Ubud, Bali Guide: Best Things to Do
After traveling around Asia for a month, Ubud has by far been one of my favorite places to visit! Therefore, I am beyond excited to share this Ubud Guide! This jungle oasis is in the center of Bali and is known as a spiritual hub. Without a doubt, I could honestly see myself living in Bali.
Ubud is full of culture, stunning temples, cute cafes, and amazing markets! If you plan to travel to Bali, make sure to add a couple of days for Ubud! So, are you ready to be inspired?
Below, find my complete Ubud, Bali guide including best all the best things to do in Ubud, day trips from Ubud, where to eat and stay, transportation, and more!
Disclaimer: Please note this post contains affiliate links which I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you decide to click a link and make a purchase.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Ubud, Bali Guide: Best Things to Do
- Bali Temples Guide
- Insta-Famous Bali Temples (Day Trip from Ubud)
- Bali Temple Etiquette
- Ubud, Bali Rice Patty Fields
- Coffee Plantations in Bali Pulina
- The Sacred Monkey Forest
- Tegenungan Waterfall
- Air Terjun Nungnung Waterfall
- Yoga in Ubud
- Balinese Massage
- Shopping in Ubud
- Campuhan Ridge Walk
- Mt Batur Hike
- Group Tours in Ubud, Bali
- Best Food Spots in Ubud
- Extra Tips For Visiting Ubud, Bali
- Transportation in Ubud
- Where to Stay in Ubud
- Ubud Guide Wrap-up
Bali Temples Guide
If you take anything from this Ubud guide, make sure to add at least some of these temples to your list! They are the backbone of Bali and what makes their culture so special.
Saraswati Temple (Ubud Water Palace)
Located in the heart of Ubud, the Saraswati Temple is a water temple with stunning lotus flowers on either side! Follow the flowering pathway to amazing Balinese architecture and brilliant colored doors.
On top of that, this temple actually has free entry, which is not often found in Bali!
Address: Jl. Kajeng, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Tirta Empul Temple
Another temple not to be missed is Titra Empul! Famously known for its holy spring water, locals and tourists alike line up to dip their heads under over 9 fountains and leave an offering for purification.
We were very lucky to encounter small crowds during our visit, but this is not usually the case.
The pool area is usually completely full of people waiting in line to even enter! We went in May around 2 PM – 3 PM on a weekday. There are also nice garden areas and a giant Koi fish pond.
It’s a rather large temple with lots to explore, so give yourself some time here, especially if you plan to partake in the ritual.
Bali Tip: You will exit through lots of shops that will all be hounding you to buy their goodies. I found they had cheaper pricing compared to other places we visited.
Address: Jl. Tirta, Manukaya, Tampaksiring, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80552, Indonesia
Fee: $15,000 IDR
Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)
Built in the 9th century, Goa Gajah is known for its spectacular cave entrance. Walking inside, we were immediately drawn to the incense smells and offering areas with little statues inside.
The cave itself is rather small and could even feel claustrophobic. In my opinion, the real beauty is what you find beyond the cave. Walk further down the temple path and find a gorgeous oasis. A giant tree of life (I like to call it), small waterfalls, and other smaller temples can be found.
It was so beautiful and green, it was impossible not to feel like one with nature!
Address: Jl. Raya Goa Gajah | Desa Bedulu, Ubud 80581, Indonesia
Fee: $15,000 IDR
Puri Saren Agung (Ubud Palace)
Right down the block from Saraswati Temple (Ubud Water Palace) is the Ubud Palace. This beautiful temple has elaborate stone doorways of flowers, monkeys, and “interesting” faces to say the least.
In that doorway, stands wooden doors covered in golden etches of more stunning Balinese art. Ubud Palace is also free to walk around, so I would definitely add it to your Ubud bucket list.
Address: Jl. Raya Ubud No.8, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Insta-Famous Bali Temples (Day Trip from Ubud)
This Ubud guide would not be complete without mentioning a day trip to the below 3 temples. These temples have become insta-famous (for good reason) and are located in Northeast Bali. The best way to get there is with a day trip from Ubud with a driver or guided tour.
Pura Lempuyang (Gates of Heaven)
Likely to be the most famous temple in Bali, the Gates of Heaven has people journeying from everywhere to catch the reflection of the gates and one of the best views of Mount Agung in the background. It takes around 1.5 – 2 hr drive with no traffic.
Unfortunately, Instagram has given this temple a false look. In many photos at this location, it will look like a reflection of the temple. However, the reflection is made by a sweet Balinese person holding a mirror under the camera. Also, the volcano is usually covered with clouds or fog.
Without knowing the above, we arrived at 9 AM and we were extremely lucky the temple was empty. To be honest, we walked right through the gates and didn’t even realize it until we turned around!
