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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

Bali - Ubud: the green heart of the Island of God

Ubud is the green heart of Bali Island, certainly one of the areas that most fascinated us and the one we really fell in love with during this trip.

This is also the most characteristic part of Bali, defenitvely the one that, despite tourism, has best preserved its authenticity. Dance performances, temples surrounded by greenery, monkeys appearing at every corner, and yet the splendid and colorful local craft markets, the typical Warungs in which to experience delicious Indonesian food, get lost among the scents of incense and food, the lovely spas .. Ubud is all this and much more.

Also the northern area of ​​Ubud, with its immense rice fields, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, gave us indelible memories of breathtaking views, as well as the spirituality of the purifying bath in the sacred waters of the Tirta Holy Water Temple. After watching the very famous movie Eat, Pray and Love by Julia Roberts, we were eager to get to this part of Bali and explore it thoroughly, enjoy this mystical atmosphere that hovers in this village and immerse ourselves deeply in the Balinese culture. I have to say that our expectations were fully met, not to mention exceeded! We really wished we could have stayed longer. Therefore, if you are planning a trip to Bali, make sure you dedicate at least two days to Ubud: it is an unmissable stop on this magical island.

To know where to sleep in the area of Ubud, as already mentioned, we chose the Blue Karma Dijiwa Ubud, just outside the center - to know more about accommodations..

Now let's see the itinerary we planned for this area. As you can see on the map below, we have dedicated two days to this part of Bali: - ④ the fourth day of our trip we dedicated it to exploring the center of Ubud, its temples, the splendid handicraft market, we strolled through its crowded alleys up to the Campuhan Ridge Walk, surrounded by greenery. We then proceeded to the Monkey Forest and ended the day with the beautiful show at Ubud Palace. - ⑤ the fifth day in Bali we went to the north of Ubud, spending the morning in the famous rice fields in Tegallalang and then to Pura Tirta Holy Water for a purifying bath. In the afternoon we allowed ourselves some relax at the spa and in a swimming pool in the center of Ubud.

Itinerario di 7 giorni a Bali

For the complete itinerary of this Bali trip:

Now we are back home, I can say the ideal would be to spend at least three days in this area: there are so many other things to do and experiences to live.. It was definitely one of the areas we loved the most in Bali. If we had had 3 weeks available we would have definitely stayed one more day, in order to enjoy Ubud more calmly and explore it more deeply.

If you want to know a bit more about a 3-week itinerary..

Stay tuned to read also about balinese food and where to eat!

How to get to Ubud

Now let's see how to reach Ubud: if you are following our trip to Bali post after post, you know we were in Sanur, where we stayed the second and third day in Bali: here a quick recap of all the other stops in case you missed them.

To find out what and where to eat along the various places.. READ ALSO:

From Sanur we took a taxi using the Grab app, directly in front of our accommodation. We replicated the tactic already used before: travel early in the morning, in order to avoid traffic and have the whole day at your disposal. From Sanur to Ubud by Taxi it is about 25km, which we covered in about fifty minutes, paying 135.00 IDR (about 9 €). To know more about transportation and the Grab app..

How to move around Ubud

Traffico a Ubud, Bali

To explore the center of Ubud, the ideal is to walk: in this way you avoid the infernal traffic and you will be able to slip into the various narrow streets, visit the temples and stop at every stall Ubud is full of. However, a motorbike is also essential in this area: beyond the centre, to reach some places such as the Monkey Forest, or the area north of Tegallalang and the Tirta Holy Water Temple, you will need have your own vehicle. For this reason and also since we were staying immersed in the rice fields, a little outside the center of Ubud, we decided to rent the scooter for both days. As in all other areas of Bali, even in Ubud you will find where to rent motorbikes everywhere and at much cheaper prices than in nearby Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu. This time we relied directly on the hotel where we were sleeping (Blue Karma Dijiwa Ubud) to rent one, since we were staying a bit outside the centre. Here they gave us a good price: 150,000 IDR (10€) for 2 full days. For more information on motorbike rental and how to get around Bali..

