We’ve spent the past week in Ubud, a cultural town in the centre of Bali. It was a great place but not what we expected. We were anticipating a really chilled out town, that wasn’t too busy but the reality was a town filled with tourists and traffic, with the chilled out areas on the outskirts.
The first 2 nights we stayed in an amazing Airbnb called The River House – a traditional wooden Balinese house complete with a hammock, shrine and a lizard hole in the window. Lizards are welcomed in Balinese houses as they eat all the bugs, but they are very noisy and woke us up at 4am by chirping and running over Emma!
We then moved to a cheaper hostel which was more central called Green View Inn Hostel which was awesome and had the comfiest memory foam mattresses, free water, tea and coffee and breakfast for only £5.80 a night.
We managed to do a lot in Ubud and find a lot of amazing, healthy veggie food. I’ve put together some hidden gems in Ubud which you can read about here and our sunrise trek up Mount Batur. Below are some of the other things we got up to.
Coffee Plantation, Tegalalang Rice Fields, Tirta Empul, Goa Gajah & Tegenungan Waterfall
This was our most touristy day so far and something that we wouldn’t probably repeat due to the high volumes of tourists and pushy salespeople at the sights. We hired a driver for the day for 100,000 IDR each (£5 ish) to take us to Ubud’s tourist sights that were slightly out of Ubud. These were:
A luwak coffee plantation where you could taste different teas & coffees, including luwak coffee – where the beans are harvested from the poo of luwaks/civets (it’s not actually that nice or any different to filter coffee!)
Tegalalang Rice Fields – beautiful rice fields that you could walk around, accessed by a street lined with pushy people trying to sell you sarongs, carvings, paintings etc. We were asked to pay an entrance fee to the rice fields 200m down the road by a man in an official-ish looking uniform but we ignored him and walked onto the terraces for free. The terraces are beautiful, but you need to pay a donation cross the terraces which we didn’t do. Tourists were spending ages posing on the edge of the rice fields for the perfect Instagram photo which was irritating. The place felt like a tourist trap but we were glad we saw it.
Pura Tirta Empul – an ancient Hindu Balinese temple dating back to 962 A.D. with a holy spring that local Hindu’s use for ritual purification. The temple was beautiful but very busy. When exiting, you have to walk through a winding market with people pushing sarongs, paintings, carvings and bananas at you.
Goa Gajah / Elephant Cave – a religious temple site that we didn’t actually enter, we just looked in from the outside but we found some really cool ruins nearby.
Tegenungan Waterfall – a huge, beautiful waterfall with a swimming area.
Kecak Fire & Trance Dance (Pura Dalem Taman Kaja)
Kecak is a traditional Balinese dance that encompasses dancers telling a Hindu story (in our case Ramen & Sita) and a choir of 100 men chanting like monkeys and swaying in a circle, with the voices of the storytellers standing out amongst the chanting. It sounds odd but it’s absolutely incredible to watch. The performance we saw was held in an open-air Hindu temple which made it even more atmospheric. You can read more about the dance & the location here. I would 100% recommend this to anyone – it’s a must see in Ubud.
Ubud has been relatively cheap, considering it’s a touristy town. In total, I spent around £170 for a week of eating delicious food, doing loads of activities and learning new skills – and I’m still on budget.