What are the best things to do in Ubud? Bali is a true paradise for backpackers and attracts with highlights that could not be more different. Whether surfing, exploring the jungle, diving, volcano hikes or just a little relaxation. On Bali and especially in Ubud you will find everything a backpacker’s heart desires. Which highlights and Ubud sights we have discovered you can find out now in our list of the best things to do in Ubud.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Backpacking on Bali
The trip to Bali was my (Sabrina) first self-planned individual vacation. So I wanted to play it safe…. and on Bali everything is so touristy that you can get from A to B and find accommodation or leisure activities without any problems. If its you first time in Bali you should also consider to read this article wit the top tips for Bali first timers .
Our itinerary looked like this. The first days we spent in Ubub and made day trips from there. Then we went on to the Gilis to relax for a few days and on to Lombok. The last 2 days we spent on Nusa Lembongan, before going back home Have a look at our tips for backpacking:
Ubud – Bali’s Green Oasis
Ubud is a small town in the center of Bali, which became famous especially through the movie “Eat, Pray Love”*. The place is truly a green oasis that offers a good mix of culture, nature, good food and relaxation. While it used to be a rather tranquil destination for backpackers, it is now part of every Bali itinerary. One of the reason is that there are so many amazing things to do in Ubud.
As a result, more and more hotels, restaurants, souvenir stores and spas have opened up in Ubud in recent years. In addition, there is also the Ubud Market, where you can also buy clothes, shoes and souvenirs. Since the Ubud Market (Google Maps Link) is always well visited, you should go there early in the morning or in the afternoon. Then you can stroll through the market without getting lost in the mass of tourists.
What is the Weather like in Ubud?
As far as the weather is concerned, you have to be prepared for the fact that it can rain from time to time, especially in the afternoon. However, you can use this time to go out for a meal in one of the many restaurants, to be pampered in a spa or to participate in a yoga session.
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The Best Things To Do In Ubud Bali
Ubud is also a good starting point for day trips in all directions of the island. To most of the highlights around Ubud you need a maximum of about 45 minutes. For this you can either rent a scooter in Ubud (about 3 Euro per day) and explore the island by yourself or you can book different excursions at the hotel or online.
Since neither of us can drive a scooter (or we didn’t dare) and Indonesia has left-hand traffic, we decided to book the excursions partly at the hotel and partly online. On the plan were the Campuhan Ridge Walk, the Monkey Forest, a day trip to the north of Bali, a volcano trekking, the famous Tagelang rice terraces and a rafting tour.
Sounds like a lot, but it was not. There are also a lot of temples around Ubud that are worth a visit. Visiting temples is not only fun but you get to know a lot of the Indonesian culture.
Hotel Bumi Muwa in Ubud
This small and beautiful oasis Bumi Muwa*
is located in the direct vicinity of the Monkey Forest. The monkeys even greet you on the balcony in the morning. Besides that, the hotel offers a super delicious breakfast and a small pool to cool down.Hotel Bumi Muwa at Booking.com*
Campuhan Ridge Walk
The Campuhan Ridge Walk is one of the most famous hiking trails and one of the best things to do in Ubud. The hiking trail starts directly in Ubud, so you don’t need a scooter or anything like that to get to the starting point. The starting point is about 1 km away from Ubud Market. Just walk along the main road. After about 10 minutes, a signposted path on the right leads to the Campuhan Ridge Walk. The walk itself leads about 2 km to the Karsa Kafe, where you can take a break. Afterwards, you return to Ubud via the same path.
We started directly in the early morning, as I had read several times that the path is not recommended at lunchtime in the blazing sun. Hiking in the early morning hours has the advantage that you can enjoy this path almost alone, enjoying the panoramic view of the lush green in the still cool morning.
The path over the small hill ensures that you can look left and right into the small valleys and enjoy a wonderful view. When you crossed the hill, after some time a few steps lead up to a small village. Here you have the opportunity to take a break in one of the small cafes and enjoy the view of the bright green rice fields.
We took our break, as most hikers do, at Karsa Kafe. Besides the delicious smoothies, you can also enjoy a tasty meal here before you start your way back. The trail is really scenic and makes for a leisurely morning stroll. For us, this was the perfect start to get a first impression of Bali and Ubud.
Ubud Sights – Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
At the end of Monkey Forest Road you will find one of the best things to do in Ubud…. the Sacred Monkey Forest*. I guess this one is on everyones Bali bucket list . The Monkey Forest is a park that offers you a sore green environment paired with mystical temples and the cute, but also naughty monkeys.
If you have a hotel near Monkey Forest, you don’t have to go to the park to see the monkeys. The monkeys will come and visit you on your balcony. If this is the case, make sure you don’t leave anything outside and always keep the balcony door closed. The same applies when you go into the park itself.
