20+1 top things to see and do in Ubud
If you’re staying in Bali for any length of time, making a day trip to Ubud is a must. This guide to the 20 best things to do in Ubud gives a taste of what to expect!
What to see in Ubud, Bali
Ubud is one of the most talked about towns in Bali. It is located just an hour’s drive from the airport and 1.5 hours from Canggu and Seminyak. Surrounded by a stunning landscape, there’s a mix of cultural and spiritual landmarks, traditional markets, wellness centres, art galleries and great food.
The area has a seemingly limitless amount of things to see and do, and we’ve narrowed that down to the top 20. You won’t be able to squeeze everything in on a day trip to Ubud, so take your choice from what appeals the most!
1. The stunning Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Bali
Although not technically within Ubud itself, visiting the nearby Tegallalang Rice Terraces is perhaps the first thing you should do. (Tegallalang is located around 10 kms from the centre of Ubud.) Early morning is the best time to see the terraces as the heat of the day hasn’t yet built up. Whatever you do, don’t visit at midday as it is super-hot then!
The Tegallalang Rice Fields are perhaps one of the most instagrammed locations in Bali, and with good reason. The carefully laid out terraces seem offer a stunning patchwork that cries out to be admired. If you’re on a tight schedule, you really only need to get to the top to take your photo. Then, move on with the rest of the things to see in Ubud. If you want to walk through the terraces, allow yourself half an hour. (To find out the 10 must do day trips in Bali click here.)
2. How to see Ubud on two wheels
If you’re in an active mood, cycling can be a great way to get around Ubud and see some of the sights. Not only can you cycle within the town, but you can also get out into the countryside in the surrounding villages.
It should be noted, that things do get hot in Ubud, so don’t underestimate the temperatures if you’ve only been in Bali for a few days. Thankfully, there are many eBike tours you can take as well as regular cycling tours. eBikes offer the advantage of not having to put so much effort in when cycling uphill in Ubud! Try Bali eBike tours on Jl. Bisma No.53, and eBike Bali on Jl. Tirta Tawar in Ubud to get started.
Bicycles are available to rent throughout the town, and there are cycling tours of Ubud you can join if you prefer to be guided around.
3. All roads lead to Ubud Royal Palace
The Royal Palace in Ubud is almost a focal point of the town, located right in the heart of Ubud. With its outstanding Balinese architecture and serene gardens, the Royal Palace has a lovely setting, with the front section of the palace open to the public. In the evening, you can see the Balinese dance performance known as Legong (more about the Legong dance later). Tickets are best bought in advance, and they go on sale in the afternoon for around 100K IDR.
4. Eat Pray Love at the Ubud Art Market
If you’re in desperate need of a little retail therapy, the Ubud Art Market is calling! Situated just opposite the Ubud Royal Palace, this daily market specialises in selling silk scarves, handmade bags, shirts, statues, hats and even kites, most of which are made in the surrounding villages.
If Eat Pray Love was one of your inspirations for planning a vacation in Bali, you may recognize the Art Market from the film. Prices here are negotiable, so don’t pay the first price asked. Bargaining is part of the culture. If you feel uncomfortable with bargaining, treat it as a game. It’s more fun that way! (More on shopping in Bali here.)
5. Brave the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
Part rite of passage, part attraction, a visit to the Ubud Monkey Forest is certainly an experience. Walking through this natural forest sanctuary may have you feeling a little like Indiana Jones as you pass by Banyan trees and temples, but it’s the monkeys that are the main attraction.
You’ll see monkeys everywhere in the forest. Swinging through the trees, lazing around, and occasionally walking up to you. Visitors to Ubud Monkey Forest are asked not to feed the monkeys, but those that do come away with some pretty fun photos!
6. Drinks and snacks at Cafe Lotus in Ubud
If you’ve been following the list of things to do in Ubud in order up until this point, you’re probably in need of some refreshment. Located near the Pura Saraswati temple on Jalan Raya Ubud, this successful cafe has opened other branches in Bali, but the one in Ubud is hard to beat.
