Explore more of Bali with our Ubud Guide [Bali, Indonesia]

ubud things to do bali indonesia guide

Venture inland to Bali’s tropical town of Ubud. Think rainforests, rice terraces, stunning villas, monkey forests, waterfalls and much more! Ubud is around 1-1.5 hours away from many of the popular Bali destinations (e.g. Kuta, Seminyak, Uluwatu, Canggu), and is definitely worth considering when you plan your itinerary to Indonesia’s popular island. We visited for 4 nights and loved the variety of experiences and the excellent coffee! Read on for our thoughts, tips and recommendations for your visit to Ubud!

What we loved in Ubud:

  • The day trip options: Ubud is located in the heart of rainforests and rice terraces. This provides a multitude of great options to explore nearby, including waterfalls (Ky was happy!), picturesque rice terraces, jungle walks, and adventure activities like hiking, rafting etc. There are also lots of cute towns and temples closeby to explore.
  • The rice terraces: These picturesque rice terraces are situated on the fringes of the town, but also along many of the main streets leading out of Ubud. It’s hard to miss them, and they are truly an iconic Ubud experience. The Tegalalang rice terrace is the most popular, but we have detailed a full list of popular and less touristy options here!
  • Our villa: We stayed in an incredible villa called Villa Tanah Shanti. Ubud is known for it’s stunning Villas and accommodation options. See more on our accommodation below.
  • The amazing cafes and restaurants: This was definitely a highlight of Bali in general, and Ubud was no different. Filled with a multitude of aesthetic and tasty cafes, bars and restaurants, we managed to sample a lot and have listed some of our favourites below!
  • Lots of cute boutique shops: Ubud has the standard Bali ‘budget markets’ filled with knock off items at cheap prices, but it also has some excellent boutique shops to check out! We found many of these were located along the street Jl. Hanoman, one of the 2 main streets of Ubud.

What to see and do around Ubud:

See our thoughts on day trips from Ubud listed below. Ubud is perfectly located near many impressive rice terraces, waterfalls, historic towns and more. See some of our recommendations below:

Visit the impressive Ubud Rice Terraces:

Ubud is famous for stunning rice terraces! We have put together an entire guide about some of our favourite rice terraces which can be accessed below! Make sure you don’t visit Ubud without checking out these beautiful natural, and still working, rice terraces. Additionally, if you get the chance, ask you guide to run you through the process of growing, watering and harvesting the rice. Our guide Ade explained this process and it was one of our favourite things we learned during out stay.

Check out the stunning waterfalls nearby Ubud:

We love a waterfall visit! Ubud has a multitude of different waterfall options to check out. We have listed where we went, and some that we didn’t get a chance to visit below. However if you research yourself, you often find many less popular waterfalls scattered around. Be prepared to pay a small entry fee to the waterfalls, and most of them required some level of stairs and/or walking through the water to get to.

  • Tukad Cepung Waterfall: This waterfall located in a cave is definitely worth visiting. However, there are a few things to know before you visit. Firstly, go early! This is to beat the crowds, AND, to be able to experience the amazing phenomenon that occurs when the light filters down through the cave. This only occurs in the morning. We arrived around 10am and while it was busy, it wasn’t overcrowded, and the light was perfect. Secondly, be prepared to walk through the water to get to the view. You can walk either barefoot, or bring watershoes/thongs.
  • Goa Raja Waterfall: This ‘less popular’ waterfall was our favourite near Ubud! The crowds were less, and the little valley leading up to the waterfall was beautiful. You could also walk right up to the waterfall! Definitely one to add to the list.
  • Tibumana Waterfall: This waterfall is impressive, but also one of the most popular near Ubud. You can swim here, and it is probably worth seeing. However, if you want the picturesque scenes without the crowds, aim to get there before 9-10am.
  • Kanto Lampo Waterfall: Another popular waterfall located close to other attractions. We didn’t get a chance to visit but it’s worth adding to your list.
  • Gembleng Waterfall: This is located nearby Sidemen, and looks seriously picturesque. However, it’s also over an hour drive from Ubud, and unless you get there early, can apparently be too busy to enjoy. One to consider.
  • There are so, so many more, including Krisik Waterfall, Yeh Bulan Waterfal, Goa Giri Campuhan Waterfall, Suwat Waterfall, Tangkup Waterfall… the list goes on!
Visit some of the historic towns and temples:

