20 Things to Do in Ubud

Ubud isn’t the kind of place where you need a long to-do list. None of the sights or activities are “must-dos”. If all you did during your stay was eat, walk through the rice fields, and perhaps get a massage or take a yoga class, then that’s a successful Ubud visit in my opinion. That said, if you are feeling more active, there are plenty of things to do in Ubud to occupy your time.

1) Stay Out of Town

Ubud house rental pool

The pool and view at our house in Junjungan village outside Ubud

Ubud doesn’t make the best first impression. We stayed in the centre of town for our first few days and wondered what on earth we were doing there. The centre is congested with traffic, tour groups, and souvenir shops. There are gems to be found, but to make the most of your stay I highly recommend staying outside the centre, ideally somewhere with a rice field view. We moved 3 km out of town and ended up staying for nearly five months.

There’s a huge range of accommodation in Ubud from budget homestays to luxury resorts. We use Booking.com to find hotels—choose “view” as one of the room facilities and you’ll find lots of suggestions out of town such as Bambu Indah, a gorgeous, boutique eco-resort, and Three Dewi’s, a budget guesthouse with rice field views that’s walkable to the centre.

If you end up falling in love like we did and want to stay for a month or more, read how to rent a house in Ubud (it’s easy!).

2) Campuhan Ridge Walk

Things to Do in Ubud - Campuhan Ridge WalkThe Campuhan Ridge was our favourite walk in Ubud—it’s one of the only places to escape from traffic. There are a few hills, but it’s an easy walk with lovely views of rice fields and down into a valley. There’s not much shade, so it’s best early morning or towards sunset.

This blog post has instructions on getting to the start. The walk from the school car park to Karsa Kafe and back was 3.5 km and took us 45 minutes.

3) Rice Fields Walk

Things to do in Ubud -rice fields walkAnother pleasant walk is on a path through the rice fields towards Sari Organik farm and restaurant. There are lots of cafes along the way where you can enjoy a drink or meal with a view. You can also start at the far end of Jalan Kajeng and loop around to Sari Organik. The downside is that motorbikes drive on these narrow paths.

4) Discover Ubud’s Tranquil Spots

How to get an Indonesian tourist visa at London embassy

Lotus pond at Saraswati temple

The centre of Ubud is busy, but you can find beautiful, tranquil spots. Our favourites were the lotus pond at Saraswati temple (behind Starbucks) and Taksu Spa, where the river gorge is an oasis from the chaos. Take the time to wander around and you might be surprised by what you find.

5) Kecak Dance Performace

Things to Do in Ubud -Kecak dance in JunjunganUbud is famous for its traditional dance performances. We didn’t have very high expectations but loved the Kecak dance we saw at the temple in Junjungan village. Around 60 sarong-clad men provide the soundtrack of haunting chants, while dancers recreate a story from the Ramayana. It is less busy and commercial than the performances in the centre—all 150 families in the village are involved, and proceeds go towards temple activities.

The Kecak performance takes place every Monday night at 7 pm at the temple in Junjungan village on Jalan Tirta Tawar. Tickets cost 75,000 IDR ($5.50). You could combine it with a meal at Warung Bintangbali. Read more about the performance on Till the Money Runs Out.

6) Rent a Motorbike

Renting an automatic motorbike is the best way to explore the countryside surrounding Ubud. You could walk or cycle, but it’s much cooler on the back of a bike. It’s cheap too—just 50,000 IDR ($3.70) a day, and you don’t need to leave a deposit or show a licence.

The traffic in Ubud can be crazy, so if you are a beginner, practice on the quieter streets outside town, and ask someone to show you the basics.

Once you have wheels, you can head north on Jalan Tirta Tawar, Sri Wedari or Suweta, or east through the tree tunnel to Penestanan village. You can visit many of the places below by motorbike.

If you rent a motorbike make sure your travel insurance covers you as accidents do happen. Our recommended policies are True Traveller (UK/EU citizens) and World Nomads (worldwide). 

7) Practice Yoga

Things to Do in Ubud- Yoga at

Intuitive Flow yoga studio

Ubud is yogi heaven! Whether you prefer fast-paced vinyasa or gentle yin, you’ll find a class to suit you. It’s the perfect place to create your own yoga retreat by buying an affordable multi-class pass. Read my Ubud yoga guide to choose the studio that’s right for you.

8) Take an Art or Cooking Class

Things to Do in Ubud- cooking class with Payuk Bali

Our ingredients ready to cook

You can learn plenty of skills in Ubud including painting, jewellery making, and batik. We enjoyed a cooking class with Payuk Bali, which included a market visit, learning how to make offerings, and plenty of hands-on cooking. They were very well-organised, had a special vegetarian menu, and the meal at the end was delicious, especially the tempeh satay with peanut sauce.

