Photo: Blue and green in Ubud.

Things to see and do

How to make the most of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival is one of Southeast Asia’s largest and most popular literary events. The festival is usually held in October, and in 2015 it kicks off October 28 and runs till November 1. Here are our suggestions for getting the most out of the festival, which can be a very intense, fast moving four days and nights of panels, events and ... Read more about How to make the most of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival .

Big Tree Farms Headquarters/Bamboo Chocolate Factory
Sibang Kaja From south Bali’s Gatot Subroto, turn onto Jalan Ahmad Yani and head north through Sibang Kaja, past the very large banyan tree after the bridge, and turning left at the next banyan tree. The factory is about 100 metres down the road.
T: (0361) 846 3327

UPDATE: We’ve just revisited the factory and they now run daily tours at 14:00, 35,000 rupiah if you call in advance, (50,000 rupiah if you just drop in, 100,000 rupiah for a tour outside regular hours). The cafe is yet to open but should be ready in July. The chocolate is still delicious, and a new product worth snapping up is their liquid coconut palm nectar — it’s palm sugar a step ... Read more about Big Tree Farms Headquarters/Bamboo Chocolate Factory .

Balinese dance in Ubud

Maybe I’m just getting older, but while I used to find Thai and Cambodian traditional dance dull when I lived in the countries that produced the style, I find myself these days enjoying the slightly less staid Balinese dance. While Balinese dances can be incredibly intricate and slow moving, there’s an element of almost slapstick humour in some of the dances and performances (such as kecak, ... Read more about Balinese dance in Ubud .

John Hardy workshop
Baturning village, Mambal
T: (0361) 469 888

You’re thinking jewellery, ka-ching, can’t afford to buy jewellery in Bali, bananas, are you crazy? But this isn’t really about buying, necessarily. John Hardy jewellery is probably Bali’s most famous jewellery export, which isn’t a bad achievement considering how many silversmiths the island plays host to. You won’t however actually find John Hardy jewellery retailing anywhere on the ... Read more about John Hardy workshop .

Ubud in a day, the lazy way

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 ... Read more about Ubud in a day, the lazy way .

Yoga in Ubud

When you say Ubud, some people may think “Yoga!” — or, even, “Hippies!” — yet the offerings may not be quite as extensive as the tourist-town’s reputation would have you expect. Yoga Barn really has the market cornered for yoga in the style that Westerners are after, while Taksu is another decent offering, though it doesn’t quite attract the crowds of the former. Yoga is also on ... Read more about Yoga in Ubud .

A Fivelements afternoon

There was a stuff up the other day when I headed to Fivelements outside Ubud for what was supposed to be a very special treat for myself and my four-year-old daughter: a spa treatment, an afternoon tea and a puppet show. The show was cancelled, but I didn’t see the email they sent me; I returned their missed call, but their assistant had no idea that I had no idea she was trying to tell me it ... Read more about A Fivelements afternoon .

Cheapie spas in Ubud

All this hard travelling got you down? No better way to recharge those batteries than by indulging in an hour (or two) os massage. You deserve a break ... Read more about Cheapie spas in Ubud .

Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods

Make sure you have good brakes. Like life, it's mostly downhill. So said John (Jack) Daniels of Bali Discovery when I tweeted to say I'd be off to mountain bike from Kintamani to Ubud in Bali. And it's true, save a single near vertical 100 metres or so, the ride was almost all downhill — and you know what, that was ... Read more about Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods .

Ubud bird watching
T: (0361) 975 009

Su stands before me, hand far too close for my comfort to a four-inch St Andrew's Cross Spider. Here in Bali, we don't have dangerous animals -- just dangerous traffic, she quips. And so we begin our four-hour birdwatching ramble through the padi enveloping Bali's cultural heart of ... Read more about Ubud bird watching .

Ubud shopping guide

Ubud can seem a little intimidating when you're expecting a small village nestled into the hills, but instead find a traffic-snarled sprawl packed with endless homestays, hotels, restaurants, spas and shops selling the same mass-produced rubbish. You'll have to look elsewhere to find a good place to stay in Ubud, but if you'd like to do a spot of shopping, eating and relaxing on foot, one of the ... Read more about Ubud shopping guide .

Ubud Monkey Forest
Monkey Forest Road

The Monkey Forest is a highlight for many first-time visitors to Ubud, but personally, with a strong fear of monkeys, we much prefer the towering forest here to the rampaging ... Read more about Ubud Monkey Forest .

Ubud market
Jalan Raya Ubud

There's a basement level to the market that has all the grime you'll need for your authentic Ubudian experience (though to be honest many Ubudians probably shop at the Bintang Supermarket over on Jalan Raya Campuhan, but lets not worry about that little detail). The basement level is actually pretty interesting, with lots of fresh produce and dead animals, though by God do the walls need a ... Read more about Ubud market .

Threads of Life
Jalan Kajeng 24
T: (0361) 972 187

The Centre commissions textile makers and basket weavers across Indonesia to support the continuation of local traditions and create an environment in which villages can earn an income from the creation of cultural artifacts. The Centre features a small gallery, a demonstration on the weaving process and a shop allowing visitors to purchase works that can be traced back to individual villages ... Read more about Threads of Life .

Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA)
Jalan Pengosekan
T: (0361) 976 659

The museum is made up of a series of buildings used for the display of a permanent collection of artwork, temporary exhibitions and as the venue of live dance performances throughout the year. The paintings on display at the Arma Museum range from traditional to contemporary and include classical Kamasan paintings, masterpieces by batuan artists (such as Walter Spies) from the 1930s and 1940s, ... Read more about Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) .

