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11 Best Things to do in Ubud, Bali

Visiting Bali soon and want to know what the best things to do in Ubud are? These 11 activities are absolute musts for your Ubud itinerary!

Ubud is one of the most popular Bali destinations and is seen to be the cultural centre of the island. No Bali itinerary is complete without a stay in Ubud, and I’d suggest around 3 or 4 days to see everything at a leisurely pace.

Ubud is where you’ll find the beautiful green rice paddies as well as where you can get that iconic Bali swing photo you’ve no doubt seen on Instagram. 

12 Best Things to Do in Ubud

Ubud Palace - Puri Saren Palace

Ubud Palace – Puri Saren Palace

Puri Saren Agung, also known as Ubud Palace, is where the “royal family” of Ubud live. Although you cannot go into the palace, you can wander the courtyards outside for free. There’s some traditional architecture to admire though it’s not actually that old as parts of it were rebuilt in the early 20th century.

If you’d like to immerse yourself in the culture of Bali then you can watch a traditional Balinese dance show here. This is the equivalent of going to the opera in Italy or the ballet in Russia.

These Legong dance shows are held nightly at 7:30pm for around 100,000 IDR (~£5.20 or $7) and are definitely worth popping by for.

The performances are an amazing display of colour accompanied by traditional live music and wonderful dancing. It typically lasts for around 1.5 hours and the dance follows a story that you can read about on flyers that they hand out.

Tip: You’ll want to arrive at least 30 minutes (if not more!) before the show starts to get a good seat and remember to bring insect repellant as you’ll be sitting outside for a while.

RELATED: Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan, Indonesia

Ubud Water Palace - Pura Taman Saraswati

Ubud Water Palace – Pura Taman Saraswati

Although the dominant religion in Indonesia is Islam, Bali is predominantly a Hindu island. That’s why there are lots of Hindu temples to explore. 

The most noteworthy temple in Ubud is Pura Taman Saraswati, a beautiful temple with two long expanses of water filled with lotus flowers in front of it.

This temple is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning.

It’s a beautiful and peaceful place to wander around and one of the top things to visit in Ubud.

Although the building is built in a traditional style, it actually only dates back to 1952. Perhaps that explains how it has managed to retain that vibrant orange colour to this day!

Tip: It’s very easy to confuse Puri Saren Agung (above) and Pura Taman Saraswati but Puri means palace whilst Pura means temple.

Ubud Market - Pasar Seni Ubud

Ubud Market

Ubud Market (or Pasar Seni Ubud) is a great place to buy Balinese souvenirs for your friends and family. If you’re in need of a sarong to visit the temples then this is your best bet too.

Here you can buy shell bracelets and necklaces, round straw bags, crochet crop tops, pineapple-shaped wooden bowls and other quirky and aesthetic home decor items.

If you’re an early bird then you can also pop by in the early morning to visit the food and fruit market in the same spot. It’s open from 4am – 8pm and this is when you’ll find the locals shopping for fresh fruit and veg.

Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm
Address: Jalan Raya Ubud No.35 (opposite the Puri Saren Palace)

Ubud Monkey Forest is one of the best things to do in Ubud

Ubud Monkey Forest

If you want to get up close and personal with some Balinese monkeys then you need to visit Ubud Monkey Forest. There are over 1000 monkeys here (yes, really!) and their sanctuary is just a ten-minute walk out of the centre of Ubud.

You’ll see monkeys of all sizes here from tiny baby monkies to the much larger, older and wiser monkeys. These guys will look on sagely from the top of the trees or sit languidly on the pillars and bridges you’ll come across.

READ MORE: Things to Know Before Visiting the Monkey Forest in Ubud

These monkeys are so used to humans being around that they won’t hesitate to hop right up on your shoulders, have a root through your bag for food or try to grab your watch off your wrist.

They’re cheeky little buggers and really very smart and fast so keep your wits about you whilst in there if you want to leave with all of your belongings.

It’s also worth remembering that these are wild monkeys and therefore you shouldn’t provoke them or attempt to touch them without them first approaching you. Safety first.

Visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest is a really unique experience and a chance to get close to monkeys like most people never have before. It’s definitely a must-visit in Ubud, Bali!

