I was in Ubud, Bali last week and fell in love with the vibe, as my originally planned 7-day trip extended into a worthwhile 20-day affordable holiday. I found Ubud's atmosphere to be very relaxed, free flowing and also really fertile for new ideas, new directions - it was almost magical. Easy roads, rice fields, surrounding rural life, a single supermarket, as well as great places to eat and an eclectic mix of locals and expats who made it their home after only coming for a holiday. The atmosphere is quite electric, overall.
Do note that It is not a great place for party goers, but instead has a far more relaxed and nourishing vibe. So if you are looking for the perfect Bali honeymoon, or simply for some TLC with your partner, or even just by yourself, then travelling to Ubud is the ideal option!
Here is a list of top things to do in Ubud that I really enjoyed:
Hire a bike to move around: Biking around the many roads flanked by rice fields is an Ubud classic. It's very Eat Pray Love, although the midday sun is not very kind. Most people try a day on the cycle, and then move on to motorbikes - a more practical solution. I loved it, especially because it allows you to be independent as you can take your bike everywhere. Meet your friends, do a friendly race, reach your venue, struggle to find a spot to park, et cetera - very Ubudian problems.
Do a yoga/meditation class: Ubud is a hub for wellness, so one can easily enrol for weekly yoga classes at the more popular hubs like Yoga barn or Radiantly Alive, or even sign up for daily à la carte classes. Ubud Yoga House also offers classes. If you are looking for something in your neighbourhood, fret not! Many cafés host classes in the mornings, so you can also sign up then.
Credits: Akasha Yoga Academy
Walk in rice fields: For a good hike, you can ride to the Tegalalang rice fields located only 30 mins away from Ubud. This UNESCO Heritage site provides for terrific hiking trails. However, if you choose to stay a little away from the center of Ubud, then in all probabilities you will pass by rice fields every day on your way back home. I actually highly recommend staying away from the center , as the traffic situation is quite tough and you will be surrounded by plenty of tourist shops. Compare that to the call of cicadas, having fireflies as companions in the night and eating your breakfast with butterflies flittering around you. #truestory
Chow down on organic fare: The spread of organic food is phenomenal in this town. Apart from that, they have excellent vegetarian and vegan fare. Food so good and healthy, your skin will show it in just a few days!
Detox with yoga, organic food and healing techniques: Ubud is a sublime place for a detox. It allows the perfect relief from your thoughts, your consumption patterns and an excess of anything unwanted. Massages are a great way for taking it easy, and smoothies and salads make for a great diet to cleanse the body. Alchemy is a great spot for your detox schedule. Waking up to yoga and meditation rituals is a glorious way to also recover from the stress of the outside world. It worked wonders for us, and I strongly recommend you to try it too.
Credits: Akasha Yoga Academy
Attend a reggae night: Nightclubs are rare in this island. Although, if you are looking for a boozy night post 11 pm, you have to head to the infamous CP Lounge J. But, if you have planned your night out a little earlier, then you could head to any of the Reggae nights hosted in a few spots near the Monkey Forest; sit in for an impromptu reggae night, get some beers, dance a bit and eat a late dinner.
Weekend in Gili Air: When the weekend arrives, you have great beach options to escape to. If you don't want to do islands, then beach towns nearby like Sanur, Jimbaran, Uluwatu are a great bet to dance the night away. However, if you are looking to explore some islands, Gili is waiting for you. A trio of such magnificence, it will spellbind you; Gili Trawangan is for the parties, Gili Meno is for romance and Gili Air is for the quintessential beach experience. White sands, aquamarine seas, restaurants facing the sea, movie screenings, live bands, snorkeling adventures in the morning, and so much more. It's hard to miss and it's easy to get there too; only a bus ride and boat ride away. So, even Ubud weekends are awesome!
Co-working spaces: Ubud is not just healing and great food. It's turning out to be quite a hub for digital nomads with beautiful co-working spaces like Hubud, Outpost, and The onion collective. One can pay for desks by the day or even buy a monthly membership. It's quite a cool space to be, as you work in synergy with different people from all over the world, and even get to meet really interesting people. It's an experience in itself.
Temple ceremonies: Kecak dances are delightful and so are the Barong dances. They are colorful and dramatic with splendid pounding beats. Having said that, if you know a local who knows a local, who can get you into the temple during one of the night ceremonies, every hour spent fighting sleep will definitely be worth it! Bali is a Hindu island and there are many ceremonies that one can attend with a local, like dramatic re-enactments from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The ceremonies can be held anytime, once in 6 months to once in 100 years, hence it's all a matter of chance to witness one when you happen to be there.
Movie screening: Relish Ubud's indie-cinema while munching on some popcorn or a full-fledged meal. You can catch these screenings at Black Beach Café, or Paradiso Ubud, located beside the amazing Earth Café. I watched a movie called Minds of the Water and later, over a glass of wine and cheese popcorn, enjoyed the journey of a freestyle surfer who was responsible for making the waters safer for dolphins and whales. This was a very intense experience and a unique highlight of my stay.
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