Things to Do in Ubud
A Balinese Hindu site, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is populated by some 700 long-tailed Balinese macaques that live in and around the forest. The monkeys are believed to protect the area and the three Hindu temples within—Pura Dalem Agung, Pura Beji, and Pura Prajapati—from evil spirits.
Not far from Ubud, Tegenungan Waterfall foams in a white cascade over black stone cliffs into a quiet pool. At around 66 feet (20 meters) high, it’s an impressive flow, and that’s not all the site has to offer. Besides climbable cliffs, a secret smaller waterfall, and simple food stalls, a charming grotto houses a sacred spring.
The stunning Tegalalang Rice Terrace, part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises cascading emerald-green fields worked by local rice farmers. Just outside Ubud, it has become a destination for travelers making their way between Bali’s sandy beaches, towering mountains, and steaming volcanoes.
The classically Balinese combo of rice fields and river gorges is what makes Ubud’s landscapes so beloved, and the Campuhan Ridge Walk, the best-known walk in Ubud, is the perfect way to appreciate them. Starting at Pura Gunung Lebah, choose between a 2-hour circular route around Campuhan and Sanggingan or a longer hike to Keliki and Taro.
Bali’s most popular sacred spring, Tirta Empul Temple dates back more than 1,000 years. Travelers from around the globe flock to its holy waters to bathe beside Balinese pilgrims; accept blessings from healers, priests, and shamans; or simply soak up the atmosphere. The temple is northeast of Ubud in Tampaksiring, not far from Gunung Kawi.
With a history dating back more than 1,000 years, one of Bali’s holiest Hindu sites (and most popular attractions) is a grotto covered in carvings of mythological creatures. While Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) has uncertain origins, it's believed that Hindu priests dug it out by hand to use as a hermitage.
One of a cluster of craft villages in Bali’s Gianyar regency, Celuk is known as the “silver village” for its jewelry production. Artisans here create silver and gold jewelry and handicrafts in their homes and workshops as they have for centuries. A visit to Celuk gives travelers a chance to see the artisans in action and buy direct.
Home of Ubud’s royal family since the late-19th century, Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Palace or Puri Saren Agung) sits in the heart of downtown Ubud near the traditional art market. Explore the pavilions and gardens. There are also traditional Balinese dance performances in the courtyard each evening, a must for any visitor to Indonesia.
Known for its distinctive painting style, the village of Batuan, outside Ubud, remains an artists’ community. Unsurprisingly, Batuan Temple is a classic piece of Balinese architecture, with split gates, stone guardians, thatched shrines, and detailed carvings. It’s one of three village temples dedicated to the gods of the Hindu trinity.
Probably the best known of the craft villages around Ubud, Mas Village is famous for its wood carvers, and it’s possible to pop into the workshops of mask-makers and sculptors around town. There are also a number of more formal galleries, such as Tony Raka, which has expanded beyond carvings into modern art and tribal pieces.
More Things to Do in Ubud
Indonesia is home to more than 1,600 species of exotic birds, and many find their home at the Bali Bird Park. Ubud's top wildlife attraction hosts eight separate exhibits showcasing 250+ bird species from Papua, Sumatra, Bali, Java, Borneo, and beyond. Don't miss the bird-feeding sessions and free flight shows.
Dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning, wisdom, music, and art, Ubud’s Saraswati Temple is a beautiful spot for worshippers and visitors alike. Water gardens and lotus ponds flow up to the elegant structure, which is enriched with ornate carvings. The temple makes an atmospheric setting for Balinese dance performances.
In Bali’s cultural capital, Ubud, the Neka Art Museum is one of the town’s big three art galleries. Founded by Suteja Neka, its airy pavilions are home to a treasure trove of Balinese and Indonesian art, as well as a collection of wavy daggers known as “keris.” The Balinese Painting Hall is a good place to explore the work of local artists.
Ubud’s Don Antonio Blanco Museum celebrates the colorful life and baroque-erotic work of Philippine-born Spanish artist Antonio Blanco. Blanco arrived in Bali in 1952 and married a famous Balinese dancer. Set on a hill amid elaborate gardens and an aviary, the museum’s architecture, a hybrid of Spanish and Indonesian influences, is a highlight.
One of Ubud’s big three art galleries, Museum Puri Lukisan sits slap-bang in the heart of downtown Ubud. Collections cover not only Balinese paintings and drawings but also wood carvings and work by foreign artists. The Puri Lukisan gallery is also Ubud’s oldest art museum, founded in 1956 by a foundation established in 1936.
Sprawling over 20 acres (8 hectares) of tropical forest and gardens, Bali Zoo is home to an eclectic mix of animals, including Indonesian favorites such as Sumatran elephants, Borneo orangutans, and babirusa pig-deer. Visitors are encouraged to get up close with experiences such as “breakfast with orangutans” and elephant encounters.
Part museum, part gallery, part cultural space, Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) is the liveliest and most diverse of Ubud’s big three art galleries. Set in a vibrant garden, rooms of note include owner Agung Rai’s modern Balinese art collection and works by German artist Walter Spies and Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet.
Once the epicenter of a powerful Balinese kingdom, Tampak Siring is known today for its scenic rice terrace landscapes and two religious temples (pura): Tirta Empul and Gunung Kawi. Most visitors to Tampak Siring are drawn by the sacred spring of Tirta Empul or the 11th-century rock-cut shrines at Gunung Kawi.
One of a raft of markets with good food offerings around Ubud, Gianyar Night Market (Pasar Malam Gianyar) attracts the dinner crowd with reasonable prices, an authentic feel, and delicious food. The market serves up a wealth of Balinese and Indonesian fare, including spit-roasted suckling pig (babi guling), banana fritters, and jellied ice.
The historic buildings that make up Setia Darma House of Mask and Puppets are home to a world-class collection. Inside are more than 7,000 masks and puppets from all over Indonesia and the globe. Everything from Papuan grass costumes to Javanese wayang puppets are on display, alongside masks from Japan, Africa, Venice, and beyond.
An unremarkable village outside Ubud, Petulu hosts a daily phenomenon that’s a must for bird-watchers and sunset lovers alike: thousands upon thousands of herons and egrets returning from the rice fields and roosting in the trees like so many cotton wool fruit. They’ve been coming since 1965, and nobody knows why.
Bali’s Museum Gedung Arca, also known as Museum Arkeologi or the Pejeng Archaeological Museum, stands in the village of Pejeng, not far from Ubud. Established in the mid-20th century and renovated in 2016, the museum boasts an eclectic collection that covers archaeological finds from millennia of human occupation on Bali.
Established by cookbook author and Ubud Food Festival founder, Janet DeNeefe, Casa Luna Cooking School teaches the art of authentic Balinese cuisine. These Ubud cooking classes often begin with an introduction to Balinese ingredients and end with a feast of homemade local fare. They’re held on the grounds of her Ubud hotel.