Ubud is Bali’s cultural centre and one of my personal favorite areas of the island. This buzzy little town has it all – luxurious resorts, jaw-dropping jungle views, amazing food, and an incredible spa culture. Some of Bali’s most famous tourist spots are located here, including the lush Tegallalang Rice Terraces, fun but mildly terrifying Monkey Forest, and the legendary Karsa Spa.
Nearby you’ll find waterfalls and traditional temples where you can get a sense of the real Bali. The atmosphere here is completely different than Bali’s south, which is packed with beach clubs,
drunken backpackers, and fancy shopping.
In this Ubud travel guide I’m giving all the deets on the best things to do in Ubud! Hope this will help you guys with your trip planning and give you some great ideas for what to do 🙂
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How to Get to Ubud
Ubud is located in the centre of Bali, about 1.5 to 2 hours from Ngurah Rai Airport. Traffic in Bali is insane, so ignore any time estimate Apple Maps gives you. Denpasar to Ubud travel time will never be under 1.5 hr (and vice versa) so plan accordingly.
The typical taxi price from Denpasar to Ubud should be about 300K IDR (about $21 USD). You can arrange a private transfer with your hotel, book a taxi at the official airport counter, or book a private driver beforehand (I always book with Nyoman!). You are likely to get ripped off with the first two options (depending on your negotiation skills), so I recommend organising your own driver.
How Long Should You Stay in Ubud?
I would recommend spending 2-3 days, which will give you enough time to experience Ubud properly, but still leave your schedule open to explore the rest of Bali.
I definitely don’t suggest doing Ubud as a day trip. I think there’s way too much to do here & much prefer the cultural jungle vibes here to the backpacker-y chaos of Kuta or Seminyak.
I also wouldn’t spend more than 3 days here – there’s way too much to see elsewhere in Bali!
Best Things to Do in Ubud
Outdoorsy/Active Things to Do in Ubud
- Visit the Rice Terraces | Stroll through the famous Tegallalang Rice Terraces or day trip out to the quieter, less touristy Jatiluwih Rice Terraces.
- Explore Waterfalls | There are some gorgeous waterfalls near Ubud. Hire a driver or rent a scooter and head out to Tegenungan Waterfall (the most well-known), Kanto Lampo Waterfall (the prettiest), or Tukad Cepung Waterfall (the most unique).
- Trek with a View at the Campuhan Ridge Walk | A really lovely walk with scenic views of the jungle. Start EARLY in the morning or go in late afternoon if you want to enjoy it (otherwise it gets unpleasantly hot + very crowded).
- Mount Batur Sunrise Trek | You’ll leave Ubud around 2 AM to hike up this volcano for sunrise — and you’ll be rewarded with one of THE best views in Bali.
- White Water Rafting | Rafting down the Ayung River is one of the top things to do in Ubud! It looks SO fun.
Cultural Things to Do in Ubud
- Go Temple-Hopping | Tirta Empul – where you can bathe in holy water – is probably the most famous. I love Gunung Kawi for its beautiful rock carvings, and Saraswati Temple for its lovely architecture + lotus pond. Please remember to dress respectfully.
- Visit Monkey Forest | Though it’s super touristy, Monkey Forest was originally created as a sanctuary for the Balinese long-tailed monkey – and locals still view it as an important spiritual centre. There are three temples within the grounds! And (duh) a LOT of monkeys.
- Visit Ubud Palace | The palace complex is centrally located just a few minutes from Monkey Forest. You can hire a guide to explain its history and features, or just walk through and admire the architecture.
- Attend a Traditional Dance | The Palace hosts a traditional dance every evening at 7:30. It’s one of your few opportunities to see some real Balinese culture in action. Highly recommend!
- Tour the Green Village | Set along the banks of the Ayung River, this gorgeous bamboo eco-village is focused on sustainable living and integrating with nature. Arrange a tour here.
Foodie Things to Do in Ubud
- Enjoy Traditional Balinese Cuisine (with a view!) | There are tons of amazing restaurants in Ubud, but my favorite has to be Sawah Terrace in the Ritz-Carlton Mandapa Reserve. The view is OUTRAGEOUS and the food is incredible & surprisingly affordable. Check out the “What to Eat” section below for more.
- Sample Luwak Coffee | Grab a free coffee & tea tasting (with flavors like coconut and lemongrass!) and then try traditional Luwak coffee, which gets its flavor by passing through the digestive tract of a Luwak (yes, all the way through) before being cleaned, roasted, and brewed. Amazing.
- Grub at the Gianyar Night Market | A bit outside of Ubud but worth a visit, this is THE spot to try street food in Bali. Grub on local snacks & dishes and get some shopping done while you’re at it!
- Take a Cooking Class | Learn to prepare traditional Indonesian cuisine, and feast afterwards! I recommend Paon Bali Cooking Class, I had such a fun time and the food was amazing.
