Ubud. Despite being just 35km from Legian, it took us almost two hours to reach it by car due to the narrow and windy roads of Bali (always multiply Google Maps’ average travel times in Bali by at least 3 times!). However, Tom and I were so excited to arrive at Bali’s cultural centre nestled amongst coconut trees and rice paddies. The scenery here was completely different to beachside Bali where tourist-aimed stores and cafes were aplenty, however with that being said, Ubud still had its fair share of tourists!
Wearing: To Love Kuvaa dress | Le Specs Neo Noir spotted sunnies
STAY: We stayed at a small boutique hotel just 10 minutes outside the centre of Ubud, at a place by the name of Junjungan Ubud Hotel & Spa. The hotel was situated right next to an endless expanse of rice paddies and this, coupled with the fact that there was a free shuttle taking us to and from the city centre at any time we wanted was what drew us to this booking at this hotel. An additional bonus was also the complimentary breakfast in the morning, meaning we never had to leave our room or balcony in search of food! Tom & I were unfortunately both down with a cold during our entire time in Ubud (my fault, I seem to have great expertise in catching colds in the middle of summer..) so we ended up eating many plates of nasi goreng, nasi kampung and gado gado thanks to room service.
VISIT: Pasar Seni Ubud (Ubud Art Market) is right in the village centre, opposite Puri Saren Royal Ubud Palace. This place is the perfect place to head to to stock up on souvenirs and local handicrafts and you can basically find anything and everything within the buildings and alleyways of the market. We picked up some friendship bracelets here as well as another dreamcatcher. We also saw a heap of crochet throws, mosaic plates, sarongs, clothing, bags, homewares and more. The market extends pretty far and there seems to be at least 100 stalls so I would recommend at least a few hours if you want to walk through the whole market.
STREETSIDE: There is just so much to explore in Ubud and in our few days there we only skimmed the surface of this beautiful village. Coconuts are everywhere here and consequently, coconut desserts too. Just walking down the street opens your eyes to the tranquil ways of village life in Ubud where locals walk with baskets on their heads and eat by the streets whilst striking up a conversation with one another. Between the cafes, restaurants and shops lie entrance gates to the locals’ homes which are tucked away from the bustling street front.
EAT: There are countless cafes and restaurants around the area and I noticed in particular that there were a heap of vegan cafes over here! Whilst not a vegan, I do enjoy vegan dishes with enthusiasm and so we stopped by this cute cafe, Soma, to check out what the food was like. I actually had a massive list of other cafes we wanted to visit but our colds brought us down to being confined to our hotel room ordering room service most of the time. Nevertheless, we did manage to come here and a couple of other places! When you look at the interior of this cafe (and many others are quite similar in design), you can probably see why I have a massive thing for Ubud. Everything is so connected to nature – coconuts are gathered on the ground, furniture is created straight from natural resources and the often open-air eateries really add an earthy charm. There’s something about being so close to nature (which I love) and yes, the food is pretty tasty too!
If you’re thinking of trying the famous suckling pig dish (babi guling), you can head to Ibu Oka just opposite Ubud Palace. It’s the most popular place to order babi guling in Ubud (according to our hotel) however make sure to go during lunch time as the restaurant is closed during the evenings.
CANANG SARI: I am pretty sure I saw triple the amount of these offerings in Ubud than in Legian/Seminyak! They’re placed absolutely everywhere – on the footpath, outside doors, in shops, at temples and even on the dashboard of cars. From what I understand, they are created by hand daily by the Balinese to show gratitude and say thank you to the gods. Walking past these colourful baskets always serves as a gentle reminder to be thankful every day.
LEFT, YOGA BARN: Yay, we made it to Yoga Barn! Yoga was on the top of my list of things to do in Ubud. There’s just something about an open air studio, surrounded by treetops and in Bali which makes for such an idyllic setting to do yoga and no sniffly nose was going to stop me from swinging by with a somewhat apprehensive Tom. It was Tom’s first time doing yoga and I was nervous that he might not like it and banish it from his life forever (haha) but thankfully we had the most uplifting (and super!) vinyasa flow class with one of the best yoga teachers I have ever had. Her name was Bex by the way and I would totally recommend trying one of her classes if you are into a challenging yet fun yoga practice. Yoga aside, the spirit and enthusiasm she brings to the class is pretty infectious.
RIGHT, PURI SAREN UBUD PALACE: This palace is situated in the middle of Ubud, right opposite the Ubud Art Market. It’s still home to the royal family of Ubud so most of it is roped off and you can only visit a small quadrangle within the palace. However, it’s still worth going to to check out the architecture up close to appreciate its traditional design.
TEGALALANG RICE TERRACE: Whilst not in the centre of Ubud, Tegalalang Rice Terrace is just a short drive from Ubud village. When you walk towards the entrance of the rice terrace you’re greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of the entire terrain. The majority of the rice terrace is below ground level and you can walk down from one end and up the other to fully soak in the views and immerse yourself within the landscape. Probably the most magical sight I saw all holiday and so definitely worth driving out for.
Thank you, Ubud, for our most magical stay. We really can’t wait to be back!
Photos: Thomas Debono & I