9 Unmissable Things to Do in Ubud for Your Bali Trip

When firing up your ultimate Bali itinerary, Ubud’s a necessary stop. It’s the cultural heart of the region with some of the best dining and shopping that Bali has to offer. Whether you want to spend your days shopping the markets or visiting all the local cultural attractions, Ubud’s a place that you’ll quickly & fiercely come to love.

Whether watching monkeys play in the forest, visiting palaces, uncovering ancient Balinese temples, or purchasing hand-woven bags, it’s all part of a typical day for travellers in Ubud. With such an endless list of amazing things to do in Ubud, it can be hard to plan the perfect vacation.

Need help planning your trip to Bali’s cultural heartland? Here’s your essential guide to the best places to visit in Ubud…

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What to do in Ubud: The top attractions & best places to visit

View Balinese architecture & dancing at the Royal Palace

Scratching your head on what to do in Ubud? Start with the Royal Palace. This 17th-century gem is the top landmark in town and sits at the intersection of the main roads. Tours of the Royal Palace are available throughout the day.

Balinese Dancer in Ubud

You may also want to head back to the palace in late afternoon. Every evening, the palace puts on a lively cultural performance. Dancers with exquisite costumes are accompanied by a large orchestra, creating an hour-long show that can’t be missed.

Tickets for the evening performance are available at the entrance. While the shows start at 7:30 pm, you should show up early if you want the best spot.

Buy handcrafted goods at the Ubud Art Market

After a short visit to the Royal Palace, head to the nearby Ubud Art Market. This treasure trove of beautiful handmade and handcrafted goods is open daily. Here, you can pick up all types of handcrafted Balinese souvenirs from bags & baskets to statues & scarves.

Ubud Art Market

The Ubud Art Market provides the perfect spot for surrounding yourself with the local Balinese culture. You’ll get to see the amazing talent of the local artisans on display while helping contribute to the local economy.

When visiting the Ubud Art Market, it’s best to start early in the day. The market closes at five, and by noon, it’s one of the most crowded areas of the town. (And in a popular town like Ubud, that’s saying a lot!)

Watch monkeys in their natural habitat at the Ubud Monkey Forest

Nearly every visitor agrees that one of the top things to see in Ubud is the Ubud Monkey Forest. It’s managed by the local villagers and is located just outside the centre of town.

Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

This monkey sanctuary is set in a sprawling tropical forest featuring canopies of natural vegetation. As you walk through the paved pathways, you can stop and watch the grey long-tailed macaques frolic and pick stuff out of each other’s hair. (Just remember: Don’t feed them or make sustained eye contact as these little devils can get a tad aggressive at times.)

Despite the name, the monkeys are not the only attraction in the forest. The large trees and foliage create a stunning backdrop. However, you’ll likely spend most of your time in the Ubud Monkey Forest searching for the ancient temples scattered throughout that feature moss-covered guardian statues.

Shop for just about anything in & around Jalan Raya Ubud Shopping Street

The main road that cuts through the center of town, Jalan Raya, is naturally home to the largest concentration of shops and vendors. You can find almost everything on this main street, including small fashion boutiques that carry international designers and local vendors that sell traditional Balinese attire.

The main shopping street also provides a chance to try some local street food. You can typically find vendors crowded between the shops lining the streets.

Downtown Ubud Bali Indonesia - panoramio (11)

As you walk the main street, you’ll also notice dozens of side streets containing dense collections of small shops. Don’t be afraid to explore; it’s easy to work your way back around to the main street. If you get lost, a friendly local can point you back in the right direction.

Tour of the sprawling Tegallalang Rice Terraces

The spectacular Tegallalang rice terraces are also one of the top Ubud points of interest. They showcase the agricultural heritage of the region and are located just a few minutes north of the main Ubud shopping area.

Rice Terraces Ubud Bali

These rice terraces rely on an irrigation system called Subak that was developed over a thousand years ago. The result is carefully-organized plots of rice paddies spread across a terraced field. The surrounding forest also adds to the scenic views.

You can either view the Tegallalang terraces from a distance as you travel the nearby road or stop and take a short tour. The main gathering area near the fields also houses a collection of vendors selling handcrafted wood items.

Listen to live music at the popular Laughing Buddha Bar

Open from early in the morning until midnight, the Laughing Buddha Bar in Ubud offers cold drinks and live music. Jazz, blues, rock, and world music are just a few of the genres that you may hear played on the stage on any given day.

The Laughing Buddha Bar is also walking distance from most of the hotels in the downtown Ubud area. If you’re staying in Ubud, you should be able to reach this hotspot within a few minutes of leaving your hotel. You can stop in for burger early in the day and come back later for happy cocktail hours.

Explore the ancient Goa Gajah Temple (Elephant Cave)

The Goa Gajah Temple (Elephant Cave) is one of the most unique Ubud attractions. It’s just a few miles south of Ubud and one of the most spectacular archaeological spots on the island.

Goa Gajah Temple Elephant Cave Ubud

The entrance to the cave features an awe-inspiring rock carving, while additional carvings are found throughout the inside of the cave. Most of these carvings date back to the 11th century.

There are also many attractions out in the courtyard. You’ll find vendors, rice fields, and small streams. There’s also an excavated pool, featuring five statues of Hindu angels with vases as waterspouts.

Buy high-end jewelry at the Jean-François Fichot Store

You can collect more than handcrafted bags and wooden souvenirs in Ubud. This town is also home to the flagship store of Jean-Francois Fichot, one of Bali’s most famous expats. This store is a small jewelry boutique with original, luxury pieces that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Fichot was a French jewelry and home décor designer and collector. Over the years, he built a large collection of gorgeous jewelry and delicate glass displays. These pieces are available at this small boutique located on the eastern end of Jalan Raya, the main street in Ubud.

Fill your stomach with fine dining at Locavore

After enjoying all the fun things to do in Ubud throughout the day, you’re likely to be famished. When your stomach starts to grumble, head over to Locavore for the ultimate Ubud fine-dining experience.

Locavore Restaurant, Ubud

Locavore was opened by two head chefs from five-star resorts. They created a contemporary European menu featuring locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant first opened in 2013 and is now the hottest dining location in Ubud.

Where to stay: The best hotels for Ubud sightseeing

There’s no doubt that Ubud’s one of the best choices for where to stay in Bali, and its accommodations scene reflects it. You’ll find everything here from backpacker digs to some of the best luxury hotels in Bali. Here are a couple top choices:

  • Duana Sari: The best choice in Ubud for budget-friendly villa-style accommodations. This property lies within 10 minutes from the centre of town and features a lovely sun terrace and pool for pure relaxation after a long day of sightseeing.
  • Element by Westin Bali Ubud: A brand-spankin’-new wellness resort in the heart of Ubud. The rooms feature fresh modern decor and deliver spectacular garden views from their balconies. This is the perfect place to disconnect from the hustle of modern life with their daily yoga and meditation sessions.
  • Goya Boutique Resort: The top luxury hotel in Ubud, this 5-star masterpiece is worth staying for their signature infinity pool with some of the most incredible views you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Where to go in Ubud: A summary of the top points of interest

  • Looking for Ubud’s spiritual side? Crawl through the Ubud Monkey Forest in search of ancient moss-covered temples that’ll take your breath away.
  • Want to chill out with a drink (or two)? Head to the Laughing Buddha Bar, one of Ubud’s top nightlife spots, to listen to some local talent playing everything from rock to jazz.
  • Craving a little Balinese culture? Don’t miss out on the Balinese dance performances at the Royal Palace or a chance to sort through local handicrafts at the Ubud Art Market.

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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