Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Imagine a 'secret jungle' with inquisitive monkeys who rule over sacred temples and century old banyan trees. Sit quietly and hear the sounds of rushing ravines.....drift a little.....see and smell the vivid colour of flower offerings and sweet Balinese incense. This isn't Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World," it's the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest, a must-see attraction for any visitor to Bali, 'Island of the Gods.'While staying at the spectacular eco-conscious Fivelements Puri Ahimsa wellness retreat, I ventured out to one of Bali's most popular attractions, the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest. Officially known as the Padangtegal Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, the site contains 27 acres of protected grounds, 605 long-tailed macaque monkeys, and three 14th-century temples.The forest is located minutes from the main strip of Ubud, the 'Cultural Heart of Bali.' You can purchase bananas on-site to feed the monkeys, make sure to carefully conceal the fruit in a backpack because the monkeys will at random, jump on to you for a free meal. This is all apart of the fun. When you are ready to feed them, take one banana out at a time, this will prevent any accidental bites. I have read many reviews about aggressive behavior from the monkeys, I did witness it for myself, but was never bitten. Most aggression cases have happened because of improper feeding; if you take one banana out at a time, watch your surroundings, and do not taunt the monkeys (especially the mature ones!) this will help to ensure a safe and highly enjoyable interaction. Also note, if you have no bananas, food, or hand-held items the monkeys will typically be unfazed by your presence, allowing visitors who want a little distance to have a great time too. I give this attraction a 10/10, it's literally a 'barrel of monkeys' fun!
Pura Ulun Danu Beratan
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple also known as Bedugul Lake Temple is a Hindu Temple built in Beratan Lake with four mountains serving as its backdrop. In papyrus chronicle of the Mengwi, this temple is referred to as the name of Parhyangan ri pinggiring danu Beratan (sanctum located in lakeside of Beratan Lake ).
This is a Hindu temple, and a popular tourist attraction. To get there, buy your ticket, and walk (run?) past the numerous vendors selling the usual range of tourist trinkets. Then descend some steps and you are in the temple area. There are numerous Hindu structures, figures and symbols, all in stone. What you are looking for is the entrance to the cave. This is immediately obvious, due to the large, demonic figure carved in and around the cave entrance. Walk in, take a little care as the floor is slippery, and you will come to a T junction a few metres in. At both ends of the T are lingam and yoni statues, and a statue of Ganesha. Feel free to take a photo, everyone else, including the locals does. You can take a short jungle hike on several paths leading from the temple.
Taman Ayun Temple
This four century old Hindu temple is located in Mengwi village, about 18km from Denpasar. The village itself is worth a visit. The temple is separated from the surrounding land by a moat and a series of garden terraces. Entry into the grounds is not allowed to visitor, but the inner buildings can be seen, and photographed. The grounds are beautiful and well maintained, and with lots of tourists.
At Ubud Market, Bargain is key as the prices they did set for me as a ‘last price’ had gone down to literally half the price than first quoted. People here are friendly, some willing to help with sole intention of being friendly and some try their deciduous luck on offering a price to the assistance.Abundance of Landscapes and FoodThe greenery and the praying behaviour here takes me back to gods own country – Kerala. Having said that, the lush of coconut trees, banana, rice and the perfectly manicured paddy fields creates Bali what it is and none alike. The paddy fields at Jatiluwih (Rice terrace) follow the traditional irrigation system called the Subak.The Balinese seem to make use of things that grow in their own land from rice, coffee, clove, to lettuce. My food is mostly rice stacked like an upside-down bowl with chicken satay as a side dish – complete with ginger dressing. The food is placed on a circle shaped banana leaf. Indonesian breakfast comes heavy with rice and noodles – not for a light eater like me. So my options have been toast and egg, with fruits and Bali black kope (coffee) or white kope sachez. Warungs (family owned restaurants) serves the cheapest yet tasty food. One of the best warung food we had was at One homestay; food is cheap and tasty, and the view is to die for.Diverse Weather Conditions
All palaces in Ubud are similiar if you are a tourist like me. The architecture seemed the same to me. Ubud Palace was no exception. Right outside the Palace is the Ubud Market which is like a maze with 3 levels. You find everything from clothes to fruits and souvenirs. Steeply priced but feel no shame in bargaining and paying only 10% of the price marked.
