The Ultimate Yogi’s Guide To Ubud
Discover the best places in Ubud to eat, play, explore, relax and rejuvenate.
Bali is often referred to as the ‘Island of the Gods’ and for me, I feel that most in Ubud. It was there (during yoga teacher training) that I cultivated the deepest sense of well-being and experienced personal growth that changed not only the way I experience the world, but how I now live my life.
There’s something about the traditions, culture, architecture, the warmth of the people, their reverence for the land, the purification rituals, prayers, and slow way of life, that see’s the Balinese people retain the secret sauce that seems to have been lost in the west.
If you’re a yogi you’ll understand what I mean when I say the island – and particularly Ubud – ‘holds space’ for your retreat inward, your unravelling and your playful evolution. It’s accepting, powerful and magical if you allow it.
The guide that lies below is a culmination of my experiences and the tips I collected (during my 5 weeks in Ubud in 2016, and 2 weeks spent there earlier this year before we settled in Canggu); sprinkled with recommendations from others who shared the journey along the way. I’ve formatted it as follows – skip to the bit you’re most interested in:
- Where to stay
- Things to do
- Where to eat
- Travel tips for Bali
If you have any questions, thoughts to share, or places/activities to add, please pop them in the comments below – I love hearing from you. Enjoy x
WHERE TO STAY IN UBUD:
There is an abundance of villas and beautiful accomodation on available on Airbnb to suit every budget and style. It’s what I use most of the time and I highly recommend it. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, for a discount on your first trip, click here. My favourite area is Penestanan – close enough to the centre, but out of the hustle and bustle where you’ll also get to experience a little bit of local life. Though if you won’t be riding a bike or are only staying for a few days, you may want to stay more in the centre, or ensure your accommodation does shuttles to various drop-off points. Check out:
- Hideout Bali - Stay as a couple
- Bamboo Palace – Stay as a group
- Zen Hideaway – Stay as friends
- Flora Villa - Stay as a couple or friends
- Natural Villa – Stay as a couple or friends
- Balinese eco-friendly house – Stay as a family
Use my link https://www.airbnb.com/c/ctaber2 to get $50 off your first booking.
If you want more of a luxe hotel experience, check out:
- Bambu Indah – Absolutely divine. Ubud’s eco lifestyle boutique hotel.
- Bisma Eight – Luxury boutique resort with modern vibes and lush surrounds.
- Casa Luna – Traditional, great location, delicious breakfasts.
- Viceroy – High end tropical resort ideal for couples and honeymooners.
THINGS TO DO IN UBUD:
Explore Ubud and it’s surrounds, relax with a massage or day spa treatment, or head to a yoga class. Here’s the details:
If you want to explore:
- Morning fresh food markets – 6 to 9am. Get there by 7am if you can to see the hustle and bustle of everyone getting their goods for the day. It’s great for taking photos (remembering to be mindful and respectful), and just experiencing a bit of local life. You can buy your fruit and veg here there too (see helpful price guide here).
- Cooking School – Try Casa Luna’s cooking school with Janet DeNeefe.
- Campuhan ridge walk – Go at sunrise, early morning, or sunset. You can keep following the road when the ridge stops (we walked all the way up to Jungle Fish). This post has good directions on how to get to the Campuhan ridge walk.
- Tegalalang Rice Terraces – So beautiful. Walk through the rice paddies, take some photos and cool down with a coconut after. Naturally this place is very touristy. If you scooter here, for a peek into the lush forest and local life, continue riding past the rice paddies toward the water temple, taking a few side roads before making your way back to Ubud centre – this blew my mind!
- Ubud Swing & Whitewater Rafting - Many tour operators offer these activities. Swing over the jungle and head down to the river for a dip afterwards.
- Monkey Forest – Self explanatory. If you buy bananas, don’t get shocked if monkeys jump on you.
- Pura Tirta Empul - There are many temples in Ubud, but this Balinese, Hindu, sacred water temple is regarded as particularly special. If you want to go, read up about the legend behind the sacred waters for healing and spiritual benefits. Make sure it’s not a celebratory day in Bali or the temple will be packed. Make an offering then bathe and pray. See the shrines, pray, hop in the holy water and leave.