Price: 80k IDR
Address: Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Ubud is a busy and bustling town but it’s surrounded by natural beauty. To escape from the honking cars and crowded sidewalks, do the Campuhan Ridge Walk.

It’s a man-made stone path that takes you atop a hill, through trees and long grass.

From this vantage point, you’ll get an amazing view of the scenery all around you and see vast stretches of green. It’s a breathtaking sight and there are the calming sounds of water flowing down in the depths of the hill too.

The path is just over one km long so you should factor in an hour or so for a return walk at a normal walking pace.

The track doesn’t loop around so when you reach the end you need to turn back on yourself and walk back the same way. This means you can make the walk as long or as short as you wish.

The walk is suitable for all people as it’s not too hilly or strenuous and you can go as fast or as slow as you want.

At the end of the trail, there’s Karsa Kafe, where you can enjoy some refreshments before heading back into town.

Price: 80k IDR
Address: Kelusa, Payangan, Jl. Raya Campuhan, Sayan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571

The Yoga Barn, Ubud

The Yoga Barn, Ubud

The Yoga Barn has become an iconic institution in Ubud for experienced yogis as well as beginners. Many yogis come to Bali each year to “find themselves” Eat Pray Love style and yoga is a popular thing to do in Ubud.

It’s no wonder people flock to the Yoga Barn specifically with the stunning views of nature that surround it.

The long, glass windows mean there are clear, unobstructed views of palm trees and plenty of other green plants. The windows are usually open too so there’s a bit of a breeze in the very warm Indonesia climate.

My top tip would be to get here as early as possible. I arrived 40 minutes before my 7am class and a few people had already signed up. By the time the class started, I think there were around 60-70 people in the room.

I was a little disappointed by this as it seems they may prioritise commercial success over experience but I had a good time here nonetheless. A morning yoga class surrounded by nature is a great way to start the day.

If you’re interested in something more intimate, it may be worth exploring whether they are other, quieter yoga classes to join in the area. See what’s available here.

Price: 110k IDR per class
Address: Jl. Hanoman Jl. Raya Pengosekan Ubud, Peliatan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571
Opening Hours: 7am-7pm

Tegalalang Rice Terrace 

Tegalalang Rice Terrace 

Bali’s rice terraces are one of the most iconic places to visit in Ubud. And Tegalalang Rice Terrace is the most famous.

This series of rice paddies is known for its beautiful, curving patterns which make their way up and down the hills of Ubud. This isn’t just for the aesthetic, it’s not even natural. It’s actually a traditional Balinese method of irrigation called subak, which dates back to the 9th century.

You can walk down along the paths to the bottom and back up the other side again, admiring the paddies and views as you go. The paths are actually quite narrow in some places so you’ll want to be careful not to slip and fall into the water!

As you walk, you may notice people working the paddies and carrying big baskets on their shoulders and some people make donations to these people as they wander down.

The rice paddies are an absolute must-visit location in Bali – they’re stunning and it’s a great place both to get photos and to explore a little of Bali’s culture.

It’s also where you’ll find the Bali swing. More below.

Tip: It’s best to visit either early in the morning or later in the afternoon so you avoid the glaring sun.

Price: 10k IDR ticket, further donations required as you explore the paddies. Suggested donations of 10k at each entry point.
Address: Jalan Raya Tegallalang, Tegallalang village, Gianyar regency, Bali, Indonesia
Opening Hours: 7am – 6pm

Tegalalang Rice Terrace Swing (Bali Swing, Ubud)

Tegalalang Rice Terrace Swing (Bali Swing, Ubud)

If you’re looking for the real Bali swing you’ve seen on Instagram, you’ll find it at Tegalalalng Rice Terraces.

One reason that Bali is such a popular tourist destination is because of its beauty and the ample photo opportunities here. And this Ubud swing probably takes the top spot when it comes to photo spots in Bali.

With your hair flowing behind you and the beautiful green rice paddies in the background, it’s easy to see why people love to take photos here.

Photos aside, it’s also an exhilarating experience. Although you are strapped in tight, you really feel like you are just on a very high, very fast swing. The people operating the swing will encourage you to let go of the rope and just hang backwards, which is a little scary but so worth it!

The views from the swing are simply insane and you can get such a good look at the rice paddies and surrounding natural beauty.

