After exploring Seminyak, my husband and I were excited to see what Ubud had to offer. Before traveling to Indonesia, I did some research on the different areas and I decided it would be most fitting to visit both places, as they’re so different. Seminyak is most known for its vibrant nightlife, shopping galore, and just an all-around more lively place. Ubud on the other hand, is the total opposite. Ubud, Bali is a place of magic and wonder. There’s no shortage of jungles, the vibe is much slower paced (with the exception of traffic), and there’s vegan food galore. After visiting the busy city that is Seminyak in Bali, my husband and I made our way over to Ubud, a tropical jungle retreat. It is an area of Bali surrounded by an array of rice-patty fields, famous landscapes, and temples/shrines scattered throughout.
During our time in Ubud, my plan was to simply relax. Though I had a few things on my list I wanted to do, none of them required a great deal of energy. We spent nearly a week in Ubud and still didn’t get to explore all of its many places. While we were there, here’s what we did (and ate!):
Things to Do:
If you’re a thrill-seeker like me, you MUST visit Bali Swings!
During our trip, we hired a driver to take us to various places. On this particular day, we decided to make Bali Swings part of our visit. I LOVE roller coasters and heights, so this was right up my alley. We arrived around 10am and were directed to the customer service area where you pay and sign your life away on a liability form. Moments later you’re being escorted down to where all the fun is happening! I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect such an assortment of different swings. It was like an amusement park!
Without much thought, I immediately went to the first swing I saw. Each swing has an attendant there to ensure your safety. They make sure you’re properly strapped in and push you off into the air! The first few swings were a little unreal for me (in a good way). For one, I couldn’t believe I was actually in BALI and two, the views were beautiful. Such a surreal feeling.
In addition to swings, they have cute little spots for photo-ops. There are a few different kinds of nests that you can sit in. What’s cool is that when you take the photo it looks like your floating amongst the trees, when in reality you’re two steps up from the ground.
In addition to the swings, they also offer food and beverages if you’re in need of a snack (included in the price of admission). I wasn’t hungry during my visit, so I can’t say whether or not the food was good. I did however take a glance at the offerings and to be honest, it didn’t look like I was missing out on anything.
We stayed at the park for about 1.5-2 hours before deciding to call it quits. As you can imagine, the temperature continued to rise and the lines were getting longer. Would I go back? Absolutely!
Tegallalang Rice Fields
I’m sure if you google Ubud, Bali, somewhere along the lines these famous rice fields will show up. Because they’re so popular, I had to see what all the hype was about. To be completely honest, my experience was a bit underwhelming. We arrived, got tickets at the ticket office, then were continuously asked to make donations throughout the trek. Usually donations are optional, but these didn’t seem to be. The money was said to go toward the upkeep of the bridges throughout the trails, but I couldn’t help but wonder why they just didn’t include it in the ticket price? At each stop, the attendant gave suggested donation amounts, but after 2-3 occurrences, we decided to turn back (as well as a few other couples we were walking with). After a while it was just too much.
On the other hand, the rice fields are beautiful and it was neat to be able to see them in person. If I’m not mistaken, there was also a swing out there. If you’re interested in a two-for-one location deal and don’t need a lot of options (like the Bali Swing park I shared above), this might be the better choice. I would imagine it’s cheaper too!
Bali Botanica Day Spa
If you do NOTHING else in Bali, go to a spa!
Visiting Bali Botanica Day Spa was certainly the highlight to my Ubud experience. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really do a lot of pampering while I’m home. I think I’ve gotten a professional massage 2 or maybe 3 times. Each time it’s been a pretty average experience. Nothing to write home about. Not that they don’t do a good job, but how much could you really expect from a national massage chain?
Because of my past massage experiences, I really wasn’t expecting a lot from my visit. I was actually most looking forward to the flower bath. Being that we had booked a couple’s massage, they offered a free shuttle service to the spa. We arrived and were greeted by the staff, then invited to pick out our own scrubs. Minutes later we were escorted back to our room where we met our masseuses.
This massage was like no other. In Bali, they are much more thorough than in the US. When they say “full-body massage,” they really mean FULL BODY MASSAGE! They massaged most everything from my scalp and ears down to each individual toe. During this hour-long massage, they made us feel so incredibly comfortable and relaxed. It was such a great experience! Following the massage, we were invited to a flower bath covered in beautiful rose petals nicely decorated in a heart shape. We soaked for 30 minutes, then showered. Y’all, I didn’t want it to end!
