Welcome to your ultimate Ubud Bali Guide! Here, you will learn everything you need to know to create the most epic Ubud itinerary for your trip.
Bali is unquestionably one of the most popular island destinations in Indonesia, and for a good reason!
Also known as the Island of the Gods, Bali boasts breathtaking limestone Cliffside coastlines, pristine white sand beaches, impressive historical temples, perfectly sculpted rice terraces, and magnificent marine world under water – and this is just a short list.
Ubud Bali is a hot spot in the center of the island that got on a map particularly after Elizabeth Gilbert published her famous tale of how she ate, prayed, and loved in this town. Since then, Ubud has become quite touristy, especially around Ubud town center. But, it is a place that you should explore and experience at least once when visiting Bali.
Ubud is considered a “spiritual, healing center” of Bali and there is a unique vibe that is distinct from any other region on the island.
In this post, I will share with you everything you need to know about planning a Ubud itinerary, from how to get around town, what to do in Ubud, restaurants you shouldn’t miss, and beautiful Ubud accommodations that will leave you feeling like a royal.
How Many Days Do I Need for My Ubud Itinerary?
No amount of time is ever enough to spend in Bali (in my humble opinion), and you can certainly spend anywhere from a few days to months immersing yourself in the calm, serene energy of Ubud.
Ideally, to fully explore Ubud Bali and discover all the favorite hot spots as well as off-the-beaten-path destinations, I recommend at minimum, a 2-week Bali itinerary dedicating a few nights in Ubud.
Where is Ubud?
Located in Gianyar regency, Ubud is inland about 2 hours north of Bali airport (Ngurah Rai International airport).
If you are heading to Ubud from other parts of the island, it takes about 2.5 – 3 hours from Bukit Peninsula (Uluwatu, Nusa Dua, Jimbaran), 2 hours from Kuta or Legian, and about 1 – 1.5 hours from Seminyak, Canggu, Sanur or Padang Bai.
Ubud Bali Map
How to Get to Ubud
If you haven’t already, read this post about the 7 ways to get around Bali on a budget. This post covers just about everything you need to know about transportation options during your Bali vacation.
For a quick reference, an average rate for a private airport pick-up is IDR 300,000 – 400,000 (USD 25-30). You may also find this guide helpful for understanding Bali airport taxi operators and how to avoid the taxi mafia at Denpasar airport.
If you are already in Bali, the cost of getting to Ubud will vary significantly on the distance and the mode of transportation you select such as a motorbike or a Blue Bird taxi.
13 Best Things to Do in Ubud
Bali is a large island that can take half a day to travel from one end to the other through narrow mountain roads. Most visitors don’t realize how long it can take to see all the Bali attractions, especially if they are on a short trip.
But being located in the center of the island, Ubud is a fantastic place to base yourself for exploring most of the island. For some of the favorite “things to do in Bali” such as hiking through the rice terraces, chasing waterfalls, white water rafting, and exploring Hindu temples, Ubud is the most central and accessible location.
Below are 13 of the best Ubud attractions in and around town, which you can customize to create your own 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, or alternative Ubud Bali itinerary!
1. Ubud Monkey Forest (in Ubud Center)
Conveniently located within walking distance from the town center, the Monkey Forest is a place you should visit at least once. Although there are various places throughout Bali where you can observe the Balinese long-tail monkey (such as the famous Uluwatu Temple), the Sacred Monkey Forest Ubud is the only sanctuary where some +700 primates are protected in their natural habitat.
Aside from the monkeys, a walk through the sanctuary is peaceful, where you can enjoy temples, statues, and a river passing through thick foliage.
The Ubud Monkey Forest’s opening hours are from 08:00 to 18:00 and the admission cost is IDR 40,000 per person.
Tip: Be sure to remove any accessories such as sunglasses, jewelry, and hats, and make sure your wallets and purses are secured. The monkeys are known to snatch personal items from unsuspecting guests. Also, feeding monkeys are forbidden, although you can buy bananas inside the sanctuary if you are keen on getting close to them.
