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 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.