Tips for visiting Ubud:
- You will find so many cute shops while walking the streets of Ubud. I’m not a big shopper but I could have easily spent a lot of money here! You’ll want to wander down cute alleyways and discover what secret gem you’ll find hidden away! It’s also very easy to walk around Ubud since most streets have sidewalks but it can get quite noisy and stinky because of the cars/bikes.
- Tourist seem to use the Go Jek app which is like Uber but on scooters. Uber is forbidden in Ubud.
- Coffee shops I tried and loved: Monkey cave coffee, Monsieur Spoon and FREAK.
- Ubud has so many restaurant options, it’s overwhelming! I really enjoyed the food at Habitat (this is also where I tried my first Jamu, a herbal drink made of plants and spices such as ginger, turmeric, cloves, fennel, celery, and tamarind), Monsieur Spoon for fantastic pastries and Atman Nourish Kafe for delicious food with rice field views.
- Additional restaurant recommendations that I didn’t have a chance to try: Clear Cafe, Alchemy, Kafe, Dayu’s, Watercress, The Elephant, Wayan’s Organic Coconut Juice Bar, Soma Cafe, Goa Gajah, Bali Buddha, Naughty Nuri’s Warung, Yellow Flower Cafe, Sari Organik, WAMM and Sage.
- Accommodation: My homestay was called Nyoman Karsa Bungalow Ubud and it was like a mix between an Airbnb and a small hotel. It had a communal pool with a view on the rice fields and monkeys came around at dusk. Included in the rate was a cute breakfast delivered to your room or on your patio. I enjoyed watching the staff do the ceremony offerings around the property in the morning. The room was relatively clean for the local standards but the room smelled a little bit of humidity, mold and bleach so I kept the AC on the whole time. The room was simply furnished with a small desk, a mini fridge and a TV from the 90s. I turned it on one night out of curiosity but couldn’t see much since most channels where snowy.
- YogaBarn: Isn’t your traditional North American yoga studio. It’s more like a cool hang out spot that offers over 20 classes of yoga daily ranging from advanced classes to restorative, to power flow, to women’s circles. It’s like a mini village in itself: you’ll find a juice bar, a restaurant, multiple classrooms decorated in different styles and you’ll hear birds singing, kids playing in a nearby school and possibly get eaten alive by mosquitos. Overall, I had higher expectations for this yoga studio as everyone I spoke to strongly recommended it: the classes weren’t really good (although maybe I’m judging a little too quickly after only 6 classes there), it had a tourist feel to it meaning the yogis were mostly Europeans/Australians/North Americans and not a lot of locals taking class or teaching. I should also mention I’ve been practicing yoga for over 10 years now so my practice is probably at an intermediate level. Here is a quick review of the classes I took:
- Power yoga with Paul- The class I took was definitely not a power flow class: it was very slow and not very flowy but Paul played some acoustic guitar at the end of class and that was a great treat.
- Yin Yoga: I was quite disappointed in this class because we did the same position twice and it was mostly stretches I could do alone at home but the class was given in the lower room in front of a pond and the view was fantastic.
- Morning flow- again I was disappointed by this class as it was not very flowy at all and geared towards first timer yogis.
- Vinyasa Flow with Murni- this class was FANTASTIC. The teacher seemed to be a local and she offered a very advanced class. We practiced some interesting transitions such as Firefly to Crow, and down dog jump into crow pose.
Ecstatic dance party by Swami Arun – a must! Walk in expecting to be soaked like you just jumped into a swimming pool. Close your eyes and just let your body move to the music, how ever it wants. (see more below)
- A friend also recommended the Ubud yoga center but I didn’t try it.
- The Campuhan Ridge walk is a short distance walk from the busy streets of Ubud and a nice escape from the noise and clutter of the city. I’d recommend going early in the morning or in the evening as there isn’t that much shade and it can get very hot! Bring lots of water. You will cross a few little restaurants, galleries, a spa and a few shops along the road. We ended our hike at Jungle Fish, and it was the perfect reward!
