5 Ways to Experience Ubud

Ubud Bali

Bali in Indonesia has so many different sides to offer different people.  For some people it’s a cheap, overseas holiday; for others it means luxury and private butlers.  For some people it’s a shopping destination; for others it’s about experiencing nature.  Many people spend their days lounging by the pool; whilst others head to excellent surfing breaks.

Ubud is located in the centre of Bali, and first became well known as the final destination of Elizabeth Gilbert in her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love.  It’s a quieter place to stay in Bali, compared to the bustle around Kuta.  Cooler than the coastal regions due to it’s higher elevation, it’s also a popular destination for yoga tourism.  But even Ubud has many different ways to experience it…

1. If you want to get away from it all…

Maya Ubud

The riverside spa at the Maya Ubud

Stay in one of the resorts outside of the main village of Ubud.  With many looking out onto the deep river valleys or rice terraces, it’s easy to feel that you’re a million miles away from anywhere.  There’s also no need to leave: relax by the pool, dine at the resort restaurants and cafes, enjoy a treatment at one of the award winning spas.

My Pick: The Maya Ubud is a luxurious but affordable choice. During the low season, rooms start from about $185 USD per night and villas from about $225 USD per night, including breakfast and free morning yoga. Don’t miss out on a riverside massage.

Read more about finding serenity in Ubud

2. If you are on a budget…

Sapulidi Resort

The liliypond at the centre of the Sapulidi Resort

It’s best to then stay within the village of Ubud.  Sure, most surrounding resorts offer shuttle buses or the hiring of taxis into Ubud, but it can be often hard to extricate yourself.  If you stay inside Ubud, it’s far easier to walk or take a taxi to the local restaurants (“warungs”), funky cafes, massage spas, yoga centres or organise a day tour, with the prices significantly cheaper than within resorts.  Accommodation prices themselves are usually cheaper too: choose from a peaceful resort on the edge of Ubud or a homely guesthouse.

My Pick: Villas are excellent value at the Sapulidi Resort to the south of Ubud. I paid about $42 USD per night for my small villa, next to the gorgeous swimming pool. The walk into Ubud is a bit long given the lack of the footpaths, but there’s a regular shuttle.

3. If you want to shop…

Shopping Ubud

Colourful market stalls in Ubud

The cheap souvenirs and clothes that Bali is known for are usually more expensive in Ubud than other tourist centres.  So if it’s a suitcase of ultra-cheap goods that you’re looking for to transport home, it might be better to go on a day trip to Kuta.  I was surprised at the cost of yoga outfits: I guess there’s too much demand for that type of good to expect them to be cheap.  However, if it’s quirky handcrafts and gifts you’re after, I was surprised by some of my finds in Ubud, including beautiful ceramics and locally made jams.  The best shopping within Ubud itself is along Jl. Wenara Wana, Jl. Dewisita and Jl. Hangman.  If you’re afternoon furniture and larger pieces, organise a tour to the surrounding villages.

4. If you love books…

Each year in Ubud, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is held, with the next festival taking place from the 25th to 29th October 2017.  This year the theme is “Origins”.  The festival consists of hundreds of events and is attended by thousands of visitors.  Past writers that have visited include Vikram Seth, Richard Flanagan, Michael Ondaatje, Anita Desai and Christos Tsiolkas.  Check out the official website for the announcement of this year’s program.

5. If you want to stay longer…

Ubud is probably the most popular destination in Bali for entrepreneurs and writers staying longer term, due to a combination of the cooler weather, funky cafe scene and more peaceful pace of life.  So it’s not a surprise that there’s a co-working space, Hubud.  As well as offering a beautifully-designed collaborate working space, there are also regular events and courses.  Prices start from $30 USD per month for events only membership, or $60 per month for the lowest level of co-working membership, including 30 hours access.

Want to lend a hand to the many stray dogs in Bali? Check out my suggested ways to help

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