Ubud is described as the cultural and arts centre of Bali. And it’s not hard to see why as you pass through bustling streets filled with handcrafted items, yoga studios and cookery schools. An escape into nature is only a hop, skip and a jump from the centre of Ubud, making it the ideal place to spend a day exploring the best of Bali. If, like us, you want to be near a beach then Ubud is not the place to base yourself as it is in central Bali. But we 110% recommend exploring it by at least spending a day in Ubud. This itinerary guides you through how to spend a perfect day in Ubud, Bali with elements for the animal lover, nature lover, foodie and culture fans.
How to get to Ubud
The town of Ubud is situated in central Bali, around 1.5hrs from Seminyak and Canggu, and a little bit further from Denpasar and Kuta. To explore Ubud and its surroundings fully you’ll want to hire a form of transport – be that a motorbike, car or driver, depending on your confidence on the narrow and winding country roads. If you want to hire a driver then speak to your hotel or villa staff and I’m sure they’ll be able to put you in touch with a local driver for the day as we were able to with ours. (Psst, have you picked somewhere to stay in Bali? Check out the stunning villa we called home for our trip to Bali).
How to spend a day in Ubud
So, now you know how to find it, onto exactly how you should spend your day in Ubud. We managed to see most of the main sites of Ubud and even enjoyed some healthy (and worthwhile) lunch using this itinerary for a day trip to Ubud. Depending on where you are staying, you will want to leave bright an early to give yourself as much time as possible for your day in Ubud. If you are driving a motorbike by yourself, then be careful to time your day-trip so you miss rush hour and are also able to make it home without having to drive in the dark.
Make furry friends at Ubud Monkey Forest
The Monkey forest is one of the most popular attractions not only Ubud, but just Bali in general. So, it would be silly not to visit and see the fuss for yourself. The Ubud Monkey Forest is home to a population of over 700 monkeys, who you can interact with by taking a walk through their home.
Related Post: 5 Tips for Visiting Monkey Forest Ubud (coming soon)
The forest is busy with tourists visiting and as such the monkeys are pretty confident around humans and will happily grab food from you. They have fresh fruit for you to buy there and a lot of signs warning against carrying any loose items as the monkeys will think it is food and try to steal it. Luckily the Ubud monkey forest has lots of handlers who will keep both visitors and the monkeys safe.
While the monkeys have had to adapt to the trespassing on their home (still not sure exactly how I feel about the concept) it is consolidating to know that they are being somewhat protected, with the entrance fee funding fresh fruit and medical care for the monkeys. The site is also being used for conservation research so a portion of the entrance fee also goes towards that.
COST: 40,000 rupiah for adults
TIME: Allow at least an hour for wandering around and stopping to feed and photograph the cheeky little monkeys
WHERE: Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia.
Eat lunch at Fair Warung Bale NGO Restaurant
After your wander around the Ubud Monkey Forest you’ll be needing a sit down and some grub. For lunch, head to Fair Free Foundation, also know as the Fair Warung Bale restaurant, in the heart of Ubud. All the profits from this little restaurant go towards a local NGO providing healthcare and consultations for locals in Bali. So it is more than a worthwhile place to spend your holiday pennies. They’re currently building a paediatric hospital to provide free medical care to the children of Bali and each meal you purchase funds two medical consultations and treatments.
We sat outside on one of the terraces to enjoy the tasty Indonesian food. Though we initially went to support the NGO, we found ourselves blown away by the quality of the food. It was definitely some of the best we ate on the island (and that’s saying something considering Bali’s great food reputation). The fresh fish was great, as were the curries! As we left, we grabbed some crepes to take-away for the drive to our next stop – we won’t be mad if you copy us!
WHERE: Jalan Sriwedari 6, Taman Kaja, Ubud, Gianyar
TIP: Next to the till they have a little box for extra donations, so be sure to put a few more rupiah in to support them.
Balance among the Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Next up on our itinerary for a day in Ubud are the rice terraces. A short half an hour drive north of Ubud is the village of Tegallalang, where you will be awestruck by the steep rice terraces winding down to the bottom of the valley. The rice terraces are so iconic of Bali and really something you must see in Ubud.
You can climb down into the valley and enjoy the peaceful water running between the hundreds of rice terraces, and try your balancing skills on the narrow paths! The photos don’t really do this area justice. The terraces are so unusual and lush that its quite surreal to see first hand.
Relate Post: The Tegallalang Rice Terraces of Bali
COST: Free to view but you will need some small change for a donation to cross the bridge to enter the terraces.
TIME: Allow about 30 minutes to wander, longer if you want to have a coffee over looking the terraces at one of the many cafes perched at the top of the cliff.
WHERE: Jl. Tegallalang, Banjar Ceking, Gianyar, Tegallalang, Denpasar
TIP: Be sure to spray yourself with bug spray before your visit. The terraces are after all situated among farmland meaning you’ll pestered by mosquitoes.
Watch locals purify themselves at Tirta Empul Water Temple
The final stop on our day trip itinerary for a day in Ubud is the UNESCO heritage site of Tirta Empul water temple. The temple is just a short drive north of the rice terraces and marks a freshwater spring, the start of the river Pakerisan. In Balinese Tirta Empul means “holy spring” and the freshwater pools are used by Hindu’s for ritual purification. There are 13 spouts which pilgrims bow under, with the final two spouts being reserved for funerals. As the source of the mountain spring, the water is freezing and despite the Bali sun we watched so many people shivering by the time they reached the final spouts.
To visit Tirta Empul Water Temple you must wear a traditional ‘kamen’ wrap around the lower body plus a sash around the waist (don’t worry you can loan these at the temple). A kamen wrap is compulsory for both males and females and long trousers are not enough to enter here.
If you want to go in the water then you will need to bring your own wrap as you cannot wear the ones on loan into the pools (there are some shops in the car park you could purchase one from). But note that it is recommend that the purification ritual is only for pilgrims. Ladies will also need to cover their torso’s and shoulders. We did see some tourists going in the water, but personally we found it slightly insensitive, so we just observed instead.
COST: 15,000 IR and you will need a donation for loaning a wrap to cover your legs.
TIME: Around 30 minutes to 1 hour is enough time to see the temples and wander around the complex.
WHERE: Jl. Tirta, Tampaksiring, Manukaya, Tampaksiring, Manukaya, Tampaksiring, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80552, Indonesia.
WARNING: Women on their periods are not allowed to enter the main temple, but may see the outer perimeters.
If we’d had more than a day in Ubud then we would also have liked to do a waterfall trek, but unfortunately the monsoon rains had other plans for us – I guess we’ll just have to go back during dry season! Ubud is also home to a lot of cookery schools, so we returned another day to learn some traditional Balinese dishes at Paon Bali Cooking Class. But doing a cooking class will fill up your morning through until lunch, giving you only an afternoon to enjoy in Ubud.
We thought this day trip was the perfect way to spend a day in Ubud seeing the highlights and experiencing central Bali. Ubud is definitely worth the visit!
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For more on Bali:
- Looking for a luxury Villa to stay in? Check out our Senara Villa in Canggu, Bali Review
- The Tegallalang Rice Terraces of Bali
- 5 tips for visiting Ubud Monkey Forest (coming soon)