One day in Ubud, Bali, isn’t nearly enough but that’s all many Bali visitors with the beach on their mind dedicate to this laidback town set amidst lush jungle. Do our one day in Ubud itinerary, taking in verdant rice terraces and feasting on farm-to-table cuisine and you might just extend your stay.
One Day in Ubud – An Itinerary for a Perfect Day in Bali’s Verdant Heart
Getting to Ubud
As you’ve only got one day in Ubud, you don’t want to waste a second of it, so start out early. Hire a driver and car (about $50 a day; if you’re a family or group of friends, go for a mini bus) or a driver and guide who can customise an itinerary so you can concentrate on the lush scenery along the way instead of the roads. As you’ve also got two very fine meals scheduled, you’ll need a designated driver. Be clear to the driver about the route to take and don’t let him take you the supposedly faster yet slower, traffic-clogged way through Denpasar and Jalan Raya Batubulan. We prefer the less congested and more scenic roads from Canggu and the North Kuta areas, which take you through sleepy villages of traditional Balinese compounds with pretty pavilions and moss-dappled shrines. The drive will take a minimum of one hour, but longer with stops for photos.
Where to Stay in Ubud
If you’re staying overnight or decide that one day in Ubud just isn’t enough, the following hotels offer quintessential Ubud vistas of lush rice terraces and tropical jungle: COMO Uma Ubud (enveloped by jungle gardens overlooking Tjampuhan valley), Alila Ubud (luxury on a ridge overlooking a luxuriant valley), Bisma Eight and Goya Boutique Resort (both boast rooftop infinity pools overlooking the forest canopy), Tejaprana Resort & Spa (on the edge of a palm-filled river valley), and Ananda Cottages (mid-range Balinese-style houses set amongst rice fields).
A Morning in Ubud
There are few better ways to start your one day in Ubud than with a stroll through the dense sacred Ubud Monkey Forest in the village of Padangtegal, on the edge of Ubud’s town centre. The highlight of the Ubud monkey forest is the hundreds of adorable, intelligent long-tailed macaques. While they’re not as aggressive as the guys at Uluwatu, they are audacious and enterprising, so don’t take food unless it’s for them. Don’t miss the temples, including the 14th century Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, Pura Prajapati and Pura Beji, picturesquely set next to a stream. Plan to arrive when it opens at 8.30am and allow at least an hour or so for a walk and photos and to visit the three temples.
Breakfast in Ubud
If you skipped breakfast, head directly to Locavore to Go (Jalan Dewisita 1), little sister to Locavore (see Dinner below). Order their bacon and egg sandwich on a toasted English muffin with fried duck egg and homemade bacon, or, if you’re famished, their Breakfast Burger – toasted brioche with a pork patty, fried kampung egg (free range eggs), homemade cherry tomato ketchup, with pommes dauphine on the side. If you want something lighter, try the granola and yoghurt, waffles, and pastries. These guys also produce their own charcuterie and pates, as well as freshly baked breads, and jarred pickles, preserves, chutneys, and jams, all made on site, which make great picnic treats or edible souvenirs.
Mid-morning in Ubud
Spend the morning visiting Ubud’s enchanting temples and palaces, set in gardens fragrant with frangipani trees and dotted with moss-dappled statuary. In the heart of town, on the main road of Jalan Raya Ubud, not far from Ubud’s market, is Pura Taman Saraswati. This beautiful water temple honours Dewi Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and the arts, and has a pretty pond of pink lotus flowers. Nearby, you can admire more beautiful Balinese architecture at Puri Saren Agung, Ubud’s Royal Palace. Dating to the 1800s, it was damaged during the 1917 earthquake and rebuilt. Only a small section of the palace is open to the public, so it doesn’t take long to stroll around the garden and pavilions. North of this site, Pura Marajan Agung, the private temple of the Ubud royal family boasts a splendid gate and serene pond.
Alternatively, if you’re a food-lover spend the morning doing a Balinese cooking class in a local village, where you’ll shop for your ingredients at a local fresh food market, visit a rice plantation, and explore a traditional village, before starting the class to learn the secrets of Balinese cooking. Serious cooks might prefer this Balinese cooking class on an organic farm where you’ll pick some vegetables and herbs for your class and learn to cook six specialties, including basa gede (traditional spice paste) and sate lilit (traditional Balinese pork skewers; see our sate ayam with chicken). They also offer a vegetarian option.
Lunch in Ubud
Don’t even think about eating anywhere else except Hujan Locale – unless of course you couldn’t get a dinner reservation at Locavore, then dine at Locavore for lunch and Hujan Locale for dinner. Hujan (which means ‘rain’) is the Ubud restaurant of chef Will Meyrick and Palm Amatawet, whose Seminyak restaurants Mama San and Tiger Palm we loved so much. Their cuisine is built upon what they call a “found and foraged philosophy”, based on using the best of local ingredients, sourced from local farmers and, like Locavore, they’re working hard to support the agricultural community surrounding Ubud. Like the Seminyak eateries, Hujan has a pan-Asian menu with favourites from across Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Coffee in Ubud
Need a caffeine hit? Ubud’s best coffee is at Seniman Coffee Studio (Jalan Sriwedari 5). These guys take their coffee very seriously. Award-winners, they’re members of the Specialty Coffee Association, fully qualified graders, and professional barista trainers. They source, grade and roast the coffee themselves from single-origin beans from across Indonesia, Africa, and in South and Central America. So, yes, the coffee is outstanding. They also sell it if you want to take some home, and they run workshops on home brewing, roasting, cupping, and milk and latte art.
