Things to do in Ubud. Bali

17 Things to do in Ubud, Bali for Sustainable Travelers

Bali is one of the most beloved islands in the world. This Indonesian island has attracted international tourists and expats alike for decades. A renowned hot spot for yoga retreats and legendary surfing, Bali conjures up images of sparkling coastlines and diverse beaches. There is another side to the island that is even more special, however, than it’s stunning coastlines. It’s filled with lush jungles, peaceful energy and is unlike any other part of this Indonesian island. Ubud, Bali, is just that place. 

Roughly an hour from the coast, primarily due to traffic and one lane roads, Ubud is one of the most magical parts of Bali. Located deep inside the jungle, surrounded by sprawling, lush rice fields, majestic waterfalls and ancient temples, it's where many go to tune inward and to relax. While it’s attracted spiritual seekers and yogi’s for several decades, Ubud is also considered the cultural capital of Bali. Once you go, you’ll see why. 

driving through Ubud
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Why Visit Ubud, Bali

Unlike the beach hotspots of Canggu, Seminyak and Kuta, Ubud isn’t filled with crazy beach clubs and tourist surfers. It's a melting pot of Balinese culture, island nature and eco-friendly restaurants and boutiques alike. Here you’ll find more locals than tourists – which is unfortunately not the case in the other touristy parts of the island. 

You’ll also find crazy hordes of motorbikes, and packs of dogs, whizzing down the half paved, pothole-laden main road. Just one street over, you’ll find yourself on a tiny path, surrounded by plants that tower over you, a babbling brook on one side and stone gates to hidden villas on the other. You’ll feel like you’re lost in some magical jungle, completely removed from the world. This contrast of new and old, foreign and local, peaceful and chaotic is what makes Ubud, Bali such a sought after destination. 

Overtourism in Bali 

When Visiting Ubud, Bali it’s important to note that overtourism has greatly changed parts of this magical island. While I still think this is the best place to visit in Bali, it is not immune to overtourism

As many of our cab drivers remarked, “everyone comes here for yoga, but us Balinese- we don’t even do yoga!” Ubud is the yoga capital of Bali and you’ll find a yoga studio within a mile in every direction. You’ll also find many places advertising retreats and classes. These are almost always taught by visiting expats and geared towards tourists, not locals. 

Ubud, Bali is a spiritual and special place to the Balinese. When visiting, it’s imperative that we respect their culture. It's also a sustainable tourist's dream thanks to all the eco-friendly, healthy offerings and gorgeous nature. When enjoying all the beautiful things Ubud has to offer, it’s important that our actions positively impact the Balinese. It’s a great idea to stay in, eat at, and support things that are truly locally owned and run in order to contribute to the local economy. 

rice fields in Bali
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Best Places to Stay in Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali has incredible accommodation options. You have everything from resorts, homestays, vacation rentals and traditional Balinese villas to choose from. When deciding where to stay, anything within central Ubud will be relatively walkable and easy to get around. 

If you want to stay further out or along the rice fields, an area where most of the Balinese live, be mindful that you’ll have to do some serious walking or get a motorbike. There isn’t typically car access anywhere outside of the main road. 

You also have numerous eco-friendly accommodation options to choose from. Prioritize homestays, or Balinese run accommodations, as most bigger resorts or hotels will be foreign owned. 

One place I have to give a shoutout to is Yellow Flower. This is hands down my favorite restaurant in Ubud, Bali and I went there every day. They are owned by the most incredible local women and serve the freshest vegan Indonesian food. They also have a spectacular view and a shop that sells local artisan goods. If that’s not  enough, they rent out two villas behind the cafe.   

This homestay is truly something else – I can’t imagine a better Ubud, Bali villa. You can rent them here

museum in Bali
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17 Sustainable Things to do in Ubud, Bali

  • Have a spa day at one of the locally run spas. I recommend Siddhi Ayu Massage for the best massage in Ubud and Darshana Veda Spa, one of my favorite Ubud spas. They do wonderful bodywork packages including the famous Balinese flower baths. Plus, their grounds are spectacular. 
  • Hike Campuhan Ridge Walk at sunrise for spectacular views and less crowds. 
  • Watch the sunset over the Ubud rice fields at a local warung or bar, like Sweet Orange
  • Explore the incredible waterfalls in the area. Tours by Locals does a wonderful tour to five different falls. 
  • Explore the Northern side of the island by taking an Ubud day trip. This area gets far less tourists and has stunning nature, so it’s a great place to explore and hike more responsibly. 
  • Hike Mt. Batur, an active volcano, at sunrise with a local guide, like this one offered by Tours by Locals. This is one of the best places to visit in Bali but be warned – it’s a difficult hike.
  • Take a local cooking class in Ubud. Tours by Locals offers a great class, as does Moksa, a local organic garden and restaurant or Casa Luna Cooking School.
  • See a traditional local show. The Kecak dance performance is particularly special, and it’s performed by locals who recreate the story of Ramayana.  
  • Eat at the local markets. The Gianyar Night Market is also fantastic and worth the trip out of the center. 
  • Shop locally and sustainably! This is definitely not hard in Ubud. The Ubud Art Market is the place for traditional artisan goods. Artcycle Bali has upcycled jewelry and accessories while Threads of Life is great for sustainable clothes.  
restaurants in Ubud
Photo by Unsplash
  • Visit an Ubud temple! Ubud Palace is a must see as is Saraswati Temple.
  • Reconsider that yoga class or retreat if it’s not taught or run by a Balinese local. 
  • Rent a bike or motorbike from a local shop. Ubud isn’t the most walkable place, especially if you’re going during dry season- the heat is no joke. Biking around the town is a great green transportation option when walking isn’t possible. 
  • Visit Tegalalang rice terraces, the most beautiful rice terraces in Ubud. Please be mindful that this is one of the most famous Bali attractions. Hire a local driver to get there and pay the entry fee. Many tourists complain that Balinese locals charge a fee at tourist attractions. While this  isn’t usually required by the government, don’t try to haggle your way out of it. The fee is usually $1-2 USD and it’s more than fair that the locals in the area are trying to create a tax since they don’t get benefits from the hordes of tourists that come through and potentially damage the area. 
  • Eat at local, Indonesian owned warungs and sustainable, eco-friendly restaurants. Many places in Ubud have their own gardens and have a plant based focus. 
  • Experience fine dining in Ubud at Locovore. This Indonesian fusion restaurant has a 9 course tasting menu created by local chefs. It’s arguably the most famous restaurant in Indonesia, so book in advance. 
  • Visit a museum! Ubud has the most museums in Bali. Be sure to check out Museum Rudana, or Agung Rai Museum of Art.
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Alicia Briggs

Alicia Briggs

Full-time digital nomad since 2018, I run a slow travel & sustainable living blog. I'm a freelance writer, editor & content creator. I love veggie tacos, rooftop happy hours, day hikes and living in cities I had never heard of before moving there.

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