2-days itinerary in Ubud

Day 1:

Day 2:


Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Ubud is certainly among the most beautiful areas of Bali: tourism has grown a lot in recent years, but it has managed to blend perfectly with the culture and traditions of the place, remaining authentic and very interesting. Ubud is located in the center of the island of Bali, immersed in the greenery of the tropical forest: it is certainly culture and tradition, but Ubud is also a village with good restaurants, cafes, art galleries, museums and markets with whole streets full of shops of local crafts where you can do a lot of shopping. In Ubud there are so many things to do, from visits to the splendid temples, to cooking lessons, yoga classes, relaxing walks, but also a nice relaxing bath and a massage in one of the many Spas.

So let's see what you absolutely must not miss once in Ubud!

Ubud Royal Palace

Palazzo Reale di Ubud, Indonesia

Ubud Palace is located in the center, at the corner of the two main streets of the city. Entry is free, so don't miss it! You can visit almost the entire structure, exploring the various traditional buildings and the wonderful stone statues. To be honest, overall I was expecting something more.. it didn't particularly excite me. But I definitely changed my mind when we came back in the evening for the dance show: the colours, the decorations and the scenographic dances totally transform the temple, making it a mystical and evocative place. So, after all, my advice is this: drop by in the morning, while you explore the center of Ubud on foot, then come back in the evening to watch the show. This, in my opinion, is the best way to make the most of this place.

Ubud Palace Dance Show

Ubud Palace Dance Show, Ubud, Indonesia

The evening show at the Ubud Royal Palace is certainly the most famous in the city and alsothe most characteristic and interesting. I had read that it was only held on Thursdays (and so it is written on the billboard outside) but in reality, passing in front of the building the following evening, we saw that they did it again, so probably in the high season it is held every evening, at 19:30 and lasts about 1 hour and a half. Entrance costs IDR 100,000 (about €6.50) per person and tickets can be purchased directly on site, throughout the day - I recommend buying them in the morning when you visit the Palace, in order to avoid queues and to get better seats when you arrive, or directly the night before the show starts. The show is a Legongon Trance: The Dance of Heaven and consists of 5 different parts which you will attend in this order:

  • Legong Trance: two Legong dancers will perform a trance dance that tells the story of the gods who give grace and bless humans for peace and prosperity, after a beautiful Balinese ritual;

  • Jauk: it is a solo dance in which a demon who enjoys dancing in the jungle performs;

  • Lendana Agung Ubud: this dance represents life in the village of Ubud, famous for its art and culture but also for its spirituality and natural beauty;

  • Kebayar Trompong: a classic Kebayar dance that uses the Trompong, a typical instrument that requires a particular skill to play.

  • The Ballet of Bimanu: this musical recital tells the story of Prince Bimanu, son of Arjuna, in search of Princess Siti Sunari, for which he is chased by a demon as punishment.

Legong Trance: la Danza del Paradiso, Ubud, Bali

At the entrance you will be given an information sheet with a detailed explanation of each of the 5 shows: the show is in fact a set of typical dances, musical performances and recitals all accompanied by a local orchestra playing typical instruments and simply wonderful Balinese music. The music alone was worth the ticket price! All in the splendor of the Royal Palace, truly impressive! It was simply a magical and wonderful experience, definitely recommended: if you have followed us here, you will know that we skipped the Kecak Fire Dance at Ulu Watu Temple, choosing to attend this one in Ubud. I can tell you that our choice was definitely excellent: the Ubud show costs less and was more magical, characteristic and typical, we will certainly never forget it, an unmissable experience! After the show, if you still have to dine, I strongly suggest you go to the Gedang Sisi Warung, a few hundred meters to the left of the Royal Palace: a delightful open-air warung built in greenery, where you eat divinely and spend very little! To find out what and where to eat in Ubud READ ALSO:

Pura Taman Saraswati - Ubud Water Temple

The Saraswati Temple is a real hidden gem in the heart of Ubud: we almost let it slip away as once we reached the entrance reported to us by Google Maps, we found it closed. In fact, even by checking the internet, the temple is permanently closed. Actually, exploring the surroundings at random and slipping into the various alleys, we found the entrance to the back part, that of the pond: even if you cannot enter it is wonderful, so go there! Access is free, and if you are not looking for it, you will have a hard time finding it: it is not signposted at all and is located between Starbucks and the Lotus Cafè. Enter between the two cafes as if you were entering one of the two, and behind a small altar you will find Pura Taman Saraswati. Here, a small stone path begins that leads to the temple, and is bordered by a splendid pond covered with lotus flowers, from which you can admire the sculptures in honor of Dewi Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and the arts.

