#Ballin'InBali Part I - 10 Things to Check Off while in Ubud
Y'all want to know how to Ubud in 4 days or less? Keep on reading for a guide of where to stuff your face at, stay, and visit (first-timer edition).
1. Stay @ Komaneka at Monkey Forest
Located in the heart of Ubud, the Komaneka at Monkey Forest is an oasis in the midst of the city's hustle and bustle. Given there are no official cabs in Ubud, the proximity of the resort to the city's core gives easy access to the many shops, restaurants, temples, museums and galleries on Monkey Forest Road (including the actual Monkey Forest). However, the moment you step onto the resort you're transported into a tranquil oasis, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and an abundance of exotic plants. This also means an abundance of mosquitos, so ensure you DEET yourself unless you want to be eaten alive (I couldn't be helped, they loved my foreign blood).
What sets Komaneka apart from other resorts I stayed at is the truly attentive staff and service. I felt welcome the moment I came, and even hours after I left. The staff went out of their way to assist us with planning our trip; suggesting local eats, offering to book tours for us, and ensuring we were always hydrated and looked after. At one point during dinner, a few staff were playing with one couple's kids, while the parents were eating (which I thought was adorable). Even though we stayed for only one night, the staff really made it all that much more memorable.
2. Go to Campuhan Ridge Walk for Sunrise
I didn't manage to wake up in time, but apparently sunrise is when Campuhan looks its best (and the least crowded). It's only a 15 walk from Komaneka and offers incredible views of Ubud's surrounding vegetation.
3. Make a Day Trip to Hanging Gardens of Ubud
For those that can't afford a night stay there like me, opt for a day guest pass. There are different packages available, but you can get pool access, afternoon tea, lunch and a massage (worth). Many of the resorts in Ubud offer free shuttle service, so make sure you take advantage of them!
4. Check Out Kanto Lampo Waterfall
There are many tourists here, so ensure to arrive early! There's a small entrance fee to access the waterfall, but the local guides are super nice! They'll help you down to the waterfall and even provide pose suggestions if you're stuck.
5. Then Visit Tibumana Waterfall
This waterfall is close to Kanto Lampo, but way less touristy! Locals tend to frequent this area, but I had the falls all to myself. It was quite tranquil here.
6. Hike Up Mount Batur
I unfortunately didn't get a chance to do this, so I settled for the view of the mountain instead. Locals suggest hiking up Mount Batur for sunrise, and it's an intense 2-3 hour hike but I hear the views are hella worth it.
7. Check Out Tegalalang Rice Terrace
You can't visit Ubud without seeing the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Our local driver mentioned the fields look better in August/Fall (when I went they were recently harvested). There is an entrance fee to get in, but our driver took us to a different viewpoint where we didn't have to pay #winning.
8. Try Crispy Duck and Succulent Pig
Bebek Bengil - It was so good I forgot to take pictures. Ubud is known for its crispy duck, and this restaurant did the duck justice. Don't mind the bad reviews, mine is the only one that matters.
Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku - The menu is small (2 items), but there's a reason it's a local favourite. My mouth waters thinking about the Nasi Campur Chicken, and it's also close to the Ubud swings (below).
Babi Guling Ibu Oka - You need to try the succulent pig here. It is phenomenal and you will not be disappointed. It's also frequented by locals, and for good reason!
If you're looking for some less local and more 'instagrammable' options, try the two places below:
9. Swing over the Ayung River
Get panoramic views of the river, a mini waterfall, rice fields and Mount Agung! I believe there are two locations for this swing: One at Zen Hideaway and another at this nearby location (of which I'm not sure of as our driver just took us here). There is an entrance fee of $25, but this was the most thrilling swing ride of my life!
10. But Just Know...
As with any dream, things are not always what they seem. Ubud is a great city to experience Balinese art, culture and its history. However, know that you will:
- Run into locals selling you anything and everything (including wooden dicks in many shapes and sizes) - I did not complain.
Smell of burning incense (Ubud is predominately Hindu and almost everyday there's some sort of celebration)
Encounter insects you never thought you'd see (like spiders the size of your fists)
Need to hire a local driver (if you want to do many excursions in one day)
Tune out the number of locals offering to give you a cab ride (as Ubud doesn't officially have cab service)
Other than that, you'll have a phenomenal time and will be so immersed in Balinese culture you'll even start speaking like them.