Playing With Bali Monkeys At The Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Seeing the cheeky Bali monkeys should be somewhere near the top of your Indonesia bucket list, and the Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary is the most popular place to do it.

Almost 600 monkeys live at the Bali monkey forest! This is a 12 hectare (30 acre) jungle area surrounding an old 14th century Hindu temple, located in the heart of Ubud.

It’s fun, family friendly, and affordable, and you get to interact with the animals in a more natural setting than a zoo. What’s not to like?

This travel guide will explain how to get to the Ubud monkey forest, current entrance fees, and everything else you need to know before you go!

Where To Stay

 

What To Expect – Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

It may sound weird, but the Instagram famous monkey forest was one of the biggest inspirations for my first trip to Bali years ago.

I saw all the moss covered statues in the jungle, and the pictures of people posing with monkeys in Ubud, and it looked really fun to me. 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 my wife and I live in Bali, we’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 at this place!

Pair of Bali monkeys at the Ubud Monkey Forest
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Bali monkeys at the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
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Bali monkeys at the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
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Monkey Business – Things To Know

The Bali monkey forest can be a bit wild. You’ve been warned!

I’ve seen the monkeys in Ubud crawl on peoples’ faces, pull down women’s tops and lift up their dresses, chew on peoples’ hair like a snack, drink from water bottles, steal sunglasses, 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 Bali monkeys climb on my shoulders over the years.

With that said, this is a place where you have a fairly good chance of being peed on, robbed, or bitten. If you don’t like cheeky monkeys, then stay far away!

I’ve gotten a few bites, but nothing serious, and the Bali monkeys don’t really have any diseases to worry about (see the safety discussion later in this guide).

There are almost 600 monkeys living here at the jungle sanctuary in 6 different groups, so it’s quite a party.

Baby monkey at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
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Bali Monkey Forest Ubud Shoulder Girl Tourist
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Shoulder monkey

The Ubud 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 help feed the monkeys or take pictures with them. They’re easy to interact with, partly because of the helpful staff at the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

The monkeys in Ubud are fed three times a day, mainly with a combination of sweet potatoes and bananas, along with the occasional papaya leaves and seasonal fruit.

This monkey species is called the Balinese long-tailed macaque, or crab-eating macaque. The scientific name is Macaca fascicularis.

Baby monkeys stay with their mothers until they’re about 10 months old, gradually learning the ways of the jungle, and they’re just as cute as you might expect.
 

Mossy statue at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
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Sometimes this is how you feel at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

Monkey Selfie Funny
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Monkey selfie!

 
Taking pictures with the Bali monkeys is always a lot of fun.

The staff can use a snack to lure the monkeys onto your shoulder, and they can even do funny trick photos for you where it looks like the monkey is holding your phone and taking a selfie photo with you. You can see the pic above for an example.

The amusing ‘monkey selfie’ viral pictures at Ubud are accomplished by the staff holding a sunflower seed or other small treat behind your phone, and then when the monkey reaches for it, they snap a photo. Voilà, you’ve got your monkey selfie!

When taking pictures with the monkeys, we try to avoid the older ones with their big fangs, and buddy up with the docile younger monkeys instead. They’re cuter anyways, and less likely to give a nasty bite if they get upset with you for some reason.

Just be careful not to approach one of the little baby monkeys too closely or suddenly, because the mothers may be protective!

Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary Bali Baby
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The cutest baby monkey

The staff at the monkey forest also carry slingshots to keep the bad monkeys in line if they attack each other or steal something from a visitor.

They don’t hurt the monkeys. Usually all they have to do is pull out the slingshot and any troublemaking monkeys head for the hills.

The Ubud Monkey Forest does get a bit crowded nowadays, especially later in the morning and early afternoon. However, it’s actually not the only monkey forest Bali has to offer.

If the crowds at Ubud bother you, then you might want to check out the Sangeh Monkey Forest instead. It’s another nice monkey place in Bali that’s not too far from Ubud, and it’s way less busy.
 

Girl holding a Bali monkey
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The monkey whisperer!

Monkeys grooming at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
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“Uh oh. I’ve got bad news for you buddy. LICE.”

