Ubud is the main center for culture on the island of Bali. It is a very laid back kind of town, and it tends to attract tourists who are interested in a more sophisticated experience than partying and playing in the sun. Ubud is also the best place on the island for cultural pursuits such as Balinese cooking or traditional dance. Some tourists will visit the town as part of a day trip, but to get the most out of Ubud it will be necessary to stay here for a few days.
Transportation to Ubud
Ubud is situated in central Bali. It is 22km (14 miles) from Denpasar and 38km (24 miles) from Kuta. The best options for transportation to Ubud from elsewhere on the island would include:
- Perama has a shuttle bus service from Kuta (50,000 IDR), Sanur (40,000 IDR), Lovina (100,000 IDR), Padang Bai (50,000 IDR), Candi Dasa (50,000 IDR), and Nusa Lembongan (140,000 IDR) – all prices correct as of early 2013. Perama has a service going to Ngurah Rai International Airport from Ubud, but they do not currently pick up from the airport.
- The cheapest way to get to Ubud from many locations in Bali is to go by bemo. These mini-buses are fine for short distances, but it is important to keep in mind that they route they follow is to suit local people and not tourists – in order words, they might not always stop at the places where tourists want to get to.
- The most comfortable way to get to Ubud is to go by taxi. It usually costs 250,000 to 350,000 IDR (US$25 to US$35) from Ngurah Rai International Airport.
- Many hotels in Ubud are able to arrange a pick-up from the airport (or elsewhere), but this can be more expensive than a taxi.
Getting Around Ubud
Ubud is a small town, and this means that going everywhere by foot is definitely an option. Other alternatives for getting around would include:
- Riding a bicycle can be a good way to get around the town, but this option is best for people who are in reasonable physical shape because there are many hills here. Most hotels and guest houses will be able to arrange bicycle hire – it costs about 25,000 IDR per day.
- It is usually possible to pick up a taxi in Ubud even though there is no local service – many taxis come to the town to drop people off from elsewhere on the island.
- Many hotels and resorts will have their own transportation that can take guests to the main tourist attractions – this can be a bit more expensive, but it is often more convenient.
- Visitors will find that there are a number of locations in the town where they can rent a motorbike. This is something that most hotels and resorts can arrange as well.
- Bemos are very cheap, and they cover a number of routes in the Ubud area.
The main attractions in Ubud would include:
- The Rudana Art Museum not only houses a wonderful art collection, but it also a beautiful building that was designed according to the traditional architectural philosophy of Bali – the tri loka. As well as the permanent collection, there are also many special events here throughout the year.
- The Bali Center for Artistic Creativity is a place where visitors can go and learn about the arts of the island. There are many courses available and most of these are open to foreign visitors.
- Goa Gajah is an impressive Hindu holy site, that is famous for its Elephant Cave. The entrance to this cave has been carved to look like the mouth of a demon – it is believed to have been created at some point in the ninth century.
- Tritu Empul is considered to be a very sacred place by the Balinese, and they come here to bathe themselves in the holy spring. Tourists are usually not allowed to bathe at Tritu Empul.
- Pura Kehen is one of the most beautiful temples in Bali, and it is located to the north of the town.
There are some unique traditional activities that people can enjoy when they visit Ubud including:
- Ubud is one of the best places to go on the island to see traditional Balinese dance. The Bali Centre for Artistic Creativity (see above) will usually be able to arrange classes.
- Some of the best Balinese cooking schools are to be found in Ubud including; Paon Bali Cooking School, Casa Luna Cooking School, and Payuk Bali Cooking School.
- There are a large number of spas and health resorts in the Ubud area, and this can be a good option for those who are in need of a bit of pampering.
- There are a number of craft villages in the local area, and these can be well worth visiting.
- White water rafting is available to the west of Ubud on the Ayung River.
- There are a couple of local companies offering bike tours of the local area. Hotels and resorts will usually also be able to arrange these tours.
- The main market in Ubud can be found on Jl Raya, and there is a nice selection of traditional crafts on sale here.
- There are a number of good second-hand bookstores in the town, so it is a good place to sell finished books and buy some new reading material.
- Ubud is a good option for people who wish to learn yoga or meditation – there are a number of courses for both of these activity advertised around the town.
Some of the best restaurants in the town would include:
- Cafe Lotus is a Balinese style venue with seating overlooking a lotus pool. This restaurant is located on Jalan Raya.
- Lamak Restaurant & Bar is a trendy place that has been designed to appeal to the arty crowd. They offer a nice selection of Asian as well as European food.
- Mosaic is an up market venue that has won many international awards for culinary excellence – they also provide cooking classes. Reservations are always needed to dine here, and they are located on Jalan Raya Sanggingan.
- Dewa Warung is a good option if visitors are looking for reasonably priced local or Indonesian food. This restaurant can be found on Jalan Goutama.
- Fly Cafe is an open style designed restaurant that offers international and vegetarian cuisine. They are located on the main road in Ubud.
Ubud is a sleepy kind of town, but there are a few nightlife options including:
- The Jazz Cafe was one of the first jazz venues to open on the island, and it is arguably the best. As well as jazz, there are also other types of music played here including; reggae, folk, salsa, blues, and RnB.
- The Laughing Buddha Bar is located on Jalan Monkey Forest. The play some great chill-out music here, and they have 3 for the price of 2 cocktail promotions in the evenings (as of early 2013).
- XL Shisha Lounge claims to be the most laid back bar in Ubud, and they could be right. As well as offering a good selection of drinks they are also able to provide hookah pipes.
- The Melting Pot Game Room and Pub is a fun place to visit if people enjoy playing games like pool, darts, or fussball while the drink. This venue is located on Jalan Pengosekan.