Things to do in Ubud, Bali
Fun things to do in Ubud, besides Yoga
Bali Wild Trek
A quick search on Google will reveal many adventure/tour companies offering exhilarating white water rafting trips, trekking through rice paddies or exploring Bali’s jungles and waterfalls. Bali is famed for its majestic natural beauty and wildlife and we wanted to jump right in. Based on a recommendation from a friend, we decided to take a private tour with a local guide from Bali Wild Trek and explored rural parts of Bali that few tourists get to see!The tour guide (Gusti) was friendly, fun, caring and knowledgeable. He guided us through a market, along rice paddies, rivers and jungle. Gusti’s tour allowed us to admire the coveted rice terraces, monkeys and waterfalls without the throngs of tourists. After the trek, Gusti took us back to his home where we ate delicious home-cooked food with his family.
We won’t get too specific in regards to the details of the trek itself because that’d ruin the fun! But for strong swimmers with adventurous spirits Gusti will guide you down the river in the local way. Like us, you may also get some scrapes and bruises along the way so bring along some plasters and iodine for after the trek. For little kids or older travelers you may want to trek along the edges of the river where bumps and bruises are less likely. We are by no means hardened hikers and yet we had a fantastic day with Gusti. The tour starts at around 8.30am and Gusti dropped us off at our hotel at 6pm.
Forget the raft, life vest and helmet… you’re going to ride the river like a local!
What to take:
Dry bag - you are going to get wet!
Change of clothes - you can leave these at Gusti’s house during the trek
Sturdy trainers/sneakers or water shoes - they will also get wet!
Camera - we’d suggest storing your camera in a waterproof bag or taking a waterproof Go-Pro
Waterproof case for your phone
Hat/headscarf to protect from the sun
Water - bring a couple bottles, it's hot out there!
Small First Aid Kit (it is a trek after all)
Pro Tip: Only a proper dry bag will do, the plastic coated ones that roll down to create a vacuum seal. Gusti carries a dry bag too and will carry your valuables for you if you don't have your own.
The secret Monkey Forest
The Monkey Forest in Ubud is repeatedly listed as one of the top 10 things to do in Bali. Of course, the monkeys are fun and interesting creatures and as a result the attraction has become heavily touristed. We had heard about how busy the Forest can get, luckily just a short 30 minute drive from Ubud there is the super secret Sangeh Monkey Forest visited primarily by Indonesian tourists.
Here you can get up close with the monkeys in a huge jungle setting, surrounded by mossy stone carvings and Banyan trees. We also found the monkeys here to be much less aggressive with tourists.
Pro Tip: If you go on the Bali Wild Trek, Gusti will take you to this forest too.
Luwak Coffee Plantations & Tastings
On the road south from Mt Batur on the Jalan Raya Pujung Kelod road, you’ll pass by Laksmi Bali Luwak Coffee plantation. There you can go on a short tour around the plantation, learn a little about the coffee making process, even meet a couple of pesky Luwaks and then enjoy an extensive coffee and tea tasting. The tasting was really interesting and they offer many different flavours made with local ingredients and some more widely known (the white chocolate and coconut coffees were favourites).
These places are a little off the beaten track and we were the only customers there when we visited, so for extra income these places do have a forest swing that you can pay to ride and a gift shop where you can buy a variety of flavoured coffee too. They also sell some delicious chocolate too (try the chocolate orange flavour)!
The tour and tasting itself costs 50,000IDR ($3.60) and for that, you get to try the Luwak coffee alongside the Bali coffee for comparison. For this you also get 10 other teas and coffees in a variety of diverse flavours.
Pro Tip: Try the Luwak coffee alongside the regular coffee to taste the difference a trip through a Luwak can make!
Get on your bike
Hiring a bike is cheap and easy in Ubud, usually your accommodation can arrange for a bike to be brought and collected at your hotel/hostel. The prices do vary but generally cost around 60,000IDR ($4.30) per day and a full tank of fuel is only 20,000IDR ($1.45). Within only a couple of hours of Ubud centre, you can visit the stunning Mt Batur to the north, or explore the famed jewellery making village Celuk to the south. If you’re confident enough to ride a bike, you’ll get much more enjoyment out of having the freedom to stop wherever you like and have more opportunities to interact with the locals.
Pro Tip: The further north you ride, the colder it gets (due to the altitude), it frequently rains there too. If you’re riding for a while, you’ll start to feel the cold very quickly. Best to grab some cheap ponchos or take some waterproof jackets and store them under the bike seat until you need them.
Eat Babi Guling with the locals
Babi Guling is a Balinese favourite, you will see many Babi Guling restaurant signs as you travel around Bali. Babi literally translates to Pork and Guling means roasted on the spit, so you can expect to enjoy juicy, tender pork accompanied by the crunchy, salty skin on a bed of rice with a spicy herb mixture poured over the top.
This dish is traditionally a little spicy due to the fact that it is drenched in a hot chimichurri-like sauce, but many of the restaurants in Ubud tone down the spice to accommodate many tourists who do not typically enjoy spicy food. We were determined to find a traditional version of Babi Guling and found a modest restaurant off the main street of Ubud centre called Babi Guling Gung Cung on Jalan Suweta, near Ubud Palace.
Pro Tip: Babi Guling joints close early, so the best time to get your hands on it is between 11am-5pm.