thebalimedia.com – As Bali’s cultural capital, there are plenty of unique things to do in Ubud.
Ubud is a town in the center of Bali that’s famed for its arts and crafts scene, as well as its temples, rice paddies, and Monkey Forest.
It’s a very spiritual place that attracts soul-searchers and free spirits, but there’s also plenty to do for those who are just looking to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
There are no beaches here, but with so much else to see and do, you won’t even miss them. So, without further ado, here are some of the best things to do in Ubud, Bali.
1. Discover unique temples
Ubud is home to some of Bali’s most important temples, including the Pura Taman Saraswati, which is known for its lotus-filled pond, and the Pura Gunung Kawi, a temple complex carved into a cliff face.
There’s also Goa Gajah, also known as “the Elephant Temple”, although sadly you won’t actually see any live elephants here. It almost feels as though you’re exploring a lost city.
Don’t miss Pura Titra Empul, either, where you can take part in a traditional purification ceremony. Bring a bathing suit and towel, plus a sarong if you have one. If not, you’ll be able to rent one for a small fee from the locker room.
2. Visit the monkey forest
The monkey forest is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Ubud. It’s a forest reserve that’s home to around 700 long-tailed macaques, and it’s an incredibly atmospheric place.
Be warned, though, that the monkeys here are not to be trifled with. They can be aggressive, and have been known to bite, but you should be fine as long as you don’t do anything to provoke them. When you see a monkey up close, just enjoy the moment and don’t try to touch it.
The monkeys also like to steal from visitors, so keep your belongings safe and out of reach. Don’t bring any snacks to the forest, either, because they’ll be gone faster than you can say “banana”.
3. Explore the waterfalls
For what Ubud lacks in beaches, it more than makes up for in waterfalls.
There are three main ones to visit: Tegenungan, Tibumana, and Kanto Lampo.
Tegunungan is the most popular and is easily reached by scooter or car. The water is crystal clear, and there’s a small pool at the base where you can swim.
Tibumana is a little more off the beaten track, but it’s well worth the effort to get there. The two-tiered waterfall is simply stunning, and the natural pool at the bottom is the perfect place to take a dip.
Kanto Lampo waterfall is about 30 minutes outside of Ubud. It’s a short hike down to the waterfall from the car park, and then you can swim at the bottom and explore the rock formations.
Since visiting nearby waterfalls is one of the top things to do in Ubud, you’ll often find locals there who, for a small fee, will take pictures for you using your smartphone. These guys really know what they’re doing – they’ll make sure you get the perfect, influencer-worthy shot in front of the cascading water.
4. Stay at a luxury boutique resort
Ubud is known for its unique hotels, boasting sweeping views of rice fields and luxury facilities that will make your trip to Bali one to remember. Uma Kalai is a new boutique resort located in the rice fields of Sayan – a quiet town just outside of Ubud’s busy streets.
With a world-class spa and terrace overlooking a quaint valley, this resort is special in more than one way. Choose between a small selection of private villas or spacious suites, which all come with their own special features.
Private heated pools, steam rooms and direct pool access are the norm at Uma Kalai and make this place a hidden gem when coming to Ubud.
4. Visit tegalalang rice terrace
Ubud’s rice paddies are some of the most iconic images of Bali, and they’re well worth a visit.
The Tegalalang rice terrace is the most popular spot for photos, but it can get very crowded, so try to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the worst of the crowds. The terraces open at 8 AM and close at 6 PM every day of the week.
Here, you can enjoy a tea and coffee tasting, walk across the suspension bridge, or take a ride on the giant swing that looks out over the rice paddies.
5. Take a cooking class
Bali is renowned for its amazing food, so what better way to learn about the local cuisine than by taking a cooking class?
There are plenty of classes to choose from in Ubud, but one of the best is Ketut’s Bali Cooking Class. You’ll learn how to recreate tasty Balinese dishes using fresh local ingredients, and a free pickup and drop-off service is included in the price of the class, which costs around $25 USD per person.
