- Unique culture
- Nature: Rice terrace, waterfall, forest
- Dance shows
- Local culinary
- Spiritual tours
Beautiful Culture and Nature
Ubud is a major centre of Balinese culture and spirituality that has attracted artists and travellers for nearly a century. Although its ever-increasing popularity means that it is now as busy as South Bali, the development of Ubud has been more focused on maintaining traditional culture.
It is still one of the best places to visit temples, see Balinese art, watch dances and performances, meditate, practice yoga, take advantage of spiritual healers and traditional medicine, or buy local handicrafts. Ubud’s cooler climate and lush vegetation also make it ideal for an escape from the heat of Bali’s beaches.
The palace of Ubud’s royal family is in the centre of town and easy to visit. Just next door is a large traditional market selling goods of every kind. At the south of the Ubud centre is a monkey forest where a tribe of monkeys runs wild among moss-covered statues and shrines. Also within Ubud are many museums showcasing the lives and works of local artists and expatriates who have settled there, some of which date back 50 years or more. Dances and performances are regularly held in several venues. Around Ubud are several animal parks, as well as many historical sites and temples. These can be visited in tours, either by car or bike.
Some of Ubud’s traditional dishes have gained so much popularity that entire restaurants have been built around them. Members of the large expatriates’ community in Ubud have also opened restaurants serving food from around the world. Healthy foods are popular in Ubud; almost all restaurants have vegetarian/vegan and organic options available, as well as dishes for people with dietary restrictions.
Ubud has a growing nightlife, mostly centred on live music. Drinking and dancing are not uncommon, but nights here end much earlier than in Kuta or Seminyak.
Ubud is very strict on managing transportation in its territory. That’s why online taxi like Uber, Grab and GoJek don’t operate here. Many local taxi groups have an agreement with hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions, to cater guests exclusively. Bali government has started an eco-friendly public transportation recently; the electric buses are expected to hit the roads in Sanur, Kuta, Denpasar and Ubud soon.
Still, if you want to have a smooth experience for your holiday, hiring a car rental with a driver is the perfect choice. Renting a scooter from a rental, also a great idea; but only if you have an experience to ride two-wheelers.
Ubud has many guest houses run by friendly local families, some of which have been open for generations, as well as a variety of elegant and well-priced mid-range hotels. The mountainous countryside just outside Ubud is home to some breathtaking five-star hotels and luxurious serviced villas. Whether you are trying to stretch every penny or spend like there’s no tomorrow, you will be able to find a place in Ubud.
Ubud is known to be well over 1,000 years old, and for much of that time, it has been a centre for monasteries and shrines. Its royal families grew strong during Bali’s Majapahit era, and in the 20th century, they welcomed in Dutch colonialists, unlike the rulers of other parts of Bali. As a result, Ubud was mostly left to take itself. Between the 1930s and 1970s, Ubud began to attract artists, filmmakers, and musicians, many of whom settled there and made it their home, interacting with local artists and dancers and contributing to Bali’s cultural development. In the 1970s, Ubud began to become a popular tourist destination, and it has grown since then, always at an increasing rate. Today, it is a fully developed tourist centre but is still highly focused on spiritual principles.
The area around Ubud is ideal for hiking and biking, and whitewater rafting on mountain rivers is also possible. Walking around the town itself can be entertaining, preferably in the cooler and drier mornings and late afternoons. Many meditation and yoga classes are available, as are courses in Balinese dance and cooking. Ubud is home to regular festivals for authors, artists, musicians, and the spiritually inclined, and these can be great fun if they happen while you are visiting. Ubud also has fantastic spas and is a great place to pamper yourself with a traditional massage or herbal treatment.