2. Tirta Empul Temple (~30 minutes from Ubud Center)
Tirta Empul Bali is perhaps one of the most famous temples on the island. It is a temple complex that hosts purification pools filled with holy mountain water. You can often find local Balinese Hindus practicing purification rituals in the pool, which consists of bathing themselves through each of the 13 spouts in the pool.
If you want to understand more about the fascinating cleansing ritual and healing powers of Tirta Empul temple, check out the Spiritual Healing Tour.
The Tirta Empul opening hours are from 09:00 to 17:00 and the admission cost is IDR 15,000 per person.
Tip: As with all the temples in Ubud, women must cover shoulders and knees when entering the temple grounds at Pura Tirtha Empul.
3. Campuhan Ridge Walk (~5 minutes from Ubud Center)
Campuhan Ridge Walk is a small paved path through the green hills of Ubud just outside the town center. The trail is not too long. You can easily complete the Ridge Walk from one end to the other in 30 minutes or so.
The refreshing stroll surrounded in greenery is a nice quick escape from the bustling town center, not to mention free! That’s right – there is no parking free or an admission fee! It’s one of the rare, free things to do in Ubud.
4. Eat and Be Merry
Ubud is a culinary mecca and the ultimate foodie’s heaven. There are simply too many delectable restaurants and warungs to fill your Ubud itinerary. From beautiful smoothie bowls, creative vegan salads to the world-famous spare ribs at Naughty Nuri’s, you can find just about every cuisine you can imagine in Ubud.
If you are interested in specific recommendations, be sure to check out the section below on “the best restaurants to eat in Ubud” for my top restaurant choices! Or, you can sign up for a food tour and make your way through the best of Ubud’s restaurants, including the must-try Luwak coffee!
Aside from stuffing yourself silly (which is very easy to do in Ubud!), there are several fantastic cooking classes that you may love, especially if you enjoy learning to cook! As part of the cooking class, you will get a tour inside a local market, learn about local ingredients, and get to concoct your own Indonesian dishes! I say it’s one of the top Ubud experiences.
5. Tegenungan Waterfall (~30 minutes from Ubud Center)
There are so many breathtaking waterfalls in Bali that it’s hard to narrow down if you have a tight schedule. If you get a chance to explore outside of central Bali, I highly recommend Nungnung waterfall and Banyuwana Amertha waterfall. These two are not only stunning but less touristy and crowded than some of the other Bali waterfalls. But since we are talking about bucket list items in and around Ubud, let me introduce you to Tegenungan Waterfall.
Conveniently located just 30 minutes outside the town center, Tegenungan is a perfect stop to fill your Ubud itinerary. Unlike other waterfalls that require a strenuous trek, Tegenungan is accessible within a few minutes from the entrance booth.
After a leisurely walk through a line of souvenir shops, you will be rewarded with a view of a powerful cascading waterfall surrounded by the lush green jungle. You can swim in the pool but be careful not to get too close to the waterfall.
The Tugenungan waterfall opening hours are from 06:30 to 18:30 and admission fee is IDR 10,000 per person.
6. Rice Terraces
Of course, no trip to Bali is complete without seeing some of the perfectly sculpted rice terraces that put Bali on the world’s top destinations in the first place.
But, I’m going to be honest. Despite the acclaimed Tegalalang Rice Terraces, I do not like to recommend this particular site even though it is the closest rice terrace from Ubud. To me, Tagalalang is the epitome of a “tourist trap” with hawkers coming at you from all directions and little kids harassing you to give them money – and the very reason why many visitors complain of a “bad experience” in Bali.
That said, Tegalalang Rice Terrace is only a 20-minute ride north of Ubud, which is convenient if you are on limited vacation time and cannot fit other rice terraces in your trip schedule. I say go to Tegalalang if it is your only chance to see a rice terrace in Bali.
7. Goa Gajah (~15 minutes from Ubud Center)
Also known as the elephant cave, Goa Gajah is an archeological site known to date back to the 11th Century. The sanctuary is named one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bali.
