Personal Blog | So Many Things To Do In and Around Ubud Bali

# 2 | So Many Things To Do In And Around Ubud

Ubud Day 1 (Day 11 in Bali)

Day 11 was our last day in Uluwatu and was time for us to say ba-bye and move to some other gorgeous place. The next place we visited is truly stunning, and is Ubud. 

Ubud must be the most popular part of Bali. At least if I speak for myself, the only place I knew in Bali was Ubud. 

Our first impressions of Ubud are mixed. Ubud is an artistic, cultural and religious city and is adorned with beautiful houses of Balinese architecture. But sadly the city centre has become one huge money making village and has lost a lot of its charm. 

So for day 1 these were our first impressions and we didn’t do much else. Evening had dinner at a cheap but very good restaurant in the centre, Warung Ijo.

Ubud Day 2

Second day was spent within the city centre. Ubud offers loads of things to do within walking distance. We could have done all the activities in the city centre within 1 day, but would have been quite exhausting, especially now that we’ve been travelling for over 6 months we feel a little worn out. 

We started off our day from the Royal Palace (Puri Saren Agung). Balinese buildings are adorned with sculptures and engravings and the royal palace is no exception. 

Next we went to Saraswati temple which is only about 10 minutes walk from the Royal Palace. The temple’s main draw is 2 beautiful lotus water gardens which are on each side of a passage that leads to the temple. We came to both these temples late in the morning thus both were busy. 

All we wanted was to get some nice pics of this place but everyone is trying to get that perfect Instagram pics which suggest that the person is just walking along these beautiful temples and no one is in sight. In fact most of these pics we see on Instagram there are people waiting for these ‘models’ to get done with this thing. We don’t expect places to be empty but would appreciate if we could just enjoy our activity without having to wait for these people trying to get a very misleading photograph. Whenever we want photographs without a crowd we always go early and never keep anyone waiting but that’s us, other people just don’t care. 

For the evening we went to a Kecak Fire dance at Pura Dalem Taman Kaja. This is one of Bali’s must do activities. Kecak fire dance is a traditional performance which narrates the story of Ramayana, one of the 2 major Sanskrit epics. This performance really immersed us into Bali’s culture and is something we usually see on a tribe documentary. 

After the performance we went for dinner at ‘Balinese Home Cooking’. The restaurant is about 15 minutes drive from the centre and is located within the grounds of the owner’s home. Local dishes are very well presented, delicious and have distinct aromas. We would have expected prices to be cheaper than the city centre but in fact were very similar.

Ubud City Centre Architecture

Ubud Day 3

A trip to Bali wouldn’t be complete without including a few main activities, one of the activities is definitely the rice fields. 

Today we went to Tegalalang rice terraces. The tiered fields are stunning and as we were here early morning the overall experience was peaceful and serene. We had expected the fields to be quite busy even in the early morning but on the contrary there were just a few other people. Obviously the more time passed, more people came. 

Later on we made our way to Pura Gunung Kawi. This is a temple grounds nestled within jungle and rice fields. The temples are carved out of the rocks and something I wasn’t expecting. 

We usually choose a few activities for the day and once we’ve done these we head back to our accommodation unless the time is very early. 

After a quick on-line search we found a good reviewed restaurant within walking distance from our accommodation. The restaurant is Umah Pizza and quite reasonably priced but our pizzas seemed undercooked and were also soggy. So we don’t intend going back, at least not for pizza.

Ubud Day 4

Although Ubud is a very touristic place it still offers authentic areas which aren’t too far from the centre. One of these areas is Campuhan ridge walk

Today we came to Campuhan for an early morning stroll. While doing these relaxing walks among beautiful scenes such as what Campuhan offers, we always tend to start thinking. Today we were thinking, ‘what if we don’t manage to get the website off its feet’, we don’t really know what we would do eventually. One thing is for sure, we are putting all we can into The Travel Deck so if we don’t succeed at least we’ll be proud that we tried. 

Next we went to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Jacqueline wasn’t so comfortable entering a park full of monkeys. Reason for her being a bit scared is due to us having a bad encounter with these macaques while we were in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand.