Ubud has a multitude of temples and historic towns nearby. We got our guide to stop at a few local temples and explain some of the religious and cultural traditions, an experience we really enjoyed! We chose not to head to some of the popular ‘tourist towns’ nearby due to the crowds. However, we have heard from others that these locations can be worth checking out if you go early, or are happy to battle the crowds. We have listed a few that we had researched below:

  • Piru Tirta Empul – A popular water temple where you can actually experience the Hindu rituals of water purification.
  • Pura Gunung Kawi – These are ancient royal tombs located near Ubud.
  • Goa Gaja – A 9th century cave located nearby Ubud that may be worth checking out.
  • Penglipuran Village – A traditional Balinese village located nearby Ubud. While picturesque, it can apparently get very busy.
  • Pura Taman Saraswati Temple – Another traditional temple located nearby Ubud that is highly rated.
  • Tibumana Village – This cute town was located on the way to the famous waterfall.

Otherwise, get your guide to stop at some local temples away from the crowds and get a more authentic experience like we did!

Walk with views of rainforests, Palm Trees and rice terraces:

We did two beautiful walks on the fringes of Ubud that we recommend you check out:

  • Campuhan Ridge Walk: The beautiful trail offers a 2km ridge walk with views of the rainforest. Situated on the edge of Ubud (not far from Lazy Cats Cafe), this walk isn’t ‘easy’. You have to scale a decent include to get there, so wear appropriate shoes!
  • The ‘Sweet Orange Trail’ walk near the Kajeng Rice Field: This is ‘hidden’ but also very close to the heart of the action. Along this walk you will feel like you have the place to yourself. How to get there: Head along the main street ‘Jl. Raya Ubud’ until you reach a small alley located close to a PaninBank ATM. Follow this narrow trail until you reach an abandoned house converted into an art gallery (Art Galery King on Google Maps). Take a right and head up onto the Sweet Orange Walk trail. 
  • The road leading to Tibumana Waterfall: This is one of the most picturesque roads in Bali and is located HERE on Google Maps (or look for ‘Bali Hawai LA Morning Vibes’ along Jl. Setra Agung road).
The Ubud Monkey Forest:

This is a unique Ubud experience. The forest is filled with 1000s of monkeys and is a very popular experience. Just be careful of your belongings, and not to start the monkeys in the eyes as they can get threatened.

What we didn’t do:
  • Volcano hike: This was one we had on our list and didn’t get time to fit it in. We know many people who had done this and loved it. The downside is that the best time for the hike is sunrise, meaning you’re set for a 2am wake-up.. brutal!
  • Action sports e.g. quad biking, rafting, high ropes courses. These aren’t really our style, but are super popular and people we know have enjoyed them.
  • Sidemen: sadly, we never made it to Sidemen. Our favourite travel bloggers, Salt in our Hair, raved about Sidemen, and we added it to our list. However, we decided to scrap it as a day trip option, realizing it would be better to stay for a few days to experience it properly. If you head to Sidemen, consider checking out Gembleng Waterfall, Jembatan Kuning Bridge, Tirta Gangga Water Temple, Lahangan Sweet, Bukit Cinta and the Sidemen Rice Terraces (all places we researched for our visit).
  • The waterfalls up north. After speaking to our tour guide Ade, we realized if we had more time in the future, venturing up north of Ubud would lead to some less touristy and higher drop waterfalls. Next time!
  • Sidemen & Jatiluwih Rice Terraces: Located 1-2 hours from Ubud, we decided the trek wasn’t worth it during our stay, but they may be good options to add to your list.
Consider if it’s worth it:
  • Gates of Heaven: We have seen the ‘Instagram vs Reality’ that happens in Bali at the famous Gates of Heaven. So are they worth visiting? Our advice, based upon speaking to local guides, is that if you are going to go, get there around sunrise or just after. Apparently lines can reach 3hours plus during the day just waiting for a photo.
  • A day trip to Ubud and back in 1 day from Seminyak/Kuta/Uluwatu etc: While on the map Ubud looks only 1 hour away, during the day, traffic is chaos, and times can double (or more). The main streets of Ubud are chaos to drive during the day, and it can get busy at the major attractions. We would encourage you to stay closer to Ubud rather just visit for the day, but that’s just our opinion.
  • Trying to fit in too much in one day: Many of the popular attractions near Ubud are spread apart. It can seem good in theory to see everything in one day, but we’d encourage you to pick a few of your favourite sights and aim for them, rather than trying to do and see it all!

