Ubud is the cultural hub, where deep conversations over organic coffee’s, yogic retreats and breathtaking scenery are the reason many decide to stay. Tourists have been flocking here for decades, hoping their dreams of an “Eat, Pray, Love ” lifestyle would one day become a reality. Who can blame them! With its cascading rice terraces, stunning beaches, and beautiful temples, Bali has a serenity that is as much to do with its laid-back people as its artistic culture. It’s a seductive, intriguing journey into the self.
Ubud reveals a bohemian lifestyle where western owned arty cafe’s and chakra cleansing retreats coexist with local business’s. Culture is everywhere. Stroll past intricately carved temples and catch a glimpse of Balinese dancers depicting epic stories of the Mahabharat to the haunting sounds of gamelan music. Festivals are a plenty and daily rituals leave streets adorned with flowers. Trendy bars and cool hang-outs sit alongside traditional eateries whilst high-end craft shops and galleries add an air of sophistication.
There’s no shortage of accommodation in Ubud. From five star hotels to homestays, the choice is endless. Ever dreamed of a staying in your very own villa in Bali? Well, check out Airbnb and make your dream come true. We stayed in a one bedroom villa in the middle of rice field. Conveniently located away from the touristy areas of Ubud, it was still close enough to be just a short drive away from the centre of town. Complete with its own kitchen, spacious bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and open terrace, it was the perfect place to relax and unwind amidst an idyllic setting. The best thing was it cost next to nothing!
Villa Junjungan Resort Pool & Spa just screams affordable luxury. Set amongst emerald-green rice fields and swaying palms, this peaceful retreat is the perfect getaway. Accommodation is made up of cottages, family rooms and villas with tastefully decorated room. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available at the restaurant along with a whole host of facilities including a shuttle service and tour desk. Four poster beds, a pool, onsite massage and meditation classes, ensure you can recharge your batteries before you set off for your next travel adventure.
Ubud is food heaven. Expect everything from high-end restaurants alongside streetside warungs where plastic plates are piled high with delicious local fare. Nomads is a popular haunt especially for the first time Bali crowd where a fusion of Asian and Western dishes is always a crowd pleaser. If you’re watching the pennies, Warung Ijo also on Jl Raya is great if you want to eat cheap, local, flavoursome food. If you’re missing a curry, you must eat at Queens. It was one of the best Indian restaurants I’ve ever been to!
Bali is synonymous with temples and Ubud is no exception. In fact, every home has a shrine built in the courtyard. Visit Pura Tama Saraswati, dedicated to the goddess of wisdom and arts for its ornate carvings and lotus-filled pond. Alternatively, Puri Saren Agung which sits alongside Ubud Palace, is especially beautiful at night, when lit up during Balinese dance performances.
Shopping is an epic experience in Ubud. From designer shops to local markets, shopping malls to craft shops -the sheer variety of choice will have your head spinning. Ubud Art Market located close to Ubud Palace is a great place for souvenirs. You’ll find everything from wood carvings to paintings, buddha statues and Batik clothing. Remember, haggling is part of the fun!
There’s so much to see and do in Ubud. From biking tours riding through rice fields to hiking over volcanic mountains such as Gunung Batur – you won’t be stuck for ideas. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a royal wedding that took place and enjoy the festivities surrounding the palace. If you’ve fallen in love with the cuisine take a cookery class or if you’ve indulged in far too much of well…everything, head to Kush Ayurvedic Rejuvenation. From Yoga classes to Ayurvedic massage therapies, there’s a risk you’ll get seriously addicted!
Further afield the Kuta, Legion and Seminyak are the usual tourist hotspots. Kuta with its lively mix of bars and non-stop nightlife is a crowd-pleaser but if you want something a little more sophisticated and cool, Seminyak with its slick hangouts, top resorts and elegant boutiques will definitely please. If you’re looking for a more tranquil experience, the beaches of Amed or Candi Dasa are a perfect escape and the beautiful island of Nusa Lembongan will utterly captivate you!
Whatever you do in Bali, just remember three things: breathe in, breathe out and …relax!