Ubud is an amazing place - green, lush and the cultural hot-spot of Bali. It has so much to offer and countless things to do. We’ve narrowed it down and put together a comprehensive list of the top things do.
We both had an amazing time here and spent our whole time soaking up Balinese traditions. So without further adue,here are our top 6 things to do in Ubud, Bali. Most of them are free or cost very little, enjoy!
1. HIKE THE CAMPUHAN RIDGE WALK
This walk is around 2km each way, which isn't easy in the heat! So we recommend doing it in the early morning or late afternoon to not only avoid the heat, but the crowds as well. TIP - Don't do this walk without water! We always use these while travelling to keep our water nice and cool.
It's a beautiful walk with stunning views of rice terraces and Balinese greenery. Here is a great guide on how to get there. Be sure to have a drink and a snack at Karsa Kafe at the top of the walk. It's got a stunning view of the rice fields. If you're short on time you may want to avoid orderring anything fancy as the turn around time is a bit slow! We didn't mind this though, it gave us a good excuse to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.
2. VISIT A COFFEE PLANTATION
Bali is famous for it's delicious coffee. There are several coffee plantations where you can see how the coffee is made, but none of them have the view that Pulina Coffee Plantation has. This is a must if you're in Ubud! Even in a downpour this was such an amazing experience. The staff are great and they even offer you umbrellas if it's raining.
Upon arrival they give you a quick tour of the plantation. They show you the main attraction which is the Kopi Luwak (the most expensive coffee in the world or poo coffee). Basically its is defecated coffee beans that come from an animal called a Civet Cat. The beans are washed and treated and then grinded into one expensive cup of coffee. We opted against trying the coffee, not for the price, but for ethical reasons. We could not be sure how well the civet cats were being treated, although we did enquire about this and were told that the animals were treated ethically. But we will leave that decision up to you. If you want to read more about this unique coffee check this link out.
The tour comes to an end at the plantation's cafe, which is situated over the plantation's vast and lush rice terraces. Once seated they give you a taster of 7 different flavoured coffees. The best part about this is that it is FREE! And we all know how I love free things. After sampling the coffee you'll likely want to have more and buy another cup of your favourite flavour to enjoy while taking in the epic views of the rice terraces.
Once you've had enough coffee and have to pull yourselves away from the view to take a much needed washroom break, you'll make your way out past the gift shop. Here you'll be tempted to buy the coffee of all your favourite flavours you just sampled. Our suggestion here is DON'T. The instant coffee is nothing like what you would've just tasted. If you must buy something as a gift for a coffee lover back home, we suggest buying the whole beans, which are much tastier when you arrive back home.
3. GO TO GUNUNG KAWI
Gunung Kawi is a collection of 10 huge shrines carved into a cliff face. They are surrounded by temples and a flowing river. It is located in the north east of Bali and is best accessed by car. The shrines are epic and you can't imagine the size until you are up close. The best time to visit like most places in Bali is early morning or late in the afternoon. When we visited we went in the late afternoon and there was virtually no crowds! We pretty much had the place all to ourselves.
Tips before you go:
Wear proper footwear. It's a steep walk down and a steep walk back up so flip flops are not ideal!
Bring water. Unless you want to purchase overpriced bottled water that isn't very cold bring your own. Buy these! They keep your water ice cold all day, which is so key in the Bali heat.
Don't be fooled. Do not buy a sarong before you get to the entrance to Gunung Kawi. Along your way you will be hassled by vendors to buy a sarong and will be told you must have one before entering the temple. Not to worry, they give you one to borrow for free at the entrance to the temple.
4. CYCLE THROUGH THE VILLAGES
This is an experience we did for free through our resort in Ubud. Check out how amazing it was here. This was one of our favourite experiences in Ubud! We absolutely loved cycling through the villages and we got a real glimpse into Balinese daily life. The tour lasted about an hour long and we cycled around 8km. Hopefully you watched the video at the top of the page to get a feel of the experience. If not click here. We highly recommend doing this one!
