Ubud Travel Guide: Jungle Villas, A Sacred Monkey Forest & Rice Terraces Galore

How do I begin to describe my all-encompassing love for Bali?! Ubud, particularly stole my heart. Gorgeous, lush, spiritual and enchanting, Ubud was a fabulous introduction to Southeast Asia.

Highlights of our Ubud Adventure:

  • Strolling the rice terraces and taking in the glorious, expansive views
  • Hanging out with monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest
  • Exploring the temples and learning about Balinese Hinduism
  • Luxurious massages and jungle flower baths
  • Swimming in the infinity Pools
  • Scootering around the rice terraces, town center and surrounding villages
  • Drinking fresh fruit juices, smoothies and cocktails! (I’m looking at you pineapple & coconut)

As our time in Germany came to an end, we wanted to make a last hurrah, and take the long way around to San Francisco. We decided to spend a month in Bali, Australia and New Zealand. In the midst of preparing for an international move, saying goodbye to friends and celebrating Brad’s graduation, I was frantically planning this month trip to the Southern Hemisphere, and I loved every minute of it! I planned a week in Bali, a week in Australia and two weeks in New Zealand. I easily could have spent a month in each of these jaw droppingly wonderful places, and fully intend to return as soon as humanly possible.

Alright back to topic – beautiful, beautiful Bali!

How to Spend a Week in Beautiful, Breathtaking, Bali

Bail Rice Terraces.jpg
Tegalalang Rice Terraces

We began our Bali adventure in Ubud, a small village in the middle of the rain forest, filled with expansive rice paddies, a sacred monkey forest, temples, a deep spirituality,   fresh fruit & juices at every turn and one of the most beautiful cultures I have experienced. I was completely enthralled. I would return to Ubud in a heartbeat.

We found our jungle villa on AirBnb for 50 bucks, I know. We were served a tropical breakfast on our deck each morning, including dragon fruit, mango, pineapple, an array of Indonesian options and strong coffee by the most welcoming staff. We arrived in the evening around twilight, and when the owner walked us down the winding steps to our rain forest property I gasped!

We rented a scooter for a very minimal expense – seriously, less then 5 bucks a day, which I highly recommend to get around Ubud. I have heard that some Eastern Asian countries can be a very intense experience navigating on a scooter, (looking at you Thailand) but Ubud by scooter was low key and the perfect way to explore the island.

Strolling The Tegalalang Rice Terraces – Views for Days

Our first full day in Ubud, we headed right for the famed rice terraces. Coming straight from Germany in February, Ubud was so ridiculously balmy, exotic and tropical it felt like a practical joke!

Ubud Bali Tegallang Rice Paddies.jpg
This is happening!

After our stroll through the rice paddies, we headed to one of the open air restaurants surrounding the paddies for an expansive, mind boggling view and a drink.  We listened to the soft pop music playing, sipped our juices and felt the light breeze through the palm trees. This was the Ubud of my dreams.

Ubud Bali Rice Paddies Drink Break!
Drink break with a view! * After TWO German winters my soul needed this you guys*

*I had intended for this to be a hike through the rice paddies, but Ubud in March is sultry AF, so I would highly suggest you plan on a stroll, as this is the best way to experience the lushness.

Oh, the fruit in Ubud. I am a huge sucker for tropical fruit and Bali ranks up there with some of my favorite countries. (Why is fruit in the Southern Hemisphere so much better?!) Bali boasts dragon fruit, and massive mangos and fruit I have never heard of including the crinkly, scaly, snake skin fruit – shown below.

Ubud Bali Fruit
Tropical fruiiiit stand – Tegalalang!

Exploring the Sacred Monkey Forest – Ancient Temples and Monkey Fun!

Oh you guys – I was so excited to visit this forest. This has been a fantastic monkey sighting year for me. First we played with squirrel monkeys (my most favorite of all!) in Cape Town, then we saw baboons and vervet monkeys at Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa and now the forest. WIN!

The Sacred Monkey Forest is filled with ancient Balinese Hindu temples and Balinese long tailed monkeys scampering about the place, enjoying their monkey lives. Picture this: mother’s cuddling their babies while flipping from tree to tree, monkeys rolling about and playing with their toesies, monkeys lounging on top of ancient elephant sculptures. They were mischievous and delightful and hilarious. These monkeys were well cared for, well fed, safe and healthy.

Ubud Bali Monkeys on Elephant Statue.jpg
Monkeys and ancient elephant sculptures – does it get any better?
Eager Monkey 2 Ubud Bali.jpg
Monkeys are so expressive! Look at this little guy. He is just so EAGER.
Ubud Bali Brie in Monkey Forest
Just looking for monkeys in the 700 year old scared forest full of temples.
Ubud Bali Monkey with Monkey Friends Sacred Friend.jpg
Do you think this little guy sits here thinking… I come here to visit every day and they never EVER talk to me!
Ubud Bali Beautiful Monkey Sacred Forest
The macaques are revered and cared for as part of the spiritual life of the temples.
Ubud Bali Monkey Forest Catepillar Goddess
Balinese Hindu Sculpture. I love this. She is so joyful.

Exploring Temples and Falling in Love with Balinese Hinduism

Balinese Hinduism was one of the most beautiful and soul nourishing religions I have experienced. The connection Balinese people have to the natural world around them is inspiring. I was completely enchanted by this compassionate culture.

