In the same day, I was attacked by a wild monkey and blazing coconuts. It was awesome.
Alright, hear me out a moment. A few months ago, I spent 6 days in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia and it was one of the most magical trips of my life. I’ve worked for Disney for 4 years, so I promise not to say that lightly! Everyone kept telling us that 6 days was far too long, that we would run out of things to occupy our time. They could not have been more wrong.
WHERE TO STAY
This part of our vacation was definitely slower paced, but there is no better way to visit a place like Bali. I know a lot of solo travellers that book hostels in the downtown area but we opted to splurge a little and stay at a 5 star resort, about a twenty minute drive from the core. For us, it was definitely the right call.
First off, I cannot explain how phenomenal our hotel was. I mean, seriously, just book it right away. We stayed at the Puri Sebali Resort, a small and stunning hotel tucked away in the rice paddies of Sebali.
Our room was huge and absolutely stunning, with a private balcony that overlooked nearby valleys and lush green hills. The staff were exceptional and attentive to no end, calling us by name and leaving traditional Indonesian stories and treats every night at turn down.
Every morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast chalk full of pastries, fruit, waffles, eggs, you name it, from the restaurant, or from the comfort of our own balcony. Many of our dinners were spent at the hotel, where we ate delicious quality 3 course meals, for about $25USD. And that included our alcohol. And the pool.
Oh wow, this pool.
Overlooking the rice fields, the infinity pool was almost always empty and left you feeling so serene (with some super instagram worthy photos no less). Don’t get me wrong, the hotel is remote, it is literally in the jungle. But, with the free hotel shuttle that brought us to the downtown area, it didn’t bother us at all. What can I say? Book now!
WHAT TO DO?
Though we spent a lot of time lounging by our hotel pool, there is so much to see in Ubud! Here are a few things I would recommend adding to your bucket list. From there, enjoy your trip and the wonder that is Bali!
TEGALALANG RICE TERRACES
A very popular attraction in Bali, the Tegalalang rice terraces offer beautiful views of the rice fields and jungle. About a 20 minute drive north of central Ubud, it is definitely busy and touristy, but remains a must see in town! There are market style stores, as well as a few restaurants nearby but we didn’t feel the need to spend more than maybe 30 minutes there. Though we did not go, a less touristy alternative is the Jatiluwih rice terraces, a UNESCO world heritage site about 1h30 minutes northwest of Ubud.
I would highly recommend exploring downtown Ubud. What better way to spend an afternoon than by bargaining with shop owners, visiting temples and indulging in that delicious Indonesian food? The art market is smack in the centre of the downtown core and is a whirlwind of colour, texture and hidden gems. As you walk down the street littered with stalls, you will find everything from hand woven bags to silk scarves, colourful dream catchers and souvenirs for friends and family. It is also the setting of one of the market scenes in the blockbuster movie Eat, Pray, Love!
Across from the market is the Ubud Palace, a historical building that used to house the royal family of Ubud. I would also take the time to stroll behind the Starbucks on the main street, where a quaint Balinese temple stands, surrounded by a beautiful lotus pond.
THE MONKEY FOREST
This one is a bit tricky for me. The Monkey Forest is a big space where wild monkeys roam free. A huge tourist attraction, they are very used to humans walking around but take note: the monkeys can be quite aggressive! We were having a great time, until one jumped me and tried to get into my backpack. I didn’t have any food and my backpack was straddled in front of me, but the little bugger jumped up my leg and onto my head, before jumping off and, teeth bared, running after my friend who tried to shoo him away. After that, we were less interested in those monkeys.
KECAK DANCE PERFORMANCE
A famous traditional fire dance performance at the temple in Junjungan village, this experience includes 100 sarong-clad men singing chants while retelling a story from the Ramayana. A whole village event, all the proceeds go towards temple activities and the local community. With chanting, Balinese dancing and flaming coconuts, what’s not to love? The performance takes place every Monday night at 7pm at the temple on Jalan Tirta Tawar, with tickets costing 75,000IDR ($5.50USD). A must see for some traditional Balinese culture!
Okay, let me tell you about that Bali magic once again. This spa, tucked away in a back street of the downtown area, presented me with the best spa experience I have ever had. In fact, i’m pretty sure that every spa in North America have gotten their nature recordings from this jungle. With amazingly cheap prices, we got a one hour Balinese massage, a body scrub, a cooling yogurt body mask, a stunning flower bath and a full 60 minute facial, all for about $75 USD!
Though the outside looks very unassuming, we were quickly transported into jungle bliss, with our very own outdoor huts, complete with a full roof, massage table, shower and mosaic style bathtub. The facial itself was in a separate room and we were given a complimentary green juice or tea after our treatments. Over all, I cannot recommend this spa enough, but please make sure to tip your masseuse at the end of your glorious day!
This is a beautiful temple where locals go to cleanse their spirits from sin in 30 “showers” (mini falling shoots of water) in the centre of the temple. You can also walk around and see the grounds if you would rather not get wet. As per temple customs in Bali, they will give you a sarong if you are not already covered in the appropriate way but take care to properly follow the rules. Tourists can get cleansed with the locals, but must first change into a different sarong offered by the lockers, something we learnt the hard way!
Bali Swing is one of many parks in the area that offer the instagrammer’s dream. Created specifically with the purpose of “capturing that perfect moment”, Bali Swing is a park with various nests, swings and platforms. After paying the entry fee and the optional photographer fee, you can swing to your hearts content over beautiful scenery to get that photo. Employees push you higher on the swings and help you up the nest ladders so only the best views make it in your picture.
The park even offers the option to rent you flowy colourful dresses to optimize on that instagram flare and has a behind-the-scenes feel to it, as tourists try and capture that instagram moment! However, do be warned: the park can be quite busy resulting in wait times for each individual picture spot.