- Folk Pool & Gardens - Go and enjoy a day by the pool followed by Bali’s version of high tea or a local-taste set dinner. On Sundays they also have a 4-course brunch, and a sundown party with DJ decks in the eve. Keep the party going at No Mas – a new local bar
- Jungle Fish - It’s a bit like the Potato Head of Ubud. The location is beautiful and definitely worth a visit if you fancy some cocktails by the pool, in the jungle!
- Dragonfly – A go-to for yogis and nomads in Ubud. Three times a week they open their herbal steam sauna up for bonfire night. You basically use the sauna, salt water pool and eat healthy, organic food.
- Bike Riding Tour – These can be hit and miss. If I was to do one again I’d try this eco cycling tour group.
- Shopping – The main streets (Jl. Hanuman and Jl. Monkey Forest) and the small roads in between (Dewi Sita, Gootama, Karna etc) are good for shopping – think shell chandeliers, dream catchers, harem pants etc (and then nice shops like in Seminyak). Personal favourites include Ananda Soul Creations, Kula, Ganesha and WE-AR. If you want to pick up some mala beads, you can pick your own beads at the jewellery shop opposite Radiantly Alive.
If you want a massage or spa treatments:
- For a firm massage: Visit IMAN or StarChild. Putri Spa and Karsa Spa also come recommended if they happen to be close to you.
- For a Thai massage: Visit Carlos (at KUSH, Yoga Barn’s Spa).
- For a traditional Balinese massage or spa treatment: Visit Tjampuhan Spa – think semi-open treatment pavilions and an extraordinary hot/cold spring water Jacuzzi created within a mythical stone cavern.
- For a treatment using natural products that are locally made: Visit Cantika Spa. Read up on the different Cantika locations here (there’s one right near Sari Organic, and Alchemy if you want to go before or after a meal).
- For a day spa package: I went to Sankara Ubud Resort located within the traditional Balinese village of Kumbuh, in Mas, Ubud. I really just wanted a flower bath (haha!) but absolutely loved the whole experience (which also included a body scrub, clay mask, full body massage, facial, mani/pedi etc). If you want to splurge, for a 5 start experience, check out:
If you want to practice yoga:
- The Yoga Barn – If you can, go to one of Emily Kuser‘s classes or workshops – she is divine and will leave you feeling amazing. Other fun things to try at the Yoga Barn include: Gong baths, Kirtan, Acro play and Ecstatic dance. Check out their schedule.
- Radiantly Alive - Popular and busy so don’t rock up last minute. I recommend the ‘roll and release’ class with Rusty Davis or ‘sky yoga flow’.
- Intuitive Flow – This is my favourite studio. I loved the views and classes with Sandi (strong vinyasa) and Kay (hatha/restorative) – both left me feeling phenomenal. Refuel at Yellow Flower or Alchemy after.
- Ubud Yoga House – I didn’t actually make it to this studio (one for next time!) but walked past and its location in the rice fields looks so inviting – secluded, peaceful and down to earth.
WHERE TO EAT IN UBUD:
If you’re looking for the best places to eat in Ubud, my personal favourites include:
- Yellow Flower Cafe - Run by locals in a beautiful peaceful location in Penestanan (my favourite part of Ubud). They use fresh organic ingredients and the prices are cheaper than other places of the same quality. Recommend the smoothie bowls, nasi campur and nasi goreng.
- Sari Organik – Visualise having lunch in the rice fields. I mostly just love the walk to this place and the view. The food is fresh and you can actually pick what you want in your salad from the garden. Tip: Make time to do a walk of the rice paddies past the restaurant. You can follow it all the way to the end and then do a u-turn to come back down a street and turn right before Blue Karma Resort / near Pyramids of Chi, to come all the way back down Jl. Suweta and back to Ubud Palace. It’s a great walk and takes about an hour. Use Google maps offline.
- Sage – Go for dinner, and with friends if possible, so you can share plates. They serve vego tacos small/sharing plates and salad bowls, desserts. Note: It’s vegan and dry (no alcohol).
