Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Ubud has an amazing atmosphere and is great to get away from the busy and party streets of Southern Bali. Ubud is covered with beautiful temples and a perfect destination for meditation and yoga. The area is also close to some of the main attractions of Bali and some class resorts and fine dining. One thing to note, Ubud is HUGE. There is a lot to do in this area so we recommend getting places closer to the sites you want to see then moving around Ubud.
Ubud surprised us with how big it is and how long it takes to get between places even with a scooter. Whenever you are planning out your itinerary keep in mind that it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours to get to places. If you are only in Ubud for a few days, we recommend staying in Central Ubud and then a few days in East Ubud closer to Mt. Agung. We have broken down Ubud in three sections below: Central Ubud, East Ubud, and North Ubud.
How to get here
Bali is a hot tourist destination and has been for the past 10 years with some of the highest tourism growth in SE Asia, but there really isn't public transportation to take. If you are coming from Southern Bali, there are no public buses or any other public transportation so the quickest and most convenient way of getting there is to take a Grab. However, Bali locals are not very big fans of the car share apps so it could be hard to call a grab depending on where you are in Bali. The average cost of a car between Denpasar and Ubud center will cost about 200,000 IDR or $15 USD. If you can't call a car, there are many local taxi services that will take you from place to place, but make sure you do your research on prices before you agree. Don't fall for the tourist traps and overpay. Do NOT pay more than 300,000 IDR.
This part of Ubud is the most popular and the busiest part of Ubud where you can find the Ubud market. You will also find many boutique shops and hotels as well as temples scattered around the town.
The easiest way to get around from place to place once you're in Central Ubud is by scooter. You can rent from your hotel and the standard price is usually 70,000 IDR ($5 USD). If you are renting for multiple days you can haggle it down even cheaper.
Where to Stay
Depending on your budget there are all types of accommodations in Bali. If you have ever used any social media app or seen a travel magazine then you have most likely seen Ubud villas. Ubud is home to some of the most picturesque and beautiful villas in the world. Being located deep in the jungle, many places offer private pools, views of the rice paddies, and more! If you want to stay at beautiful luxury resorts, we recommend Adiwana Hotels. They have over 12 hotels and villas all located in the Ubud area. Book direct with them on their website for good deals.
If you are looking for budget friendly places to stay then there are MANY homestays located in Ubud. You can have a private room with a fan for as little as $7 USD a night including breakfast. The locals are always a great way to see different places as you get a first hand look of their lifestyles and homes. We recommend Tea Jati Guesthouse located near the Elephant Cave.
Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)
In Ubud, there's a temple at every corner but this one in particular catches your eye for the menacing faces that are carved not stone. The faces are meant to ward off evil spirits and while the historical origin is ambiguous, locals still see Goa Gajah as a place for spiritual meditation and a sanctuary. If you walk around the temple, you will also see seven women statues holding water pitchers on their head depicting holy water poured for each of India's rivers. Entrance Fee is 50 IDR per person. You only need maybe an hour here and move on to explore the rest of Ubud.
In the center of Ubud is its well known market. You have the touristy market on the main road which will go in multiple directions lined with gelato, clothing brands, higher-end restaurants etc. On the back streets of the Ubud Market is where you can find some of the cheapest souvenirs in Ubud. (Sarongs haggled down to 20,000 IDR or $1.50) If you look a little deeper you can find some of the best restaurants here but to our opinion its always the local spots never the touristy ones. They always give a sense of love and passion in their food and its typically 1/3 of the price.
Tegalalang Rice Fields
The Tegalalang (say that 3 times fast) rice fields are a must do while in central Ubud. It is the best place if you are looking for a first hand walk through the rice fields. Best time to go is in early morning because you want to skip all of the crowds. Big groups of people arrived shortly after 9 am and it only got busier after that.
It costs 5,000 IDR to park your scooter ($0.35 USD) and an additional 15,000 IDR per person for the entrance fee ($1 USD). As you walk through the rice fields the farmers will also be at their stations asking for donations. We didn't mind leaving a little at each station because they don't have much crop space left due to boosting tourism.
Fun fact: be careful walking along the pathways... Kirstie fell off of one and landed straight in to the mud. Good thing we got our picture in her nice outfit first, haha.
Sacred Monkey Forest
This is a signature staple for Ubud. The park is big and you'll see these long tailed macaques all along the street as you head over to the ticket counter. The park is covered with over 700 monkeys and multiple feeding stations for you to see how these monkeys interact. Do not bring hats or sunglasses as these monkeys will most likely steal it and same goes for plastic and food. The forest is more than just cultural, social, and economic for the village but a home for research and conservation programs.
Entrance fee: 80,000 IDR ($5.50 USD) Opening Time: 8:30am-6:00pm (last ticket sale at 5:30pm)
Fun fact: Remember where you park your bike because we didn't *facepalm*. There are 3 entrances so it is easy to get confused. Also if you are looking for the infamous selfie picture, we recommend using a GoPro. The guards have been banned to do this trick just about a month before we arrived so you will have to sneak it yourself... but be careful these are wild animals!
This was one of our favorite experiences in Bali. It is a Hindu ritual dated back over a millennia ago and still used every day. Even though there were many tourists, everyone was very respectful of the culture.
Tirta Empul is a Hindu Balinese water temple. It is located in the center of Ubud around the town of Tampaksiring. It is famous for its bathing structure filled with holy spring water. Balinese Hindus have been coming here for purification for centuries.
How much: 15,000 IDR or $1 USD for entrance fee. However, you will have to rent the proper sarong to enter the holy water which will cost another 15,000 IDR per person.
