Many people come to Bali for some sand and surf, but if you are looking for something a little different, then visit Ubud, where you will find rugged scenery mixed with a strong dedication to the arts.
Popular with families as well as couples and solo travelers, Ubud offers a change of pace compared to the frenzied areas of the island like Kuta. It’s a good spot to slow down and relax in the island.
Ubud is known as the cultural capital of Bali, and was also recently made famous for being the Balinese location of the Julia Roberts film Eat, Pray, Love. With that in mind, people flock to this part of the island to take part in spiritual retreats, yoga sessions, or simply enjoy the gorgeous scenery nestled among the abundant emerald green rice paddies. Ubud’s emphasis lies in relaxation and an appreciation of the arts, so a trip here gives visitors with the opportunity to witness a more authentic side of Bali other than the tourist areas such as Seminyak and Kuta. That said, you can still expect it to be busy, but rather than the all-night parties, you can look forward to wellness retreats, historical landmarks, and art galleries in abundance.
One of the premium destinations in Ubud is Monkey Forest, a Hindu temple complex that has over 500 lovable primates in residence. Just outside of Ubud lies Tirta Empul, which was made famous in the film Eat, Pray, Love as the place where Julia Roberts bathed in sacred waters. A number of art galleries, museums, and the Ubud Traditional Art Market are also some of the must-visit places in Ubud.
You can easily get to Ubud from the Ngurah Rai Airport by taking a taxi, as public transport is not particularly comprehensive on Bali. The journey takes around one hour during off-peak times but can take longer during the rush hour. A few buses also travel to Ubud from areas like Kuta, although bus schedules are flexible and they are not the safest or most road-worthy vehicles to use.
You will find international access ATMs all over Ubud and money changers are plentiful. However, some ATMs might be rigged to take your bank details and money changers may not charge the best rate.
Bali has a monsoonal climate and the seasons can be classified as either wet or dry. Despite this, it will be hot whenever you visit as Bali is close to the equator. Peak season takes place in July and August, so expect huge crowds and fully-booked accommodations. Low season runs from October to April, in line with the rainy season, and as such there is a high possibility of rain every single day. Optimum times to visit are during the shoulder season in May, June, or September as the weather is pleasant, it is less crowded, and prices are generally cheaper.
You can navigate around the Ubud central area on foot, and this is actually one of the nicer areas in Bali to explore in this way. That said, this only really applies to the central area, and if you want to go further out and visit attractions like Tirta Empul, you will then need to hire a car and driver or a taxi. Public buses are avaiable in Ubud, however these are difficult to navigate and can be rather uncomfortable.
When it comes to food, Ubud is most famous for being a healthy eating destination, and you will find a huge range of cafes and restaurants that serve vegan or vegetarian food. Some of the most popular include Alchemy on Jalan Penestanan Kelod, which even has a vegan chocolaterie attached to it.
If you don’t mind the fact that there is no beach in Ubud, then this can be a good choice for anyone wanting to get away from it all and spend some time communing with nature among the rice paddies. Ubud is popular with all kinds of travelers, and if you are looking for a yoga retreat or other holistic practice, then this is definitely the place to come.