Kebun Raya Bali
3. Kebun Raya BaliThis botanic garden is not so far from Ulun Danu Temple. Known as Indonesia’s largest botanic garden, the area is about 389 acres. Besides used as conservation and botanical research area, the garden is also for recreation and education centre. Inside the area, a traditional balinese guesthouse is open for public. You can spend the rest of your day in the wood with wild monkeys while having a short stay at the guesthouse.
If you’re just going to see one temple then you may as well make it the biggest and best. Besakih or ‘Mother Temple’ is impressive any time but even more so if you can visit during one of the big ceremonies that happen only very rarely. I’ve heard tourists having a lot of problems visiting here because they’re forced to hire a guide so I say wear balinese dress and find a balinese family to bring you :)
Tirta Empul Temple
Tirta Empul is a holy water temple, sourced from the sacred Tampak Siring spring. This 1,000 year old temple has largely been unchanged. The temple houses purification pools for locals who practice Balinese Hinduism. The temple's long rectilinear pools are carved out of stone, and feature fountainheads that fill the pools with the holy spring water. Worshippers first make an offering in the inner-court temple, then climb into the main pool to bathe, pray, and collect the water in bottles to take home. The water is believed to have curative and prosperous powers. I certainly felt refreshed and renewed after taking a dip!Tirta Empul Temple includes the traditional Balinese split gate architecture (photographed below) along with shrines to Shiva, Vishnu, Braham, Bali's Mt. Batur, and Indra. On the grounds is a large community pavilion, where you will see many families and tourist relaxing and taking in this wonderful site.Tirta Empul is located in the village of Tampak Siring, you can drive independently via google maps (as I did) or have your hotel's concierge arrange transportation. The drive is spectacularly scenic, you will cross narrow bridges, see verdant junglescapes and paddy fields, venture through tiny villages, and come across hundreds of ancient temples along the winding road. The drive is 30 minutes from Ubud.
Mount Batur Sunrise Trekking
Yes, this is hard work ; Especially trekking at 3 AM in the morning and all I can say is , IT IS WORTH IT!. I packed like a girl with flip flops and no sports shoes and I still managed to trek in the loose volcanic sand and stones for around 1.5 hours to 2 hours. I could see people flashing their torch light at my silver shiny disco flats as they panted and overtook me. But meh, same destination. I met them all up there and saw the same sunrise they did. Raw beauty of nature intimidates me and that is what happened there. Just staring straight ahead while the sun was rising was all I needed to be at peace with myself for rest of my trip. Please pack proper shoes and a nice light jacket to face the chilly wind up there, unlike me.
Along the eastern side lies the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali: Pura Besakih. This over a thousand year’s old temple is also known as "Mother Temple of Bali". Located 1000 meters high on the slopes of the volcano Mt. Agung it is an extensive complex of 23 separate but related temples.
Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple
En-route, we visited Gunung Kawi and Tirtha Empul. Gunung Kawi is a temple complex, where 10-rock cut shrines have been carved into around 23ft of cliff face. There are five temples on the east side, which belong to King Udayana, his wife and three sons. On the west side, there are similar temples that belong to the king’s minor queens.
Pura Tirta Empul
The Tirta Empul Temple holds a very prominent place in the lives of the Balinese. The water from its springs are believed to cure diseases and deliver men and women from the sins of this life. Important rituals related to birth and death are observed in its ponds, giving it the name – Ganges of Bali.