Originally a Bohemian meeting place for backpackers and local artists, it has upscaled itself since first opening its doors in the 1980s. Now, you can expect an eclectic menu of high quality food, with a mid to upper price range to match. The location, facing a huge lotus pond and table is priceless, and in the evening, temple facing front row tables have a great view on to the dance held at the temple.
7. Exercise your imagination at the Museum Puri Lukisan
If you’re looking to escape some of the heat of the day, it might be worth considering a museum in Ubud. One place we recommend is the Museum Puri Lukisan, located near the Cafe Lotus.
This museum was the first in Ubud, and classes itself as the home of the finest modern Balinese art. Here, you’ll get an insight into the local modern art scene in Bali, with a series of artworks complete with English explanations.
The Puri Lukisan museum also offers several courses and workshops, some of which will be of particular interest to families. The 3-4 hour wood-carving classes are particularly interesting.
8. Blanco Renaissance Museum
The Blanco Renaissance Museum is something of a Bohemian landmark in Ubud, and was once the home of famed artist Don Antonio Blanco. Often referred to as the Dali of Bali (a lovely poetic rhyme!), the museum houses many of the artist’s works, which include countless Balinese nudes. It’s perhaps the decorations and architecture of the house that is most striking though. You walk past parrots and birds at the entrance, and eventually arrive at the roof which offers amazing views. Even if you don’t have time to visit, a photo stop here is almost obligatory when visiting Ubud.
9. Admire the temples in Ubud
We’ve managed to get to number 9 on our list of things to see in Ubud, and we’ve barely mentioned temples. That’s about to change! Ubud has plenty of temples to choose from, appearing in all shapes and sizes.
There is a risk of becoming ‘templed out’ in Bali, so we’ve included only the most unique temples in Ubud and nearby underneath. Visitors to Ubud should know there are dozens of other temples in Ubud not listed here. (More on things to do in Bali here.)
10. The remarkable Goa Gajah Elephant Cave
As elephants are not native to Bali, you shouldn’t be expecting to see many in the Elephant Cave! Located in Bedulu Village, just 6 kms outside of Ubud, this is one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Bali.
Open from 08.00 until 16.00, you’ll need around an hour to explore the complex, which features relics, carvings, a meditation cave, pools and fountains. The entrance to the cave is guarded by a fearsome-looking giant carved into the rock, and the Hindu influence in the cave is thought to date back nearly a thousand years. Where does Elephant Cave get its name from? There are many theories, with one attributing it to the statue of Ganesh inside.
11. The outstanding Gunung Kawi Temple in Bali
Located in Tampaksiring, just to the northeast of Ubud, is another of Bali’s outstanding archaeological sites. Several aspects make this a unique place to visit, including the shrine reliefs carved into the rock face, and its position overlooking the Pakerisan River.
The Gunung Kawi Temple shows influence from both Buddhist and Hindu religions. Visitors to the site should keep in mind that normal temple rules for entry apply – respectful attire is needed. For those not prepared, sarongs and sashes can be rented when you buy the entry ticket.
12. Soothing water features at the Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple
Not to be confused with the aforementioned Gunung Kawi Temple, Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple is located in Sebatu Village, Tegallalang, about 12.8km north of Ubud. It’s not as popular as other temples in Bali, and so often gets left off from people’s sightseeing itinerary. This is a shame for those that don’t make it, but a real treasure for those that do!
Water features are in prominence here, as is the feeling of lush tranquility. Not all areas of the complex allow photographs to be taken. But those that do will provide photo Instagram opportunities galore! The colourful annual festival is not to be missed, with the next two big dates being 16 July 2019, and 05 July 2020.
13. Bali Bird and Reptile Park – something different
If you’re on vacation in Bali as a family a visit to the Bali Bird and Reptile Park will break the day up nicely. It is located less than half an hour’s drive from Ubud centre at Jalan Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Batubulan. Exotic birds and reptiles are kept in lush tropical gardens. With regular feeding times for birds, and fascinating reptiles such as the Komodo Dragon to be seen, the park offers the opportunity for families to see species they may never have seen before.