East Ubud was still touristy, but being that the attractions there are a little more spread out it felt a little more tame. If you have a few days in Ubud we recommend spending a few nights in East Ubud so you can use your scooter to get from place to place.
Tirta Gangga (also known as Taman Tirta Gangga) was once a water palace of the Karangasem empire. This palace is one of the attractive tourist sights in East Bali. When you walk in you will immediately come up to a large pond with massive Koi Fish. Hop from stone to stone and drop some fish food in the water. You can then walk around the grounds and over the bridges as you take in the beautiful scenery.
Entrance fee: 40,000 IDR per person ($2.80 USD) plus 10,000 if you want to swim in the fresh water pool in the back. Parking fee was 2,000 IDR to the lady selling snacks.
Fun fact: Drones are allowed here. You have to pay a hefty price of 500,000 IDR at the ticketing office to use it.
Mt. Agung (also known as Gunung Agung) is a currently active volcano in east Ubud. Mount Agung is the tallest point in Bali with an elevation of 9944 feet. It can be seen from many points of the island and adds a majestic feel to Ubud. One of the more common places to get a picturesque view of Mt. Agung is Buikt Cinta. However, we found this nice little viewpoint on the drive up to the Gates of Heaven. Just use your scooter to make a pit stop about 3 minutes from the top of the mountain.
Gates of Heaven
Gates of Heaven is undoubtedly one of the most well known locations in Bali with the mirrored picture effect. Don’t be fooled though- there is no water under the temple! The photographer will hold up a mirror under your camera to give off the illusion that there is water under the temple. Many people arrive are immediately disappointed when they find this out but, hey, it's still a cool looking picture. The only problem though is the wait times.
Sunrise is the most popular time to get your picture taken here. Keep in mind that is everyone's idea therefore the line could be anywhere from 1-4 hours for your 1 minute photoshoot. Yes, people wait up to FOUR hours, pretty crazy right.
Being that we are really not morning people we decided to skip out on sunrise and do the sunset instead. We arrived at the temple around 4:30 pm. The temple doesn’t have an entrance fee but asks for donations. We left 20,000 IDR each. Walking up the massive hill we reached the top and got our number from the staff. We were number 424. The next number called out was 357.. so we had a long wait ahead of us. We took a seat with everyone else waiting and watched as people ran up did their 4 poses and left. About an 1.5 hours later our number was called and we did our thing.
Tip: This is a proper temple where you need to be appropriately dressed to respect the Hindu religion. You cannot show your shoulders or knees so either bring your own sarongs and t-shirts or you can borrow one from the staff once your there for free. You will be greeted with a large sign that says all the things you cant do (i.e. no kissing, no yoga poses, etc) Keep this in mind while you decide how you want to pose for your picture.
Gates of Heaven Bonus
If you want a really nice picture wait for sunset and walk down the hill again towards where you parked. You will see a cafe rested at the top of a staircase where they have a swing and a bird nest style posing spot. For only 5,000 IDR per person you can get your pictures made up here with the Mt. Agung in the background. This is some of the cheapest we have found the swings in all of Bali- and with a sweet view! On the day we went the sunset was one of the best we’ve see and it looked like the sky was on fire. So cool!
Gates of Herrada Golf Resort
This is the less popular gate to see in Bali to the more famous Lempuyang Gate in the East. However, we actually preferred this gate more. Located at the top of the mountain you have to drive pretty far up in to the clouds to reach this gate. To our surprise it is actually the gate entrance to a Golf Resort and not to some massive temple. The gate is situated up in the mountains so it puts on a more eerie feeling to it with the dark trees and clouds in the background.
Tip: You are very high up in the mountains so it is likely you could catch some rain so be sure to bring an umbrella with you if you want to avoid getting wet. The picture fee is 30,000 IDR per person which is pretty expensive but you are at a resort so what can you expect.
Ulun Daru Temple
This was a priority visit when we came to Bali because it is one of the more iconic temples. The temple is (age) old and rests of the (name ) lake. It was still so beautiful though and we definitely recommend spending an hour or two here enjoying the views of the lake. The entrance fee is 50,000 IDR per person ($3.50 USD) and the motorbike parking 2,000 IDR.
The best part about visiting this temple was the paddle boat ride! Typically we steer away from touristy boat rides, but this was reasonably priced and we were literally the only boat circling around the temple. It makes for great pictures and unique views, and not to mention super romantic! You can pay 75,000 IDR for a boat and paddle it yourself or 100,000 IDR for a boat with the driver. We got the driver and he went above and beyond to put on a thorough photoshoot even at one point hopping out of the boat (the water is shin high ) to get the perfect angle. He was the best!
Fun fact: During low season it also brings lower tide so the water wasn’t as high up on the temple as it normally is throughout the year.
Leke Leke Waterfall
Sadly we didn’t have time to visit this waterfall as the sun was already setting. It is one of the more well known waterfalls in the northern roads of Ubud. At a 50,000 per person entrance fee you can take pictures in the giant bird nests, hop on the swings, or walk further down to see the giant Leke Leke waterfall.
Wanagiri is only about a 10 minute drive from the Herrada Gate and Ulun Daru. It is "THE" instagrammable spot for all instagrammers. It has swings spread out all throughout the park as well as the famous bird nests.
Entrances range from 100,000 – 150,000 IDR per person so it is extremely expensive, but if you are looking to catch one of those romantic pictures this is the place to go.
We had the pleasure of working with Adiwana hotels while in Ubud. They are a company with over 12 villas in the Ubud area. They are a company that supports the LGBT community and made us feel more than welcome during our stay. We felt more at ease in Ubud as all around the vibe here is more relaxed. This is an area that is still predominately religious, but we found that everyone is respectful of one another.