Ubud is known as the spiritual heartland of Bali. Long revered for its temples and artistic heritage, the village has in recent years grown into a vibrant hub attracting expats, yogis and digital nomads. Once you explore beyond the busy centre of town jam packed with cafes, galleries, yoga studios and boutiques, you’ll be surrounded by rice fields, jungle and the lush beauty of the real Bali.
Ubud has long been known as the cradle of Balinese culture and arts. While the area has been attracting Europeans since German artist Walter Spies fell in love with Ubud in the 1920s, Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 bestselling memoir Eat Pray Love certainly helped catapult Ubud into world fame. Today, the area attracts a vibrant mix of digital nomads, expats, yogis and spiritual explorers. The centre of town has grown busy and you’ll find the bustling streets lined with health food cafes, art galleries, yoga studios, restaurants, spas and boutiques. Though things have certainly gotten a lot busier, Ubud has still retained its artistic flavour.
Outside the town centre, much of life remains unchanged. Rolling green rice fields are framed by untamed jungle and in many ways, local village life moves in the same pace it has done for centuries. The outskirts of Ubud offer the perfect backdrop for sheer relaxation in a serene “away from it all” setting but there’s also plenty of opportunity to get your heart pumping with activities including white water rafting and biking.
Planning Your Trip to Ubud
Ubud is one of the most famous areas in Bali and attracts travellers throughout the year. Many visitors include Ubud into their Bali itinerary rather than spending their whole holiday in the area – though this scenic region alone offers more than enough to explore! Our Ubud travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Ubud, provide more information on locations you want to visit, and finish with some inspiration from our travel writers. For more information on events and festivals taking place throughout the year, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
Bali is pleasant all year round! May through September has the best weather (drier, less humid) and is the best time for many activities including diving and surfing. November though March is rainy season – though rainfall is never excessive so you can do most activities except volcano treks.
The temperature ranges from 24 degrees to 31 degrees all year round.
Rainfall ranges from 0cm to 140cm during the wet season.
Things to See & Do in Ubud
Surrounded by stunning nature that’s simply waiting to be explored, Ubud is the perfect destination for travellers who like to stay active while on holiday. On the other hand, artistic Ubud is also ideal for those who prefer to excel in la dolce far niente – the sweetness of doing nothing.
Ubud is blessed with some of the most beautiful and luxurious spas in Bali. You can get an affordable Balinese massage in one of the more low key establishments or opt for the royal treatment in a five-star luxury spa with views looking over the lush river valley. It’s usually best to make an appointment beforehand to avoid disappointment. Many of our villas in Ubud come with beautifully designed spa pavilions where guests can enjoy massages and other spa treatments organised by our concierge team.
Besides housing many of the best spas on the island, Ubud is the yoga capital of Bali. There are numerous well rated yoga studios in the area which offer everything from casual walk in classes to immersive retreats and yoga teacher trainings. For a truly bespoke experience, our concierge team can also organise a yoga teacher to visit your villa for a private lesson.
Besides the more spiritual pursuits, Ubud is a great destination for some retail therapy. The most popular choice is Ubud Art Market which is located right in the centre of town and offers a variety of apparel, knick knacks, jewellery and other accessories. These days, a lot of the goods sold at the market are mass produced so while you still get some of that bustling market atmosphere (especially if you visit in the early morning), it’s best not to expect any genuine finds. Another popular option is Sukawati Art Market which is actually located a good 30 minutes south of Ubud. Beyond the markets, the streets of central Ubud are lined with small boutiques selling clothes, jewellery, spa products, yoga gear, art and more.
Tours & Activities
While southern Bali is favoured by travellers looking for sea, sand and sun, Ubud attracts visitors wishing to experience Balinese culture in full. Bali by large is known as the Island of the Gods and the Land of a Thousand Temples. Ubud and its surroundings offer a grand introduction into the colourful temple ceremonies and ornate architecture so integral to life on the island. Some of the most famous and beautiful temples in and around Ubud include the Tirta Empul water temple, Goa Gajah “elephant cave” and Pura Taman Saraswati which is surrounded by serene lotus ponds. Besides temple visits, you can visit art galleries and museums (Agung Rai Museum of Art and Neka Art Museum are among the best rated ones). Many temples and museums also host nightly dance performances. Another popular way to immerse yourself in the local culture is to join a Balinese cooking class which are offered throughout Ubud – our concierge team can help make this a reality.
Besides rich local culture, Ubud is all about natural beauty. The area is revered for its cascading rice terraces and lush jungle views. Tegalalang is the most famous rice paddy destination around Ubud and as a result, tends to get very busy with tourists. You can always ask your villa or hotel staff for recommendations for less crowded local sights to visit. Closer to the centre, we recommend visiting the Campuhan Ridge Walk early in the morning before the weather gets hot and humid. Besides the rice fields, there are a few beautiful waterfalls surrounding Ubud, including Tegenungan, Tukad Cepung and Nungnung. Most of these are located further off from the centre. Our concierge team can organise a car and driver for you to tour the local sights.