The park seemed to be quite safe as every area where monkeys gather there was always a few of the park staff taking care. Traveling around these exotic places we come across these primates numerous times but still each time we see monkeys they always fascinate us. 

Having so many things to keep up with, we have started to forget to plan. This is resulting in wasting time travelling between 2 activities which are far apart. The next day we go to another 2 activities and realize that if we had swapped one with the other it would have been much more convenient. So we have decided that we need to find the time to organize at least a rough plan.

Ubud Day 5

Now that 2 weeks have passed, we have to start the process of the visa extension so we need to go to Denpasar Immigration Office

We have once again realized we didn’t plan this quite right. Best plan would have been starting off from north Bali, then travel to the East and after this head to Ubud which is just 1 hour from Denpasar immigration. But now it’s too late so we are in a way stuck here because if we go north it would be about 3 hours drive to Denpasar. So, lesson learned, plan a route. 

Our way of organizing was very good at first but now that we have so many things to keep up with we still haven’t found the right balance. 

As I was saying, Denpasar immigration is 1 hour from Ubud and seems much more efficient than Yogyakarta immigration. But still we need 3 separate trips to extend the visa. 

Once we finished at the immigration I took Jacqueline for her appointment at Goldust beauty spa. The spa has an overall score of 5 out of 5 but didn’t merely live up to what Jacky expected. She went for a deep cleanse facial and upper lip waxing but the whole thing was very unprofessional. They popped the spots with the black head extractor which as the name suggests is for blackheads not spots. So now all the spots they tried to get out have just swollen up. Plus they tried to overcharge for the waxing which wasn’t even done right. So it seems that Bali is so touristy that these spas are just for a little pampering and the service is just crap. Probably a spa frequented by locals is much better. 

Once we got back we decided to finally plan the next day as it was late in the afternoon and we didn’t want to go out in the heat. Our plan is to visit some waterfalls as their are loads close to Ubud.

Ubud Day 6

Having a plan for the day feels really good after all those previous time consuming unplanned days. We are on our way to Ubud’s most popular falls so aren’t sure how many people we’ll find. 

We arrived at the parking area of our first fall, Kanto Lampo and surprisingly there isn’t any car or bike parked. Basically the fall was all to ourselves for a good 30/45 minutes. 

To reach the fall we needed to pass through a shallow stream of murky water which wasn’t my piece of cake. 

Since I’ve been in SEA I have realized that at times I have a phobia in water especially when it is unclear and I can’t see what is beneath the surface. But was all right once I realized the water was only 40 cm deep. 

Just a few steps in the stream and we were facing one of Ubud’s most popular falls. The fall doesn’t plunge directly beneath, instead breaks up on a kind of stepped rock formation. The water wasn’t even that cold so I went up a few rocks and got a relaxing fresh water shower while Jacky was taking some pics. 

As we were preparing to leave, some visitors started to arrive which we thus had the perfect timing. 

We hadn’t paid the fee to enter this park and on our way out were asked to pay and we were more than happy to do so. The only problem was that the guy who demanded us to pay wasn’t the ticket person but was just a random guy who was working in the area. I had already handed out 100k IDR, was given the change and was waiting for the official ticket. The guy obviously didn’t have any tickets. I demanded either for tickets or my money which eventually I got the money back. 

This is the sad reality of Ubud, everyone is trying to suck money out of  tourists and we can’t stand being scammed. We have given money to people who were nice, such as a lovely rice field farmer who asked us to take a picture of him and asked for some money. I handed out 15k IDR and was more than happy to do so. 

After our first amazing activity we were on our way to Tibumana waterfall. One of the highlights of such trips is the beautiful surroundings. Riding around the narrow streets through jungle and charming villages is just so relaxing. We got to the second park at 7:00 am which was still early. In the parking area there were only a few scooters which translates to not so busy. 

We walked down a flight of stairs which lead to a path through a beautiful garden of tropical plants and passing over a bridge and water. 

Slowly walking through the colourful plants, the sound of gushing water increased until we were facing the stunning Tibumana. Beneath the fall is a large pool that is enclosed within cliffs covered in dense jungle. When seen from a distance the fall and surroundings are unique and beautiful. 

