The next few articles will be dedicated to several places that we went to in Bali. These are all places that we enjoyed discovering and that brought us a lot of memories..
Our first articles about Bali’s beautiful places talked about Amed and Sidemen. This next place was our favourite city : Ubud.
Let’s talk about this city together : Some basic informations on the city and its surroundings, our more personal opinions on this place and our experiences there (where we stayed, what we did the most, who we met).
BASIC INFORMATIONS ON UBUD AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
Ubud is a small town at the center of Bali, considered as the cultural center of Bali. It is a town with a lot of history, beautiful architectures and a lot of temples around it.
Today, the town has many many tourists coming over and the center of Ubud is full, full, full of visitors.
⇝ Why is Ubud so famous ?
Of course, like we said above, Ubud is Bali’s cultural center so there are many things to discover and temples and other historic areas to visit around Ubud. There is also the famous Monkey Forest that so many people come and see and the well-known Ubud Market where all your dreams come true (if you know how to bargain, of course !). Ubud also has many different local dances and shadow performances almost every night which are great to see if you want to learn a bit more about Balinese culture.
It is a town that has many different activites, inside and outside of town such as cooking classes and rafting.
Bali is also very well-known for all the spiritual teachings that take place there and yoga classes, chakra openings, etc. What better place to find yourself, than, to come to Ubud ? If you know the book or movie Eat, Pray, Love, you know that the author talked a lot about Ubud in her book. Believe it or not, but this is one of the reasons why Ubud has welcomed more and more tourists every year. If you come to Ubud for spiritual reasons, you will have to follow your instinct and your personal connection to the different spiritual places because there are, (like everywhere) some people that pretend that they are a spiritual person just to trick you in giving them a bit of money.
And finally, Ubud is a perfect place to chill (surrounded by an army of tourists though), have a massage at a spa, get a drink while listening to local musicians, meet people and eat good food !
Around Ubud there are many rice fields, a lot of small beautiful temples, many outdoor activities and beautiful landscapes to see. If you drive just for 10 minutes, you will find yourself free from the huge crowd inside of Ubud and you will be able to discover amazing little unknown places ! For example, we stumbled upon a huge art museum in the middle of nowhere with nobody inside and a very kind owner.
We also got to see so many beautiful rice terraces with no tourists around whereas if you go to Tegallalang, the famous spot to see rice terraces, it kind of feels like a huge tourist trap.
OUR PERSONAL OPINION
Even though Ubud was full of tourists and travelers from everywhere around the world, we actually loved the city very much ! At the beginning, we felt a bit overwhelmed by everything that happened around us with so many cars, scooters, people passing by and a lot of noise, but we quickly got used to it and even started to like the chaotic aspect of Ubud. We still feel like Ubud is overcrowded and overpriced compared to all the other places we visited, but that can be expected for such a touristic place.
• Food : In Ubud, there was a street that we called “the restaurant street” as it was a long street, full of restaurants near the Ubud Market. We don’t specifically remember the name of the street but whatever you do in Ubud, you will end up at least once in this street !
You will recognise this street quite easily as if you look inside the restaurants, you will see no locals eating there but only foreigners. It can be a good place to go to if you don’t know where to eat and you want to have a lot of different choices. However ! Because these are restaurants made for tourists, the prices are very high and it is so much more expensive than any other place! It depends on what type of traveling you like or if you crave more occidental food because you haven’t eaten this kind of food for a long time, but eating in a restaurant full of foreigners isn’t always the best idea.
Most of the time, we prefered eating in small Warungs a bit further away from this street or even from Ubud. We tried many different warungs and sometimes it was an amazing discovery and other times it wasn’t good at all : it was quits or double. But we discovered many yummy places by just trying out and entering warungs with absolutely nobody inside ! If you are on a budget, you will save a lot of money by eating in small warungs and even food stands on the street instead of more touristic restaurants. However… After a month in Indonesia, eating only Indonesian food can be a bit much.. So… We did eat sometimes in more occidental restaurants to be able to eat something else, like a burger for example. :p
It is important to listen to your needs and push yourself at the same time to try more local places!
• Street stalls : In Ubud and other big cities, you will often have street booths that sell you tickets for all the activities around Ubud (rafting, cooking classes, cruises, day tours, etc.). We did not buy anything with these street booths but it actually can be a good way to have a ticket for an activity. Once again, you must be prepared to bargain as the prices that they tell you are always way more than the actual price that you can pay. We were a bit curious about how much certain activities cost so we asked around different booths to see their prices. It is fairly easy to ask for a lower price than what they originally asked you for, especially if you tell the vendors that another booth vendor offered you a lower price further down the street. This should make them lower their own price for you too.