- Alchemy – Go any time of the day and you’ll enjoy fresh, deliciousness. It’s a bit like Bali meets Bondi – attracts a health conscious, hipster crowd. The staff are lovely. My personal favourites are the smoothie bowls and epic salad bowls.
- Beloved Earth Cafe - Located within Swasti Eco Cottages, this little hippie place is just the cutest. It has a garden-to-plate style menu (I think it’s vegan from memory). They have a pool that you can use and they bring the food to you by the pool. I had the Monster Salad, followed by a raw dessert and coconut later on by the pool – perfection.
- Soma – This place is more than just a cafe – it’s also a space for community gatherings. I was particularly obsessed with their fresh gado gado rolls and raw dessert. Soma is a great cafe to get GO-JEK from.
- La Pacha Mama & La Cevicheria – These two restaurants are located in the same building and you can order from. Think delicious fresh seafood dishes from La Cevicheria and plant-based Mexican from Pacha Mama – a must visit if you’re vegetarian. Go for dinner, live music, scrumptious cocktails, tapas and mains. Best to go with others to taste as much deliciousness as possible.
- Seniman – Possibly my favourite coffee in Ubud – you’ll like it too if you like strong coffee. I also love the chairs (you’ll see what I mean when you go) and that they use recycled materials where possible (the water cups are the bottoms of recycled bottles).
That being said, answering the question of where to eat in Ubud is tricky – it’s so dependant on what you like personally and what meal you are going for. The following places are also great and could make it to your own personal list of favourites:
- Copper - Divine ambiance and all day dining with beautiful breakfasts as well as a mix of options from farm-to-table, pizza and Indonesian dishes.
- Hujan Locale - Farm-to-plate style. A stylish dinner place with well a regarded chef (and meals are priced accordingly). Great fish dishes (think ceviche) and apparently best place for quality meat in Ubud, as most places seem to be fairly vegetarian.
- Bambu Indah – Go for sunset drinks, a walk around the grounds and dinner. This ‘eco-lifestyle boutique’ is different to the others – magical and at one with nature. I’d love to stay here next time.
- Clear Cafe – A popular favourite amongst many. The menu is vast and the food s fresh. The newly rebuilt cafe is such a gorgeous space too.
- Moksa - Plant-based restaurant and permaculture garden. If you like the farm-to-table concept, La Pacha Mama & Sari Organic, go here. It’s a special experience!
- Taco Casa – Their tagline sums it up perfectly: “A simple, fresh, delicious and inexpensive taco joint”.
- Kismet Restaurant – A superb lunch or dinner option. The ‘dragon bowls’ are next level! This is also my place of choice in Ubud for a wine or cocktail (go upstairs).
- Cafe Vespa – Enjoy the chilled vibes, good coffee & freaking tasty menu. I’m always starving by the time we eat, so really love the big salad bowl and the big fruit salad, which in the end I can never finish – ha!
- Bali Buda – The menu is vast, but I will happily recommend the chickpea curry. I also love their “We don’t have wifi, just chat to each other” philosophy.
- The Elephant - The highlight of this place is the view. Go for early pancake breakfast & coffee, or lunch (try the yum salad bowls and Vietnamese pancake), or sunset cocktails (try the star fruit cocktail) or dinner.
- Warung Sharaswaty - Flavoursome, authentic, vegetarian home-cooked Indian. It’s well priced, family-run and accommodating. They can also make any meal vegan if you ask.
- Earth Cafe - Go for any meal. I loved the tacos and really fresh big salads.
- Lotus Cafe – It’s a bit of a tourist trap for a reason – the seating around the lotus pond is beeeautiful. Go for lunch or early dinner to enjoy the setting. Tip: Get a table with cushion seating by the pond.
- Casa Luna – Hands down the best bakery in Ubud. I stayed at their Honeymoon Guesthouse many years ago and still to this day tell people about the best coconut muesli I’ve ever had that was from there. So if you’re a muesli person, try it – seriously scrumptious!