Chef Ketut has a very hands-on approach to teaching, so this isn’t one of those boring cooking classes where you spend most of the time just watching the instructor. You’ll get stuck in and learn everything you need to know to make some delicious Balinese food so that you can impress friends and family back home.
6. Go white water rafting
Bali is a great place for outdoor activities, and one of the most popular things to do is go white water rafting.
Whiz along the Ayung river on a raft, navigating your way through some exciting rapids. It’s an adrenaline-pumping experience that’s great for groups of friends or family.
7. Visit a spiritual healer
Ubud is known as the spiritual center of Bali, and paying a visit to a spiritual healer is one of the most unique and interesting things to do in Ubud. Even if you’re not a very spiritual person, this is a really memorable experience to try out when you’re in town.
A spiritual healing session is a guided journey of self-discovery in which the healer uses their intuition and energy to help you find answers to your questions.
The experience is extremely personal, and you may find yourself feeling more emotionally and mentally secure afterwards.
8. Watch a traditional Balinese dance performance
A trip to Ubud wouldn’t be complete without watching a traditional Balinese dance performance.
The most popular place to see a show is at the Ubud Palace, where you can catch a traditional Legong dance performance. The performance takes place every day at 7:30 PM, and tickets cost around $7 USD.
The dance is based on the story of two brother kings who were turned into monkeys and began to fight. The dance is very fast-paced and incredibly intricate, with the dancers wearing beautiful colorful costumes.
9. Shop at the ubud art market
Ubud is known for its arts and crafts scene, and the Ubud Art Market is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or two.
The market is full of stalls selling paintings, wood carvings, and traditional Balinese clothing. You’ll find plenty of great bargains if you’re willing to haggle with the sellers.
The market is open every day from 10 AM until 5 PM.
10. Practice yoga
Ubud is one of the top destinations for yogis around the world, and there are plenty of studios and retreats to choose from if you want to practice yoga during your stay.
One of the most popular studios is the Yoga Barn, which hosts a range of classes for all levels, from beginner to advanced. In addition to yoga, it also offers meditation and dance classes, astrology sessions, ecstatic dance, and a range of Ayurvedic treatments.
Alternatively, Chakra Yoga Shala is a great choice if you’re looking for a more intimate studio. The classes here are small, so you’ll get plenty of individual attention from your instructor.
This place is Balinese owned and run, so attending a class or two here is a great way to support local business. It also overlooks a lush green rice field, so you’ll have a beautiful view as you practice.
11. Climb mount Batur
Mount Batur is an active volcano located in central Bali, and it’s one of the most popular things to do in Ubud.
Ubud is the closest popular tourist town to Mount Batur, so it’s an ideal base for those wanting to do the hike.
The hike itself isn’t too challenging, but it is a bit strenuous in parts. It’s best to start early in the morning so that you can reach the summit in time to watch the sunrise. Usually, you’ll be picked up around 2 AM and start hiking at 3 AM.
The whole experience takes around 6-7 hours, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding area from the top.
Once you get back to Ubud, head to one of the town’s many spas for a relaxing Balinese massage to soothe your sore muscles.
12. Hike the Campuhan ridge walk
If you’re looking for a gentler hike, then the Campuhan Ridge Walk is a great option.
This easy 2-hour walk takes you through some of Ubud’s rice fields and offers beautiful views of the surrounding jungle. It’s best to do the walk early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the day.
You can also stop at the Karsa Kafe along the way for some nasi goreng, a refreshing young coconut or even a beer. This is an ideal spot for chilling out and enjoying the gorgeous views of the rice fields.
13. Attend a sound healing session
Sound healing is a form of therapy that uses different frequencies and vibrations to promote relaxation and well-being.
Research shows that it can reduce stress and increase energy levels, but whether you believe that or not, a sound session is definitely a unique experience to try on your travels.
Since Ubud is such a spiritual place, it’s no surprise that you can find plenty of sound healing sessions here. Serendipity Sounds and Pyramids of Chi are two of the best. An hour-long group healing session costs around $18 USD.