Afternoon in Ubud
Your one day in Ubud wouldn’t be perfect without some time on the rice terraces. You could work up an appetite for dinner with an afternoon hike. Once the temperature drops a couple of degrees and the light has softened, head to gorgeous Tegallalang Rice Terraces, pictured above, a 30-minute drive from Ubud’s centre. Sure, you could take photos from the observation points accessed from steps off the high main road, but it’s more fun to get onto the terraces for a hike. Wear good walking shoes and note that tracks get muddy after rain. Also note that an official fee will be collected from your driver before entering the village; a further donation is requested at a small bridge on the terraces for maintaining the tracks (fair enough), and locals will also ask for money for posing for pictures. If you didn’t come with a guide, you might like this 3-hour electric bike tour from Ubud to Tegallalang Rice Terraces, which takes in traditional villages, the monkey forest, temples, a coffee plantation, and the rice fields on the way to the rice terraces.
Alternatively, try the equally breathtaking Campuhan Ridge Trail, which runs between two river gorges. Access the hike from the entrance to Warwick Ibah Villas and Spa (Jalan Raya Ubud), from where a paved footpath takes you down to the river; the walking route starts at the 8th century temple, Pura Gunung Lebah Temple, climbing up to Campuhan Ridge, from where there are spectacular sweeping vistas of the verdant countryside. It then drops down and continues before eventually ending (handily) at the Karsa Kafe (behind Karsa Spa), which has bamboo huts surrounded by lotus ponds and heavenly rice paddy views. It’s only a two-kilometre walk, however, it’s a steep climb up and you’ll probably want a cold drink at the end before returning; allow two hours, there and back. The walk is free and you’ll see few people on the route. If you prefer to go with a guide, this walking tour along Campuhan Ridge to Ubud Monkey Forest stops at the water temple of Saraswati, the Royal Palace and Ubud Traditional Art Market on the way, as the guide explains Balinese culture, traditions and art.
Sundowners in Ubud
Your one day in Ubud wouldn’t be complete without sundowners. Enjoy luxuriant jungle views and two-for-one cocktails during happy hour (5-7pm) from the terrace of Bar Luna (Jalan Raya Ubud, beneath Casa Luna). Check the schedule to see what’s happening when you’re in Ubud, in case you’re up for some post-dinner culture. The venue is home to Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in October/November and live music, literary events, and performance year-round.
Dinner in Ubud
There’s no better way to cap off one day in Ubud than with a meal at Locavore (Jalan Dewi Sita; +62 361 977733), however, you’ll need to before your table before you book your Bali flights. This intimate restaurant became Indonesia’s finest when it landed on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list at #49 this year. (It’s easier to get a table for lunch). Owners Ray Adriansyah (Jakarta-born, Sumatran heritage) and Eelke Plasmeijer (Dutch) are on the pass, while Adi Karmayasa (Balinese) manages the restaurant and front of house. Having cooked together since Ray and Eeelke met in a Jakarta kitchen in 2008, the two have developed their own style of contemporary Indonesian cuisine drawing on European techniques, based on sustainable produce sourced from across the Indonesian archipelago. Although most produce comes from around Ubud, including their own farms, members of the team travel around Indonesia seeking out new ingredients and cooking methods. When we say that everything is local, even the beautiful dinnerware and cutlery is made in Bali, in crafts workshops around Ubud. Order the 7-course ‘Locavore’ degustation menu (there’s a vegetarian ‘Herbivore’ option) with matching cocktails and book a table at the pass so you can watch one of the world’s happiest teams of chefs have fun while they meticulously plate your dishes.
Cocktails in Ubud
Celebrate a successful one day in Ubud at Night Rooster (Jalan Dewi Sita) an intimate second-floor bar helmed by former Locavore bartender, Raka Ambarawan, with views over Jalan Dewi Sita, and sip imaginative cocktails concocted from local herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables, as well as bitters and infusions made in house. Toast to your perfect one day in Ubud with a Jack and Gin of jackfruit-infused Tanqueray, Mancino vermouth blanco, seasonal jackfruit, oleo saccharum, star anise, cardamom, jasmine bitters, and mangosteen. The short snack menu includes everything from devilled eggs to a ‘prawn dog’ – prawns on a brioche with herbed mayonnaise, cocktail sauce, and edible flowers. There are also very tempting platters of charcuterie and sausages, all house-made by the Locavore team – not that you could possibly fit another thing in if you just dined at Locavore. Maybe one day in Ubud isn’t enough…
Have you been to Ubud or do you live there? What’s your idea of a perfect one day in Ubud? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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