Ubud, known as a place of serenity, is a small town in Bali nestled in rice paddles and steep ravines. Ubud is also regarded as the cultural center of Bali primarily because of the presence of art galleries and workshops and some notable architecture. Aside from the cultural impact of the surroundings, the climate and atmosphere of the place displays refinement.
While Ubud is commonly regarded as a small town, it has in fact fourteen villages. Its rapid growth and development, however, did not obliterate culture as there are still several quiet villages, forests, rivers and terraced rice fields. And because of the area’s elevation, it enjoys cooler temperatures than the areas in the coast.
What to See in Ubud
The town showcases a number of art museums and among them are Puri Lukisan Museum, Agung Rai Museum of Art, Blanco Renaissance Museum, and Neka Art Museum. Get to see the work of well-known Balinese artists as well as international artists who stayed in Bali. The Bali Culture Center is also in Ubud and the Tek Tok traditional Balinese dance is performed at that venue four times a week.
Aside from museums, you have to see the natural wonders of Ubud. There is a sacred nature reserve called Ubud Monkey Forest which is also home to the temple of death. The rivers are best viewed at Campuhan ridge walk. There is also the bamboo forest perfect for cyclists. The south and southeast of Ubud are characterized greatly by rolling rice paddies while the northeast features the most amazing view of Bali’s magnificent rice terraces.
A visit that lasts a week is recommended for touring Ubud as there is so much to see and explore in the area. It is best that you seek the expertise of a tour guide to truly understand the cultural value of Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), Pura Kehen, Gunung Kawi (Poet Mountain) and Tirta Empul. One notable landmark in Ubud is the Purah Puseh which is a village temple with great architecture. Other must-sees are the Puri Saren Agung where the kings of Ubud lived until the 1940s, the rock carvings at Yeh Pulu, the Chapel of Mother Goddess, and the Bali Bird Park.
What to Do in Ubud
Join a bike tour to enjoy a leisurely pace on less travelled roads in traditional villages in Ubud. It’s easy and cheap to rent a motorbike in Ubud.
Of course since you’re in Bali’s art center, make sure you enrol in an art course. Bali Center for Artistic Creativity, Gaya Ceramic and Design, and Pondok Pekak Library and Learning Center all offer art classes such as fruit carving, silver making, wood carving and many others. Immerse in Balinese culture by taking cooking classes. And if you’re on a retreat to find healing and renewal, try Ubud’s yoga and meditation training classes.
Cultural performances are usually held at night at Ubud Palace and Pura Taman Saraswati or Ubud Water Palace. Balinese dance is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before so make sure you don’t miss seeing one.
The Balinese massage and healing offered by spas in Ubud are also noteworthy. For those who love outdoor adventure, Ubud still has something to offer. There is whitewater rafting at Ayung River, uphill cycling, and off-the-beaten-track adventure tours.
As you explore Ubud, make sure you take something special with you in each place you visit. Ubud has a wide assortment of art shops. You can buy wood sculptures, gold and silver handicrafts, batik shirts and sarongs, stone carvings, and other handmade products.
Where and What to Eat in Ubud
Ubud’s cuisine isn’t as exotic as one would expect. Local Balinese dishes are available as well western favorites. The smaller budget restaurants are more likely to serve authentic local dishes. Because Ubud is frequently visited by tourists, expect to see menus with dishes from cuisines from all over the world. Apart from Balinese and Indonesian food, most restaurants also serve Mexican burritos, nachos and tacos, Italian pizza, Taiwanese food, Chinese food, and even Cuban paella and chorizo meatballs. European-based menu is available in many five-star hotels in and around Ubud.
Unlike the other major towns of Bali, Ubud isn’t a place for partygoers. There are a few places to drink and loud music and live performances are regulated and must end at 10:30PM.
Things You’ll Love in Ubud
You’ll love Ubud’s serene and artful atmosphere. It’s a small town with big, impressive impact because of its natural beauty. The verdant rice fields seem to have drawn many tourists as demonstrated by the noticeable expat community.
If you want to stretch every creative muscle in your body, then stay for Ubud for at least a week. The town has a lot of exciting art explorations to offer including coconut leaf décor workshops, painting lessons, and Balinese dance lessons.
Ubud is also a place for relaxation as evident in the number of spas in the area. Unwind and enjoy a full body massage and scrub plus a rose petal bath. The numerous yoga and meditation studios in Ubud also say something about the people of this town. Because there is a thriving yogic community in Ubud, it’d be easy for you to eat raw, local and “clean” in Ubud. Several restaurants and grocery markets cater to the vegetarian market.
The laidback vibe of Ubud is just so inviting. No wonder it easily became a writing retreat for many authors. If you want an escape from the fast-paced world or if you want to temporarily forget your worries and just enjoy a gentle and relaxed way of living, then head on to Ubud.
Unsurprisingly, Ubud is on the list of brides-to-be for their destination wedding. Well yes, it is fairly easy to eat, pray and love in Ubud just like what the famous movie/book suggests. If you happen to choose Ubud as the venue for your wedding ceremony or wedding reception, you don’t have to worry about finding local suppliers for Bali comes complete with service providers, retailers and traders who can help you enjoy a romantic getaway.