Ubud Market

Mercato di Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

The large Ubud Market is perhaps one of the most beautiful in Bali, where you can find classic souvenirs, typical clothing and local handicraft products. The stalls are spread across various buildings within a large complex and along Jk Karna street. The main entrance in front of the Royal Palace is currently closed for renovations, so you can access it from the two small side entrances on the right. While we were looking for the entrance, we came across a delightful café, the Tropical Ubud, a few meters away from the market entrance, where we had a wonderful and typical breakfast before a couple of hours of shopping.

Mercato di Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

The market is splendid, and you will find everything at excellent prices: the important thing is negotiating: from the wonderful wooden masks, hand-carved statues, splendid typical clothes with colorful patterns, the typical Sarongs, jewels and many other things. If you want to shop in Bali, I strongly recommend that you choose local handicrafts rather than big-brand western shops, in order to support the local economy. Among other things, I point out that in front of the Royal Palace, in the stalls on Jk Karna, there is a very nice boy who sells hand-carved Ukuleles by himself at excellent prices: I gave one to Enrico, he wanted it from the first moment which he has set his sights on. It's a great gift idea to take home!

Pura Gungung Lebah and Campuhan Ridge Walk

Pura Gungung Lebah is an ancient temple that stands on a rock where the two tributaries of the Sungai Cerik river converge: the area where the two rivers join is sacred and the walk to reach the temple is wonderful. Go down the ladder to the left of the bridge, where you will leave your motorbike, and walk through the greenery, among wonderful stone sculptures, the waters of the river, and the splendor of the trees and moss that have invaded the area. To reach the temple you can also take the simplest path, a little further on, but I suggest you explore this truly splendid area: you will feel like you have entered a fantasy world, just a few meters from the center of Ubud.

Pura Gungun Lebah was closed when we went, but even from the outside it is impressive, immersed in the forest. It is on the way to Campuan Ridge, a beautiful trail that crosses the verdant river valley of Sungai Wos, with wonderful views of the villages and rice fields. The entire route takes hours, if you don't feel like doing the entire walk, which is quite tough under the Indonesian sun and heat, I recommend you walk at least the first few hundred meters up to Bukit Campuhan, the highest point of the path, from which you have the best view.

Sacred Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Foresta Sacra delle Scimmie di Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

The Sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud is a dense and very green jungle populated by monkeys, who reign undisturbed among wonderful stone statues and temples. The official name of this place is Mandala Wisata Wanara Wata, but being the home of Balinese macaques it has taken the name of Monkey Forest. Here they are the mistresses, and people are just guests who have to follow their rules and be careful not to be robbed by those mischievous little hairballs. The entrance costs 80,000 IDR per person (about €5.50) and can be accessed from the Monkey Forest Road: immediately after the entrance you will find a large parking lot where you can leave your scooter. Once inside, keep these recommendations in mind:

  • monkeys are not aggressive by nature but if they feel threatened or frightened they will defend themselves;

  • don't panic if a monkey jumps on you, they will immediately come down by themselves:

  • don't run if they approach you, keep calm and don't yell, or you'll scare them - easier said than done, believe me I know, I was terrified;

  • do not look monkeys in the eye: for them it is a sign of aggression:

  • don't hide food in your backpack because they will try to steal it - believe me, I've seen monkeys open zipped backpacks and steal the contents;

  • hide your sunglasses and eyeglasses, flashy earrings and bracelets well in your backpack, or they'll steal them - I've seen monkeys steal sunglasses from people wearing them on their heads, they tried to steal my hanging hand gel to the backpack.. they are tremendous!

  • make sure that no plastic bottles or bags protrude from the backpack or they will steal them to play with;

  • remember that it is strictly forbidden to feed the monkeys with peanuts, biscuits, sweets, bread or any kind of snacks.

Selfie con la scimmia, Foresta delle Scimmie, Ubud, Bali

Follow these rules, and you will fully enjoy this wonderful experience: I was a bit scared after the previous encounters with the monkeys in Bali, in fact I confess that when they approached me I was not as calm and silent as I should have.. but really, they are awful! That said, it was a very fun afternoon. The forest is wonderful, peaceful and very green, populated by hundreds of monkeys: it was wonderful to see them in their natural habitat, playing together, chasing each other, bathing and eating! Once here, don't miss a selfie with the monkeys: it's a splendid and particular souvenir photo that will help you become the park's staff. Once inside, lose yourself among the various paths to observe the small local inhabitants, the forest with its splendid little rivers and stone statues: also, within the forest, there is the beautiful Pura Dalem Agung and the cemetery of Ubud, where locals are buried for three years before the cremation ceremony that takes place in the city.