If you plan to visit a spa, I would certainly book in advance. There were other spas I was more interested in, but they were all booked! We lucked out with Bali Botanica being able to accommodate us on such short notice (I think I made the reservation the week prior). Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with choosing any spa in Bali, but I can’t recommend this one enough! We paid $17 each for the massage and flower-bath together. UNREAL!
This was my first waterfall experience! Kantolampo is supposed to be one of the better waterfalls in the Ubud area because it’s not as popular as some of the others. Well, I don’t know about that part, as there were a good amount of people there upon arrival… but the water was really nice! Overall, I enjoyed my experience, but the part I didn’t like was that when you’re walking around in the water, you have to be careful of where you’re stepping! The rocks under water are of all shapes and sizes. If you’re not cautious, it could result in an accident. It would probably be smart to wear water shoes. Keep in mind, this is probably true for most waterfalls, so don’t let that deter you from visiting this one in particular!
Tirta Ganga Water Palace
If you’re looking for a peacefully tranquil place where you can feed fish and walk alongside them in the water while being surrounded by beautiful scenery, you’ll want to visit Tirta Ganga. If you’ve researched Bali, you’ve probably come across pictures of this place. On a nice day, it’s great to walk around and simply “take it all in.” The landscaping is perfection and there’s greenery in every direction.
Gates of Heaven
The Gates of Heaven at the Pura Lempuyang temple are another one of those places you’re sure to come across if you’re researching places to go in Bali. Can I be completely honest with you? I wouldn’t put this on your list of “must visit places” in the area. Although it’s beautiful and very picturesque, it’s super far out of the way and this is basically the only attraction at the temple.
When we arrived, we were made aware that there was a ceremony taking place. At first I thought this might be cool to get to see some of their traditions, but not so much… upon arrival we had to pay extra to have someone ride us to the top of the hill (where the actual temple was) since cars weren’t allowed (because of the ceremony). Thankfully we had enough cash with us to cover the extra expense, or else this could have been problematic. When we got to the top of the hill we had to rent sarongs, then we were able to walk to the temple.
Because it was a ceremony day, there were lots of worshipers there. I thought they might do something special in celebration, but all we heard were a lot of speeches. While the talking went on, we waited in line to take our photos at the gate. Once we were done, we headed back down. You have the option to walk around to other areas, but we decided to pass. I read on multiple blogs that the gates are the only real attraction here, but if you have the time and energy I’d encourage you to explore. Why not?!
Where to Eat:
Sayuri Healing Food Café
Are you into raw foods? I’m not talking about boring, dry salads or fruit… I’m referring to the real meals and creative ways that raw foods are being used to take vegan cuisine to another level! Raw foods typically include items that have not been cooked beyond 118 degrees Fahrenheit. It is believed that anything cooked above this temperature loses a lot of its nutritional value. Who knew?!
Sayuri Healing Food Café was a great introduction to the raw food world. Their menu is quite extensive with a variety of options and a case full of freshly made desserts to choose from after you’ve finished your entrée. In addition to great food, it’s the perfect environment to work on your computer (they’ve got excellent wifi, which can be hard to find) or simply meet with friends. Their staff is extremely welcoming and not pushy at all. My husband and I spent about 2-3 hours working and munching on food and not once did the staff make us feel as if we had overstayed our welcome.
The café is very open, with a natural setting. I love that you can leave your shoes at the door and walk around the café barefoot. They even have shoes you can slip on for going to the semi- outdoor restroom. The décor is aligned with Ubud’s relaxed and tropical feel, which was exhibited in
both their indoor and outdoor seating areas. We initially opted to sit outside where they offer pillows for you to sit and appropriately short tables for you to work or eat. Unfortunately, the pillows were a bit thin, so after an hour, we opted for the traditional seating inside for more comfort.
For my meal, I decided to go with the Lasagna Italian. It’s their most popular dish and after tasting it, I can see why! It’s azucchini based lasagna with marinara sauce, a creamy nut béchamel, marinated spinach, and raw-mezan, served with a side garden salad. First, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the presentation. It actually looked like real lasagna! My first bite sent a “wow” feeling straight to my taste buds. I couldn’t believe I actually liked it! The lasagna was delightfully well seasoned and even cheesy. It was completely reminiscent of a cooked lasagna with a raw flare.
