One of the most visited areas of Bali (destination overview here) is Ubud and most visitors see it on a day trip from South Bali to take a look at the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, the palace, art museum or many stores, galleries and markets. And while that makes for a nice day, it is still unfortunate, because you will miss what is really special about Ubud – and that’s best explored with an overnight stay!
When you walk down the streets of Ubud, they don’t seem that different from other tourist areas on Bali – lots of hotels, restaurants and stores. Maybe more galleries and art stores instead of t-shirt stands. But things change, a lot, the moment you walk down a little alley between two houses or just enter one of the hotels or restaurants away from the street: The old Bali with its rice paddies and forrests is just a few steps from the hustle and bustle of the busy tourist town! We had snacks and drinks at sunset on a little restaurant of one of the main streets of Ubud – and it’s back patio faces some rice fields! We are watching the sun set while local farmers were harvesting the rice!
A short walk from the busy palace and art museum, you can find a beautiful walkway along the ridge of a hillside with views of the fields and forest, peaceful and calm. Or a little path through the rice paddies, after passing through would looks like somebody’s driveway! You can have all the convenience of a modern tourist destination – and within minutes you can transport (as in walk!) to a whole different world where you can walk through nature or sit in a little hut contemplating life or reading a book in complete peace without hardly a person in sight! When I came back to Ubud after 15 years, I was shocked by all the development, the busy streets and the number of tourists, yet here it was, the Bali and Ubud I remembered from many years ago! You can still find a sense of serenity, peace and quiet that has become so rare in today’s world!
Combine the peace and quiet with a nice hotel and Ubud can be a great romantic getaway – having a private pool villa with a view of forrest or rice fields and some of the friendliest service on Earth will make for a great honeymoon!
And, if you have settled in for a longer stay, like many visitors and expats have, there are plenty of activities to try out: You can indulge in massages or other treatments at the countless spas all over town, starting from $5 for an hour massage to treatments in a private, open air villa in the forrest. You can go to yoga or meditation sessions. Or indulge in food at the restaurants serving great food from allover the world – or learn how to cook it in classes offered at some of the restaurants! And of course there is shopping: From the endless t-shirt and souvenir shops to the art galleries Ubud is well know for! Ubud has been voted as one of the top 10 places “to get stuck in” and it’s easy to see why: life is relaxed here and it can be inexpensive!
If you have cultural endeavors in mind, there are multiple art museums in town, including the very nice Museum Puri Lukisan, as well as the old palace. You can also go to one of the many dance shows offered every evening from various troupes of different styles and skills! We watched the Sadha Budaya Troupe at the Ubud Palace, an interesting show in a beautiful setting.
So, if you are planning a trip to Bali, you should make an overnight stay in Ubud part of your journey. And if your trip is a romantic getaway, I’d suggest to make the highlight a luxurious stay in Ubud – I’m sure you won’t regret it and will return home more relaxed and recovered than usual!