The monkeys are very cute, but they want to steal everything. You should better not take any food into the park and make sure that your bags are well closed… and even that won’t keep the monkeys away. My mom had an up-close experience with these cute little beasts.
The backpack she had with her piqued the interest of a monkey so much that it crawled around on her back and head. But we found the situation rather funny… but if the monkeys are too pushy, there are also employees of the park running around in the Monkey Forest, who can help you in case of need.
Besides the 600-700 macaques, there are 3 temples in the Monkey Forest. These are the Cremation Temple, the Temple for the Worship of Lord Shiva and the Temple of the Holy Water. However, the temples may only be entered by locals. Tourists are allowed to view the temples only from the outside.
Since the Monkey Forest is one of the tourist attractions directly in Ubud, you should again visit the Monkey Forest either early in the morning or in the afternoon to avoid the tourist crowds. Admission costs about 2.50 Euro per person. The park is open from 8:30-18:00, tickets can be purchased until 17:30.
Things To Do In Ubud – Tegalalang Rice Terraces
One of the most visited attractions around Ubud is the Tegalalang Rice Terraces…. and what can we say? Yes, it is worth it. The terraced rice fields are one of the best things to do in Ubud and offer one of the most popular photo opportunities in Bali, trekking paths through the rice fields, small cafes and swings*. For the approach to the Tegalalang rice terraces, Ubud is a perfect starting point.
By scooter or rental car you can reach the rice terraces within about 20 minutes. You can park directly along the road. If you are traveling from further away or do not want to drive yourself, you can also book a tour*.
When should I visit the Tegalalang Rice Terraces?
Because the Tegalalang rice terraces are so popular, they are very crowded during the day. If you want to have some peace and quiet during the day, it is best to stay in the back areas. Many tourists are in the front area to take a photo and do not go further into the rice fields.
To have more peace and quiet in the front area you have to get up very early and be at the rice fields at sunrise. We were there shortly after sunrise and had to share the Tegalalang rice fields only with a few other early risers.
Swinging over the Tegalalang Rice terraces
Getting up early also has the advantage of making the trip much cheaper. When walking through the rice fields you are usually asked for a small toll at several places. In the early morning this doesn’t happen at all or maybe only once. Also the swings are at this time of the day sometimes even cheaper and the providers are more likely to bargain.
I found it insanely great to swing into the greenery. I know the swings are very hyped in Bali. But the view is insane…. and for a little moment you feel like you’ve been transported back to your childhood. You close your eyes, stretch your legs and think back to your past playground adventures… and it was definitely worth the little bit of money.
Day Trip to the North of Bali
To see the more remote corners of Bali, we booked online a day trip to the north of Bali*. I had read many good reviews about this in advance and the tour to the north included many sights that we wanted to visit. Since this was a private tour without other tourists, we were very free with the timing. Our guide was super friendly, explained many things to us at each stop and was also always available as a photographer. We were picked up early in the morning in Ubud and drove to the following sights.
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple
The tour consisted of the following sights in Bali. The first stop was after about 60 minutes drive the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple. This temple is one of the best things to do in Ubud. The water temple was built in 1634, in honor of the water goddess Dewi Danu, located in the mountains at an altitude of 1200 meters at Lake Bratan. Even though it was very cloudy during our visit, the impressive water temple in the surrounding mountain landscape does not miss its effect. The entrance fee to the temple is about 3 Euro per person.
Git Git Waterfall
The next location on our tour was a visit to Gitgit Waterfall. The more than 40 m high waterfall belongs to the standard program of the tourist tours. Unfortunately, this ensures that the atmosphere of the waterfall is lost. In addition to other tourists, souvenirs are also sold on the way. The magic of this natural spectacle is unfortunately no longer present. If possible, you should look for alternatives when visiting a waterfall.
After visiting the Gitgit waterfall we went on to Lovina Beach with its black volcanic sand on the north coast of Bali. Since we were here only at noon we had no chance to see the dolphins that show up in the morning off the coast of Lovina Beach.
The Lovina Beach has in the shallow sloping beach also an offshore coral reef to offer, which is very popular with snorkelers and divers. As part of the day tour, the stopover at Lovina Beach was intended for lunch. In a small beach restaurant fresh fish was served, which was quickly consumed with the view of the sea.
After refreshment, we continued to the village of Banjar with the Buddhist temple Brahmavihara-Arama. That’s right… a Buddhist temple on a Hindu island! The temple is located in the north of the islands surrounded by green mountains. In order to enter the temple complex, you will need to cover your legs with a sarong while wearing short clothing.
The sarong you get on site from your guide. Afterwards you can have a look at the temple with its gardens, the lotus flower pond and statues. At the stairways there are always warrior statues and in the gardens you will encounter colorfully painted Buddha statues. This is also the case at the Bodi Tree, where Buddha is depicted after his enlightenment. At the top, the meditation garden with the main temple awaits you.
