Ubud is located 12 miles NE of Kuta, in the district of Gianyar. Driving from Kuta it will take you between 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes to reach Ubud.
Ubud sits centrally among a group of villages. Padang Tegal and Nyuhkuning are to the south, Peliatan and Kutuh are to the east, Campuhan, Penestenan and Sayan are to the west and Sanggingan and Kedewatan are to the NW. Ubud also has a number of rivers flowing through it including the Wos Timur and the Wos Barat.
Downtown Ubud slopes from north to south and is quite easy navigate. Notable landmarks include Monkey Forest in the SW corner, the Ubud Palace on Jl. Raya Ubud and the Art Market, also on Jl. Raya Ubud.
Important people in Ubud history: Rudolf Bonnet:
Rudolf Bonnet was one of Bali’s most influential foreign artists. During his time in Bali, Bonnet was well connected with other leading foreign artists such as Walter Spies, Balinese royalty including Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati and helped to create the Pita Maha Artists Association as well as Museum Puri Lukisan.
Important people in Ubud history: Arie Smit:
Arie Smit is one of Bali’s most well known foreign born artists. Born is Holland in 1916, he became an Indonesian citizen in 1950 and still lives in Bali. Arie Smit’s painting style using oil on canvas, incorportates vivid color and celebrates the colors found in Bali.
Important people in Ubud history: Walter Spies:
German artist Walter Spies was born September 15, 1895 in Moscow. From an early age he had an interest in the arts, including painting, dance and music. Attending university in Dresden, gave Spies the opportunity to interact with musicians and composers, such as Paul Hindemith and Arthur Schnabel, and artists such as Oskar Kokoschka and Otto Dix. The 1920’s saw an influx of foreigners to Bali, including Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward, Vicky Baum, Miguel Covarrubias, Margaret Mead and others. Spies was one of the first, and living in Campuhan close to Ubud.
Important people in Ubud history: Miguel Covarrubias:
Miguel Covarrubias was a Mexican artist and writer, born in 1904, who lived in New York City. He is best known for his artwork and iconography, that shed light on the pre-Colombian art of Mesoamerica. Here in Bali, he is known for writing The Island Of Bali, a work that gives great insight as to the cultural workings of Bali in the 1930’s.
Important people in Ubud history: Ni Wayan Murni:
If you ever go up to Ubud then at one time or another you will hear the name Murni’s mentioned or even see her establishments there. Do yourself a big favour and eat some great Balinese tucker at Murni’s Warung.
Important people in Ubud history: Antonio Blanco:
Bali is an island of artists, or so it might seem at times. One of the famous foreign artists to live in Bali was Antonio Blanco, or ‘the Maestro’ as he liked to be called. His museum in on the edge of Ubud.
Important people in Ubud history: Janet DeNeefe:
Janet DeNeefe, the ‘Queen of Ubud’, as some people have called her, is the owner of Casa Luna and Indus restaurants, author of Fragrant Rice, and creator of the Ubud Readers & Writers Festival. Her connection with Bali goes way back.
•Getting Around Ubud:
Ubud is relatively tranquil place that many visitors to Bali enjoy. The day time scene on Jl. Raya Kuta can get a little hectic, but away from that immediate area and in the evenings, Ubud is peaceful. For people with a car or motorbike, Ubud and the surrounding areas are a joy to behold. Some of the most scenic 1-2 hours drives are in the Ubud area, a couple starting on Jl. Raya Ubud. It is possible to rent cars and motorbikes down town in Ubud, which is not a bad idea. Hiring a car with driver for the day is a good way to go also and ideally sohuld be booked in advance. For people arriving in Ubud by bus and who have no intention of renting a car or motorbike, here are some other transport options.
Ubud has accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, ranging family homestays to 5 Star resorts. Downtown Ubud is the center of the budget accommodation, which is great for people arriving by Perama bus. Perama’s office is located on the bottom end of Jl. Hanoman, putting you very close to accommodation options.
Three budget locations in Ubud include Jl. Hanoman, Jl. Kajeng and Jl. Penestenan, in the west of Ubud. The first two are right downtown, with Jl. Penestenan being suitable for those with some transport.
Central Ubud also has mid-range accommodation such as Nick’s Hidden Cottages, just off of Jl. Raya Ubud for around 250,000rp, with shared pool. The Biyukukung Suites and Spa is another place centrally located, with a relaxing rice-field environment.
There are plenty of budget guesthouses, that are 50,000rp and up. They are not in any hotel booker, don’t expect to see them on any other website in Bali. Most are extensions of a family compound where the family still lives. An excellent way to observe the culture, right from the start of the day when a family member will give offerings and prayers, to the little bits of life that occur like the preparing of traditional food and religious events.
Most of these places offer a basic room with fan, twin or double beds, hot water, breakfast. Being located downtown makes life a lot easier on people without transport. Another thing is that for people on RTW trips who want to relax as well as explore, when you are only paying $6 a day you won’t feel too guilty for not having a productive day.
