You’ve probably heard of Ubud. You know those stunning rice terraces, the monkey forest and the new millennial nomad community.
You might have seen the classic Bali Pinterest photo of a girl on the swing hanging over the jungle in a flowing dress. You know the one. But those are just a few of the incredible things to do in Ubud Bali, the list is massive.
Anyway, friends of mine who are living in Bali and loving life, are running around doing yoga with monkeys and eating fresh fruit alongside their infinity pools.
So after a ton of research including tips from local friends, other bloggers and long term travelers who know about all the best things, this is my collective list of the best things to do in Ubud Bali. It’s also the to-do list I will use for my future trip to Ubud.
Explore the stunning rice terraces (duh)
First and most obvious thing to do when you get to Ubud is check out the crazy gorgeous Tegallalang Rice Terraces. The vivid green color with the unique landscape is so gorgeous and is also a historic masterpiece.
Apparently this innovative irrigation system (called the subak) has been passed down by an ancient holy man named Rsi Markandeya (the guy was a baller) in the 8th century… that’s over 2,800 years old!
Soak up the beauty of Tegenungan Waterfall
Within the rice terraces, you need to see the famous Tegenungan Waterfall. It’s massive and flows right off a cliff where there is a nice body of water for you to swim under.
It’s easily one of the most lush, green jungle settings you can imagine. If you’d like to be one of the few people there, you should know that it’s a super busy tourist spot. So go early if you want to have a clear photo shot without people running around you.
There are also several restaurants and cafés nearby so you can grab some snacks after that tiring walk up and down the stairs. (160 stair steps to be exact). Last I checked, there is an entry fee of 20,000 IDR (which is between $1-2, so nothing crazy.)
Bathe at the holy water temple
Another popular activity to do in Ubud is one that people flock to Bali from all over the world to do: bathe in the holy water at the Tirta Empul temple.
Tirta Empul means “holy spring” in Balinese and the temple is famous for it’s holy spring water, where Balinese Hindus (and tourists) go for purification!
Is it sanitary?… not sure. It’s questionable.
I did a little research to see if anyone who bathed in the water got an infection or anything, and the worst thing I could find was a girl saying she got an eye infection and she wouldn’t go back without goggles lol.
So there ya have it! The temple pond has a spring that is constantly flowing fresh water through, so it seems decently safe to me.
Side note: The temple was built around the spring water in 962 A.D… that’s over 1,050 years ago!
Explore Elephant Cave
First of all, I just want to point out that there are no elephants in the cave (I know that can be deceiving lol). However, this cave IS super historic and gorgeous. If you want the historic addition to the best things to do in Ubud Bali, visit these these temples on your trip.
The elephant cave (also known as Goa Gajah) was built around the 11th Century (over 3,000 years ago!) and was built as a spiritual sanctuary for meditation.
There must be some crazy old energies there.
There are faces carved into the stone of the temple which is supposed to ward off evil spirits and the main figure was thought to be an elephant, hence the name Elephant Cave.
To get to the cave, you need to go down a long flight of stairs (get ready for leg day). Once you get inside the temple, it’s apparently really small and there are trails of smoke creeping out of the cave from the incense burning inside.
The area around the temple also has seven huge statues of women holding water pitchers that is a symbol of the seven holy rivers of India (Ganga River, Sarasvati River, Godavari River, Yamuna River, Sindhu River, Kaveri River and the Narmada River).
Don’t worry, no one will quiz you on those.
See Gunung Kawi (epic ancient ruins)
All ancient ruins have an incredible story behind them.
So here’s the story for the Gunung Kawi: long ago, in the middle of Indonesia (in Ubud) in the massive volcano called Mount Kawi, these was a temple built to worship King Anak Wungsu of the Udayana Dynasty.
There were ten shrines carved out of rock that are each 23 ft high and the people made sure the shrines were protected under little sheltered crevices in the mountain. These “funeral figures” are a memorial for the King and his favorite queens. The temples on the west side are dedicated to his minor queens and concubines.
