How To Spend 2 Days In Ubud, Bali: Things to See & Do
The noticeable beauty of Ubud is the sprouting of greenery from every crevice. Even in the built-up town centre, long green stems spring from gaps in the pavement. They wave from terracotta rooftop tiles, and take over cracks that line the walls of time-resilient buildings. Far from giving the place a shabby or unloved appearance, this juxtaposition of nature and architecture feels like an agreement between the two to coexist.
Within minutes of my arrival in Ubud, I felt completely relaxed. It was a reaction that I wasn’t expecting, after months of backpacking through the main cities of South East Asia meant I had preconceptions of the same familiar unruly traffic, relentless stall vendors, and polluted air. My preconceptions couldn’t have been more wrong this time.
As I clung to the seat of a moped and watched the regal-looking Balinese houses fly by, each one of them decorated with yellow fabric, I knew it would take more than two days to really get to know Ubud. Still, two days is all I had, and though I barely scratched the surface in terms of things to do and see, I definitely ticked off a lot of the highlights, and ignited a strong desire to return soon.
Here’s a rundown of my 2-day itinerary, which I’d recommend to other time-pressed travellers passing through.
Travelling by moped is by far the easiest way to explore the surrounding Ubud countryside and sights. Our homestay rented us a bike for just 50,000 rupiahs for the entire day, and it served us well. Aside from making navigating traffic much easier, zipping around in the open air allows you to really take in your location; the smells, the sounds, the Balinese people that smile in acknowledgement as you pass by. On day one of our moped adventures, we had three planned stops, but a lot of unplanned stops too, thanks to getting lost a fair few times! The planned stops were:
- Tegenungan Waterfall – Accessible by passing directly through villages and fields boasting palm trees in perfectly symmetrical rows, this waterfall is pretty epic. Wade in the pool and marvel at the power of the water as it pours out from lush green trees.
- Elephant Cave (or Goa Gajah) – Once a sanctuary, this ancient site holds a cave featuring the carvings of manic-looking demons, as well as bathing temples that were only discovered fairly recently. The grounds that surround the cave are beautiful to explore, filled with stone staircases and hanging vines. A word of warning, knees must be covered to enter.
- Tegalalang Rice Terrace – The most popular rice terrace near to Ubud, search it on Instagram and you’ll see hundreds of shots featuring slopes of pure green grass and overhanging palm trees. The narrow walkways here allow you to stroll right through the rice paddies, occasionally spotting farmers hard at work. Entrance fee is based on a donation, but as different farmers own the terraces, there are a few separate donation points to give to.
As evening falls, there’s an abundance of restaurants and cafés to choose from in the artsy town centre. Partial to seeking out authentic Indonesian food though, my favourite was ‘Warung Biah Biah’, where I sampled Nasi Genang; fried rice, vegetables, and chicken. The food was fast, delicious, and the best for budget dining that I came across.
Get ready for an early start, as 2am is the pickup time for the incredible Mount Batur sunrise trek. Before visiting Bali, I’d received recommendations to take the challenging but rewarding 2-hour tour to the peak of Mount Batur in pure darkness. I can tell you that it’s one hundred percent worth the dark eye circles and potential sprained ankle. You can read more about the climb itself here, but in short, it was the absolute highlight of my entire trip to Indonesia.
On return from a breath-taking (literally) experience watching the sunrise over the backdrop of a second mountain, a lake, and the infamous rice paddies, you should have the option to visit a coffee plantation as part of your package. You’ll be aching for your bed, of course, but take the stop. My visit to the authentic Bali coffee farm taught me that I actually love Lemongrass Tea ☕.
Feeling very productive, you’ll no doubt need a quick siesta when you arrive back to Ubud in the late morning, but don’t spend too long catching up on your beauty sleep because there’s still plenty to do! For the rest of the afternoon, check out these things:
- Campuhan Ridge Walk – I know what you’re thinking, more walking after a mountain trek sounds insane, and ours was actually unintentional. We originally sought out the entrance to Campuhan Ridge with the idea to walk a little way and look out over less busy rice terraces. Once we started walking though, the views were so good we couldn’t stop. It’s only 2-3km return, and pretty flat.
- Subak Juwus Manis (Rice Field Walk) – Not too far from the entrance to the Campuhan Ridge, is a secluded alleyway, which sounds dodgy I know but hear me out. If you follow this alleyway, you will emerge into yet more rice fields, but these ones are lined with yoga retreats, boutique hotels, and quaint cafes. After a tour up and down the very narrow mud pathway, settle into a front row floor cushion at Café Pomegranate, grab yourself a Radler (good beer) and observe the daily goings on.
Depending on what day it is, your options for your second evening are to visit the markets in Ubud’s centre, dine at another Indonesian restaurant (I recommend the Beef Rendang at Bernadette’s), or buy tickets to the Kecak Fire Dance show, which takes place at sunset.
Needless to say, this list is just the beginnings of all there is to see and do in and around Ubud, but hopefully it’s given you a good starting point for your travels to the lush region. Let me know if you like it as much as I did in the comments below!
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