Whether you’re a surf seeker, an adrenaline junkie, a would-be yogi or a professional relaxer, you’ll find your dream location in Bali. After visiting, I’m not even slightly surprised at how popular the small Indonesian island is. ‘Eat Pray Love’ probably did its part to get the masses flocking there to ‘find themselves’, but confessing you’ve found yourself is actually just a genius excuse to never have to leave the bohemian bubble.
My personal travel tastes lead me straight to Ubud- the lush green centre of the island. As much as I love a good beachy day, I’m a pretty useless sunbather (my pasty white English skin just isn’t cut out for it you know?) so the jungle scenery suited me a lot better.
One question we had upon arriving in Bali was “how long should we spend in Ubud?” Some people advised a couple of days max, whereas some seem to set up home there for as long as possible. After some deliberation, we settled on a week. A week was perfect (if you can’t make time to stay forever), and here’s how we spent it:
Day 1: Get Your Bearings- Exploring the Town and Checking Out the Palace
We stayed just outside the town (only about five minutes away by Scooter) and we made sure to make time to explore it. One of the highlights was attending a dance show at the Palace; incredible costumes, unusual dance moves all accompanied by live music made for quite the show. The movements of the dancers seemed at odds to gentle flowing dance forms that I am accustomed to. Folktales were told through jerking movements and wide eyes that moved in time to the music with incredible precision. The show was an easy and entertaining way to sample a bit of Indonesian culture.
Day 2: Make Some Furry Friends- Ubud Monkey Forest and the Ridge Walk
On our second day, we were craving a bit of nature. Luckily, we didn’t have to go far! The Ubud Monkey Forest is located just on the outskirts of the town and is easy to reach by bike. You only really need a couple of hours to wander around the trails and make friends with some monkeys. Oh, and when I say make friends I mean, watch them from afar, try not to make eye contact for fear of a full-blown monkey fight, protect your belongings painstakingly and get the shock of your life when one- after all this- still jumps on your shoulder. They really are cute though, well worth popping by to say hello!
Not far away, on the same side of the town you have the Campuhan Ridge Walk. Easy to complete in an afternoon, the ridge walk is perfect for those who fancy a scenic walk but are not out for anything too strenuous. The ridges take you on a narrow path over hills surrounded by rich green jungles and rice terraces. So many stunning photo ops without having to even leave the town!
Day 3: Early Rises- Tegalalang Rice Terraces and Tirta Empul Temple
The Tegalalang rice terraces are certainly not to be missed while visiting Ubud. You’ll have no doubt seen idyllic images of the sun-kissed green terraces while researching Bail. You may also have seen loads of insta-friendly swing pictures? Well, the Tegalalang rice terraces are surrounded by viewpoints from which you can take a swing over the jungle. This makes for an incredible picture, but the swings have become such a tourist hot-spot that you’ll find yourself paying around $30 for the snap.
We dragged ourselves out of bed super early to catch the sunrise at the rice terraces. Even though the day we went was a bit rainy, and the sunrise wasn’t the best, I would still fully recommend getting there at this time of day; we had the whole place to ourselves- not another tourist in sight! We also didn’t get charged any entrance fee wh9ich was an added bonus.
Since we got there so early we still had the whole day ahead of us. We decided to spend it visiting the nearby Tirta Empul Temple. This temple was such a wonderful find, full to the brim with history and culture. The main feature was the pools of holy water which locals would bath in daily, following a specific ritual under each stream of water. At first, we thought we’d be encroaching by getting involved in this ritual (neither of us are religious in any way) but after our guide persuaded us enthusiastically we decided to give it a go. It was a fantastic experience to feel part of the whole ritual and to know that we were doing it respectfully (even if the water was absolutely freezing!)
Day 4: Feed your Essential Needs- Yoga Barn and Satria coffee plantation
A trip to Ubud wouldn’t be complete without giving some good old fashioned ‘finding-yourself’ yoga a go! The Yoga Barn, which is only a short walk from the main street in Ubud, is a wonderful place to take a class. With classes for beginners, experts, and everyone in between! It is also a gorgeous place to spend a day relaxing with a book. Be sure to sample some vegan goodies in the café as well- you’ll feel rejuvenated!
After a morning of yoga, we hopped on the bike and drove up to Satria coffee plantation. We’d already sampled the famous Luwak coffee in Yogyakarta, but we couldn’t resist getting a bit more and saying hello to the lovely Luwak Cats of Bali.
The guide we had at the plantation was great, explaining the coffee roasting process fully and letting us see the beans at each stage. The best part? We got to sample a full range of coffees completely for free! Sitting on the plantations’ balcony with an incredible view of the jungle we sipped on our free coffees loving life.
Day 5: Go Chasing Waterfalls- Trip to Tukad Cepung
Waterfalls are a key part of the Ubud experience and there is SO many to choose from! Do your research and see which ones tickle your fancy, big, small, in the jungle or down in a cave- your waterfall needs are guaranteed to be satisfied. We opted for Tukad Cepung waterfall. Tucked away in a cave you have to venture down many steps the reach the falls- but it’s totally worth the thigh burn!
The opening in the roof of the cave lets in a stream of light which illuminates the pool at the foot of the waterfall creating an incredible view. I can easily recommend this waterfall, but if you have more time then Tegenungan, Kanto Lampo and Nungnung waterfalls all look amazing too.
Day 6: Get Active- Mount Batur Hike and Hot Springs
Day six was another painfully early rise. We had decided that our time in Ubud wouldn’t be complete without hiking mount Batur and the best time to do it? Sunrise of course! After considering how we might do the hike alone, we instead chose a guided tour with ‘Get Your Guide’. Although this seemed expensive it turned out to be the best option. The hike isn’t necessarily difficult (and I’m defo not particularly fit), but to get there at 3 in the morning and complete most of the hike in the pitch black would probably cost you a lot and be more stressful than it has to be. The tour with ‘Get Your Guide’ included transport, a hiking guide, breakfast and visits to the hot springs and a coffee plantation after the hike- completely worth it in my opinion.
The hike itself was tiring but getting to the peak just as the sun rose over the mountains was breath-taking. After a photo shoot and a much-needed coffee (which I instantly spilled down myself- disastrous) we sat and enjoyed the insane view.
After the hike, the hot springs were very welcome! We were thankful to be able to unwind and relax in the pools while taking in the views of the amazing surrounding landscape after our active morning.
Day 7: Chill out in the town, you’ve been busy!
You can be as active as you like in Ubud; there’s always another hike, another incredible waterfall, another historic temple and they’re all simply incredible. However, if you want a more chill day, the town itself is full of lovely places to grab a coffee, fill up on amazing veggie grub and just relax. Wulan’s vegetarian café was our favourite place to chill and get some amazing budget meals and we spent a lot of our final day relaxing there.