Ubud at a glance
Despite the influx of expats that are living in this sleepy town, Ubud makes an excellent spot if you’re looking to relax, meditate, do some yoga or to get in touch with some traditional Balinese culture. I can certainly see the appeal of settling down in Ubud someday just because of how slow life is here. For people who only visit for a day or two, it takes a while to actually discover the great spots around smaller streets. There are also many spectacular spots to witness some of Bali’s best rice terraces if you know where to go!
Where to stay:
The two popular hostels in Ubud are “In Da Lodge” and “Happy Mango Tree Hostel”. Both costs approximately 100,000IDR for a dorm bed but when in Ubud, it’s ESSENTIAL to experience a home stay or living in a traditional Balinese house ! The cost of a private room in a basic home stay is equivalent to that of a dorm room, if you have two people it’s even cheaper than living in a dorm(Of course this has no AC or fancy butlers but breakfast is usually included). Personally I lived in a home stay but hung out at In Da Lodge on a nightly basis because they have a cosy common area and the bar is a great place to meet people. Also, I spent one night at In Da Lodge dorms and decided to make my money worth elsewhere just because the beds are made of bamboo and incredibly noisy when someone is tossing and turning on the lower bunk.
Private rooms in home stays start from 100,000 IDR – 150,000 IDR a night (this is the cheapest price range that I found but of course you can haggle). Your best bet is to show up, walk in and ask for a room. Then ask for a better price if you’re staying more than a night. With many home stays in the same area, competition is tough, hence bargaining isn’t too much of a problem.
Where I stayed:
1. Goutama Home Stay
Jl. Goutama No. 14, 80515 Ubud
Huge Balinese rooms with traditional doors with gold detailing, a huge queen size bed, a private bathroom with a bathtub (YES, A FRIGGIN’ BATHTUB), complete with your own front porch where you get served delicious breakfast. This place was gold. Location was right smack in the middle of town too! I spent two nights here and it was such a good find + value for money!
2. Kupu Kupu Bungalows
Jln Kajeng Ubud
This is the cheapest place I stayed at in Ubud. Basic room, nothing fancy and the people running the place can barely speak English. But this is perfect for extremely budget travellers as the cost of a private room for 2 was the same price as the cost of 1 bed in a hostel dorm. This gem is tucked far away inside the small streets and next to a rice padi field. At night you can spot fireflies ! But if you don’t ride a scooter, this place is really inaccessible. Also, there is a pet monkey in the garden that loves pulling my hair. So watch out for that gnarly chica.
NOTE: It is literally pitch black at night since there’s no street lamps. I actually fell into the padi fields while walking back to the room at 2am and ended up with very very muddy feet. Always make sure you have your torch handy and sober up before you decide to walk on a narrow path in the middle of rice fields! #truestory
Visit the royal palace and do some window shopping at the Ubud Market
Do a bit of shopping and haggling at the Ubud Market for some Balinese hippie pants and local products. Be warned that the prices here are extremely marked up for tourists taking a day trip from the south of Bali. At night, watch a local dance, fire or shadow puppet show at the palaces… There are different performances at all the palaces on a nightly basis.
Budget tip: For those who don’t have the $$$ to splurge on a seated ticket and are willing to watch from afar, sit at the outdoor area of Starbucks 😉 You’re welcome.
Take a road trip to Tegalalang, then ride on to Mount Batur & Besakih Temple
The travellers I met decided to start an impromptu bike crew and rode on from Tegalalang together and towards Mt Batur. It started pouring midway but that didn’t stop us from riding in the rain. Crazy but beautiful times… Not to mention, cold wet and painful at the same time hahah. We also got completely lost getting back but it was such a good day trip out of the city with great company.
Tegalalang is easy to access from the main town and is merely 15 minutes away by bike. The view is spectacular and for the explorers, take a walk around the terraces ! Beware of touts that are asking for “donations” for the upkeep of the padi fields though, some of them won’t let you through if you don’t pay them enough.
