Ubud is Bali’s artistic town and is nestled within lush jungle on higher lands to the north of Denpasar. In the town centre are located some of Bali‘s most important cultural sites. Here you could spend a day exploring the town’s highlights which can easily be reached on foot.
Further out of town, but still within short distances, are Ubud’s unique natural wonders. Hidden within the surrounding jungles are beautiful waterfalls, temples carved within rocks and breathtaking views over verdant picturesque rice fields.
Here we have put together a list of 20+ things to do while in Ubud which could fit within 3 to 4 days.
Tip: Ubud is a very popular destination therefore attractions start getting attention even from early morning. Depending on the number of days you intend to spend, pick out your most preferred attractions and do these early mornings.
If we had to choose 3 preferred activities they would be Campuhan Ridge Walk, Tegallalang Rice Terraces and Tibumana Waterfall.
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Things To Do in Ubud
Day 1 | Things To Do in Ubud’s Town Centre
Campuhan Ridge Walk
The Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud is a great way to relax and take a stroll through beautiful natural scenes. The walk should best be done first thing in the morning in order to avoid the heat and at which time the trial is not busy, thus making it a peaceful and serene experience. The path is over a wide ridge with a jungle valley on either side. Locals come to this picturesque area in Ubud for an early morning jog.
Further along the valleys is a charming village surrounded by beautiful rice paddies. A few restaurants offering a stunning view over the rice fields are along this village although if coming here early these will be closed. At some point the path convergence into the main road and is where you have to turn and walk back the way you came. There is no entrance fee to the Ridge Walk.
Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Within walking distance from the centre of town, the monkey forest offers a chance to take a stroll around a beautiful park where a large number of monkeys call home.
The Monkey Forest Sanctuary can be considered for any time of day even during the hot hours. Sheltered from the sun by the large trees, the park is mostly in the shade. We visited the forest at 9 am and must say it was good timing as on our way out at 11 am the park became much busier.
The park is rather big and the paths pass through lush jungle, a bridge over a river and a temple.
Although there are loads of monkeys, we would consider the park to be safe. Ground keepers are everywhere and are stationed in the areas where many monkeys gather.
For a small fee the ground keepers can take a picture of you with the monkey which seems as if the monkey took a selfie with you in the background.
Monkeys are wild animals and a few precautions should be taken whenever they’re around.
* Don’t take any food with you. The monkeys may smell it and try to get it out of your bag.
** Don’t look into the monkeys eyes. Monkeys get on the defensive as they feel under threat if looking into their eyes.
*** Don’t get too close. I’ve had quite a few calls where the monkey was just about to attack or either tried to snatch my phone.
The admission fee to the monkey forest is 80k IDR per person (5.70 USD) and includes parking fee.
Puri Saren Agung – Ubud Palace
One of Ubud’s town centre highlights is the Royal Palace. This historical building complex was the official residence of Ubud’s royal family.
Adorned with intricate engravings, statues and having a beautiful garden within, the palace offers a glimpse into Balinese architecture. Admission to the palace is free though access is limited to only the front part. The Royal Palace is a popular tourist attraction and photo spot but a visit here will usually be a short one.
A short walk from Ubud Palace is Saraswati Temple which is dedicated to the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom and learning. The main draw here are 2 water gardens full of lotus plants and the temple’s intricate architecture. A path passes through this garden which leads to the main door of the temple and beyond which point access is limited and if possible only with a sarong.
There is no entrance fee to the temple.
Ubud Art Market
The art market in Ubud centre offers an opportunity to shop around for something unique and artistic to remember your trip to this beautiful island.
One of the most popular items is the Bali handbag and is found at most vendors. Other things such as small souvenirs or even a beautiful painting can be considered. No need to mention that haggling is normal as the initial price will be quite steep.
The art market sets up at around 8:00 am and before this time is the fresh market. Here you will find a selection of fruit and packed meals for 5k IDR (€0.29) for a nasi campur (which is rise with some noodles, chicken or fish).
Ubud Kecak Fire Dance at Pura Dalem Taman Kaja – Night Activity
While in Bali a must activity is going to a Kecak Fire Dance performance. After skipping this activity in Uluwatu we decided to attend the Ubud Kecak Dance which is set up in a beautiful temple.
The Kecak Dance is an artistic take on a mythological Hindu story and was about Rama and how he managed to defeat another mighty power. The performance is accompanied by a chorus of only man with the highlight and most pervasive verse being “cak cak cak”.
The story isn’t so easy to follow but still very interesting to see. Going through the flyer provided is a must if you want to better understand what is happening during each scene. The dance ends with burning coconut skins and a dance in the scorching ashes is performed.
Tickets cost 100k IDR (7USD) per person and the performance is held every Monday and Saturday at 7:30 pm. Best to arrive sometime before the start of the show in order to reserve a seat preferably facing the performance. It seems that tickets are sold in access to the seats available.
