Ubud – for wellness, art and culture

Ubud, is an area about 1 – 1.5 hour from the hustle and bustle of Bali’s prime tourist destinations of Seminyak, Kuta and Legian. It is between the mountains and ocean in a forest location, known for its wellness retreats, cultural and artistic centres.

There’s always a swarm of tourists (the area made famous partly due to “eat, pray, love”) visiting ubud and as such you’ll find there’s plenty of yoga retreats, shops and bustling cafes. Tourists also enjoy visiting the nearby rice paddies and monkey forest.

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We did not stay overnight in Ubud, but there’s plenty of hotels, wellness retreats and villas if you choose from. We took a day trip with a driver, which is recommended if you’ve done your research and know where you want to go. Otherwise booked tours can often take you to an array of craft shops, to try and make a sale or two, which may not interest you. A private driver for ten hours should set you back about $500 000 rupiah (or AUD $50) for the car, driver and petrol. We made a list of where we wanted to visit and he took us there, waited and continued on.

Some places to visit

Handicraft markets

The markets are great to visit, with many stores selling basketry, batik (Indonesian print), ceramics and more

Seniman Coffee

Seniman Coffee is a speciality coffee and design studio selling a range of coffee. From espresso to iced lattes, you name it, they’ve got it. They even do cold brew, pour over, syphon and you can watch the masters at work. If you’re not sure what to have, there’s a coffee tasting platter to try. Seniman means artist and the baristas here are certainly that. Your coffee comes out with some beautiful latte art, water class and shortbread which was nice and buttery. We also tried a “Jamu shot”, which apparently can do numerous things like reduce inflammation, prevention of cancer and cholesterol. Wouldn’t that be good!

Take a sip of your coffee as you relax back on your rocking chair. There’s a free wifi and the staff are super nice too. It’s also a workshop and they sell products like coffee instruments, glasses and beans which they can grind for you.

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Yoga Barn

The yoga barn offers classes, workshops, retreats in a large serene environment, perfectly suited for you to find enlightenment and relax. With five studios catering to a range of levels, accomodation, cafe and spa, this is super popular in Ubud.

Tegalong rice terrace

This area is famous for tourists, flicking to the area for a walk around the beautifully lush green rice paddies, where local workers are busy on the crops. Walking higher than the paddies offers scenic pictures and the opportunity to ride a “giant swing”. It’s only a minimal entrance fee so bring small change, but lots of shops charge a small fee too, for a photo on their swing with the paddies behind. Take a walk through the paddies if you’re keen, just be prepared for for a decent walk and bring that insect repellent.

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Monkey forest

This is right in the heart of Ubud with over 700 monkeys and three temples. Only go if you’re not scared of animals, as they’re very confident monkeys here! It’s possible to buy bananas, but beware they’ll grab anything they think looks appealing from you including jewellery and sunglasses.

Tegenungun Waterfall

Another popular tourist destination for its scenic waterfall. Again, a small entrance fee and numerous cafes and shops around. Walk down the trail and see the cascading falls for a beautiful photo and enjoy the peaceful serenity.

Bebek Tebaksarik Resto

This Balinese restaurant is located in the heart of Ubud in a floating gazebo with a beautiful outlook of the rice fields. The decor is bright and colourful amongst bamboo furniture. Staff are exceptional and provide excellent service. The food is upmarket Indonesian food at reasonable prices and we enjoyed our lunch here. It’s populartlity is evidence alone of its quality. We had the driver take us but you can get a free shuttle bus from the Ubud area.

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In summary

Ubud is a lovely and super interesting place where you can enjoy art, eat, relax and find wellness. This list is really just touching at the surface, so enjoy our tips and read around before your visit.

Where to go in Bali

Bali is an amazing place to holiday if you love a nice resort, good food, and a relaxing holiday! It is only a 6 hour flight from Sydney Australia, so it’s also great if you’ve only got a short time off.

If you have made the decision to travel to Bali, first task is to decide which area you want to stay. The main spots for tourists and the areas which have heaps of hotels are Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. That is also more broadly in order of their price. These are all 30mins – 1 hour away from Ngurah Rai International airport (pending traffic). Other popular areas include Ubud, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua and the up and coming Canggu.