While we were heading towards the fall we had noticed that there was going to be some ceremony but didn’t really take much notice as the fall grabbed our attention. After a couple of minutes a guy came and informed us that there was going to be a wedding and we would need to vacate the area in a few minutes. 

Now we knew what the decorations were for. Nobody had informed us of this wedding and tickets were still being sold so we weren’t that happy with the situation. 

I went in the pool and plan was to go beneath the fall but halfway through I just turned around and went back. We had another go at reaching the fall, this time Jacqueline was my guide. This time we were ever so close when I decided to go back again. 

I really need to do something about these uncomfortable feelings but not sure what to do. Once I get back home I will try speaking to a therapist who might be able to help control these feelings. 

On our way out from the fall we came across the bride who was in the beautiful white wedding dress. Not sure how white the bottom part would be until she gets near the groom. 

On the way out we took a diversion from the exit point and passed by a small stream of water. Once we crossed the stream we came to an area which seems to be not so popular. Surely not too many people come here as the stairs where covered in leaves so hadn’t been swept in a while and also there wasn’t any rubbish which means not too many people come out here. 

I had previously seen a few pictures of this area but had forgotten all about it until I came across some beautiful engravings. 

Sculptures are engraved within the rocks and are covered in green moss which give them a very distinctive touch. 

These sculptures look like they are part of a temple because within the dense jungle we found the grounds of some structures. 

The state that the engravings are might suggest that they are old but we are not sure of this. 

After we had explored this area we stopped for lunch on the stairs leading up to this part. The lunch was a prepacked 5k IDR Nasi Campur which although cheap is our favourite. I have also ordered the Nasi Campur in restaurants but costs around 75k IDR for a bigger portion. 

We later made our way up the stairs and decided that instead of making the same route back to the parking area we will take a longer route around the jungle. The loop around the jungle was to take 45 minutes but along the way we came across yet another fall. 

The entry point to the fall is still under construction but could still be visited with a little extra effort. Taman Sari is the name of this small waterfall and is about 10 to 15 minutes walk from Tibumana parking area. 

This was a day packed with just a few of the many falls around Ubud. Next we were going to one of the lesser known waterfalls, Air Terjun Kuning. As always, the route through rice fields, jungle and charming villages was amazing. 

We got to Kuning waterfall late in the morning and found about 4 scooters in the parking area. 

We paid the entrance fee (15k IDR each) and walked along the street and down the stairs. Once at the bottom of the stairs we need to walk along a path on the hillside of the jungle. The easy trek offers some of the most amazing flora we had seen so far. Huge plants with even more huge leaves grow just beside the trail. In fact we found one of these leaves laying on the ground which Jacqueline used as an umbrella to shelter from the sun. 

Kuning isn’t one of the largest nor most spectacular but is still good to visit given the beautiful surroundings and peaceful atmosphere. 

Now it was time for us to make our way back to Ubud where we would spend the remaining part of the day catching up with some work. 

For dinner we went to Lazy Cats, a funky restaurant serving vegetarian dishes. Nor I or Jacqueline are vegetarians but love what can be created by simply combining vegetables to present an exceptional meal. I had a burger that was accompanied with sweet potato fries and Jacky had Pita bread with salad. Both meals were delicious and the price was reasonable.

Tirta Empul

Ubud Day 7

What a day today was! After 6 ½ months of traveling and sticking strictly below our budget to allow a bit of splurge once in a while, we have finally done one big mistake that has wiped out most of this saved money. 

2 days ago we went to extend our visa and needed a flight out of the country. I booked a flight out which could be cancelled within 24 hours but unfortunately forgot all about it. 

Out of the blues Jacqueline remembered of the flights at 5:30 am this morning. She woke me up to ask if I cancelled these flights and first thing I said was, “I don’t have a clue”. I just forgot all about it, therefore I was quite sure that I hadn’t cancelled. In fact I had forgot to cancel. 

By now 48 hours had passed so we could forget about the free cancellation. We contacted the agency to check what options we had and fortunately we could cancel the flights but we would incur a fee. 

The flights were to Kuala Lumpur which is where we are going next but were 1 week before our visa expires. By keeping these flights we would lose 1 week from our visa, plus the flight wasn’t direct and would take 15 hours.