Don’t get me wrong, the temple is beautiful, but if you have limited time in Ubud, my advice is to skip this temple unless you really want to “do it for the gram” or you are genuinely interested in Balinese history and culture.
This temple is considered one of the highly regarded temples and the grounds to explore are extensive.
Bali Tip: If you do decide to go here, going early is key so you will not have to wait in line too long to take your photo.
Address: Jl. Pura Telaga Mas Lempuyang, Tri Buana, Kec. Karangasem, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80852, Indonesia
Recommended Donation Fee: 10,000-30,000 IDR Sarong is 10,000 IDR
Tirta Gangga Water Temple
Tirta Gangga is definitely a part of my top 3 temples of Bali, for the simple fact that it is absolutely stunning with lush gardens full of huge lily pads, lotus flowers, and famous stepping stones across a fountain pool with giant Koi fish!
We drove here right after the Gates to Heaven, so figure we got here around 10:30 AM. This water palace was built in 1948 by Raja of Karangasem and was almost completely destroyed in 1963 by an eruption of Mount Agung.
Bali Tip: You will walk through a little town area that sells fish pellets. If you want the koi fish to surround you while you stand on the stones, this is your secret weapon!
Address: Jl. Abang-Amlapura, Karangasem 80852, Indonesia
Fee: $10,000 IDR
Taman Ujung Soekasada (Ujung Water Palace)
After a short ride from Tirta Gangga, we arrived at Taman Ujung Soekasada. I am starting to think I just love Water Palaces because again, this temple also falls in my top 3 Bali temples!
Upon entrance, you cross a white bridge decked in flowers that opens up to lush gardens and palm trees.
To top that, towards the back of the grounds you will find a staircase that is a must climb. After reaching the top, you will be rewarded with the most stunning overlook of the grounds, ocean, and mountains in the distance.
It is most definitely worth the drive. I would say we reached Ujung Water Palace around 12 PM and as you will see from my photos below, we had the place to ourselves!
Address: Desa Ujung, Jl. Raya Taman, Tumbu, Kec. Karangasem, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80811, Indonesia
Fee: $50,000 IDR
Bali Temple Etiquette
I can’t talk about the Ubud Bali temples without mentioning temple etiquette. To show respect for the Balinese and their places of worship, in most places a sarong is required.
If you do not have one, they usually offer them for a small donation. In general, you should also bring a scarf or shall in case your shoulders need to be covered.
Ubud, Bali Rice Patty Fields
Likely one of the coolest agricultural things you will ever witness is the Rice Terraces in Ubud! What’s so special is the irrigation system known as Subak.
This method dates back to the 11th century and even plays a part in religious festivals and temples.
All members of the community work together to maintain the integrity of canals and dams which run through temples and terraces.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
The Tegalalang Rice Terrace is a must-do in Ubud! This is likely the most famous rice terrace and makes the top on any Ubud guide; (for good reason) it’s stunning!
Walk around the fields, take a ride on the Bali Swing or climb up in the man-made nests for the perfect Instagram photos and just enjoy the jungle vibes!
Ubud Rice Patty Tips
When visiting the Ubud Rice Patties, there are a few tips you need to know that are not often talked about!
- There’s an entrance fee along with “donation” areas around the fields. Let me back up! In Bali, you will find they have mandatory donations, but in fact, they are just other fees. Moving on! So the field is split up by different farmers, so once you enter a new farmers area, you can not pass without giving your “donation” of about $10,000-20,000 ( about$0.70 cents to $1.50 USD) so make sure you bring extra small cash for these tolls.
- You will also want to bring some extra cash if you want to swing or go in the baskets. It’s about an extra $3-$5 USD.
- We went in the afternoon, and let me tell you, it’s HOT and HUMID! If I could do it over again, I would go for sunrise and get the beautiful Bali morning glow!
- You might also want to bring extra cash for ice cream or some hand-made Balinese crafts!
Address: Jl. Raya Tegallalang, Tegallalang, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces UNESCO World Heritage Site
Although I did not get to visit the Ubud Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, I feel they should be mentioned in this guide if you have extra time.
My good travel friend, Shyam visited these terraces instead and said he was able to connect on a more cultural level and learn about the famous Balinese irrigation system in-depth (it could also help that his friend was Balinese).
Even former US President Obama visited these fields, so they must be nice!
Coffee Plantations in Bali Pulina
Another one of the best things to do in Bali is to check out a coffee plantation. There are specifically famous for their Kopi Luwak coffee that is ingested by the Civet Cat. It is actually the most expensive coffee in the world!
Here’s the catch, the coffee beans are eaten and digested by the cats and pooped out in full bean form. From there, the coffee beans are collected, dried, peeled, and roasted.