Biking is a popular pastime in Ubud. While it’s possible to simply hire a bike and head out for an adventure on your own, to make the most of the experience, we recommend joining a guided biking tour. Most tours will take you through beautiful rice fields and local Balinese villages and often include a visit to a coffee plantation and a local family compound. Besides traditional biking, you can also opt for a more modern e-biking tour. White water rafting along the Ayung River is another popular way to get your blood pumping in Ubud.
Eating & Drinking in Ubud
Ubud is a fantastic destination for foodies, especially if you’re craving some vegan or vegetarian fare. The area has taken on a bohemian feel with plenty of venues catering to plant based and health conscious diets. Ubud is also home to some of the most highly rated and most exquisite fine dining restaurants on the island and offers a prime opportunity for immersing yourself in authentic Balinese cuisine.
The centre of Ubud town is filled with cafes and restaurants offering plant based cuisine, with green juices and macrobiotic platters heavily represented. There are plenty of long standing cafes and health food havens in the area, with new options popping up on what seems like a daily basis. There are also plenty of places of picking up a great cup of coffee and lots of local warungs for sampling some authentic Balinese fare. For more details on local cuisine, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
At the other end of the spectrum to these more casual options, Ubud also excels in scenic fine dining. Some of the most iconic restaurants in Ubud offer sweeping riverside views or serene rice paddy vistas with world-class cuisine to complement the views. Locavore restaurant deserves a special mention. Specialising in innovative modern cuisine crafted from locally sourced ingredients, the pride and joy of Ubud has been ranked as one of the 50 best restaurants in Asia.
While Ubud has grown into a vibrant hub in its own right, the area still maintains a more serene feel with no pulsating nightlife to speak of. While the busy town doesn’t have any nightclubs for pulling an all nighter, there are plenty of venues offering a relaxed setting for long dinners or a round of drinks, with many of them offering live music several nights a week. Once you move beyond the town centre, all the buzz falls behind and instead, you’ll be surrounded by serene sounds of nature – the perfect setting for enjoying a long dinner with friends and family as prepared by your villa’s private chef.
The centre of Ubud has blossomed into a vibrant hub filled with world-class restaurants, yoga studios, art galleries and healthy cafes. If you’re staying in the centre of town or in its immediate surroundings, you can reach restaurants and shops on foot – but you’ll also be in the heart of the most hectic hustle and bustle. If you’re staying outside the centre, you’ll be surrounded by stunning views of rice fields or jungle (or if you get really lucky, both!) and you’ll get to experience the serenity most people associate Ubud with. If you’re looking to experience the “real” Bali away from the tourist track (and enjoy the best possible views), we recommend staying outside the village centre.
Ubud & Surrounds
Ubud is located in the heart of Bali, as part of the verdant regency of Gianyar. Stretching from the southeast coastline inland, Gianyar offers a beautiful mix of rice fields, rain forest and deserted black sand beaches framed by the Indian Ocean. Gianyar is neighboured by the petite Klungkung regency which maintains rich historical and cultural roots. Travelling west from Ubud, the sprawling Tabanan regency is known as the “rice bowl of Bali” and is home to the UNESCO protected Jatiluwih rice terraces and the stunning sea temple of Tanah Lot. Driving south from Ubud, you will reach popular tourist areas framed by the ocean, including Sanur (favoured by families and mature travellers), Canggu (popular with surfers and style savvy hipsters) and Seminyak (Bali’s dining and shopping mecca).
There are over 50 Ministry Approved villas in Ubud. Most villas in the area offer beautiful views of the rice fields and the surrounding jungle. In keeping with their natural surroundings, villas in Ubud tend to be more traditional and tropical in design. Ubud is one of the most popular areas in Bali and as the area attracts a more high-end clientele, prices tend to be higher than in other parts of Bali.
Ubud villas range from around USD $250 per night for a one-bedroom villa to around $15,000 per night for a 10-bedroom luxury villa. All of our villas come with professionally trained staff. Many villas offer personalised services including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and other services you won’t find in a hotel.
Bali’s only airport, Ngurah Rai International, is located in Tuban in South Bali. The busy airport serves around 20 million passengers every year and is well connected through direct flights to destinations including Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Dubai. Airlines including Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Air Asia and Jetstar offer direct flights to and from the island. A second airport is set to build in North Bali, but these plans are still in the early stages. When completed, the new airport would still be a winding two-hour mountain drive from Ubud.
You can also reach Bali by boat, though it’s not the most accessible option if you’re heading to Ubud. Arriving on the island by boat would usually mean landing at an international airport on one of the neighbouring islands (Java or Lombok) and then crossing the pond over to Bali. From Java, ferries arrive in Gilimanuk (about 3.5 hours from Ubud) and from Lombok, boats arrive in Benoa, Sanur, Serangan, Padang Bai and Amed (Padang Bai, Sanur, Serangan and Benoa are all located just over an hour from Ubud).
Nationalities from over 160 countries are eligible for visa free entry into Indonesia. This means your passport will be stamped on arrival at the airport, allowing you to stay in the country for 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a visa which will require further arrangements. Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia.
