After living in Ubud, Bali for 2 months, I have created the Ultimate Ubud Guide. I decided to save the stories for my blog and give you a straight forward, low on the fluff, everything you need to know kind of guide. Here you go….
Where to Stay
The Pangkung House was in a traditional, Balinese housing complex and had air conditioning, a comfy bed and homemade breakfast delivered right to your room in the morning. They are also located right on the main street so you have access to the town.
BOOK THE PANGKUNG HOUSE HERE!
Where to Eat
Cheap, Local Food (Warung)
• Atmosphere: Quiet, family owned, traditional, surrounded by trees.
• Price Range: Standard meal is around 30,000 RP, juice is around 10,000
• Food: Vegetarian and Meat. Try the vegetarian Nasi Campur.
• Hours: 11 am- 11 pm
• Location: Penestanan
• Atmosphere: Often crowded in the evenings and very social due to cafeteria style tables.
• Price Range: Small plates start at around 4,000 RP.
• Food: They offer traditional Balinese food that is both vegan and meat friendly. The menu explains the differences in the Balinese dishes. Try the fried tempe.
• Hours: 10 am-11 pm
• Location: In Town
• Atmosphere: This place has a community vibe as the buffet is set up for you to take what you want and leave the money on the table. They sell fruit and art, have a free library, offer skill sharing, free dance lessons and sometimes have free coffee tastings. All they ask is that you wash your own dishes when you finish. At night, this place really comes alive.
• Price Range: About 3,000 RP per item
• Food: Vegetarian food is served buffet style and fresh fruit is also available. Try the pumpkin curry if they have it.
• Hours: 10 am-9 pm
• Location: Lodtunduh (Right outside of town)
• Atmosphere: Small, quiet and easily missed. This family owned restaurant has both floor seating and tables.
• Price Range: Prices start as low as 3,000 RP for an item from the buffet and 10,000 for juice.
• Food: There is both vegetarian food and meat. Food is served buffet style but additional dishes can also be ordered from the menu. Try the tofu in yellow sauce.
• Hours: N/A
• Location: JI Raya (Center of Town)
• Atmosphere: During the day this place is quite quiet but at night it fills up with expats and travelers. Half of the tables are floor seating and the other half are shared so you end up chatting to strangers and making new friends.
• Price Range: About 7,000 or 8,000 RP for a juice and anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000 RP for a meal.
• Food: The food is standard Balinese and they have some vegetarian options.
• Hours: 8 am- 11 pm
• Location: Jala Gootama in town
Vegetarian/Vegan and Meat
• Atmosphere: A hippie hangout where you will mostly find expats and travelers who just finished up with yoga class.
• Price Range: Meals here are little more expensive with smoothies costing around 30,000 RP and meals costing about 40,000-70,000 RP.
• Food: You can find dishes here that will work well with any diet. They have Balinese food, Mexican food and raw/vegan desserts.
• Hours:7:30 am-11 pm
• Location: Hanoman Street, Ubud Center
• Atmosphere: It overlooks an ancient temple, gets a nice breeze and is frequented by expats and health conscious travelers.
• Price Range: This one can be a pit pricey but the quality is worth it. Smoothies cost around 30,000 RP and meals will run you from 40,000 RP to 80,000 RP.
• Food: From cooked food to raw salads, this place serves a mostly health conscious cuisine. Make sure to try the vegan, chocolate milkshake for dessert.
• Hours: 8:00 am- 11:00 pm
• Location: Jalan Campuhan Road (A little beyond the city center)
• Atmosphere: Yet another hippie hangout with expats, travelers and the health conscious customers.
• Price Range: Food and drinks range from 30,000 RP to 80,000.
• Food: Try the vegan pizza for dinner or the tofu scramble for breakfast.
• Hours: 7:00am-10:30 pm
• Location: Hanoman Street, central Ubud
• Atmosphere: This place is a jack of all trades as it is a co-working space, restaurant, accommodation and bar. They have a swimming pool for use during the day and at night there is usually a live reggae band keeping the crowd entertained.
• Price Range: The food and drinks are affordable and range from 20,000 RP to 70,000 RP.
• Food: They have Balinese, Western, Japanese and vegan options.
• Hours: 8:00 am- 11:00 pm
• Location: Raya Pengosekan, The outskirts of the city center.
• Atmosphere: Typical Mexican restaurant that is mostly frequented by travelers and expats.
• Price Range: Prices here are affordable and range from 30,000 RP to 80,000 RP.