The bean has two layers of skin that are peeled off before they are roasted, so it’s sanitary. We were walked through the whole process and it was pretty amazing to see. There are several farms to visit. We visited Pulina Coffee Plantation because it was about a 5-minute drive from Tegalalagang.
Pulina Coffee Plantation Ubud Bali
A visit to Pulina Coffee is free. As you walk in, a guided tour brings you through their property. As we walked through, they showed us their cinnamon plants, cocoa beans, vanilla, and more.
At this plantation, you can also have Civet cat coffee. The only thing that upset me was seeing 3 of the cats in a cage. It’s hard for me to say if the cats were being treated badly, or if it was more similar to owning wild animals such as birds, rabbits, snakes, etc.
Other than this, the experience was really nice and the staff was very friendly. However, because of the cats, I am not sure I can completely recommend a visit to this Ubud guide since I would never want to promote cruel animal tourism.
Moving on with the tour; we were seated and given 8 free samples of coffee and tea with stunning views of the rice fields. All the samples were so delicious. We bought one cup of the Luwak since it was only about $3 USD. My guess is they give you all of these free goodies in hopes you do buy something.
The Sacred Monkey Forest
A top experience on any Ubud guide is the Sacred Monkey Forest! Unless you are extremely scared of monkeys, you don’t want to miss this spot.
Located inside the dense jungle of 186 species of plants, you will find over 700 extremely cheeky monkeys and 3 temples.
My favorite part of this attraction was being able to see the plants grow over the bridges and structures giving it an ancient ruins feel.
Ubud Tip: As much as you want to play and hold the monkey, be aware that they do bite and scratch. If you are bitten or scratched by a monkey, it’s important to go to the hospital for a rabies shot. Rabies vaccinations are more difficult for hospitals to get, so they are more expensive, and plus you don’t want a trip to the hospital. This is why I always recommend travel insurance.
Also, I would highly recommend not bringing in a backpack or purse. Monkeys target you, open all your zippers and take your stuff.
I watched a monkey go through a lady’s bag, take out her lipstick, and color it on her white pants! We also saw another monkey with someone’s phone.
I would also avoid bringing food or water bottles. They are looking to snatch those the second they see it! Besides, human food is not good for the monkey’s diet.
Lastly, please respect the park’s rules so we can continue to see these wild monkeys for years to come!
Address: Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Fee: $50,000 IDR
If you have extra time in Ubud, you might want to add this waterfall to your Bali bucket list. We were not allowed to swim in the falls, but you could get pretty close up the falls. It seemed that there wasn’t much rain during our visit since I’ve seen other photos where there was lots of water!
You can also find a little spring at the bottom of the entrance where you could go in to escape the heat. There were also shops at the entrance for our gelato fix.
Address: Jalan Ir. Sutami, Kemenuh, Sukawati, Kemenuh, Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80581, Indonesia
Fee: $30,000 IDR
Air Terjun Nungnung Waterfall
Although we did not visit this waterfall, one of my favorite IG photographers, Shyam said it should be included in any Ubud guide. It’s about an hour north of Ubud and according to Shyam, the stairs were made for giants. It’s a tough climb but the views are worth it!
The waterfall is located a little over 1 hour away and the waterfall is 165 ft! Once you are there, you can enjoy trails or enjoy a swimmable pool at the bottom
Yoga in Ubud
It would almost be a sin not to try yoga in one of the most spiritual places in the world. People from all over come to Ubud just for yoga!
The Yoga Barn
Being our hotel was so centrally located, I found the Yoga Barn around the corner. You had to walk through this ally to get there, but once you’re inside… omg, it’s stunning.
I was able to walk right into a class that was just about to start and was given a mat to use. It was in an open-air studio where you could feel the breeze, take in all the smells and listen to the sounds of Bali!
The session was about 1 hr and 20 mins and it was so amazing; I really loved it! Being a beginner, I was definitely sore the next day, but I was able to get through the whole class.
Address: Jl. Raya Pengosekan, Peliatan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Still, have room in your Ubud itinerary? If so, don’t forget to put a Balinese massage on your list! They are usually really affordable and out of this world!
Shopping in Ubud
Bali is known for its shopping! From their art, Bali bags, and crochet clothing make sure to get some keepsakes to bring home!
Our favorite place to shop was around the Monkey Forest, but you can walk all over Ubud and find shops everywhere.
In the wee hours of the morning, many of the stands are actually a Local food markets! You can find all your fresh food for the day all before 9 am where it then quickly turns to souvenir shopping for tourists.
