By Featured Writer Courtney McCaffrey
Female adventure traveler, writer, surfer
A day is never enough time to spend in Ubud Bali. However, there are so many sites and adventures to cram into your Bali vacation, a day may be all you have to spend in the town littered with Hindu temples, traditional craft shops, juice bars, cheap (and quality) massages and some of Bali’s favorite landscapes.
Wake up early to make the most of this action packed, and somehow still relaxing, day in the town that continues to be praised for its ability to combine traditional culture with modern amenities.
Start with a Fresh, Healthy Breakfast
Ubud locals will assure you that a good day starts with a healthy breakfast. Begin your morning at the Juice Ja Cafe, where you’ll enjoy a huge selection of fresh juices made with local ingredients from their personal garden and local growers. Fresh fruit salads, omelets, traditional Indonesian fare, coffee and homemade baked goods are just a few of the tasty treats you can try to start your day in Ubud.
Venture into the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Walk less than 15 minutes south of the Juice Ja Cafe, and you’ll arrive at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. It’s one of Ubud’s most famous sites, which hosts roughly 15,000 visitors each month. This sacred forest serves as a demonstration of humans coexisting with nature harmoniously, and it’s home to more than 600 long-tailed macaques (the monkeys) and roughly 115 different species of trees.
Your visit will be nothing shy of an adventure as you walk along the paths admiring monkeys, feeding them and possibly even feeling them crawl onto your shoulders.
Kids love buying bananas and feeding them to the monkeys, but if you’re a little shy of the energetic creatures, you can walk along the middle of the paths, admiring the tall trees, temples, statues and even a cemetery — all covered in monkeys.
Lunch at the Tegallalang Rice Terraces
The Tegallalang Rice Terraces is one of those places you’ll never forget. It takes about 30 minutes to drive to the terraces from the center of Ubud, but you’ll realize the tranquility was well worth the journey when you exit your vehicle to see the breathtaking bright green expanse of the rice terraces.
Enjoy local Balinese fare while sitting on comfortable pillows in one of the many huts, and don’t forget to end your meal by asking for “Bali coffee.” You’ll be presented with a small pot of highly caffeinated, specially brewed coffee to enjoy while taking in, and probably snapping more photos of, the unbelievable browns and greens of the rice paddies.
Burn off some of your rice-based meal by walking along the trails within the rice terraces, and you’ll probably see the field workers in action.
Relax at the Spa and Shop for Souvenirs
You’ll be blown away by how affordable massages can be in Ubud. Resist the higher spa prices at your hotel and venture to the Putri Bali Spa, Zen Spa, Verona Spa or Nur Salon — all relaxing spas where you can enjoy a number of massages or spa treatments for less than $10 each.
A rejuvenating hour at the spa will prepare you for an hour or two of shopping at Ubud’s countless local craft shops, boutiques, art galleries, jewelry stores and book shops.
Don’t miss the Ubud Art Market, known as Pasar Seni Ubud, in the center of town to haggle for some of the best prices on traditional Balinese handicrafts.
Enjoy a Traditional Meal at Cafe Wayan and Bakery
End your day in Ubud at the famed Cafe Wayan and Bakery, one of the restaurants mentioned in the book “Eat, Pray, Love.” Although, the restaurant’s notoriety isn’t the only reason you should visit. It’s one of the best place to eat a traditional Balinese meal in an atmosphere that rivals even the priciest Western-style restaurants.
Tropical plants surround your shaded table, and you’ll trade traditional chairs for pillows on the floor (western-style tables and chairs are available too). The attentive waitstaff and mouthwatering fresh food make it worth paying a few extra dollars compared to other, less scenic eateries on the same road.
Cafe Wayan is also famous for its baked desserts that you can enjoy at your table or take to go. Grab one more final taste of Ubud before crashing on your bed and reminiscing about your fulfilling day in one of Bali’s favorite towns.