Things to do in Ubud: The spiritual centre of Bali
“ At some point, you gotta let go, and sit still, and allow contentment to come to you.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
Ubud is the spiritual and educational centre of Bali, where world travellers come together to dive deep into the philosophy of the Balinese way of life. We composed a list of the most exciting and transcendent things to do in Ubud, including old sacred temples, rice fields and elegant restaurants to awake your spirit and soothe your soul.
Let’s start with the Karma Group resort for the best accommodation near the city, the Karma Mayura Ubud.
Book a deluxe room in the incredible Karma Mayura!
The Karma Mayura is a luxurious resort located in the village of Mas, featuring lovely countryside vistas, and serene spots for deep meditation or practising yoga in the lavish private gardens. Equipped with all of the 5-star amenities you can expect from a Karma Group resort, the Karma Mayura has everything from a gym to a spa.
You can choose between a deluxe and an imperial room. They are designed to represent the Balinese culture, painted in rich colours, equipped with hand-crafted furniture and modern facilities. Inside you will find an en-suite bathroom and big, comfortable king-sized beds. The rooms also have huge outdoor terraces with beautiful views of the emerald-green landscape.
The best restaurants in Ubud
When in Ubud, do as the Balinese do! If you are searching for the best restaurants in Ubud, with the most delicious food, we singled out a few of them:
• Karma Mayura – serves the traditional Balinese and Indonesian dishes, but also some of the Western classics. A broad list of wines and signature cocktails is offered at this quiet poolside terrasse.
• Locavore – is warmly recommended for a sensual cuisine experience for the senses. The food is not just appetising, but it is also presented to you as art. Every ingredient is checked for quality, and most of them are locally grown.
• Moksa – is a plant-based restaurant that serves raw food with incredible rice field views. If you love healthy food and creative cooking, then this would be a good choice for you.
• Mozaic – is an award-winning garden restaurant with open-air pavilions and a mixed fare from Europe and Asia. The chef-owner Chris Salans cooks French dishes to perfection.
• CasCades – is a very luxurious restaurant overlooking the Petanu valley. The menu is created around the classic French cuisine, but with a creative Asian twist derivative from the Balinese, Thai and Japanese cooking.
• Kubu – is a bamboo-crafted, riverside restaurant that features a Mediterranean-European fare. The private dining cocoons are perfect for starry-eyed dinners.
Unique Ubud restaurants
We also made a collection of the unique Ubud restaurants you can visit, if you are feeling adventurous:
• Clear Café – is famous for the custom music tracks and dishes prepared from natural ingredients that come from local Balinese farmers. Everyone is very friendly and transmitting good vibes, so you will not be bored here.
• Sayuri – is a healthy and raw food restaurant that firmly believes in the motto “we are what we eat.” They serve higher light and vibration foods to enhance the healing on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
• Paradiso Ubud – combines organic and vegan food with theatre nights. If you are searching for more than just food, here you will find live performances, art exhibitions, yoga and dance classes, talks and workshops.
• Maha Restaurant – is a true representation of the Balinese elegance, the views are astonishing, the decor is luxurious, and the food choices vary from local to international.
• Swept Away – is a top-pick recommendation. The restaurant is set on the stones of the local river, the ambience is magical, and they serve “Asian Tapas” specials. In the evenings, they even have a la carte menu, complemented with wine degustation.
• Seniman Coffee Studio – is the place to visit for coffee lovers. They feature premium coffee from across Indonesia and boarder worldwide beans.
The Puri Saren Royal Palace
The Puri Saren Royal Palace will give you the ultimate royal experience. The Ubud King still lives there. When you enter the premises, you will find much of Bali’s history inside, from Balinese traditional houses, stone carvings to the private temple of the royal family. The Palace is an artistic and cultural centre of Ubud, turning the city into a “royal town.”
The temple was built in the 19th century by the Ida Putu Kandel, and his ancestors are still maintaining the area. It is a beautiful local attraction to visit and to get the feeling of the city’s core and lively spirit. Even today, this is the place where art, creativity and new, fresh ideas meet the traditional ones. The palace hosts dance performances each night, and you can see them for the price of 10,000 IDR.
The Ubud Art Market
Located at the corner of the Monkey Forest and the Puri Saren Royal Palace, the vibrant, lively, colourful Ubud Art Market is an entirely invaluable shopping experience. On the wooden stands and stone columns, you will find everything you were looking for and more. There is an abundance of trinkets, souvenirs, carvings, batik shirts, sarongs and jewellery everywhere you look.
The merchants are used to haggling with tourists, so brace yourself for a fun afternoon. You need to know that they will charge you ten times more then they would charge locals, but even bargaining is amusing in the heart of Ubud’s most famous market. If you want a lower price, however, you should head to the stands upstairs.
Also, while you are there and the Monkey Forest is near, you might want to see that local attraction, too.
The Saraswati Temple
The Saraswati temple is a must-see if you are visiting Ubud because it is nothing short of breathtaking. It is a water temple with the most beautiful pink lotus blossoms, set amidst tropical greenery. Every picture you will take there is going to look incredible. The temple is a classical depiction of Balinese architecture.
There is no entry fee for the Pura Taman Saraswati, but a note of importance, you will have to wear a sash and sarong around the waist if you want to visit. The Café Lotus has the best views over the lovely lakes covered in lotus flowers. A meal at the Café is around USD 15. They also offer regular traditional dance performances in the evenings.
Catch a Kecak dance performance
One the most popular things to do in Ubud is witnessing a traditional dance evening. The enchanting rhythm of the Fire Dance, the Kecak Dance and the Saghyang Dance will hypnotise you and leave you feeling excited and full of life. These traditional dances derive from the ancient tribal culture of Bali and offer a transformative experience. You can find tours all around Ubud or go and see the ones performed at the shrines.
The dance is quite a spectacle, as well as a vibrant cultural expression, combining the energetic moves of the dancers to the dynamic music of the traditional instruments. The Kecak dance includes 50 men with powerful bamboo torches, telling you the story of Prince Rama and his rescue of a kidnapped princess.
The Tirta Empul Water Temple
The Tirta Empul water temple should also be on your list of spiritual sights to see in Ubud. It is a temple complex and a holy mountain spring with local legends about the healing powers of the water. Located in the Manukaya village, even today it is revered as the legendary spot where the good battled the evil. It is also a national cultural heritage site.
The temple dates around 960 AD, and it has a long history and connection to the ancient kingdoms. Since its location is seen as holy by the Balinese people, it is not a coincidence, that the presidential palace, Istana Tampaksiring, is nearby on the mountain. If you are fond of mythology and archaeology, this whole area is covered with archeological sites that feature mystical legends.
The Tegallalang rice terraces
The Tegallalang rice terraces are a favourite photo spot for tourists from all around the world. The gorgeous sights of rice paddies look amazing and vibrantly green in real life, as they do in professional photographs.
While you are visiting this hip local attraction, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the traditional subak irrigation system, still used today. It is believed that a holy man named Rsi Markandeya passed down this skill to the Balinese people in the 8th century.
If you are an artist or a nature lover, the Tegallalang rice terraces should be on your things to do in Ubud list. There are a few cafés, restaurants and little shops around the area, where you can unwind, enjoy and drink a cup of quality coffee.
Make the Karma Mayura your base of operations and book a room!