Visitors enter the sacred underground by walking through the mouth of a demonic figure, then descending some steps in the darkness until you step out into a courtyard with stone carvings, bathing pools, and meditation area. It’s a unique temple that is like no other in Bali.
The opening hours of Goa Gajah Ubud is from 08:00 to 16:30, and the entrance fee is IDR 15,000 per person.
8. Yoga (throughout Ubud)
As the spiritual and healing capital of Bali, Ubud is well-known for some of the best yoga retreats, meditation centers, and health institutes on the island.
Yoga practice is big in Ubud, which is apparent from the abundance of yoga-wear shops spread throughout the town center. Some of the popular yoga centers in Ubud include Yoga Barn, Radiantly Alive and Intuitive Flow. I also enjoyed Ubud Yoga House that is set in the middle of the rice fields and a view to die for. Talk about a true Ubud experience!
Weekly or monthly passes are the most economical option, but you can also purchase daily passes for IDR 100,000 to 130,000 at all the locations.
9. Tukad Cepung Waterfall (~1 hour from Ubud Center)
Tukad Cepung Waterfall is quickly becoming one of the top waterfall spots in Bali. If you got a peek of the gorgeous view of the water falling through the cave opening with a beam of sunrays, you would understand why people will cue in line for a photo of this special waterfall.
The Tukad Cepung waterfall opening hours are from 08:00 to 17:00, and I suggest that you plan to arrive when the ticket booth opens to avoid the crowd as much as possible. The hike to the waterfall is about 20-minutes, but it’s not strenuous at all.
For more details about planning a trip to Tukad Cepung Waterfall, check out this post for all the travel tips you need. Or, you can book a waterfall tour that includes stops at Tukad Cepung, Tegunungan, and Tibumana waterfalls – you will have a private driver, so you don’t have to worry about navigating your way around narrow streets or getting lost – you can just sit back in the car and enjoy the beautiful lush sceneries!
10. Bias Tugel Beach (~1 hour from Ubud Center)
Since Ubud is located inland, you will be removed from most of the fabulous beaches that Bali is known for. But if you are a beach bum like me, you need a dose of #vitaminsea now and then.
One beach that not too many visitors know about is a hidden gem on the east coast called Bias Tugel Beach in Padang Bai. The powdery white sand and the stunning turquoise waters at Bias Tugel reminded me of Nyang Nyang beach, which I consider to be one of the best beaches in Bali!.
Bias Tugel Beach is not as big as Nyang Nyang, but it’s never too crowded here even in the high season. It’s definitely a spot to put on your Ubud itinerary if you ever crave a beach scene during your Bali vacation!
11. Gunung Kawi (~30 minutes from Ubud Center)
Gunung Kawi Temple Ubud is another fascinating and unique ancient archeological site that is a must for your Ubud itinerary. The Pura Gunung Kawi complex consists of 10 impressive carvings in a rock cliff that measure 7 meters in height, that are believed to have been dedicated to the ancient King and his Queens, concubines, and sons.
Although the paved path to the temple complex offers a stunning panoramic view of lush green valleys and palm trees, the ancient compound is located down some 300 steps! The temple is not for the faint-hearted.
The Gunung Kawi Temple opening hours are from 08:00 to 18:00 and admission cost is IDR 15,000 per person.
12. White Water Rafting (~20 minutes from Ubud Center)
Bali is known for many things such as volcanoes, surfs, beaches, waterfalls, and rice terraces, but did you know about the longest river on the island called Ayung River, that stretches nearly 70 km from the mountain top?
One of the things the Ayung River is famous for is the adrenalin-filled white river rafting, which is the best around Ubud region! So if you are ever in search of an exciting adventure, raft your way down the white water rapids!
13. Learn to Dive (~1 hour from Ubud Center)
I couldn’t end this post without mentioning scuba diving since Bali offers world-class diving, certainly one of the best in Southeast Asia. From a shallow shipwreck in Tulamben to beautiful coral reefs around Nusa Lembongan, exploring the underwater world is a bucket list item you should not miss when planning a trip to Bali!
