Famous for its painter’s community, Ubud is special in more ways than one. It has its own magic, and its particularly beautiful surroundings and gracious way of life have drawn celebrities and artists from all over the world in recent decades; some have even adopted Ubud as their own home. Ubud is now more than ever in the spotlight due to the famed book by Elizabeth Gilbert and movie “Eat Pray Love”. If we were to describe Ubud Bali in one word we would say “idyllic”. Despite the large numbers of tourists visiting this little village with streets that are too narrow for touring buses, Ubud has been able to maintain its traditional life. It is the meditation capital of Bali, and suggested Spiritual Epicentre of S.E. Asia, many people come here purely to recharge their batteries from the fast paced western life, here you just surrender to the energies and let go.

Ubud has been voted the top city in SE Asia in January 2010 by the Condé Nast Traveler, it is not hard to see why; everywhere you look is paradise with dense green jungles, myriads of rice fields and beautiful tropical gardens. Here Balinese men and women still place offerings gracefully on the side of the road and on temples; every day you will see many of them riding beautifully dressed on motor scooters to temples and ceremonies while holding colourful woven baskets, sometimes you can witness even up to four on a bike.

Recently Ubud was declared by another well known travel advisory site as having been voted the 12th most desirable destination for travellers around the Globe, no not Bali – but UBUD! Just an amazing recognition of the beauty and attraction this region offers!

It also ranked in the top 50 destinations for travellers in 2015’s New York Times annual travel feature.

The Legend

In the eighth century, a Javanese Buddhist Priest, Rsi Marhandya saw a distant light rising from the earth to the sky and returning again. So Rsi organized a large group of men and women to find the place which was the source of the light. On this first journey he found a beautiful island as we know now as Bali. By the time Rsi and the search party eventually reached the mountains they came across Taro (30 minutes from Ubud) where he and his men fell ill and many died, they returned to Java where Rsi had another vision, regrouped his men and set out on his quest again. After a long journey he finally found the place of the light in the central mountains of Bali, Ubud, and this time built a sacred temple on the site.

On the journey, Rsi was led to stop and meditate at a place where two rivers met. It was at Campuhan (which actually means two rivers meet) that Rsi Marhandya received the inspiration he needed on how to build what is now one of the most revered and beautiful temples in all the world. He meditated at the confluence of the two Wos Rivers at Campuhan, just west of the modern day town centre.

To mark this place of holy inspiration, a small temple was built on the banks of Campuhan and the surrounding land granted to the royal family of the town near Campuhan and refers to the healing power of this most sacred ground.  Ubud means Medicine in Balinese, Ubud was originally called Ubad and was revered as a source of medicinal herbs and plants. Tjokorda Raka of the Ubud Royal family has had a dream of opening up this and sharing the rejuvenating life of this place with visitors of other cultures.

A shrine was established and later expanded by Nirartha, the Javanese priest who is regarded as the founder of Bali’s religious practices and rituals as we know them today. Campuhan has continued to be a source of light and inspiration for many, attracting artists and musicians of worldwide notoriety such as Walter Spies, Rudolf Bonnet, Colin Macphee, and Noel Coward, last but not least in this line was Antonio Blanco.


Many temples and monasteries were established over the next 400 hundred years or so, the ninth century cave temples at Goa Gajah, the famed Elephant Cave (just east and northeast of Ubud), are architectural remains from this period and many of the dances, drama and rituals still practiced in Ubud today, originated at this time. King Airlangga ruled all of Java and Bali in this era, and his seat of government was located in what is now the village of Batuan, just southeast of Ubud.

Another beautiful temple built around this time was Gunung Kawi, an 11th century temple complex in Tampaksiring north east of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. It is located on the river Pakrisan. The complex comprises 10 rock-cut candi (shrines) carved into the cliff face. They stand in 7m-high (23 ft-high) sheltered niches cut into the sheer cliff face. These monuments are thought to be dedicated to King Anak Wungsu of the Udayana dynasty and his favourite queens. The Javanese Majapahit kingdom conquered Bali in 1343, and the key final victory was against the Pejeng Dynasty centred at Bedulu, just to the east of Ubud. A great flowering of Balinese culture followed, and the ancestry of Ubud’s current day aristocratic families can be traced back to this period. In the sixteenth Century, there was a total transplantation of the Majapahit Kingdom to Bali as the Islamisation of Java forced them eastwards. Power flip-flopped between various dynasties and feudal lords, but the Ubud area remained a very important cog in the various regencies which ruled the island.

