The ultimate guide to Ubud – everything you need to know to escape the crowds

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I must admit, I absolutely love Bali. However it is an island with many different faces and every part of Bali attracts a different crowd. Since I am into yoga, nature and spirituality Ubud is a special part of Bali and it made me come back 4 times. But be aware, Ubud itself is not what you expect. If I needed to summertime central Ubud I would say: busy roads, way to expensive shops, hipsters sipping on a coconut latte, scooters everywhere and mass tourism. But there is a way to experience Ubud in a fantastic way and this article will be your guide how to do that.  

Where to stay

So first of all. What is most important is that you find a nice place to stay in Ubud. Actually, you don't want to stay in Ubud. Find a place near the city center, let's say a 10 - 15 minute scooter drive from downtown Ubud. You can rent a scooter for around 4 US dollar per day. If you rent it long term you could even get it for 2 US dollar per day or less. If you are located a bit out of town it means you will stay at the amazing surrounding rice fields and you will have a more authentic feel of being in Bali. Best thing about Bali is that you can spend a little bit of money and you can spoil yourself with luxury. You can rent your private villa on Airbnb or booking.com for not much money. Here are our favorite places to stay:

Bambu IndahThere is no other place like this and most important is its focus on sustainability and the location. Far away from busy Ubud, with a beautiful view of the river and in the heart of the jungle.  Bambu Indah offers something truly unique, a peaceful serene place where you can relax and focus on your personal wellness for a few days. We recommend everyone to spend at least two nights here. 

Hoshinoya Bali
This hotel is the most spectacular piece of heaven you will ever come across in your life. It literally feels like you are in a sanctuary of beauty. However this hotel is not for everyone since the price doesn't fit everyone's budget. If you have money this place is definitely worth it. The hotel is super refined, elegant and beautifully decorated. It has a simple yet warm Japanese aesthetic. You will enjoy your days just looking at the view, the incredible pool and all rooms have direct pool access with a private pool / lounge. 

Dragonfly village 
Another eco-friendly resort with a great location! In the middle of the rice fields, but just a 20 minute walk from the busy Ubud centre. In the evening you can hear the crickets, frogs and ducks. You also see fireflies above the rice fields. You can't get here by car which is in our opinion not a negative feature.

Prashanti
Prashanti offers a lush jungle setting beside the peacefulness of the Ayung River. This hotel is a bit out of town again and very quiet. The buildings are primarily constructed of wood and sustainable materials, such as bamboo and alang alang, to reduce the use of chemical products. Other eco-friendly measures include designing the rooms to allow the river and jungle breezes to cool down the room temperature. It is a small-scale hotel with a beautifully landscaped garden with a very nice, small, lovely swimming pool. 

Swasti eco cottages
If you choose to be more in Ubud center we recommend to stay at Swasti eco cottages. The location feels very secluded and far away from the center but you are actually in the heart of all the action. It is a fantastic sustainable place with a beautiful garden and a very nice ambiance. What we love is that the Swasti family is working hard to preserve the natural beauty of Ubud through various eco-friendly programs. 

Artist Eco Villa With Wood And Clay
Another hidden gem is called the “Artist Eco Villa With Wood And Clay”. The house is located at a very special location, on the edge of the jungle. They used a beautiful mix of materials, lots of wood and natural materials, with an absolute eye for detail. Everywhere they made intimate little places to hang out. Sleeping here is a very special experience, in the morning you will wake up with all kinds of bird sounds from the adjacent jungle. There is also a beautiful swimming pool at the house. 

Where to eat

Ubud is heaven for food lovers. However the amount of places where you can eat can be a bit overwhelming. After spending a total of 4 months in Ubud I will now present you with a list of my all time favorite places to eat(in no particular order of awesomeness):

  • Atman Nourish, good quality food with a sweet view of the rice paddies, 
  • KAFE , has the best Tuna baguette ever
  • Sage , my favorite place where I would eat almost daily. Don't forget to order a desert
  • Yellow flower, delicious food at an amazing location, healthy vegetarian food and with a local ownerPicture by: https://www.travelordietrying.com/
  • Fussy Bird, this place has awesome veg options and a super friendly local owner.
  • Moksa they grow all their own food and have a genius vegan chef, you MUST try this place.
  • Bambu Indah, such a breath taking place, beautiful architecture and amazing food.
  • Cafe Vespa, one of my favorite places to get coffee

Cheap warungs

  • Dayu's Warung, from the same owner as Fuzzy Bird
  • Puspa's Warung, Cooks with love and with coconut oil only. It has the best fresh young coconuts. 
  • Warung Ting Ting, friendly staff and nice view from the second floor. Also very cheap.

Things to do in and around Ubud

Dragonfly Village has a sauna on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday (Thursday is silent). You can go to ecstatic dance every other Saturday at Akasha (bit outside of town, 15 minutes scooter).

Every Friday night and Sunday morning at yoga barn there is also an estatic dance. You need to get there at least an hour early to buy a ticket, it is pretty popular.

There is a Russian Sauna every Sunday at Bali Dasha. You need to get there super early because later in the evening it's a bit of a party vibe. We loved the location and got out before it got to busy.
Picture by: https://www.thebalibible.com/

Where to have the ultimate massage

Starchild, they have 2 locations. One in Penestanan and one in Ubud. One of the best massages in town.

Bodyworks does a fantastic deep tissue massage.

Karsa Spa, if you go to a fancy spa than go to this one. Beautiful in the rice paddies, with well trained masseuses Yoga. This sanctuary embraces sustainability into its daily holistic approach.
Picture by https://sustainableandsocial.com/

Where to practice yoga in Ubud

Most people who come to Ubud visit the Yoga Barn. I find it a bit impersonal and also very expensive (more expensive than my hometown Amsterdam). My favorite yoga classes were at Intuitive Flow. The view is beyond words and the teachers are great. Even some locals go there.
Picture by https://www.intuitiveflow.com/

Best time to visit 

July and August are actually the best months in terms of optimal weather conditions. However it means you will also be there in high season. I went for the 4th time to Bali last year and spend 2 weeks in Bali during July. I have never ever spend so long in an immigration queue when entering Bali  and it took us at least 1 hour to get out of the parking lot qeue at 2 am at night. So be prepared for a lot of tourists.  

There is not much rain in Ubud from April til October. In the rainy season you will often experience tropical monsoon rain in the afternoon. These showers are hard and violent, but quickly pass. I have spend a few years in Bali in the rainy season and I wasn't bothered that much. Click here for Ubud's climate

This article was last updated on June 03, 2020.