We all do it, don’t we? Whenever we are planning on taking a holiday we go to the internet and start researching. From blogs to Google to review sites – we want to ask it all. Is the place safe? What’s the best time of year to go? What currency is used? What’s the food like? And the list goes on. It’s great to get educated but sometimes we can get easily overwhelmed!
Am I the only one that thinks holidays can be overwhelming? The planning part can sometimes bog us down, but at times the holiday can be even more stressful than just having braved it and not taken any annual leave. (Ok, maybe not but you get the point.)
That being said I’ve been researching for some of our upcoming holidays. There’s a trip to the USA in the works, hopefully some fun to be had in Portugal, and even trip to Morocco that’s on my wishlist. I do want to wander further afield though. An area that I have on my radar is South East Asia. I want to take a luxurious trip to Indonesia actually. The town of Ubud in Bali to be precise. I’ve decided that I need a blissful holiday. You know, the ones we all say we are going to have but never actually end up having. The ones where we return rejuvenated and rested after staying in a villa instead of drained and even more tired than when we left.
That’s the one.
I know you can see it now. Pristine beaches, as much culture as you can handle, and some of the most divine food in the world. Bliss.
The Complete Guide to Ubud
I’ve done all the difficult bits and researched everything I could about to share this guide to Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. And in this post, I share my knowledge with you. So sit back, make yourself a mocktail (or a cocktail if you’re feeling in full-on holiday mode) and get ready for the complete guide to Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Why Visit Ubud?
Ubud is the artistic hub of Bali, and a very attractive alternative to the beaches of the island. Sure, many come for the beaches, but if you’re looking to take in some Indonesian culture, then Ubud is the place to be. A town of under 75,000 people, Ubud can host up to 3 million tourists every year!
These tourists tend to be interested in culture, and nature. The town is popular for yogis and those focused on well-being; as well as those drawn to its sights like the famous rice terraces.
So if culture and nature are your thing then Ubud (and this guide to Ubud) is for you!
Ubud Stats at a Glance
- Population: 69,000 – 74,000 depending on your source
- National Language: Bahasa Indonesian (though English is widely spoken at a basic level, and Balienese is spoken regionally)
- Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) / 1 IDR = 0.0000579095 GBP1 GBP = 17,268.31 IDR at time of publishing
- Airports: The only airport in Bali is the Ngurah Rai International Airport, also locally known as Denpasar. There are no direct flights from the UK to Bali.
- When to visit: Bali tends to be busiest in August, and that also applies to Ubud. May to September is considered the dry season and tends to be the most popular amongst those that want to skip the crowds.
- Can I travel solo?: Absolutely. Ubud is a place where many solo travellers flock to in search of a spiritual experience.
- Is it LGBTQ friendly: Yes.
- Is it family friendly? Yes. There is so much to do in Ubud with kids, and what’s best is that you can use Ubud as a hub to then branch out from.
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There are 3 main types of visas for visitors to Bali, and Indonesia.
Free Visa – this type of visa is a 30 day visa that you can get upon arrival. There is no cost associated with it and it can be obtained by the citizens of most countries. It cannot be renewed upon expiry.
Visa on Arrival – as with the free visa, citizens of most countries can obtain a visa on arrival to Indonesia – either by plane or boat. The fee for this 30 day visa is 525,000 IDR or about £30.00 more or less. The fee should be paid in cash or card, though coins are not accepted. Foreign currencies are accepted. These visas can be renewed.
Advance Visa – if you prefer you can apply for a visitors visa before arriving in Indonesia. This visa can be valid for either 30 or 60 days depending on your passports country of issue.
Checking with an Indonesian embassy may get you better informed as there can always be updates.
Where to Stay?
There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation in Ubud. You can opt for a typical hotel experience or a more simplistic stay. In my opinion the best thing to do is to stay in a villa in Ubud. It’s not often that you can experience such lush surroundings so make the most of it and take it up a notch. I am sure it will be worth it!
What to See in Ubud
If you are a first timer in Ubud then there are certainy some must see destinations. I personally prefer to steer away from tourist traps but these destinations are a must-see!
The Ubud Monkey Sanctuary
I have a soft spot for macaques. It sounds strange but if you’ve ever been to Gibraltar (my husband’s home town) you may have experienced what it’s like to see them in their natural habitat. It’s fascinating really. And something that the Ubud sanctuary has in common with Gibraltar is the great conservation efforts that take place.
Not only can you see the macaques in their natural habitat but you can explore the temples on the site and learn why they are so important to the culture and the region.
Not so fun fact: Women on their periods can’t enter temple grounds.
Puri Saren Agung
More informally known as the Ubud Royal palace this beautiful palace is the hub for many cultural activities. Built during the lordship of Tjokorda Putu Kandel, the palace is home to the Balinese royal family. Though their quarters are far from any public areas. It is free to enter the palace grounds but there is a fee to attend events.
One of the popular events on the palace grounds is traditional Balinese dance. There is a fee for the performance and the cost varies depending on the day. Fees range from 50,000 IDR to 100,00 IDR (the equivalent to a little under £3 and £6 respectively). Other cultural and artistic events are held here too; such as the opening of the annual Ubud Writers and Readers festival. The palace also houses meetings rooms and an auditorium. You can also wander the premises and take in the lush gardens.
My favourite part of the palace is that you can actually stay in 1 of the 5 bungalows on the property. Sure, you will not be anywhere near the royals but you can experience what life on the property looks like, if only for a night!
See the Rice Terraces
Rice terraces are in abunance in Bali, especially surrounding Ubud. It may be hard to imagine since the busy streets of Ubud don’t exactly make you think of these lush beauties being not too far afield. They are. And you can see them! It’s easy to see why they are one of the most photographed sites in the area.
You can visit one of the many rice terraces, it depends on your preference really, but the Tegalang Rice Terraces are the most popular for a reason. Immerse yourself in this peaceful terrain by challenging yourself to walk away from the tourists. It takes most people a couple of hours to explore and it looks well worth it.
I know this post was a long one but I really hope that you’ve taken away that no matter how far it is Ubud, Bali, Indonesia is definitely bucket list worthy! And I hope my complete guide to Ubud has helped planning your trip that much easier.
in collaboration with Villa-Finder.com