5 Days in Ubud, Bali
Updated: Feb 3
Last August I went to Bali on the spot for the very first time with a friend, just for a girlie pampering weekend and I loved it. We stayed near Seminyak and while I was there I heard about Ubud, this area in the countryside of the island. I'm an introvert so I'm always kind of interested about remote places.
As I looked at the pictures, I promised myself that next time I'd go back to Bali, it will be for a romantic getaway in Ubud.
My boyfriend and I were applying for a new visa that required to be outside of Australia (the immigration system always find reasons to kick you out). That was the best opportunity to make my wish come true!
And here's how we spent 5 days in beautiful Ubud.
12:30pm : We landed in Denpasar. Passing through immigration took ages but we finally made it. Bali is only 3h30 from Perth, so we couldn't complain. The first mission was to find a taxi at a cheap price to get to our hotel. Ubud is at 24km north of Denpasar but it takes up to 90 minutes to get there. We could book a taxi with our hotel for AUD$32 but the usual price is AUD$30 and I was certain I could find something cheaper.
I gave a little pep talk to my boyfriend about bargainning in Bali. "They will give you a big price, and if you are too nice, they'll harass you. If you're not happy with the deal, decline politely and walk away."
I went quickly to the toilets and when I got back, a taxi driver were talking to my boyfriend trying to convince him to go with him. I asked "How much?" - "350.000".
AUD$35?! I tried to bargain, the guy was firm, he didn't want to go lower. "Okay, bye then." But because my boyfriend didn't want to act mean, he told him we'd go back to him. So the guy kept following us!
After declining again multiple times by walking away, we finally shook him off and found a taxi for 250.000 rupiah (AUD$25).
An hour and a half later, he dropped us off down the road from our hotel. The streets were incredibly busy and loud. As we got off the car, a middle age woman was standing there, probably waiting for someone. She looked at us and started talking to us in French : "You're from France too? Just arrived? I don't like it here. I tell you the truth, Ubud isn't what it used to be. It's freaking Ibiza."
Well yes, I just arrived and I was not going to make an opinion based on that. We just ignored her and walked up to our hotel.
Despite the fact that it is in the center of Ubud, we only needed to walk two minutes to escape it. Our hotel was in front of the rice fields and the calmness of the place was priceless.
Hotel | Gusti's Garden 2 Guest Houses |AUD$30-$35 per night with Breakfast included.
It was already 4pm when we arrived, we took a shower straight away as the humidity hit us really hard.
May is known as being the best month to visit Bali. The wet season is finished and the temperature doesn't exceed 30 degrees. But prepare to sweat. A. LOT.
Then we had dinner with a friend who was in Ubud and went to bed straight after, to get pumped up for the next day.
I woke up at 6. It always does the same thing with me. When I'm home, in Perth, in my daily routine, leaving my bed is the hardest thing. I snooze for an hour each morning. When I'm travelling, I don't even need an alarm. I wake up, fresh as a flower, excited to live this new day.
The first thing I did was to go on the balcony to see the morning view. It was incredible. I could see mountains further away that we couldn't see the day before because of the clouds. I mean, who wouldn't want to wake up to that every day?
One of the most popular spots of Ubud was located right just next to our hotel and I couldn't wait any longer to explore : The Campuhan Ridge Walk.
It is a nature trek recommended to go very early on the morning to avoid the crowd to really enjoy the tranquility of the place. It is simply stunning. The sunlight between the palmtrees, the birdsongs and the sound of your steps on the ground... This kind of moment has the power to freeze the time and let you forget about the fast-paced life you have at home.
Even though the view was incredible, it was still super hot. After the hills, we walked through a village where we could choose between all kind of cafés and that was the opportunity for me to have my very first young coconut!
Two hours later, we were back to the hotel to have another shower and clean clothes. Little tip if you go to South-East Asia : whatever you're planning on packing, make it double. You'll sweat your arse off in 5 minutes.
After a nice breakfast (banana pancakes, omg so yummy) we needed a scooter to get around. Most hotels can provide anything, from a vehicle to excursions which is great, as long as you are aware of the usual price. Renting a scooter is cheap in Bali, we got ours for AUD$7 a day but apparently there is a place where you can get one for AUD$5/day. Check here.
Even our friend rented a scooter AUD$50 for 14 days!
