This Ubud travel guide is the culmination of our many years spent exploring the artistic and cultural center of Bali island. No trip to Indonesia would be complete without a visit to Ubud Bali!
This town and tourist hotspot is full of interesting markets, palaces, jungles, and temples to see, and of course lots of great cafes, restaurants, and comfy luxury hotels.
After you’ve exhausted all of the top things to do in Ubud, there are even more waterfalls and rice terraces to see in the nearby areas of Tegalalang, Gianyar, and Bangli, which can be reached in 15-30 minutes.
Ubud was recently named the best city in Asia by Travel + Leisure Magazine! I don’t think I would go that far (and Ubud is more of a town than a city anyway), but it’s definitely a great place to experience the sights and charms of Balinese culture.
Here’s my Ubud travel guide, with a list of some of the very best things to do in Ubud Bali!
Where To Stay
Where Is Ubud Bali?
First things first — where is Ubud Bali located?
Ubud is located in the highlands of the Gianyar regency, in the heart of Bali, Indonesia. It’s about 40 kilometers north of the Bali airport, which is a 1 hour drive.
The main Ubud tourist area is concentrated near the Ubud town center, which is packed with hotels, restaurants, markets, activities, and attractions like the Bali Monkey Forest.
However, the areas surrounding Ubud (like Tegalalang, Gianyar, and Bangli) also have some nice accommodation, and there are lots of waterfalls, temples, rice terraces, and other things waiting to be explored.
How To Get Around Ubud Bali
If you’re staying near the Ubud town center, it’s pretty walkable and most things are close enough to be reached on foot.
However, if you want to do some exploring outside of town, you’ll need to rent a scooter or hire a private car and driver (both of these can be booked online). Airport transfers to Ubud from the Bali airport can also be arranged with your hotel or booked online.
Taxis are available for short rides around Ubud, but the prices are wildly inflated for tourists. It’s possible to use ride-hailing apps like Grab and Go-Jek, but you have to be discreet because the local taxi mafia is very protective of their turf, and may cause trouble if they see you using one of these apps in Ubud.
Best Things To Do In Ubud Bali
1. Ubud Monkey Forest
Seeing the cheeky Bali monkeys should be somewhere near the top of your Ubud to do list, and the Sacred Monkey Forest is the most popular place to do it.
Swing by the famous Ubud Monkey Forest for a funny experience getting your pic taken with the Balinese macaques.
There are hundreds of them living in the jungle here, and they’re (mostly) friendly to outsiders.
Read More: Ubud Monkey Forest
2. Ubud Market
Just up the street from the monkey forest, you’ll find the Ubud art market.
It’s full of interesting handmade souvenirs like wood carvings, paintings, coconut bowls, rattan hats and bags, and everything else you can imagine.
Feel free to haggle for lower prices, because some of the sellers here start a bit on the high side.
3. Ubud Restaurants
Ubud has great restaurants and cafes everywhere you look.
A lot of places serve familiar Western foods and fresh fruit juices (including smoothie bowls), but don’t forget to try the local Indonesian dishes too, like chicken satay and nasi goreng.
This is far from a complete list, but here are some great restaurants to check out in Ubud:
- Breakfast — Watercress Ubud, Milk & Madu, Suka Espresso, Social Monkeys, Bittersweet, and Lazy Cats Cafe
- Dinner — Restaurant Locavore, Copper Kitchen & Bar, Hujan Locale, Ibu Susu Bar & Kitchen, Embers Restaurant, and The Grill At Luxe
- Ethnic — Omiiku (Chinese), Fu Shou Noodle Club (Chinese), Toro Sushi Cafe (Japanese), Pesona Lounge (Indian), Uma Cucina (Italian), Nostimo Grill (Greek), Pica South American Kitchen (Peruvian), Sweet Orange Warung (Indonesian), Bebek Bengil (Balinese), and Wanara Spice (Balinese)
- Dessert — Caramel Patisserie & Cafe, Monsieur Spoon, Daily Baguette, Yogurt Republic, Room4Dessert, Frozen Yogi, Gelato Secrets, and Tukies Coconut Shop
Of course, Ubud also has plenty of cheap and authentic Indonesian ‘warungs’ (little family owned restaurants) if you look in the side alleys and outside of the main town center. Bali is pretty much a foodie paradise for any kind of budget.