Eating, drinking and coffee in Ubud:

Ubud has so many good restaurants, bars and cafes. We stayed for 4 nights, researched a lot, and managed to sample a large portion of them, however there’s definitely some we missed. See some of our top picks below!

bars and restaurants we enjoyed in Ubud:

Our Favourite: Melali Ubud – Think beautiful aesthetic, lovely service, and great food! It’s located around 5-10 minutes drive out of Ubud and it’s worth the drive.. we loved our visit so much we went back again! Definitely one to add to your list.

Our Second Favourite: Ropana Coffee Shop & Restaurant – Situated a street away from the heart of the action, this cafe had a quieter feel, lovely staff, good feed and excellent coffee!

The Fancy Option: Donna – We had a wonderful dinner here with excellent service. This is more expensive than many places on the list, but definitely worth it if you’re looking for a nice dinner. Booking a spot in the outdoor area by the pool is worth it!

Outdoor Bar Vibes: Folk Pool and Gardens – Great for a hot day when you want to relax, or in the evening where the fairy lights create a cute atmosphere.

Cute Rooftop Terrace & Healthy Food Options: Kafe – Located on the main street, head upstairs for a cute terrace. They have some great healthier options.

Cafe with Rice Terrace Views: Altman Nourish – off the main street, this cafe had great views of a rice terrace out the back. However, little tip, don’t go here for the food, maybe a coffee only.

Other Options we researched or enjoyed:

  • Lazy Cats Cafe – A top pick! See more below. Aesthetic, good food, and worth visiting!
  • Cerita Manisan: Located on one of the main streets, this is a bit of an ‘institution’, and while touristy, had good food.
  • Honey & Smoke – this place had amazing reviews and looked great, however it was closed during our visit.

Note: many of the cafe’s below not only did excellent coffee, they also did good food and are worth checking out for breakfast/brunch/lunch etc.

The best coffee in Ubud:

Top Pick: Seniman – this Japanese-style coffee roaster was one of the best coffee’s we have had on our travels worldwide. Big call? Yes! But it was that good. They as expert coffee makers and run courses in their roastery across the road. A must for your Ubud visit!

Other favourite cafe’s in Ubud:

  • Ubud Coffee Roaster: Another specialty coffee roaster with excellent brews! Just off the main street and worth a visit!
  • Lazy Cats Cafe: Located on the fringe of the Ubud centre, Lazy Cats Cafe had great aesthetic, good vegetarian food, and most of all, great coffee! Definitely one to visit!
  • Ropana Coffee Shop & Restaurant: a cute cafe, lovely staff and top quality coffee. We visited a couple of times.

Some options to check out: Ubud has so many cafe’s we didn’t get a chance to visit them all, however we were recommended or heard good things about the following cafe’s:

  • Anomali Coffee
  • Suka Espresso
  • FREAK Coffee
  • Pison
  • Clear Cafe
  • Bake

Where we stayed in Ubud!

We stayed in the stunning Villa Tanah Shanti (see here). The villa has beautifully furnished large rooms, a huge communal living area and an infinity pool overlooking the rainforest. You can hire the entire villa, or just a room (like we did). It was located around 10 minutes from the heart of Ubud walking, and the staff were so hospitable and friendly.

Not keen to stay in the beautiful villa? Check out some more great options by clicking here or take a look below:

  • Casa Avana – This is a whole villa located right on the rice terraces! The perfect spot to go with a family or small group. We very nearly booked this place despite not needing the space!
  • The Rice Joglo – Another beautiful villa located right on the rice terraces. This is also a place we strongly considered!
  • Beehouse Dijiwa Ubud – Beautiful boutique guesthouses with incredible views. If you’re willing to stay a little further out (30 minute walk), this is a great option in Ubud!
  • Calma Ubud Suite & Villas – A beautiful pool view was almost enough to get us over the line. Comes well recommended.
  • Suara Alam Hotel Ubud – Another beautiful villa located on the fringes of Ubud!
  • Three Dewi’s Guesthouse – A great budget option in a good location!

Want a guide for Ubud?

We would definitely recommend our wonderful English speaking local guide called Ade who was incredibly knowledgeable, very friendly and happy, and was an overall excellent guide. His details are below for anyone looking to book an Ubud guide.

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