• Food: All the typical Mexican fare with nachos, burritos, guacamole and salsa.
• Hours: 11:00 am- 10:00 pm
• Location: Jalan Raya Pengosekan
• Atmosphere: This place is quirky, innovative and secluded. Their walls are filled with edgy artwork and a rotating artist of the week.
• Price Range: More highly priced and smaller items.
• Food: A range of tapas from shrimp tacos and miso hummus to whole roasted garlic and grilled asparagus.
• Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 5 pm to 12 am.
• Location: JI Dewisita No. 1
-Seeds of Life-
• Atmosphere: Laid back with floor seating and an upstairs that overlooks the rooftops. The health conscious and yoga loving crowd can mostly be found here.
• Price Range: Middle to high pricing with a meal starting at 30,000 RP.
• Food: The entire menu is raw including the huge selection of cakes in the dessert case. They have a daily special schedule which includes Italian lasagna, Indian platter, Malaysian style soup and American hamburgers.
• Hours: Open every day from 9 am to 10 pm.
• Location: Jalan Gootama No. 2
• Atmosphere: You’ll feel more healthy just walking into this place. They have a shop full of healthy foods, vitamins and elixirs and three different stations for healthy fare. Upstairs is a holistic health center so you will constantly be interacting with the health conscious, people who can read your energy and the odd person in the dining area, strumming on the guitar.
• Price Range: Mid to high priced. The salad bar starts around 40,000 RP and prices go up from there.
• Food: You can order food from the raw salad bar, smoothies from the smoothie station and raw desserts from the glowing case in the corner.
• Hours: Open every day from 7am to 9 pm.
• Location: JL Penestanan Klod No.75
-Down to Earth Café-
• Atmosphere: A center revolving around creative vegan food, Down to Earth Café is above a store selling everything in the way of vegan health food and products and connected to a theater with bamboo furnishings and a vegan food menu. The actual dining area has tables, cushion seating and a breezy balcony. This place is frequented by expats, yogis and the health conscious.
• Price Range: Mid to high priced with meals and smoothies starting around 40,000 RP.
• Food: They have extremely creative vegan food with everything from loaded nachos and Reuben sandwiches to tuna pita pockets and apple crisp dessert.
• Hours: Open every day from 7am to 10 pm.
• Location: JI Goutama Sel.
-Living Food Lab-
• Atmosphere: It’s connected to Hubud, the town’s biggest co-working center so it is full of online entrepreneurs and remote workers. It is pretty quiet, mostly outdoors and overlooks some beautiful rice fields. You get two hours of internet with every purchase so it is a good a motivating place to get some work done or read a book.
• Price Range: Mid to high with a meal starting at 40,000 RP.
• Food: They have vegan and vegetarian food as well as raw/vegan desserts. They also have delicious coconut water that has been infused with either vanilla bean or cinnamon.
• Hours: Monday to Friday from 7am to 4 pm.
• Location: Green School, Jalan Raya Sibang Kaja
• Atmosphere: A great place to gather and hang out in the evenings over some healthy juices and smoothies. On the weekends during breakfast, they often have some kind of live musician playing. Most people here are health conscious expats with a thing for yoga.
• Price Range: Mid to high priced with smoothies and meals starting around 40,000 RP.
• Food: Delicious purple sweet potatoes, amazing raw desserts and interesting smoothie concoctions.
• Hours: Open every day from 8 am until 10 pm
• Location: JI Dewisita Kec. Gianyar
• Atmosphere: Wonderfully relaxing with a Pinterest, simplistic décor. They play lovely café music including Grimes (my favorite!) Most patrons here are expats, mostly health conscious.
• Price Range: Mid to high
• Food: They have a simple but one of the most interesting vegan menus in the city with tempe tacos and the best vegan buffalo wings I have ever had. They have crispy cauliflower with cashew cheese dip and the BEST , non-raw, chocolate cake I have ever eaten! (Honestly, I dream about this cake every week. They also serve breakfast!
• Hours: Open every day from 11 am until 10 pm.
• Location: JI Nyuh Bulan No. 1, Banjar Nyuh Kuning
• Atmosphere: It feels more like a Balinese restaurant with a fine dining and healthy vibe. Many of the patrons are health conscious expats.
• Price Range: Mid to high prices.
• Food: You can get both Balinese and more western dishes here.
• Hours: Open every day from 6am to 10 pm.
• Location: Jalan Jembawan No. 1 Kec.
