I would undoubtedly call Bali one of the hottest travel destinations on the planet. Peeling back another layer I would in turn call Ubud one of the hottest travel destinations in Bali. So what makes this small town in the middle of the thick Indonesian jungle one of the most popular spots on the globe to visit? Stay with us for the next few minutes and read on as we deconstruct the highlights and give light on a few tips.
Ubud is a town of about 30,000 people located about an hour and half north of Denpasar (the airport you will be flying into). While postcards often capture the endless beach side villages, gorgeous in their own respect, we found ourselves wanting to escape inland. After working our way up from Denpasar to Sanur we drove to Ubud midway through our trip to Bali. This brings me to the first insider tip, don’t rent a car – I won’t elaborate in an attempt at brevity, but you will understand when you are there.
Where do you stay in an area surrounded by endless beautiful boutique hotels? We landed on Cloud 9 Estate, and tip number two on this post – do not pass this place up. Could 9 was incredible, and an amazing value for what we were looking for; each room weighs in at less than $200 per night on average. Upon arrival we descended down a stone staircase through the jungle until reaching the white walls and gate of the Estate. Comprised of just five units, it was the perfect balance of seclusion and impeccable service.
Located just ten minutes from Ubud proper it was close enough to the “action” with enough distance to provide endless peace and tranquility. Winding down in the infinity pool every night after the day’s adventures was absolute heaven, we promise there is no way this place will disappoint. Throughout our stay we were spoiled by not only the plentiful jungle surroundings and amenities, but their attention to detail and local delicacies. We were welcomed with fresh fruit and vegetable juices every time we doubled back to the Estate to unwind and the perfect Balinese breakfast each morning; not to mention their tea time with traditional Balinese-fare canapés and local teas. We loved this hidden gem and highly recommend it.
Let’s jump into the highlights and adventures. While you could easily spend a week (or lifetime) in Ubud, we found that three full days and four nights gave us a great grasp of the area and a feeling that we were able to take a good solid scratch at the surface of this jungle paradise.
Our first day started with the must visit water temple Tirta Empul, located in Tampaksiring, just 30 minutes’ drive from Ubud. We hired a car and driver for the day at less than 50 USD, which made things easy. As long as you get to the Temple you can manage your way around without a guide. A few dollars buys you the proper garb and a locker; next you are plunging into the cool spring water for the rituals of the past and present. There will be Temple hired guides standing by to explain the significance of the rituals – words cannot explain the beauty of the hours we spent there, absolutely fantastic and truly moving.
Next – you absolutely HAVE to visit the Tegalalang rice terrace. Plan to spend an afternoon, or even the better part of a day there if you can. A setting out of travel magazines that have you doubting photo-shop from reality, the Tegalalang rice terrace will have you in awe. We spent several hours hiking through the terraces, going up dirt carved stairs, walking planks of bamboo – have you ever woken up and said “today I want to get lost”?? – This is the place to do it. We got lost and found our way, drinking coconut water (and Bintang) from rice pickers along the way. Paying 25 cent tolls from various rice pickers just adds to the charm. We are still in awe at the sheer beauty of this backdrop, which makes for an incredibly adventurous afternoon.
Another fantastic sight during your Ubud-adventure, and one not to be missed, is Tegenungan Waterfall. As you approach the waterfall you notice the outstanding waters and many locals and tourists relaxing enjoying the water and the surroundings. As you wander through the waters you'll find staircase and staircase to climb to the top of the waterfall and take in the views. We recommend wearing good shoes so you can really see it all as you'll be walking across planks, wading through shallow waters, and walking on rocks to get to those sights!
Lastly, we spent a day exploring the town of Ubud, which we will dive in to in a later blog post because there's just so much to share!!
Do Ubud – don’t wait! This is one of those incredible gems that you spend a lifetime of travel searching for. Stay tuned as we get back soon with the rest of the perfect Bali itinerary!!! And incase you missed our past blog post, Welcome to Bali, check there to see where you'll fly from, fly in to, great boutique-hotel ideas to spend the night after a late flight, and a few more details to make your first Bali trip go as smoothly as possible!
And while you're here, scroll down for some more photos from our various adventures in Ubud! We have so many great photos capturing this incredible place that is often impossible to put in to words, so go find us on Instagram, @lexandzachtravel, so you don't miss a thing!
In short, top things to take away from this blog post: stay at Cloud Nine Estate, plan on spending at least two to three hours at the water temple Tirta Empul, plan to spend at least two to three hours exploring Tegalalang rice terrace, spend at least one hour hiking and exploring Tegenungan Waterfall.