Things NOT To Do

The following is a list of things you should NOT do at the monkey forest Ubud:

  • Do not bring any kind of valuables. Earrings, jewelry, and other accessories aren’t a good idea. The Bali monkeys might steal them.
  • Do not wear glasses or sunglasses. The monkeys in Ubud will try to grab them off of your face. I’ve seen someone lose an expensive pair of glasses here.
  • Do not bring outside food or hide it in your pockets. The monkeys might find it, and they will not be happy about you hiding it.
  • Do not feed the monkeys outside snacks or drinks. Peanuts, cookies, candy, and other snacks are bad for their monkey bellies.
  • Do not bring plastic or paper bags. The monkeys in Ubud associate these bags with food, so they’ll steal them and then toss them in the forest, like litter bugs.
  • Do not panic or run from the monkeys. They know what this means. If you can stay calm, the monkeys are more likely to do the same.
  • Do not look the monkeys in the eye and grin at them. The Bali monkeys hate if you do this; especially the bigger ones. They take bared teeth and eye contact as a sign of aggression.
  • Do not touch or grab the Bali monkeys. They won’t let anyone pick them up, and they hate being touched. Let them do the touching, and they’ll also climb onto you if they want.
Monkey crossing take care your stuff caution warning sign at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
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I love this sign. It’s so authentically ‘Bali’. I want to hang it in my living room.

See no evil monkey statues at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
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Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil.

 

Kids At Ubud Monkey Forest

Kids can definitely visit the Ubud monkey forest, and I always see families having a blast here.

However, I would recommend you steer clear of the older monkeys because they’re bigger and more aggressive. Some of them weigh up to 10 kilos or 22 pounds!

The younger monkeys are easier and safer to interact with, and they’re more cute for photos anyways. They may be shy at first, but they’ll warm up to you.
 

The Ubud Jungle & Temples

Part of the reason to visit the Bali monkey forest is to see some nice jungles, complete with ancient statues and Balinese temples (hence why it’s called the ‘sacred monkey forest sanctuary’).

There’s a big banyan tree here that is known to be at least 100 years old, and possibly much older. The locals aren’t even sure of the exact age, but the monkeys in Ubud love to climb on it.

There are also three Hindu temples here. The main one is called Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal and it’s thought to have been built around 1350 AD.

Tourists generally can’t go inside this Bali monkey temple, but it’s easy to snap some nice pictures from right outside the gate.

Old temple Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
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Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal

 

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, which is guarded at the front by two stone dragon statues.

Dragon bridge and statues at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
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komodo dragon statue
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Komodo Dragon statue

 

Do The Bali Monkeys Have Rabies?

Short answer — NO, the Bali monkeys do not have rabies.

The Bali Monkey Forest gets over 1.5 million visitors per year, and many of these people, including myself, have gotten monkey bites and didn’t go for any kind of treatment. Years later, we’re just fine.

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 in Bali, Indonesia.

There has never been a recorded case of a monkey in Bali carrying rabies. The monkeys in Ubud (and at Sangeh) have been studied and tested by scientists from the US and Australia every year, and given a clean bill of health for decades now.

What about Herpesvirus B? That also seems to be a non-issue. Although it can be carried by macaques, including the ones in Bali, a U.S. study in 2002 found that “no case of human CeHV-1 infection has been reported in Bali, either in association with monkey forests or in any other non-laboratory context” in spite of countless bites over the years.

A hypothesis from this study was that the virus strain carried by the macaques is a non-pathogenic strain, meaning it doesn’t cause disease in humans.

On internet forums there is a lot of worrying and hand wringing about rabies and other viruses, and some of the concern is understandable, but the simple fact is that these viruses have thankfully NEVER been contracted at any 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 at the Ubud monkey forest where the staff can fix you up with alcohol or antiseptic cream if you get a bite.

Monkey drinking a water bottle at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
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Bottoms up!

Hours & Entrance Fees

  • Hours: 8:30 AM – 6 PM
  • Adults: 80k IDR (~$5 USD)
  • Kids (3-12): 60k IDR
  • Kids (0-3): Free
  • KITAS / KITAP Holders: 60k IDR

These are the current entry fees for the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary as of 2022, although the ticket prices seem to go up every year since it’s a very popular attraction in Bali.