Treat Yo Self Things to Do in Ubud
- Get a Massage + Flower Bath | Karsa Spa is THE spot (best massage in Bali, and a pretty solid flower bath too). The Udaya, Puri Gangga Resort, and Fivelements also do mean flower baths too.
- Shop at the Markets | Ubud Market is famous for its affordable shopping. You can find everything from cute woven bags to fake designer ($20 Gucci, anyone?).
- Get a Floating Breakfast | Book a hotel that offers floating breakfast and prepare for one of the stupidest yet most fun experiences of your life. I recommend Kamandalu Resort or Puri Gangga!
- Practice Yoga | Relax and find your center, or whatever. There are tons of yoga studios in Ubud to get your zen on — but I say try out the top-rated FlyHigh for aerial yoga!!
How to Get Around Ubud
Unlike other areas of Bali, there are NO online taxi services available in Ubud. This is to protect the livelihood & business of local drivers so please respect it! There are signs all over Ubud requesting that visitors avoid Grab, Go-Jek, Uber, etc so this is clearly something that locals take very seriously.
The easiest & cheapest way to get around by far is renting a scooter (motorbike). You can rent a bike for about 60,000 IDR/day (~$4 USD), aka less than the price of a takeaway coffee. Gas (petrol) is also extremely affordable.
HOWEVER. If you have never ridden a scooter before, this is not the place to learn. The Indonesian driving style is WHACK and roads can be extremely dangerous. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable biking around, hire a driver instead.
If you don’t want to deal with a scooter, you have a few options. You can book a private driver through your hotel, which is the easiest option but will be the most expensive. You can also sort a private driver independently, which is what I usually do (I highly recommend Nyoman!).
You can also literally just walk around and people will offer to drive you, which is the most affordable option if you have good negotiation skills.
Where to Eat
- Zest | Delicious plant-based salads, bowls, waffles, and more!
- Milk & Madu | Pizzas, french toast, and bennys in a bright and airy space. Very popular with the Instagram crowd.
- Clear Cafe | Traditional low tables and AMAZING decor. Total clean eating – think fresh-squeezed juices + smoothies, healthy plates, and local-sourced ingredients.
- Ubudian Cafe | VERY laid back. They make bomb smoothie bowls and pancakes!
- Karsa Kafe | Beautiful lil spot in the rice fields that makes a MEAN banana pancake.
- Sawah Terrace | Upscale Indonesian food with the greatest dining view you’ll ever find – prime seating overlooking rice fields and the Ayung River.
- Hujan Locale | Street-food-inspired dishes presented in a very classy package. The chilli crab was outrageous.
- Bebek Teba Sari | Traditional food served up in a beautiful bamboo restaurant by the rice fields. Order the crispy duck and make sure to reserve one of the over-water bamboo huts — you can thank me later.
- Sari Organik | Tasty Indonesian dishes with an amazing view overlooking the rice fields.
- Hippie Fish | Adorable bohemian decor and delicious fresh seafood – amazing lobster, mussels, and more.
- Mozaic | Ubud’s fine dining destination. They highlight local ingredients with crazy-unique Western style presentation.
- Locavore | Another of Ubud’s premier fine dining spots and probably the prettiest dishes you’l find on the island. They use some wild ingredients so this is def one for adventurous eaters!
- Kubu at Mandapa | My personal fave dinner spot, set on the banks of the Ayung River for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Get the degustation + wine pairing and reserve a bamboo cocoon, it’s TRULY incredible.
Where to Stay
Ubud has some truly insane accommodation options and seriously affordable luxury – if you like to treat yourself, you will have an absolute field day. I recommend staying in one of the hotels or resorts just outside Ubud. You’ll be close to the city, but far enough away to enjoy a relaxing getaway with some spectacular jungle views.
Best Value for Money | Sayan Terrace Resort: This is my personal fave (pictured below). It’s right next to the Four Seasons and has the exact same outrageous view at a fraction of the price. I get the Private Pool Villa 2 and it is absolutely stunning (PS: get $40 off your booking here!).
Luxury | Kayon Jungle Resort: Secluded 5-star resort just outside Ubud with a two-tier pool, swim-up bar, and absolutely INSANE jungle views // Maya Ubud: Another 5-star hotel with an Instagram-famous infinity pool overlooking the jungle.
Mid-Range | Puri Gangga Resort: Lush resort with a gorgeous jungle pool and one of the prettiest flower baths on the island // The Rice Joglo: BEAUTIFUL traditional Balinese-style rooms set in the rice fields near Ubud; the best room styling I’ve seen in Ubud.
Budget | Puri Garden Hostel: Clean, comfy backpacker accommodation with a huge pool, amazing restaurant, and fantastic rooms // Jiwa’s House: Super-walkable location, cosy rooms, and an absolutely unbeatable price.
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Disclosure: I stayed at Puri Gangga Resort & visited Sawah Terrace at Mandapa in collaboration with the hotels. This particular article was not part of our contract – I’m including them because I loved them! – however I do have a working relationship with both hotels.