9) Dine with a View

Sari Organik vegetarian friendly restaurant with a view in Ubud

Sari Organik restaurant

You are spoilt for choice for restaurants with views of rice fields and river gorges. Sari Organik has tasty organic cuisine with rice field views, and the walk there is part of the experience. Clear offers healthy meals and smoothies overlooking the magical Gunung Lebah temple. The Elephant serves up delicious vegetarian meals with views of the Campuhan Ridge. For more ideas see our Ubud vegetarian guide.

10) Splurge on a Gourmet Meal

Things to Do in Ubud - Tasting menu at Mozaic

One of the six courses of the vegetarian tasting menu at Mozaic

For such a small town Ubud has a surprising number of gourmet restaurants offering fantastic tasting menus. Sure, they are much more expensive than a meal at a warung, but they are great value compared to a similar quality meal in Europe or the US.

Our favourite splurges were at Locavore, Mozaic, and Room4Dessert (we have to go back for the nine dessert tasting menu!)—read more here.

11) Downhill Bike Tour

Things to Do in Ubud -eco cycling tour

500-year-old banyan tree

We don’t cycle often, but the Bali Eco Cycling tour was easy—it was all downhill, and we hardly had to pedal! We started with breakfast overlooking the volcano Mt Batur before cycling through the countryside stopping at a family compound, rice fields, and a 500-year-old banyan tree. It’s a great way to see more of Bali and learn about the culture. The only downside was the touristy coffee plantation (avoid these in Bali—they are glorified gift shops).

12) Brave the Monkey Forest

Things to Do in Ubud - monkey forestWe were a little worried about braving the famous monkeys, but it turned out to be an enjoyable walk through the forest with temples and banyan trees that felt like an Indiana Jones set. Be careful of the monkeys, though—they are thieves and can be aggressive. We didn’t take a bag, sunglasses, or have anything in our pockets (except cash to get in and my camera around my neck), and they didn’t bother us. Don’t feed them—you will end up with monkeys climbing all over you. This may sound fun, but rabies is prevalent in Bali, and if you get bitten or scratched (a common occurrence), you’ll need a series of injections.

13) Pura Gunung Kawi

Gunung Kawi temple, BaliThis 11th-century temple features shrines carved into the rock at the bottom of a river valley. It’s a 30-minute drive from Ubud and is worth combining with Tirta Empul. Get there early to avoid the crowds and souvenir sellers—at 8 am there were only two other visitors.

14) Tirta Empul Water Temple

Things to Do in Ubud -Tirta Empul water templeThe water temple Tirta Empul is close to Gunung Kawi. Balinese Hindus go here to bathe in the holy waters.

15) Tegenungan Waterfall

Things to Do in Ubud - Tegenungan waterfallThe waterfall isn’t huge, but the scenery is lovely, and we enjoyed a swim in the pool. Again, get there early.

It’s a 25-minute drive from Ubud and can be combined with the Secret Canyon. We didn’t make it down the canyon as it turned out to be more hardcore than we expected—come prepared to clamber rocks and wade through waist-high water. It’s best to hire one of the local guides to show you the way.

16) Tour Bali for a Day

Pura Luhur Batukau

Pura Luhur Batukau

A popular thing to do is hire a driver for the day (from 500,000 IDR/$37) to take you on a temple tour. We headed north to the temple at Lake Bratan, which we weren’t impressed by. We preferred the much less touristy Pura Luhur Batukau (about 1.5 hours from Ubud). 

Voyagin has a number of private customisable tours available including to Ubud’s main sights and Tanah Lot and to Kintamani volcano.

17) Visit an Art Gallery

Ubud is a very artsy town. You can visit lots of small studios to buy artwork or bigger art museums to learn about the history of art in Ubud. I enjoyed the Balinese art at Neka Art Museum the most, although the architecture at the Antonio Blanco Museum was certainly eccentric.

18) Get a Massage

Getting a massage is a popular activity in Ubud. It’s not our thing, but if we were to indulge, we’d be tempted by this spa by the river. I’ve also heard good things about Sang Spa 2 and Cantika (especially the Cantika Zest branch in Penestanan). Otherwise, you can get no-frills massages all over town for around 100,000 IDR ($7.30). 

19) Watch a Film

Denpasar Cineplex is the nearest cinema for the latest releases, but unfortunately, it’s an hour away. The Executive screen is ultra-comfortable with large reclining seats and only costs 75,000 IDR ($5.50) during the week. Paradiso in the centre of Ubud shows older films, and you can enjoy raw and vegan food while you watch.

20) Shop

There are plenty of tacky souvenir shops in Ubud, but there are also high-quality boutiques selling clothes, jewellery, yoga gear, and home furnishings. You’ll find plenty of options on Hanoman, Goutama, and Monkey Forest Roads.

For cheap clothes and souvenirs, head to the central market on Jalan Raya, but be prepared to bargain. For delicious jams made from unusual local fruits, go to Confiture de Bali on Goutama street. Seniman coffee studio is the best place for Balinese coffee beans.

