Last May, I made my first international trip abroad to Bali, Indonesia. For the most part I was based in a village central to the Ubud region of the island and as such have pulled together a couple of activity highlights from my visit. Enjoy.
Ubud Art Market is based in central Ubud. The entrance can be found just off the corner, opposite the palace. The market is open daily between the hours of 8am – 5pm. Here you will find a maze of streets, littered with colourful umbrella stalls. Each stall holder will vie for your attention, pushing their products over those of their fellow traders. You’ll find they flaunt the likes of silk scarves, wooden ornaments, crocheted blankets and hand-painted goods.
Handy Tip: Be prepared to haggle and browse around before purchasing. It’s also a good idea to set a rough budget before visiting, avoid an overweight case when returning home.
Ubud Palace is free to visit and is slap bang in the middle of the town. There are several temples that run alongside each other, however some are private and for local use only. The palace can be found on the same side of the main road through. When we visited there was a steady stream of visitors from all round the globe (including a couple of large groups) so be prepared to wait your turn for photographs. Whilst the day sees the grounds fill with curious tourists milling around, the evening brings a change in atmosphere. The palace regularly hosts cultural dance performances., tickets for which can usually be bought on the door.
Handy Tip: The majority of central Ubud is exposed to the intense heat of the sun, as is the palace, it should go without saying, but remember to apply sun-spray regularly.
Perhaps the most infamous attraction of the Ubud region, is the Sacred Monkey Forest. Wander off along the backstreets and you’ll find yourself fronted by a large stone monkey, signalling to the vast tropical forest behind. If walking from town it can take some time to find, it took us several wrong turnings and in the end we succumbed to allowing a local taxi to take us. Home to several hundred monkeys, you can enjoy walks around the ancient ruins which house these playful primates.
Handy Tip: Keep all belongings secure! The monkeys are notorious for nicking everything from phones and cameras to wicker hats and wallets, I was lucky to lose only a water bottle at the end.
Teba Sari Bali is an agricultural plantation, which houses every export, from herbal remedies and spices to cocoa and coffee. After a brief but informative tour of the rich plantation, we were shown the sleeping Luwaks, who are known to poop the best coffee around. After we were seating and served an opulent selection of sample teas and coffee available on site. Needless to say we took our time and enjoyed the wonderful array on our taste buds. The menu items are available to purchase.
Handy Tip: Ask questions about the crops and their produce, your guide will be happy to answer your questions as they appear to take great pride in their produce.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces offer up what is quintessentially thought of Bali, aside from its beaches. The vast spread of faming land can be accessed down stone steps leading from the main through road. Along this stretch you with also find the village of Pakudui, where local craftsmen and woman showcase their handmade wares, whether it be wood carvings, art or needlework. However the rice fields are a great sight to behold and are worth venturing through if you’re prepared to pay a little.
Handy Tip: Local who live on the land may ask for a passing fee across several points, most notably at the small passing of a small footbridge. They are hard to haggle with and you will end inevitably pay to explore the fields regardless.
Ubud’s position couldn’t be more ideal, as with little effort you can soon escape the bustling streets and change the tempo to a more rural affair. Bali is home to many waterfalls, Tegenungan Waterfall, is a short drive out of central Ubud and is frequently visited by tourists to the area. However there are over a hundred precarious steps down, in order to reach the clear-water pool, so allow time to climb after your swim. Nothing feels more adventurous and exotic than swimming under the tropics.
Handy Tip: Ensure you keep your valuables safe! Wear trousers with zipped pockets or bring a lock and attach a key on to a bracelet.
The Hindu Holy Water Temple, is located deep in a valley within the greater Ubud region. The site is a place from which to purify yourself from bad influences. There are several fountains from which you can bathe under, and serve as a means of spiritual cleansing. The rural surroundings and good-meaning of the place help to restore a natural calmness too.
Handy Tip: They are strict about dress code when bathing by the holy water, so ensure to check your wardrobe before arrival, or face paying out to rent an appropriate sarong.