Some travellers make their journey to Ubud for its reputation as a cultural hub. Others check in to one of the ultra luxury resorts or Ubud retreats to downshift from their busy lives, back home. Whatever your hopes for your Ubud holiday, it has a lot to offer and has become a beloved Bali destination for visitors from all walks of life. Home to conscious culinary cafes, beautiful boutiques selling products crafted by local artisans and a relaxed and intimate feel, it has become one of my personal favourite destinations in Indonesia too. This Ubud travel guide features our favourite luxury hotels, where to eat, things to do as well as how to stay active in Ubud.
14 Amazing Things to Do in Ubud, Bali
There are ample ways to pass the days in Ubud.
From seeing the sights to strolling the shopping streets or an afternoon spent at a yoga studio or spa.
Here are a few things to do in Ubud, Bali you should definitely add to your list:
1. Do a VW Tour With Bali Safari Tours
We travelled between Kuta to Ubud in the coolest way possible; via a vintage VW convoy with Bali Safari Tours.
Tops down and cameras at the ready, we wound our way through the traffic of Kuta and Seminyak and soon found ourselves surrounded by the brilliant green of the rice paddies and the narrow turns of the villages.
It was one of the best activities I’ve ever done in Bali and I cannot recommend it highly enough whether you are travelling as a couple or with friends or family.
Related: Bali Yoga Studios
2. Visit Tampaksiring Presidential Palace
Tampaksiring Presidential Palace is located in the village of Sukawati, Gianyar, Bali, about 45 minutes to an hour’s drive from Ubud town centre. Cleanse yourself in the Tirta Empul spring waters, thought to have healing powers.
Be respectful as this is a holy site; wear swimmers covered with a sarong in the water.
Don’t forget to pack a towel or your driver may not be too happy with you. Beware the hawkers near the exit and don’t touch anything unless you want to buy it.
3. Gunung Kawi Temple
Dating back to the 11th century, Gunung Kawi Temple is one of Bali’s oldest monuments and sits, sheltered in a river valley, surrounded by jungle and rice terraces.
The site features ten shrines, honouring a member of the Balinese royal family. Each is cut into the rock face.
Wear comfortable, loose clothing and walking shoes. The only way into the temple is on foot and there are hundreds of stairs to climb around the site.
The site opens at 7 am, so try to get there first thing in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds. Entry is Rp 15,000 per person (about $AUD1.50).
4. Ubud Palace
Ubud Palace is located on the corner of Jalan Raya Ubud and Jalan Monkey Forest.
Have a wander through the grounds and then continue down either of the two well-known shopping streets to browse boutiques and relax with a famous Balinese coffee in the afternoon.
5. Do a Balinese Cooking Course
Learn how to cook some local favourites with a Balinese cooking class.
6. Go Whitewater Rafting
I have to admit whitewater rafting was something that I had never considered doing in Bali, but it became one of the highlights of my recent trip to the island.
The river was pretty low so the rapids were tame and ideal for taking families on the river.
The rainy season is the time serious paddlers will want to hit the river. Mega Rafting took us down the river.
There were showers, our clothes and lunch waiting as we came off the water. It was lots of fun.
7. Do a Yoga Class in Ubud
Ubud is a yoga town. From beginner to instructor level, you will find a yoga class to suit your flow.
These are some of our other favourite Bali yoga studios.
8. Book Into a Bali Bike Tour
9. Eat Lunch at a Healthy Ubud Cafe
There are so many healthy Ubud restaurants and cafes to choose from. Vegan Ubud restaurants are well-known as some of the best on the island.
These are a few of our favourite must-try Ubud restaurants:
If you head to Yoga Barn you will no doubt be drawn to the gorgeous Garden Kafe after class for a recovery fresh coconut, smoothie or snack.
Alchemy Bali is somewhere I have spent hours, working my way through the menu, perusing the shop shelves and generally soaking up the good vibes.
Run, don’t walk to the vegan and vegetarian salad bar but save room for a treat from the raw chocolate cabinet for dessert.
Sari Organik offers healthy food and drinks crafted from farm-fresh local produce.
Sit and enjoy your meals with a view over the iconic Ubud rice terraces after doing the well-known Sari Organik rice fields walk.
Locavore Restaurant delivers artful creations showcasing local ingredients in a warm and cosy eco-bistro-style setting.
