Ubud is a cultural center with many shops selling antiques, woodcarvings, crafts, textiles, paintings and jewelry. Also filled with healthy restaurants, it is full of art galleries and studios, and other natural objects and places. It’s one of those places where days can become weeks and weeks become months, as the growing visitors community demonstrates.
Small Souvenir Shops
Days can run into weeks and you still wouldn’t have tried all the choices Ubud has to offer. Starting from wandering around the town, tasting delicious local or raw food. Many shops sell locally produced wooden crafts that attract your attention. As the first day we got there Justinas told me that everything looks like from Pinterest site. And it sure does!
Ubud is the best place to buy souvenirs from Bali. You will find crafts coming here from all over the island. It’s like a trade capital of Bali. That’s why it’s easier and cheaper to organize your tours from Ubud as the starting point than from any other place in Bali. You will see and hear every minute local men screaming taxi and a holding a sign of it. It is the only transpost in Bali, but you have to negotiate the price.
Military Cars for Rent
In this incredible town you can even go and rent an old military car! You will see many of it driving around the town. Tourists rent it with a driver and it’s a great way of exploring the surroundings. The cars are Volkswagen type originally developed for for the West German Army. One of the manufacturing places were in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1973-80. Therefore you can try this rare experience of driving in a military car here. Otherwise, if you are fine just glance at it when it pass by, you can rent a car and go on the road trip around the island as we did.
The other great thing about Ubud is that it’s full of old Vespas. But the sad thing is that people don’t rent it. So you have to enjoy it on the streets. We even asked the price of old Vespa, we couldn’t believe that we can’t rent it.
The Tegallalang rice terraces are the most famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies in Ubud. It forms the three most spectacular terraced landscapes in Ubud’s region as people say, but we found more exclusive rice fields on the Northern part of Bali.
The Tegallalang rice terraces offers a scenic view of the rice paddies on the slopes across the valley. The high roadside location is a main spot for tourists to take pictures of it. You will also find a numerous art shops and cafes near the edge. The road to the valley is like a journey of witnessing the best local craft work. You will see an extraordinary variety of ornamental woodwork and various carvings. Balinese craftsmen mostly use wood in their work.
Another great rice you will find in the middle of Ubud town is worth visitng as well. It’s less touristy and you can see more local farmers working here. As well as many gooses ponds running at the field. We got there just before the sunrise and Justinas made a quick fly with his drone, then accidentally he scared gooses resting in the rice fields.
Holy Water Spring
There is a temple Tirta Empul meaning ‘holy water spring’. It is an important temple complex and holy mountain spring located in central Bali, about 20 minutes drive from Ubud. The temple has 13 water springs meant for purification purposes. You can even try the purification process yourself. Then you have to go into the crystal clear mountain water and wash yourself 3 times in all 13 water springs.
As with any Bali temple visit you always have to dress respectfully. The visitors Have to wear a traditional ‘sarong’ – a scarf wrapped around the lower body and a smaller scarf around the waist too. Usually these two scarfs are provided in most of the temples.
Religion is perhaps the most important thing for an Indonesian. In Bali hinduism is practiced. You will see offering on every street in Ubud, because people prepare it early in the morning. Women go around the house with incenses and offerings, placing it on special corners of the house. You will also see women carrying bags on their heads with offering inside prepared to be placed outside the house.
The offering contains of small ‘boxes’ made of palm leaves with goods inside. People make those boxes every day and it’s like a routine for them. Balinese also have many rituals and you can find a street blocked for a whole day. It happened to us, because locals were making offerings, singing and playing on one part of the street. So whole transportation had to take another road.
There is also one day in a year in Bali when no movement or other activity is allowed on the island. They even close the airport for that day. It’s Balinese new year and it’s called a Silent Day. Then you can’t drive, cycle or even use electricity, because it’s Nyepi Day.
The Monkey Forest
At the heart of Ubud there is a real forest and long-tailed monkeys live in it. It is called Sacret Monkey Forest Sanctuary. In this sanctuary visitors pay an entrance fee to explore the park with its animals. The sanctuary mission is conservation of the area. But the conservation is based on Balinese saying ‘three ways to reach spiritual and physical well-being’. Therefore the Monkey Forest functions as tourist destination to create peace and harmony to visitors.
As a visitor of this place you can interact with monkeys really closely. You can also buy bunch of bananas at the park and feed them. The monkeys are so curious that they will jump on you and try to open your bag!
I had a fear of monkeys, but after one little guy had rested on by back it was gone. His warm long tail felt like it was a kitten’s tail. So later on we both played with monkeys by stretching out our hands towards them and they would place their hands on ours. And it felt like a little humans hands.
Liveliness of Ubud
Every day Ubud fills with day-trippers, but it’s well worth more than a day and many a foreigner has found it too hard to leave – the perfect place to finish your journey. We stayed in Ubud for two weeks in total. Even though we intended to stay just a few days. But the place enchanted us.
I remember one evening going to the city for a dinner. Half of the town didn’t have electricity, but all cafes and restaurants were serving food. And the feeling was that everything works just fine! We entered our favorite dinner place and had our meals among other tourists in a candle light. It was very romantic.
I don’t remember the food place in Ubud where we didn’t want to come back again. The choices in Ubud are superb: there is everything from finger-licking local food to Michelin-star gourmet fare. Most of the food is gluten free, raw or vegan, you can find pretty much everything you desire. During your stay you will know you have come to the right town.
All words by Eisve Treciakauskaite and all images by Justinas Lekavicius, unless otherwise noted.