A bar and restaurant in town that usually puts on a two for one cocktail special. Their drinks are delicious and STRONG! Especially the margaritas.
Price Range: About 40,000 and up for a cocktail.
Hours: Open from 8 am until 11 pm
Location: JL Dewi Sita
A large hookah lounge and bar in town where you can smoke flavored shisha over a beer or cocktail. It’s a little dark, low-key and Middle Eastern themed.
Price Range: Mid to high
Location: JI. Monkey Forest Rd. No. 129
It’s multifunctional and one of the only places in town that opens itself up as a dance club. There is often live music and DJs and is open until quite early in the morning.
Price Range: Mid to high priced with main meals ranging from 28,000 RP to 65,000 RP. Cocktails range from $60,000 RP to $100,000 RP.
Hours: Open from 11am to 4am Monday through Saturday and 11am to 12 am on Sunday.
Location: Jalan Wenara No. 15
It’s a restaurant, bar and venue for musical events and performances. They will usually have a sign out front announcing if they have something going on like lip sync battles or slam poetry performances.
Hours: Open every day from 10am to 11:30 pm.
Location: Ubud Main St.
Classes You Can Take
Barista Lessons: Seniman Coffee Shop offers workshops with their head baristas to learn about the art of coffee making. Class choices range from: Home brewing to Latte Art. Call them at +62 361 972085 to arrange a class.
-Five Art Studio Class-
Learn to make traditional Keliki art in the heart of this artist village by local people. You will get to take home a souvenir that you made yourself. Please contact them at +62 878-6198-4083 to book a class.
-Yoga Teacher Training/Class-
Yoga is big business in Ubud and if you want to become certified to be a teacher, this town is your place. Try The Yoga Barn +62 361 971236 or Radiantly Alive +62 361 978055 for some of the best programs.
Bali has a unique cuisine that most visitors absolutely fall in love with. If you want to take some recipes and skills home with you, check out some of these cooking courses. Paon Bali Cooking Class +62 813-3793-9095, Payuk Bali Cooking Class +62 361 8987854 or the Raw Chef Training Course at Seeds of Life Cafe.
-Traditional Dance Show-
Bali is known for its dancing and you can find a place to see a show on almost every street. Right in the center of town, next to Starbucks is one of the best performances around that features live traditional music and an amazing temple and lotus garden backdrop.
-Ubud Art Market-
Located in the center of town, this market is usually running all day long. It is both indoors and outdoors and is filled with handicrafts, flowing clothing and interesting jewelry and art. If you are an early riser and can make it to the market by 5 am, you will see it fully alive with locals who are buying and selling fruits, vegetables and house wares.
-Paradiso Movie Theater-
The most convenient place in Ubud to catch a movie is also one of the most interesting theaters you may ever visit. The furnishings are bamboo and the menu is all vegan!
-Penestanan Rice Fields-
The residential village of Penestanan has a whole maze of beautiful rice fields that you can explore on foot. You will see local farmers tending to their fields and their homes. The path starts right across from Alchemy café and you keep walking until you reach the stone steps that lead to a yoga studio. Keep going past the studio, the Yellow Flower café and houses until it eventually opens up into the fields.
This popular museum features the Renaissance artwork of Don Antonio Blanco of the Philippines. He was given land in Ubud by the King to continue his works there, becoming a large influence on the art community of Bali.
Things You Can Skip (and their replacements)
Monkey Forest: Visitors pay to get into this forest full of monkeys . People often get bitten and scratched and it can be quite dangerous if you aren’t careful. If you just hang around outside, you can see many monkeys who come out of the park and sit on the side of the road and in the trees without having to pay the admission fee.
Ridge Walk: While good for some exercise, the ridge walk and its views are not really that great. However, parallel to the ridge walk is a similar trail that goes past local art galleries, handicraft shops, interesting restaurants and a yoga studio. It is much more scenic and interesting.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces: While they are definitely beautiful and make some amazing photos, the rice terraces are horribly touristy. You are constantly asked to make donations, in fact, even required to as you can’t pass to different sections of the fields without doing so. Also, the people manning the donation stations can get very pushy, aggressive and mean if they don’t like the amount that you donated. Instead, you can drive past these rice terraces to see more of the same without the tourists. However, you may not be able to find any that you can explore by foot like the Tegalalang terraces.
Road Trips Out of Ubud
Secret Gorge: Pay a small donation and head down into this natural gorge. Wear good shoes and athletic clothing because it gets quite difficult to climb across the ridges, wade through the river and inch along the rock faces.
