Looking for a place to see jungles and wildlife? Something that’s fun and affordable, and lets you interact with animals in a more natural setting than a zoo?
The Ubud Monkey Forest is your place! This is a 30 acre jungle area surrounding an old 14th century Hindu temple, located in Ubud, Bali. Almost 600 monkeys live here.
Visiting The Ubud Monkey Forest
It may sound weird, but the Instagram famous monkey forest was one of THE biggest inspirations for my first trip to Bali. I saw all the pictures of people posing with monkeys, and it looked really fun to me.
Peoples’ opinions of the monkey forest are all over the place. Some love it, some hate it. A lot of people are scared of monkeys, so they’d rather stay far away from this place. I like monkeys, so going here seemed like a really fun and authentic experience that you can’t have anywhere else.
Now that I’m based in Bali, I’ve gone back to the monkey forest many times, with and without friends, and it’s always funny to watch the monkeys’ ridiculous antics. No matter who you are, you’re guaranteed to have some memorable experiences here.
What To Expect
The monkey forest can be a bit wild.
I’ve seen monkeys crawl on peoples’ faces, pull down women’s tops, steal water bottles, steal sunglasses (don’t wear those), and just flop down and take naps in the middle of the walking path. Somehow I’ve miraculously escaped being peed on, even though I’ve let countless monkeys climb on my shoulders over the years.
With that said, this is a place where you have a good chance of being bitten or peed on. If you don’t like monkeys, then stay far away! I’ve gotten a few bites, but none that broke skin and the monkeys don’t really have any diseases to worry about (see the safety discussion below).
Again, the monkey forest is a bit different from a zoo, because the monkeys are free to come and go as they please. This is their natural habitat. The monkeys live here, and sleep in the banyan trees. You’re going into their cherished monkey living quarters. Their jungle palace, if you will.
Still, you can feed the monkeys or take pictures with them. The staff can use a snack to lure them onto your shoulder, and they also have slingshots to keep the monkeys in line (usually all they have to do is pull out the slingshot and they’ll head for the hills).
Things NOT To Do
- Do NOT bring any kind of valuables. The monkeys will steal them.
- Do NOT wear glasses or sunglasses. The monkeys will try to steal them off of your face.
- Do NOT bring outside food or hide it in your pockets. The monkeys will find it, and they will not be happy about you hiding it.
- Do NOT run from the monkeys. They know what this means.
- Do NOT look the monkeys in the eye and grin at them. They will freak out if you do this, especially the bigger ones. For some reason they take it as a sign of aggression.
- Do NOT touch or grab the monkeys. They won’t let anyone pick them up, and they hate being touched.
The Ubud Jungle & Temples
Part of the reason to visit the monkey forest is that you get to see some awesome jungles, complete with ancient statues and temples. There’s a big banyan tree here that is known to be at least 100 years old, and probably much older.
The main temple is Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal and it’s thought to have been built around 1350 AD. You can’t go inside the temple, but it’s easy to snap some nice pictures from right outside the gate.
The Dragon Statues
If you follow the walking path deeper into the jungle, there are old mossy statues of Komodo dragons and other creatures. It’s an incredible Indiana Jones-y environment that I still enjoy walking through even after many visits to this place.
One of the best photo spots is a big concrete bridge over a ravine that is guarded at the front by two dragon statues.
Do The Bali Monkeys Have Rabies?
Short answer — NO
The Bali Monkey Forest gets over 1.5 million visitors per year, and many of these people get monkey bites (not all of them, but many of them). If rabies was here, you would know it by now! We’d be hearing horror stories on the news about that guy who died from a monkey bite on his tropical vacation.
There has never been a recorded case of a monkey in Bali carrying rabies. The monkeys here (and at Sangeh) have been studied and tested by scientists from the US, and given a clean bill of health for decades now.
On internet forums there is a lot of worrying and hand wringing about rabies and other viruses, and the concern is understandable, but the fact is that these viruses are thankfully NOT present at the Bali Monkey Forest.
With that said, if you do get a monkey bite then it’s probably a good idea to sanitize it. Monkeys are not the cleanest animals! There’s a small first aid office here where the staff can fix you up with alcohol or antiseptic cream.
How To Get To The Monkey Forest
The monkey forest is in central Bali, in Ubud.
There’s an entrance fee of 50,000 IDR ($5.50 USD) as of 2019. The hours are 8:30AM-6PM.
I’d recommend getting here as early as possible, because the monkey forest is a very popular tourist destination and it does get crowded, especially in high season.