Knowing where to stay and what to do in Ubud before you arrive, can make your experience in this beautiful place even more enjoyable. Found in the center of the island, Ubud is Bali’s cultural and spiritual centre. It lies between lush rice terraces and dramatic gorges. This area has been considered holy since the 8th century when Buddhist monks occupied it.
Today it is a place of spiritual tourism, where visitors can enjoy yoga and meditation retreats, stunning vistas of rice terraces, and unbelievable places to stay. While living in Bali for a month, I had the pleasure of spending almost a week in this Balinese paradise. These are my tips on where to stay, what to do, how to get there, and where to eat.
Stay at: Dwaraka The Royal Villas
If you’ve ever dreamed about spending the night in a palace then you should stay at Dwaraka: The Royal Villas. A member of the Balinese royal family owns this lodging experience, making it truly authentic to what regal living is like. The property is based on traditional Balinese architectural design, but inspired by the ancient kingdom in India where Lord Krisna teaches about Bhagawadgita living.
The hotel has both villas with their own pools, and a separate area that is constructed to reflect the house of a Balinese royal family. Each room in the royal layout has significant meaning. For example, the head of the family, or someone who just got married, uses the north room, which is called Bale Daja. Spending the night at Dwaraka: The Royal Villas is a unique experience that can only be found in Ubud.
What I loved about staying here, that I have never experienced at another hotel, was that they provide each guest with a cellphone. This cellphone can be used when you are out exploring the city and would like to be picked up by the hotel. Essentially it is like having your own private driver. It’s fantastic.
They also provide bikes free of charge, spa services, and personalized experiences. For example, a cooking class, or private tours of the area. The hotel is everything you could need in one place.
What to do:
Monkey Kingdom: Hidden in the jungle of Ubud is Monkey Kingdom. It is similar to a zoo, however, all of the monkey's are free to roam as they want. There are hundreds, many of which are babies, making this activity both fun and adorable. In addition, the space is massive with stone carvings, rivers, and temples found throughout it. Visitors can also feed the monkeys if they would like. You can purchase the food there. Visit their site.
Pura Tirta Empul – For hundreds of years the Balinese have made pilgrimages to these sacred springs, which are said to be created by Hindu god Indra. One of my favorite parts about this sacred place is that visitors have the opportunity to be cleansed in the sacred bubbling water. Sarongs can be rented for less than $5 per person and lockers with keys are provided to hold your bags during the process. Make sure you arrive right when they open because lines can get very long to enter the clear water. It is absolutely worth the wait though! Visit their site.
Tegallalang Rice Terrace – This location is iconic in Ubud. You have likely seen the beautiful rice terraces posted on Instagram in Bali, and always imagined going there. Well, this is the experience you’ve been waiting for! The terraces are just as beautiful as they look in the photos. I recommend going right before sunset for the most beautiful shots. Please note that you should not be charged to enter. Sometimes locals stand at the entrance and ask foreigners to pay. This is a scam do not give them money. Visit their site.
Ubud Palace Dance – Ubud is home to the best Balinese dancers. When you’re here, catch a show at Ubud Palace (also known as Puri Saren). They do performances every night at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased the day of or upon arrival. I recommend arriving early to get seated near the stage because tickets are first-come-first-serve. Visit their site.
Car Rental: I recommend renting a car if you are visiting Ubud because it will be easier to get around. The town is quite spaced out, especially if you want to do excursions to the volcano’s or temples during the day, so it is best if you have a car.
Taxi: If you do not want to rent a car, a taxi is another option. Download Grab on your phone to easily get picked up anywhere.
Walking: If you are in the city center of Ubud, you can walk to all of the shops and restaurants. However, if you would like to do excursions, you will need a car or taxi.
Where to Eat:
Ubud has a lot of great dining options. These are my suggestions:
Petani Restaurant – Local fresh Balinese food in a five star resort.
Ganesha Ek Sanskriti Authentic Indian Restaurant – One of the best Indian restaurants I’ve ever been to!
Rai Pasti Rice View Restaurant – Great prices and Balinese food with a nice view of the rice fields.
Kubu Restaurant – Dine on Balinese cuisine in private cacoons overlooking the Ayung River.
CasCades at the Viceroy – Dine on International cuisine in a high Balinse style thatched roof house overlooking the Valley of the Kings.