Banjar Hot Springs
After the Brahmavihara-Arama it was time again for the cool water… or rather not so cool. We went to the Banjar Hot Springs. The Banjar Hot Springs are hot, sulfurous springs in the middle of the jungle. The “holy” water is of volcanic origin and has a temperature of 37 degrees. The water is said to help with rheumatism and tension.
So if you have one or the other aches and pains, then get into the water. If you want to bathe in the hot springs, pack your bathing suit. A tip for this: Don’t take white bathing suits. My white bikini unfortunately turned slightly yellowish after bathing in the holy water and never really turned white again.
On the way to the last stop of the tour, the Twin Lake Buyan and Tamblingan, we passed beautiful rice terraces, coffee and clove plantations again and again. The two lakes Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan are separated by a rainforest covered hill. On the tour you can experience from a hill the far view over the twin lakes Lake Buyan and Tamblingan.
After this last stop we went back to Ubud to our hotel within about 60 minutes. By now it was dark and we were pretty tired. For us this meant that we went straight to bed from the car. The next morning we had to get up early again to climb a volcano.
Volcano Trekking Mount Batur
One of the best things to do in Ubud was definitely the volcano trekking (about 40 Euro per person) up Mount Batur at sunrise*. Mount or Gunung Batur is a 200,000 year old and still active volcano in the north of Bali. To get to the rather remote area we again booked the tour online in advance.
Things To Do in Ubud – Ascent to Mount Batur
However, we had imagined the ascent to be a bit easier than it was. The ascent took about 2 hours and to master it in the dark we got walking sticks and headlamps from our guide. Since the tour starts very early in the morning and it is still quite fresh at this time, it is recommended to wear long pants and a light fleece jacket.
In addition, you should wear sturdy sneakers or even better hiking boots. The first part of the route was still quite flat and easy to manage. The second part was a bit more strenuous. In the small cone of light of the headlamp it went steeply up the mountain ridge, partly over high rocks, which was not so easy especially for my mother.
Her statement afterwards was: “If I had known beforehand how strenuous this is, I wouldn’t have done it… but it was worth it anyway”. The climb was really exhausting…. but just in time for sunrise we arrived at the top of the volcano with our heads red from exertion and sweating through.
On Top of Mount Batur
Just before sunrise we had climbed the rim of the crater. After a few minutes we saw the horizon getting brighter and the sun slowly rising. The brighter it got the more clouds came up in the valley below and you had the feeling of actually being above the clouds while watching the orange-red spectacle of the sunrise.
While we enjoyed the view, our guide cooked us eggs in the volcanic steam and prepared coffee… breakfast we had really earned. A breakfast on the crater rim at sunrise is definitely a unique experience that should not be missed. After breakfast and some photos we started the very fast descent.
This time we used the normal tourist route and took some great pictures on the way. In the early noon we were back at the hotel and have used the rest of the day to relax first at the pool and later in an amazing Spas*.
In these first days in Bali we experienced so many adventures and saw so many beautiful places that we totally understand why so many people move to Bali. If that is something that you are interested in and read a beginners guide to living in Bali.
Rafting on the Ayung River
On our last day in Ubud we did a wild water rafting tour on the Ayung River*. The fully organized tour includes the pickup and return to the hotel, the equipment and lunch after the tour.
Per inflatable boat you sit with a total of 6 people in 3 rows behind each other. The guide, who gives an introduction at the beginning and is in command during the tour, sits at the end of the boat. The river leads through several currents and rapids and past lots of rocks. The water was not as “wild” as we expected, but it was still fun.
On the tour you also pass a big waterfall, where you can get out of the boat and stand under the waterfall. Since everyone wants to do this, of course, you only have a few seconds to take a picture, until the next one is already in the row.
This brings us to the downside of the tour. It is one of the tourist activities that are very crowded. Boats were being lowered into the water non-stop and you always had several boats in front or behind you. If you had had a little more peace and quiet, the tour would have been a lot better. For someone who has never done something like this before, I think it is still a great experience.
Onward Journey from Bali Ubud
From Ubud, you can quickly take a shuttle* to the east of Bali to explore the nearby islands. If you are looking for the small island paradise with perfect white beaches and want to relax there for a few days you should travel to the Gili Islands.
Another alternative would be Nusa Penida*. The island is big enough to make a trip by scooter. With the scooter you can discover the beautiful beaches and rugged cliffs on your own. The complete transfer including shuttle to the harbor and boat trip can usually be organized in your accommodation. If you prefer to travel on your own, you should take a cab or go to the port. There you can purchase the ferry tickets directly from the various providers.
We hope you like our Best Things to Do in Ubud blog post. What did you experience on Bali in Ubud or do you have a question about a round trip on Bali? What are the most beautiful Ubud sights for you? Write us a comment!