This area is a surfers’ paradise and definitely a place to stay overnight for a party. The beaches are cut in half by large cliffs, boulders and rock faces that you can climb through to get to the other side. There are tons of surfers here and one of the best things to do is take a seat in the sand and watch them catch some waves. Above the beach area is a tier of bars and restaurants that have an amazing view of the sunset and some great music to dance to.
This southern coast beach is located next to the former Bali Cliff Resort and can only be reached after trekking down hundreds of monkey lined steps. The waters are crystal clear, there are caves for shade and it has some of the best surf for the experienced.
Canggu: About a 45 minute drive from Ubud, Canggu is the perfect surf town. You can stay in a surf hotel, get lessons from locals on the beach and hang out with the other expats in the awesome bars and coffee shops.
Ahmed: About a 2 and a half hour drive from Ubud, this town has tons of coastline and is ideal for people who love to scuba or snorkel. It would be a good place to get scuba certified and has a Japanese ship wreck that you can snorkel. Other than that, there is not too much else to do there.
Places For Coffee and Co-Working
Seniman Coffee Shop: It has the best coffee in town, both vegetarian and non-veg food and is a space where many digital nomads gather to get work done. The internet here can be quite spotty though.
The Onion: A great alternative to the more pricy Hubud, this co-working space, restaurant, café and pool is a Jack of All Trades.
Hubud: The main co-working space that also offers workshops and good networking opportunities. However, it is quite expensive.
Freak Coffee: This shop is not a good place for co-working but does serve a nice cup of coffee.
Hanoman Art Studio: Also not good for co-working or a place to sit down over a cup of coffee. However, they have a modest little menu, decent coffee and amazing, psychedelic looking art work. The local artists there love to chat and you can find out about many of the fantastic pieces.
Moving to Ubud
-Finding a House-
If you’re looking to live in Ubud, you can begin your search in two of the popular neighborhoods for expats; Penestanan and Jalan Tirta Tawar. If you rent a motorbike and have a walk around these neighborhoods, there will often be signs looking for renters. Alternatively, you can join some Ubud Facebook groups to find rental listings and post what you are looking for. The best groups to join are; Ubud Rentals and Ubud, Bali Housing Price Awareness.
-Renting a Motorbike-
There are many places all over the city to rent motorbikes but we rented ours from a souvenir shop right next to Hanoman Art Studio on the corner. I’m not sure of the name but it was recommended to us by another traveler and after having a quick and easy rental process with no problems, I can recommend it too.
Speaking as an American, you will receive a free 30 day visa upon arrival. However, if you plan on extending your stay for longer than a month, you should ask to purchase the extendable visa when you arrive at customs. This visa is also 30 days but allows you to extend for an additional 30 days for a total of 60. It is best to hire a service to extend the visa for you to avoid making a trio of journeys to the capital to do it on your own.
The ATMs around Ubud can be a little fickle. Sometimes you will need to go to three machines before having success but other times they work like a charm. There have also been rumors floating around about peoples’ information being stolen from the ATMs but it seems that the culprit was caught and these occurrences are happening less and less. Just don’t panic if you can’t get money out the first try, there are plenty of machines around the city that do work.
The roads are quite small and with the large cars that drive on them, traffic gets backed up for as little as someone making a turn. Make sure that you are comfortable on a motorbike before venturing off into town.
The internet on Bali is generally a little slow and spotty. The co-working spaces seem to have the best internet. Seeds of Life Café has pretty good internet as well.
BAWA: Bali Animal Welfare Association works to help stranded and mistreated dogs around the island. Volunteers must be vaccinated for rabies in order to help and donations are always welcomed. They can be contacted at +62 811-389-004
The Bali Children’s Project: Volunteers must make pre-arrangements and also apply to volunteer with this organization. They are looking for English, art, sports and special skills teachers as well as people with gardening skills to teach impoverished, Balinese children for a brighter future. There is a $60 fee that volunteers must pay as a contribution. They can be contacted at +62 361 8475399.
Five Art Studio: Wayan, the owner of Five Art Studio has offered art lessons in exchange for volunteers willing to teach English to artists and village children. They can be contacted at +62 878-6198-4083.
Kitty Villa: This organization operates to help abandoned and sick cats and kittens around Ubud. They need volunteers to play with the cats and also walk dogs. They can be contacted at +62 858-5758-4131.
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