I arrived in Bali two days prior to my stay at the Umajati Retreat, wanting to see the island on my own terms, I decided to rent a scooter. After all, this was my very first solo travel experience. I'm so happy I opted for this mode of transportation, it felt so freeing to just drive wherever I chose to. No schedule...no worries. Just me...Bali...and my bike.The drive to the Umajati Retreat was pure magic, zigzagging through tiny backstreets, over narrow ravine bridges, and through lush paddy fields, I couldn't have painted a more scenic route. The closer I got to the retreat, the more pronounced its signature terra cotta roofs rose from a sea of greenery. Stepping onto the retreats grounds, I was equally enamored. I meandered through the coconut grove entry path, filled with spectacular blooming orchids of varieties I had never seen. Waiting to welcome me at the paths end were proprietors, Jean Howe & William Ingram (Made Pung 3rd founder). They are the kind of people you want to sit with, have some tea, talk of distant places, rich cultures, and stories of their well-traveled lives. Jean and William are apart of Umajati’s authentic soul; this wonderful environment they’ve painstakingly crafted is a true gift to experience.
Telaga Waja Bali Rafting
If you are looking for a little adventure in Bali, you gotta try the White Water Rafting. If you are hiring a private driver, see if he has any recommendation. Most of the drivers will be able to offer you a special rate as they have a contacts with the operators. If you have a waterproof bag, you may bring it along because there are rest stops along the way where you can snap pictures! When rafting, please DO NOT go barefooted. It is highly advisable to rent their sanders. I went barefooted because based on my past experience white water rafting was safe. However, my raft flipped twice in the river and I was unfortunate to have drifted a couple of metres downstream. As my feet was not protected, I had deep cut which required stitches. So, safety first!
Perhaps, the most popular Balinese dish you could find while in Bali. Babi Guling or suckling pig is cooked with many spices and leaves inside the young pig’s stomach and roasted until the skin turns brown and crisp. Delicious! The most famous shop that serves babi guling would be Ibu Oka in Ubud, Bali
Ayana Resort and Spa
1) Ayana Resort & Spa - Rock Bar. This place will make you happy with its outstanding service, cocktails and the best sunset you can witness in Bali. Make sure you reach there by 4:30pm so you can chill for a bit and enjoy the view. 2) is KuDeTa - again this place has its own charm with beach beds, sitting by the pool or just chill by the bar. 3) Potato Head - This place is a retro styled bar, with cocktails and smoothies, you can enjoy the ambience and some quick bites.Well, Bali has a slow paed life, not much chaos around you, lets you unwind, soak up the sun by the beach, and relish those well known cocktails. But for those poor non-vegetarian people out their make sure you mention you do not prefer any pork or beef by the side in your dish, provided you are ready to try some novelty.
RESTAURANT: Mozaic-BaliSIGNATURE DISH: Shaved Fennel with Kaffir Lime American Chef Chris Salan trained in Cordon Bleu and worked in Michelin star restaurants of Paris and New York, before publishing several cookbooks that have been widely received. His restaurant, Mosaic, has won prestigious awards, including the Best Asian restaurant in the World Gourmet Summit, 2015. He is also a jury member of Top Chef Indonesia.The Philippines
This is an impressive looking temple, and if you like temples, this is a must see. Though, as you approach, you will be approached by locals who wish to offer you their services as a tour guide. These people will invariably say that they cannot ask for payment, as they are a Hindu, but that you can make an offering to them, depending on how well you consider their tour guiding to be. Personally, I prefer an upfront price (something you can negotiate with), rather than this pseudo-modesty. Also, these guys in reality, know little about the Temple. So, don’t expect too much. If you do accept their offer, say 20,000 rupiah ($2) is an acceptable sum, though they will tell you that the previous visitors paid them $10 (or $20, or whatever).
