15 Unmissable Things to Do in Ubud, Bali

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The town of Ubud, located in the uplands of Bali, is often thought of as the island’s cultural epicenter. It is filled with traditional examples of Indonesian art, religion, and history with a wide variety of things to do hidden within its rice paddies and ravines.

Though you could enjoy simply visiting its many art and woodwork galleries, handicraft stalls, and cafes, there are many unique experiences to be had that can get you off of the tourist-filled streets and onto a path of a memorable adventure.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok (Travel Guide)

15 Unmissable Things to do in Ubud, Bali

Elephant Cave- Things to Do in Ubud

1. Visit the Goa Gajah ‘Elephant Cave’

Built as a meditation sanctuary in the 9th century, one of Ubud’s most well known spiritual sites is the Goa Gajah cave.

The cave entrance depicts several demons and other ominous creatures carved into the rocky wall in order to ward off evil spirits, which is the most impressive part of this site.

Upon entering through the largest demon’s mouth, the cave you will find is small and dark but is special for its spiritual significance of the priests who used to pray here.

Outside the temple is a large pool of Hindu angel statues, and some rice fields to explore. Just try to get here before 10 AM to avoid the tour buses.

Our top recommended tours of Goa Gajah:

Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali

2. Make Friends at the Ubud Monkey Forest

The Monkey Forest is an enjoyable escape from the buzzing crowds of Ubud. Please be courteous and remember that these Long-Tail Macaques are not pets, but wild animals and you should avoid touching them.

It is very entertaining to watch the monkeys interact with one another and swing through their surroundings. Keep in mind that these monkeys are very habituated to humans, so be sure to read our Ubud Monkey Forest Survival Guide, before you go. 

Our top recommended tours of Ubud Monkey Forest:

Tegenungan Waterfall in Ubud

3. Swim at the Tegenungan Waterfall

About a 15 minute drive south of Ubud you’ll find a luscious green valley and this sizable waterfall. Stare in awe at its beauty, climb around it, or frolic below in its cool waters a fun way to escape the throngs.

Our top recommended tours of Tengenungan Waterfall:

Ubud Art Market, Bali

4. Shop at the Ubud Art Market

Known by locals as the ‘Pasar Seni Ubud’, this market is open every day and offers high-quality Balinese merchandise.

You can find bags, clothing, scarves, kites, and figurines on the Western art side and daily necessities on the Eastern side.

The products are all made in nearby villages, so you can talk to the craftsmen right there among the local hustle and bustle.

Don’t be afraid to haggle, but be sure to compare prices before you go in for the kill. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, enjoy the experience, just as Julia Roberts did in her stroll through the market in Eat, Pray, Love.

Ubud water palace

5. Visit the Puri Saren Royal Palace

Ubud’s Royal Palace is perhaps the focal landmark of the town, located right on its main road, Jalan Raya Ubud. The royal residence was built in the early 1800s for King Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel but was rebuilt in 1917 after it was damaged in an earthquake.

It has since been well kept by the King’s heirs. It features exotic architecture and a burnt orange facade. Most nights you can see dance performances on the Palace stage.

Known as the cultural center of Bali, Ubud is located North of the crazy city of Kuta. There are no beaches here but the town offers so much more to take in and appreciate. A laid back day of strolling the streets found us at the impressive Water Palace smack dab in downtown Ubud.

The temples in Bali are very sacred and not commercialized. They are serious about tourists being respectful and dressing appropriately during their visits. For us, this meant we stayed to the outside and just got a peek at the inside from the side of the wall.

This ended up being perfectly fine as the grandest part of the temple resides on the exterior.

One of my favorite things about being in Asia is the ponds full of water lilies and bright lotus flowers. This temple was a real treat for that with a grand entrance walkway that cut straight through two large ponds that were filled with just those things.

Words can be put forward to describe places like these, but visiting them is more about the feeling.

Book your private tour of Ubud’s Royal Palace today with Viator.

House of Masks in Ubud, Bali

6. Go to the Setia Darma House of Masks

This is a cool attraction you shouldn’t miss. Born from one man’s passion for masks, the “museum” holds around 5900 Asian and African masks and puppets.

You can talk in detail about the collection owned by Hadi Sunyoto and curated by Prayitno and hear about the history of each piece.

Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud

7. Take the Campuhan Ridge Walk

If you’re looking for a peaceful nature retreat, walking the beautiful Campuhan Ridge is a place to go. The whole path is about 3 kilometers long so it can take a couple of hours if you’re walking at a leisurely pace.

