The sun sets over a skyline of lush tropical foliage and the rooftops of local houses. The houses resemble temples, each fitted with its own unique style, and yet each fitting into the whole as if it grew there naturally. The melody of the local gamelon rings out in the distance, and the fragrance of incense fills the air. This is a typical sunset in Ubud, one of the most magical cities in Bali.
Upon first sight of Ubud, one might wonder how this description fits in with the hectic traffic and crowded streets they see. But as soon as they walk into a homestay or one of the enchanting local cafes, they’ll see that the crowded streets are a mask that barely covers the surface of a jungle beauty, where every establishment is a palace waiting to be discovered.
Ubud means medicine in Balinese, and the town stands true to its name. It has the highest density of energy healers and practitioners of spirituality of anywhere in the world. If you’re looking for a place to wake up and transform your life, this is the place to do it. There’s a special feeling about this town that causes you to open up and look inside. After a little bit of time here, you start to question things. After a little more, you start to see what else is possible.
Yoga in Bali
On top of the yoga classes and events that crowd the schedule, Ubud draws some of the foremost yoga instructors from around the world. This little town is host to trainings and workshops and retreats in every flavour.
Eating out in Ubud
Ubud is packed with restaurants that offer healthy, organic food. It is easier—and cheaper—to eat healthy here than anywhere else in the world. If you’d like to sample a bit of the local culture, you’re in luck on that account as well. Ubud has Balinese ceremonies, dances and temple functions every day of the week. Get yourself a sarong and sash, and you’re set to join the ceremonies or get a cleansing at one of the water temples. And if you want to move and shake, you can find live music every night of the week.
Let’s start with food. After all, everybody needs to eat. One of the best restaurants in town is Kismet, a hip restaurant with great
music, fast wifi, and unbeatable ambience, just a minute away from Taksu spa. Definitely a must-see, and likely to become one of the favorite hangouts during your time in Ubud.
A bit further down the road, you’ll find the Earth Café. 100% vegetarian, with great service and home to the only movie theater in Ubud, Paradiso theater. One of the nicest bits about this is that Earth Café caters the theater and the cost of the ticket is redeemable for dinner. A delicious organic vegetarian meal and a movie, all for less than a cup of coffee back home. Really hard to top that.
If raw food is your thing, you won’t want to leave Ubud without visiting Seeds of Life, a raw food café on Gotama street. And a tip for those with a sweet tooth—Seeds of Life has the best raw desserts anywhere. It’s hard to share about food in Ubud, because there are so many amazing warungs, cafes, and restaurants that it’s impossible to do them justice. But a few more before I move on: Atman Kafe. These venues are both on Hanoman, one of the main strips of the town, just a five minute walk from Taksu Spa. Both offer meals, juices, and desserts that will knock your socks off. Number one recommendation: the vegan hot chocolate at Atman. Made with coconut milk and raw cacao, this is a chocolate experience you’re bound to remember.
Now that we’ve addressed food, it’s time to move on to shopping. After all, you’re in a new place, and you’ll want to bring back a souvenir or two for the folks at home. Keyword for shopping in Ubud—haggling. The streets are like the lanes of a festival. As you walk down the road, you’ll see clothing, carvings, jewelry, books, paintings, and curios enough to fill twice the luggage you came with. Best advice—take a walk or two through the town before you decide on your prize. Next, always offer half the price that’s suggested as the first offer. If you are talked up to ¾ of the initial price, you’ve done well. It’s a bit of a game for the Balinese, and they’ve got the game down. And for a unique cultural experience, you have to visit the Ubud market. At the corner of Monkey forest road across from the palace, the Ubud market starts up early. If you’re there at 6:00am, you’ll still get the morning prices, the cheapest of the day. This is where all of the ibus (mothers) of Ubud go to get their fruit and staples. You can get a kilo of exotic tropical fruit for under a dollar, but the markets don’t stop at food. Trinkets, clothing, curios, art, you can find just about anything you can imagine at the Ubud market, and get incredible deals in the process.
Ok, food, shopping, what’s next? If you’re looking for a relaxing experience, exciting sites, time in nature, or a taste of the local culture, Ubud has you covered. How does a daytrip out to one of the local waterfalls sound? Take a dip in a pool in the rocks, splash around in the waterfall, and soak in the nature, all for the price of a shared taxi. You can’t go wrong. If you want to stay closer to home, the Monkey Forest Temple is a ten-minute walk from the center of Ubud. You can walk along the paths of the temple, see the monkeys, and step inside the temple for a blessing. Or if you’re the more active type, you’ll enjoy the sunrise trek up Mount Patur. There’s nothing more amazing than seeing the sun peek over the mountains, cup of tea in hand, relishing the sense of glory that comes from hiking up a volcano in the early hours of the morning. On most of these trips, you’ll also get to stop by a Balinese coffee plantation on the way home. Savor the aroma and flavor of coffee at its freshest, brewed by the same people that grow and roast it. If you have even the vaguest appreciation of coffee, you won’t be disappointed by the visit.
Ubud is one of the most remarkable places on the planet, and anyone who comes here is in for a treat. Whether you’re looking for night life, adventures, weekend activities, or a taste of culture, this little tropical gem has what you want. But there’s no way to pass along the experience without actually being here. From one traveler to another: Ubud. Come here and feel the magic for yourself.