We plan to cover food and restaurants in more detail with another Ubud travel guide later on, so remember to bookmark this blog and check back later!
4. Balinese Massage
Practically every third building in Ubud is a massage shop.
Balinese massage is fantastic and the prices can be very affordable, at 150k Rupiah ($10 USD) or less for a 1 hour body massage.
It’s the perfect way to unwind after a full day of hiking or touring.
5. Ubud Royal Palace
On the corner of the Ubud town center is this fancy palace from the 1800s, with amazing Balinese stone carvings and courtyards. It’s a quick stop (15 minutes) but very worthwhile!
Read More: Ubud Royal Palace
6. Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Bali’s most famous rice terraces are at Tegalalang, just a 15 minute drive north of Ubud. There are foot paths to walk through the whole valley and see the terraces up close.
Read More: Tegalalang Rice Terrace
7. Bali Elephant Sanctuary
Mason Elephant Park is a rescue park opened in 1997, and they do a lot of great conservation work for the Sumatran elephants, which are critically endangered on their home island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
We had a great experience here, and I have to say every aspect of the park is very well managed and nicely maintained. The elephants are happy and healthy, and you can tell they love the attention from humans.
The park is a 30 minute drive from Ubud.
Read More: Bali Elephant Sanctuary
8. Saraswati Temple
The Saraswati water temple is in central Ubud and it has some of the coolest wall patterns and carvings you’ll see in Bali. The doors are insanely detailed and elaborate. Flowers, dragons, demon figures, and more.
Read More: Saraswati Temple
9. Pura Dalem Temple
This is another temple in central Ubud and it’s known for having some of the most bizarre and intricate statues of any of the Bali temples. Creepy demon goddesses, lions, and other creatures stare back at you here.
10. Goa Gajah Elephant Cave
This is one of the oldest temples you can visit in Ubud Bali, and also one of the weirdest. Goa Gajah dates back to the 9th century. The doorway to the cave is really bizarre and unique, and it feels like you’re walking into the belly of some underground rock monster!
The inside of the cave has a narrow path that goes about 15 meters deep, where you’ll find some Hindu incense baskets burning, and the outside of the cave has a photogenic banyan tree with giant roots. Overall, it’s one of the most famous and photogenic temples in the Ubud area.
Read More: Goa Gajah Temple
11. Samuan Tiga Temple
This is a big temple from the 10th century between Ubud and Gianyar, just 800 meters from the Goa Gajah temple or a 10 minute drive from central Ubud. This temple is unusually quiet and only a few tourists seem to know about it, but it’s popular for Hindu ceremonies.
12. Layana Waterfall
This is one of the easiest waterfalls to visit in Ubud. Layana is just a 10 minute drive from the Ubud town center.
As an added bonus, there’s a warung above the waterfall where you can eat with the view — but it’s totally optional, you don’t have to order anything to visit the falls.
Read More: Layana Waterfall
13. Tibumana Waterfall
Tibumana used to be a secret waterfall, but it’s exploded in the last couple years and now every Instagrammer comes here. It’s still worth a visit!
The road to this one winds through some green rice fields and palm trees, so it’s a great scenic drive, and there are a couple of smaller waterfalls you can also see nearby.
Read More: Tibumana Waterfall
14. Suwat Waterfall
This waterfall is an up-and-coming hidden gem near Gianyar and Ubud. It’s good for swimming and there’s even a neat little bamboo raft you can paddle around on.
