In the heartland of Bali, Ubud is a sanctuary of calm, a haven for artists, yogis, dancers and musicians. Ubud is also the traditional medicine centre of Bali, and many of the traditional healers around Bali hail from Ubud. Made famous by Elizabeth Gilbert’s best selling book and consequent movie, “Eat, Pray, Love” Ubud continues to draw visitors for its beauty and culture. There is plenty to see and do around here, including just sitting around listening to the rice grow in their terraced paddies, but there are the top five activities in Ubud:
1. Monkey around in the Monkey Forest
An excellent place to while away a few hours, the Monkey Forest is a dim, atmospheric reserve in the middle of the town. 600 monkeys make it their home, and their antics are a joy to watch. There is also a beautiful temple complex hidden in the Monkey Forest, and the short and easy walks within make it accessible to all. For the best possible experience, follow these monkey safety tips.
2. Indulge in a massage
Traditional medicine is still practiced in Ubud, and part of this is the art of massage. There are many massage shops in Ubud, ranging from the serviceable to the luxe. A one hour massage typically costs Rp 50,000, but there are plenty of other indulgences you can add on, such as a body scrub, a soak or facial. Relax with a view of emerald green rice paddies while the masseuse pounds your cares away.
3. Absorb some art
The ARMA Museum, or Agung Rai Museum of Art, is a veritable fount of knowledge on the history and evolution of Balinese painting. The exhibits describe the unique style of Ubud paintings, and explain how it came about. The ARMA also hosts theatre performances and painting, dance and music workshop which are popular with both local artists and foreign visitors.
4. Eat Ibu Oka babi guling
A little dark, very traditional and always busy, Ibu Oka has been roasting suckling pig here for 20 years. You have to take off your shoes before climbing up into the mat strewn dining area – choose a spare spot, peruse the (short) menu, wave frantically to get the attention of a server, then order the set meal of roast pork, crackling, sausage, vegies and rice served on waxed paper in bamboo bowls.
5. Take your downward dog out for a walk
Ubud somehow lends itself to meditation. If you’ve never tried yoga before, it’s the perfect place for your first practice. Yoga Barn is the major player in Ubud, with its serene open-air studios, surrounded by greenery. There are many different styles of yoga on offer, so take your pick from restorative to vinyasa. Namaste!