Hanging Gardens Ubud
Imagine waking up to clouds drifting past your villa . . . you're so close you can almost touch the sky. Now sit a while and have some mint tea; take in the panoramas of verdant jungles shrouded in mystique. This sensory wonderland, the Hanging Gardens Ubud Hotel, will remind you just how beautiful life truly is.Imagine waking up to clouds drifting past your villa . . . you're so close you can almost touch the sky. Now sit a while and have some mint tea; take in the panoramas of verdant jungles shrouded in mystique. This sensory wonderland, the Hanging Gardens Ubud Hotel, will remind you just how beautiful life truly is. Nestled deep in the heart of Ubud's rich rainforest preserve, this enchanting five star boutique hotel, designed in complete harmony with nature, has 38 individual villas. Each villa has a striking thatched roof, enhanced by its own luxurious granite infinity pool, rippling into the jungle below.The hotel is located on 3.2 hectares of land situated near Payangan, a village North of Ubud, surrounded by ancient trees, steep terraced gardens and jungle forest. The hotel is adjacent to layered rice terraces with sweeping views across the Ayung River gorge to the ancient Pura Penataran Dalem Segara temple. Over 700 local craftsmen lovingly built Hanging Gardens Ubud, sourcing traditional materials, utilising existing resources and adapting indigenous ideas. An abundance of bamboo was used in the building of the hotel, not just for construction and scaffolding but also planted in the landscape as shade protection from the sun. Traditional belief holds that being in a bamboo grove – the favourite dwelling place of Buddha – restores emotional calm and stimulates creativity.The hotel is most famous for its infinity edge pool.
Bugoharjo House Umajati Retreat
I stayed in the Bugoharjo House, it's a wonderful open-plan villa that sleeps three persons. It includes a master bedroom, spacious living area, kitchen, two full baths, and a lovely Balinese teak day bed to accommodate a third guest. The living room has a wall of wooden sliding glass doors that open onto a wrap around veranda; this design creates a calming indoor-outdoor atmosphere. The Bugoharjo House also has its own private garden space that features a bamboo waterspout, a lotus pond, and a relaxation pavilion at the jungles edge. There is a shared 15-meter lap pool at the center of the property.The slightly larger Wates Bangbau House is surrounded on two sides by rice fields. It has two air-conditioned bedrooms, an expansive living area, a kitchen, two full baths, and can accommodate up to 5 people. Like the Bugoharjo House, it features wooden sliding glass doors that partially open the entire living space onto a private garden and a wide wrap-around veranda. I highly recommend the Umajati Retreat to anyone visiting Bali; it is so much more than a vacation villa. Not only is your stay a sustainable option for the perseverance of the earth, it is a conscious charitable effort that helps sustain the livelihood of so many Indonesians. When you close your eyes here, you know you are in the right place.
We stayed at Villa Sanggingan on Jalan Sanggingan and it was fantastic. The staff is incredible. Located near the Alberto Blanco museum where we went in 2008 with Dov Fraser for the Ubud Writers Festival, this area is removed from the main tourist strip. The hotel is available on Asiarooms.com, Booking.com and Agoda.com. We stayed five nights and ate at several great warungs, including the famous N as well as Fuzion Café on Jalan Lungsiakan, which felt like dining in a rice field. I thought the décor was charming; this is one of the original hotels in the area and along with the Neka Art Museum, has been there more than twenty years. Bagus (Good) Laundry was great, too. I have to admit clean clothes, fresh from the laundry, are one of my favorite things!
Bali Silent Retreat
This is said to be a 5 star ashram 37 km away with cosy simple rooms and jungle view. You will be deep in the womb of nature. Any direction you go you will be pulled closer to Mother Nature. The property is on working farms and so you’ll be surrounded by buzzing bees, enormous flowers, extensive rice paddies, and fresh herbs and passion fruit vines. The food served here is fresh and delicious. Soak in the panorama of mountains and fields. Something you don’t get to see in your concrete jungles. Visit this place if you are ready for days with no phones, no gadgets, no talking.