14. Take a yoga class in Ubud
Ubud in Bali has earned itself something of a reputation as being a spiritual and wellness centre over the years. As such, dozens of yoga schools, retreats and centres have sprung up.
You don’t need to sign up for a full retreat or course whilst visiting Ubud. Instead, why not pop in just for an hour or two yoga session? Recommended yoga drop-in schools in Ubud include Radiantly Alive Yoga at l. Jembawan 1 No.3, Padangtegal, Ubud Yoga House at Jl. Subak Sokwayah, and Yoga Barn at Jl. Raya Pengosekan, Peliatan, Ubud.
15. Create Balinese delicacies in an Ubud cooking class
Ubud is as good a place as any to take a cooking class in Bali, and there are plenty of options to do so. Casa Luna Cooking School comes recommended. They provide lessons on how to create your very own Balinese delicacies, offering an insight to some of the history and culture of Ubud and Bali at the same time.
16. The best places to buy souvenirs in Ubud
We already mentioned the Ubud Art Market, but there are plenty of other markets and shops where you can find souvenirs to take back home with you. Whether you’re after some handmade goods made by local artists, or cheap fridge magnets, you’ll find something that grabs your attention. We’d recommend Sukawati Market at Jalan Raya Sukawati as a place to visit if you haven’t already bought souvenirs in Ubud. Bargaining is part of the game, and canny shoppers might get as low as 50% of the original asking price, depending on the product. Along with Depansar Market, Sukawati Market is one of the cheapest in Bali for paintings and other art objects. If you’re good at haggling, that is.
17. Time to relax with a Balinese massage
All that sightseeing in Ubud can be hard work, so one of the things you can do, is break things up a bit by including a massage at some point during your day. A Balinese massage could most easily be described as similar to a Thai one, but a lot more relaxing! There’s little flexibility moves involved, and afterwards you won’t feel like you’ve been in the ring for half an hour! Instead, you’ll come away refreshed and ready to go. You’ll find plenty of places to get a massage in town, but just a short walk outside, you can find the Eco-friendly Ayusha Wellness spa. Certainly worth a pampering session!
18. The Pod Chocolate Factory and the honey bear
A great choice if you’re visiting Ubud with kids… or actually for anyone really! Who doesn’t want to discover how chocolate is made, with the added extra of tasting sessions? You’ll need to join a tour but it’s great fun for choc-o-holics. And you even get to hug a honey bear before the tour is over. (More on things to do in Bali with kids here.)
19. See a Kecak dance performance near Ubud
Ubud is well-known as being a place to visit for traditional dances, one of which is the Kecak fire dance. One of the most interesting Kecak dance shows to visit near Ubud is at nearby Junjungan Village.
Held every Monday night at 19.00, it seems the entire village gets involved in the performance. Nearly 60 male dancers are backed up by all the families from the village in one capacity or another to put on the display, which depicts scenes from the Ramayana. Tickets cost around 75,000 IDR.
20. Watch a Legong dance performance
Combine culture and entertainment by watching the famous Legong dance. This dance is based on a 12th century legend about a maiden who was kidnapped and how she was freed. Carefully choreographed moves and almost hypnotic music have entranced audiences for centuries. Shows can be seen at venues all over Ubud. Perhaps the most fitting place to see a Legong dance performance is the Royal Palace in Ubud.
+1. Drop by the Ubud Night Market
Finally, if you are ready to head back to your holiday rental villa in Bali at the end of the day, you might want to drop by the Ubud Night Market for some food first.
You won’t find many people talking about this place – It’s more for locals who want some cheap eats after a hard day at work. Sightseeing in Ubud qualifies, so make sure to refuel on Nasi Goreng, Babi Guling and all manner of tasty dishes. You can find the Gianyar Street Night Market about 20 minutes out of town at Jl. Ngurah Rai-Gianyar, Gianyar.