Besakih Temple was actually one of the most beautiful Balinese temples I’ve seen, and it overlooks Mt Batur and some other surrounding mountains (or volcanoes). It is so sacred that you need a guide to walk around with you inside and it is forbidden for outsiders to access certain zones. Despite all of that, we had an unpleasant experience with our guide who said that there was a “minimum” amount for the donation per person even though it was a religious place and should accept any amount of donations. That and being completely soaked from the rain. Still, Besakih temple was something I didn’t regret visiting.
TIP: Be sure to bring a sarong if you have one, or you’d have to rent/buy one from the stores near the temple!
Hike to Campuhan Ridge and relax at Karsa Kafe
This one hour pleasant hike offers a peaceful time if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of a crowded town. At the end upon reaching Karsa Kafe, enjoy the view of the padi fields while sipping on a nice cuppa Halia tea, or have a fancy massage because Karsa Kafe is also Karsa Spa (whuuuut?). From here you can choose to go back the way you came from, or make a huge loop and land yourself back in town, which would take an additional 1.5 – 2 hours depending on your pace.
P.S: If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention the Monkey Forest here, it’s because i really detest monkeys. They’re practically satanic so I gave this attraction a miss. However, if you’re keen on battling with animals with opposable thumbs that sneak up on you and steal your things, you might very well enjoy the popular Monkey Forest. ~*cue Balinese touristy music*~
Streets to explore around Ubud:
This street located in between the two MAIN streets, Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Hanoman. There’s heaps of nice cafes and restaurants tucked away along this small road and all of them are perfect for a nice afternoon away from the basic crowd along the main road. Many home stays located here are also within the 100,000IDR to 150,000IDR budget !
Adjacent to Jalan Raya Ubud, this street loops back to Jln Monkey Forest, but is often overlooked by tourists only visiting for a day because it’s on the other side. Here you can find Black Beach Italian Restaurant, which sometimes screens French movies at night (the irony), of course buying a drink would only be polite. There are also many nice cafes to relax in, some vegan, some quaint. This street is also lined up with concept shops selling anything from clothes to accessories to fancy yoga apparels and more. At the end you can find the famous Dirty Duck store selling well… Bebek Bengil.
Yoga + Massage Street
Most of the backpackers I met were taking a week long or month long Yoga package at this awesome place called Yoga Barn. Unfortunately there isn’t a street name I know of and it’s hidden somewhere along Jl Raya Pengosekan Ubud, behind a Thai restaurant called Siam Sally… so a little bit of challenge hunting for the place. Once you find it though, you can enjoy Yoga & then relax and unwind at the massage parlour next to it. I had a really good, clean massage for only 100,000IDR followed by some yummy ginger tea after.
What to eat:Â
Black rice ice cream (Vegan)
Along Jln Hanoman there’s a vegan cafe selling yummy localized flavoured ice cream. It’s not exactly the cheapest thing around but I’m a huge sucker for sweet treats especially if it’s cold and round and served in a waffle cone.
Ibu Oka is THE place to try Babi Guling. It’s so famous it shows up in most of the Ubud tourist maps. Babi Guling is basically roast pork served with rice, and famous in Bali (majority Hindu) because other parts of Indonesia are mostly Muslim, thus making this dish difficult to find!
Dirty Duck. Nuff said. Try it to find out.
Along Jln Bisma, you can find a Warung selling local eats. As a huge tofu fan, I thought I should share this. Tahu Goreng is delicious, but this place has mind blowing Tahu Telur, which is tofu fried with egg, served with peanut sauce and beansprouts. It’s not on the menu but you can request for it and they will make it for you. It’s less than $2 for a huge portion. Double thumbs up.
& that sums up the 5 shanti shanti days I spent in this lazy town! Ubud, I will be back when I crave more of your crazy delicious meals and in need of some Yoga retreat <3