Ubud, nestled in the uplands of Bali, Indonesia, is famed for its terraced rice paddies, Hindu temples and beautiful landscapes.
It is said to be the hub of art and culture in Bali where wood carvings, jewellery and masks are designed and created by hand by the friendly locals.
Four days was never going to be long enough to spend in this hip cultural town but we packed in what we could and here are our top 10 things we enjoyed whilst in Ubud!
Be completely cliche and book a yoga class
Yes, we did! And we LOVED it! I have done yoga before and aside from being possibly the most inflexible human on earth I quite enjoyed the fact I had to slow down, relax and concentrate on something else other than the million to-do lists in my brain.
For Steffan, it was his first time.
After some hefty research, I chose to book Taksu Yoga for our yoga experience based on reviews and also the fact it seemed a little more authentic and less hectic than some of the others.
Our yoga instructor was a lovely man called Indra.
He was patient, communicative and friendly. We really enjoyed getting to know him and still stay in touch even now via email! The grounds were the most beautiful green gardens we have seen with water fountains, bridges and ponds and it was so beautiful to explore after our yoga class.
If you fancy trying out a yoga class when in Ubud, we highly recommend Taksu Yoga and ask for Indra!
Find them here – http://www.taksuyoga.com/
Visit Munduk Village for the day
As we were visiting Bali at its busiest time of the whole year we were really trying to escape the crowds which are extremely difficult with a place as popular as Bali!
We spent the evenings drinking vodka and coke (because we are super classy and we were spoiling ourselves) and googling places we could spend the day that would be a little quieter.
That is when we stumbled across Munduk! Just wow!
Its a couple of hours drive from Ubud to the north and well worth the day trip. Nestled further into the mountains than Ubud and surrounded by rice terraces and waterfalls its not only fairly undiscovered buts its also a gorgeous way to spend a day in Bali!
Hire a local driver to get out and about without having a car or moped accident!
So everyone that visits Bali thinks of mopeds and scooters. The wind blowing through your hair as you feel an utter sense of freedom and delight at being a guest in one of the most beautiful islands in Indonesia!
In reality? It’s less a sense of freedom and more a fear of imminent death.
Horns beeping, cars and scooters swerving with no warning other than a wave of a hand or a yell, traffic as far as the eye can see, mopeds mounting the pavement to swerve past cars, and near-miss accidents every 30 seconds. Honestly, it was making me very uncomfortable just watching it from the safety of our car
Yes, I am a tad dramatic, but even Steffan agreed he was glad we had hired a local driver rather than hired mopeds. So save yourself the stress and hire someone local! We hired our driver through our Air B and B and he was brilliant and took us anywhere we wanted to go for four days straight.
Head to the local area of Tampaksilling for sunrise
This was an insider tip from our ‘local driver’ (see above!) to head to the area of Tampaksilling which is not far from Ubud centre.
On a clear morning you have a perfect view over the rice paddies of Mount Agung in the distance as the sun rises…. breathtaking!
Obviously, this was us experiencing it, and of course, every morning that we got up at 4am in order to photograph and watch the sunrise it was cloudy with no view…. but a beautiful experience all the same as there were no other tourists around and it was so quiet by the roadside with the only noise being locals heading to work and school on their mopeds!
Enjoy a slap up meal and memorable experience at Luxe BBQ and grill
If you want a special and memorable experience whilst you are in Bali, look no further!
This place is exceptional!
We decided we wanted a nice meal out and after some googling found this restaurant online, which describes itself as,
Just 1,400 meters from the centre of Ubud, you’ll find the award-winning #1 small hotel in Indonesia, LUXE Villas Bali. Offering an exclusive window to Bali’s working rice fields, an alluring stroll or a five-minute moped ride, a journey shrouded in ancient Balinese traditions.
We booked online and they arranged to collect us by scooter outside Starbucks at 7pm…. yes we were very excited! We were met by smartly dressed employees who rode us both to the entrance of the Luxe and the whole evening from then was absolutely impeccable!
The food was honestly the best we have ever tasted… EVER!!! The service was so personal and friendly and we even got to meet the owners when we were sat outside and they were both the most lovely down to earth people you could ever wish to meet.
Whether you are celebrating something or you’re not, pencil this into your itinerary! It was a night that we won’t forget anytime soon!
You can check them out here https://luxevillasbali.com/
Get to Tegallalang rice paddies before anyone else!
We have all seen the photographs of the lush green rice paddies in Ubud right? And the most famous and fairest of them all is definitely without a shadow of a doubt Tegallalang Rice Fields!
The downside to going in August? The rice paddies are not lush green as its just not the right time of year and its is hella BUSY!
But the rice paddies are actually open 24 hours day so you can get there as early as you like to avoid the heat and the crowds!
We arrived at 6am for sunrise and there were already a few Instagrammers strutting their stuff around the paddies but other than about six other people and a friendly cat, we had the whole place to ourselves!
Visit Tirta Empul temple
We weren’t sure whether to visit here or not as we warned it would be super busy! And whilst that may not be a deal-breaker for some of you, for us, and photography, it makes it difficult.
But, it was super close to our sunrise visit and so we swung by. We got there just in time for opening and it was so quiet!
We literally had the whole place to ourselves which made the whole experience so much more enjoyable and we were able to really feel the peaceful vibe of the temple and immerse ourselves in our surroundings without people pushing past every 5 minutes.
So another one for GET THERE EARLY! There is a running theme right?
Explore the wood carving market and see the locals working their trade
Ubud is famed for its creative workforce from wood carving to painting and to traditional dancing.
Steffan had decided even before we had even drafted our itinerary that he wanted a Traditional Balinese Wooden Mask to being home and hang on our wall so it made sense to head to the market and see the carvers in action!
Watching the woodcarvers work was incredible, carving whilst holding things with your feet? I can barely paint my toenails without losing my balance so I was IN AWE!
You do have salesperson who walks you around and explains the wood carving process and whilst it was helpful to hear more about it all he did get rather pushy!
He did tell us to repeatedly take our time whilst browsing the masks but then jumped in every 2 seconds to try and sell us the one we were ‘browsing’ so it felt a little pressured. I get it, they have a job to do but just be aware, there is no relaxed browsing! We did buy a mask and were very happy with it and whilst it was far more expensive than the local shops we were assured that it was excellent and genuine quality and actually, we love it!
Enjoy unique cocktails at Roosters Bar
If you like cocktails and quirky bars then this place is for you!
This chilled and funky bar was actually recommended to us by the owners of Luxe BBQ and Grill ( thank you guys!) and it was such a memorable evening!
The cocktails are like nothing else we have ever seen or heard of and honestly, they are like little works of art!
Some of the cocktails come to you on fire, blow-torched in front of you are set over a ‘forest of mist’.
The waitress explains everything to you when she brings your drinks over as there are many details to your chosen drink and make sure you get your cameras out as its honestly worth capturing! And they taste sooooo GOOD!
A really unique experience! They also serve wine if you don’t feel too adventurous.
Take a walk along Campuhan ridge at sunset
Listed frequently in the top 10 things to experience the Campuhan Ride walk is an easy hiking trail set above Ubud and its forests and rice paddies and is just over 1.5km long.
We enjoyed it and we got some beautiful photographs but it wasn’t as amazing as we had imagined, again, to do with the time of year!
Nothing was quite as green as the photographs and it was super cloudy but even so, it was a nice way to spend an hour at sunset and another ‘must do’ ticked off our Bali Bucket list.