5. SEE A TRADITIONAL DANCING SHOW
A must see in Bali. These traditional Balinese dance performances are truly magical. The dancing girls are mesmerizing with their darting eyes and perfectly in sync routines. Ubud is the best place in Bali to witness one of these dancing spectacles. Out of all of our top things to do in Ubud, this one is the priciest. Having said that however, it is extremely affordable and well worth the reasonable price of tickets. So again, we highly recommend immersing yourself in the culture and experience one of these shows. There are many different options to choose form when it comes to these performances. There are Kecak, Legong and Barong dances, Mahabharata and Ramayana ballets, Wayang Kulit puppets and Gamelan orchestras. For more information and performance schedules check out this useful link. We opted for a Legong dance performed at the Ubud Water Palace. Before I get onto how amazing the performance was I've got to rave about how amazing the venue was! During the day the Palace is an impressive sight. It has a large lotus pond surrounding its entrance. The pond is filled with, well you guessed it, hundreds of beautiful pink lotus flowers. The pond glistens in the sun and reflects the intricate beauty of the Balinese architecture of the palace. At night the show lights light up the palace and the stage. The vibrant pink of of the lotus flowers still shine even during the night. It makes for the perfect ambience to experience this amazing show. During the Legong show you can expect intricate finger movements, complicated footwork, and expressive gestures and facial expressions that'll have you blushing and questioning... 'Is she looking at me?'.
TIP before you go:
Get there early! Have dinner a bit earlier that night and be sure to arrive early to have your choice of seats. Seating is limited so don't expect to rock up and get the seat that you want.
Sit in the front row! To really immerse yourself in the experience, sit right front row centre. It's a truly mesmerising experience.
Bring your camera and tripod. If you're lucky enough to own a DSLR camera (we use this entry level one) bring it! Set it up inconspicuously out of anyone's view, knock up the exposure, tune your ISO and strap on your mic (we use this one). Hit the record button and let it rest on your tripod while you enjoy the show! It will definitely be something you want to look back on.
6. VISIT TEGENUNGAN WATERFALL
Last but definitely not least, you must visit Tegenungan Waterfall. It is an incredibly scenic waterfall situated in the midst of beautiful lush jungle. The waterfall has a shallow bathing area and their are cafes nearby if you want to grab a snack or a quick drink.
It's well worth hiring a driver for this one. There is a steep climb down and then back up again, which will be more than enough walking for you. When you return back up your legs will be sore and you'll want to do nothing else but enjoy the car ride back to the dinner spot that you picked out for the night from your Lonely Planet guide (which we highly recommend by the way!).
Anyways, back to this amazing waterfall. There is also a shallow bathing pool at the foot of the waterfall, which you're more than welcome to take a dip in! Just be prepared for a refreshing chill when you do. It's perfect after working up a sweat from the trek down. There is also some stairs and a path leading up to the top of the waterfall where you can take some amazing photos and plaster them on your Instagram feed (kind of like we did here). Be aware that you will have to pay a small fee to access this part of the waterfall. It is policed by the locals and the money is apparently used for the upkeep of the area, which is a good cause right? We'd say the small price is definitely worth it, just be careful when you're up there as the surface can be slippery from the mist of the waterfall.
Tips before you go:
Bring good shoes (and maybe some flip-flops to change into after your swim)! As I mentioned above the trek down and back up again is no small feat, so slip flops aren't the best idea for this one.
Wear your bathing suit to this one. It's a great place to swim so you don't want to miss out. There is also lockers if you want to leave any of your valuables locked away.
Bring a towel! As I alluded to above, the water is quite cold. So a towel to dry off after is nice to have.
Respect the boundaries. Once you get down to the waterfall you'll see a rope and red sign bordering off the base directly under the waterfall. This is here for your safety and it would be extremely reckless to go past it. Unfortunately there was a death of a tourist who went too close, so be smart!
Bring some change and extra rupiah. You'll have to pay for entrance to the top of the waterfall and you don't want to be handing the locals a 100,000Rp bill (which is typical when you exchange money at the airport), they'll just look at you funny.