It is really easy to find the location of Kecak dance performance in Ubud. You can find it in the Dalem Temple at Ubud Road or in Puri Agung Saren. In Puri Agung Saren, you can also watch Legong dance performance. Besides of them, you can also watch shadow plays and other performances while in Ubud. Make sure to prepare a ticket to watch the Kecak dance.LEARNING TO COOK BALINESE CUISINEMost of all restaurants and hotels in Ubud open cooking classes for the tourists who come. Various menus of Balinese cuisine are available for you to choose, such as satay, lawar or other Indonesian food like mixed vegetables with the peanut sauce, fried rice or yellow rice. If you want to try typical Balinese culinary classes, you can go to Paon Bali in Laplapan who have cooking classes at home. You can also go to Casa Luna restaurant which is famous for its cooking classes as it is the first restaurant that open a cooking class in Ubud. The cooking classes usually started in the morning and all the participants will be taken to a traditional market to buy and choose the ingredients that they will use to cook later.EXPLORING THE CULINARY OF UBUDWhen you come to Ubud, you have to try the local culinary. If you are interested in the typical culinary of Ubud and Bali, you should try the roast pork of Madam Oka which is located next to Ubud Temple, Ubud Bengil duck, chicken rice kedewatan Madam Mangku, or Betutu chicken at Murni restaurant.Ubud is a tourist area that has been established since before the independence of Indonesia, so various food of Indonesia and also international cuisine can be found here. You can also try Asian cuisine, European cuisine and American cuisine here such as Italian gelato, Japanese traditional cuisine, Mexican taco and burrito and French cuisine. You just have to choose a menu that fits with your taste.TRYING TRADITIONAL MEDICATION OF KETUT LIYERFor a long time, local people in Ubud has been used traditional medications using natural ingredients to cure the sick people. Spas and wellness in Ubud are growing rapidly in order to pamper the tourists who come. The traditional medication is just like a spa, using massage therapy and spiritual meditation. The Balinese people called the traditional “doctor” as Balian.Balian Ketut Liyer is a medicine man that became famous after his appearance in the novel and movie Eat, Pray, Love which do therapy with some meditation approaches. As the most Balian in Ubud is Ketut Arsana. He has given medications with massage therapy and herbal medicine for about 25 years.RAFTING ON AYUNG RIVER
The Yoga Barn
Ubud is identical with yoga. People from all around the world come to Ubud to learn yoga, from professionals to beginners. The quiet and cozy atmosphere is the best place for doing yoga. You can do yoga while enjoying the view of green rice fields, parks, rivers and the fresh clean air. Some hotels in Ubud also provide yoga facilities.One of the most famous places in Ubud to do yoga is Yoga Barn which is located in Hanoman Road. There are various classes that you can choose while enjoying the sight of Ubud.WATCH KECAK API DANCE AT NIGHTIf you come to Ubud, make sure that you go watching the performance of Kecak api dance. Kecak dance is one of the attractions of the Gods Island. Cak.. Cak.. Cak..! That is such a distinctive sounds that come from the Kecak dancers. Kecak dance is usually done at night starting at 7 pm. The total numbers of the dancers are 50 to 70 dancers and all the dancers are males. Kecak is a Hindu sacred dance as many dancers are unconscious while dancing on stage.
This is a 15th century set of rock carvings, which can be reached on foot from the town, though it is a few kilometres. From the entrance, a long walk down, on sometimes broken steps, there and back is maybe 4kms. During my visit in January 2014 I was surprised by the absence of vendors, also by the lack of other visitors. This is not on the tourist trail.At the end of your mini-trek you will seen a ~50 metre long line of rock carvings on your left. These depict scenes from every day life, in the good old days. The carvings are worn, but clearly discernable. The principal feature is a statue of the Hindu god Ganesh. If you wish, you can make (after buying from a little old lady nearby) an offering here.Near the entrance is a good, small restaurant, the Yeh Pulu Cafe. Owned and managed by an enterprising Balinese woman. Both Yeh Pulu and the restaurant are recommended.
"So this is the place I should have been for the last two months", was my first thought as I wound my way through a sexily curved hill. Padang Bai is a small, annexed fishing village with a little bay, a secret white sand beach (that's the beach's actual name) a few warungs and guest houses and some deep emerald hills directly behind. Despite its' fishy orientation there's a freshness there that is missing in South Bali. It's the lack of bike fumes and rubbish. Most people pass through on their way to get their rocks off on Gilli-T. Big mistake, this place gets my vibe.
