Known worldwide as the cultural and spiritual centre of the Island of Gods, Ubud is a destination in Bali that, despite being touristic, should not be missed.
Art lovers, adventurers and even those inspired by the movie “Eat, Pray and Love,” are presented with scenic landscapes, ancestral traditions, magnificent temples and an engaging lifestyle.
There is no doubt that there are no limits to what you can do in Ubud and its surrounding area. Here some suggestions for some must-have experiences around there.
Walk along the Campuhan Ridge Walk
One of the most popular places to hike and that triggered the importance of Ubud as a spiritual escape. Here was built the first temple of the city by the High Hindu Priest Rsi Markandeya. Only 10 minutes from downtown, the Campuhan Ridge Walk is a gift for the eyes and the soul. Over 3 km, rivers (yes, there are two!), valleys, coconut trees, rice paddies and fresh tropical greeneries accompany us on the hike. But the real magic happens at sunrise and sunset, they are mesmerising.
Take a yoga class
Over the last decade, Ubud has been becoming the mecca of yogis and yoginis around the world and going to the mat practising yoga is a great way to get involved in its laidback and peculiar vibe. The fresh air, the exuberant nature, the warm sunshine, the doves singing, the constant scent of incense and the deep spirituality, all come together for a memorable experience. There are several centres of Yoga, the so-called Shala, with various types of classes and extended hours. For those looking for greater immersion, the choice of retreats is equally vast.
Watch a Balinese Dance
Ubud is one of the best places to enjoy various traditional performances. At night, its temples are invaded by Balinese Dance shows, a centuries-old tradition and a central element of local culture, religious belief and everyday life. Various types of dance are accompanied by a gamelan orchestra, the best known being Legong and Barong. There are even dances that include trance states such as the absorbent Kecak & Fire Dance. To watch one of them, just go to one of the most emblematic temples in the city such as the Ubud Palace or the Saraswati Temple.
Experiencing sound healing at the Pyramids of Chi
Yes, there are pyramids in Bali! Located in the vicinity of the traditional village of Bentuyung, the Pyramids of Chi are a complex formed by two pyramids, one representing the Sun and the other the Moon, designed to provide a sound experience of healing and relaxation. These sessions, which take us on a journey to the sound of didgeridoos, gongs and drums, are held every day. There are also cocoa ceremonies, acoustic bioresonance, among other sessions. A great way to start or end the day in Ubud.
Visit the Ubud Market
For art lovers and those looking for real souvenirs at affordable prices, Ubud’s Traditional Art Market is one of the best on the island. Carved statues, paintings, clothes and other hand-made products by the talented artists of Ubud are exhibited from 8am in the morning, not only in the main building but also along Karna Street.
However, for the early risers, the market has another surprise. At around 6 in the morning, when farmers arrive with their fresh products and set up their stalls, the daily shopping frenzy begins. Aromas, sounds, colours, tastes and rhythms of local life leave anyone feeling hypnotised by jumping out of bed early.
Participate in a purification ritual
Balinese Hindus regularly participate in rituals involving water, the so-called Melukat, of spiritual cleansing intended to achieve self-purification of body and soul. There are several places with holy water springs that are available for the purification ritual, which can also be performed on the beach, in a temple or in the house and temple of the Hindu Priest. The Tirta Empul temple is one of several purification sites and also one of the most known where even the travellers can proceed to this ritual.
Lose yourself in Monkey Forest
With a lush, tranquil forest and hundreds of monkeys roaming freely, Monkey Forest is more than just a natural attraction, but also spiritual and cultural. The 12-hectare area, in addition to imposing trees, exudes a serene atmosphere, dotted here and there with traditional stone carvings and sacred temples. The vibration is mystical, and while observing all the surrounding space, it is still possible to interact with the daring monkeys. All you have to do is lose yourself in this ancient and traditionally Balinese world.
Stroll in the rice terraces
A scenery is worthy of a postcard, and that characterises Bali. Light blue sky, lush coconut trees and tropical greens adorning different levels of rice fields are in fact a breathtaking landscape, but the beauty of the rice terraces of Ubud is just a part of its charm. In fact, these were built to facilitate the effective use of water resources and organise local social units, the subak system, reflecting the ancient Hindu philosophy Tri Hita Karana, which establishes the harmonious relationship between man, nature and the Gods.
Spend quality time with your hosts
In Bali, the type of accommodation you choose has a significant influence on personal experience on the island. The ideal is to book a room in the so-called homestay, small accommodations run by local families.
In addition to being welcomed with open arms, you’ll have the door open to the timeless Balinese culture, being able to witness the daily rituals of these families. If you show interest in local customs, you will be offered typical dishes, and indeed, the invitation to participate in ceremonies and family celebrations will arise.
So get as close as you can from the Balinese family and the experience, as well as authentic, will be unforgettable.