It has been the stomping ground of Bali’s earliest dynasties in recorded history. It is here that the first great lines of Hindu Zed Kings established themselves. Pejeng was the center of power until the early 14th century, when the last line of Warmadewa was defeated by Majapahit Empire, Under Gajah Mada, in 1343. The two rivers, Petanu and Pakrisan, have been storing series of ancient historical remains along the banks, such as temples, meditation cells, baths and other monuments.

Getting Around

Ubud is an ideal place to walk around, especially if you check out the small streets and alleys on the side of every road. They lead you to amazing places such as rice fields, river valleys, temples and Balinese living court yards. Ubud Bali has three big main roads which are all one way-streets. So you will definitely drive through them regularly if you are finding your way through Ubud by car, bike or motor scooter. The busiest and one of the longest is the Monkey Forest Road. This road starts in the south when you come into Ubud and ends all the way in the north at the crowded Ubud Market. This street has many shops, restaurants and places to stay. The many small alleys on both sides of the road are passages to tucked away hotels (many cheap homestays), spas and restaurants.

Jalan Raya (the Royal Rd) is a road that crosses Monkey Forest Road in the centre of Ubud Bali. If you carry on straight across this busy intersection and site of the royal palace you will start on Jalan Suweta, this is the road that leads to the Pyramids (about 3 Km’s).To the left, this road leads you to the Campuhan area. Passing down this road about 300 metres you can take a small road to the right where you can begin  a pleasant  rice field walk that goes  further north of Ubud to the Pyramids of Chi and the enchanting villages of Bentuyung and Kelabang Moding

Another road that you’ll certainly come across is Jalan Hanoman if you turn right past the palace and markets from the top of Monkey Forest road and right again at the large Government Building on the corner. This street is long and has many shops, restaurants, hotels and homestays. Going down hill, Jalan Hanoman comes to a fork, the right veers off to Monkey Forest Rd, whilst to the left is still Jalan Hanoman and goes on passing the ARMA museum then becomes Jalan Raya Pengosekan that takes you on to Lutundoh village and eventually south to Denpasar.

Ubud is relatively small so if you have the time you can easily walk around and see a lot. The streets and footpaths are a little bumpy, occasionally you might find a hole or two or a loose pavement so be careful (Hati Hati) of your footing.  However look out for the colourful offerings which are placed along the streets and in front of shops. You can easily crush them with your feet while window shopping which may be insulting to the Balinese.

Along Monkey Forest Road there are many bicycle and motor scooter rentals, usually, the price drops the longer you rent them. Before you hop on, check the profile of the tyres is still good. It can get quite slippery when it rains. An accident is the last thing you need during your well-deserved holidays. Everywhere in town, you will find many private drivers sitting in the shade of a tree only to jump up when you come in sight. Instantly they will make this driving movement with their hands and at the same time wiggle a little with their body. ‘Transportation or TAXI…?’ is the first thing they say. If you reply with: ‘No thank you…’ or ‘Tidak Teramikasi’ (pronounced as  “Tid ah, tear out my car seat’), you can immediately expect the next question ‘How about tomorrow…yes?’ They are harmless but respond with a smile when refused politely.

But if you are considering touring around for a day then a private driver is what you need. Check out if you like their car and then bargain for a price that suits you. Usually it is around Rp.600,000 per day (7 hours) including a chatty driver and fuel, also when talking with the driver make sure you can understand him as you will have many questions while touring and he will have a lot he wants to tell you. Some drivers are very proficient with their English and a number also speak other languages such as German, French, Japanese and Chinese, so take your time to find the right one, do not feel pressured in any way. Asking a few simple questions (such as ‘Tell me more about what you can show me?’) and listening to their replies will help your decision making.

Failing all of this, when visiting the Pyramids of Chi, ask at the Reception. We have a list of good and reliable drivers who speak English and know Bali well. They are locals and will be fair in their dealings.

Locations & Numbers (You should know)

The Post Office is located on Jalan Jembawan on the east-side of Jalan Raya.


The Ubud Clinic, 24H (0361-974911) for most medical issues can be found on the west-side of Jalan Raya before the Campuhan bridge and here bilingual staff are also available.