My husband ordered the Pad Thai, which consisted of coconut and zucchini noodles with a sweet tamarind sauce, almond butter chili, veggies, a crunchy topping and a spicy relish.He really enjoyed his dish and I was still reminiscing about how delicious mine was. As his wife, I’m obligated to taste his food I liked his too, but not nearly as much as my lasagna! For dessert, I decided to go with their matcha filled unicorn cake, which was way too cute to pass up. It was so tasty! Perfectly sweet with just the right balance of flavors.
If you’ve ever been curious about the raw vegan food world, I’d encourage you to try Sayuri Healing Food Café in Ubud! It will surely give you a new perspective on raw food. It certainly did for me!
Kafe is a cute little restaurant on one of the main streets of Ubud. It was pretty conveniently located so we ate here twice during our stay. Once in person and once via their delivery service. During my in-person visit, I sat on the balcony for lunch while doing some work. They have great internet and it’s a great place to people-watch and enjoy the view of the city down below. During this visit I ordered the Vegan Burger which is a mixture of cashews, tofu, veggies, coleslaw, and spiced pickles, all accompanied by a side of delicious fries. In addition I added “vegan cheese,” but to be honest, it didn’t have a very distinctive flavor so I can’t say as to whether I liked it or not. However, the burger as a whole was good.
Like most everywhere else in Bali we went, the staff here made us feel comfortable and there was no hurry to leave. I sat for about 1.5-2 hours, people watching, eating and working. After all, it was a lovely day outside and the weather was ideal. Would I return? Absolutely! Though I didn’t try any of them, they have a good selection of vegan desserts in the cases downstairs. On my next trip I’ll be sure to test them out!
upstairs, which was a cool lofty area with dim lighting. I was most intrigued by the lights hanging above each table. Not long after being seated, our waitress explained that if you’re in need of service, simply pull the string on the light, the bulb will turn red, and someone will be on their way. In addition, she brought out these neat magic towelettes that were amazingly refreshing (and smelled good too). They arrive at the table almost half the size of a AA battery, but after being dipped in water they expand! How cool is that?!
For my entree, I decided to go with the “No Fricken Chicken Wrap.” It’s made of a chicken substitute topped with tomato, lettuce, avocado and mixed greens with a side of fries. If you decide to go with this option, be sure to go for the wrap and not the sandwich, as the bread used in the sandwich contains egg. For dessert, I decided to go with the double berry dragon fruit cheesecake. If I could have changed one thing about it, it would have been the crust. The coconut flavor was a bit too present for me, other than that it was delish!
Know Before You Go:
There’s a thing people sometimes get when visiting Bali called the “Bali Bug.” It’s not necessarily food poisoning, but it’s your body’s reaction to the new bacteria. After 2-3 days of being in Seminyak, I noticed that I was a little more “frequent” than I usually am, so I did some research and got introduced to Bali Bug. Bali has different bacteria in their water that sometimes has negative effects on people. It can trigger everything from diarrhea to vomiting, so be careful! Although I ate at popular restaurants (I avoided the local warungs), I wasn’t exempt. I didn’t have the worst of cases, but it certainly made for uncomfortable situations at times (I’ll spare you the deets).
Prepare yourself! I’ve read that there are some shots/precautions you can take by visiting with your doctor beforehand if you want to go that route. If not, just pack some Tums or something to fight back! While we were there I picked up some activated charcoal tablets and probiotics. In addition, I’d certainly advise a quick google search of how to avoid getting sick. The good news is, as soon as we left, all of our problems stayed in Bali! 🙂
Taxis in this area of Ubud a pretty nonexistent. I’m convinced that the few taxi stands we saw were simply people who owned a car and decided they wanted to try and make a few extra dollars. Unlike Seminyak, Blue Bird taxi sightings were rare. For days where we wanted to visit sites, we hired a personal driver. If you’re in need of one, let me know and I’ll send you the info for the one we used! Outside of that, we walked and used the sketchy taxis every now and then.
If you’re confident in your motor scooter abilities, this is also a great alternative to walking and taxis. We decided not to go this route only because the Ubud traffic patterns/driving was crazy and we didn’t feel like it was the right move for us.