A single day is not nearly enough time to explore all that the Balinese town of Ubud has to offer, that should go without saying, but sometimes circumstances dictate things and that’s all the time that you have. This article will help guide you to make the most informed decisions on how to fully enjoy the time that you have to spend in Ubud, Bali.
Where to Stay?
One of the first questions any visitor to a new city has is: Where is the best place to stay?
The best way to figure that out is actually to first look at all the activities that are available to you, and making a choice on where to stay that will help make your visit as efficient as possible.
Lets go over the two most important considerations:
• What is the limit of your walking distance
• What attractions do you want to see
While Ubud is not very large in regards to square mileage, the city tends to flow into the collection of 13 villages that surround the town. Visitors say that Ubud just feels like one big cohesive town of artists and craftsmen.
Because it is a tourist destination, there will be many options between villas, resorts, and hotels that are located far from the center of town. Make sure to check your options on a map, and make sure that you are within walking distance from the center of town, or renting a motorbike/ scooter may be required. Taxis are also widely available, but the price you pay will be very inflated as a tourist, and your negotiation skills will help determine the final cost. Read on more for transportation information below.
Walking vs Riding
The limits of what your ‘walking distance’ may be will depend on the individual, and the weather will play a factor in this as well, it can be very hot in Bali. An important factor to consider is not just the distance, but the road itself as well. There are many villas that are within 1.5 kilometers of town, but are located on small roads that have no sidewalk or street lights. These roads can be dangerous if drivers are unable to see people walking. Use caution and common sense when walking these rural roads, if you choose to.
“Taxi, Hi where are you going?” At times, it may seem like every single local in the street will greet you with this phrase. Competition is fierce because drivers are abundant, and they can be VERY persistent, if not aggressive at times. Be prepared to say “no, thank you” often.
This also means that depending on your negotiation skills, you can catch a deal on a ride once in a while; but there often isn’t much room for flexibility for a single ride. A buyout/ whole day tour with a driver may be a more economical option if you plan to be traveling great distances all day.
When you politely refuse a taxi offer, the next one coming your way will most likely be a solicitation of a motorbike/ scooter rental. These vehicles are very inexpensive and plentiful in Ubud, so you can be selective and test your negotiation skills just like you can with taxis.
Unless you are more than a kilometer from the center of town, or plan on taking the motorbikes to the temples outside of town, you probably won’t need one.
Priorities & Top Attractions
Ubud is such a beautiful setting that it is guaranteed to provide visitors with a wonderful visual experience, the rest is up to them. The top types of attractions in the area are as follows:
Whether it is your first time to an island with a majority Hindu population or not, the ornate decor and the harmonious incorporation of nature into the design of the temples are sure to impress. Each one is uniquely Balinese.
The most popular and impressive temples in this part of the island are actually several kilometers outside of Ubud and will require motor transport. They are
• Pura Taman Saraswati (The Water Palace)
• Goa Gajah (The Elephant Cave)
• Pura Samuan Tiga (Temple of the Meeting of the Three)
• Gunung Kawi
Despite these temples requiring motor transport, they are absolutely worth leaving town to see if they catch your interest.
There are several (less impressive, but beautiful nonetheless) temples to see in town. Expect to cover up some skin to respect Hindu traditions, and even pay a small fee to visits some holy sites.
Shopping in Ubud is World Class
The streets in the interior of town are lined with shops, and there is more than one large indoor / outdoor market full of vendors as well. Most brick and mortar stores advertise with a sign in their window (in English) that they ship internationally. The majority of these shops sell home décor and even Balinese-styled wood furniture.
Clothing boutiques are popular along Jalan Monkey Forest road, and many of the smaller side roads. As you get closer to the sanctuary, there are more restaurants and souvenir stores than anything else. The souvenir shops sell locally crafted goods at deep discounts, with the typical magnets, keychains, present, but also some fancier craft such as coasters made from Capiz Shells.
Nature is an important part of Hinduism and therefore Balinese culture as well. No where else is this more evident than at the Mandala Suci Wenara Wana or the Sacred Monkey Forest.
This inexpensive experience is right in the center of Ubud and visitors can walk the small sanctuary rather quickly, although there is lots to see on site. The grounds feature an active temple, densely wooded grounds that provide a welcome respite from the tropical sun, along with a large colony of playful Macaques. The link above is to a much more in-depth visitor’s guide to the Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, and includes many more details on what to see and do inside.
Aside from the Monkey Forrest, the town of Ubud does not feature many parks, sanctuaries or public grounds. Visitors wil lstill find beauty in the trees, flowers and wildlife of Indonesia, as they are well integrated into public spaces. Landscape design is crucial to Balinese culture as nature is an essential part of a balanced Hindu life.
Take your time to walk around and explore more of Ubud on foot and up close. The famed Campuhan Ridge Walk is a popular free attraction in town and is low stress, but can be difficult to find. A few misplaced turns landed this traveler on an unmaintained trail deep below the main road. It was beautiful to explore Ubud a bit off the beaten path, and escape tourism for just a little bit.
Enjoy your time in Bali and Ubud in particular. Hopefully you will have more than 24 hours to explore.