If you need the Police (0361-975316) you can find them on Jalan Raya Andong in the north-eastern part of Ubud. Close to the traffic lights at the end of Jalan Raya near the huge statue.


The Tourist Office is open from 8am-8pm daily and located on the crossing of Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Raya, just across the Ubud Palace. Here they can offer you some maps, brochures and the monthly issue of Ubud Community with useful articles and a calendar of events.

Foreign Consulates in Bali
  • Australia, Jl. Prof. Moh. Yamin Kav. 51, P.O. Box 243, Renon, Denpasar (tel. 0361-235092 or 235093, fax 231990).
  • France, Jl. Raya Sesetan 46 D, Banjar Pesanggaran, Denpasar (tel. 0361-233555)
  • Germany, Jl. Pantai Karang 17, Sanur (tel. 0361-288535); Italy, Jl. Padang Galak, Sanur (tel. 0361-288996 or 288896)
  • Japan, Jl. Moh. Yamin 9, Renon, Denpasar (tel. 0361-231308 or 234808)
  • Netherlands, Jl. Imam Bonjol 599, Denpasar (tel. 0361-751904 or 751497, fax 752777)
  • Norway Denmark, Jl. Jayagiri, Gang VIII/10, Denpasar (tel. 0361-235098 or 233053)
  • Switzerland/Austria, c/o Swiss Restaurant, Jl. Pura Bagus Taruna, Legian (tel. 0361-751735)
  • Sweden/Finland, Segara Village Hotel, Sanur (tel. 0361-288407 or 288408)
  • U.S.A., Jl. Sanur Ayu 5, Sanur (tel. 0361-288478)
Sacred Temples

Sacred Temples

Pura Desa Ubud: The main “town temple” in the centre, across from Ary’s Warung.

Pura Puseh: The “temple of origin” devoted to Ubud’s honoured ancestors. In Jalan Suweta.

Pura Dalem Ubud: The temple for the dark side of things. On the north side of Jalan Raya before the road descends to Campuan.

Pura Pamerajan Sari C. Agung: The private family temple of the Ubud royal family. On the east side of Jalan Suweta, a little north of the Palace.

Pura Taman Saraswati: Part of the Puri Saraswati complex, devoted to Dewi Saraswati the goddess of learning, literature and the arts, Features a fine padmasana (lotus throne). Beyond the lotus pond in the back of Cafe Lotus.

Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal: Another temple for the dark side, down by the monkey forest.

Pura Gunung Lebah: At the confluence of the east and west branches of the Wos River , below the Campuan bridge.

Pura Batur Sari: A royal temple devoted to the deity of Mt Batur, ostensibly to spare the Ubud Tjokordas the long journey up to the mountain itself. During its odalan, the dance stage is set up in front of the temple, right in the middle of Jalan Suweta, a few hundred metres north of Ubud’s main cross-roads.

Things To Do

In Ubud and its surrounding hamlets cultural influences and artifacts are still found. Besides absorbing the cultural beauty of Ubud there are many other things to do which always seem to be intertwined with the daily village life. For instance the nearby temples show you the historical and religious influences that are still present today while the many museums offer you the opportunity to learn about their Bali paintings, drawings, carvings and statues. Besides this you can also actively learn about the village’s culture by participating in dance, paint, mask-making and cooking classes, for which you will  need to do some shopping at the local market.

These courses are pretty exceptional for Bali and the tourism foundation of Ubud Bali encourages this as this is one of the ways to create a balance between tourism and the locals. Only through this balance can the natural and cultural beauty of the village be preserved.

The stunning location of the village also provides enough opportunity to explore the rice terraces or the river valleys that are found in and around the village. When walking through these panoramic sceneries you will find yourself up close with the local people who are working in the fields throughout the day and invariably respond with a wave and a smile when given a friendly greeting.  A simple ‘Pargee’ in the morning is received with grins and affection for making the effort to say ‘Morning‘ in Indonesian, or even better ‘Selamat Pargi‘ = “Good Morning”.

But remember once you are there, take your time and just experience it, Ubud is filled with mystical treasures that need to be unveiled, below are some of just a few activities and places to visit.

