointing towards a very dodgy looking alley. Totally worth it though. Once you’re past the weird bit you’ll find yourself in the greenest of landscapes. I swear these walks are like Narnia. You don’t really see it coming and then BOOM, it’s awesome. (Look up ‘sweet orange’ on the map, it’s a restaurant right in the middle of the walk, that should help you get there. Also, get maps.me).
Campuhan Ridge walk
This is the most famous one, therefore you’re likely to encounter a few other tourists on your way. Not many though. We saw a few people, but for most of the time we had the views to ourselves. It’s really lovely.
If you’re staying in Ubud, you’ll need a car or motorcycle to get here. It’s absolutely stunning and massive! Maybe try to do a cycling tour there, we didn’t get to do one but it looked pretty awesome. We just walked around, and that was pretty cool too. Again, mind the snakes (we saw two).
You’ll probably need a motorcycle/car too OR, if you’re crazy like us, you can cycle there from Ubud. Mind you it’s a tough ride all the way going up, but coming back is a treat! The only thing is you can’t cycle at the actual Tegallalang rice terraces, so you’ll need to find a safe place to leave your bike. These are very nice to explore by foot though and totally worth it.
Tip: if you do cycle there, don’t take the main road, take the back road through the rice paddies, it’s STUNNING, particularly going downhill, it’s total bliss.
Between the two?
Mmm tough because they’re both very unique. Tegallalang is built on a hill, so the steps are pretty impressive, Jatiluwih is much flatter but it is pretty massive. I’d pick Jatiluwih if I could only visit one, I think it’s more impactful (sadly, more expensive as well).
There are loads of waterfalls around Ubud, the most famous are Tegenungan and Tibumana, which you’ll need to get to early to avoid the crowds.
We were actually pretty lucky because the guide we hired to take us to Jatiluwih took us to the Banyumala waterfall which was absolutely amazing and empty! It was just us and the nature!
It’s a bit of a trek to get to, but I’m assuming most waterfalls will be, but it’s totally worth it once you get there. It is beautiful.
If you’re visiting during the rain season (Nov-Mar) go in the morning, as chances are, rain will fall in the afternoon.
This was also part of our ‘Jatiluwih day pack tour’ and it was pretty awesome. The view is unbelievable. There are loads of swings and weird platforms for you to take the ‘perfect’ Instagram picture, if you’re into that kind of stuff. If not, you can ride a bit further and there’s a free (but also swing-free) viewing point.
There are temples everywhere in Bali, and I can’t really say which one is best and worst as we only visited two: Ulun Danu Bratan and Goa Gaja.
Ulun Danu Bratan is absolutely worth the ride there (and cost). Our guide tried to convince us to go there at sunrise, but sunrise is pretty early in Bali, so we didn’t. But once we were there, I could totally understand why. If you don’t mind waking up at 3am, you should totally do it. It must be breathtaking.
Goa Gaja is ‘nice’ but not sure it’s really worth it, especially if you’re only here for a few days, I’d skip this one. Go to Uluwatu instead, I heard it’s fantastic!
There’s also the famous Tirta Empul temple, where you can bathe in the holy spring water for purification, but it gets absolutely packed, so try to go early and avoid the crowds. Unless you like human soup, obvs.
This was the tricky bit for us. If you’re staying for a few days and are willing to venture the traffic, defo hire a motorcycle. This will be cheaper and will give you much freedom. Otherwise you’re dependent on the local taxis which can be expensive as they won’t always will give you a fair price (I mean probably never, and either way you’ll have to bargain loads).
Alternative you can walk, but mind you it is HOT.
WHERE TO EAT (non-healthy stuff)
There are loads of healthy/raw food places in Ubud, LOADS, which we found a bit pricey and some even a bit snobbish. BUT hey, if you’re into the healthy raw stuff, you should totally do it (you can even write to me and try to change my mind on what the price of a fancy carrot should be, who knows?!).
For local Indonesian food, at more affordable prices, here are our top two picks:
Biah Biah on Jalan Goutama is a friendly and very affordable place with really tasty food. It’s no hidden secret though – it’s usually full, and more often than not you’ll need to wait for a table. But it’s totally worth it. Despite the fact that there are pretty much only tourists here, it still feels pretty authentic. Try the nasi campur and the vegetable mie goreng, really yummy.
Where? Jl. Goutama No. 13, Padangtegal Kaja, Ubud.
Verdict: Do it. Money: $ Food Rate: Good. Price/quality: Awesome.
Located on one of my favourite little streets in Ubud, Made’s Warung is simply a delight. We went past it quite a few times and noticed the big board outside claiming to have ‘the best food in town’, so we decided to give it a go. I don’t know if it’s the best food in town because I didn’t try all the restaurants, but I’d say it’s gotta be up there with the best. It is fantastic! The food is delicious! And a plus: they don’t use MSGs, which is quite an unusual thing in the traditional warungs (but very welcomed!). Oh and their staff is the friendliest, really lovely people!
We loved it so much we went there the next day! Absolutely recommend the chicken satay (it is divine), the typical nasi goreng, and the vegetarian curry (the tempeh here is to die for).
Where? Jl. Campuhan Br. Penestanan Kaja, Ubud.
Verdict: MUST go. Money: $ Food Rate: Heaven doors. Price/quality: Awesome.
Need help planning your trip?
Planning a trip to Ubud and still have a few questions? E-mail me or leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!