- Location: In central Bali island in Indonesia
- Attraction type: Cultural Town
- Significance: Bali in microcosm
- Best Time to Visit: All through the year
- How to reach: By road from Denpasar about 30 km away, or from Kuta about 43 km apart
- Nearest Airport: Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar
Ubud is Bali in microcosm. The rice terraces, exuberant song and dance renditions, redoubtable art forms are all witnessed in Ubud. Once a heaven for backpackers and bohemians, Ubud in Bali has now emerged as a universal favorite for the connoisseurs, literati, and glitterati. Mansions and five star hotels have now been added to the inns and backpackers hostels. Ubud now attracts global visitors, anthropologists, architects, and naturalists, musicians, and of course the backpackers.
Ubud undoubtedly is the best place to begin your Bali tour. Small villages, rivers, ancient temples and palaces, and the quintessential rice fields characterize Ubud town. Ubud, being located centrally, has easy access to all the beaches, mountains and other Bali towns. To discover Ubud properly you need to go beyond the surface and explore its backwaters, backstreets, cafes, and courtyards.
Trekking and cycling are the best ways to discover this cultural town. Begin your Ubud tour with a visit to Ubud Palace, locally called Puri Saren Agung, and still inhabited by the members of the local royal family. Elegant well-preserved pavilions furnished with period furniture of colonial era are worth a visit. From here, head for Pura Saraswati temple, dedicated to the goddess of learning and knowledge. The fine carvings of the main shrine stand out, so also the giant ‘barong’ masks. Another renowned temple of Ubud is the ‘Basakih’ or Mother temple, the principal deity of Bali. With 22 multi-tiered smaller temples in the shape of pagodas, this place is better known for its cultural significance rather than for its architectural brilliance.
Founded by Suteja Neka in 1982, the Neka Art Museum has an envious collection of local Balinese art forms and pavilions. Watch out for the works of Arie Smit, a Dutch born Indonesian artist. Campughan Gorge from Smit Pavilion is a fabulous sight, which should never be missed. This museum also patronizes new talents through exhibitions. Together with the Neka Art Museum, its adjoining garden the Puri Lukisan is a spectacular attraction. Lily ponds and revolving dais for exhibitions are interesting.
At the Elephant Safari Park enjoy elephant rides through lush green forest and pristine villages. You would also come to know about the pachyderms’ lifestyles, their food habits, their protection etc. A trip to the Monkey Forest can be very thrilling. Children would be amused to see these primates swinging from branches to branches and jumping into pools.
From Ubud buy local woodcarvings, ethnic jewelry, incense, pottery, and brightly colored sarongs.
Hotels and Restaurants in Ubud
Ubud has a wide selection of hotels to choose from. Among the upscale accommodations, you could select among the Chedi Club of Tanah Gajah, Amandari, Four Seasons Resort at Sayan, and Ubud Hanging Garden. In case you prefer staying in a mid-range hotel, choose between Alila Ubud, Bali Spirit Hotel and Spa, Komaneka Resort, or Maya Ubud Resort and Spa. For comfortable accommodation, you can also select from Ubud Sari Health Resort, Ubud Bungalow, Hotel Tjamphuhan, Ananda Cottages, Alam Sari, and Agung Raka Bungalows.
From Balinese to the Mediterranean to International, Ubud restaurants specialize in recipes from all corners of the globe. Bebek Bengil, Batan’s Aru and Naughty Nuri’s Warung and Grill are classical eateries for Asian and Balinese cuisine. TeraZo is a specialty Mediterranean restaurant while Mozaic serves exotic International fare.