In today’s article, we’ll follow Julia’s Robert footsteps and we’ll lose ourselves in the coolness of the Balinese jungle, more precisely, in the enchanting Ubud, Bali. We’re crossing 14 small villages and we’re playing with monkeys, visiting temples, stepping through rice crops, harmonizing with locals and admiring traditional dances and art objects. Why leave the coast of the island and take refuge in the tranquility of the Ubud’s green paths? Because here you will discover a different Bali, more authentic, more beautiful, and more rooted than any other corner of the island.
I spent 6 sunny, challenging and extremely quiet and relaxing days here. Ubud is indeed that Bali we are all looking for because the island of over 1,000 temples does not necessarily excel at beaches and waves, but it does a great job when it comes to inner peace, meditation, and a strong enlightenment, and Ubud Bali is the core of these things. After the 6 days spent here, I drew up a list of 13 things I did and I recommend + one that I will do when I return to these lands.
1.Experience a “no roof” shower
The usual shower is overrated, let’s get along, especially if you’ve “fled” in the midst of the Balinese jungle, where the sun shines joyfully through the palm leaves, and where you hear, from time to time, the scream of a playful monkey. And how would you be enjoying such a view while you are both under the blue sky and under a refreshing water jet, both at the same time? I’ll tell you. Even if you are a bashful person and at first you will look at the idea with some skepticism, once you embrace the experience, you will realize that you have always needed a shower without a roof over your head, so that nature is can be as close as possible to you. Regarding the shame, do not worry! Even if you are not staying alone in a bungalow, enjoying maximum privacy, the surrounding walls will be tall enough to keep away the curious eager to look at your nudity. Conclusion: I recommend!
2. Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest
For me, Ubud means Monkey Forest. I’m so fascinated by the little primates, that I took care to find accommodation very close to them, so I have the chance to see them every day of the week spent in Ubud. About Sacred Monkey Forest I will talk extensively in a future article, but as a general idea, you have to know that the monkey habitat here is very beautiful and stretches over a large area of 12 hectares, enough space for all over the 700 individuals. Although seemingly very friendly and playful, the monkeys can become dangerous if your gestures seem to be a bit suspicious or if you have sight of objects they value. Yes, Ali Baba and the 40 thieves would be envious. These are not stories, legends, or rumors, I even witnessed some of their robberies. In order not to miss the chance to take a selfie with them, I recommend that you have a few bananas and hold the phone very tightly in your hand.
Entrance costs 50 000 IDR ($4) for adults and 40 000 IDR ($3) for children, and the visit is daily from 8:30 to 6 pm.
3. Visit Ubud Palace
About Ubud Palace, I told you in a previous article. If you missed it, you can find it here. I included it in the top five my favorite Bali temples and this is because it is the official residence of the royal family, the last descendants still living there. In addition, it is almost impossible to miss it if you are in Ubud, especially because it is strategically positioned at the intersection of two major boulevards, Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Raya Ubud. On the list of advantages comes also the clothing that is not compulsory, but also the lack of a visiting fee. Therefore, go for it!
4. Try the coconut pancakes
I can not say with certainty whether or not this is a traditional culinary experience on the island, but they really impressed me. I think the food should be tasty, but also look very good, and the coconut pancakes checked both criteria. You’ll probably see them in most of Bali’s restaurants, but if you want to make sure, you can find them 100% on the breakfast menu at Putri Ayu Hotel in Ubud. A delight 🙂
5. Get in touch with the locals and find their stories
The basic rule of every trip is to go into the world of locals because that’s how you really feel the destination and only so you will discover the really special things about that place. Obviously, the rule has also been applied in Bali. I learned the life stories of Uber drivers, I talked with the most famous figure of the Tegallalang rice fields and I found out, with a huge surprise, that we were staying at the Ketut Liyer Hotel, the traditional Balinese doctor in Eat. Pray. Love, who, unfortunately, passed away in 2016, and his business is now taken over by his son.
6.Swim in an infinity pool with a gorgeous view of the jungle
Just as in the case of the shower under the open sky, swimming in the infinity pool is also a must do in the Balinese jungle. Fortunately, Bali does not lack such pools, some of them at very high standards, such as Hanging Gardens Of Bali. There are, however, more reasonable pricing options for more normal budgets, especially as Hanging Gardens is no longer available to visitors, but is reserved exclusively for those staying there. Why do I recommend the infinity pool especially in Bali? Because such a pool pattern is designed to facilitate visual access to its surroundings, and on the famous Indonesian island you will have dreamy views at almost every step.
7. Go to a massage session
Do you have cramps or you feel tense? are you exhausted after a day of shopping on the crowded streets of the island? Do you feel your muscles are blocked or you just need a dose of instant relaxation? Well, Balinese massage is the solution to your problems. I know it sounds like a cheap commercial, but you have to believe me when I tell you that I have never had such a massage in my life, very rough and satisfying at the same time. It’s right, I was kind of out of my comfort zone during the session, but after an hour of intense massaging, I was ready to … sleep.
