One week in Ubud, Bali
After ten days of exploring two of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, we were ready for the sanctuary that is Ubud, Bali; a small village in the middle of the Indonesian island. Julia Roberts increased the popularity of this place when her character visited the town in the movie, Eat, Pray, Love.
I was craving a beach at this point and Ubud does not have a beach. It does, however, have yoga, massages and tasty food. Jess was craving yoga and copious amounts of gluten-free food, so guess where we ended up going? Not the beach! It took some convincing and I knew how badly Jess was looking forward to a week full of yoga and by the end of our visit, I had mastered the child’s pose.
However, had we taken the advice of some of the travel blogs we read when planning our trip to Bali, we likely would have halted all plans. Start rant: Travel blogs are undoubtedly a great resource but you definitely have to take what you read with a grain of salt and understand that you are just reading the opinion of someone else, often based on a one-time experience. Don’t get me wrong, we want people to read our posts, but to read them while keeping in mind that your definition of a great experience may be totally different than others. End Rant.
I had always envisioned Bali to be this exclusive tropical paradise reserved for celebrities and Richard Branson, so the thought of going there initially scared the hell out of our budget. That is until we did some research and found that Bali is quite affordable and not necessarily the tropical paradise its known as in the west. Just like everywhere else, you can visit pretending your Richard Branson and spend a fortune, or go on a budget and be perfectly comfortable and very well fed, like we did.
Jetstar has regular, budget flights from Singapore to Bali which is how we got to the island. You land in Depansar, Bali’s capital city on the southern tip of the island, then we grabbed a taxi for the nearly two hour drive north to Ubud. Our taxi fare from the airport to Ubud started at 800,000 IDR and using our new negotiation skills, ended up paying 450,000 IDR (~$45 CAD), which in the end is still a rip off… you can’t win them all.
Despite it being rainy season, we saw just a few showers while there and they by no means hindered our plans.
Our accommodations were in the centre of Ubud at a small, family run guest house called Sandat Bali Ubud Guest House at a cost of 350,000 IDR (~$35 CAD). The price included breakfast, featured a small swimming pool and beautiful grounds. Our room was clean and air conditioned which was key after a day walking around in the heat! We rented a scooter through the guest house for $5 CAD/day, which was convenient for touring around Ubud. There are hundreds of guest houses in Ubud from super luxurious to basic, backpacker accommodation and overall, we’d have no reason to stay somewhere else on a return visit.
Yoga and gym in Ubud, Bali
Five of our seven days in Ubud, we visited The Yoga Barn. The place is as much a retreat as a yoga studio. It’s located in the middle of a tropical rainforest with its main studio, where our classes were, open-air. During a couple of classes we got to experience the torrential rain of the tropics which just added to the experience. Needless to say, Jess was in heaven and I was close behind as yoga really does make you feel like a million bucks, even if you are as flexible as a piece of 2×4 like me.
Ubud also has a perfect little gym called Ubud Fitness Centre where I purchased a weekly pass and would head there every morning. The gym offers ample free weights, tons of plates, benches, cardio equipment and most importantly a small cafe serving awesome protein shakes. Although I wasn’t training, it is perfect for those who are hard core and looking to maintain while in Ubud.
Where to eat in Ubud, Bali
Ubud is full of “free” dining options, and by free, I mean gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free…and the list goes on.
Some of our favourite restaurants in Ubud included:
Clear Cafe especially for the vegan vanilla milkshake, which was a hit with Jess.
Kismet Cafe and Boutique for the garlic chili lime edamame in coconut oil.
Taco Casa had amazing Mexican food with some of the best tacos we’ve had on the trip – all gluten-free of course.
The Garden Cafe at The Yoga Barn had delicious freshly-pressed juices.
Sari Organik’s Warung Bodag Maliah had amazing salads. You should opt for the grilled veggie salad, it was fantastic. The walk to this place, as well as the view from the restaurant is worth the trip.
Since Indonesia would be our last stop on our round the world trip where we would have access to affordable massages, we made sure to get pampered in Ubud. Our massage of choice came from Jiwa Raga Spa & Wellness , where we visited three times and were not disappointed. The disposable briefs were extremely awkward, however.
Ubud’s popular monkey forest
The monkey forest in Ubud is hugely popular. We made an effort to fit it in before leaving and have to say we were a little disappointed and wouldn’t return. We found that there was a lot of trash around which the monkeys were eating, not to mention tourists teasing them. You can purchase a bunch of bananas to feed to the monkey which I did. I had a couple of monkeys crawling all over me until I felt a very hot mess on my back. Yes, one of them took a leak all over me. I wasn’t long getting the monkey off my back!
Our time in Ubud was exactly what the doctor ordered for our travel burnout and a great start to our month in Indonesia!
jess + trickett
I know lots of folks say to skip Ubud because it’s super touristy, so thanks for the honest opinions and good tips of what to do (and where to eat). Everybody mentions the Yoga Barn, so it must be worth the hype. Ubud looks like a great place for a little exercise and detox. Checking out the monkey forest intrigues me, but I just KNOW something like this would happen to me too – getting peed on, or bitten, ah!
We didn’t find it too touristy – and so many friendly people. If you are looking for exercise and detox, it is definitely the place for you!
I loved this perspective on Ubud. I feel like if my husband and I traveled here, we’d have a really similar reaction. I would be dragging him to yoga and he would be secretly enjoying every second. We missed this area when exploring SE Asia a few years back, but I’m glad to hear that it’s not all luxury resorts and knock-off medicine men. I was afraid about that… cheers!
Ubud was exactly what we needed for our travel burnout. I was surprised at how much Steven enjoyed the yoga! Hopefully you guys will get back there at some point to visit! Love your blog – happy travels. 🙂
Ubud was centainly my favourite place in Bali. The food was amazing. The yoga just what I needed and the monkeys were so cute. They did steal my sandwich though! I am so glad you enjoyed it!
We absolutely loved it there – felt like a place we could see our selves going back to and staying for a while. Glad you enjoyed it as well!
Glad to read that you guys loved Ubud. And Clear Cafe is already back open? That is awesome to hear! We’ve just nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can check out the questions at http://www.greatbigglobe.com/liebster-award-nomination/
Thanks you guys! 🙂 Stay tuned for our post….
Good stuff! We’ve been to Ubud many times, and this is our 5th trip to Bali. In Jimbaran now 😉 Ubud – especially the rice fields around town – is our fave place to live.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for reading, Ryan! We loved Ubud….only had a week there, but could totally see ourselves spending some time there long term. Have you been to Lombok? We liked it even more than Bali!
That’s a great trips. and you really enjoy it. for a week in Ubud, there seems to be a lot of things you have done. I really like the dwelling that you use for your holiday accommodation. very interesting and unique. things like that that sometimes makes us really enjoy the holiday living. nice post.