Museum Puri Lukisan
Jalan Raya Ubud
T: (0361) 971 159

The museum is the oldest art museum in Ubud and has three pavilions dedicated to pre-war art, post-war art and temporary exhibitions. The gardens within which the pavilions are located are tranquil and are relaxing to walk through as you move from pavilion to pavilion. Sadly, this place doesn't receive as many visitors as it ought to because it's not well-advertised or signposted despite ... Read more about Museum Puri Lukisan .

Pondok Pekak
East side of football field
T: (0361) 976 194

Pondok Pekak was originally set up as an adult lending library in 1995 and now boasts a collection of more than 10,000 books in more than ten languages. The library lives on and for an annual fee of 250,000 rupiah you can borrow an unlimited number of books. As the library has grown, so have the services it offers and it now provides a library service specifically for Balinese children, ... Read more about Pondok Pekak .

The Blanco Renaissance Cultural Museum
Jalan Raya Campuhan

After consuming your complimentary drink on arrival, you are greeted by an enormous marble gate in the shape of the maestro's signature through which the museum is reached. Outside of the museum are the family's gardens where a range of birds are kept on display. They include lots of the very rare Bali starlings, parrots of all kinds, toucans and at least one bird of paradise. It's also ... Read more about The Blanco Renaissance Cultural Museum .

Neka Art Museum
Jalan Raya Sanggingan

The museum is extremely popular with tour groups and you will often see hordes descend and disappear as quickly as they arrived. If you can fit yourself in between the groups or visit closer to the 17:00 closing time, it is a peaceful place to wander from pavilion to pavilion taking in the different styles over the past century. Art buffs could easily spend a couple of hours here while ... Read more about Neka Art Museum .

The Yoga Barn
Jalan Pengosekan
T: (0361) 971 236

Located at the southern end of Ubud, the Yoga Barn has drop-in classes scheduled for every day of the week and they range from classes for complete beginners to those for experts. The studio itself is a large wooden floored pavilion with open sides to allow a cross-breeze when it's too hot and attached to it is a cafe serving a condensed version of the menu up the road at Kafe. Yoga ... Read more about The Yoga Barn .

Cooking schools

The most popular cooking school in town is operated by Janet de Neefe's Casa Luna on Jalan Raya Ubud. It's been operating a cooking school for years and is known for its ability to cater for both those that want a hands-on experience and those that would prefer to sit back and watch. Some of the classes start with an early morning tour of the Ubud market where a guide will point out many of ... Read more about Cooking schools .

Shadow puppet performance
Oka Kartini, Jalan Raya Ubud

However, this intriguing performance is possible to view three times per week at the Oka Kartini Bungalows on Jalan Raya Ubud, just to the east of town. Much of the performance is accompanied by an ancient form of language that visitors can't understand so notes are provided to ensure that everything makes sense. It's a fascinating insight into the world of shadow puppetry and a worthwhile ... Read more about Shadow puppet performance .

Goa Gajah
Jalan Raya Goa Gajah

Dating from the 10th or 11th century, this complex contains a cave, a couple of temples, some ancient bathing ponds and some collapsed Buddhist relics all within a stunning jungle setting. The cave, the main attraction here, has a beautifully carved facade in the shape of a demon, of which the mouth is the opening to the cave. The cave is quite small inside and features an ancient statue of ... Read more about Goa Gajah .

Yeh Pulu

It's a 20m long and 2m high cliff face reputedly carved in the 14th century with some immediately recognisable figures such as horses and people working, and then some other figures that have worn away to a degree that makes them indistinguishable. The carvings themselves are of passing interest only. For those that have walked from Ubud, ojek drivers wait at the carpark to take you back into ... Read more about Yeh Pulu .

Gunung Kawi
Jalan Raya Tampaksiring

The punishing walk down the steps towards the river and the shrines takes you past the usual array of shops selling handicrafts and artwork, but more impressively affords amazing views of the surrounding rice terraces which tumble down into the valley below. On the western side of the river are four shrines and on the eastern side there are five. The 10th and final one is further south and ... Read more about Gunung Kawi .

Tirta Empul
Jalan Tirta, Tampaksiring

Upon entering the complex, you'll notice two crystal clear bathing pools which are used by local people for healing. Each of the spouts that fill the two pools must be prayed at and bathed under in order from left to right, with the exception of a couple of special spouts used for the washing of corpses and other purposes. It is possible to enter the bathing area and splash the water on ... Read more about Tirta Empul .

Sangeh Monkey Forest
Jalan Brahmana, Sangeh

Quite an impressive scene if you can manage to do it without a guide or tour group around, you're surrounded by thirty metre tall trees that block out the sun leaving the forest floor in an eerie darkness. Looking upwards, the trees form a breathtaking avenue towards the first of several temples housed within the forest. Beyond this first temple, the walk proceeds along a path to several ... Read more about Sangeh Monkey Forest .

Bali Bird Park
Jalan Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir Singapadu, Batubulan
T: (0361) 299 352

Check the timetable for various activities as soon as you arrive and plan around that — make sure you see the bird show as this is a definite highlight, with trained birds swooping and screeching on demand. Some 250 species of birds are kept at the park, spread across two hectares of well tended, very green land, with large walk-through aviaries as well as smaller cages you simply walk ... Read more about Bali Bird Park .

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Ubud? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Indonesia.

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