There is no public transport to get you from the airport to your accommodation, so the only option is to use a private driver or a taxi. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa. This service is included for most villas when booking more than four nights. To avoid queuing at the immigration counter, we can also arrange a VIP airport service for guests. This service includes lounge access, allowing you to relax while waiting for your luggage.
You can also get a taxi directly at the airport. There is an official taxi stand at the international arrivals hall, next to the information desk. This stand offers fixed rates and metered fares across Bali. The pricing is frequently updated, so finding accurate, up to date pricing before landing in Bali is challenging. You’ll also find countless independent drivers floating around the arrivals hall, persistently offering their services at varying rates. To save yourself the hassle, we strongly recommend arranging your airport transfers before landing in Bali, especially if you’re travelling to farther off destinations like Ubud.
There are plenty of options for getting around Ubud, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers.
If you’re staying in central Ubud, you can easily make your way around on foot – though walking around in the tropical heat can take its toll on you! Remember to wear a hat and carry a reusable water bottle with you to rehydrate when needed. If you’re staying further out, you might be able to walk around the quiet village roads. If, however, you want to reach the shops and restaurants, you will need a car or a motorbike.
Beyond the compact town centre, Ubud is a well spread out area and having a private car and driver will make exploring the region that much easier. It will also save you the trouble of negotiating for the price every time you need a ride – more on that below. Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. This little luxury is remarkably affordable and we can also help you arrange an itinerary, instructing your driver in advance.
If you’re more of an independent explorer, you can also hire a scooter to make your way around Ubud. While there might be little traffic on the peaceful village roads outside the centre, you should only hop on a scooter if you’re an experienced driver. Scooter rentals usually start at around IDR 50,000 (USD $4) per day. Don’t forget to wear a helmet and to carry a valid international driver’s licence. Driving without either will result in a fine if you get pulled over by the police.
There is no official taxi service in Ubud and as a result, no metered fares. Ride hailing apps like Gojek and Grab are also banned. This doesn’t mean you can’t get a taxi in Ubud – on the contrary, you can’t walk down the street without someone offering you “transport!” Since there are no meters, accepting one of these offers will mean having to negotiate for the price before getting in. In other parts of Bali, the most trusted operator are the Blue Bird taxis who always use a meter. You might spot a few of their blue cars while in Ubud but these would be drivers having just dropped off passengers in Ubud. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to order a Blue Bird taxi in Ubud.
The Balinese are among the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. This is all the more reason to return the favour and be respectful towards the local culture. Like anywhere else in the world, common sense and basic human decency goes a long way. For more detailed information about local culture, language and safety in Bali, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
SHOPPING & BARGAINING
Ubud offers an enticing mix of established boutiques, local markets and stalls offering a vibrant mix of apparel, accessories, yoga gear and more. While established shops in town offer fixed pricing, bargaining can become an enjoyable part of shopping in local markets and stalls… or it can be frustrating! To ensure a smooth exchange first decide what the item is worth to you, then ask the seller for their price – your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price. They are likely to respond with a counteroffer, which you can either accept or negotiate further. If you don’t like the price and you walk away there is a good chance the vendor will call out to you with a better (usually final) price. Keep in mind, if an agreement is reached, you’re committed – you should buy if your offer is accepted.
In late 2018, Bali’s governor banned single use plastic on the island, meaning shops, boutiques and supermarkets no longer give out plastic bags. When out and about, it’s best to carry a reusable bag with you.
Most restaurants and villas include a service component already so tipping is not expected, but if service is good, an additional cash tip is appreciated.
Indonesia’s country code is +62. Data speeds of 3G and faster is the norm across Bali. Local prepaid SIM cards are sold everywhere; any modern mobile phone will work. As of 2018, all prepaid SIM cards need to be registered which you can usually do with a copy of your passport directly at the shop where you purchase your SIM card. Prepaid SIM cards come loaded with pulsa (credit) or mobile data which you can later easily top up at other outlets. Most if not all minimarts and local phone shops can top off your SIM card when needed. Most villas provide broadband Internet and free Wi-Fi is common in cafes, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
Health & Safety
It’s important to note that compared to many places in the world, Bali is fairly safe. There have been some high-profile cases of visitors being injured or killed on Bali, but in many cases these tragedies have been inflamed by media sensationalism.
Violent crime is uncommon in Bali, however bag-snatching from motorbikes and petty theft does occur. Take extra care with your phone if riding pillion on a motorbike as phones regularly get snatched from unsuspecting tourists using a navigation app. Otherwise, take the same precautions you would in any urban area and secure your money before leaving an ATM (and don’t forget your card!), don’t leave valuables on a beach while swimming, and use in-villa safes to store your valuables.
Tap water in Bali is not safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and cheap, however Ministry of Villas encourages visitors to keep a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
With its ancient temples, beautiful artistry, breathtaking rice fields and unique spiritual heritage, it’s little wonder Ubud has grown into one of the most sought-after areas in Bali. Check out our latest Ubud blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.