Everything You Need to Know
Planning a trip to Indonesia? We highly recommend spending a few days in the cultural capital of Bali, Ubud. We have broken down all the details about how to get there, where to stay, what to do and more in this Ubud travel guide!
Perched high up in the tropical jungle, surrounded by rice fields, waterfalls, and tropical rainforests exists a place so magical it’s hard to put into words. A place known as the cultural capital of Bali, that offers a fascinating mix of nature, historic temples, and traditional art & crafts. A place of lush landscape, luxurious resorts, countless monkeys and so much more. A place called Ubud. And we cannot wait to tell you every single reason why you need to visit immediately, in our Ubud travel guide below!
The native language is Indonesian, which has a unique dialect in Bali. But most people speak some level of English.
When To Visit
Dry season, April through October. But being the high season, you can expect higher prices. So you may want to consider visiting in the wet season, November through early April, if you don’t mind a few rainstorms.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination OR proof of negative COVID-19 test if unvaccinated; Purchase a ‘visa on arrival’ at the Indonesian airport; Passport that is valid for 6 months from date of arrival; Additional health questionnaires may be required upon arrival
As Bali is an island, you will need to get there by flight. Their one international airport, Denpasar-Ngurah Rai International Airport, is located in the Kuta area in the south of Bali. The airport is located just over an hour drive from Ubud, and can be easily reached via a fixed-price taxi, pre-booked car or a ride-hailing app. We recommend downloading Grab and Go-Jek prior to your arrival, which are the Balinese versions of Uber. We consistently found that these apps were the most cost effective way to get around Bali.
What To Expect
Is it Safe?
Indonesian people are some of the friendliest people we have ever met, and Bali is extremely safe for travelers overall! That said, it’s always a good idea to keep your wits about you and make sure your valuables are secure and out of reach at all times. You also need to watch out for road safety, especially if you are renting a scooter.
Heels or no heels?
How do I get around?
As the cultural capital of Bali, Ubud is home to the iconic Tegallalang Rice Terraces, sacred monkey forest, the impressive Goa Gajah ancient caves & more, all of which are easily accessible via taxi (we recommend Blue Bird Taxi) or a ride hailing app (Grab or Go-Jek). But being so centrally located on the island, Ubud is also the perfect base to explore attractions around the island, like the Tegenungan Waterfalls, Gunung Kawi, Sekumpul Waterfalls, Sidemen, Ulun Danu Temple & more. The best way to do this is by either renting a scooter (the traditional Balinese way), or hiring a private driver for the day. Private drivers generally cost around $20USD for the entire day. We would avoid traditional ‘tours’, but rather, opt for a private driver.
What about Money?
The local currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), and the numbers can be very confusing in comparison to USD. We recommend memorizing a few simple conversions to make things easier. For example: 15,000 IDR is about $1 USD ($0.96), 150,000 IDR is about $10 USD ($9.58), and 500,000 IDR is about $30 USD ($31.95).
Like most of Indonesia, Bali is a very affordable destination. Whether you are traveling on a budget or looking for luxury, this destination is unlikely to break the bank.
While many places include a 5-10% service fee, tipping is not expected on top of this. However, if you receive excellent service and wish to leave a tip, it will always be appreciated.
Cash or Credit Cards?
We highly recommend keeping a good amount of cash on you at all times, as many places do not accept credit cards. Luckily, there are plenty of ATMs in Ubud.
When deciding where to stay in Ubud, the first thing to consider is whether you prefer to stay in the city center, near all the hustle and bustle, or a little bit outside of it. If you are after the convenience of being able to walk around the shops, restaurants, and markets, the city center is the place for you. This is also our top recommendation if it is your first time visiting Ubud, as it will make it easier to explore the streets, eat at the restaurants, go shopping and visit different spas. You will also have easy access to Ubud Monkey Forest. However, staying in the village will be more touristy and much busier than if you stay on the outskirts. Alternatively, you can stay outside of town if you’re looking for a more relaxing and calm stay in an Ubud villa. Here is where you find most of the incredible 5-star resorts Ubud has to offer, many of them being secluded and overlooking the rice paddies. In fact, the outskirts of Ubud offers some of the best places to stay in Bali for a relaxing vacation, yoga practice and is an ideal spot for both couples, honeymooners, families or a group of friends.
Things To Do
Relax at a Day Spa
One of the best parts about Bali is the affordable, luxurious spa services. You can get a one-hour aromatherapy massage for as little as 80,000 IDR ($6 USD)! With such a low price point, it’s easy to budget for a massage every single day – and trust us, it is so worth it. Spas are scattered all over Ubud, and most take walk-in appointments. As always, be sure to bring cash.
See a Traditional Balinese Dance
As the hub of all things relating to art, Ubud is the perfect place to witness the artistic and ancient tradition of Balinese dance. Each dance tells a story and is truly unique. In colorful costumes and make-up, Balinese dancers express the stories of dance-drama through gestures including gestures of fingers, hands, head and eyes.There is a great richness of dance forms and styles in Bali, which is magical to experience.
Visit the Ubud Royal Palace
Also known as Puri Saren Agung, the palace dates all the way back to the 1800s and is still in use today! The palace is located in the city center, near the Ubud Market, where it acts as both a cultural gathering place and an administrative building. It’s a great place to get a true glimpse of traditional Balinese culture – especially if you visit in the evening during a traditional Balinese dance performance.
