Set in the green terraced hills around 1-hour drive from the bustling and crowded South, Ubud is the spiritual and artistic heart of Bali. But beyond the yoga classes, tantras and mantras you can glimpse the traditional way of Balinese life. Temple ceremonies add colour to the crowded streets - while the yoga set look on. Ubud has evolved into a cool hub of chic shops, edgy galleries, cafes, restaurants, and bars.
Start your Ubud wander at Jalan Hanoman do the loop to the Sacred Monkey Forest, and then walk back-up Jalan Monkey Forest. Ubud may be hip, healthy and holistic and it is also home to The Ubud Royal Palace and the famous Ubud Art Market- both on the must do list. Wander through the side streets of Jalan Dewi Sita and Jalan Bisma for boutique shopping.
Photo Credit A Pair and A Spare
Head to La Casita, Nusantara, Locavore to Go. Or down some cheeky cocktails at Night Rooster, No Mas, Indus, CP Lounge or Bridges. Book a table at Dumbo, Sacred Rice or Hujan Locale. Go luxe 5 star at Locavore, Mozaic or Blanco. Kick back poolside for movie night at Folk Pool, catch some jazz at Casa Luna or a dance event at Bali Bohemia. But clean eats are the staple diet of Ubud - Moksa, Mudra, Sage or Alchemy - there are dozens of places to grab a smoothie bowl and a vegan feed. Continue the foodie vibe with a cooking class or a market tour.
Photo Credit: Wanderers & Warriors
As the artistic centre of the island, Ubud is also home to talented silversmiths, carvers and painters. Take a day tour to the villages of Celuk, Batuan, and Mas and pick up a masterpiece. Or go on a day trip to the lesser known Sukawati Art Market for some bargains. Nearby Batabulan is the home of the Barong dance. Don’t forget to do the Campuhan Ridge Walk for a stunning view of the valley. Book a downhill bike ride through the majestic rice paddies and villages - and get a taste of the real Ubud.
A magnet for the healthier than thou set, Ubud has become a spiritual playground. With everything from elaborate vegan eats, detoxes cleanses, to every type of yoga and healing imaginable - this is where Western spirituality and Balinese traditions co-exist. Think tantra/ mantra central, acro yoga, kundalini awakening ceremonies with a rice paddie backdrop. Yes it attracts the trippy brigade but there is so much traditional culture to enjoy - thankfully it all kinda balances out.
Written By: Fotini E Douglas