Getting on a scooter was so much fun. You get to experience the crazy balinese traffic. There's simply no rules, you drive and you be careful, that's it. People carry their entire family on one scooter, and yes, even their dogs!
That was our first ride to the most Insta-worthy place of Ubud : Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
It is a real spectacular view. This place is famous for the beauty of the rice paddies that involve the traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system called subak.
It is a well-known spot that attracts a huge number of tourist every year. I mean, you've probably seen hundreds of photos on Instagram (including mine), no need to say that the majority of people don't come here for the history, but to get more likes! Love nests, swings, bars on the edge, and other photogenic activities actually finance the conservation of the rice terraces. They are not just gorgeous, they are used to feed the country.
So as you walk up, give a small donation to the workers and respect the place.
On top of that, the huge amount of stairs is a freaking good work out!
I told myself "if I don't lose at least 5kg by the time I get back home I don't understand." Turns out I gained 1kg. Bummer.
That was one thing ticked off my list. We then went a bit further up to visit a ancient rock temple, a complex archeological site : Pura Gunung Kawi.
When you visit a buddhist temple, you need to follow the rules and cover you legs. Ideally, wear a sarong (long scarf). And this is a great way for Balinese people to make money. As we were driving through a market to get to the temple, a guy stopped us to give us a random ticket saying we needed this to enter the place. A second after two women tried to sell us their sarongs. Well, to be honest, the scarves were beautiful and if you sell me something pink, there's a good chance I'm going to buy it. I know, my brain works weirdly. I bought a pink sarong for $20 which was a massive rip off but I wanted to move on.
The entrance fee of the temple is AUD$5 per person and What A Surprise, we realised we could borrow some scarves from them. For. Free. Dammmmiiiiiit.
The temple is a peaceful piece of beauty. The view opens to ten seven-metre-high shrines carved into the rocky hillside, surrounded by the jungle and rocked by the sound of the river. What a holy place to be...
And what the heck were all those stairs again? The walk back up was a torture. I was drenched in sweat, I could hear my legs screaming "Girl you need to stop this or we're gonna break like freaking matches."
After getting my breath back and a stable heart beat, we jumped back on the scooter and decided to return to the hotel driving through villages and little streets. How fun! We got chased by dogs and almost ran over some kids and chickens, and the wind drying the sweat on my face was such a delightful moment.
And I don't care what you think while reading this but wait to go to South-East Asia and you'll see. You'll get me. Kinesthetic memories are the best to tell.
Back to the city, and after the 3rd cold shower of the day, it was time to treat ourselves with some FOOD.
We found a nice and cheap restaurant that was actually my favourite of all the places I have been to eat during those 5 days. Two cocktails for the price of one, amazing food and friendly staff. I had my favourite Indonesian meal : Mie Goreng. Fried noodles served with sautees vegetables, chicken, eggs and crackers. For $5. And it is delicious.
We then had an ice cream at the shop across the road and I started falling asleep on the couch. It was also time for us to say goodbye to our friend who was leaving Ubud the next day to go to Nusa Penida, a hilly island southeast of Bali, known for its stunning beaches.
For us, we also had an adventurous day ahead to rest for.
Click on this picture to watch the first episode of my Bali Vlog!
We promised ourselves that this day would be a bit more relax. We would visit two beautiful places that would not involve hours of walk, it would be restful and painless.
I shouldn't have underestimated my lack of judgement. God, no I shouldn't have.
We took the scooter to visit a popular spot of Ubud, a scenic view in a lush jungle : Tegenungan Waterfall.
I love waterfalls. Anywhere I am, if there's a waterfall nearby, I have to go and take a picture. Fun fact about the reason why I'm crazy for it : When I was 8, I went skiing with my class in the French Alps and my mom gave me a disposable camera so I could only take a certain amount of photos and I was so excited about it. We went on a trek in the snow and I kept taking random pictures of anything I could see... Until we stopped by a gorgeous waterfall. The bathing area was turquoise because of the ice and I was so amazed by that view, I went to take a photo... No shot left. I used it all. 20 years later I'm still upset about my stupidity. *slapping my head* Goddammit.
Anywaaaaaay, we arrived a the Tegenungan Waterfall and the view was breathtaking. It costs 20.000IRP (AUD$2) for a ticket and you need to go down ... a thousand freaking stairs.
