When most people travel to Bali, they head to places like Tanah Lot, Jimbaran, Seminyak and Ubud. Nil and myself together with Eva opted to stay the full length of our trip just in Ubud and make daytrips, if possible, to the surrounding areas. You could say that it was a very leisurely holiday for the both of us and a chance for Eva to bond further with my in-laws. It came at a good time as she is beginning to experience some separation anxiety but more on that in my baby blog.
Note: Ubud has a no-electricity-town-wide every Saturday from 6pm till 10pm so choose your activities wisely.
What’s nice about Ubud?
In a nutshell, if you like culture, a slightly more laidback environment (compared to the hustle and bustle of Kuta), then stop here. Tourists flock here for the cultural shows, as well as the arts and crafts (galleries, markets, shops, etc). Most people will opt for about two to three days but if you’re staying longer, you can explore more than just the center of Ubud.
Where to stay?
There are plenty of resorts, homestays, cottages and villas – the sky is the limit…or rather your wallet, that is. Most people opt for accommodation in the centre of Ubud, which is along Monkey Forest Road and Jalan Raja Ubud. There are a few hidden gems in the other smaller streets like Jalan Goutama, Dewisita and so forth. Because our accommodation was paid for and we didn’t have to scout around (we stayed with my in-laws at Agung Cottages along Jalan Goutama), I can’t be too sure about the prices but what I do know is budget accommodation are priced below 100,000 rupiah per night.
Do be careful when it comes to choosing a place to stay – you’ll want hot water as the water in Ubud can get frighteningly chilly. Bonuses are things like air-conditioning (you won’t need it around this time of the year as the rains are heavy and very cooling) and a swimming pool (which is great if you’re heading there in the hot months).
What to eat?
Balinese cuisine, of course! While rich in spices, it is an eclectic mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian influences, making it very unique. The traditional bebek betutu (roasted duck stuffed with herbs and spices before being wrapped in leaves) and babi guling (roast stuffed suckling pig/pig) are must-tries on the list. If your palate is adventurous, you can opt for some lawar – with or without meat. Other Indonesian favourites like gado-gado, bakso and soto are good options as well.
Warungs or simple family-styled eateries are your best bet if you’re on a budget and would like to stretch your rupiah to the limit. Warung Local and Dewa Warung along Jalan Goutama have pretty delicious choices starting from 6,000 all the way till 15,000 rupiah (and more). Warung Ika Oka serves up some yummy roast suckling pig that is a hit with the locals during lunch and it’s located opposite the palace.
Posh places like Nomad and Kita serve up pretty good food but the ambience is more for tourists rather than locals or budget eaters like myself and Nil. Tourists love Nomad and another spot called Bunute for its lively environment and in the case of the latter, a very talented local band.
What to do?
Seriously, if you’re looking for adventure or a boisterous nightlife, Ubud is hardly the right place to stay in. Come here if you’re after some cultural shows – there are plenty all year round – and some art. There are plenty of galleries to feast your eyes on plus the surrounding areas like Batun, Mas, and Celuk are home to some of the loveliest works of arts in this region, be it in the form of canvas/paint, stone or wood.
Spas and massages are popular as well; expect to pay 50,000 rupiahs for an hour’s worth of traditional Balinese massage on site. Add about anywhere between 25,000 to 50,000 if you want the masseur to drop by your hotel. Pedicures, manicures and facials are available as well not to mention the full on treatment of a lovely scrub plus a bath. Options like mandi lulur, milk baths and what-nots are available. Yes, when it comes to pampering oneself, Ubud is the place.
If you’re bored, rent a bike or bicycle and head off to the surrounding villages. The view can be fantastic with scores of paddy fields and houses/villas lining the skyline. Alternatively, if you don’t mind, take a walk. Best times are during the early hours of the morning. Bring some sunblock and an umbrella in case the heat gets unbearable OR in case it rains.
For those into shopping, expect some lovely gems at the local Pasar Seni located along Jalan Raja Ubud. Remember to hard bargain as anything and everything can be priced exorbitantly especially if you’re a tourist. Don’t be afraid to ask for less – your cue is this: if it doesn’t have a price tag (even handwritten ones can be challenged), it’s okay to bargain. Start off at the lowest possible – at least 75% off the original price before making your way up. Then again, don’t die from a heart attack if you end up paying more than what someone else paid. Most of the time, the difference hardly makes a dent in your pocket but means a lot to the locals.
Drink only bottled water (a large bottle of 1.5L only costs 3,000 to 4,000 rupiahs) and avoid fresh vegetables & fruits (salads, etc) whenever possible.
Also water here is quite soft so if you’re doing laundry, you may want to buy local detergent available at the mini-marts or Delta chain stores here.
Watch out for dog poo as you’re exploring the streets as Bali has an awful problem with the huge number of stray dogs – they are not wild, just loose. Most are harmless and some, well, their bark is worse than their bite.