Bali Swing Price: 100k IDR

Tegenungan Waterfall (Air Terjun Tegenungan)

Tegenungan Waterfall (Air Terjun Tegenungan)

Tegenungan Waterfall is located near Tegenungan Kemenuh village, which is only around a 30-minute drive from the centre of Ubud.

It’s one of the most visited waterfalls in Bali as unlike lots of other waterfalls in the region it is fairly accessible (though there are still lots and lots of stairs to climb!).

As you walk down towards the waterfall, you can admire the beautiful surroundings, lush with bright green plants. The water is usually very clear and you’re more than welcome to take a dip if you fancy it.

I’d recommend getting here as early as possible as it’s a popular tourist location so it can become quite crowded as the day goes on.

There are lots and lots of photo opportunities, lots of which are staged. This is where you’ll find the Bali hanging nests or heart-shaped structures you can sit inside for photos. There was even an Angry Birds themed nest!

The waterfall and surrounding greenery are in the background of these shots so you will get some beautiful pictures. As I said, it can get quite busy, so you may have to queue for photos. ​

There are places to eat here too but whilst I’m sure the views are wonderful, the prices are not.

It’s quite expensive to stay here for coffee or a meal compared to eating at other Ubud restaurants so I personally didn’t choose to eat here but if you’re keen to enjoy more of the view then you may consider stopping off for longer here.

Price: 80k IDR
Address: Jl. Ir. Sutami, Kemenuh, Kec. Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80581
Opening Hours: 6:30am-6:30pm

Tirta Empul Water Temple

Tirta Empul Water Temple

Visiting Pura Tirta Empul water temple was one of my very favourite things about my trip to Bali. It’s a Hindu Balinese water temple dedicated to Vishnu, and there’s holy spring water that you can bathe in.

Upon arrival, you can rent a sarong to enter the pool in. You’re then directed to a changing room so you can get into your bathing suit and put the sarong on. They teach you how to tie it around your neck so it makes a halter neck dress.

Once you’re dressed, you can enter the pool. Fair warning – it’s very cold. But given how hot and stifling the weather can be in Bali, this was really refreshing.

Once you’re in the pool, you basically follow a line of people down the length of the pool, stopping at each fountainhead to pray, splash your face with water or bow your head under.

It’s a really calming and mindful experience that is well worth doing even if you are not religious.

Obviously, you need to be respectful of the fact that this is a holy site and dress appropriately.

Price: 50k IDR
Address: Jalan Tirta, Manukaya, Tampaksiring, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80552
Opening Hours: 8am – 6pm every day

Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)

Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)

The exact origins of Goa Gajah remain unknown, but it is thought to date back to the 9th century and have been built as a place for spiritual meditation.

The temple is famous because of all the menacing faces that are carved into stone at the mouth of the cave. One theory is that these were designed to ward off evil spirits!

It’s amazing that these faces and such an intricate design were carved into the stone by hand.

The actual cave is quite small and very dark. There’s no artificial lighting in here and it can feel a bit claustrophobic if lots of tourists are visiting at the same time.

Inside, there’s a worship area in honour of Shiva and also a passage containing a small statue of Ganesh.

To get to the cave you’ll have to first climb down lots of stone steps until you get to a courtyard. There’s also a bathing place here but this was actually only uncovered in the 1950s when the site was excavated.

You won’t need more than an hour to explore the cave and the surrounding area where there are relics, fountains, bathing pools and more.

Goa Gajah is only around 10 minutes from the centre of Bali and can be combined with a day trip to Tegenungan Waterfall.

Price: 50k IDR
Address: Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Pejeng Kawan, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali 80582, Indonesia
Opening Hours: 8am to 4:30pm

And what not to do in Bali? 

I personally wouldn’t hugely recommend visiting Lempuyang Temple. At least, not if the reason you want to go is because of the amazing photos you’ve seen of it on Instagram.

I did a day tour including  Lempuyang, Tirta Gangga and Besakih Temple, which was a rushed experience and photo stop after photo stop.

Check out my detailed blog post on why not to visit Pura Lempuyang, where I lift the veil on how this historic temple has turned into an Instagram nightmare.

If you liked this post, check out these other posts about Indonesia:
Things to Know Before Visiting Ubud Monkey Forest
Why You Shouldn’t Visit Pura Lempuyang

Visiting Borobudur Temple in Indonesia
Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan