Ubud on the main island of Bali is a popular destination for those visiting Indonesia. This post shares many of the fun things you can see and do there.
If you’re planning a trip to Indonesia, you’ll probably stop in Bali. And if you stop in Bali, you should visit Ubud. This town is surrounded by the rainforest and rice paddies, and you’ll find many cultural sights here.
The city center is fairly walkable, though it is a lot easier to travel by motorbike or car. Most tours will take you to many of these sites on the same day.
Rice terraces seem to be one of the key images when you think of Indonesia, and Ubud is the place to see them. I love the beauty between nature and agriculture. These terraces are an impressive green landscape and significant in the food culture of the country.
There are multiple rice terraces around the city center of Ubud. The most popular is Tegalalang because of the wider viewpoint. We also visited Alas Harum where there are rice terrace views, a swing, a skybike, and multiple photo points. Another spot is the Jatiluwih Rice Terrace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and about 90 minutes from Ubud. See this link for more rice terraces. Admission costs vary.
Tirta Empul Temple
Tirta Empul is a Hindu water temple. You may have seen photos of Jaba Tengah, the part of the temple complex with two purification pools. Worshipers typically dip their heads under each of the 30 spouts as part of their ritual, and any visitor is able to participate in this. Admission to the temple is Rp 50.000 (about $3.50 USD) per person.
POD Chocolate Factory
Craft chocolate in Indonesia? Yes! POD Chocolate works with local cacao farmers to produce high quality, ethically sourced chocolate. I love their colorful branding and fun flavors. POD Chocolate’s factory is about 40 minutes from Ubud’s city center. If you can’t make it to the factory, be sure to look for their chocolate at the airport or at their other two shops in Bali.
Chase the waterfall at this scenic view. After a short five-minute walk down, you’ll be able to swim and take photos. Many photos of this waterfall seem old because there is now a restaurant and club at the top of the waterfall. The entrance fee to the waterfall is Rp 10.000 (about $0.71 USD) per person.
Saraswati Temple / Pura Taman Saraswati / Ubud Water Palace
Dedicated to the goddess of knowledge Saraswati and completed in 1952, this Hindu temple is known for its picturesque lotus pond in front of it. From what I experienced and researched, you can not go into the temple itself. Admission to explore is free and to get there, look for the Lotus Cafe and enter in through the walkway to the right of the restaurant. There is a traditional dance show at 7:30 pm daily at the temple for Rp 80.000 (about $6 USD) per person and you can get a reservation at the cafe.
Ubud Palace / Puri Saren Agung
The Ubud Palace was the official residence of the royal family and is now a historical building. It’s interesting to see the architecture, but the complex is smaller than I thought it was and doesn’t take long to see. Admission is free and it’s located next to the Saraswati Temple, so you can do both in one stop.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
There are monkeys wandering everywhere in this sanctuary! The place is not enclosed but they get fed, so they stay close. The monkeys keep their distance but will also jump on you if you provoke them. When you visit, be sure to not wear big jewelry or carry any food, drink, or plastic bags. Also, keep any food secure in your bag. The tricky monkeys will try to steal from you. Other than the monkeys, the place is a shady place to take a walk and admire the greenery. Admission is Rp 80.000 (about $6 USD) per person.
Ubud Art Market / Pasar Seni Ubud
If you’re looking for a souvenir, you’ll find them all here. This market has a lot of items with the word “Bali” on them, woven baskets, kites, purses, and more. Many of the items are catered to the tourist, like the dream catchers that have no connection to the Indonesian culture. However, I did have one of my favorite things I ate in Indonesia at an unassuming stall in this market, so take notice of where the locals are eating! The market is open around 8 am – 5 pm daily.
Birds of Petulu
Bird enthusiasts, this one is for you. In the village of Petulu, north of Ubud’s city center, up to 20,000 herons fly in every night. See these yellow and white birds about an hour before sunset.
Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA)
Founded by Balinese art enthusiast Agung Rai, this art museum opened in 1996 and is well-known in Ubud and Indonesia. The museum features works and collections from Balinese, Indonesian, and international artists. Located south of the city center, the museum also has a resort. The admission fee is Rp. 60.000 (about $4 USD) per person.
Goa Gajah / Elephant Cave
This cave built in the 9th century is known for its intricately carved front gate. The site is small and while it’s not as impressive as some other sites, it’s a quick stop if you’re in the area.
Mount Batur / Gunung Batur
Mount Batur is an active volcano that last erupted in 2000. The sunrise hike on Mount Batur is the most popular activity, but it requires a 2 a.m. start since it’s an hour north of Ubud’s city center. The intermediate-level hike to the peak, 1,700 meters / 5,600 feet above sea level, takes about two hours. Be sure to wear good shoes and a light jacket (maybe a rain jacket). Your tour fee typically includes a guide, transportation, flashlight, and breakfast. Mount Batur Sunrise Trekking and Get Your Guide are two recommended companies for this tour.
Good Indonesian Food Tour
Our Ubud food tour with Good Indonesian Food was a highlight of our time there. Walking around Ubud’s city center, we visited four different spots to try Bali’s most popular eats. From craft coffee to the famous Balinese roast pork, every stop had something delicious and we were happily full when we were finished. I love food tours when I travel, and this experience was no different. Our guide Ratih was happy to answer our questions about Indonesian culture and food.
If you’re looking for fine dining, try Locavore.
If you’re looking for more active adventures, here are some other tours you could do:
- See Ubud by bicycle with Bali Eco Cycling
- Rappel down waterfalls and trek jungles with Adventure & Spirit Canyoning
- Go off-roading with Bali Quad Discovery Tours
Get a Massage
I’m sure this is a must-do in every tourist city you visit in Indonesia. This is recommended because a good, hour-long massage can cost about $6-10 USD, which is ridiculously affordable. There seem to be massage shops everywhere and your hotel can recommend a spot. We were lucky to have a spa at our hotel Biyukukung Suites & Spa, so our massage was steps from our room.
Take a Long Day Trip
If Ubud can’t hold your attention, consider a longer day trip. Tulamben is on the north side of the island, about two hours away, and is known for its dive sites such as the Liberty Wreck. Nusa Penida is about an hour of travel while the Gili Islands is about four hours.
For more information, visit the Indonesian Tourism website.
Have you ever been to Ubud? What is your favorite thing to do there?
P.S. To see all my Indonesia posts, click here.