Ubud is a town in Bali famous for its temples, the Monkey Forest and the surrounding rice fields. After the intense night we spent hiking up a volcano in East Java, we decided we needed a bit of time to relax, so what better place to explore than Ubud? We spent 24 hours in this lovely town and will share with you the best things to do you only have a day to spend in Ubud.
Ubud is often considered Bali’s cultural heart, as it is a centre of for traditional crafts and dance. It is located in the mountains, away from the sea, about an hour drive from the airport and surrounded by green landscapes. There are temples dotted around both the town and surrounding fields, which add to the charm and Balinese atmosphere of the location. Ubud was always a popular destination in Bali, but has received particular attention from the tourist spot light after the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”, where Julia Roberts speeds around the rice fields on a scooter and falls in love in Bali. The high numbers of tourists around the area take a bit away from the idyllic picture I had painted in my head of Ubud, however I still really enjoyed it and highly recommend visiting it.
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Best things to do in Ubud
Visit the Monkey Forest
The Monkey Forest is one of the most famous attractions in Ubud. It’s a large temple and park area where monkeys are free to roam as they please, with tourists interacting and playing with them. The price to get inside is the equivalent of about 3 GBP and there are various stalls where you can buy bananas to feed the monkeys. It’s a very fun way to spend a couple hours in Ubud, since some of the bolder monkeys come up to tourists and climb over them to get food (like the guy in the video who had to give up his water bottle to a cheeky monkey)! The Monkey Forest is also a beautiful place to walk around, with temples dotted around and trees picturesquely growing over the bridges. However if you don’t want to pay the entrance fee and just want a photo with a monkey you can just walk past it, since the monkeys are free they often go out of the set boundaries of the Monkey Forest. There is a parking lot just outside the Monkey Forest where just you can find just as many tourists taking photos of the monkeys as inside.
Visit the rice fields
Ubud is also famous for its rice paddies and green fields. So this visit was actually accidental but it quickly became one of my favourite parts of my 24 hours in Ubud. We were trying to get to Tegalalang but didn’t explain ourselves properly to our hotel, so they just sent us to the rice field walking path around Ubud. This starts quite close to the Ubud town centre and is a long walking path which loops around and takes approximately an hour and a half to get back to the main road. Getting lost in the rice fields was one of our favourite things to do in Ubud. We wandered around cutting across side roads which we thought would be short cuts, and then just ended up getting lost amongst the rice fields and the houses of local farmers or guest houses. Other than the occasional scooter speeding down the narrow roads, we walked for ages without meeting other tourists. There was something truly magical and soothing about walking around the rice fields, which I highly recommend when you visit Ubud!
On my second visit to Ubud I finally managed to visit Tegalalang. The Tegalalang Rice Terrace is amongst the most famous and photographed areas of Bali and Ubud. Most people associate these to Ubud, however they are actually a 20-minute drive or 2-hour walk from the Ubud town centre. We got a taxi to take us there, wait for us for a couple hours and then take us back for approximately 200,000 IDR. There is no entry fee to pay for the rice fields, however as you walk around them you will find small huts where locals will ask you for donations to be able to access certain areas of the rice fields. The Tegalalang rice fields are also home to the famous “Love Bali” sign. I highly recommend visiting Tegalalang, the natural beauty of the rice fields will leave you in awe and despite the large number of tourists walking around you will never feel oppressed by the crowds, as there is a lot of space for everyone to wander around freely.
Explore the town centre of Ubud
Ubud is a lovely town known for its relaxing surroundings, however the peace and quiet that we found in the rice fields isn’t really reflected in the town centre. The traffic is probably worst than that of Seminyak and the amount of other tourists around adds to the perceived chaos. There are a lot of temples dotted around the town that you can visit, accompanied by tourist shops where they will try to sell you a sarong to be able to enter the temple. One of my favourite parts of the Ubud town centre were the lovely restaurants and cafes. If you’re looking fora special meal out, check out this 9 course meal at Room4Dessert.
Visit the market of Ubud
The market of Ubud is one of the biggest ones I have ever seen. If you’re looking to stock up on colourful dresses, sarongs, jumpsuits, tank tops or anything else really, this is the place to do it! While prices are slightly more expensive since you are in the centre of Ubud after all, there are so many different stalls that it is actually pretty easy to bargain. Half of the market is also indoors, which makes it a good place to explore if you are in Ubud during the rainy season (like I was on my second visit to Bali) so that you can hide from the rain for some time. Before going on a wild shopping spree you might want to check this Bali shopping guide. If you want to explore more of Bali’s markets, check out this guide for art lovers to Bali’s art markets and museums.
Watch a fire dancing performance
We were lucky enough to witness this without really planning to do so. We were wandering around the centre of Ubud looking for a nice restaurant for dinner when we came across this temple like building with lots of people inside and music. Being naturally curious, we decided to step in and check it out. The performance is very interesting to see and if you only spend one day in Ubud, I highly recommend making this one of the stops of your day.
Where to stay in Ubud
I went to Ubud twice on two different trips to Bali and stayed at two different hotels. They are both amazing resorts that I can highly recommend.
Komaneka at Monkey Forest is a beautiful resort located in the heart of the Ubud town centre, just a short walk away from the Monkey Forest. Despite being so central the chaos and traffic of the main streets won’t disturb you, since all the rooms and internal courtyard face some small rice fields in the back. It’s a great resort to stay at if you only have one day in Ubud, since its central location will make it easy to explore the town centre without wasting too much time driving around between places.
Desa Visesa is an equally nice resort, just located a bit further out from the town centre. If you’re staying in Ubud for longer than a day I would recommend staying here instead, since it’s more relaxing and you can enjoy the surrounding rice fields. They offer a free shuttle bus service into the town centre so that the location won’t stop you from being able to explore Ubud. The only thing to be aware of is that the shuttle bus is approximately every hour, so make sure to time your trips into town so that you don’t spend too much time waiting around.
Looking for more cool places to stay in Bali? Check out these epic villas with private pools!
All in all I enjoyed my time in Ubud, although it wasn’t quite the idyllic rice field getaway I was expecting. Bali isn’t just about beaches and if you enjoy being in the countryside surrounded by green fields, Ubud is the place to go. 24 hours is a good amount of time to spend in Ubud, as it gives you the opportunity to see all the main points of interest and enjoy your time there. Have you been to Ubud? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below! If you’re looking for help planning your Bali trip, check out this ultimate Bali travel guide.
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