You can pay the entry fee with cash Rupiah, international credit cards, or bank cards. For foreigners with KITAS / KITAP, we pay the same entrance fee as domestic Indonesian tourists.

This entrance ticket lets you explore the whole Bali monkey sanctuary for as long as you like, including some of the old temples, statues, bridges, and a quiet cemetery that holds some of the Balinese locals from the nearby village.

The staff at monkey forest Ubud will also help you take pictures with the monkeys (including ‘monkey selfies’) for free. There’s no charge for that, but remember to be patient with the staff since they get a lot of photo requests every day.
 

How To Get To Monkey Forest Ubud

The Ubud monkey forest is located near the town center of Ubud, in central Bali, Indonesia.

It’s very easy to visit if you’re staying in the Ubud area, or you can also visit it on a day trip from any of the other touristy areas of Bali like Kuta, Canggu, Seminyak, and Sanur.

You can use the Google map below for navigation directly to the entrance, which has lots of parking for cars and motorbikes, as well as public restrooms.

The best way to get there is to rent a scooter or hire a private car and driver (both of these can be booked online).

There are also Ubud tour packages that include the Bali Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary as part of their itinerary.

Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary Bali Baby
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Yummy banana

 

Best Time To Visit

Any month is good for visiting the Ubud monkey forest. The monkeys are active all year round, and even the rainy season won’t affect your visit too much. The rain is usually in the evenings and at night.

It’s a good idea to visit early in the morning (preferably near opening time at 8:30 AM) or else late in the afternoon, because the monkey forest is a very popular tourist destination and it does get crowded, especially in Bali’s high season, which is July to August.

Also, remember this isn’t the only monkey forest Bali has to offer. In fact, there are at least three monkey forests in Bali where you can see jungles, temples, and wildlife.

If the crowds are too much for you at Ubud, you might want to check out the Sangeh Monkey Forest, which is another interesting monkey place in Bali with less tourists.

A third monkey place in Bali is the Alas Kedaton monkey forest, which also doubles as a bat sanctuary where you can see giant fruit bats (aka flying foxes) — they’re some of the biggest bats in the world!
 

How Long To Stay

You can see the whole Bali monkey sanctuary at Ubud in 1 or 2 hours, but if you’re a photographer or you just happen to be a big fan of primates and old architecture, then you could easily stay longer.

Time flies when you’re hanging out with the Ubud monkeys and taking lots of photos. If you’re like me, you might want to stay all day here!
 

Baby monkey at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
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Flossing these toes ’till they’re squeaky clean.

Are There Monkeys In Ubud Town?

Yes, sometimes you’ll see monkeys in Ubud town, especially on the main road near the forest, which happens to be named Jalan Monkey Forest (i.e. ‘monkey forest street’).

According to the locals, when a monkey leaves the jungle, the other monkeys won’t allow them to come back. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but in any case I wouldn’t try to interact with monkeys in Ubud town (or anywhere outside of the forest), as they’re probably just hoping to scavenge for food and may be more aggressive than normal.

One time while eating at a restaurant in Ubud, we heard someone scream and saw a big monkey jump onto their plate and steal their food! It was a big surprise, and I think they’ll be more careful next time.

At your Ubud hotel, you’re not likely to have any monkey problems, although occasionally they may come around to have a look at the grounds from outside, and some hotels may ask you to keep your shoes and belongings inside the room at night so the monkeys don’t grab them.

Overall, it’s not a problem. For many people, including myself, it’s part of the charm of Ubud to see a few monkeys around town. It reminds us we’re in Bali!

Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary Bali Baby
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Making a new friend

 

More Ubud Travel Tips

Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this guide for the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Bali, Indonesia.

We always have fun visiting the monkeys in Ubud and seeing the old temples and statues in the jungle. We’ve been back here countless times.

Don’t forget to check out my complete Ubud Travel Guide for more things to see and do in the area!
 

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Ubud Hotels

 

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