You can access both sides of the ocean from Ubud in about an hour, but there is no scuba diving on the west coast. But an hour to the east is a town called Padang Bai that offers some incredible marine species from the smallest macro life to reef sharks.
If you are not yet a certified diver, worry not – Padang Bai is actually one of the best places on the island to learn how to scuba dive, with shallow sandy bottom lagoons and crystal clear underwater visibility.
Taking an Open Water course can take 3 days, but you can sign up for a half-day Discover Scuba Dive program that will allow you to dive one-on-one with an instructor.
The Best Ways to Get Around Ubud Town and Beyond
Rent a scooter
If you are comfortable and familiar with riding a motorcycle already, you can rent one for cheap in Bali.
Although you are required to have an international license to drive a scooter in Bali, no one will enforce this when renting one to you. But be warned that if you get pulled over by police and you do not have an international license, you will receive a ticket or a fine.
Grab or Go-Jek
If you want to travel short distances within the town center, a motorcycle driver is perhaps the most economical and efficient option. You can order a motorcycle driver through local travel apps such as Grab Taxi or Go-Jek. But here are some things you should know:
In Bali, there are regions where Grab Taxi and Go-Jek drivers are readily available and accessible. These regions include Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, and Uluwatu.
However, there are other regions where Grab and Go-Jek drivers are banned from doing business, such as Canggu, Ubud, and most of the north island. In these areas, the drivers are allowed to drop-off guests, but NOT pick them up.
In touristy areas like Canggu and Ubud, however, you can find Grab and Go-Jek drivers who operate“under the radar.” The motorbike drivers may be available without wearing a proper branded uniform (green helmet and green/black jacket), and the car drivers may be willing to pick you up a bit outside the crowded “town center.”
Be warned that in Ubud in particular, motorcycle drivers are notorious for inflating the official prices.
For example, let’s say that you are quoted IDR 20,000 (USD 1.5) for the trip you enter in the app. You accept and order a driver for that fare. But the driver will private message you and demand a higher fare, likely in the range of IDR 50,000 (USD 3.5).
Unfortunately, these “scams” are common in areas where Grab and Go-Jek drivers are banned from doing business. When in Ubud, you should expect this.
If you are traveling long distances such as heading to the airport or touring around the island, your best bet is to hire a driver.
There is no shortage of car drivers hanging around every street corner and outside shops trying to pick up fares in the town center. You will also find “taxi stands” spread throughout the town center where you can hire drivers.
It is ok to negotiate prices with individual drivers – make sure you agree on the price before getting in the car.
If you want to avoid the stress and hassle of haggling with drivers around town, you can order a driver online!
The Best Restaurants to Eat in Ubud
If you love food, you won’t be able to stop drooling in Ubud. The good news is, you will never be out of options as there will always be somewhere new to try. But here are some of my all-time favorite spots to indulge in Ubud.
This should be on your must-try list. I am not vegan, but this place is the first restaurant that got me hooked on vegan food. I honestly never thought there would come a day when I’d enjoy a cheesecake that is not made with real cream cheese – but their vegan strawberry cheesecake is amazing!
The Zest interior and décor are gorgeous too, with earthy tones and plenty of green plants and trees surrounding the space. Try their cozy garden seating!
A raw vegan restaurant, with creative menus such as coconut-based “sushi rolls.” I love their “make your own” salad bar and smoothie bowls where you can select your ingredients to satisfy your palate. There is a small store inside where you can buy organic products, kefir juices, and kombucha teas.
This place will simply leave you speechless. There are no words to explain the interior architecture of this gorgeous restaurant located in the heart of Ubud town center. Spread across two levels, the flower petals, dancing pole (that’s right, a pole you can slide down from the second floor to the first), fish pond, mural, and trees that are placed throughout the restaurant, you can’t help but be mesmerized by this place.
And Clear Cafe offers an extensive menu offering everything from Indonesian dishes to western options.
Where to Stay in Ubud: The Best Accommodations
Here are my top choices for the best places to stay in Ubud!
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