Day 2 – Things To Do to the East and South of Ubud’s centre
Kanto Lampo Waterfall
Kanto Lampo is different from the other falls in Ubud as it is tiered with water falling down onto stepped rock formations. It is one of our favourite as the water temperature was perfect and staying under the fall is a kind of natural massage.
The fall is nestled in dense forestry just in a rather small area. Reaching this picturesque fall required passing through a shallow stream of water and by the time we reached the front of the fall we were wet with water rush. We got to the fall early morning and had an awesome time sitting on the rocks with the water splashing over us.
The entrance fee is 20K IDR (1.40 USD).
Tegenungan Waterfall is a 30 minute drive from the centre of Ubud. After paying the ticket, the path leads by warungs that are dotted along a gorgeous vantage point. No need to go in the warungs for the impressive view as the stairs leading down offer a view just as good.
Once at the foot of the stairs and getting close, the powerful gushing sound is heard.
The waterfall is set within rocky and jungle surroundings and getting here early offers the chance to see day light peeping from behind the fall. At the foot of the waterfall there is a pool good for a dip.
This fall is very popular and although we got here so early, people arrived just minutes after us. Tickets cost 20k IDR per person (1.40USD)
Tibumana is one of the most picturesque waterfalls and is surrounded by a surprisingly symmetrical landscape. Both the road leading to the fall and the subsequent walk are through spectacular scenery of rice terraces and jungle. The fall drops directly into a large circular pool which is good for swimming and is surrounded by cliffs overflowing with trees and verdant flora. In a way, the area looks like a hole sunken in the jungle.
On the way out of the fall you may consider taking the path in the opposite direction. The path seems to end at a small stream of water but crossing this stream will lead you to a very interesting area. On the other side of the stream is a flight of stairs leading to the most beautiful rock engravings. Covered in moss thus giving a unique and old looking touch, the engravings depict scenes from some Hindu story.
Just after the ticket booth of Tibumana Waterfall and to the left, there is a set of stairs that leads to another small waterfall with a small pool. This waterfall is Taman Sari and no entry fee applied at the time of our visit though on the other side, construction of yet another entry was in progress.
Entrance fee to Tibumana Waterfall is 15k IDR (1 USD)
>>Check the full guide to Tibumana Waterfall which is our favorite fall in Bali.
Kuning waterfall is the least popular fall on this list therefore no need to come early. Any time of day will be quiet and there’s a good chance of being among a few or even alone.
Kuning is a small narrow fall dropping into a small pond. Rock cliffs surrounding the fall have over time taken shape of the water flow.
Really we haven’t listed Kuning particularly for the fall but more for the waterfall’s beautiful surroundings. Although most other falls are quite nestled within natural landscape, Kuning is much more hidden. A path that has been dug out at the side of the mountain is lined with beautiful, strange and gigantic plants which eventually led to the fall. The fall is located on the side of a valley and just beneath it, a little river flows. The entrance fee to Kuning Waterfall is 15k IDR (1 USD)
Day 3 – Things To Do to the North of Ubud’s centre
Tegallalang Rice Terrace
Rice fields are a highlight of any trip to Bali and Tegallalang rice terraces are definitely the most stunning. The beauty of these rice fields lies within where they are located. The rice fields have been carved and leveled out from the sides of where 2 small mountains meet.
Passed the first set of rice fields and those that you see from the main road are other rice terraces to be explored so best to arrive early in the morning to avoid having to walk around in the scorching heat.
The fields are gorgeous and look as if they were intended to be an attraction when in reality are the daily bread of many locals.
Tirta Empul Temple
Tirta Empul is a place of worship and purification site that is one of Bali’s most recognised by Hindu.
We came here early in the morning before any of the guided tours arrived and got a chance to immerse ourselves in some authentic Balinese culture and observe the purification ritual. This was one of our best experience we had while in Bali and were impressed with how well culture was preserved and still is.
The temple was busy with locals going through the purification ritual which starts off with prayers and then getting into the large bath with seemingly cold water. The baths have a number of holy water spouts and devotees cleanse off their sins by pouring water onto their heads. Anyone can partake in the purification process and just need a ‘special’ sarong to go into the water with and which can be rented.
Following the cleansing process everyone changed into their temple attire and made their offerings and gathered in the temple for group prayers. Traditional Balinese music was played live by a big band and after prayers, all devotees were blessed by priests with holy water.
Entrance fee is 50k IDR per person (3.50 USD) and at the entrance you will be provided with a sarong which should be returned dry.
>>Another iconic Bali temple is Ulun Danu which is located in the north. Check our guide with all the essential things to know before your visit to this temple.
Pura Gunung Kawi
Pura Gunung Kawi is a large temple complex and is one that stands out from the other temples. The complex has a river setting and is only a short distance from Tirta Empul Temple. Surrounded by rice terraces and jungle the area allows for some exploring to be made. But the main draw here is the 7 meters high shrines that have been cut out of the rock face and are in the form of temples.
This temple is one of the oldest in Bali and dates back to the 11th century. Interestingly, the temple grounds have small houses dug into the rocks that were previously used for meditation by Buddhist monks.
