Ubud’s surrounding natural beauty and more gentle pace of life have made it a popular choice for nature-lovers, yogis, healers and artists. Known as the “cultural heart” of Bali, visitors can take in traditional Balinese dance performances, attend wood carving workshops and watch local artists at work. The countryside also offers incredible scenic places of interest, including the rice terraces in the village of Tegallalang, a 20-minute drive from Ubud, and the Hindu temple at Tirta Empul.
Ubud offers fantastic shopping, and you can spend many an hour wandering along Jl. Raya Ubud, Jl. Hanoman and of course the main street that is Monkey Forest Road. The shops here have a more authentic feel and sell local items such as Ata wicker goods, additive-free soaps, batik fabric and handcrafted homeware.
A must-see is Ubud's central market, "Pasar Seni", which was also featured in the film "Eat Pray Love". Located near the Ubud Royal Palace, the market sells everything from silver accessories to trinkets and souvenirs. Bear in mind that prices aren't fixed and you'll have to negotiate with the vendor, but that just adds to the experience.
Ubud also has a number of art galleries and is the best place in Bali to buy books, especially those on Balinese art and culture. Ganesha Bookshop is one of our favorites and is conveniently located just a few shops down from the popular Bali Buda restaurant and cafe.
The surrounding areas of Ubud offer several places of interest, including Goa Gaja, Tirta Empul and one of Bali's oldest and largest monuments, Gunung Kawi. Just to the north of Ubud, Tegallalang offers dramatic terraced rice field views, so have your camera handy.
Elephant riding and river rafting are also popular activities. Rafting along Ubud's Ayung River takes about two hours over a course of 7km to 9km in a six-seater rubber dinghy. Elephant rides can be arranged at one of two parks, Bali Safari Park and Taro Elephant Safari Park.
Ubud isn't well-known for its nightlife, with the more holistic crowd it attracts preferring an early night in and a morning yoga or meditation session. There are however some of the best restaurants and cafes in Bali, many of which cater to vegetarians and other special diets.
Health and wellbeing is big business in Ubud and many travelers come looking for rejuvenation, healing or simply to be pampered. Besides the cheaper salons you can find along the main roads, Ubud is also home to some of the most luxurious spas on the island, like the Maya Ubud Resort & Spa and Kamandalu.
Ubud offers a range of accommodation to suit all types of budgets. Local homestays and inexpensive guesthouses are located in town along Monkey Forest Road and Jl. Hanoman, while for luxury options try the Four Seasons Resort, Pita Maha and the sublime Viceroy Bali. The area is popular with couples on honeymoon and after the success of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love" book, now also women on a personal or spiritual journey.