Ubud Bali Brie on Stairs Gazing at Temple
In awe of Saraswati Temple in Ubud – Balinese Hinduism is pure magic
Ubud Bali Hindi Elephant Goddess Sculpture.jpg
Stumbled upon this beauty at an art galley – notice the jungle creeping through the windows in the background. Ganesh, the elephant God, is covered in marigolds – flower offerings to the Gods is part of everyday life in Ubud.

The daily flower offerings to their Gods was one of my most favorite parts of Ubud town. Bamboo tray offerings full of delicate frangipanis, marigolds and other flowers along with an array of sweets and incense were placed around the village – in villas, on the steps of homes or storefronts. Our AirBnb Owner told us the Balinese people often make these offerings up to three times a day. The temples were filled with worshipers, and sculptures were robed in colorful materials and flowers. In Ubud, you can feel the way the Hindu faith permeates day to day life.

Ubud Bali Temple

Massages, Aromatic Scrubs and Jungle Flower Baths

The massage we received at Bali Botanica was one of the best of my life. We booked a 90 minute massage, followed by an aromatic scrub, and a flower bath. When Brad and I walked into the spa and glimpsed our flower bath already prepared for us, set against the jungle backdrop we both gasped. IS THAT FOR US?!

Allow me to attempt to set this scene for you. The bath was filled with delicately scented silky flower petals, that filled the room with their soft aroma. We were given fresh ginger tea hinted with lemon and cinnamon, and we could hear jungle sounds from our bath. We even spotted giant blue butterflies and a jungle lizard while lounging, as I am the Queen of animal sightings: a tiny tortoise swimming amidst a herd of water buffalo in a watering hole in South Africa – I SEE YOU!

FUbud Bali Flower Bath Jungle View Close Up.jpg

Ubud Bali Brie Flower Bath.jpg

Jungle Infinity Pool

Ubud Jungle Infinity Pool
Jungle infinity pool – Padma Hotel

This beauty is the infinity pool at The Padma Resort. Bali is known for having some truly incredibly infinity pools, and while trip planning I found that the Padma Resort offered a pretty epic day pass to their infinity pool. For less than $20  Brad and I were given day access to the pool, 2 fresh fruit cocktails, and a voucher to enjoy afternoon tea which included all manner of yummies such as Balinese appetizers, scones, coffee, decadent caramel/chocolate deserts and fruit all with a brilliant view.

Ubud Bali Infinity Pool Cocktail Time!
Fresh pineapple coconut cocktail, OF COURSE

Ubud Bali Padma Infinity Pool

There was a rather intense tropical storm while we were lounging at the pool, so we opted to sit in the Jacuzzi, and check out the afternoon tea during the storm.

Balinese food – Fresh fruit, juices, and coconuts!

On our last day in Ubud, we spent our time lounging by our jungle pool, reading books, and leisurely exploring the village on our scooter. We discovered the most gorgeous little cafe called Dicarik Warung. with a panoramic view of the verdant rice paddies. We sat sipping our fresh coconut water, and pineapple juice, while watching Balinese cranes stroll softly through the rice paddies. It was so peaceful – we felt like we had discovered our own little private paradise in Ubud.

Ubud Bali Rice Plantation Warung Coconut!
Who me? No, I don’t like fresh coconut at all.
Ubud Bali Rice Plantation Warung Pineapple Juice and Coconut!
Fresh pineapple, lime and ginger juice (my new fav), and fresh coconut at the most gorgeous Warung overlooking a rice paddie 🙂 This place was pure bliss.

Bali offers a fantastic array of vegetarian meals and fresh fruit juices and smoothies. My very favorite were the pineapple, lime, ginger fruit juices, or the pineapple and mango smoothies. We could not get enough of them! I also loved all of the coconut water and fresh coconuts everywhere you looked. I found this delicious little place Abe-Do Warung, as a recommendation from the wonderful travel blog Bruised Passports. You sit on fluffy pillows lining the floors near your table, and the cafe is devoted to health and wellness. Warung’s can be found all over Bali and they are small family owned cafes and restaurants. They are typically budget friendly and a great option while dining in Bali.

Ubud Bali Veggie Heaven
Chicken with peanut sauce and rice. Salad with avo and carrots and beats and a citrus dressing.  After 18 months in southern Germany, I was so stoked for salad!

After our super healthy lunch, we spent time relaxing by our pool and then headed into town for happy hour! We sat in the courtyard of Oops restaurant, sipping our frozen mojitos, enjoying the breeze, and lazy Balinese evening.

Ubud Bali Frozen Mojitos
Frozen mojitos two-for-one happy hour! Easiest choice I’ve ever made.
Ubud Bali Town Center.jpg
Town center Ubud

Nightlife:

Ubud has a pretty laid back night life scene. There are some great happy hour places on the main road Jalan Raya – we loved the 2/1 deals on frozen mojitos. We also had a lot of fun hanging out at the open air bars listening to live music.

Laughing Buddah Bar: Near the Monkey Forest. Great live music, yummy Balinese apps. Go later for dinner/drinks.

L.O.L Bar & Restaurant – Next door there is a fun open air café with live music is well. Caribbean and reggae music is the order of the day. Tasty, cheap chicken sate for dinner.

Ubud will live on in my dreams as the most magical and spiritual of places. I cannot wait to return! Next blog post – to die for sunsets and dreamy beach bars in Semniyak!

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