- Spend a day or an afternoon at Jungle fish, this beach club without a beach is perfect to lounge around and stay cool by jumping into the infinity pool or sipping on a drink. You can take a cab to the property or walk to it via the Campuhan Ridge walk. Bring your swimsuit, sunscreen, mosquito repellant (at dusk) and your credit card/cash to pay for the entrance fee.
- Visit the Monkey Forest: don’t worry about trying to find them- you will see a lot of monkeys on your walk around the forest!! They seem to be very playful but they can also get very aggressive with food! Don’t try to hide it from them or they will rip it out of your hands. I saw people get attacked by the monkeys for their water bottles! I recommended bringing a backpack or a purse and not taking anything out of it unless you don’t mind getting it stolen. I was obsessed with the cute monkey babies & their mamas and it was nice to see them in nature, just lying around chilling out. I also bought some bananas and had a monkey climb on me…it was slightly frightening as they were quite aggressive and not very controlled. My mom also told me after I sent her a picture of the monkey on my shoulder, that they can bite and give you rabies!
- What clothes to bring to Ubud? Depending on the time of year, and do your research so you don’t plan a trip during their rainy season, you will most likely need to bring only very light clothes, a swimsuit, yogi clothes and some comfy sandals. There are so many shops here you could also come with no clothes and leave with a bag full of very stylish garments. Laundry services are very quick and cheap compared to North America, so don’t overpack like I did and take advantage of these services. I went home with a bag full of clean clothes!
- Bring Pepto Bismol (tablets), electrolyte pills, Advil and Neosporin. They all came in handy at some point in my stay here.
- Next time I’m in Ubud I’d like to make it to the Village above the clouds, attend a cooking class, stay outside the city in a more remote area, find a more local yoga center, rent a scooter and dare to drive it around Ubud.
Impressions of Ubud:
It’s hard for me to express how I felt in Ubud because I was stuck in between states of discomfort, amazement, and overstimulation. Discomfort caused by the noise pollution of cars and scooters, people trying to sell you anything they can and from the smell of these vehicles, the fermenting rice and incense from the offerings left everywhere, the burning trash, and the intense heat and humidity. Amazement for the architecture of the houses, buildings, and temples, for the beauty and color of these places, the smiles on local people’s faces, the quality of the food I ate and the sky full of bright stars. All of the above put me in an overstimulated mood, where after going on an adventure to discover the city the only thing I wanted was to be in my room or by the pool, alone with no sound.
I guess part of me though Ubud would be more rural, less of a big city from the pictures I saw and the little research I did before going there. I’m not sure if it is because I was coming from spending time in Australia, where everything was so clean and peaceful and that’s just what I was looking for or if it was simply too busy of a city for me. When I think back, I believe I would have enjoyed it more if I could have stayed a little bit outside the city center and just driven a scooter into town when I felt like it instead of just being in the middle of it all the time.
I really enjoyed spending time with my Guide Ketut and learning about his island, observing monkeys in the Monkey forest, walking the Campuhan Ridge trail and just lounging around my pool. I would go back to take more yoga classes in different studios, but mostly to try out more restaurants!
ABOUT THE ECSTATIC DANCE PARTY: If you have the chance to experience this type of party, I strongly recommend it, especially here at the Yoga Barn. Picture a sober dance party where people are barefoot, dressed however they want and dancing to rhythmic/tribal music played by a DJ with dreadlocks. From an outsider’s perspective, I’d say it looks everyone is in a trance, high on drugs or really drunk because everyone is just letting their body move freely, without fear of judgment. No one cares what you look like, the moves you are creating or the space you are using to do so. There are no stares, no worrying about seducing or being checked out by weirdos, no fuss about what to wear and the best part is it’s a great workout (my Fitbit calculated 500 calories for 1h30minutes of dancing). It’s basically all the fun of going to a nightclub minus the huge hangover the next morning! Expect to walk out of there drenched in sweat, as if you’d jumped in a swimming pool. The dance party ended with a guided meditation by the DJ who played, along with another man, soft meditative live music including the gong to end the evening. We ended in a big circle, sitting cross-legged, hand in hand with our neighbor and chanting mantras.
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