Take a Balinese Cooking Class
Bali is known for many things, but Ubud is especially notable for its food! As a result, Balinese cooking classes have become extremely popular among tourists, teaching the tricks of the Balinese culinary trade. They offer everything from ingredient scouting to traditional preparation and must-try dishes to give you a real taste of Bali. A few well known cooking class options include The Casa Luna Cooking School, Sokasi Cooking School, Art Cafe Bumbu Bali, Tresna Bali Cooking School and Paon Bali.
Visit the Waterfalls
Bali is home to some of the most gorgeous waterfalls, offering endless adventure-filled experiences. Below is a list of some of our favorite falls, but be sure to do your research, as more falls are always being discovered. For all of the waterfalls, be sure to bring cash to cover entrance fees, and go as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
This waterfall is easily accessible from Ubud village, located about 30 minutes south, and is extremely popular among tourists. As such, we recommend getting here as early as possible to avoid the crowds. Be sure to bring cash to cover the entrance fee, and a camera for all of the insta-worthy spots! Be aware that you will have to take about 100 steps down to reach the waterfall.
Visit the Temples
Visit North Bali
Being centrally located, Ubud is the perfect base for a day of exploring Northern Bali. You’ll find fewer crowds, remote temples and plenty of beautiful waterfalls to explore! From chasing waterfalls and climbing volcanoes, to cruising along some of the most picturesque landscapes on the island – everything about the North screams adventure. Not only that, it’s far less crowded than the South of Bali, which makes exploring a far more enjoyable experience. Because North Bali is a bit of a trek, we recommend hiring a private driver for a full 10-hour day. Some key places to visit include…
It’s no secret that Ubud is home to some of Bali’s very best restaurants including two of Indonesia’s most award-winning fine-diners, as well as Bali’s most famous babi guling warung. From modern fine-dining within 5-star resorts to authentic local restaurants minutes away from lush rice fields, Ubud’s restaurant scene offers a wide range of styles. Whether you’re craving comfort food from back home or looking to savor authentic Balinese dishes, there’s a restaurant in Ubud that’ll satisfy your appetite. The main street of Jalan Raya Ubud, down to Jalan Hanoman and Jalan Monkey Forest, is lined with an eclectic mix of restaurants, cafés and bistros, but we have summarized our top recommendations in our Ubud travel guide below.
This Japanese-Latin-Fusion gem is just ten minutes from downtown Ubud and offers panoramic views of the surrounding jungle that borders the Sayan valley. Not only is it considered one of the best sunset views in Ubud, but the cuisine is absolutely delicious. You can expect casual fine dining here with a fantastic fusion of Latin-Japanese cuisine.
If you are after next-level nori rolls and modernized Japanese plates, TGYR is the place to be. Everything is made fresh, with hand rolls made-to-order and rolled right in front of your eyes with still-warm rice, shatteringly crisp nori, and oh-so fresh fillings.
As the most famous restaurant in Ubud, if not in all of Indonesia, this modern European-Indonesian restaurant has won a host of awards! Most dishes are fusion based so they mix local elements with foreign techniques, using up to 95% of locally sourced ingredients. You can expect modern, casual fare, and a couple different tasting menu options, which we highly recommend.
This low-key fine diner, from the iconic team behind Locavore, is all about top-end Indonesian food from all over the archipelago. It’s as authentic as it is delicious, and with dishes that represent the heart and soul of this massive country, you can be sure of a culinary journey like no other. Be sure to book reservations early!
Calling all dessert lovers – this is a MUST! You can expect a whimsical tasting menu of 21 courses, 7 of which are dessert, curated by the world famous chef Will Goldfarb. This is such a unique experience that it landed the restaurant and chef on the Netflix hit, Chef’s table!
Widely recognized as the best fine diner in Bali, Kubu at Mandapa – a Ritz Carlton Reserve, is a truly divine experience. Here, you can enjoy the soothing sounds of the Ayang River with a tropical breeze while indulging in their exquisite menu of fine Mediterranean-European cuisine. We recommend the chef’s tasting menu.
This Kyoto-style restaurant is where it’s at for modern Japanese staples and colorful signature cocktails. Don’t miss the fan favorites, including the Nabeyaki Udon, Tonkotsu Ramen, Spicy Tuna Roll and Green Tea Soba Salad.
Housed within the Blanco Renaissance Museum complex, this restaurant serves up ultra-fine dining Indonesian cuisine in a totally refined setting. With only 28 seats, you will want to book a spot as early as possible!
With its relaxed tropical atmosphere and Bali-chic mix of traditional furniture and fabrics, Casa Luna is an Ubud landmark that’s been serving authentic Balinese food and modern, nourishing dishes for more than 25 years. Vegan and vegetarian options play a significant role on the menu, while organic ingredients are hand-picked from the Casa Luna garden.
Bebek Bengil, which translates as the ‘Dirty Duck’, is another one of Ubud’s most famous restaurants and the best place to try Bebek Betutu (aka duck). The whole menu here is almost entirely dedicated to duck – crispy fried duck, duck in chili sauce, duck fried rice, and of course, smoked duck.
Best place to splurge. The restaurant sits on the river and has a great fusion menu with choices like Pulled Chicken in Rice Paper Rolls. There is also an afternoon tapas menu, as wel as a 4 or 6 course tasing menu.
As the cultural capital of Bali, Ubud is extremely unique and an absolute must. Honestly, we don’t think a Bali trip is complete without experiencing the stunning temples, breathtaking waterfalls, sacred sites, monkey forest & more. We hope you enjoyed our Ubud travel guide! Please share with friends and family, and be sure to check out our destinations page for more!