Ulundesa House of Coffee
Around the area of Tirta Empul are a few coffee plantations. Ulundesa House of Coffee was suggested to us by a guy at the parking area at Tirta Empul.
As we parked our scooter staff came to greet us and a girl took us on a tour around the plantation. She explained to us a few interesting facts about how they produce the Kopi Luwak coffee and flavoured teas. Then we were provided with a large selection of different coffees and teas to sample and also enjoyed a locally brewed coffee. On the way out there is a small shop selling coffee and tea where you can opt on purchasing one of your favourites although you can also choose not to buy any.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall
Tukad Cepung is a fall unlike any other and a great activity to do while in Bali. The fall is about an hour drive from Ubud’s centre and is definitely worth the time.
From the parking area, a 15 minute trek down some stairs, through water streams and squeezing yourself between large rocks will get you to this fall. What makes this fall so unique and therefore popular is the fact that Tukad Cepung is a waterfall within a cave. A large open ceiling in the cave lets the water drop into this surreal cave and if coming here on a bright sunny day the overall experience is increased.
At around 11:00 am, when the sun gets higher in the sky, rays of light shine directly through the opening offering the ideal combination for some impressive photography. Most of those that visit this fall know that this is the best time therefore is also the busiest.
We came early and were willing to sacrifice the natural phenomenon to have a less crowded place. Since we were here quite early, the lighting wasn’t so good but we still had a great experience.
To the other side of the cave and along a small stream there is another waterfall which is small and nestled in beautiful jungle.
The entrance fee is 15k IDR per person (1 USD).
Tip: You will need sandals to walk through the pebbly water stream.
Penglipuran is a traditional Balinese village and not so popular with western tourists in fact most of the other visitors were locals. Simply getting to the village is quite a sight as the road leads through a bamboo forest where in some areas these tall bamboo have toppled over creating a picturesque archway.
The village is built along a multi tiered sloped hill. A wide pebbled path passes through these traditional houses and leads up to the temple which overlooks this village. Traditional Balinese gateways lead to charming houses and the entrance are made pretty with coloured flowers, plants and trees. On one of the side streets, is a well maintained garden with flowers, photo spots and huge bamboo trees.
Other Things To Do to the West of Ubud’s centre
Museum Yadnya houses a small collection of objects related to Balinese culture and ceremonies. Displayed on the museum grounds there is also a traditional Balinese house.
The highlight of our visit was the museum guide who was friendly and very willing to provide insight into Balinese culture and answer our many questions. In the same area there is an impressive yet relatively quiet temple, Mengwi Royal Family Temple.
Pura Gede Luhur Batu Ngaus
Pura Gede is a small temple by the sea set on a small peninsula and is 15 minutes drive from the more popular temple Tanah Lot.
The draw here is enjoying beautiful sunsets and if here earlier you can explore the rocky parts and surrounding area while the tide is low. Pura Gede is much more quieter than its neighbour Tanah Lot and though not as spectacular it could be a good substitute if wanting to avoid the crowds.
A small warung is a few metres from the temple and is perfect to enjoy the sunset while having a cold drink.
Getting from Bali Airport to Ubud
Ngurah Rai Airport is 37 km or 1 hour 15 minutes from Ubud centre. Taxis can be booked at the airport’s taxi counters though from our own experience the rates being charged here are expensive. Best to walk out of the airport and order a Grab or Bluebird taxi once you are out of the airport grounds.
>>Check this post for other Bali Travel Tips.
Getting around Ubud
We explored Ubud by scooter. The daily cost of renting a scooter for 24 hours is 50k IDR or € 2.90. If you do not feel comfortable driving a scooter, the other option is hiring a car with a driver for a number of hours. Rate per hour varies and amongst other things depends on your negotiation skills and the itinerary. Alternatively, taxis can be pre-booked on line.
Map of Ubud Bali
Click on the right most button to enlarge the map, get the map legend and search the map.
Once you have shortlisted a couple of accommodations you can plot these on the map above to check how they relate to Ubud’s main attractions.
Best area to Stay in Ubud
Although highly touristic and in fact one of the most touristic areas we came across in Asia, Ubud’s town centre is a good place to have as your base. It is a good location to have your accommodation especially if a first timer in Ubud and do not have your own transport. Dinner options in the centre abound and mostly cater to Westerners.
Ayam Yummy – For half or whole roasted chicken
Lazy Cats – Vegetarian, each dish was delicious
Warung Ijo – Good Indonesian dishes at good price
Balinese Home Cooking – Good Indonesian food though it is not located in Ubud’s centre and prices are not on the low side
Warung Citta Ovest Pizza & Pasta – Excellent pizza
>>Our next destination after Ubud was Pemuteran, a sleepy seaside village located North West of Bali. Check this guide to Pemuteran which includes top things to do including a day trip itinerary visiting popular attractions on the way from Ubud to Pemuteran.
>>After Pemuteran we explored East Bali while having our accommodation in Amed. Check this guide for top things to do in Amed and rest of east Bali.
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