When buying tickets from a street vendor, always ask a receipt to be cautious but other than that, you shouldn’t have any problems. We met a few people that were fairly happy with the activites they had done and the tickets they purchased.
• Taxis, massages, market : We already talked quite in detail about how we felt about taxis, the Ubud Market and bargaining in our article “BEING A TRAVELER IN BALI PT.1 – How travelers are perceived and why” and the massages in our article “BEING A TRAVELER IN BALI Pt.2 : A few random tips and experiences” so we won’t talk about this too much here.
We will just say that we loved going to the market and Vianney loved negociating with the locals. Because yes, you have to constantly negociate to buy something or else sellers will try to take advantage of you ! It can be fun to bargain, so don’t let this scare you 🙂
While we were walking in the center of Ubud, we also always had a “Taxi ! Taxi ! Cheap !” in the background. Wherever we went, there were taximen everywhere trying to ask us if we needed a ride. It could be a bit overwhelming sometimes as every 30 seconds there really was someone coming to ask us if we needed a ride and we couldn’t just walk around without somebody trying to sell us something. However, we got used to this as well and most of the time if you say “No, thank you” with a smile, they leave you alone.
• Where did we stay : We stayed 10 days in total around Ubud. The first homestay we went to was situated in the Ubud Market street, which was perfect to visit the center of Ubud and really feel like we were a part of the town. The guest house was called the Nyoman House Ubud. The family was very very kind to us, the breakfast was included : simple and good, and the bedroom was simple as well but all we needed !
After knowing the city a bit better though, we wanted to sleep in an area of the city where there were less people and that would be a bit more peaceful so we went in another guest house. We can’t seem to find the name of this guest house but we can just remember that we didn’t feel as good with the family of this guest house than the previous one. However, it was still quite good and we were a bit less in the center of Ubud, which allowed us to explore the surroundings of Ubud easily.
• Meeting people : In Ubud, it is harder to meet locals than to meet fellow travelers. We met several travelers while we were eating in warungs or having a small drink in a bar, we even met some while buying a ticket for a dance performance. What felt really good in Ubud was that when we met people, we had many choices on where to go to eat something all together or go for a walk all together nearby.
It is easy to meet fellow travelers all around Bali as long as you are open to other people and ready to share a small part of your trip with them !
We were more focused on meeting local people in smaller areas, whereas in touristic places, we were more open to meeting other travelers. It already feels good to connect with people while talking to them during 5 minutes in the street, but it brings even more connection when you decide to ask them to join you for a meal or an activity. It isn’t always an easy thing to do but it can lead to very pleasant moments 🙂 And, who knows, these strangers can become good friends!
• Taxis (again) : Although it could be a bother sometimes to have so many taximen all around Ubud, it is also very useful ! Ubud was the last place where we stayed in Indonesia and to make our last day easier, we decided to take a taxi to the Denpasar airport.
The night before going back to France, we were walking down the Ubud streets for the last time, just chatting when a taximan came up to us, once again. He had a funny sign where it was written something like “The mega super super really amazingly cheap taxi” and he had a way of talking that seemed genuine and kind. Following our guts (and the cheap price), we asked him if he could bring us to the airport the next day, which he agreed happily.
We didn’t know if he would show up that next day, but he did and so we had about a two hour drive with him to the airport. And it was the most interesting taxi drive we had throughout our whole Balinese trip ! He talked a lot about his family, about his life, his culture, we talked about our life as well and ended up talking about death too. He had a very positive outlook on life and he was just full of good energy. During red lights or when there was a traffic jam, he also pulled out his ukulele and sang us songs !
What better way to finish our one year round trip than to meet such as kind soul ?
At the end of the trip, we had loved his company so much that we ended up giving him more than he had asked for and way more than what we were willing to spend on a taxi the previous days when taximen came up to us and told us their price.
So, if one day you are walking in Ubud and a kind taximan comes to you with a funny sign, do not hesitate he is the one you’ll want to drive with !
Writing about Ubud brings us back to this amazing buzzing city and all our beautiful memories of our last stop in Bali. But why not talk about a more relaxing place next ? Why not talk about our first stop in Bali ? Why not write our next post about : Nusa Penida.