Kuta

Kuta is generally cheaper than the other locations mentioned, it has heaps of pubs and there’s always plenty of tattooed up Australians in Bintang singlets. That may be a little bit of a stereotype and you certainly can find nice hotels there too. Best suited to those looking for a bit of a party or the family looking for a cheaper trip, close proximity to the shops and waterpark.

Legian

A little further north than Kuta is Legian with plenty of resorts, smaller hotels and numerous shops, restaurants and bars. We find this to be a bit nicer, also quieter and a bit further from the party atmosphere. Best suited to those wanting a more laid back vibe.

Accommodation wise, we did want to stay in Seminyak, but I was with a friend and we required twin configuration. All the super nice sophisticated places in Seminyak did not offer that. So we went for the Padma hotel in Legian. A huge resort with everything you need! Big rooms, three pools, daily activities, buffet breakfast and more. See our blog on the Padma.

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Whilst in Legian, we mostly ate in the hotel as well as a few places in Seminyak as mentioned below.

Mugshot coffee

Mugshot is a coffee shop close to the beach in Legian. Serving proper quality coffee and has some good brunch offerings, if you’re not at a hotel with an all-inclusive buffet, we recommend you visit here. Even so, make sure you do pop by for a coffee at least. Staff are super nice and the barista has amazing latte art skills.

Seminyak

Seminyak is lovely and a place where you’ll find the more upmarket resorts, beach clubs, and plenty of villas. The restaurants and shops are generally high end and you’ll be paying prices close to that of Australia. But it’s certainly a great spot. Best suited to the socialites and instagrammers, or anyone with a little bit more cash.

Some places to stay (amongst hundreds of others) include:

The Haven

The Seminyak Beach Resort and spa

Courtyard by Marriot

W Bali
Double-Six

Anantara

Places to eat

The Junction House

The Junction House is right opposite Seminyak Village and is a 2 story premises serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We visited here 4 years ago and it has undergone stylistic renovations. A cool house style, with trendy art and cane and plush chairs. We visited this time for lunch and tried the tuna carpaccio and ceviche, as well as a spinach salad and chicken bites. The price was good and servings were generous. I also love their latte art designs. Service was friendly and efficient.

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Sardine

An amazing seafood restaurant in rice paddies, but in Seminyak. Beautiful clean white tables and cane furniture. Impeccable fine dining style service. The seafood is extremely high quality, but expect to pay higher prices.

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Other restaurants: Naughty Nuris, Mamak, Bikini Bar, Clean Canteen, Mozarella, Barbacoa, Merah Putih, Mamasan

Beach clubs: Potato Head, Mozaic, Cocoon, Ku De Te

Canggu

Canggu is an area that has been developing quickly since we visited three years ago to today. A trendy coastal town, not dissimilar to a smaller version of Bondi beach. A resort area with plenty of spots to surf, healthy cafes and coffee haunts. Travel north from Seminyak and you’ll find yourself in Canggu in about 15 minute. Best suited to the surfer, hipster or bohemian babes.

Eats: Deus Ex Machina, Betelnut café, crate café, Ruko cafe

Beach Clubs: Finns VIP Beach Club, The Lawn

Ubud

If you’re looking for a more wellness style holiday, then perhaps Ubud is your thing. It is over an hour drive from the main towns of Bali, so you can do a day trip or stay in the area for a longer stay. Best suited to the yoga and wellness enthusiast. See our blog on Ubud here:

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Where else to check out

  • Waterbom park
  • Bali safari park
  • Tanah lot
  • Nusa Lembongan
  • Uluwatu temple
  • Seafood in Jimbaran
  • Surf breaks in Uluwatu
  • Uluwatu is awesome: see our blog here

Tips

  • Money used is Indonesian Rupiah
  • Tap water is not suitable to drink
  • Appropriate clothes needed when entering sacred areas
  • May-September is the best as it’s dry season
  • English is widely spoken