I hope you enjoy some of these suggestions. But remember, if you don’t make it out of your sun lounger overlooking the rice fields, don’t feel guilty. Ubud is best explored at your own pace.

Resources for Planning a Trip to Ubud

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These 20 things to do in Ubud, Bali will help you avoid the crowds and make the most of your stay in this beautiful town.

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21 thoughts on 20 Things to Do in Ubud

  1. Thanks for this and keep the Ubud posts coming! It is so easy to just do work with lovely views, go to yoga and fantastic restaurants and forget to go out and “do” anything else! Thanks for the great list and reminder to break out of our Ubud routine.

    • That’s what we did most of the time and loved it 🙂 Still, there are some things worth doing, and I know you enjoy motorbiking through the countryside as much as we do, and having a goal gets you out and about.

      One more post is coming that is full of practical tips for living in Ubud.

  2. Dear Erin and Simon
    We have just read your latest post and thoroughly enjoyed it. We were in Ubud for about 10 days in January and actually met you while walking down the street, well almost accosted you! Sorry if we surprised you but we were so happy to finally meet you both as you have inspired our travels so much.
    In our short time there, we did manage to do all on your list except the yoga, movies or the cooking class. We didn’t brave a motorcycle, but did the day downhill cycle tour and also hired bikes the next day and cycled uphill to Pura Gunung Kawi and Tirta Empul Water Temple (thankfully, we are keen cyclists, so didn’t find the hills too bad and needed to work off all the delicious food we ate!). We also really enjoyed the Neka Art Museum, like you, and spent hours in there. The ARMA gallery was a great place to look at art but also wander round the gardens and relax in one of the pavilion cafe.
    We had a wonderful massage and mandi-lular scrub at The BodyWorks Centre and would certainly recommend that to any of your readers http://ubudbodyworkscentre.com

    Anyway, your post is great and glad you enjoyed your 5-month stay. Perhaps we might do that one day, but we have only just started our travels – so too much to see and do to catch you up!

    We went to the North coast after Ubud then we headed east and went to Gili Islands. We stayed at Gili Air and ended up staying for 10 days, the reef wasn’t so good as what we saw at Pink Beach near Komodo Island (which was the best we have yet to experience), but the turtles made up for it! Floating with turtles became a new, everyday experience and they seem completely unperturbed by swimmers in the shallows. This did worry us when we saw the small boat fisherman go out with their nets. We are now in Amed waiting for the rain to stop and the sea to value, down so we can do some more snorkelling, as the reef is supposed to be very good here. Helen is also hoping to do a Free-diving course before we both do the 3-day Open Water diving course. We have never tried diving, so thought we would like to experience sea life in the deep and see new and wonderful creatures!
    We are then flying to Singapore and working our way up through Malaysia (highlands and Coast) and then over to Borneo before a few months home to visit family. We have yet to decide where to go in September – it is hard to decide and we wonder how you must struggle too!

    Anyway, keep your posts coming, we love following your travels and reading all about them. Also, great thanks to Simon for the Trail Wallet app, we purchased it before starting the trip and we use it diligently and enjoy tracking our money. So useful for our trip analysis and future planning.
    Sorry this is more than a ‘comment’, just wanted to drop you a line.
    Happy travels
    Jaynie and Helen

      • Hey Erin – I have heard great things about Chiang Mai as well, hoping to visit there in the same trip. So far I have only passed through SE Asia for a few weeks on the way to Europe for a longer trip, so definitely need to head back for more exploring. I am actually hoping to interview a few digital nomads for my website while I’m in Southeast Asia next – perhaps that’s something you and Simon would be interested in? Would be cool to chat if you’re still about. 🙂

  3. This is a lovely list! It may seem a bit early but I’m thinking of going to Ubud when we visit India in December….
    I’m not really sure how many days I will be able to dedicate, but taking a walk through the rice fields is enticing!

  4. This is a really great list of things to do! We rented a motorbike in Koh Lanta but we’re too nervous about the traffic to do it in Bali. One of our favorite things we did in Ubud was water rafting along with the Campuhan Ridge Walk.

    • Koh Lanta is so much easier to ride a motorbike on than Ubud. Simon was fine as he has a motorbike licence, but I couldn’t face it in Ubud either. We went rafting on our first trip to Ubud years ago. It was rather gentle but the scenery was gorgeous. Glad you have a nice time!

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  6. Hi. Great post on Ubud. I spent a weekend in Ubud when I was working in North Sulawesi. I tried yoga and visited the rice fields. For the rest of the time, I strolled around town. My latest blog is about my weekend in Bali. I worried that I missed out on mentioning some ‘must-see’ sights in Ubud so I was very happy to find your blog. I would have liked to have seen the waterfalls. You have a great website! Regards from Rose Ann MacGillivray (boomervoice.ca)

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