Authored by Diane Wuthrich (Contributor)
Bali is a massive tourist island of Indonesia that encompasses 5,780 square kilometres of natural beauty and it gives you a great chance to experience authentic Balinese culture. One of those places include Ubud that has a range of amazing and cultural activities in Ubud that you must try during you visit.
Ubud is a historic little city carved out of dense tropical jungles. Unlike other touristy areas on the Island of the Gods, Ubud has successfully stayed true to its roots. Despite the presence of tourists in every corner and many western establishments, the great tourist town has maintained its authenticity and therefore many, including myself, feel that this is where you will find the REAL Bali.
It has a magnetic charm that is difficult to put into words, but the lure is so strong that it’s not uncommon for visitors to drop by with the intention of a short visit and they end up never leaving, or at least returning for a second or third go and it is not all surprising considering all the activities in Ubud to feast upon during your adventure in Bali, whether you are in Ubud for two days or a week.
10 Amazing and Cultural Activities in Ubud That You Must Try
1. Partake in Yoga and the healing arts
Ubud is a renowned destination in the global new age community. You will find all kinds of yoga classes, meditation, and various healing mediums all over the city and usually in stunning surrounds. Whether you believe or not, it’s worth trying a class or two of yoga and really unwind during your holiday. I recommend doing yoga at the beautiful Ubud Yoga Centre and trying a sound healing class at the highly-rated Pyramids of Chi.
Visitors who are staying a week or more may want to look into multi-day or weekly passes to get more value out of your yoga classes. If you’re keen to learn more about various healing mediums and classes available during your visit, head over to the bulletin board right outside Bali Buda (Jl. Jembawan) or the ones inside Kafe (Jl. Hanoman).
2. Relax with a Spa or massage
Many spas of all kinds imaginable are found in Ubud. During your trip, it is the perfect opportunity to spoil yourself silly witha soothing and professional massage. Considering how inexpensive the treatments are, even getting a massage on a daily basis won’t break the bank. There are budget Balinese massage parlours, mid-range spas, and the most opulent 5-star day spas you’ve ever seen that offer the royal treatment.
Take your pick! I opted for a massage and flower bath (mandi lulur) at the Bali Botanica Day Spa, and it was everything I imagined and much more. Take note that you’ll likely have to reserve a spot and this goes for most of the other popular day spas around town.
3. Eat great local Balinese food
Ubud is known for its noted international chefs, and the town has all kinds of food for all sorts of cravings. Although the restaurant scene is dominated by vegan and vegetarian restaurants, finding your favourite dishes is never difficult. From small-plate dining at Locavore to authentic Balinese at the masakan padangs or warungs, there’s no doubt Ubud’s food scene has contributed to its popularity.
France, Italy, Spain, India, China, Japan, Mexico and much more are well-represented in Ubud too. If eating isn’t enough, there are also tons of cooking lessons being offered around town. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the Ubud Raw Chocolate Factory, and of course, the highly-acclaimed Room4Dessert, which was established by a famous NYC chef. Stay cool with deliciously sweet coconut ice cream from Tukie’s, or one of the dozen gelato shops in town.
4. Explore the Breathtaking Rice terraces
The postcard picture-perfect ancient rice terraces of Ubud should not be missed. You don’t have to go far to see them, just hire a motorbike to take you to the incredibly beautiful Tegalalang rice terraces; a quick 30-minute ride outside the city centre. Make sure to come early (before 8am) if you want to enjoy the splendour of the rice terraces without having to share them with other tourists.
Once you get to Tegalalang, you can explore the paddies and walk amongst them; even enjoy some ice cream or coffee at a stall built on top of them while taking in the views. If you have some more time, head over to Jatiluwih, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5. Be Dazzled at the Monkey forest
Ubud’s monkey forest is one of the most photographed attractions. The sprawling forest temple complex is an important conservation and spiritual centre for the locals. It is home to over 700 monkeys and 186 kinds of trees set in 12 hectares of verdant forest. Personally, I think that the best time to visit the monkey forest is during the late afternoon because this is when golden sunlight rays cast an amber glow over the forest canopy.
For a fun and safe experience in the monkey forest, remember to never bring food especially bananas. Practice caution whenever interacting with monkeys, if you feel inclined to. Otherwise, you can just admire them from a distance.
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6. Go Ancient at Silver smithing
Silverwork is an ancient tradition in Bali, an art that arrived during the Bronze Age when Southern Asian and Chinese nations introduced it to Indonesia. Working with precious metals particularly gold and silver is a craft that has been refined over time, dating as far back as 1,000 AD. Today, the tradition is still very much alive in many parts of Bali including Ubud. Take up a silver smithing class is a great chance to make your very own jewellery: pendants, rings, bracelets, and more that can all be created in a few hours with the guidance of a local silversmith.
I really enjoyed my time at Studio Perak, a highly recommended silver making workshop in Ubud. I got to choose the design of the ring I wanted, and they had a great selection of stones in all colours and sizes that you can add too. Ketut, our instructor, was very friendly and knowledgeable. My only regret was not making time for more classes!
7. Get Creative with Art lessons
Ubud is overflowing with art lessons of all kinds for both kids and adults. Painting lessons, batik making, and even pottery… there’s a way for everyone to release their creative side in Ubud, where all the locals are an artist in some way. They will be happy to share their artistic knowledge with you, and it will be one of the best experiences you will have.
As a frustrated painter, I decided to take up lessons with Indra of Art Geed Art, a self-taught painter who speaks very good English (he also teaches Bahasa lessons). He has a cute art studio 10 minutes away from the city centre in a village called Penestanan, and what I loved about this experience was that he very clearly honoured the creative in me. He didn’t criticize but guided and allowed me to work on the image I wanted. His mind-blowing art will inspire you. I suggest you give him a call.
8. Wander through traditional Temples
Traditional Ubudian homes already do look like temples, and they’re everywhere you go. To me, the entire town felt like one big temple, especially with all the spiritual vibes you get wandering through the town. There are a few temples in Ubud that are worth checking out: Pura Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), Pura Saraswati, and Tirta Empul among others. Organise a driver to get to as many as possible.
9. Get caffeinated with local coffee
Coffee loves take note! The local coffee in Ubud is so aromatic, earthy, and simply exquisite. Sample the different variants of local coffee found around Ubud and is available in all coffee shops and restaurants in many locations on the streets. If you’re serious about your coffee, the best way to enjoy the local brew is to book a coffee tasting session.
10. Last of all, Have fun!
Ubud is a sleepy town at night, so this isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for nightlife. You’d be better off in Seminyak or Canggu. But that doesn’t mean to say that it doesn’t have its fair share of laid-back watering holes. Try the arak cocktails while watching a live band at these places (my personal favourites): CP Lounge, No Mas, and Bamboo Bar.
Want to find more activities in Ubud? Check out these books on Ubud.