Ubud is one of the most interesting destinations in Bali, nestled amongst lush green rice paddies high in the mountains, far from the hustle and bustle of Kuta. Thanks to its inspiring nature, breath-taking scenery and peaceful village vibes, Ubud is appreciated by yoga lovers from all over the globe, growing into a spiritual mecca for health and wellness retreats and offering a sanctuary for those who crave a more down to earth taste of Bali.
A stark contrast to the busy northern beaches, a day trip to Ubud is a mere hour drive from Seminyak. While a day trip is possible, I recommend finding lodging to stay overnight, as nothing beats the serenity of waking up in Ubud to the wholesome sounds of roosters crowing as mist lifts from the hills and the air fills with sumptuous smells of home cooking and incense burning.
Accommodation in Ubud is widely available and reasonably priced – homestay lodgings will be advertised in the local cafes, or you can see signs on the streets when walking down a tourist area. Staying overnight will also lessen the time constraints, as most of Ubud’s interesting places are not near each other and some require a considerable amount of driving and walking. Keep this in mind when travelling with little ones or wheelchair bound tourists.
A Day Trip to Ubud: How to get to Ubud
The best transportation for a day trip to Ubud is to organise a car and driver yourself. For a whole day, you can expect to pay around 400.000Rp for the first eight hours, then an extra 50.000Rp for every extra hour (about AU$60 + AU$6). The best way is to come to an agreement with a driver you meet on the streets, or make a call to a driver recommended by a friend or someone you have used before (always remember to negotiate the price before you accept the ride). Be aware that if you book a driver through a hotel, you may end up paying more than double what an individual driver would charge you.
Taxi’s to Ubud are easily accessible and affordable, with a one-way trip between Seminyak and Ubud likely to cost around 205.000Rp (AU$20-$25), but keep in mind that most Seminyak taxi drivers are not familiar with the terrain. I also wouldn’t recommend hiring a scooter and driving yourself unless you are an experienced driver and have knowledge of Bali’s streets, as Ubud can be difficult to find without a GPS system and the roads can be narrow and dangerous for foreigners. Most Bali expats know it is easy to get lost even when trying to find their own neighbourhood, so imagine how it is in a completely different region. Most Balinese streets and roads are not labelled, and even if they have a proper name, locals may call it by a different name altogether.
After finding your destination, it doesn’t hurt to ask the driver if he is willing to escort you around if you don’t have a tour guide, as most Ubud villagers will only speak their native tongue, Bahasa Indonesian. While Ubud is a spiritual destination, most tourists stay within a retreat or resort, which means villagers who work outside of these destinations don’t need to learn English.
A Day Trip to Ubud: Places to Visit for a Magical Ubud Day Trip Experience
There is no shortage of awe-inspiring locations and beautiful destinations to visit in Ubud, but if your time is limited, I recommend checking out some of these incredible Ubud locations when visiting this special area:
- Puri Saren Ubud (Ubud Palace): This is the official Ubud Kingdom Palace, with beautiful traditional Balinese houses that once served as the residence of Ubud royalty, set in the center of Ubud next door to the famous traditional art market. Founded by Ida Jokorda Putu Kandel who commanded from year 1800 – 1823, Ubud Palace serves as the cultural and artistic heart of Ubud and draws hundreds of visitors daily.
- Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana: The Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal is on the outskirts of Ubud, on the south end of Monkey Forest Road, and is a must-see for visitors to Ubud. For the Balinese, monkeys embody both positive and negative forces and this temple was designed especially for them. With a scientific name of Macaca fascicuiaris, the monkeys found here are long-tailed macaques, and believe me – they know they are boss! Be on the lookout for cheeky monkeys trying to pinch things from your bags or pockets and keep your personal items close.
- Local Balinese Art: No day trip to Ubud would be complete without a glimpse at the stunning local art work that the region is renowned for. Art galleries and displays of work by famous Balinese and local artists can be found all over Ubud, with stand-outs being Naka Contemporary Art Gallery, Blanco Renaissance Museum and Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA).
- Gunung Kawi: This is Ubud’s Holy Spring Temple with famous shrines which were carved into the rocks during the 11th The temple is meant as a token of remembrance to the kings who lived a thousand years ago and its stunning location at the bottom of a lush green river valley embodies the beauty of the Gianyar region.
- Batur: Get a real feel for the Balinese landscape and enjoy the amazing views over the volcano and Lake Batur, while enjoying a world class lunch in Penelokan, Kintamani. Lake Batur is about a 45-minute drive into the mountains from central Ubud, but the trip is well worth it for the gorgeous scenery.
A Day Trip to Ubud: Accommodation recommendations
As a popular tourist destination, Ubud offers every kind of accommodation you can imagine, from cheap homestays to six-star resorts, with options available to suit all tastes and budgets.
- Locations: Both Jalan Hanoman and Jalan Kajeng are handy to the main streets, and have lots of delightful accommodation on offer. Jalan Hanoman runs downhill from Jalan Raya Ubud and contains art shops, cafes, temples and guesthouses.
- Homestays: These are family compounds and include family temples, providing the cheapest accommodation option in Ubud. You can find one and two story bungalows, often with views over the elegantly sculpted rice terraces. Breakfast will most likely be included.
- Hotel: Choose stylish private suites or villas, usually with great views, air-conditioning, breezy terraces and efficient services. Restaurants, bars and reception pavilions are all available, and you can find everything from sunbeds under coconut trees to massage and spa treatments, guided walks and cultural programs.
For me, Ubud represents internal grounding. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to house-sit a lovely property in Ubud for four months a few years back, which was in a jungle compound where there were only a handful of English speakers. By necessity, it forced me to start learning Bahasa Indonesian, which is something I am very thankful for. I was welcomed into the local community as a friend, which is the highest honour outside of being a family member.
I strongly encourage anyone to experience a magical day trip in Ubud, and highly recommend staying for longer, if possible. Take it from me – it’s an experience you won’t ever forget.