We decided to cancel the flights and pay the fee of 280 USD. At least we got back 150 USD as the flights cost was 430 USD. 

This was quite a set back but hopefully we will learn the lesson and remember this bitter experience. This little mishap might also be something good if we look at it in a good way. We have set a plan to cut down on costs and get the wasted money back as soon as possible. Jacqueline suggested that we should do couch surfing which will save our accommodation costs. This is something we have planned right from the beginning of our trip but never actually got to do it. So this costly flight might help lead us to experience something new. I tend to try and see things from a positive side. This was taught to me in 2010 while I was doing a life changing experience. 

The time now is 17:18 and I am waiting for Jacqueline to take a shower. We’re off to a couple of markets which is our first outing for the day. Jacky was feeling a little sick today so we stayed in during the hot hours. 

For the evening we went to the art market in Ubud which is overly packed with handicrafts. Every couple of steps we got the stall owners tell us, ‘look, look very cheap’ but when we heard the price realized that it was comparable if not pricier than the same thing in our country. 

If I was on a short vacation I would surely take a whole load of things back but that isn’t the case. 

We always try visiting local markets, mostly for the food as it tends to be more authentic. So next we went to a night market in Tegalalang. The market is small but still offers a selection of local food stalls. 

Eventually we didn’t eat from the market. The main reason was that most stalls didn’t have a price list and we didn’t want to be ripped off once again. Another reason was that Jacqueline didn’t feel like eating from here and also most of the food was precooked. 

We ended up going back to the busy streets of Ubud centre and went to a popular restaurant street close to our guest house. 

Ayam Yummy was the restaurant we picked tonight. Jacqueline wanted chicken so picking out the right restaurant wasn’t that hard (ayam means chicken). Everything was very good and for 10 USD we got half a chicken and mash and I got chicken with rice, vegetables and fries. 

Ubud Day 8

One of the most popular falls close to Ubud is Tukad Cepung. All we knew that this fall is very popular and best time to visit is at around 11 am.

The reason for the best time being at 11 am is because the fall is in a cave and at this time the sun’s rays shine through an opening in the cave ceiling. 

Waiting in a long queue just to get a cool pic in a picture perfect place isn’t our thing. We’d rather get not so perfect lighting but have the chance to really appreciate our surroundings. 

Not only we didn’t come at 11 am but were here by 6:15 am. The cave was quite dark and our photos didn’t turn out very good but still we prefer this option as we got the place all to ourselves for about 1 hour. 

On our way from the cave we followed a stream of water, thinking we may come across another fall. We did hear the crashing sound of water but we were already a good way into the jungle and didn’t want to go any further and end up getting lost as the path which seemed to lead to the fall wasn’t clear. 

We decided to make our way back and go to our second attraction which again is one of the most popular sites with foreigners and locals alike. 

Our next stop is Tirta Empul, place of worship and also is where Hindu’s come to cleanse from their sins. 

Through some research we had found that this temple has become more of a tourist attraction than a real place of worship. 

Not sure what to expect but quite skeptical on how much tradition we will get to see, we paid the fee, wore the sarong and made our way inside. 

On our way in we passed by loads of locals all with traditional clothing and preparing for some ceremony. 

It was here that we realized our research wasn’t accurate and that Tirta Empul still is one of Bali’s most important Temples. 

The ceremony includes a purification ritual which is done by entering a large bath and cleansing off through a series of water spouts. 

We came to Tirta Empul at about 8:00am and there weren’t much tourists, we only saw 2 or 3 couples, most of these participated in the cleansing process. Not being Hindu’s and having different beliefs we didn’t partake in this as it doesn’t feel right and in a way we felt to be intruding even just entering this sacred place. 

Once the purification part was done everyone changed into their traditional outfits and went to a praying area. Instruments are played in this area and is where most gather around. 

By this time it was getting late in the morning and the ceremony was getting to an end. This is when most of the big tours started flocking in. Probably the big tours come at this time to not interrupt with the morning ceremony which is a good thing. 

We mostly stayed around and observed what was going on and tried to not get too much into the way as to not interrupt. 

Eventually we got lost from one another so I made my way out of the temple. As many other places in Indonesia, the exit was through a maze of stalls selling just about anything from fruit, drinks, souvenirs and paintings. Thankfully it was still early for the mass of tourists so most stalls were still closed. 