Staying slightly out of town in Penestenan costs more. People are prepared to pay for that rice field / Bali village feel. There are also some fine hotels in places like Campuhan and Sayan. In fact one of the Best Hotels in the World (the Four Seasons Sayan) according to Travel & Leisure, is only 15 minutes from downtown.
Eating out in Ubud:
Ubud is the kind of place where you can go crazy sampling all the wonderful eating options available. Downtown Ubud, particularly Jl. Raya Ubud, Jl. Hanoman and Jl. Dewi Sita
Cafe Lotus is located in front of the lily pond at Pura Saraswati. A great place for a relaxing drink or late afternoon tea / coffee.
Jl. Raya Ubud
Nomad serves western style food served in decent sized portions for reasonable prices.
Jl. Raya Ubud
New age style coffee shop / cafe in Central Ubud. KAFE is a favourite for expats and tourists.
Jl. Raya Ubud
Cafe Moka is one of 3 branches in Bali, the other 2 in Seminyak and Umalas. Cafe Moka Ubud served great coffee, pastries and sandwiches as well as other French style cuisine.
Warung Nasi Pak Sedan:
Warung Nasi Pak Sedan is a local warung serving the best ayam betutu you’ll find. Go down Jl. Hanoman and round to Pengosekan. Turn left at the petrol station. Warung Nasi Pak Sedan is next door.
Warung Enak serves interesting versions of Indonesian including sate ox tongue. Warung Enak is famous for its Rijtstaffel (rice table).
Suena Handicraft: Carved faces in Tegallalang Bali:
Most of the carvings in Bali, seem to be complete faces / figures, but these ones were carved out of the bark of a tree, which was still visible.
Mustique: Carved bowls in Peliatan Bali:
Peliatan is another Balinese village lined with shops selling similar type goods, this time carved items. Mustique is located along the main street, Jl. Raya Andong.
Gender Mas & Suarti: Ubud Bali:
Gender Mas & Suarti, a shop stocking original work by a selection of artists from all over Bali, including Karangasem.
Celuk in silver capitol of Bali:
The Balinese are renowned for their artistic and craft skills. Celuk, located to the NE of Kuta, on the way to Ubud, is famous for producing silver jewelry.
Horizon Glassworks: Ubud, Bali:
Craftsmen who create pieces of art or jewellery in glass. This entire process of creating glass can be observed at Horizon Glassworks near Ubud.
Putna Sari – Carved jewelry display in Tegallalang Bali:
Tegallalang can be a one-stop-shop place for gifts, to take home. The locals make carved goods, some of which end up in Ubud, some go straight on sale here. Putna Sari is a small shop on the main street, that passes through town.
Jepun Bali: Stoner carver in Sukawati Bali:
Jepun Bali is run by Wayan Sudiana, who chatted to me briefly. Wayan showed me various items he had made, including stone buddhas, intricate wall decoration and coffee tables, statues, and smaller figures.
Ornithologists or just people who enjoy great scenery will love Victor Mason’s Bali Bird Walks. The walks happen on Tues, Fri, Sat, Sun at 9am and are $33 including lunch. Mr. Mason is an expert who will guide you through the Campuhan countryside, spotting many indigenous bird species with the aid of binoculars. Mr. Mason maybe contacted from 8am-4pm (0361)975009 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cultural & ecological walks are provided by Keep Walking Tours (0361)970992, located on Jl.Hanoman 44. You need to have at least 2 people for the walk, which focuses on local interaction and cultural understanding during village visits. Prices are around 85,000rp.
Bali Sunrise 2001 (0818 552669) located on Jl.Raya Sanginggan can arrange sunrise treks up Gunung Batur at $45 a head or Gunung Agung for $100 per head.
Bali Adventure Tours (0361)721480 located in Taro, north of ubud operates one of the best white water rafting and kayaking operations in Bali. To the west of Ubud is the Ayung river, the favourite stretch of white water in Central Bali, featuring Class 2 & 3 white water.
Sobek (0361)287059 is another reputable compnay in the Ubud area providing rafting and kayaking at around $80 per person for a 2 hour session including professional guides, all equipment, lunch and transportation from your hotel. Many tour decks in Ubud will offer rafting with these and other companies. SOBEK operates a whitewater rafting operation in Sayan, just west of Ubud. Bali has a range of Class 2 to Class 4 rivers, which run from December to April (wet season). After that the flow of the rivers slows down. Almost every hotel in Bali has a day tours desk offering rafting, so booking is very easy. There are many companies and SOBEK offers other locations as well as Sayan.
Bali Adventures Tours also provides elephant rides, a great day out for the family at Taro, 13kms north of Ubud. The trip to Taro takes you through some great village scenery, whichever way you go so make sure you bring your camera. Look out for signs for Elephant Safari Park.
Cycling tours from the Ubud area can be arranged through Ary’s Business & Travel Service (0361)973130 or Bali Budaya Tours (0361)975557, both in the Ubud area. The price is around $40 and includes lunch. The tours use mountain bikes to cruise the quiter village roads from Kintamani back down to Ubud. Bali Adventure Tours & Sobek also do guided bike trips around the Monkey Forest at Sangeh to the west of Ubud, Gunung Batur and Gunung Batukaru.