  • The Pyramids of Chi
  • Arma Museum
  • Agung Rai Museum of Art
  • Neka Museum
  • Antonio Blanco’s House/Gallery
  • Cultural Dance Performances
  • Hindu / Buddhist Temples
  • The Ubud Monkey Forest
  • Walks Around The Area / Rice fields
  • The Ubud Markets
  • Art and Cooking Classes
  • Shopping (Andong and Tegallalung)
  • Spas
  • White Herons of Petulu
  • Bali Bird  & Reptile Park
  • Taro Elephant Park
  • Massage – Putu Parwati on Jl Suweta
  • Visit the many waterfalls and pools
Food Glorious food

Ubud is full of all types of restaurants and cafes. After just a couple of metres you will bump into one again. So no chance of getting hungry here… There is a mixed choice of restaurants such as the classy modern looking restaurants, restaurants that only serve organic food and drinks or restaurants that have a gorgeous garden where you can sit on a big pillow on the floor. But there are also the basic ones (but always with some nice decoration) that just offer you what you’re looking for – good food. The choices in cuisine are endless from Indonesian at the Warungs to European at the upmarket restaurants,

Below is a list of recommended Restaurants & cafes; it gives you at taste of what you can find in Ubud

  • Pyramids of Chi Cafe (Bentuyung)
  • Kopi On Bisma (Jl. Bisma)
  • Cafe Des Artistes (Jl. Bisma)
  • Three Monkey’s Cafe (Monkey Forest Rd)
  • Nomad Restaurant (Jl. Raya Ubud)
  • Cinta (Monkey Forest Rd)
  • Cafe Arma (Jl. Hanoman)
  • Taco Casa (Jl. Raya Pengosekan)
  • Casa Luna (Jl. Raya Ubud)
  • Locavore (jl. Dewi Sita)
  • Indus (Jl. Raya Sanggingan)
  • Warung Enuk (Jl. Raya Pengosekan)
  • Ibu Rai Restaurant (Monkey Forest Rd)
  • Batan Waru (Jl. Dewi Sita)
  • The Bridges (Jl. Raya Campuhan)
  • Juice Ja Cafe (Jl. Dewi Sita)
  • Naughty Nuris (Jalan Raya Sanggingan)
  • Pizza Bagus (Jl. Raya Pengosekan)
  • Bali Buddah Cafe (Jl. Jembawan)
  • Mosaics (Jl. Raya Sanggingan)
  • Kakiang Ubud Bakery (Jl. Raya Pengosekan)
  • Fly Cafe (Jl. Raya Lungsiakan)
  • Indian Delights (Jalan Raya Sanggingan)
  • Ary’s Warung (Jl. Raya Ubud)
  • Kafe (Jl. Hanoman)
  • Clear (Jl. Hanoman)
  • The Bebek Bengil (Jl. Hanoman)
  • Mangga Madu (Jl. Gunung Sari no. 1)
  • Sari Organic ( Jl. Subak Sok Wayah)
  • Palau Kelapa (Jl Raya Sanggingan)
  • Elephant Cafe (Jl. Raya Snaggingan)
  • Lamak Restaurant (Monkey Forest Rd)
  • Cat Cafe (Jl. Raya Pengosekan)
Ahoy Shopaholics

If you are into shopping, well, look no further, there are so many shops and shopping experiences to be had in Ubud and beyond. Below is a list of shops and comments:

