So I took a small hiatus from blogging because of a really crappy time in my life, but I’m back and better than ever! I’m finishing up some posts from Stacy and I’s trip to Bali this year, as well as getting ready for a much looked forward to trip to Amsterdam and Morocco!! But enough about that… Stacy and I spent our last 5 days in Bali in the city of Ubud, a touristy jungle town about an hour inland that is surrounded by rice fields. For this portion of our trip, we splurged a bit (read: $35 a person per night instead of $15-20) on a nice villa with an infinity pool, air conditioning, and a spa. Now, Ubud (and a lot of spots in Bali) is known for being a yoga Mecca- no offense to all the yoga-loving people out there but it’s not for me. Still, we found plenty of fun things to do during our 4 days there, as well as find time to relax and unwind before our long trip home. So here are 7 great ideas for those of you visiting Ubud!!
1. Visit Tegallalang Rice Fields
Like I said before, Ubud is surrounded by rice fields, but the Tegallalang Rice Terraces are the most famous. It’s recommended that you get there early in the morning before it gets too hot, so our guide for the day took us there first thing. You can walk up and around the terraces and find some great photo opportunities, but pace yourself because it’s hard! The terraces are steep and the stairs aren’t designed for people as short as Stacy and I so we had a bit of difficulty in some spots. At least we got a stair workout in for the day! Visiting Tegallalang is free but there are spots where you can donate to the rice farmers which helps with the upkeep of the fields. There are also little cafes along the road above the terraces where you can grab a snack or bottle of water.
2. Get a Blessing at the Tirta Empul Holy Springs
The holy springs are located at a temple near Ubud where a pond has a spring giving out fresh water. The Hindus consider this to be holy, and they regularly go there for purification and to be blessed. Unfortunately, the water quality has begun to deteriorate recently due to contamination from nearby water sources, so Stacy and I didn’t actually get in for the blessing, but it’s definitely an interesting spot to visit to see how the Balinese Hindus practice their religion.
3. Visit a Coffee Plantation and try “Cat-poo-chino”
Now I’m definitely not a coffee person and the idea of drinking coffee made from an animal’s feces is even more unappealing, but… when in Bali? But seriously, the cat poop coffee comes from the lewak, an animal that looks slightly like a cat but more like a weasel and lives in the jungle. They eat the coffee beans and poop them out, and then the excrement is collected, cleaned, and cooked, then husked and ground into coffee. I wasn’t a fan, but I did love the variety of teas they had available for tasting as well, and purchased a few to bring home. Delicious!
4. Walk Around the Sacred Monkey Forest
The monkey forest is located right in downtown Ubud, and is very simple to get to. The entrance fee is 50,000 rupiah, or about $3.75, and you get a map of the grounds. Our guide recommended we leave everything in the vehicle except money and our cameras/phones because the monkeys tend to steal things from the visitors. The forest is home to several tribes of monkeys, and you can buy bananas so the monkeys will literally climb up your body and onto your shoulder to get them. There is always a risk of getting bitten, but if you don’t look them in the eye and be respectful of their space, you will be fine. Some people say you should get a Rabies vaccine beforehand; again, it’s a risk you take but the odds of getting bitten aren’t too high. The babies are absolutely adorable and it’s fun to watch them run around chasing each other, playing, and eating their snacks.
5. Shop in Ubud’s “hidden” market
A Canadian couple that was also staying at our Airbnb actually told Stacy and I about the market, which we may not have found otherwise! In the center of Ubud inside some large buildings, a market takes place every day with hundreds of little shops and stands to buy trinkets, souvenirs, food, and clothing, among other things. You wouldn’t even realize that there are so many stalls hidden away in the alleys amongst the buildings, and the smell can get a little ripe, but there are lots of treasures to be found and you can always bargain with the sellers. Always undercut them by at least half first thing because they try to rip you off, but you can haggle for a good price and come away with som great purchases.
6. Go Waterfall Chasing
Always my favorite activity on tropical vacations, going to look for and hike to waterfalls is always fun and rewarding at the end. We only went to one waterfall on Bali, and it was one of the very touristy ones, but we weren’t too disappointed. Tegenungan Waterfall is located just outside of Bali, and has a large pool of water beneath it for swimming. You have to climb down 165 steps to get there but it’s worth it! Stacy and I didn’t get in the water here either, but there is a natural spring as you walk to the waterfall that we cooled off in, there was just too much trash in the water by the falls. Next trip I would like to travel further into northern Bali and stop at more of the hidden, harder to reach waterfalls that don’t get a lot of tourist action!
7. Indulge in a Massage
Probably one of the best decisions we made on the trip was getting traditional Balinese massages and we were lucky enough that our Airbnb had a spa on hand (open air to the jungle and rice fields) and was very reasonably priced for an hour long massage. We had our massages at the same time, and the ladies were very respectful. The entire experience was incredibly relaxing and peaceful, and our massage was only 185,000 rupiah or about $14 for an hour! Amazing!
There are so many options in and around Ubud for tourists that I can’t imagine ever not being able to find something fun and exciting to do. Bali quickly made my list of places that I will definitely go back to, and dare I say it, may have replaced Thailand as my favorite Southeast Asia destination?? We’ll have to see, but in the meantime, check out these amazing spots if you’re in Ubud!