We didn’t make it up this early, but I’ve heard it’s a really cool experience. If you want to see the local everyday life of Bali, the morning market is located here: Jl. Raya Ubud No.14, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Campuhan Ridge Walk
Likely one of the most instagramable walks, Campuhan Ridge walk has stunning views and lots of tourists. Unfortunately, we were unable to squeeze this in, however, it’s one of the places I wish we had visited so it makes my Ubud guide.
I reached out to one of my favorite bloggers Ophélie who suggests arriving at sunrise and avoiding weekends for fewer crowds.
Close by is the sleepy suburb of Penestanan. If you have extra time in Ubud and looking for something a little more remote, check out this Penestanan guide.
Mt Batur Hike
Are you adventurous? A perfect day trip from Ubud, Bali would be to hike Mt. Batur for sunrise! While we personally did not get to make the hike, so I can’t speak from experience.
However, I have been told amazing things about this hike by many other friends and bloggers after the fact! I will just need to make it back to Bali, as I hear the sunrise is truly epic!
Group Tours in Ubud, Bali
While all of the above can be done without a tour, sometimes it’s nice to have a local bring you around and give you a little more history!
For day trips, check out Get Your Guide to tour around Ubud and the rest of Bali! They have tons of tours where they will pick you up and drive you around so you won’t have to worry about finding drivers.
If you find that you are more comfortable in larger groups, I would also recommend G Adventures (highly rated from my short time as a travel agent) which will plan your whole trip for you!
Best Food Spots in Ubud
This wouldn’t be an Ubud guide without mentioning some cute cafes and trendy eats.
Café du Monyet: Café du Monyet, easily became our favorite place for breakfast! It has stylish 1930’s French décor and towards the back overlooks the rice fields. My go-to was the Croque Madame (about $2.77 USD)
Address: Jl. Monkey Forest No.9, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Taco Casa: Let’s talk about Mexican heaven in Bali! Taco Casa gets crowded quickly and it’s for good reason. Everything is made from scratch and is absolutely delicious. Their nachos and veggie quesadilla were my go-to along with a nice cold Bintang beer!
Address: Jalan Raya Pengosekan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Mama Mia (Pengosekan): Oh my yum at momma Mia! They have slammin’ wood fire pizza and pasta dishes – coming from a New Yorker! This place is super cute with a nice atmosphere. Pizza and pasta dishes are all around $3-6 USD.
Address: Jl. Raya Pengosekan Ubud, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Dirty Duck Diner (Bebek Bengil): Firstly, this place is so large; it’s like walking through a beautiful outdoor resort. The Dirty Duck is famously known for its sticky fried duck and has been open since 1990!
Address: Padang Tegal, Jl. Hanoman, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Monkey Cave Espresso Ubud: For a quick, but great coffee, stop by Monkey Cave Espresso! Located right by the Sacred Monkey forest, their cappuccinos and espresso are amazing! Pricing ranges around $2-4 USD.
Address: Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Feel like cooking your own traditional Balinese food? Check out the many cooking classes here!
Extra Tips For Visiting Ubud, Bali
- You will find a lot of stray dogs. Balinese culture does not believe in “fixing” dogs and every home usually has a dog.
- There is a good amount of plastic waste. Do your best to try and reduce your footprint.
- The sidewalks in Ubud can be missing huge chunks, so you can literally fall into the sidewalk. I wish I had a picture to show you! Just google Ubud sidewalks, and you will see what I mean.
- No need to tip for food. It is not expected and staff may become genuinely confused if you leave money.
- The tap water is not safe to drink.
Transportation in Ubud
You can rent one for as little as $8-15 USD a day, but the traffic in Bali is insane and the traffic rules; let’s just say they are a little iffy.
We used Grab (like Uber) or a personal driver. A personal driver can cost about $40-80 US for a 7-hour day depending on where you are going, but they will stay with you the whole time!
Grab, on the other hand, is a little more difficult in Bali for one, wifi is not great everywhere so the app will not always work, and two, the local drivers are trying to ban Grab.
We were able to use Grab a few times and they are much cheaper than the other two options, but less reliable.
Where to Stay in Ubud
We stayed right down the block from the Sacred Monkey Forest at Evitel. It was within walking distance to tons of amazing cafes and shops and overlooks a small rice farm.
My favorite thing about this hotel was the rooftop pool (picture from the beginning of the article). If you are a Moderate budget-friendly traveler, this hotel is perfect for you! Our stay was around $30 USD a night. Check Availability here!
Ubud Guide Wrap-up
This wraps up my Ubud Guide. If you found this guide for Ubud, Bali helpful, please share or pin below to help others find this guide. To complete your Bali Adventure, check out other guides on Bali including the Nusa Islands, Seminyak, and more!
Have any questions about this Ubud Guide or feel like I missed something? Let me know in the comments below!