Other popular places you may be interested in or come by:
- Mudra – A simple menu of ‘Ayurvedic Asian fusion’ dishes. It’s quaint, and nice to go for a quiet early morning coffee on the way to yoga, or for a tasty bite if you’re hungry and walking by.
- Watercress - Another popular fave for many – it has a menu with something for all. A good place if you have a hungry family to keep happy or are walking by.
- Kafe – Good salads and smoothie bowls but can get pretty packed due to the prime location. Note: It has the same menu as garden cafe in Yoga barn.
- Seed of Life – Raw foodies, this is your mecca. I haven’t managed to visit yet, but everyone who goes says it’s super yummy.
Since my last visit, I’ve started a new list of places to try that may also interest you:
- Cafe Wayan & Bakery – For an afternoon pick me up in a hidden piece of paradise.
- The Sayan House – Japanese food that looks insanely yummy
- Sayuri Healing Food - They have a beautiful philosophy when it comes to food
- Wamm – Serving ethical, local produce in a beautiful part of Ubud
- PICA – For ceviche and empanadas!
- CasCades – Fine dining
- Mozaic - More for a cooking class perhaps
- Warung Sopa – Nourishing, healthy food.
There are also many great Warungs in Ubud:
- Warung Rama – Located in Nyuh Kuning, behind the Monkey Forest, this is probably my favourite warung in Bali. I went here several times for dinner and enjoyed chats with the beautiful owner. The cap cay and nasi campur are bursting with flavour (ask for garlic & chilli in it too!).
- Puspa’s – Located in the town centre and serves tasty, fresh local eats.
- Made’s – In Penestanan, this is also another good one if you’re looking for cheap eats in Ubud.
OTHER GENERAL BALI TIPS:
- When to go: Wet season: October-April; Dry season: May-September. Best time to go: May-August.
- Getting around:
- Hiring scooter/bikes – Hiring a scooter shouldn’t cost more than 60k a day (and ideally less, if you hire for longer). Though if you don’t have a bike licence at home and international licence, you may not be covered by travel insurance, so carefully check this first. And if you want to be safety-first, get the helmets that cover your chin/jaw too, not just your head. I haven’t managed to get these myself (they don’t often offer them), but would take the option if I could.
- Google offline maps – This is an actual life saver, especially if you don’t have a local sim/wifi. Simply download an offline map for the area you want, and then you don’t need wifi. You can use it as if you have wifi, with it directing you in real time etc. This is great for trips to the rice fields, waterfalls or holy water temples.
- Bluebird & Uber apps – You can get Uber to/from almost anywhere and it’s super cheap. But using Bluebird is also good if they use the meter. If you’re solo, uberMOTOR is the cheapest option. More details here. Though at current, uber isn’t welcome everywhere in Bali so do your research.
- GO-JEK – A food delivery app and convenient scooter-taxi (amongst other things) in Bali. The actual best – check it out or download it here.
- Emergencies – Dial 110 for Police and 118 for an ambulance. The SOSMED app also allows you to easily request a doctor to visit you at your accommodation.
- This is my favourite mosquito spray and is available in most chemists and natural health shops.
- Bring an adaptor – Electrical plugs are two-pronged ‘Europlug’ type.
- Don’t drink the water (and bring a re-usable water bottle so you’re not contributing so heavily to the plastic problem in Bali).
- Local sim cards are easy to get and set up in few minutes, for a few dollars
- Tampons can be hard to find, so bring some!
- Customs – Cover your shoulders/legs at temple – it’s respectful and required
- Currency – At current the conversion is approximately $1 AUD = 10,000 rupiah.
Lastly – make sure you’ve checked in with the smarttraveller.gov.au website, and don’t leave home without comprehensive travel insurance.
There you have it! If you’re Ubud-bound, I hope you found this guide helpful. Please feel free to reach out with any questions. And if you do something / visit somewhere mentioned on this list, tag @carlytaber in your posts so I can check them out and reminisce.
P.S. Do you know someone heading to Bali or who may find this guide to Ubud helpful? Share it with them now – they’ll thank you later.