For those inclined to guide themselves, a Bali Pathfinder map may come in handy. Any road heading northwards from Jl. Raya Ubud will take you through lovely scenery. Heading up to Tegallalang, whether east or west of them main road you’ll see National Geographic images all the way.
Exploring Ubud by motorbike is one of the true pleasures that is available to most people. If you can’t ride a motorbike or drive a car you can always hire a car with driver (price depends on how nice the car is). People staying in the Ubud area are spoiled for choice when it come to scenic rides, but here is one that you might enjoy on your next trip to Bali.
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival:
Bali’s #1 literary event, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, comes around every September. The event, project of the Saraswati Foundation for the Arts, a non-profit organization which aims to bring together writers, readers, artists and performers from Indonesia and from South-East Asia and the West to;
• Exchange information and ideas between the diverse cultures in Asia, the South Pacific and the West, thereby increasing cross-cultural understanding between East and West.
• Foster greater public awareness and understanding of writing, cultures and issues in this region.
• Create opportunities for emerging and established writers from our region to present their work in an international context and to participate in cross-cultural exchanges.
• Foster on-going creative partnerships between Indonesia and the wider Asia and Pacific regions.
• Support and provide educational programs for young Indonesians to reach their full potential.
•Taking time to check out a few of the great museums (Neka, ARMA, Seniwati) and learn about traditional Balinese art.
• Catching an evening dance performance at the Ubud Palace on Jl. Raya Ubud.
• Watching a ceremony downtown or in any one of the villages that surround Ubud.
• Taking a dawn rice paddy hike along one of the many routes on the outskirts of town.
•Learning to paint batik from a local artist.
• Sampling the fine food available here in places such as Casa Luna, Ary’s Warung and Murni’s Warung.
• White water rafting with one of the many reputable companies such as SOBEK in Sayan.
• Bargain shopping for that piece of art to decorate your house.
• Exploring this magic little town with all its windy, tree covered routes heading to other villages.
Some people say Ubud is too touristy and certainly it has changed since I first visited in 1993. There is a supermarket, ATM’s, internet access. As of yet there is little nightlife (Jazz Café), no McD’s, no Starbucks.
•Ubud Museums & Galleries:
Nyoman Lempad’s House:
Bali has a list of famous artists from the 20th century. One of the most famous was I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, painter and sculptor, who is best know for his ink drawings of mythical Balinese Hindu scenes.
The Blanco Renaissance Museum:
A unique museum of an original foreign artist. The Blanco Renaissance Museum (or Museum Blanco).
Smaller museums in Ubud:
Ubud has some great museums such as the ARMA, Neka and Museum Blanco (for those with a sense of humor). Ubud also has some great smaller museums and here are a few.
On the outskirts of Ubud in the village of Lod Tunduh, there is a sign on the road, indicating a jewelry museum, named Museum RUNA, just 500 meters away.
Simon’s Art Zoo:
One of the weirdest is Simon’s Art Zoo, in Ubud. If you need a break from the traditional Balinese art scene, why not drop into Simon’s?
The Neka Museum is the most famous museum in Ubud and the most complete collection of Balinese traditional art.
Pawitra Sari Gallery in Mas:
Pawitra Sari is a 2-story place that features oil paintings.
Gaya Fusion Of Senses:
Gaya Fusion Of Senses is located along Jl. Raya Sayan to the SW of Ubud amid lovely surroundings. The gallery features displays of modern art from domestic and foreign artists that last 2 weeks.
Seniwati Gallery of Art by Women:
The Seniwati Gallery of Art by Women, in Ubud features works by Balinese women.
Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA):
The ARMA is an art museum featuring some of Bali’s most famous painters and also an arts center with dance, theater, music and classes.
Threads Of Life:
Fiber arts are celebrated at a tiny place called Threads Of Life, located downtown.
Jazz Cafe Ubud:
Jl. Sukma Ubud
Loungy place and really the only place until recently, that you’d consider a nightspot in Ubud.
Carnival band and other local bands, plus DJ.
•Ubud Art Classes:
Life Drawing at Pranoto’s Art Gallery:
Pranoto’s Art Gallery on Ubud’s main street has hosted life model sessions since 1996 offering a valuable service to the artist community for both beginners and established artists.
Sasana Hasta Karya School: Gianyar Regency:
The place is Sasana Hasta Karya School. Based in Gianyar, Bali, it has slowly developed into a professional institution that offers a complete set of courses in Applied Arts.
•Balinese dance performances:
Balinese dances can be separated into 2 classes, dances for the gods and dances for the people. Balinese temples (pura) have 3 courtyards (outer, middle and inner) representing the transition from the domain of humans to the domain of the gods. The most sacred Balinese dances take place in the jeroan (inner courtyard) far away from the gaze of tourists.
Legong Dance in Ubud:
Balinese dances for free in villages around the island. There are also dances for the tourist’s enjoyment including those held at the Ubud Palace, daily at 7.30pm.
Ubud has a wealth of great spas. Some of the most popular Ubud spas a located close to downtown.
Ubud Bodyworks Center
Ubud Inn & Spa
Hotel Tjampuhan Spa
Spa at Ibah