Kaveri Spa at the Udaya

Kraveri Spa at the Udaya, Ubud, Bali

Our second day in Ubud, in the afternoon, we dedicated ourselves to relaxation, and this can only mean one thing: to try one of the famous Balinese spas. This was an experience that I really wanted to have, so I had booked a bath in the flowers from home, maybe a month before departure. You have all surely seen images of splendid tubs full of colorful flowers immersed in the Balinese jungle: it is one of the experiences not to be missed on this island. So, after a long search, I chose to give a try to the Spa of the Udaya resort: the Kaveri Spa. It is one of the most famous Spas in Ubud: here you can try many treatments, from floral baths to massages. The prices are certainly higher than those you will find in the many spas on the streets of Ubud, but the place here wins over everything.

The Kaveri Spa is splendid, the staff is very kind and certainly the quality is worth the price. I suggest you book online in advance on their website because it is one of the most popular in Ubud and otherwise you risk not finding a place. Booking is simple and immediate and you will immediately receive confirmation via email upon payment of an advance of half the cost. §You can choose between various treatments: if you want to try the typical bath then you can choose both the shape of the tub (oval or round) and between two options, the Celebration of Flowers or the Citrus Bath, for one or two people; you can also decide which of the available locations you prefer. The price is 500,000 IDR (about €30) each for one of these two traditional baths, but by booking online you will often find a 40-50% discount: in fact we payed 500,000 IDR for two. An unmissable opportunity!

Folk Pool & Gardens

After the memorable flower bath at the spa, we treated ourselves with a few drink in a little place I had found during my research: the Folk Pool & Gardens. It is a small place hidden in the center of Ubud, where you can enjoy a few hours in the wonderful swimming pool surrounded by the jungle. From the outside road you could never imagine that such a beautiful and peaceful place is hidden just a few meters away. Definitely an excellent destination to rest for a few hours and get away from the chaotic life of Ubud. You can come directly, but you risk finding only the tables available, or book the double beds by the pool in advance: here is the link for online booking, very convenient and without any advance payment. The Folk Pool & Gardens is ideal for a drink and a snack: the menu is quite western, for dinner I suggest you move to one of our beloved Warungs.

In fact, we chose to have dinner at Warung Makan Bu Rus, on the way back to our accommodation: from the outside it didn't inspire us at all, but once we crossed the entrance we found ourselves in an open-air room, surrounded by greenery in a wooden structure fabulous! And we ate divinely, paying very little!

To find out what and where to eat in Ubud READ ALSO:

The North of Ubud

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

The north of Ubud gets cooler and rainier the closer you get to the rice paddies. Ubud is very famous all over the world as one of the greenest areas of Bali, and this is also thanks to its splendid terraces, made up of a series of beautiful rice fields that follow the traditional Balinese irrigation system called "subak". The system said to have been invented by a sage called Rsi Markandeya in the eighth century. The Tegalalang Rice Fields have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, becoming a favorite destination for tourists. For this reason, it is recommended to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds and enjoy this beautiful place in peace and quiet. It takes about 20 minutes by motorbike from Ubud to get there. We left very early in the morning, but as often happens in these places, it started to rain a lot while we were traveling. I say fortunately because if it hadn't rained we would never have stopped at the Huma Cafè to take shelter, and we would never have discovered this splendid place. The Huma Cafè is a very recent restaurant opened on the road to Tegalalang, literally on the rice fields. Here we had breakfast while we waited for the rain to stop, and honestly we had a truer experience of the rice paddies and rice cultivation than at the Tegalalang Terraces.

To find out what and where to eat in Tegalalang READ ALSO:

In fact, the Terraces are a unique and incomparable spectacle, of a rare beauty, very green, all to be contemplated in their majesty. But you don't actually see the farmers working there, planting and harvesting the rice: luckily we witnessed this at breakfast.

