Our time in Ubud was short as we popped in for 2 or 3 nights between Canggu and Uluwatu. There are plenty of things to do while in Ubud as a tourist. If your trip is short as well to maximize your visit I would recommend you hire a driver for a whole day for 50-100 bucks and visit multiple temples and rice terraces. From downhill mountain biking to watching the sunrise from the top of a volcano Ubud has something for every variety.
The water temple of the Pura Tirta Empul is something exceptional. After visiting the monkey sanctuary, our driver from our home took us to a lunch that I will never forget. It was close by and then over to the water temple, I didn’t write the name of it down. Sorry! But, we sat on the ground and ate insanely delicious typical food while looking over a gorgeous rice field.
You will wear a sarong over your clothes while bathing at the temple (provided). The water from the temple comes from the spring below. This holy water is for ritual bathing. I feel like this was the most unforgettable thing we did while in Ubud.
I meditated upon a shortlist of things in my head I was grateful for. I prayed for my friend’s father, who I had recently learned was battling the last days of his cancer. The impermanence of our time with our parents brought a big lump in my throat. Josh took the baby and brought her into the springs with him. Winter was delighted; she quickly caught on and splashed under the chilly water joyously. One by one, we walked down the fountains, giving a short inner prayer and dunking our heads below the flowing water.
There is something quite undeniable about the beauty of a place built in 962 AD. You can feel the history of the site under your feet, and in this crazy world of distraction, understand that there is something still genuine (yet spiritual) and tranquil to hold on to living in the natural element of water.
Cost: $2-3 USD to enter
Josh and his dad spent a morning with Winter at the Airbnb while I popped into town and did a few things for myself. Massages are about 10-15 dollars. So you should pretty much go big and get as many as possible! I roamed the streets, bought a few pieces of jewelry, took some photos then hopped back into a cab. Wellness and yoga seem to be a pinnacle attraction at Ubud. There are many female travelers from around the world and tons from Australia traveling on their own. Connecting with other women in the shops and asking about their journey to this place ended up being a beautiful occurrence. Don’t get me wrong. The vibe screams: Eat Pray Love and spiritual tourism, but better than commodity tourism, right? I don’t shun connecting to your body and pampering yourself in an unknown place. Ubud is a lovely city for a woman to come and reconnect with herself safely.
Cost:$15-20 USD for a massage + spending money for breakfast/shopping
The Ubud Traditional Market is now wholly run for tourists. But if you are like me and obsessed with natural fiber goods, hand-carved woodwork, handmade macrame, and woven bags/ hippie shit, this is the place for you to drop some coin. I visited the market on the first day of our trip fully committed to not purchasing a single thing. This strategy was smart because many vendors carry the same thing. You can shop around a bit and return once you have had a full look at what you want to buy. You will need to negotiate. I paid about 60 percent of the initial asking price of the vendors starting. The merchants expect this though it feels uncomfortable. You can always walk away and come back if you are feeling too much pressure. Often when you return, you will come back with a better price. Advice? Don’t be a dummy and don’t be an A-hole. There is a price for everything. Don’t be so caught up on a deal that you forget your privilege and disrespect the person on the other side of the transaction.
Cost: It is free to enter. I pulled about 200 out of the ATM, and that was enough money to buy me everything I could fit in my suitcase.
Kid-Friendly: Yes, but not necessarily. They might want everything. I don’t love to shop for long periods, so I just went on my own for an hour and got in and out.
The Monkey Sanctuary
The famous monkey sanctuary was at the top of my list of places to go. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned upon arriving that the Monkey Sanctuary that the premises date back to the 14th century! The grounds there are so much more stunning than anyone had described it- as most of the articles you read about it focus on the monkeys themselves and not the cascading plants and moss-covered stone statues. There are several places of worship, gorgeous bridges, and pathways there with dripping liana vines and lush vegetation everywhere. Our family visited in the morning before the main throng of crowds rolled in. I think this was a great idea. Hungry monkeys snacked on sweet potatoes fed to them by the sanctuary workers. The light was lovely, and the temperatures were perfect. We did as advised and brought no food, no water bottles, and minimal bags with zipper access. We had no issues with aggressive monkeys but played by the rules.
Admission: $3 USD
Excursion Length: about hours
Kid-Friendly: Yes! Winter loved watching the family dynamic in the tribe up at the cemetery.
When I travel, I prefer more authentic experiences, so it is a little hard to find while in such a tourist hot spot, but if you talk to enough locals and strangers, you will learn about the culture of Bali. It was that I found, to be the most worthwhile and exciting thing about Ubud. Families in Bali uniquely structure themselves. Whole communities with multiple family members and families work together to grow rice, run Airbnbs restaurants, and tourist excursions. This whole wake up and scatter thing that we do in the West is not common in Ubud. Entire families live in more intertwined compounds of homes that are connected by beautiful gardens and places to pray to passed family members. Many families have lived in their homes for generations. There is a lack of self-identity there, which is quite noble in my mind. Refreshingly, screens are not consuming the Balinese. These people look at you in the eyes while speaking to you (what a reminder worth experiencing!)