For something fancy book into the restaurant or head to the deli for a delicious, fresh takeaway option.
The Seeds of Life
The Seeds of Life is a raw foodie’s heaven in Ubud. Stop in for lunch, take home a signature tonic or tea or book into one of their courses at the Raw Food Academy.
Earth Cafe has created a ‘cruelty-free oasis’ in Ubud. Their menu has a clear conscience.
Carefully curated to cater to vegetarians, vegans, raw foodies or just people looking to stay healthy on their visit.
They have also opened, Paradiso, the world’s first organic, vegan and vegetarian cinema.
You can munch on non-GMO popcorn, topped off with Himalayan salt and olive oil while watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
Clear Cafe wants you to know where your food comes from, bringing ingredients from around the island to deliver a considered menu with heart.
Stop in and cool off with a cashew mylk shake, a superfood tonic or some of your international favourites made with a healthy twist.
10. See a Cultural Dance
Take in a cultural show while feasting on Ubud’s famous crispy duck at Laka-Leke Restaurant. We went to Laka-Leke for dinner and settled in for the buffet and performance.
We saw the Joged and Children Dance, designed to entertain as well as share a little of the local culture. The little dancers were gorgeous and took their job very seriously.
Make sure you book a table and check which performance you will be seeing, the scheduled shows change.
11. Try Some Local Fine Dining
Date night? Book a table in the garden at Mozaic.
A forage-to-fork approach means they seek out the best local Balinese ingredients and create their menu accordingly. Expect the menu to change often, but the standard to remain the same; experiential fine dining at its best.
12. Try Babi Guling
Warung Ibu Oka is very well-known in Bali for its Babi Guling (traditional suckling pig). Right opposite Ubud Palace, join the line for lunch.
We tried this tourist spot once and while we were glad we did, we probably wouldn’t return.
If you have a local driver, perhaps ask them where they would recommend you try Babi Guling off the tourist trail.
Many villages have their own and would likely offer a more authentic experience.
13. Have High Tea Overlooking the Jungle
Treat yourself to a high tea or a cocktail overlooking the valley at Kupu Kupu Barong‘s La View Restaurant.
14. Visit a Day Spa
Enjoy a high-end Spa Adventure at Mango Tree Spa by L’Occitane.
Related: A Healthy Eating Guide to Bali
How to Get to Ubud
Our Pocket Travel Guide to Bali has all the basic information you need to know when planning a trip to the island.
There are often cheap flights to Bali available, particularly from Australia or other Asian destinations.
Ubud town is about 1.5 hour’s drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar. It will take a little longer from Seminyak or Kuta and about 2 hours from Jimbaran Bay or Nusa Dua, depending on traffic.
A taxi to Ubud from Denpasar airport will cost around Rp300,000 one way (about $AUD30).
Booking a car with a driver is generally a more cost-effective option in Bali. You can negotiate with a driver at the airport or if you are staying in Ubud, consider pre-booking a transfer with the hotel at a set price (likely to be a little more expensive but stress-free).
Expect cars in Ubud to be a little more expensive to hire than those in Kuta or Seminyak. They have a cornered market, so they charge accordingly.
If you are hiring a scooter, a pushbike or walking, expect to meet a lot of hills. Also, the roads are very narrow, many lack footpaths and are not well-lit at night, so be very careful.
Where to Stay in Ubud
There are plenty of options for where to stay in Ubud from backpacker guesthouses to retreat-style stays and high-end properties that you don’t even need to leave if you don’t feel the need.
Ubud is also very easy to access from anywhere on the island, you simply need to book a car and driver for the day.
A few of our favourite Ubud hotels are:
A luxury resort nestled in the tropical jungle landscape overlooking the Ayung River Valley just outside of Ubud.
A truly unique place to stay in Ubud. Luxury glamping tents sit in the tropical forest outside of Ubud. Enjoy the privacy of your own tent with a private pool, a traditional lumbung or an eco-cabin.
Mix a retreat-style stay with beautiful luxury elements at COMO Uma Ubud.
Book a rejuvenating stay at a wellness hotel on the outskirts of Ubud town.
More Indonesia travel Guides to Help you Plan Your Trip:
The Fit Traveller was a guest of the Indonesian Ministry for Tourism for this recent trip to Bali. As always, the opinions, imagery and words are authentically our own.
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller.
She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health.
As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her appetite for adventure.
Read more about Skye’s story here.