But I mean, look at what you get to see!
Amazing isn't it? Insta-worthy you reckon?
Hey, you remember we had to go down a thousand stairs to get that close? We obviously had to walk back up. And no, that wasn't fun. Yes, I sweat my soul off. And no, I still didn't lose weight.
We came back to the hotel, took the second shower of the day, had a lunch and went to a spa to get a massage. If you're going to Bali and you don't get a massage, you're a fool. It's cheap and it's awesome.
Then we headed to the place everyone talks about : The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
The entrance ticket costs 80.000IRP (AUD$8). It is the natural habitat of 749 Balinese long tailed monkeys and it's one of the most famous attraction in Ubud.
The forest is beautiful and the monkeys seemed pretty placid. We came at around 2pm to make sure they were fed and not too aggressive. Because monkeys scare the hell out of me. They can be vicious and to be honest, they look creepy.
There were signs that said if a monkey jumps on you, it means they are looking for food so if you have some, you need to drop it and keep walking slowly until it jumps out.
I opened my backpack to grab my selfie stick and kept walking. Then I felt a weight on my shoulders. Oh my god. A young monkey just climbed on me. I started walking slowly hoping it would jump out. It did not, and I could feel it was trying to open my bag. I didn't have food but I know those bastards are thieves and I was scared it tried to steal something. It was opening my front pocket, where I had my passport. "No, no, get out". I couldn't move, couldn't see what exactly it was doing and its tail was almost wrapped around my neck! I gently tried to close the zip when I felt a big pinch on my arm.
What the hell? It just bit me!
A second later, I was surrounded by ten people trying to help me get rid of it. But none of them were from the staff team and got scared. I was like "It's opening my front pocket, I don't want it to steal my passport!" Then the girl behind me yelled "It's got your passport!" I started getting seriously freaked out, the monkey jumped out, realising I wasn't carrying any food at all.
I looked at my arm and luckily, there was no blood. Just the marks of its teeth.
All shaky I ran to my boyfriend who all that time, kept walking away and had no idea what just happened!
We didn't stay any longer and before we left I asked one of the staff if I had to do anything about it. The guy laughted at my face and said as long as there's no blood it's fine, I just needed to clean it. So I did, and I was fine, just a bruise for a few days.
Two weeks after the incident and as I'm writing this, I just found out that even if the bite didn't break the skin, you have to get tested and get the vaccine against the rabies as soon as possible. This disease is 100% fatal once you get the symptoms.
So fortunately, I don't have any symptoms but I ran to the doctor to get the first shot.
I don't need to tell you that this experience was fun, but very scary. Also, I'll never come back to the Monkey Forest. Only because no staff was around when I got bitten, and they just basically ignored me when I asked a serious question.
So if you ever go to that sanctuary, be careful. Do not carry any bag and don't mess with the monkeys.
Click on this picture to watch the second episode of my Bali Vlog!
After that freaky afternoon and a good dinner, we went back to the hotel to go to bed at 6pm. 6pm?! Yes, because we booked a excursion with the hotel to climb the famous Mount Batur. It required a pick up at 2 o'clock on the morning to start the trek at 4 and watch the sunrise on the top. I was excited about it. It would only cost AUD$37 each.
But while we were walking back, I got a massive stomach cramp, and needed to urgently go to the bathroom so I got into a restaurant to use their toilets. "Oh my god, I got the Bali Belly." But I wasn't really sure.
We went to bed, I felt a bit better but my stomach kept hurting. I thought "Hm.. Maybe it's not the Bali Belly."
But then the pain felt a bit familiar to me.
Hold on, what day were we?
That was not the Bali Belly.
That was my period.
Then we heard something. I looked at the window.
It was raining.
1am. My alarm went on. It was raining even more. Were we going to climb the Mount Batur when it's pissing down outside and we don't even have rain shoes?
I searched on the internet and it said that it's not worth the shot to climb it if it's rainy and cloudy because chances are we were not going to see anything. Plus, the path would be likely to be closed because a heavy rain can make it slippery and muddy.
I don't mind going on an adventure but not this time. Not when I'm on the rag, unexpectedly. Not with my tiny little black shoes.
Screw it, we went back to bed.
An hour later, I heard someone knocking on the window. My boyfriend got up and opened the door : it was the owner of the hotel.
