Ubud, Bali - Paradise at The Foothills of Gianyar
February 3, 2019
by Bryan Chan
Nestled in the lush foothills of Gianyar province, Ubud, which means medicine in Balinese, is a charming little town quite unlike its neighboring towns and districts. Surrounded by rippling rice terraces and craft villages, the town is a creative hub that attracts a growing community of entrepreneurs and spiritual seekers. Ubud’s unique central location has allowed it to receive the developmental boons of tourism from the South, but not in excess that it has interfered with local traditions and culture.
While the number of visitors may have spiked after the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”, Ubud remains a charismatic place for visitors to stop by or stay. It exudes a soft and tranquil energy that can be incredibly refreshing and nourishing after days spent in the party town of Kuta, or the humid surf beaches of Uluwatu and Canggu. Taking a stroll in the quiet streets of Ubud during evening prayer time is something that has to be experienced. The cool crisp air becomes perfumed by incense and frangipani flowers, while the floaty tune of ceremonial music emanates from the Hindu temples, creating a feeling of otherworldliness.
How to get there?
Upon leaving the airport terminal, you will be greeted and hassled by drivers who will try very hard to convince you to take a ride with them, and oftentimes the price offered is exorbitant. Prebooking a taxi through your hotel or guesthouse beforehand is much reliable. The ride should cost approximately 350k.
A cheaper option would be to use “GoJek”, a ride grabbing app similar to Uber and Lyft. It will come to about 250k to 300k depending on the unpredictable traffic of Bali.
Car Rental (not recommended)
Car rentals are readily available at the airport, but unless you are used to driving in tight narrow spaces or have driven in Bali before, it’s better to take a Taxi. It’s cheaper than reimbursing the scratches that you are likely to get navigating through the notoriously narrow streets and alleyways that Bali is known for.
Getting around Ubud
The best way to go around is by a rental scooter which is available all over town. Just look out for bike rental signs or enquire with your guesthouse or hotel. Depending on the season and make of the bike. You can be paying anywhere from 50,000 Rupiah per day to 120,000 Rupiah.
If you are just going around town center, walking is a pleasant way to discover the gem-filled nooks and crannies of Ubud.
Taxi drivers are all around town, they are usually at street corners holding a “taxi’ sign. Note that grab sharing apps are frowned upon in Ubud.
Where to stay
Ranging from simple to extravagant, affordable to premium prices, there’s something available for all. Book through Airbnb or travel websites, or search for house rentals on facebook pages if you are planning to stay for a longer time.
Where to go/ what to do?
Explore the Monkey forest
This famous forest attracts visitors from all over the world. Filled with carved stone monuments and ancient temples, the thick jungle is home to some hundreds of Balinese Long-tailed Macaques. When there, it might feel like you are exploring a forgotten world in an Indiana Jones movie or a Tomb Raider video game.
Take a Joyride
Hop on your moped and take a joyride around Ubud. Getting from one place to another in Ubud can be incredibly scenic and fun. From shortcuts through the monkey forest, cruising down an avenue shaded by thick foliage of banyan roots, to scooting by terraces of rice paddies. It’s an experience not to be missed.
Go Raw Vegan
Ubud is a sanctuary for plant-based cuisine, hosting world-class vegan and raw vegan restaurants across the hub, the town attracts herbivorous foodies from all over the globe. Try going on a raw vegan or vegan diet during your stay, and you might be surprised at how vibrant you feel from that experience.
Tingle your taste buds at these plant-based restaurants:
The wooden finishings and white walls create a warm cozy atmosphere that goes well with the lovely homey food served at Sage. Try the hearty portioned salad bowls and buffalo tempeh wings.
Alchemy Holistic Cafe
Raw vegan food never looked so good. Who would have known you could make wonderful pizzas and desserts with uncooked and plant-based ingredients. With Alchemy you can!
An oasis for digital nomads and raw vegan foodies. The smoothie bowls here are too die for, but don’t die before you actually get a taste!
A raw vegan restaurant headed by local culinary prodigy, Chef Made. Moksa boasts an eclectic menu, made mostly with locally grown organic ingredients. The raw Gado Gado and cheesecake here are a godsend.
Feast your eyes on the architectural wonder made entirely out of bamboo, then proceed to feast on the world-class plant-based dishes here. Bambu Inda’s Jackfruit Rendang will melt the heart of even the toughest of carnivores.
Attend a ceremony at the Pyramids of Chi
Pyramids? Yes! Egypt is not the only country with pyramids. Come here to marvel at this wonder of the world, and then attend a sound healing or a cacao ceremony that will release your worries and leave you feeling fine like a pharaoh.
Visit Campuhan Ridge Walk and Tegalalang Rice paddies
Two iconic Instagram spots. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and go trigger happy with your camera as the spectacular golden light saturates the land at dawn. Alternatively, you can visit just about any other unnamed rice paddies on your scooter joyrides. They are all gorgeous.
Ubud Art Market
A charming array of trinkets, furniture and carry bags sold here. You never know what you might find. Whether you are a photographer or shopaholic, there’s something here for everyone.
Bali has received its foreign creative community well and vice versa, with foreign-owned businesses hiring and training locals. Streets like Hanoman and Penestenan plays host to a large number of these independent brands which are a joy to discover.
Unwind with a Balinese massage at Cantika
The masseurs in Cantika are well versed in the traditional art of Balinese massage. Using only products handmade from local ingredients, they will ease the tension from your body and leave you supple and radiant. There is no better way to end a long day or holiday.
Create your own experiences. Ubud is a gem filled treasure trove that is best explored through wandering around. Be sure to make time for that and you’ll be surprised at what you might find!