The whole point of a holiday is to find peace of mind and slow the gears of our otherwise fast moving lives. I never could understand friends who opted for a city holiday – coming from the bustling streets of India, I never saw the fun in going from one frenzied city to another. If you’re looking to cut away from the lure of big cities and their trappings, I’d recommend taking a detour towards the enchanting village of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia or any of its surrounding hamlets.
A ‘Rustic-Cation’ in Ubud
When you think about what really sets Ubud apart from other islands, it is the culture, the mystical rice fields and the inherent charm of its people – qualities that Ubud has in spades. By day, a rice farmer leads a quacking squad of ducks into the fields, by night the peculiar rhythm of the gamelan (traditional ensemble music of Java and Bali) echoes in the distance, just some of the moments that will capture your heart in Ubud. And if you’re not too high minded, there are always the sybaritic spas and splendid restaurants to indulge in. Here are some of our recommendations for a ‘Rustic-Cation’ in Ubud – slow down and get into the rhythm of Balinese culture!
Find fertile fields of magic
Beaches are sure fun, but the most arresting scenery in Bali is the rice fields. When in Ubud, simply ask your driver to take you to a road on the outskirts of town where you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the emerald rice fields. You’ll be rewarded with vistas of centuries-old rice terraces that are greener than green! Get out of your car and set off across this tranquil maze. A farmer in a conical hat walks past the dividing ridges happy to pose with you for a photograph.
Go take a hike
Much of Bali is perfect for hiking and unless you slow down, it’s easy to miss the little things in Bali. Within 15 minutes of leaving central Ubud, you’ll be as solitary as a duck lost in the fields. Take a walk out into the verdant countryside of Ubud or if you’re feeling adventurous, then a night hike to Mount Batur, Bali’s active volcano will reward you with a stunning sunrise. Alternatively, you can look at trekking for charity up Muntigunung an hour from Ubud. At the top, relish in spending views of Agung and Batur and look down at the local communities that have been set up close to the water. If you’re looking for an easy trek, the Campuhan Ridge walk is definitely at the top of the list of must do walks here. At the end of the walk, enjoy a vegan meal with stunning views at the Karsa Kafé.
A culture like no other
The Balinese are deeply spiritual and much of their daily life is devoted to religious activities. Religious festivals abound here and temple processions are a common sight. Visit one of the many temples in Ubud to learn more about the culture and traditions prevalent here. We recommend the Ubud Palace, located in the heart of town. Ubud’s royal family still lives here and the temple features some intricate carving and hosts cultural performances every evening. The kecak fire and trance dance is a true spectacle and is also not to be missed.
Cleanse your chakras through yoga
Ubud offers the ultimate setting to cleanse your chakras and practice yoga poses amidst the tranquil setting of rice fields, rivers and rainforests. For serenity seekers, there are many yoga retreats in Ubud with a style to suit each one – from spiritual practices to fast paced vinyasa and power flows. Make sure you leave this heaven with enough nourishment for your mind, body and soul.
Bliss-out at a spa
Desire some quick-fix serenity? Spend some hours at an Ubud spa being massaged, scrubbed, pampered and feeling blissed-out. Ubud hosts some world-class spas where the setting may vary from a lush garden overlooking a rainforest or a lavish in-house spa with posh bathtubs and dreamy spa rooms. I enjoyed our spa at Aria Villas – listening to the nature while the massuse worked on relieving the knots in my muscles was true bliss!
Discover retail pleasures
Despite Bali’s highly acclaimed designer labels, Ubud’s traditional markets are still the venue of choice for most shoppers. Come here with empty suitcases and stock up on summer beachwear, handicrafts, silver jewellery, beads, paintings and even hand-made furniture. Shopping in and around the perimeters of Ubud is an exciting adventure with artisan communities ready to showcase an amazing array of beautiful goods. We recommend the Ubud art market, Sukawati Art Market, Guwang markets and the village of Celuk for gold and silver items.
Eat at a vegan café
With an abundance of fitness and yoga studios, it’s no wonder that Ubud has such a vibrant variety of healthy, organic vegan cafes. From hippie style cafes serving organic goodies and great coffee to bistros and vegan warungs, the options are seemingly endless. Get your veggie fix at Bali Buddha Café, Soma, Sari Organik, Nine Heaven Vegan Warung – some of our favourites for an absolutely guilt-free meal.
Stay in a rainforest villa
What is a rustic-cation if not for a villa stay right in the heart of the rainforest? That way, you can submerge yourself into the tranquil serenity of the Ubud paradise. Get away from all the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, where melodious bird calls replace phone calls and stunning rainforest views replace television screens. We recently stayed at The Purist Villas that is frigned by mighty rainforests and a beautiful river valley, and we have to say, we’ve come back much more relaxed! We’d love to help you plan your Ubud escape, so speak to us.
Ubud can be daunting, so much to see and do with so little time. To make the most of your time, I’d suggest to take it slow, make a list of the places you want to go to and enjoy – you can always come back!
Campuhan Ridge walk – Go Voyagin
Cultural dance – Tracy Carolyn Photography