(So yah, maybe the king was a man whore.)
Apparently after the King’s death, his wives were supposed to commit suicide. So it’s a possibility that they did… and then afterwards, all these shrines were built for them. Who knows the exact story. This is what I found! And the funeral temple was built in the 11th Century (3,000 years ago).
To visit the temple, you’ll need to pay 15,000 IDR which is only about $1! Most everything is cheap in Bali.
Oh and you will need to climb 272 stair steps to reach the temple, but there is an awesome view of the rice terraces on your way up to distract you!
See Tirta Gangga (a Balinese palace)
Tirta Gangga ( means “water from the Ganges”) is a gorgeus royal palace built by the King of Karangasem in 1948. It is essentially a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by stunning green gardens, stone carvings and epic statues.
The main attraction of the palace is the eleven tiered fountain. You’ve probably seen a million photos of this place on Pinterest (or maybe that’s just me). But it can’t come close to being there in person!
Apparently the water at Tirta Gangga has always been known as holy water and is used for religious temple ceremonies.
Meditation & Yoga in a room full of Fireflies at Ubud Yoga House
Okay, this sounds like total bliss. You can make your yoga practice a little more magical by surrounding yourself with fireflies at sunset. Also, 1 class is only 150,000 IDR ($1-2).
Check out their website to book a class. To get the fireflies experience, make sure you book the meditation or yoga at sunset specifically! Since this little yoga studio is located in the rice paddies, after sunset their open air studio attracts beautiful glowing fireflies! (And possibly some mosquitos.)
Apparently they drift up into the air and linger around while you meditate in complete peaceful yogi bliss.
Swim/hike through hidden canyons with a guide
If you’re super adventurous and down to play Indiana Jones for the day, you can hike and swim through the hidden canyons outside of Ubud.
This is absolutely one of the best things to do around Ubud Bali. Just think nature’s most beautiful, hard to find, pools, waterfalls and crazy rocks. Also, the destination is still not super popular, so no need to worry about crowds.
It’s about a 30 minute drive from Ubud and all you need to do is ask one of the guides at the entrance to take you through the canyons. The cost is between 100-200k IDR per person.
The people who have gone HIGHLY recommend going with a guide since you can get seriously get lost (or injured) going through the canyons on your own.
To find the hidden canyons you can search this location on Google maps: [Google_Maps_WD id=5 map=5] or just type into Google: “Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang”.
Important Note: you have to walk through the canyons and water level can get up to waist level! So I’d HIGHLY recommend getting some water-proof hiking shoes for the trip (this will also keep you from slipping on the rocks). I’d also recommend bringing a small waterproof backpack with a change of clothes and swimwear to be fully ready.
Take a flower bath at Bali Botanica Spa
This is the moment you will whip out your phone for THE picture. (Like you wouldn’t be doing that the whole time in Bali).
Seriously though, you can take a bath in front of an epic green tropical background with pink flowers covering your body. And if you’re in the mood for more, get an amazing massage here before your bath. I have heard amazing things about their Chakra Dhara massage!
Imagined going from a day of adventuring through hidden canyons, to the next day bathing in flowers in ultimate luxury.
Visit the sacred monkey forest
Seriously, you can hang out with wild monkeys.
There are over 700 monkeys in the forest so you’re sure to make a few new shoulder dwelling friends. You can feed them bananas, take awesome photos and have the most entertaining time of your life.
But beware: the little guys are known for stealing stuff. So bring a camera or your phone, but whatever you do, don’t let go of it!!
Another tip: it’s apparently best to visit in the afternoon after the monkeys have eaten, so they’ll be less aggressive… you don’t want to get hurt by a monkey! They’re supposedly friendly overall if you are respectful and not teasing them and what not.
So don’t be a bully. Be a nature loving ball of light and the monkeys won’t hurt you.
Although monkeys are obviously the main attraction, there are several historic temples within the forest. Some of them are accessible, some not.
