First Time in Ubud - What to Do

Ubud Survival Guide

There’s much you can see and do on your first visit to Ubud. This is often considered Bali’s artistic and cultural heartland, popular for it lush upland nature scenes. Valleys covered in green rice terraces serve as a backdrop to many art galleries and old temples and palaces. Most of the popular spots are within easy walking distance of the town hub, which allows for a quick and memorable day trip.

In Ubud town centre there’s the Puri Saren Royal Palace. By day, you can visit and admire its Balinese architecture from up close. In the evenings, you can watch traditional Balinese dances on its open stage. Just across the road from the palace is the souvenir shopping haven that is the Ubud Art Market. A walk down the boutique-lined Jalan Hanoman leads you to the famous Ubud Monkey Forest. With so many things to see and do, this Ubud survival guide can help you make a manageable plan by narrowing the selection down to just the must-sees.

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Ubud at a Glance

Ubud is famous for its beautiful river valleys and rice terraced landscapes. The main hub is a small highland town, that’s a favourite alternative to Bali’s beaches. It’s more cultured and closer to the island’s classical artists’ villages. It’s a popular destination among yogis and wellbeing practitioners and has a certain hippie vibe. Fine-dining restaurants are found alongside casual cafés. There’s plenty of palatial sites, heritage museums and art galleries for you to explore. Nightlife here though, is very low-key.

  • Beautiful natural surroundings
  • Vibrant art scene
  • A calm, relaxed atmosphere
  • Plenty of sightseeing
  • Cool and pleasant highland climate
  • Narrow streets with frequent detours
  • Venues inside town can be reached on foot, but other sites can be quite remote
  • Limited nightlife

Things You Can Do in Ubud

Ubud central is where to go for its famous wealth of culture, arts and crafts. Travel to the town’s outskirts and you can enjoy scenic panoramas, including the iconic images of cascading rice terraces stretching off into the distance. No trip to area would be complete without seeing these sites, so we very strongly recommend including them in your plan, especially if this is your first time in Ubud.

  • Tegallalang Rice Terraces

    Tegallalang Rice Terraces

    Ubud is famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving subak (the traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation Read More»

  • Goa Gajah Bali

    Goa Gajah - Elephant Cave

    Gajah Gajah is an archaeological complex with historical significance, great for a brief stopover on tours to the Ubud Read More»

  • Ubud Monkey Forest

    Ubud Monkey Forest

    Some refer to this site as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, and by its official designation, Mandala Wisata Read More»

Best Places to Shop in Ubud

You can strike great bargains in this colourful haven of arts and crafts. There’s Ubud’s bustling art market right in the centre of town. Here, you can browse through endless rows of paintings, carvings, traditional garments and unique knick-knacks. A mix of international designer boutiques and shops further line the main road and its interconnecting side streets. If you want a taste of the local culture and some retail therapy, we suggest including the following places to shop in your itinerary.

  • Ubud Art Market

    Ubud Art Market

    Ubud Art Market, or 'Pasar Seni Ubud', is just opposite the Ubud Royal Palace. Open daily, here you can find beautiful Read More»

  • Sukawati Art Market

    Sukawati Art Market

    Sukawati Art Market, or 'Pasar Seni Sukawati', is Bali’s most distinguished and long-standing art market. Items here Read More»

  • Guwang Art Market in Bali

    Guwang Art Market, referred to locally as ‘Pasar Seni Guwang’, is a traditional art market in Bali that shares muchPasar Read More»

Must-See Temples in Ubud

A visit to Ubud would be incomplete without seeing some its collection of wonderful Balinese temples. Their ancient reliefs and classical architecture are fantastic, and their colourful histories are fascinating to explore. With so many structures in the area, it can be difficult to make sure you see the best around. Be sure to get the most out of your first time in Ubud by visiting these top temples.

  • Tirta Empul Temple

    Tirta Empul is an important temple complex and holy mountain spring, located in the village of Manukaya in central Bali. Read More»

  • Gunung Kawi Temple in Bali

    Gunung Kawi Temple

    Gunung Kawi Temple complex is one of Bali’s most unique archaeological sites, comprising a collection of ancient shrine Read More»

  • Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple

    Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple

    Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple is one of Bali’s most beautiful, featuring verdant gardens, ponds and ancient shrines Read More»

Great Restaurants We Like in Ubud

The restaurant scene in Ubud covers a broad range. It stretches from classy fine-dining establishments to simple local dishes, with a lot of variety in between. Naturally, many establishments serve their outstanding food with amazing views! The following eateries are our absolute favourites in the area. The list includes acclaimed venues offering creative culinary techniques and presentations, along with traditional Balinese recipes.

  • Bebek Tepi Sawah Restaurant Ubud

    Bebek Tepi Sawah Restaurant

    Bebek Tepi Sawah restaurant is one of the best places in Ubud to enjoy great local cuisine in a unique bamboo pavilion Read More»

  • Locavore Restaurant

    Locavore Restaurant

    Locavore in Ubud presents an ingredient-driven menu that features an exceptional interplay of flavours through creative Read More»

  • Naughty Nuri's Warung

    Naughty Nuri's Warung

    If you're a grilled pork-rib connoisseur, you'll love this southern Bali extension of the celebrated Naughty Nuri’s Read More»

Best Places to Go at Night in Ubud

Even though the nightlife is pretty low-key in Ubud, you can still find some great places to drink and party here. After dark, the royal palace comes to life with its cultural night performances. Walk further down Jalan Monkey Forest street and you can stumble upon some modern bar scenes with live music. If you’re looking for places to check out in the evenings during your first time in Ubud, we think the following should be at the top of your list.

  • Ubud Royal Palace

    Ubud Royal Palace

    The focal landmark of Ubud, the Ubud Royal Palace is one of the region’s most prominent highlights, located at the Read More»

  • Laughing Buddha Bar

    Laughing Buddha Bar

    One of the liveliest spots in Ubud offering a great selection of drinks, fusion cuisine, and regular live bands playing Read More»

  • XL Shisha Lounge

    Drop by this little spot right beside the landmark soccer field in Ubud central, for cosy dining inside Middle Eastern Read More»

Hotels in Ubud We Recommend to Our Friends

Ubud has many great hotels, ranging from luxury to budget options with plenty in between. Here are some of our favourites, most of which let you stay closer to the vast collection of art galleries, craft shops, museums and excellent restaurants in the heart of Ubud town. These include a luxury hotel, a mid-range and a budget one. While the prices may differ, we believe that these properties all deliver a fantastic stay in this beautiful bit of Bali.

Kamandalu Resort

Kamandalu Ubud is a five-star boutique retreat north of Ubud with a collection of villas in a layout resembling a quaint Read More...

Komaneka at Bisma

Komaneka at Bisma Ubud offers a five star stay on Ubud s Jalan Bisma, halfway between the famous Sacred Monkey Forest of Read More...

Byasa Ubud

With a stay at Byasa Ubud in Ubud (Pengosekan), you'll be within a 5-minute drive of Ubud Traditional Art Market and Ubud Royal Read More...


Best Hotels in Ubud

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