After a few days of rest in Seminyak, we set off on our way to Ubud. Our family came from Europe to spend the Christmas holidays and Ubud turned out to be a great success, both for the things you can see and visit as for the tranquility and charm of the hotel and the city. Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali, and art is found in all its forms: dance, music, painting, sculpture, batik, cuisine … If you want to discover this little paradise with us, keep on reading !
How to get to Ubud
We asked directly to our hotel in Ubud to come and pick us up by car. The price per car is 250 000 IDR (17€). Generally, as we were 4 with several suitcases it was usually easier and cheaper to take a taxi or a car with the hotel.
Where to sleep in Ubud
Since it was Christmas, we chose a nice hotel a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We loved the place, very quiet, where there were only a few families staying (there are only 11 rooms). The Hotel Villa Ubud is a place to rest, you can do yoga in a special room outdoors and breakfast (delicious) is included. We were lucky that there was only one other couple in the hotel so we had the pool to ourselves!
Getting around Ubud
We decided to hire a private driver to do the tours that interested us. It is possible to do it through the thousands of agencies of the city, but we preferred to do it at our pace and especially to visit only the places that really interested us!
We paid 600 000 IDR (42€) per day for a car, with a local driver taking the time to explain everything and stopping when we asked, it was very nice! We did all our excursions with Made, an exceptional man that we recommend without hesitation! If you want his phone, just ask us.
What to see in Ubud and the surrounding area
The Forest of the Monkeys (Monkey Forest)
It is almost impossible to come to Ubud and not visit the Monkey Forest. Strolling through the forest is really nice, there are hundreds of monkeys everywhere, and we could spend hours looking at them! It is also possible to feed them if you buy bananas from the staff.
But be careful, do not bring any food or drink to your hands because they are very good thieves! Same for sunglasses and anything that shines. We really enjoyed the Monkey Forest, we did not expect to see so many monkeys and the place is beautiful! The price is 40000 IDR per person (€ 2.90).
Cave of Goa Gajah
It is a temple where you will also find a famous cave whose entrance is the face of a monster (or an elephant, depending on who you ask). There are statues of various divinities (Ganesh, d ios of wisdom, intelligence, education and prudence, and three other small statues representing Shiva.
In front of the cave there are also some pools whose women’s statues date back to the 11th century.
But the visit does not end there. Keep walking and you will find a beautiful garden with a small waterfall and some giant trees! Worth going down and up the stairs. The price is 15,000 IDR (a little more than 1 €).
Stroll through the center of Ubud: the palace and the market
In the city there are as many houses as temples, which are found everywhere. The Balinese are very religious (have their own version of Hinduism) and in front of each temple made daily or frendas the gods. It is magical to see how they do this ritual and the energy they give off.
As you walk through the center, you will undoubtedly cross the Royal Palace, which is inhabited by members of the royal family and also partly open to visitors. At dusk (7:30 pm) you can see a dance show for 120 000 IDR (8.50 €).
Another must-see in Ubud is its market. It is quite large and they sell a little of everything, mainly souvenirs for tourists.
Tegallalang rice fields
There are several paddies near Ubu, but we wanted to visit the beautiful arr Tegallalang ozales 20 minutes from Ubud. The views are beautiful, a real photo postcard. You have the possibility to see them simply from above and take a photo, but you can also do as we do and trek through the rice fields!
To the right there are some stairs that go down between the terraces. The hike lasts one hour depending on your pace, and we admit that it is a bit “chaotic” in some places, so wear good shoes. Also it is very hot, so we recommend you protect yourselves with hat, sunscreen and water. At some points, the local people will ask you for a “mandatory donation” so that you can pass. You can give what you want.
The price of trekking is 10 000 IDR per person (less than € 1). We knew we would not make the trek pen at first, but we recognize that it was a unique moment that we liked!
Temple of Tirta Empul
It is undoubtedly one of the most important temples in Bali. Admission costs 15 000 IDR (€ 1). Legend says q ue the region was ruled by an evil king who terrorized people in the area. But the god Indra decided to send his army to defeat the king. Indra drilled the ground with his cane and created a spring of crystalline water that helped his troops to win the battle. That is why the pilgrims come to Tirta Empul to purify themselves. It is indeed a surprising and very beautiful place.
We made a stop at a coffee plantation where coffee is still handmade. The visit was free. Our driver explained the process and all the different plants found on this plantation. Afterwards we were offered a free tasting of loads of drinks, from balinese coffee to cocoa, to ginger tea and Luisa herb. It was really rich and it was very interesting! At the end of the visit, as you will imagine, there is a shop for visitors to buy what they want. We could not resist!
Kintamani is a small town where you have to go through to get to Mount Batur. The entrance to the city is paid (30 000 IDR just over € 2 per person). As we came from the south, we had to wear warm clothes because it was cold up there. Unfortunately, the weather did not accompany us and it rained quite a lot. As I we stopped for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Batur. The Batur is 1717 meters high and is one of the main attractions of the island, so do not expect to be alone! As we had bad weather, we did not stay long.
For three weeks in Bali we could not leave without seeing a Barong dance show. But what is it exactly? The Barong is a mythological creature that represents the good and the forces of the Earth. His rival is Rangda and witches representing evil. The dance is rather a theater with several scenes that oppose good and evil. It lasted for about an hour and a half and cost us 100 000 IDR per person (7 €). There are several places to see these shows but we chose sahadewa barong dance following the advice of our driver. The show was fine and there were not many tourists.
Village of Celuk, silver handicraft
In Bali (as in Yogyakarta, by the way) there are many handmade jewelries. The village of Celuk is probably the place where most jewelers are there, so we went there to visit a workshop and shop. In the exterior there are several people making silver jewelry, each with its specialty (one short, another glue, another polish …). It is an interesting place although the jewels were not to our liking. We did not stay long here because, as you will soon read in a new article, we did a silver course in Yogyakarta.
Taman Ayun Temple
Located in Mengwi, between Ubud and Denpasar, it is a special temple for the Balinese, where rituals are held by royal ancestral deities. It is also the second largest in Bali after Besakih. The price is 20 000 IDR (€ 1.40).
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple
This Hindu temple is located on Lake Bratan, between the mountains of Bedugul (in the center of Bali). It is dedicated to the water goddess. The entrance is 50 000 IDR (3.50 € per person) and is surely the one we liked the most in Bali. It is in the middle of the lake and the views are beautiful!
Massage and spa
Of course, it would be difficult to visit Bali and not get a massage! You will find spas all over the streets of Ubud. We chose the spa from our hotel and tried several of the ones offered (as we were there!): Balinese massage, aromatherapy and hot stones. We all liked it although of course it all depends on the person who gives you the massage. The best thing is that we got the massage in the middle of the rice paddies, with the sounds of nature … we loved it!
Ubud was love at first sight for us! If you go to Bali you should pass through this city without hesitation. We loved the atmosphere, the crafts, the restaurants (yummy yummy!) and also the fact that the hotels are away from the main roads, which allowed us to enjoy and relax. We spent more than 10 days in this city and would have liked to stay a little longer!