If you’re looking for an adventure comprising culture, wellness, and great food, you’ll love Ubud. The town, located in the uplands of Bali, has always been a popular destination for tourists, but what really put it on the international map was the famous book Eat, Pray, Love, which would later go on to be a hit film starring Oscar-winner Julia Roberts. So if you want to delve into Indonesian fare and unleash your inner Zen, we guarantee you’ll fall in love with Ubud.
When you’re touring the ancient temples, majestic royal palaces or visiting the green hillsides and rice terraces, you’ll find a host of attractions and activities to explore that will make for an unforgettable trip. Have a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with elephants with an Elephant Ride, and take an Ubud & Water Temple Tour, which sees you visiting Tirta Empul Temple – one of the largest and busiest water temples in Indonesia, where the waters are said to have a healing element. A trip to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, where the green jungle houses over 1200 monkeys, is a must. For thrill-seekers, take a White Water Rafting tour. You’ll find Ubud has attractions galore.
And we have compiled a list of ten unforgettable experiences and attractions you should do when you’re visiting this famed Bali town.
Follow in Julia Roberts’ steps by visiting Tirta Empul Temple
With most of Eat, Pray, Love being filmed in and around Ubud, one the most popular places to visit is Tirta Empul, which is one of the largest water temples in Indonesia. Here you can bath in the natural spring waters or ‘holy water’ that is said to have a healing element. The area, which is surrounded by tropical forests and ancient Balinese architecture, is sacred to the devoted Hindu locals who perform ‘cleansing’ rituals in the water from a natural spring. No visit to Ubud is complete without a visit to this ancient water temple.
Visit Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Within walking distance from the town, you’ll find some cheeky monkeys at the Ubud Monkey Forest, also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest. The green jungle houses over 1200 monkeys and is one of the most popular attractions in Ubud. You can buy some peanuts and bananas to feed the monkeys, but be careful not to bring other food, as these monkeys may be cute, but they’re a little naughty and have a tendency to steal your food. You can also sit and watch the monkeys bathing in the small ponds and swing from the trees – it’s easy to see why people love coming to this popular attraction.
Explore Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Take a scenic 20-minute ride from north of Ubud to one of Bali’s most visited destinations – Tegalalang Rice Terrace. The terraced hillside with rice paddies and green landscapes is a picture-perfect Insta moment. As well as featuring beautiful scenery, the iconic spot has now added an infinity pool, cafe and huge swing complex. There are also zip lines and jungle swings from 10m to 78m above the ground. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss.
Go on a White Water Rafting Adventure
Get ready to go on a wet and wild trip, exploring some of the most beautiful spots of Ubud with a white water rafting experience. You’ll take in lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery during your trip on the Ayung River. After the rafting adventure, you’ll enjoy a tasty lunch before heading to Tegenungan waterfall and other lesser-known waterfalls, where you can swim and take stunning photos amidst the jaw-dropping scenery. It’s a great way to explore the natural gems Ubud has to offer.
Have a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with elephants
This is one experience you don’t want to miss! If you’ve ever dreamed of getting up close and personal with elephants, head to Elephant Safari Park Lodge. For 20 years, the park has been dedicated to rescuing elephants. While you’re there, you can hand feed these gentle giants with a freshly cut palm stem, take a safari ride in the Taro jungle, hose, wash and scrub the animals, ride bareback atop of them as they play in their bathing lake, or take a night safari in the forests with a twilight elephant trek, followed by an outdoor gourmet dinner. How cool is that?
Enjoy an Ubud Traditional Spa
If you’re looking to unwind, head to one of the best Bali spas to provide you with a unique Balinese experience. You can enjoy an Ubud Royal Massage, which provides you with a blissful experience, a Rice Farmer Massage, based on the traditional massage given to the rice farmer by his wife after a long day in the field, or a traditional Balinese-style massage using palm pressure on your body with sweeping movements for deep relaxation. You will be taken care of from the moment you arrive until you depart – sounds heavenly to us!
Tour the Ubud Royal Palace
See how the other half live with a visit to the Ubud Royal Palace. Built in the early 1800s, the place was the official residence of the royal family of Ubud and is one of the most well-known attractions. With Balinese architecture centuries old and beautiful gardens, a visit to the place allows you to delve deep into Bali’s culture. The palace hosts international events, and the front section of the palace is open to the public, where there are walkthroughs for viewing and photos during the day.
Shop at Ubud Traditional Art Market
Ubud Art Market is one of Bali’s best markets, selling beautiful silk scarves, lightweight shirts, statues, kites, handmade woven bags, baskets or hats and many other handcrafted goods. Known by the locals as Pasar Seni Bud, the market also served as a setting for the movie Eat Pray Love. You’ll find a treasure trove of treats, and it allows you to fine-tune your bargaining skills as you barter for the Balinese souvenirs you want to take home to loved ones – or the items on your must-get list. The market is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily, and it’s a great spot to get a taste of Ubud and purchase items that will remind you of your great Bali getaway.
Enjoy a Barong and Keris Dance Show
Credit: Bali Golden Tour
Get a real taste of Bali culture by watching a traditional Balinese dance performance. The ancient Balinese Barong and Keris dance show is one of Bali’s most famous dances. It tells the story of an endless battle where the fight between Barong, who represents the good character and Rangda, who represents the evil character. In the story, the barong wins the battle, with the 12th-century classical tale long inspiring Indonesians. The Barong Dance is often portrayed with two monkeys, and there are daily performances at various venues throughout the island.
Embark on a Spiritual and Stillness Trip
Since Ubud is all about wellness of the mind and body, then a morning tour that allows you to delve deeper into Bali’s spirituality will leave you feeling Zen. You will visit a Mengening, a water temple whose name means “stillness”, and undertake a cleansing ritual before heading for breakfast and meeting a local Shaman. The eight-hour tour allows you to discover things most tourists visiting Ubud don’t get a chance to do, and it’s magical.
In Ubud, you can also take cooking classes, and yoga classes, explore coffee plantations and rice fields, eat great food, and wash the stresses of day-to-day life away.