Catapulted to fame with the release of THAT bestseller, Ubud has become an essential stop on almost every traveller’s visit to Bali. Nestled in the lush jungles of the island’s centre, this region is considered to be the beating cultural heart of Bali and is filled with a flourishing community of artisans, musicians and painters. Only an hour’s drive north of Denpasar and surrounded by rice paddies and undulating hills, it’s a stark contrast to Bali’s southern beaches. Maximise your stay with our guide to Ubud, covering what to eat, what to see and where to stay.
A quick guide to Ubud: Where to eat, play and stay
Foodies take note: if there’s only one place you must eat at in Ubud it is Hujan Locale. ‘Hujan’ means rain and chef Will Meyrick has a ‘found and foraged philosophy’. Diners are presented with more of a narrative rather than a menu, which takes you on a journey across South East Asia. Ingredients are sourced from local farmers, creating strong ties from farm to plate. The portions are generous and expertly executed.
Locavore To Go
Unless you’ve booked months in advance, you’re probably not going to land a table at critically acclaimed Locavore (one of the world’s top 50 restaurants). All is not lost, however. Just down the road you’ll find Locavore To Go, its casual, little sister that’s open for breakfast and lunch. The menu features some of the region’s highest quality produce (95% of ingredients are Indonesian), all sourced ethically and sustainably.
If you’re in need of a cooling, fresh juice after exploring the steamy Monkey Forest, just around the corner you’ll find Habitat. While the menu focuses on Pan Asian fare, you’ll also find a great range of healthy options too. The juices and smoothies are next-level – opt for the yellow dragon layered smoothie with white dragon fruit, pineapple, banana, honey, coconut milk and turmeric jamu.
La Pacha Mama
Bali’s first all-natural, plant-based, authentic Mexican restaurant, La Pacha Mama is a stylish, airy space in a quieter section of town. Vegetarians rejoice, all meat-products found in traditional Mexican dishes have been replaced with locally-sourced plant-based produce. Order the jackfruit tacos and sweet potato flautas and, if you’re lucky, you might even catch some live music too.
Undeniably, the most famous and most popular attraction in Ubud is the Monkey Forest. While the monkeys that inhabit this sanctuary are clearly the stars of the show, the forest itself is beautiful and lush. Inside you’ll find three temples, all with intricate, lichen-covered rock carvings. Arrive early to beat the crowds and keep your belongings safely tucked away – the monkeys are not shy about approaching you and snatching your valuables!
Campuhan Ridge Walk
If you’re looking for a beautiful, free and easy walk to do in Ubud, you can’t go past the Campuhan Ridge Walk. This paved trail snakes its away on top of a verdant ridge that overlooks the dense forest on either side. Start early in the morning before it gets too hot, as there is no shade on the trail and it gets busier as the day wears on. There’s a cafe around the mid-point with stunning views over the forest; a welcome refuge from the heat.
The Royal Palace (or Puri Saren) is Ubud’s grandest building and the home of its royal descendents. The architecture is impressive, with its orange stone and detailed carvings. Visitors are free to explore the front courtyards of the palace compound. Come in the evening and see one of the traditional Balinese performances held in the grounds.
Tegallalang Rice Terrace
Chances are, if you’re on Instagram, you’ve seen the Tegallalang Rice Terrace pop into your feed at some point. Bali is known for its picturesque rice terraces and there’s none more famous or beautiful than this one. Located about 30 minutes out of town, you’ll need to hire a driver or scooter to get there. The farmers tending these terraces still use a traditional, complex irrigation system. Surprisingly, you can visit and wander through the terraces for free (donations are required to reach some sections further in), which is very gracious of the locals who work the land. Visit as early as you can – this place is very popular with tourists and with good reason!
Kayumanis Ubud Private Villas & Spa
Ubud is filled to the brim with beautiful accommodation options and you really are spoiled for choice. The one place that I keep coming back to again and again though is Kayumanis Ubud Villas & Spa. Located about 7km out of town and perched on top of a ridge overlooking the gently flowing Ayung River, the setting couldn’t be more tranquil. As an adults-only retreat with 23 luxury villas (all featuring a private plunge pool, open-air living area and outdoor rain shower), a stay here feels exclusive and intimate, which is exactly the kind of experience I was searching for on my honeymoon.
The spa, elevated high on the ridge and surrounded by towering cinnamon trees is one of the best I’ve ever been to. Treatments are done in individual, thatched spa pavillions overlooking the dense foliage and are designed for couples. Another stunning location in the complex is the impressive Dining Corner, which is built in the treetops. Daily breakfast and high tea is complimentary and the food is fresh and full of flavour. The attention to detail and standard of service is extraordinary – it’ll make leaving almost impossible!
Looking for more posts on Asia travel? Read these next:
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Disclosure: Many thanks to Stephanie and Prayudi for the media rate at Kayumanis Ubud Villas & Spa. All opinions remain my own – this is legitimately a retreat I truly adore.
Have you been here? What would you add to our guide to Ubud?