The hike to Suwat Waterfall is short and easy, and takes you through a small bamboo forest and other tropical foliage along the way.
Read More: Suwat Waterfall
15. Taman Sari Waterfall
Just 500 meters from the entrance to Tibumana is a separate path that leads to Taman Sari Waterfall.
Also called the Pengibul Waterfall, it’s a small 2-step cascade with no crowds, and you can reach it in 5-10 minutes of walking, so it’s definitely worth checking out while you’re at Tibumana!
Read More: Taman Sari Waterfall
16. Goa Rang Reng Waterfall
Watch out for slippery rocks! Goa Rang Reng has 3 different waterfalls, but my favorite is the first one, a big sloped cascade that looks like a natural Slip N Slide.
17. Kanto Lampo Waterfall
Kanto Lampo is a cascade of waterfalls running over the rocks into a natural pool below. As an added bonus, you get to see some creepy carvings in the rock walls nearby.
This is a really nice waterfall and I’d definitely rate it as one of the best things to do in Ubud!
Read More: Kanto Lampo Waterfall
18. Tegenungan Waterfall
Tegenungan is the busiest and most touristy waterfall in Bali. Don’t go here to escape the crowds, but it’s still a nice spot for lunch, and chances are you’ll be driving past it at some point anyway!
Read More: Tegenungan Waterfall
Other Top Things To Do Near Ubud
This is a small park with hundreds of butterflies, but the best part is getting to hold an Atlas Moth, the biggest moth in the world. They also have giant stick bugs from Borneo.
Read More: Bali Butterfly Park
20. Bali Zoo
The Bali Zoo has a lot of great wildlife, including some species that are local to Indonesia. You can get your picture taken with tropical birds here, and the park facilities and animal care seem to be top notch too.
Read More: Bali Zoo Review + Photos
21. Bali Bird Park & Reptile Park
This park has more than 1,000 birds and reptiles ranging from tropical parrots to Komodo dragons. The grounds have an ancient ‘Angkor Wat’ theme that fits perfectly with the wildlife, and everything is very well managed.
22. Mas Wood Carving
Balinese wood carvings are some of the best in Southeast Asia, and the carvers at Mas village are known for being some of the very highest quality. Warning though, some of these can be very pricey. Research and haggle before you buy.
23. Goa Giri Campuhan Waterfall
The Bangli area has lots of great waterfalls and it’s not far from Ubud. Start with Goa Giri Campuhan waterfall, in the north. This one is hidden and you have to sneak through a couple of cool caves to reach it.
24. Goa Garba
This is an ancient cave temple and 12th century archaeological site in Pejeng village.
Goa Garba was a school and place of study for the Balinese kings and their children. Today, it’s a peaceful hidden spot in the jungle where you can see some ruins and escape the tourist crowds.
Read More: Goa Garba Temple
25. Gunung Kawi Ruins
Of course I can’t do an Ubud travel guide without mentioning Gunung Kawi!
In my opinion, this is one of the most unique and interesting temples in Bali. Gunung Kawi is actually an underground temple carved into the side of a cliff.
It’s an 11th century temple, and the age of everything here is obvious when you look at it.
Read More: Gunung Kawi Temple
26. Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple
The name and location of this temple is very close to Gunung Kawi, but this one is not near as famous. This is a water temple with a nice jungle setting.
27. Tirta Empul Spring
This is one of the most well known temples near Ubud, partly because of the Hindu holy spring where visitors (including tourists) are allowed to bathe and pray, if that’s your thing.
Read More: Tirta Empul Temple
28. Batuan Temple
This is an ancient 10th century temple located in Batuan village, halfway between Ubud and Sanur. The whole temple grounds are open to tourists, and a lot of the buildings and carvings are different from what you normally see at other Balinese temples.
29. Sangeh Monkey Forest
The Sangeh Monkey Forest is another protected jungle area in central Bali with hundreds of friendly (but wild) monkeys to play with.
