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Why Ubud is special ?
Ubud, a town in central Bali, is far removed from the beach party scene in Kuta, and is regarded as the cultural centre of Bali. It is famous as an arts and crafts hub, and much of the town and nearby villages seems to consist of artists' workshops and galleries. There are some remarkable architectural and other sights to be found, and a general feeling of well being to be enjoyed, all thanks to the spirit, surroundings, and climate of the place.
In many ways, the history of the Ubud area (not so much the modern day town) is the very history of Bali itself.
Ubud has a known history back to the eighth century, when the Javanese Hindu priest Rsi Marhandya came to Bali from Java, and meditated at the confluence of the two Wos rivers at Campuan, just west of the modern day town centre. A shrine was established and later expanded by Nirartha, the Javanese priest who is regarded as the founder of Bali's religious practices and rituals as we know them today. At this time the area was a centre of natural medicine and healing, and that is how the name Ubud originated: Ubad is ancient Balinese for medicine.
What to explore at Ubud?
1. Goa Gajah 'Elephant Cave'
Goa Gajah is one of the island’s most impressive archaeological sites, located south of the Bedulu village, a region famous for its collection of historical sites. The temple complex is within a six-kilometre drive south of central Ubud and an hour’s drive northeast from the provincial capital of Denpasar. Down a flight of stairs, you will discover a relic-filled courtyard and the main 11th century ‘cave’ in which you can enter to view rock-wall carvings and a meditational site, while out on the perimeter are a Hindu temple and an impressive bathing pool with fountains, excavated back in 1954.
Open: Mon – Sun 08:00 - 16.00
Location: Bedulu Village, Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Blahbatuh, Gianyar
2. Ubud Monkey Forest
Ubud Monkey Forest is one of Bali’s several grey long-tailed macaque-inhabited forests, and perhaps the best known among the rest due to its community-based management, location and ease of access. It lies on the fringes of the Ubud main centre, and is overseen by the Padangtegal village. Also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, and by its official designation as Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana, Ubud Monkey Forest is a place of scientific research as well as a site of spiritual and cultural aspects with temples sanctified by the local villagers deep within its grounds.
Open: Mon - Sun 08:00 - 18:00
Location: Jalan Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud
Telephone: +62 (0)361 971 304
3 . Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Bali’s traditional, centuries-old cooperative irrigational system known as ‘Subak’ has created among the most beautiful terraced landscapes in Southeast Asia. Several minutes’ drive north of the main Ubud centre is the cool upland area of Tegallalang, which has become famous for its scenic stopover where travellers to the northern region drop by for snapshots and souvenirs. The latter is provided by the many souvenir stalls that line the ledge. Another highlight nearby is the quaint village of Pakudui, where you can find an extraordinary variety of ornamental woodwork and various carvings. Amongst the many carved mythical figures the Garuda seems to be majestically ever present amongst the creations.
Location: Jalan Raya Tegallalang, north of Ubud
4. Puri Saren Royal Palace
Just a hop away from the Ubud Art Market is the palace of the Ubud royal family, referred to as Puri Saren Agung. The Ubud Royal Palace is one of the most prominent places in Ubud, as it is smack-dab on the main Jalan Raya Ubud road and intersection. The palace can also be regarded as the focal landmark of Ubud. The Ubud palace was built during the lordship of the late Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel (1800-1823), and is well-kept by his successive heirs. A visit to the Puri Saren is on many of the itineraries to the Ubud area. It has well-preserved Balinese architecture and charming garden settings, and is best known among lovers of Balinese arts as one of the main sites to view dramatic evening dance performances.
Location: Central Ubud, at the northern end of Monkey Forest road
5. Blanco Renaissance Museum
Blanco Renaissance Museum is an unofficial landmark in Ubud, the house and studio of the late flamboyant Philippine-born maestro, Don Antonio Blanco. Located on a hilltop overlooking the lush valley of Campuhan, it houses paintings, collages and illustrated poetry, together with lithographic artworks of his favourite subject: nude Balinese women. The private residence and lavish studio has guided tours of the facility, with the artist’s family members hosting you if you’re lucky. The thought-provoking collections, lush garden surroundings and a fine restaurant established in the name of the artist’s late wife and muse all provide a great stopover on your trips to Ubud.
Open: Mon - Sun 09:00 – 17:00
Location: Jalan Raya Campuhan, Ubud
Telephone: +62 (0)361 975 502
6 . Agung Rai Museum of Art
The Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) is part of a gallery, cultural centre and accommodation venture in Pengosekan, Ubud, owned and founded by Balinese entrepreneur and art collector, Anak Agung Gde Rai. The museum features two main large buildings filled with exhibits displaying a large collection of artworks. The museum is located in Pengosekan, approximately three km south of the main Ubud centre and 25km north of the provincial capital of Denpasar, in the regency of Gianyar, central Bali.
Open: 09:00 – 18:00
Location: Jalan Raya Pengosekan, Ubud
Telephone: +62 (0)361 976 659
7 . Setia Darma House of Masks
The Setia Darma Masks & Puppets House is a unique museum with a mission to preserve some of Indonesia’s most colourful heritage items. It serves as a great cultural and educational part of tours to central Bali, ideal for families and culture lovers, with its broad collection of items from around the globe. The site currently houses over a 1,000 masks and over 4,000 puppets from all over the Indonesian archipelago, Africa, China, Latin America and Europe. A courtyard comprises five traditional wooden Balinese pavilions and Javanese ‘joglo’ and ‘limasan’ houses that each house vast collections in different categories. The houses are spread over 1.4 hectares of an undulating paddy landscape and surrounded by well-manicured tropical gardens.