"The guy is waiting for you down the road, he's ready to pick you up."
"Well, it's raining."
"Erm, yes it's raining! We can't go if it's raining this way, the path will be closed. Sorry."
The guy left, and was really upset. We felt really bad but what could we do?
On the morning we decided to get around and see if we could find some hidden spots. On the main road we saw a tiny alley with a sign that said "Magical Rice Fields."
This alley looked a bit dodgy as you could see, but it led to an amazing and peaceful area. Hundreds of rice fields and a lovely little cafe-restaurant a bit further away. It was so calm. We enjoyed a smoothie and a snack, admiring the view.
We then went back to the center to visit the iconic temple Pura Taman Saraswati Temple and its Lotus pound, also known as Ubud Water Palace. This Hindu Temple is dedicated to Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, literature and art.
It's absolutely beautiful but not as massive as I thought. What I love though, is the architecture. So well-designed and treated with respect.
It is a great place to stop by and take your little picture.
On the opposite side of the road, we went to the Ubud Art Markets. I needed to buy a Buddha for my friend.
Even though there was plenty of people and merchants, the place remained quiet. When I was in Seminyiak last year, the streets were loud, merchants were yelling their prices and harrassed tourists to buy their stuff.
Ubud is so different.
A bit further, a merchant was selling some luwak coffee. A luwak was standing there, surprisingly unstrained, to attract tourists. The guy said "come pat it, and get some coffee."
I said no. I knew what this was about. If you've never heard about this animal, it's also called 'civet coffee' and it basically eats coffee cherries, that once are defecated by the luwak, are collected, and produced as coffee beans.
The thing is the traditional method of collecting has given way to intensive farming, where the luwaks are often stuck in cages and force-fed. This has raised ethical concerns about the horrific conditions they're put in.
In some balinese shops, they are shown off as attraction for tourists but because they are supposed to be aggressive animals, they're often drugged. This is cruelty and I strongly disagree and refuse to get involved.
Next stop on the list was located at 20mns drive from the city : Goa Gajah - Elephant Cave.
This temple has been built in the 9th century as place for spiritual meditation and was added to UNESCO World Heritage.
We paid our tickets 50.000IRP and just before we entered the site, we had to cover our legs again, but then, I saw a sign that said "No Women in Menstruation". Shoot!
I wanted to respect their culture but also I didn't want to get hit by evil spirit! My boyfriend said "We already paid anyway, don't worry."
I felt so bad and I do not recommend anyone to do the same. Respect the culture.
The place, though, is so pretty. Especially as you walk down the stairs to see a wonderful piece of nature. Breathe the fresh air, and clear your mind.
And yes, stairs again!
I saw a little place with a shrine, and found an old woman who put some rice on my forehead and my chest, and a flower in my hair, and did a prayer for me. God, that was beautiful!
Then she asked for money. LOL.
Last day in Ubud! Okay, finally I had time to do something I waited for : A hair and facial treatment. That is one of the delights of Indonesia. It is cheap and it is well done.
An hour and a half later, it costed me AUD$11.
Our flight back to Perth was at 8:30pm so we had some time to kill. We decided to go to our favourite hidden gem, the Magical Rice Fields, had something to eat at the Sweet Orange Warung and keep following the path to see where it can lead us to.
When we thought he would just end up in the middle of the jungle as it looked like, we met a American couple who told us that if we keep going a bit further, we would see a beautiful place.
And it was! This tiny little path led us to a luxurious hotel with a spa, restaurant, and everything. It was amazingly stunning. And amazingly expensive.
Back to the city, we had our last coconut. Little note for this one : drinking in a young coconut is delicious, except when it's not cold, it's rank. It tastes like piss.
4pm : Time to get a taxi to the airport! Time to bargain! Their price : 350.000IRP. We said "No, we don't have more than 250.000IRP." Done.
The way back to the airport was actually quicker! Which means we arrived super early but I took advantage of the time we had to start writing this article and finish the last episode of my Youtube vlog.
Click on this picture to watch the final episode of my Bali Vlog!
And that's it for these 5 days in Ubud, I hope you guys enjoyed this read. I will post a Ultimate Bali Travel Guide very soon! Yaaaaay.
This conclusion sucks a bit I know but I don't know what to write now.
Eileen - Pretty Little Mantras.