Ubud is widely known as the cultural heart of Bali.
Its streets are lined with art markets, yoga studios and historic temples. The food is fresh and healthy. And there might even be a little bit of magic in the air.
This artsy inland town has so much to offer if you’re looking for a few days of rejuvenation without spending a fortune. It’s also a great respite if you’re on a surf trip and you hit a few days without swell. On our last Bali holiday, we went to Ubud twice because we loved it so much.
We’re excited to help you make the most of your time there. Here’s our curated list of the best things to do in Ubud.
6 Epic Things To Do in Ubud: A Quick Guide
1. Get a Resort Day Pass
You’ve probably seen photos on Instagram of people sipping cocktails while swimming in an infinity pool at the edge of the jungle. That could be you. But you don’t have to stay at a 5-star resort to enjoy these facilities. Here are two great day-pass options to give you luxury pool access while you’re in Ubud:
Feel like you’re floating above the Ayung River Valley by spending a day at the Alila Hotel in Ubud. Book the afternoon tea for IDR 450 000 / $43 and you’ll get a day pass for the pool facilities that look like they’re straight out of a movie. It’s recommended to book at least a day in advance.
Book the Swim and Dine Package at the Padma Resort for a chill day at their heated pool overlooking the Ubud jungle. The package costs IDR 350 000 / $33 and includes afternoon tea and a towel. You’ll also receive IDR 200 000 / $19 credit for food and drinks. It is the perfect way to unwind after an intense morning yoga class.
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2. Visit Historic Temples
Get an inside look at Balinese culture by visiting one of the many historic temples in the Ubud area. Remember to wear respectful clothing that covers your shoulders. You’ll usually be given a temple sarong to tie around your waist as well. Take some cash with you as some temples charge an entrance fee or request donations for the sarongs.
Pura Gunung Kawi
This eleventh-century temple was built on either side of the Pakerisan river. It’s recommended to go early in the morning since it can get pretty crowded. This historic sacred site features then shrines that have been carved into the sheer cliff face.
Tirta Empul Water Temple
If you take a 30-minute drive north of Ubud, you’ll find this beautiful temple dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu God of water. Balinese Hindu worshippers have been coming to this temple for more than 1000 years to pray and perform purification rituals.
Pura Taman Saraswati
This temple in central Ubud is famous for its picturesque pond with blooming pink lotus flowers and it’s intricate architectural details. You’ll also see carvings that honour Dewi Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and the arts.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
The Monkey Forest is one of those places you have to visit at least once to say you’ve been there. It is quite touristy and the monkeys can be annoying, but it’s still a lovely walk through the tall ancient forest.
3. Get a Massage
Even if you don’t usually hang out at the spa, there’s no better way to feel like you are on holiday than to indulge in a day of pampering. The spas in Ubud offer a variety of treatment options to suit every budget. Here are few recommended spots for you to check out:
Karsa Spa is a hidden gem situated just outside Ubud on the Campuhan Ridge. You can get there by car or scooter, or you could take a 40-minute walk along the ridge road. You’ll receive your treatments from well-trained and welcoming staff while looking out over the verdant landscape. Was that not enough to convince you? The spa is also very affordable with a 90-minute Traditional Balinese Massage only setting you back IDR 250 000 / $24.
Head over to Jaens Spa if you want to spend a few hours getting pampered with your partner. This centrally located spa has a cosy atmosphere and highly professional staff that’ll make you feel right at home. They offer individual treatments and packages which include traditional Balinese massage, body scrubs, facials and hair masks. These packages cost between IDR 500 000/ $48 and IDR 850 000 / $80 and include a light lunch and refreshing lemon tea.
Ubud Traditional Spa
About 4 km west of Ubud town center you’ll find Ubud Traditional Spa. They offer a Rice Farmer Massage, which is based on the traditional massage rice farmers used to receive after a long day working in the field. The treatment uses traditional coconut oil mixed with sea salt and a 60-minute session will cost you IDR 195 000/ $19.
4. Learn about Balinese Cuisine
Paon Bali Cooking Class
This class was the highlight of my first trip to Bali. Book a morning cooking class with Paon Bali to learn the ins and outs of Balinese cuisine. You’ll go on a tour of the local market, see how rice is grown in the region and you’ll learn how to cook traditional dishes like Gado Gado and Satay. You’ll even get a recipe book to help you make the meals back home.
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5. Practice Yoga
Ubud is one of the best places to find world-class yoga classes at a reasonable price. It’s pretty much yogi heaven. Even if you’re new to yoga, there are a lot of open class options that are suitable for beginners looking to explore this ancient practice.
The Yoga Barn
The Yoga Barn offers a large variety of yoga classes, yoga retreats and guided meditation sessions at their central Ubud studio. Try a Yin class for a good stretch, Acro yoga to have some fun with your partner or attend a Pranayama session where you’ll learn how to use your breath to relax your body. Classes are quite large (sometimes up to 60 people) and cost IDR 130 000 / $12 although discounts are available if you buy a multiple class pass.
Ubud Yoga House
This yoga studio will have you coming for the beautiful view and staying for the enriching practice. Ubud Yoga House is well-known for its unpretentious and friendly atmosphere that caters to yogis of all levels. Classes are smaller (up to 12 people) and cost IDR 130 000 / $12.
Yoga Saraswati is conveniently located in the center of Ubud and they offer super affordable yoga classes at just IDR 75 000 / $ 7. There are four classes a day and the teachers are very attentive. It’s a great place to explore yoga if you want a hands-on instructor to guide you through the practice.
6. Go Hiking
Campuhan Ridge Walk
Get up around sunrise and go for a leisurely walk along the quiet Campuhan Ridge while it’s still cool outside. The walk takes about 40 minutes one-way and you can stop for refreshments at Karsa Café.
Sunrise Trek to Mount Batur
Have you ever hiked up an active volcano? Indulge your adventurous side and do the four hour sunrise trek up Mount Batur outside Ubud. The hike is a little challenging but if you’re reasonably fit you’ll be fine. You’ll have to wake up pretty early since most guides will pick you up at around 2 am. The trek starts at 4 am and you’ll reach the top at around 6 am when the sun comes up.
You’ll be rewarded with incredible views. And on a clear day, you’ll even see the island of Lombok in the distance. Remember to wear multiple layers of clothing. You’ll be hot while you’re climbing, but it can get quite chilly at the top. Check out our blog post on what to pack for Bali if you’re heading to the island for the first time to ensure you bring all the essentials.
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A stop in Ubud is the perfect way to shake off the stress from your daily life, experience something new and refresh your body and mind. We hope you have an epic time!
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