Ubud, near Bali’s cool central upland, is a treasure trove of cultural landmarks, ranging from ancient temples and majestic age-old royal palaces, to wonderful panoramas of green hillsides and rice terraces. The town and its outskirts within the Gianyar regency, is your holiday destination if you are also into the Balinese culture, arts and crafts, as it was where some of the world’s notable artisans and collectors have visited, lived and worked, creating or compiling eclectic masterpieces that you can observe in local museums and art galleries. While most of the museums and galleries are along the main Jalan Raya Ubud thoroughfare, some kilometres away from the centre are other worthy attractions to see and spend a half or whole day at, such as the Bali Safari & Marine Park, the Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets, and the Tegenungan Waterfall.
Ubud Monkey Forest is one of Bali’s several grey long-tailed macaque-inhabited forests, and perhaps the best known among the rest due to its community-based management, location and ease of access. It lies on the fringes of the Ubud main centre, and is overseen by the Padangtegal village. Also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, and by its official designation as Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana, Ubud Monkey Forest is a place of scientific research as well as a site of spiritual and cultural aspects with temples sanctified by the local villagers deep within its grounds
Bali’s traditional, centuries-old cooperative irrigational system known as ‘Subak’ has created among the most beautiful terraced landscapes in Southeast Asia. Several minutes’ drive north of the main Ubud centre is the cool upland area of Tegallalang, which has become famous for its scenic stopover where travellers to the northern region drop by for snapshots and souvenirs. The latter is provided by the many souvenir stalls that line the ledge. Another highlight nearby is the quaint village of Pakudui, where you can find an extraordinary variety of ornamental woodwork and various carvings. Amongst the many carved mythical figures the Garuda seems to be majestically ever present amongst the creations.
Goa Gajah is one of the island’s most impressive archaeological sites, located south of the Bedulu village, a region famous for its collection of historical sites. The temple complex is within a six-kilometre drive south of central Ubud and an hour’s drive northeast from the provincial capital of Denpasar. Down a flight of stairs, you will discover a relic-filled courtyard and the main 11th century ‘cave’ in which you can enter to view rock-wall carvings and a meditational site, while out on the perimeter are a Hindu temple and an impressive bathing pool with fountains, excavated back in 1954.
Just a hop away from the Ubud Art Market is the palace of the Ubud royal family, referred to as Puri Saren Agung. The Ubud Royal Palace is one of the most prominent places in Ubud, as it is smack-dab on the main Jalan Raya Ubud road and intersection. The palace can also be regarded as the focal landmark of Ubud. The Ubud palace was built during the lordship of the late Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel (1800-1823), and is well-kept by his successive heirs. A visit to the Puri Saren is on many of the itineraries to the Ubud area. It has well-preserved Balinese architecture and charming garden settings, and is best known among lovers of Balinese arts as one of the main sites to view dramatic evening dance performances.
For a free and easy nature trek in Ubud, try the Campuhan Ridge Walk that offers you an escape from the bustles of the main Ubud streets to enjoy cool fresh air and probably the most gorgeous hillside vista in the region. It starts off from the scenic Gunung Lebah Temple, and there's a chance you'll meet a few fellow trekkers and joggers on their way back from their morning walks. However, most of the time you’ll have the path to your own.
The Ubud Art Market, locally referred to as 'Pasar Seni Ubud' is located opposite the the Puri Saren Royal Ubud Palace and is open daily. Here you can find beautiful silk scarves, lightweight shirts, handmade woven bags, baskets or hats; statues, kites and many other hand-crafted goods. Most of the goods found at the Ubud Market are made in the neighbouring villages of Pengosekan, Tegallalang, Payangan and Peliatan. The location of the Ubud Art Market which is centred among the art producing villages, and being just opposite the royal palace which is a centre point to Ubud itself, make it a strategic shopping place for Balinese handicrafts and souvenirs.
Blanco Renaissance Museum is an unofficial landmark in Ubud, the house and studio of the late flamboyant Philippine-born maestro, Don Antonio Blanco. Located on a hilltop overlooking the lush valley of Campuhan, it houses paintings, collages and illustrated poetry, together with lithographic artworks of his favourite subject: nude Balinese women. The private residence and lavish studio has guided tours of the facility, with the artist’s family members hosting you if you’re lucky. The thought-provoking collections, lush garden surroundings and a fine restaurant established in the name of the artist’s late wife and muse all provide a great stopover on your trips to Ubud.
The Pura Taman Saraswati is a beautiful water temple in central Ubud, accessible from the Jalan Kajeng side street off the main road of Jalan Raya Ubud, just behind Café Lotus. The temple is a great stopover along your leisure walks through Ubud town, offering sightseeing and photo opportunities with its classical Balinese temple architecture and a beautiful foyer featuring ponds filled with blooming pink lotuses. Entry into Pura Taman Saraswati is free but, as with any temple visit in Bali, a sash and sarong around the waist is compulsory. You can also drop into Café Lotus for a minimum dinner cover charge of IDR 200,000 or USD 15, which will get you the best view over the lotuses and to the temple’s open stage, where regular traditional dance performances are held in the evenings from 19:30.
Bali Bird Park & Reptile Park is a unique and educational attraction fit for the whole family. Two hectares of fine tropical gardens offer an interesting leisurely walk amidst the rich compilation of nearly a thousand exotic birds from the Indonesian archipelago and around the world. The Bali Bird Park is located in the village of Batubulan, Gianyar Regency, and serves as a fun and attractive playground for bird-lovers, as well as a convenient stopover for those on day tours en route to the central regions such as Ubud, Celuk and Mas.
These falls are conveniently located halfway between Ubud and Bali's provincial capital of Denpasar, and is considered the closest natural attraction of its kind that you can reach within only a half-hour transfer southeast from Ubud town. Getting to the falls is a pleasant drive down paved village roads lined with stretches of green rice fields on both sides. To get to the falls, you follow down a trail beyond rows of souvenir shops, with green valley panoramas in view. Dense foliage frames the falls, and the water volume is impressive at almost any time of year.