The rolling green hills are so picturesque, you’ll never want it to end. Bring plenty of water and take a break at Karsa Kafe and the art shops along the way.

Our top recommended tours Campuhan Ridge Walk:

Giant Swing in Ubud

8. Stay at Zen Hideaway and Swing on a Giant Swing

Zen Hideaway is actually a house in the jungle north of Ubud that you can stay in. It’s a 150-year-old, 2 story riverfront house about 20 minutes away.

The best part is that they have a giant swing hanging down from two tall coconut trees that arch over a ravine. With a stomach-dropping view of the Agung river and a waterfall below this might just be the coolest swing in the world!

Our top recommended tours for Zen Hideaway and the Giant Swing:

Green Village in Ubud

9. Take an Eco Tour of the Green Village

Green Village is a community of 18 one of a kind homes built entirely of sustainable bamboo. You can book a half-day eco-tour in either the morning or afternoon.

Get inspired for sustainable living at the Green School where students of this nature-based construction method learn their artistry, walk through the bamboo factory to learn about the construction and conceptualization of the houses, and then walk through the village itself.

Or you can feel like a jungle royal and book a night in one of these unique and beautiful labyrinth-style treehouses for about $300 (up to 7 people) to experience a natural and unplugged holiday that you will never forget.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok (Travel Guide)

Tirta Empul Water Temple- Things to Do in Ubud

10. Bathe at the Tirta Empul Water Temple

About a 30-minute drive from Ubud, the Tirta Empul temple is a complex spiritual site with a legendary story behind it. Tirta Empul literally means “holy water spring” and is named for the many pools and purification baths located within its perimeters.

Though only local Hindu devotees and pilgrims may seek purification in the cold mountain water gushing from its 13 holy spouts, the temple is still fascinating to walk around and hear about.

Just make sure to bring your walking shoes as there are around 300 steps to the temple.

Our top recommended tours of Tirta Empul Water Temple:

Things to Do in Ubud

11. Do a Local Coffee Plantation Tour

Indonesia is home to the famous poop coffee. Yes, you heard that right. The most expensive coffee in the world at around $300-$600 a pound, the Kopi Luwak coffee is famous both for its taste and its unique production.

First, a wild civet cat must eat the ripest coffee berries on the plantation and then all, but the coffee bean is digested in its system.

When this Asian cat poops it out, plantation owners collect the droppings, wash the beans, roast them, and grind them. The process is said to reduce the bitterness of the coffee and give it a certain smoothness that many connoisseurs like.

There are several coffee plantations located in Ubud like the Kopi Luwak Coffee Farm, where you can try this odd treat and learn more about it.

Our top recommended tours of a Coffee Plantation:

Komodo Dragon, Ubud

12. Visit the Bali Bird and Reptile Park

Enjoy a great day of family fun viewing and interacting with 200 species of exotic birds among representations of their natural habitats.

Take pictures with colorful birds in the enclosed aviary, feed a 12-foot long crocodile, or visit some Komodo dragons and other reptiles at this well-kept bird and reptile park.

Book your Bali Bird and Reptile Park tour today with Viator.

Traditional village in Ubud

13. Visit a Traditional Village

When you’re in Ubud (or Bali in general), try to visit a traditional village like Penglipuran. While a little on the touristy side, it is interesting to see a well preserved old village with quintessential Balinese houses and people.

Penglipuran Village is surrounded by a pretty bamboo forest that hardly seems touched, which makes it a nice choice or enjoy the homeliness of even smaller villages elsewhere.

Our top recommended tours of a Traditional Village:

Gunung Kawi, Ubud, Bali

14. Explore Gunung Kawi

Encompassed in lush green vegetation, Gunung Kawi is a temple complex best known for its stunning ten, 23 foot high shrines cut elaborately into the rock face.

You can debate the different interpretations of these statues as you stroll through the many majestic monuments, fountains, and small pools peppered throughout the site.

Our top recommended tours of Gunung Kawi:

Tegallalong Rice Terraces, Ubud, Bali

15. Hike along the Tegallalang Rice Terraces

If you’ve ever seen pictures of rolling green rice terraces, then you know this is really a sight to behold. There’s something about the graceful tiers of this ancient rice irrigation method that is so mesmerizing.

Just 30 minutes north of Ubud you can see a glorious example of it. Visitors are welcome to walk among the intricate terrace steps or relax at art galleries and cafes to paint or draw this beautiful scene.

Bring hiking boots and small bills to give $0.50- $1 “tips” to locals who will let you pose with them or wear traditional garb.

Our top recommended tours of Tegallalang Rice Terraces:

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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