This isn’t a piece about seeing all the sights around Ubud at a cracking pace, but rather about suggesting some tips on doing what one can really do best in Ubud: chill out, eat, relax, eat, take it easy, eat, hang out… eat — you get the picture.
Check into your hotel — see our recommendation below, or choose from our overall picks here — in the late afternoon, and make a stop somewhere like Three Monkeys for a drink as you ease into the vibe of Ubud.
Then head over to the Yoga Barn, a 20-minute walk away on Jalan Hanoman, for a sunset session of Iyengar-inspired restorative yoga. The frogs and crickets and other insects will come out to perform a fantastic orchestra as a few dozen yogis lay around in various positions of repose, eyes closed and breaths deep and energising; this is a great way to sort of sink into Ubud’s embrace. (I’ve covered the session in more detail here.) A drop-in class is 110,000 rupiah.
Jump into a transport car as soon as you’re back on the street and head up to Spa Hati for a late massage session. This spa is a little out of the way but go on, make the effort in the name of a good cause. The cute outdoor massage room, with sliding doors and surrounds for privacy, is something a little special in this price range — a one-hour “blissful dream” massage is 165,00 rupiah — this compares to say US$69 dollars for a one-hour Balinese massage at the much more upmarket Maya Ubud spa.
The next morning, have your hotel breakfast, but if you take our suggestion on where to stay you may want to head out instead — Tutmak does super coffee and great breakfasts too.
Get in early and you won’t have too full a stomach for a session of yoga at Taksu, a short walk away. Check the schedule — there aren’t as many classes as at the Yoga Barn — the Barn’s schedule is here — but you’ll likely find something that fits and the little oasis of a spot is worth making a detour for while you’re on your relaxation retreat.
Taksu also offers an array of alternative therapies and massage treatments — you could do worse than hanging around for a few hours in their spa.
Meandering back along Dewi Sita, a top good-for-you spot is Soma, where a range of delicious juices are on offer with raw treats and meals as well.
Juiced up, if you haven’t had a Taksu session, stop at one of the two Reflexology Bali spots on the same road. A one-hour foot, hand, back and shoulder massage costs 110,000 rupiah — again, to compare, you’re looking at 425,000 rupiah for a one-hour session of reflexology at the spa at Alila Ubud. Simply but tastefully decorated, an hour getting your foot knots worked out here will prepare you for a spot of window shopping.
From Jalan Dewi Sita, loop around Jalan Monkey Forest, Raya Ubud, and back down Jalan Hanoman to window shop your way past some of Ubud’s retail offerings. We’ve already written a piece on shopping in Ubud — while a lot is still relevant, we were amazed how many new places had popped up since our last visit this time around.
By the time you get to Hanoman it’ll be time for lunch — look no further than Clear Cafe for an amazing, your-body-is-a-temple meal. And they have takeaway biscuits. If you’re keen on trying Balinese food though, stop at Ibu Oka’s, close to the junction between Monkey Forest and Raya Ubud.
For your afternoon hedonistic splurge, book into the small and basic but decent Sang Spa 3 on Monkey Forest. In terms of facilities, this spot makes an effort, but it’s at the budget end of the spectrum. The massage I had here — my first-ever four-hand treatment — was superb and professionally done. The one-hour “good karma” massage was 220,000 rupiah — a four-hand massage at the Four Seasons Sayan? 75 minutes is 1,650,000 rupiah.
Be warned: I was hit by a motorbike going down one-way Jalan Monkey Forest the wrong way on my way here, so do keep your wits about you.
Ubud is your oyster when it comes to dinner — you could undo all your good work with a few martinis at Naughty Nuri’s, but if you want to stay on track, a meal at Kafe would do the trick — they’re open until 23:00 daily.
Where to stay?
We have already recommended Ubud Lestari as a great, family-friendly place to stay but if you’re on your own little retreat, it also works perfectly. It’s spotlessly clean, tasteful, central, spacious, has a pool and paddy views, and you won’t see too many other people as there are only a handful of rooms. The only hiccup here is getting a booking, as the staff, though friendly, don’t speak great over-the-phone English.
I actually began my stay at Merthayasa Bungalows, also on Monkey Forest Road, as Ubud Lestari said they had no rooms when I called ahead. But when I dropped by they did; I didn’t hesitate to forfeit almost a night’s payment to move, as when I had pointed out the table in the room at Merthayasa as being dirty, the staff member simply brushed the pile of plastic tags and knots of human hair onto the floor. Nice! Expect to pay 350,000 for a fan-cooled room (air-con optional 50,000 extra) at Ubud Lestari.
Happy hedonistic relaxing!
By Samantha Brown
Last updated on 18th April, 2015.