The main temple is the 14th century Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal located deeep in the forest. It is supposedly used for worshiping the god Hyang Widhi (the personification of Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism). It was built over 600 years ago and is still used by the spiritual community in Bali!
There are some other sacred temples within the forest that you technically aren’t allowed to go into, but if you are prepared to pray and you’re wearing the proper Balinese praying dress, you can go ahead and check it out.
Try some of the best veggie restaurants in the world
Ubud is heaven for vegetarians and vegans since there are awesome meat-free options everywhere. Some of the most popular foodie spots are: Locavore, Alchemy, Clear Cafe, Seeds of Life and Melting Wok Warung.
For quick cheap meals, the street vendors are always a good option (according to everyone in Ubud.) Just having the option to pick up bomb vegan food at any given moment is one of the best things to do in Ubud Bali.
An Ubud Bali insider said there is a guy who sells spring rolls and other yummy fried food along Jl. Monkey Forest Rd for 10,000 Rp… around $.75 per meal!
Visit the Famous (Picture Perfect) Lempuyang Temple
Also known as the “Gate Of Heaven” and rightfully so… I mean look at this place.
This is one of the oldest temples in Bali (although I can’t seem to find anywhere how freakin old it is) and it’s apparently the essence of Hindu culture.
The only reason this isn’t at the top of my list, is because it’s a two hour drive outside of Ubud, so I didn’t want to make it the main thing– but wow. It’s such a beautiful temple and one that you won’t want to miss if you are in the area.
The temple sections are a part of the “Sad Kahyangan Jagad” (six sanctuaries of the world, the six holiest places in Bali). According to Balinese, they are meant to provide spiritual balance to Bali.
But take into consideration, that in order to get the oh-so-epic photo, you’ll need to wait in a multi-long hour line. If you can’t stand boat loads of tourists– don’t come here. If you don’t mind, and it’s worth the 2-3 hour wait for you, then go right ahead! I know I will.
(Little hack I heard about: if you go at sunrise, you will be there at the most beautiful time and also get an epic photo without the crowds.)
Campuhan Ridge Walk
This is like a little escape outside of the busy streets. Some people love it, and some aren’t so impressed. But I think overall it’s a serene hike that really captures the essence of the area and is one of the best things to do in Ubud Bali.
It’s best to go early in the morning so you don’t get caught up in the heat (especially since there isn’t much shade along the walk.) Another fun little thing about this hike, is it ends with little cafés and shops that you can enjoy when you’re done. Not to mention, this hike is a free activity! So why not check it out and get some exercise? 🙂
Subak Juwuk Manis
This is a super low-key, hard to find spot labeled “magical rice fields a short walk away”. If you walk along a random little road for 15 minutes you will finally be far enough in where you can see this place.
Just imagine a vast, picturesque countryside rice field in the middle of Ubud. Within the rice field, there is a spot that offers cooking classes if you want to do more than just wander aimlessly through stunning rice fields. Either way it’d say it’s definitely a beautiful walk worth having.
That is quite the list of incredible things to do in Ubud Bali. I don’t know how you’re feeing after reading this, but if you’re feeling how I’m feeling, you’re already looking at flights to Bali.
Here is a little summary of those 14 things for a quick screenshot reference:
- Explore the stunning rice terraces
- Soak up the beauty of Tegenungan Waterfall
- Bathe at the holy water temple
- Explore Elephant Cave
- See Gunung Kawi (epic ancient ruins)
- See Tirta Gangga (a Balinese palace)
- Meditation & Yoga in a room full of Fireflies at Ubud Yoga House
- Swim/hike through hidden canyons with a guide
- Take a flower bath at Bali Botanica Spa
- Visit the sacred monkey forest
- Try some of the best veggie restaurants in the world
- Visit the Famous (Picture Perfect) Lempuyang Temple
- Campuhan Ridge Walk
- Subak Juwuk Manis
Thank you so much for reading, means the world, and I hope this list serves you as much as it will serve me when I take the trip. If you have any other Ubud Bali recommendations, do share!
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