Why you should visit Ubud

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November 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm  •  Posted in Photos, See + Do by  •  2 Comments

Ubud is a tiny green town (almost a village) in the middle of the island. It’s far from most beach resorts and also from the ocean. So what makes Ubud so special that makes people who are visiting, convert into permanent residents? I myself would have probably move there if I wasn’t an avid surfer. ;)

Ubud is different from the rest of the tourist destinations in Bali. It’s difficult to explain in details….  But let me tell you a few bits of Ubud’s history to explain what makes it so unique.

We already know that Bali is a Hindu island. What some of you might not know, is that Hinduism was brought to Bali from Java which is now largely inhabited Muslims. In the 16th century the Hindu royal family that ruled Java was forced to move to Bali due to a large migration of Islam to the island.

Upon their migration, they brought everything that is good to Bali (religion, culture, arts etc). Numerous artists moved to Bali at that time and Ubud was the center of artistic life and a place where the royal family lived. For centuries the royal family supported arts and culture drawing in foreign artists to Bali throughout the 19th century for its rich, local cultural scene.

Besides culture and art, before the royal Mahapahit family moved to Bali, Ubud was a thriving center for medicine.  The epicenter for medicinal herbs, alternative medicine (faith healer). Some say that the name “Ubud” stands for old Balinese word “ubad”, meaning medicine.

Spending only a few hours in Ubud is not enough to truly absorb all that it has to offer.  My advice is to plan on staying for at least a full day or for a night, maybe two.

Common places tourist visit in Ubud are the art markets, Monkey forest and the Ubud palace, a good place to watch traditional dance. To get the most out of Ubud, forget about guides and tours. Study it on your own!

What is so special about Ubud?

Art / Culture / Arts and Crafts

There is nowhere else in Bali more saturated with art shops, galleries, and painting workshops than Ubud. Numerous villages around Ubud specialize in arts and crafts (egg painting, wood carving, stone carving, batik painting etc). As you drive through Ubud, you can’t help but notice that all the homes provide arts and crafts workshops along with mini stores to sell their goods.

You will also see locally based expats with tiny designer stores selling clothing, jewelry, and home decoration.

For a small town, Ubud is extremely saturated with galleries and art museums! Mentioning that in a good way. ;)

For centuries Ubud has been a great source of inspiration for all kinds of people tapping into their creative psyche!

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Health / Yoga / Healing / Spa

Despite Ubud being known for its rich culture and art, it is also well recognized for its health and medicinal aspects.  Many come to Ubud driven by the passion for healthy living.

Ubud is booming with yoga studios, healing centers, retreats, and spas. You will often see people passing by with yoga mats and good spirits!

It’s truly a great place to explore alternative healing – both mentally and physically. You can do yoga, visit an ashram, or lose yourself at a meditation retreat. Ubud also caters with several options for places to eat healthy- greens specializing for vegetarians and hard core vegans. You will find numerous shops promoting only eco-friendly products, including organic cosmestic makeup to name a few.

Even if you are not a fanatic follower of yoga, or eat only raw food.  If you’re anything like me, you will appreciate and enjoy Ubud as much as I do. Nothing more serene than waking up to find yourself in the center of the rice fields. Eating healthy nutricious meals without sacrificing rich flavors.  I would spend lazy days emmersed in a book at one of the veranda cafes, meeting interesting people. A short relief from the daily grind of traffic in Kuta.

Rice fields in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

Orientation in Ubud

Ubud is a unique village which can be mistaken for a city due to how close each village is to each other.

The main street is called Jalan Raya Ubud. A couple of cross streets like Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Hanoman are the major streets.  The main tourist sights are located around Jalan Raya Ubud at crossroads with Jalan Hanoman and Monkey Forest. This part of town is densely populated by tourist and can sometimes be crowded. You are also not too far from peace and tranquility by traveling to neighboring villages to enrich yourself with more local culture and scenic nature.

The best thing about being in the central part of Ubud is the ability to get around by foot or bicycle, which can seldom happen in Bali.

If you are looking for cafes and restaurants, there are plenty of them in Jalan Hanoman, Jalan Dewi Sita and cheaper places at Jalan Goutama and Jalan Bisma.  For accommodations, I would recommend checking out Jalan Bisma, a place for both cheap and not so cheap places depending on your budget.  For more quite places, you need go further away from the downtown area, because guesthouses, villas and hotels are just everywhere.

My favorite area in Ubud is a place called Penestanan – just west from the place where Campuan river is crossed by Jalan Raya Ubud.

Cafe & restaurants | Where to dine in Ubud

Ubud is famous for it’s healthy food spots and enormous amount of vegan / vegetarian and even raw food cafes. And even if you are not into that kind of stuff you are still recommended to try some of those restaurants. Their cooking is so advanced and amazing you will not regret eating something vegan or even raw.

The most popular vegan or vegetarian spots rights now: Alchemy, Elephant, Sage, Clear Cafe, Moksa, Down to Earth, . Other just great cafes with healthy food choice: KAFE, Atman cafe, Kebun bistro. And these ones not to miss too: Seniman coffee studio, Gaya Gelato. Local warungs that serve decent food: Warung Hana, Dayu’s Warung, Wild Ginger, Warung Igelanca, Ibu Oka warung, Melting Wok warung, Mangga Madu. Some fine dining: Hujan Locale & Mozaik.

Check out this foursquare link for more details about this cafes.

How to get to Ubud

Ubud is located 40 km (25 miles) away from south of Bali (Kuta / Seminyak etc). It usually takes about one to two hours drive from Kuta to Ubud due to narrow streets and heavy traffic.

You can easily get there by car / scooter, with signs pointing from the south.  Plus the use of google map is convenient for its full functionality in Bali.

Taxi is another way for transportation costing around 200.000 rupiah ($20) per car.

Public transport is almost non-existing in Bali, but some travel agencies in Kuta sell tickets for shuttle busses. The average cost is around $5 per person one way. Never used it myself so can’t tell you how good this option is.

Maps of Ubud

Click on the image to enlarge the map

 

  Top things to do in Ubud will follow with the next article!

2 Comments

  1. Marie Ann / October 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm / Reply

    I can’t wait to go to Ubud! It’s such an eat-pray-love spot so I can’t miss it! I am going to stay in Ubud for a week, please advice where to stay (cheap guesthouse) and where to take yoga classes. Thank you in advance!

  2. Helen / October 11, 2014 at 6:44 pm / Reply

    I did yoga classes in Yoga Barn in Ubud! I loved it there, nice atmosphere. A bit crowded though!

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