  • The Pyramids of Chi Gift Shop contains an amazing range of high quality ‘A’ Grade affordable crystals from all around the globe. Quality Java Drums of all sizes, even high end ‘Split’ Didgeridoos – without doubt the best quality in Ubud. Custom made unique jewelry from amazing craftswomen, rare stones and beautiful fossil artifacts, healing books from selected authors and healing herbs from another recognized provider of herbal remedies for so many ailments, all hand prepared and presented. Beautiful handmade yoga figurines and buddhas.
  • Andong and Tegallalang Village north of Ubud boasts fabulous wholesale shopping and is aptly named “The Wholesale Rd”. There are kilometres of shops selling woodcarvings, furniture, Xmas decorations, lighting, decorated pots, mirrors, jewellery,  flowers, musical instruments
  • and much more. Only 15 minutes from Monkey Forest road and great fun, though you can get a severe case of whiplash as you go along…looking from one side to the other, so much to see.
  • Sukawati Markets near Ubud. The markets ‘wholesale’ that the southern sellers use to source their wares. Get Umble-umbles or Penjor, (amongst many other things) the tall slim flags flown on bamboo poles throughout Bali and temple umbrellas of various sizes. Don’t go if you suffer from claustrophobia, or if you must then stick to the street stalls. Try also the more local markets at Guwang about 3 Km before Sukawati which are good for paintings.
  • Ubud Markets. Different goods to Kuta, particularly watches if you search.
  • If you’re looking for nice prints of the ‘old masters of Bali art’ go to the Neka Gallery. It’s worth a visit even if you’re not after prints. Here you will find the original of the most (poorly) copied painting in all of Bali; ‘Mutual Attraction’ by Abdul Aziz, and the story of how these two got together.
  • Books – Periplus books in Tino’s Supermarket on Jalan Raya down from Casa Luna, knowledgeable staff.
  • Ubud Music in the main street between the markets/palace corner and the supermarket – books and music and Ganesha Book shop.
Hindu Ceremonies & Holidays
  • Bali Arts Festival runs approximately mid-June to mid-July with performances, exhibits, crafts such as jewelry, paintings and fabrics on display and for sale. At the Art Centre in Denpasar and elsewhere around the island.
  • Banyu Pinaruh, the day after Saraswati Day, is when Balinese go, at dawn, to beaches, rivers or other water sources, to pray for wisdom and to purify themselves.
  • Ciwaratri or Shivaratri is the night of the god Shiva. A time for holy contemplation and purification, the Balinese do not sleep for one night.
  • Galungan is the most important holiday in Bali. It represents the victory of Dharma (virtue) over Adharma (evil). A symbol of the holiday is a “penjor,” which is a long bamboo pole elaborately decorated with woven coconut leaves, fruit, flowers and cakes. The penjor is placed on the right side of every house entrance, making for a very festive, colorful scene in all the villages. The Balinese dress in their very best clothes and jewels on Galungan.
  • Imlek is the Chinese New Year.
  • Kuningan is the second most important day of the Balinese Hindu calendar. The Balinese attend religious services and make offerings to the gods. At the holy spring temple Tirta Empul, at Tampaksiring, people partake in a ritual purification, bathing in the spring. This holiday usually takes place a week or so after Galungan but note they both often spread over several days.
  • Ngarebong will take place at a temple in Kesiman village. While in trance, some worshippers stab themselves with a kris (dagger).
  • Nyepi Day is the Balinese New Year in the Caka calendar. Held at the spring equinox, it is observed as a day of complete silence. On this day there is no transportation, no fires may be lit, no work is done and no one should be seen on the roads. Silence is important so that the spirits, which were aroused the night before, will think that Bali is empty and will, therefore, leave the island. This is the time to stay at your place of abode with a supply of drinks, food and something to read because even the TV does not operate.
  • Ogga Ogga is a parade held on Pengerupukan, the night prior to the Balinese New Year. It is highlighted by a representation of the evil spirit. On this same day, purification sacrifices and offerings are made in village centers and at crossroads, throughout the island. Priests chant mantras to exorcise the demons (kala and buta) of the old year. In the evening people bang gongs and cymbals in the corners of houses, and parade through the streets with flaming torches, in order to arouse evil spirits. The parade follows Ngerupuk, an early evening ritual ceremony and is a must to view. The villagers in Ubud all compete to create the most bizarre and detailed statues made out of paper mache (some enormous and needing many people to support them) and carried around the village ending up in the main sports ground, complete with flashing lights, glowing eyes and some even have flames coming from their mouths.
  • Saraswati Day is in honor of Batari Dewi Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. Though no reading or writing is allowed on this day, books are taken to the goddess to be blessed.
  • Sugihan is a holy day for purification.
  • Tumpek Krulut celebrates the arts.
  • Tumpek Landep is in celebration of all tools and appliances made of iron (knives, cars, televisions, etc.). There are various temple festivals on this day.
  • Tumpek Uye is the day dedicated to the god in manifestation of Rare Angon, through a ceremony for animals.
  • Tumpek Wariga is a ceremony for plantations.
  • Tumpek Wayang is a ceremony for the leather puppets used in Shadow Puppet performances.
  • Waisak (a Buddhist holiday) celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. The most important festivities take place at Borobudur near Yogyakarta in central Indonesia.


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