Tegalalang Rice Terrace Swing, Bali, Indonesia

Anyway, once we reached Tegalalang, we left the motorbike on the street and paid 10,000 IDR each to enter (about 66 cents). Here on the terraces, you can do many things: there are myriads of giant swings, you can cross the rice fields on a bicycle suspended in the air, enjoy Balinese coffee in one of the cafés located above the rice fields... in short, there is something for all tastes. We couldn't help but try one of the famous swings: we spent 100,000 IDR for two (about €6.50) for one of the few double swings. I will tell you, I was hesitant about the cost, but it was a wonderful experience, beyond the photos: it seems to fly over the rice fields! If you are here, don't miss it. After that, enter the "trekking" paths and explore the rice fields on foot, the landscape is unique in the world!

Pura Tirta Empul - Holy Water Temple

Tirta Empul Temple is a temple just a few minutes drive from Tegalalang, where the sacred springs are said to have magical powers. The spring waters flow into large tanks inside the temple which is very popular, as well as by tourists, priests and locals due to its waters considered sacred.

Pura Tarta Empul, Bali, Indonesia

Pura Tirta Empul is one of the most important temples in Bali and alsoone of the favorite destinations for tourists: I therefore advise you to go there in the morning to avoid the hordes of groups who go there in the afternoon. We went there after the rice fields, so around mid-morning and although there were many people, we enjoyed the place in complete serenity. After leaving our motorbike in the parking lot at the entrance, we payed IDR 50,000 each to enter (about €3.30) and wore the classic Sarong that was provided for free at the entrance. Once inside, you can simply visit the temple, or fully immerse yourself in the mystical atmosphere of the place and take a purifying bath in the sacred waters of the temple.

Pura Tarta Empul, Bali, Indonesia

I went there already made up and determined to complete the ritual, while Enrico wasn't entirely convinced, but once there he threw himself in and we did it together: honestly, visiting Pura Tirta Empul without the bath ritual is really a shame, it was a beautiful, intimate and very liberating experience. I suggest not to bathe on your own: if you decide to try this experience, which I warmly recommend, it must be done well and seriously. There are steps to follow and everything must be done with extreme awareness: for this reason, it is best to be accompanied by one of the local boys, who for a small tip will explain the ritual to you and lead you along the entire journey, as well as provide you with offerings to leave on the altar.

Rituale di purificazione Pura Tarta Empul, Bali

If you intend to bathe in the sacred waters of Tirta Empul, bring your bathing suit, a towel, and also some slippers. For the rest, for 1000 IDR (6 cents) each you can rent a locker with a padlock to store your personal belongings, and you will have to wear also a different type of Sarong than the one you will be given free of charge at the entrance, specific for the bathroom (1500 IDR each - 10 cents). There are changing rooms and public toilets. Once ready, the ritual will begin: as our guide explained to us, it is not a religious experience, but a spiritual one.

It is a bath that purifies Karma, in which one must have clear intentions and focus with awareness.

Rituale di Purificazione Pura Tarta Empul, Bali, Indonesia

It all begins with a few minutes of reflection on one's intentions, in which it is necessary to ask permission to enter the sacred waters and make an offering, which our guide promptly thought of. After that we move on to the pools starting from the left: there are a total of 13 fountains in which to wash (the others are specific for religious celebrations and must be skipped) and each one has a specific function. The first ones serve to purify specific parts of the body, then there are two for forgiveness, and a last one for wishes for the future. In front of each one it is important to focus one's intentions, then pass the hands with water on the face up to the head three times, rinse the mouth with a little water without swallowing and finally put the whole head under the jet of water. All this must be repeated for each fountain in the basins, in orderly rows waiting for their turn. Be careful because the steps to the pools and the edges are extremely slippery: Enrico knows something about it!! For left our guide 100,000 IDR as a tip (about €6.50): he was extremely kind and explained everything to us with dedication and patience. I strongly advise you to have this guided experience, in order to fully understand what you are doing and to show respect for traditions and rituals, avoiding doing something wrong and disrespectful. In conclusion, it was a beautiful and very powerful experience: I highly recommend it!

To discover the next stop of this trip to Indonesia, I suggest you take a look at the complete itinerary for these two weeks: here you will also find some ideas for a possible 3-week vacation.

Take a look also to the other destinations of this trip:

To find out what and where to eat along the various places.. READ ALSO:

If you think this post is useful, please like it or a comment, while if you need moreinformation don't hesitate to contact me!

Have a nice trip (:


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