If the Ubud Monkey Forest is too crowded for your liking, you might want to check out the one in Sangeh instead. It’s only 30 minutes from Ubud, but it’s quieter, cheaper, and less crowded.
Read More: Sangeh Monkey Forest
30. Taman Ayun Temple
I think this is one of the best temples in Bali — very photogenic, but away from the major tourist areas so it doesn’t get too crowded. Taman Ayun is pretty close to Abiansemal and the Sangeh Monkey Forest.
Read More: Taman Ayun Temple
31. Mount Batur Sunrise Trek
The Mount Batur hike in east Bali is a popular day trip from Ubud, especially for sunrise, where you can catch epic morning views from the top of an active volcano!
Read More: Mount Batur Sunrise Trek
Ubud Bali Itinerary
Here’s what a sample 3-day or 4-day itinerary for Ubud Bali could look like:
- Day 1: Ubud Center. Visit the Ubud Monkey Forest, Ubud Market, Ubud Palace, and Saraswati Temple. If monkeys aren’t your thing, substitute that for the Campuhan Ridge Walk or Sayan Point.
- Day 2: Ubud Terraces & Temples. Visit Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Gunung Kawi Sebatu Water Temple, Tirta Empul Temple, Gunung Kawi Temple, and Goa Gajah Temple. If you want to focus less on temples, you could substitute one of these for a visit to a scenic Bali swing instead.
- Day 3: Waterfalls Near Ubud. Visit some nearby falls like Goa Giri Campuhan Waterfall, Kuning Waterfall, Tibumana Waterfall, Taman Sari Waterfall, and Goa Rang Reng Waterfall.
- Day 4 (Optional): Explore South of Ubud. Visit sights south of Ubud like the famous Mas wood carving shop, Kemenuh Butterfly Park, Tegenungan Waterfall, and the Bali Bird Park & Reptile Park.
You can take a look at my full blog post about this Ultimate Ubud Itinerary for more detailed information and photos!
Is Ubud Safe?
Yes, Ubud is very safe. It gets more than 4 million visitors a year, and it’s generally known as one of the safest areas in Bali. Just take normal precautions and you shouldn’t have any issues.
I’ve often brought my camera gear all over Ubud photographing the markets, temples, and rice terraces, and there are usually plenty of other photographers doing the same.
Even around sunrise, people are already jogging the path at Campuhan Ridge Walk and other places in Ubud. Violent crime is rare in Bali, and Indonesia in general.
The main thing to watch out for is drive-by phone snatchings, which do happen in some parts of Bali from time to time, so just remember to put away your phone when you’re near a busy road with passing motorbikes.
When To Visit Ubud Bali
The best time to visit Ubud depends on what you’re looking for:
☁ Bali’s rainy season runs from November to April. The weather during the day can be hot and humid at 90-95 °F (32-35 °C), but it’s less crowded during this time, and the rain is normally in the evening or at night.
☀ From May to August, the temps are cooler, and it’s more breezy and sunny. This is the windy season and it’s the nicest weather. It’s also the high season for tourists, so it’s generally more crowded.
In any case, it’s generally possible to experience the sights in this Ubud travel guide all year round!
More Bali Travel Tips
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this list of the best things to do in Ubud Bali!
We plan to add more tips to this Ubud travel guide in the future, so check back later.
Don’t forget to check out my complete Bali Travel Guide for more tips, info, and photos!
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- Bali Travel Guide – Info, Pictures, & Blog
- Ubud Travel Guide – Best Things To Do In Ubud Bali
- 3-Day Ubud Itinerary – Touring Bali’s Cultural Center
- Ubud Temple Guide – Best Temples In Ubud Bali
- Ubud Waterfall Guide – Best Waterfalls Near Ubud Bali
- Bali Beach Guide – The Best Beaches In Bali
- Bali Waterfalls Guide – The Best Waterfalls In Bali
- Bali Temple Guide – The Best Temples In Bali