Tourists flock to Ubud in their thousands each year attracted by its fascinating artistic heritage and authentic culture. It still has a sleepy, small town appeal yet is also the best place for indulging in thrilling adventure sports and for exploring nature and some of Bali’s most evocative history. There is no shortage of things to see and do in Ubud where family fun days are as abundant as high brow art and culture.
You can really sense the artistic atmosphere in town where every other person is seemingly a working artist, writer or designer. For such a compact area there is an amazing wealth of attractions to discover day and night. There are inspiring sights and activities to suit everyone and a few short days in Ubud can easily turn into a couple of weeks or more. This is especially true for the growing number of people who choose to take creative art, textile, woodcarving and holistic courses here. For a little inspiration here are a few of our favourite Ubud activities and attractions, all located within or very close to the town centre.
Museums in Ubud
Ubud is home to some of the very best art museums in Indonesia, housing comprehensive collections of traditional Balinese art as well as some contemporary exhibits by visiting international artists.
Ubud’s finest is the Neka Art Museum (website: www.museumneka.com. which showcases a a vast range of paintings, scuplture and photography. Other inspiring collections can be found at ARMA Museum & Resort (website: www.armabali.com) and Museum Rudana (website: www.therudana.org).
A rarity in Asia, there is even a fine art gallery dedicated to female artists at the Seniwati Gallery of Art by Women (website: www.seniwatigallery.com).
Sacred Monkey Forest
Situated at the southern end of Monkey Forest Road, this is central Ubud’s most popular attraction and a real child pleaser. It is a lush forest featuring an inspiring Hindu temple but the main attraction is a large population of mischievous macaque monkeys.
Keep a close eye on all belongings as these cheeky primates are expert thieves! Stock up on bananas at one of the grocery stores in town as the sellers at the main gates charge grossly inflated prices. (website: www.monkeyforestubud.com)
Dance dramas in Ubud
On any night of the week there are evocative Balinese dance performances at half a dozen or more Ubud venues. The town has the widest variety of dances and the finest dance companies. Acompanied by haunting gamelan music it is an uplifting and inspiring spectacle and best appreciated at the fabulous Ubud Palace (Open: 07:00 to 20:00 (daily) with performance at 19:30, admission rp80,000; Jalan Raya Ubud, Tel: +62 361 975 057, website: www.ubudpalace.com). This former royal residence offers a sumptuous and beautifully illuminated backdrop to a night of colourful drama.
White water rafting in Ubud
Just west of town lies the raging Ayung river which is the centre of Bali’s white water rafting and kayaking scene. It is a heart stopping experience for all ages and offers a great vantage point for glimpsing some of Bali’s most picturesque scenery. Sobek (website: www.balisobek.com, prices from rp761,165) is one of the most professional operators. Book direct through them or at any one of the many tour agents in Ubud centre.
Bali bird and reptile park
Situated just south of town is this wonderful wildlife park that makes for a great day out for all ages. You get two parks for the price of one with a wealth of free range exotic birds of paradise and an assortment of snakes, reptiles, creepy crawlies and the magnificent komodo dragon. It is set in spacious manicured gardens and has educational weekend programs designed just for kids. (website: www.bali-bird-park.com).
Spas in Ubud
Ubud is home to some fantastic spas which can soothe away the aches and pains of modern life. Tamarind Spa at Murni’s Houses is ranked amongst the very best in Bali and offers dedicated therapists who have massaged and manicured international fashion designers, pop stars and royalty. Choose from a full range of treatment packages ranging from the heavenly to the simply divine.