Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Ubud, Bali: Come Here for the Culture


There are two primary reasons why most people come to Bali: the beaches and the culture.

For the beaches, most people go to the Kuta region, though Sanur, Nusa Dua, and Lovina are popular as well.  For culture, though, one place leads the pack: Ubud.

Ubud is a great place to soak up Balinese culture. This part of Bali is all about temples, ceremonies and traditional costumes.

The best thing you can do?  Go for a walk and explore. If a door’s open, you never know what you might see!

Ubud is also where the Bali portion of the book Eat, Pray, Love takes place. (Fans of the book — yes, you can meet Liz’s friends Wayan and Ketut!  I met Wayan!  Wayan’s shop is on Jalan Jembawan, just past the Post Office.  Look for the “Balinese Healing” signs.  Any driver can take you to Ketut.)

One activity you must do in Ubud?  Visit the Monkey Forest.

This forest is, yes, filled with monkeys.  From large patriarchs to tiny babies, you’ll see more monkeys than you’ve ever seen in your life.

Just make sure you don’t have food on you — if you do (and sometimes even if you don’t), they’ll jump on you! (They did not jump on me.  I’m afraid of virtually every animal and took no chance with these wild monkeys.)

And be considerate.  Don’t yell near them or get in their faces with a flash camera — you’ll scare them.  Some of them were trembling with fear.

Another must in Ubud?  Seeing a Balinese dance performance.

There are shows all over town.  The most popular one is the nightly performance at the Grand Palace.  It’s like no dance performance you’ve ever seen.

Beyond that, Ubud is a good place to relax and enjoy the scenery for a few days. There’s not a lot of pressure in terms of sightseeing, so feel free to explore and let the atmosphere soak into your skin.

I also found Ubud to be one of the better food cities in Southeast Asia.

I primarily ate vegetarian food in Indonesia — not because I’m a vegetarian, but because it was so good! The nasi campur — a selection of food served with rice — here included a potato samosa, curried coconut, stewed eggplant, tempeh, and tofu falafel with red rice.

Looking for some signature Bali rice paddies?  Ubud even has some in town.

I did enjoy my time in Ubud. But like Luang Prabang and to a lesser degree, Siem Reap and Chiang Mai, I’m not a fan of small towns in Southeast Asia that cater to upmarket tourists.

I totally understand why people enjoy places like these — they’re just not my thing. Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them!

If you’re going to Bali, build in at least a day or two in Ubud. Go for the culture; go for the souvenir shopping; go for the food.  Who knows?  You might stay longer than you imagined.


14 Responses to “Ubud, Bali: Come Here for the Culture”
  1. travelroach says:

    Nice photos!
    When I was in Ubud there were a hundred elderly foreign tourists ambling up and down the main roads looking at handicrafts. Good place to bring your granny.

  2. Ubud was too quite for me but indeed it has the best culture experience, I would say.
    Did you try rafting there, Kate? Rafting in Ayung River, Ubud is very fun! (The best thing I did in Ubud ^,^)

  3. Patricia GW says:

    Ahhh that’s so cool you met Wayan! I hope Ketut is still around in a few years, when I get to visit Bali 🙂

  4. Mariah says:

    amazing photos! did you see any store signs that said EAT, PRAY, LEAVE?

  5. Great info and pictures! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Really enjoyed this post. The pictures were amazing and your suggestions of things to do made me want to go now! Thanks for educating me on Ubud.

  7. megan says:

    Wow, Ubud looks beautiful! To be honest until fairly recently I wasn’t particularly interested in Bali – sooo many Australians go there and I have always thought it would be kind of like an extension of the Gold Coast in Queensland.

    I’m definitely starting to change my tune though, and I think Indonesia is next (or close to next!) on my list.

  8. Amanda says:

    I actually just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love, and found myself thinking Ubud would definitely be worth visiting. (Plus, I’m kind of in love with the character of Ketut!)

    Love all your photos from here.

  9. Katherina says:

    It looks gorgeous! (and the food…. !!)
    But I completely understand what you mean – it doesn’t seem too much of a backpacker paradise to me. Still – I’m wanting to go!

  10. My sister and I just returned from an Indonesia trip. We spent 2 nights at the Pita Maha, in Ubud. It was a wonderful oasis, in an overly commercialized town. Practically next door, was a very good restaurant, Indus. We also went to the Monkey Forest (a highlight!) and from there took a taxi “to” Sari Organic restaurant. The taxi can only take you to the start of a path, which goes through rice paddies, and awesome scenery. It was such an interesting and photogenic walk, that it’s difficult to estimate the distance- maybe 1K. And the food at Sari Organic was excellent. Allow a couple hours to leisurely enjoy the whole experience. We enjoyed Ubud, without shopping, which is pretty unusual, for us. I think it’s ridiculous to blame the over-commercialization on “Eat, Pry, Love”, when it has obviously been this way since before the book/movie came out.

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