I waited for Jacqueline near the scooter and once she arrived and we were leaving a guy suggested a place which we should visit. The place was Ulundesa house of coffee, a coffee plantation and shop. 

So this is where we went next. The place is free to visit plus we also got a large selection of different teas and coffees for free. I also had a Kopi Luwak, this I had to pay for. Unfortunately the shop didn’t sell anything that we needed and didn’t intend travelling around with a bag of coffee. So we paid for the Luwak, left a tip and were off again to our next site. 

Next we went to Penglipuran village. It was early in the afternoon but still there weren’t too many visitors. And most of these were locals. This small village is gorgeous and reminded me of Japan. (I’ve never been to Japan but seen loads of pictures). Charming houses are lined along the street and each couple of houses the level drops which adds a unique touch either from the top or bottom of the street. 

We stopped here to eat our packed lunch which we had bought in the morning. The lunch was Nasi Campur and although simple we have really started to love this. 

We started the way back to our accommodation and along the route came across a few other waterfalls. Having seen loads of waterfalls we decided not to stop at any of these and opted to go to a cafeteria and maybe work a bit. 

We got back and once again went to Lazy Cats for a coffee, and also came again in the evening for dinner. 

Tibumana waterfall

Ubud Day 9

All we know is that today is our last day in Ubud and still don’t have a clue where we are going next. We need to go once again to Denpasar immigration to get the pictures taken but before we will stop at a waterfall that is on the way down. 

We got an early start and went to Tegenungan waterfall. We got here early and expected the ticket booth to still be closed but here it was already open which suggested that visitors come here from the early hours. 

All places that we visited early in the morning there was never anybody in the booth, but we always found someone there on our way out at around 7:00am.

From the parking a flight of stairs leads through loads of warungs that overlook the fall offering a spectacular view. But as we were here so early these were still closed. Along the stairs are also the very famous instagram spots like birds nests, hearts and other wooden structures. 

Tegenungan is one fall with a large flow of water shooting out off the cliff. Part of the lake below the fall can be accessed but closer to the fall is off limits as it would be too dangerous to try go under. 

We were only here for a short amount of time when people started coming. So to us this was the most popular fall and can’t imagine how crowded it gets later on. 

We still had 1 hour drive needing to be done to get to the immigration office so we didn’t stay here long. On our way up the stairs we decided to stop for a coffee and maybe something to eat at one of the viewpoint warungs. 

All the warungs were still closed which left us no option but to head straight to the immigration office. 

Although 3 trips to the immigration office need to be done to extend the visa, each visit only takes a short time so once we got here we were done in no time. 

We needed to top up our mobile data so we went directly to a Telkomsel branch. Topping up mobile data isn’t that simple in Indonesia. Most top ups have just a small amount of data that can be used throughout Indonesia. Most of the data in the package is Lokal which means it can only be used in that specific region, once left the data is unusable.

So we went to a large branch near the immigration office. Unfortunately the sales girl didn’t seem to have a clue what we need and was offering a package of 10GB, 8GB was lokal and 2 nationwide. This was of no use to us so we left. 

We stumbled on a small branch where thankfully they knew what we needed and got a package of 20GB for 150k IDR which is quite good. 

Next off and stopped at Yadnya Museum. The museum isn’t at all a popular attraction but is very close to a Temple surrounded by a beautiful garden, Taman Ayun Temple. The Museum didn’t really offer much but what made this stop interesting was a guide who told some cool and unknown things about Bali and Indonesia. 

We spent about 2 hours with this guide who was offered for free by the museum. He also suggested a good spot for sunset that was only 30 minutes drive. So later on we headed to this beachside sunset point. 

The place recommended was Pura Gede Luhur Batu Ngaus, a beach side location housing high end resorts and also home to a temple on a small peninsula. Not too far from here is also Tanah Lot, a temple similar to this but much more spectacular. 

Today is our last night in Ubud an I’m still not sure where we will be heading next. All we know is that we will travel north of Bali.

Kuning waterfall

➳ Check the post below for the best things to do in and around Ubud and how to go about planning your activities over 3 to 4 days. 

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