There are many places where you can have a massage in Bali, and you will find them very quickly, given that every 5 steps you will hear the question “Massaji?” from the mouths of a group of at least 4 masseuses strategically positioned at the entrance of their spa. I was at Putri Ubud Spa and I chose a traditional massage, Exotic Bali Massage, which lasted 60 minutes and costed120,000 IDR (~ 35 LEI).
There are also some more sophisticated variants. For example, the spa where I went, had a massage for 2 people, foot massage, hot stone massage, pregnancy massage, anti-cellulite, and others with names too hard to pronounce or type.
8.Explore the streets and admire the artwork
If it is not yet clear enough from the previous articles, then I feel the need to insist on this matter. Bali, in my opinion, is the king of wood decorations and other solid and less solid materials. Art objects are so beautiful and so numerous that you will feel that every person on the island is born talented and contributes to the artistic development of the territory. If I had not been restricted by the size and weight of my luggage, I would probably have taken countless items.
However, because we live in a world of well-established rules, I had to be satisfied with just one spectacular dream catcher, some soaps with charming aromas and very atypical shapes, and some clothes. It is good to know that when you go shopping you have to have a little bargaining training and in order to acquire it, you have to take the market pulse, get to know the merchandise well, and talk to the sellers. When you feel safe enough about yourself, and you are sure you are giving the right price and you can convince merchants to give you that value, then you are really prepared to shop on the streets of Ubud, or Kuta.
Adrenaline, lots of fun, water, spectacular landscapes, waves of laughter. These are the words that would best describe the entire experience. For me, it was the first time I did rafting, but certainly not the last one. I enjoyed absolutely everything from organization, safety, the staff that dealt with us, and that was very entertaining, to the river itself, the superb waterfalls, and the lush forests that I had the opportunity to admire on the route, inside our inflatable boat.
The tour includes transfer from and back to the hotel, safety equipment, insurance, plenty of good food, and towels to use for a shower after the jungle adventure. You just have to make sure you’re dressed in comfortable clothes, preferably a swimsuit, and that you have a decent physical condition to help your team ride the boat and climb the stairs to the bad in time useful and fainting at the end. And, of course, good mood.
The price for this experience differs depending on how good a negotiator you are. We gave $35 per person, although the price we were first asked was almost double. I think it’s time for me to open a business.
10. Enjoy traditional food
Not only in Ubud but here also, you have to enjoy traditional Indonesian food. Whether you choose Sate, Nasi Ayam, Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Tahu or Lawar, I recommend you try them all, or at least as many as you can during the time spent on the island. Once back in your native lands, I guarantee that you will miss them. And as an extra argument, you should know that Bali food starts at very low prices, especially if you buy it from street vendors. However, it’s good to look at where you buy it and make sure it complies with hygiene standards.
11.Visit Ubud Traditional Art Market
Ubud Traditional Art Market is the perfect place to buy souvenirs for you and your loved ones. You will find many kitsches, but also very interesting and tasteful items that can be placed on your fridge or on the living room table. The sculptures of wood, especially the important goddesses of Balinese Hinduism, and the very colorful and joyful paintings have impressed me. But beware! Many tourists are misled and believe that silver in Bali is extremely cheap. It may be true, but the market in Ubud proved me the opposite. A salesman tried to persuade me to buy some very beautiful earrings that looked like silver and for which he guaranteed this, but after a long dialogue and a few controversies, he finally admitted that it is not really silver and was willing to sell them at a price that was 10 times lower than originally demanded. So pay attention to the authenticity of the things that you put your eyes on.
12.Admire Tengenungan Waterfall
Although it is one of the most stormed tourist spots in Bali, the Tengenungan Falls deserve your time and effort. It is an impressive waterfall of 25 meters high, located on the Petanu river, at the base of which forms a small natural swimming pool, where tourists love to swim. The waterfall can be seen both at its base and at the top. The panorama is sensational, so I advise you to not forget your camera at home because you will regret it. After you have enjoyed it nearby, I recommend you to climb the stairs and go to one of the restaurants overlooking it. You will have beautiful memories, I promise! But why promise when the photos can support my words?
13.Explore the Tegallalang rice terraces
After the Monkey Forest, the famous rice terraces were on 2nd place on my bucket list, carefully planned for Ubud. Just a half-hour drive by car or scooter, if you prefer, you’ll be overlooking a landscape similar to the photos in National Geographic magazine. I admit I was deeply impressed by rice fields since I saw them in photos, but reality has once again proven to me that nature can exceed your expectations anytime. For Tegallalang, you will have to spend at least 2.3 hours because the route is long and quite exhausting. Furthermore, be prepared for some modest “donations” that will be required by locals along the route. You may choose not to pay, of course, but some of them have a dubious reaction to the tourists’ refusal to pay for the “donation.”
14. Practice Yoga
I end this article by urging you to do what I regret that I didn’t do in Bali: I didn’t go to yoga. Although it was on my “must do” list, something happened, I don’t know exactly what, causing me to ignore this desire. Or perhaps, I wanted to stay with something unchecked to have a good enough reason to come back. However, if you go to Bali and know that you will not return there too soon, I recommend you to join a yoga class.