Most tourists to Bali flock to the beaches of Kuta and Seminyak but this beautiful island has a lot more to offer than sun and sea. For a dose of culture, lush green rice field views and perhaps a yoga class or two, head inland to the small village of Ubud.
Ubud is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace but if you find yourself with only a couple of nights to spare here or can only visit as a day trip, the ideas below will help you make the most of your time.
There’s no point in sleeping in when you’re in Bali. By 7am most of the locals will have been up for an hour or two and you’ll probably have been stirred from your sleep by an overzealous rooster anyway.
Make the most of the cooler hours before the sun gets any higher in the sky and head to the market for some sight seeing and souvenir shopping. Ubud market, like all markets in Bali, is in full swing during the morning hours and you’ll be able to watch the locals shopping for food and colourful flowers for offerings.
Once you’ve explored the local side of the market, head up to the tourist market for the usual sarongs, cotton sundresses and beaded jewellery. You’ll get a better price bargaining early in the morning – the first sale of the day is considered to give good luck to the stallholder so they’ll be more inclined to lower their prices for you.
Most hotels and homestays provide their own breakfast but if you’ve just arrived or you feel like a change of scenery, there are lots of great options in Ubud.
Try Tutmak for great coffee and the best cinnamon rolls in town. This restaurant, popular with expats, is also great for people watching. Find it on the corner of Ubud football field
Head to Ubud’s most famous tourist attraction – the sacred Monkey Forest before the coach tours arrive. You can buy bunches of bananas to feed the monkeys outside but you’ll likely be mobbed before you even get through the gates. Also keep an eye on your sunglasses, camera and any other loose items – the monkeys like shiny things!
Don’t miss the Pura Dalem – Temple of Death inside the forest. You’ll need to wear a sarong and sash to enter the temple grounds.
Time for a spot of shopping! Ubud is home to many lovely boutiques and you can while away a happy couple of hours browsing the clothing, jewellery and home wares.
Shops not to miss include Blue Stone Botanicals on Jalan Dewi Sita for locally produced essential oils and beauty products; Studio Perak on Jalan Hanoman for silver jewellery and Ganesha bookshop on Jalan Raya for an unrivalled collection of beautiful and hard to find books about Bali and Indonesia.
You’re probably starving by now so it’s time to start thinking about lunch. Ubudians like their food organic and their juice green so why not head to the original health food café in Ubud – Bali Buddha.
You can find Bali Buddha on Jalan Jembawan, just behind Ganesha bookshop and opposite the post office. As well as healthy juices, sandwiches made with freshly baked bread and organic salads, Bali Buddha also have a small bakery and shop stocking local and imported healthy snacks and treats