Agung Rai Museum Of Art
Nothing like a dimly lit lily pond to soothe the nerves. At a uniquely tradition-steeped resort called ARMA, short for Agung Rai Museum of Art. Legong dance lessons in progress at ARMA. Legong is a refined dance form characterized by intricate finger movements, complicated footwork, expressive gestures and facial expressions. Way more co-ordination than I can ever handle, while these graceful six-year-olds seem born into it. In the spirit of preserving culture, free lessons were on offer in the lobby of the museum.
Ubud is 40 km from Batur and is said to be a cultural capital of Bali. Ubud enjoys cooler temperatures than the coast. It once served as the major source of medicinal herbs and the healing tradition in still deeply ingrained in the people here. If you are looking for beads, Buddha, barong and Balinese traditional carvings, silver jewelry, pearls, handmade leather bags, Batik scarves and pashminas, Jalan Raya Ubud is the place for you. You will get some of the best deals here. The culturally rich vibe of this area is waiting to entrap you. The traditional market is from 5am until 9am. Spend some time relaxing at Bali Botanical Day Spa with a range of revitalizing treats. At night retreat to Oka Wati’s Homestay which has been sheltering tourists since 1980. Once you are here, you know you are in the right place away from all the noise. Spend a quiet night here in the middle of Ubud in the rustic charm of this house.
Teba Sari Bali Agrotourism
This is a luwak coffee plantation. If you do not know what's luwak coffee, google it! Really informative short tour where you will get to see the plantation on what they farm. After the short tour, they will introduce to you luwak coffee and the process as to how the coffee beans are harvested. Following which, there will be various coffee and tea tasting free of charge. A whole lot of variety for you to choose and most importantly, no obligation to purchase and no hard selling.
Jati Home Stay
Jati Homestay is right in the middle of Ubud. Almost all the places are just walking distance from this location. The people there are very friendly and everyday along with breakfast, the owner will come and sit with us and help us with our itinerary. They even arranged cars for us to go to Mount Batur Sunrise Trek and gave us tickets for the Kecak dance, all at the bare minimum expense.
This is an art gallery, which exhibits paintings of naked and topless Balinese women from a half century ago. Great. It is also a restaurant, cultural centre (Balinese dance), and is based around the work of the late Spanish artist Don Antonia Blanco. This guy arrived in Bali back in the 50s (Franco’s Spain), was given land by the local King, and proceeded to spend his life painting nude Balinese women. Now his home is a gallery. His paintings are certainly worth a visit, he could wield a brush, but no photography allowed.
Fivelements Puri Ahimsa
It was the midnight hour, the air was balmy, and a gentle breeze lapped by. You could hear the powerful sound of water all around and smell the distinct scent of dew forming over river rock and moss. Nature ruled this mystical world. I stepped forward onto a meandering path, it led to a dimly lit bamboo pavilion. I paused and drifted into thought, "Where am I, is this really happening?" Back to the present moment, I was at Fivelements Puri Ahimsa, a holistic wellness retreat that aims to share the Balinese way of life, nurturing a greater harmony with spirit, the environment, and one another. Fivelements is located in Mambal, a story-book village twenty minutes outside of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Lake Beratan Temple Tour
When we arrived at Lake Beratan at the top of the mountain we were quite hungry. We parked on the edge of the lake and umm and ahh'd over which Muslim bakso stall to eat at. We spent the equivalent of 50p on our lunches of bakso soup and nasi goreng, and once full we ventured to the botanical gardens and Pura Ulun Danu Beratan. The temple rests on a platform that protrudes in to the vast lake, clouds fringed the surrounding hills and we were shrouded in a protective grey fluff that began to quickly descend towards us like a mother intent on swaddling her toddlers from a bath. We were overcome with a highly meditative feeling of peace and safety, however the threat of rain in those grey comforting pillows and the coming night, take us away to find our bed, and some beers beforehand. The journey back saw us enjoy the great curving bends of the mountain road in the precipitous mountain air, while we saw the same bikes over take us and drop back over and over. Tired, smelling like road, the setting sun got into our eyes. We high-five'd children leaning out of a slow moving truck which which passed in the opposite direction.