Open: Mon - Sun 08:00 – 16:00
Location: Jalan Tegal Bingin, Banjar Tengkulak Tengah, Kemenuh, Sukawati
Telephone: +62 (0)361 898 749 3
8 . Bali Bird & Reptile Park
Bali Bird Park & Reptile Park is a unique and educational attraction fit for the whole family. Two hectares of fine tropical gardens offer an interesting leisurely walk amidst the rich compilation of nearly a thousand exotic birds from the Indonesian archipelago and around the world. The Bali Bird Park is located in the village of Batubulan, Gianyar Regency, and serves as a fun and attractive playground for bird-lovers, as well as a convenient stopover for those on day tours en route to the central regions such as Ubud, Celuk and Mas.
Open: Mon – Sun 09:00 – 18:00
Location: Jalan Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Batubulan, Gianyar
Telephone: +62 (0)361 299 352
9. Bali Zoo
Bali Zoo, locally referred to as ‘Kebun Binatang Bali’, is the only animal attraction in Bali using ‘zoo’ in its name. The zoo is set over 8ha of lush tropical gardens in the village of Singapadu, Gianyar regency. The zoo is a convenient stopover before Ubud on tours from the island's south. Bali Zoo is home to various tropical plants and an extensive collection of fauna ranging from mammals, birds and reptiles. The zoo is shady and pleasant to walk through and also features a range of experiences, such as elephant and pony rides, photo sessions with animals, as well as outbound adventures.
Open: 09:00 – 18:00
Location: Jalan Raya Singapadu, Gianyar
Telephone: +62 (0)361 294 357
10. Bali Safari & Marine Park
The Bali Safari & Marine Park offers a fun day out for the whole family as the island’s largest animal theme park. The park comprises many different rides and attractions set over its 40 hectares near the coast of Ketewel, an hour’s drive east from the provincial capital of Denpasar, and 30 minutes south of Ubud. The park’s main guided safari tours takes you on a ride around the African and Indian landscape-inspired enclosures in zebra-striped buses, where you can view its collection of over 60 wildlife species, all roaming free in as if in their natural habitats. Elephant shows, a petting zoo, and the highlighted Bali Agung Show are among the other must-sees at the park.
Open: Mon – Sun 09:00 - 17:00
Location: Jalan Bypass Ida Bagus Mantra, Gianyar
Telephone: +62 (0)361 950 000
How to get to Ubud?
There are regular public bemos from Denpasar's Batubulan terminal to Ubud which cost Rp 8,000, and take about an hour. Most bemos run in the early morning, and you will not find any after 16:00. In the opposite direction, bemos depart every morning from the central market (northern entrance) in Ubud. Foreigners are likely to be asked much more (bargain!) or even to charter the whole vehicle - there's really no need, as they will pick up passengers on the way.
To get to Batubulan from South Bali, one previously had to have 1-2 bemo connections in Denpasar. Now, with Trans Sarbagita (see the main Bali article for details) government bus service, this way can be far more comfortable (air-conditioned bus) and even cheaper (Rp 3,500) for those going from/to Nusa Dua, Kuta, Sanur or all the places between.
If you want to take a taxi to Ubud from South Bali, it is best to charter the vehicle for a return trip, otherwise, you'll be hit with a 30% fee for going out-of-town. Metered fares, one-way and not including surcharge, are around Rp 150,000 from Denpasar and Rp 200,000 from Kuta.
Currently, there's no public bus service to Ubud (there are bemos however, see above), but tourist bus services are abundant.
Perama offers daily direct transfers to Ubud from Ngurah Rai International Airport, Sanur, Lovina, Kuta, Bedugul, Candidasa, and Padang Bai. These are convenient and inexpensive; eg four times per day from the airport for Rp 50,000. Rather less conveniently, the Perama terminal is not located in the centre of Ubud, but about 2km south in Padang Tegal, on Jl Hanoman just south of the intersection with Jl Monkey Forest.
You can go to the "official Tourist Information" (just in the middle of town, on the big crossroad. opposite the market at Monkey Forest Road/Jalan Raya Road) and buy your ticket there (official outlet, same price) and Perama will pick you up there, to transfer to the Perama Bus Hub out of town.
While just a few years ago, Perama buses were well-maintained, air-conditioned, nice and generally worth their price, currently (probably owing to it's excess popularity among tourists) it may not be true, and you may end up in an old, hot, local-style bus, not more comfortable than a regular bemo but for the double or triple price - the only advantage being a non-stop service. As such, booking the ticket in advance and paying without checking in person what kind of bus they will provide may be unwise.
In Ubud, it's easy to find alternate bus/minivan services to other destinations around Bali, you will not miss numerous travel agencies advertising these services (for example, on Jl Raya Ubud). Fares are similar or slightly higher than Perama (.g: Rp 50,000-60,000 to Kuta), the higher price may or may not be due to the nicer bus/minivan - enquire (and better check yourself if you have time) locally.
By homestay car
If you have a reservation at a homestay and the owner has a vehicle, they will offer to pick you up at the airport for ~Rp 250,000. Check when you make your reservation. They will wait for you outside the arrival hall with your name on a sign. A convenient option especially if you arrive at night as they take you directly to the homestay.
- Outstanding natural setting
- A beautiful Town
- Such an amzing stop in Bali
- For family and kids
- One of the most well-known attraction in Bali
Ubud Gianyar Regency, Bali Indonesia