The fertile volcanic soils of Bali produce a colorful variety of fresh tropical fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs. Some of the most potent lotions and potions are made from plants locally grown. Learn during this workshop about their properties and benefits. The morning rooster, the emerald green rice fields, the fragrance of tropical incense of Bali often reminds us to get connected with nature authentically. Join a homemade beauty products workshop and create your own face creams, scrubs, and beauty masks from ingredients grown directly from the organic garden. Finish off with a refreshing organic facial treatment that will leave you radiant and ready to receive Ubud. Not to be forgotten, created by you!
Batik is the traditional fabric of Indonesia. It is almost impossible to visit this country without bringing home a piece of this beautiful wearable art form dating back 1500 years.
Maybe you want to go right to the source to make your batik purchases or possibly even learn this intricate art form to immerse yourself in the culture. Why not visit a batik maker and learn the art form yourself? Sarongs are such excellent gifts for men and women, not only because of its unique prints but also for its so versatility.
We recommend Taksu Yoga or Yoga Barn for a great initiation to meditation in Ubud. For convenience and privacy, book your private meditation or yoga at your villa right here.
One way to understand the Balinese approach to respect and gratitude is to learn to make the canang and understand the meaning behind it. Bali is the only Indonesia island that is predominantly Hindu. She has preserved her rich culture and tradition based on the belief of giving thanks to nature, the living, the dead, the seen, and the unseen. Big and small ceremonies are regularly conducted, honoring this belief. Living in harmony with your surroundings is the basis of this gentle culture. The Balinese are peace-loving and content people. Regardless of your religion, making the canang is an excellent practice in mindfulness as thoughts and intentions are put into the offering while you are making it. What a beautiful experience to make an offering from the heart.
Mosaic is a popular restaurant and has undoubtedly won great reviews from customers for its French and Balinese fusion cuisine prepared with finesse.
This Ubud cooking class is stylish and contemporary as you start off with a welcome drink. Conducted by internationally acclaimed chef, expect to pay more for picking up modern cooking skills in a Miele-equipped kitchen. You learn how to make a roasted lamb, for example, and you can always improvise your version using local ingredients back home. This class also includes a lovely garden tour and a souvenir apron for keeps. You also share your meal and exchange ideas with the Mosaic chef while enjoying the fruits of your labor after the class.
Most of the practices observed by the Balinese are done so with intention. Their cuisine is no different. To tap into Bali, learn the process that feeds the soul on a food tour and traditional cooking class. After a trip to the local market, arrive at a beautifully preserved traditional compound settled deep in a ravine amongst the rice fields. Understand where the ingredients come from and how they are prepared to make offerings for the gods. Enjoy Bali Kopi (coffee) with beans picked from the premises and roasted in from of you. Learn how to make the delicious paste that flavors so many dishes we love. This unforgettable experience will leave a lasting impression on your heart and spirit.
You hear its sound from every street and alleyway. In every restaurant and local shop. The Gamelan produces a unique sound that resembles a cross between a percussion instrument and a xylophone. A Balinese Gamelan is a form of Indonesian classical music and will always be played in any traditional ceremony.
Learning to play the gamelan is probably the most direct way to immerse yourself in Balinese culture. Allow the rhythmic and ethereal melody of the gamelan to transport you to a whole new realm in this beautiful island of the gods.
7- Experience the different modalities of healing, starting with a yoga class
One of the best ways to understand the culture of the locals is to visit their traditional markets. Ubud market is undoubtedly an explosion of sights, smells, and senses. You can buy anything from local fruits, vegetables to village chickens to paintings, ceramic bowls, ukuleles, and sarongs. What is essential in all local markets is your ability to bargain and get a reasonable deal. To do so, you need to know a few things before you go. Read our Bahasa Indonesia traveler dictionary for more local tips.
If you are interested in getting up close and personal with Ubud, take a private tour around. In addition to the art market tour, see the sights and sounds that showcase the spirituality of Ubud. You can also create your own day in the life experience by heading to the local market with a private guided tour then head to the village to prepare a traditional Balinese meal including fruit carvings.
9 -Take an off the beaten path walk to discover the hidden gem Sari Organic cafe
There are many coffee shops in Ubud, and one that offers a unique experience is Sari Organik. Sari Organik serves up a fresh organic fare, but the whole experience starts when you have to take an off the beaten path to arrive at the cafe. Sari Organik is tucked away in a small village not accessible by car. If you are up to a 20-minute stroll in the rice fields, alongside quaint homestays and small painter’s galleries, roam with the roosters and ducks as they walk in and out of the Balinese homes. You will find Sari Organik with the rolling rice field views and wonderfully prepared organic fare to greet you. One of the best sceneries in Ubud!
Como Shambhala Estate perched atop the ravines of sacred river Ayung located in Payagan, approximately 20 minutes from Ubud Centre. During the magical hours of dusk and dawn, marvel at the exquisite beauty of the Ayung Valley before your eyes. This view alone will take your breath away. Having breakfast or dinner at restaurant Kudus or Fresh is a whole new different experience. A deep sense of peace and tranquility envelope you as you eat slowly, talk softly and smile gently. Soak up to this unexplainable Balinese energy that permeates the crisp fresh air.
Ubud has so many beautiful places to be inspired and feel the energy of the land and the people. Another incredible dining experience is the floating lunch or dinner, also overlooking the Ayung River Valley. This Five-course gourmet lunch or dinner is the perfect complement to the beautiful scenery around you and the incredible company with you. Book your twilight lunch or dinner right here.
11 – Participate in Ubud writers and readers festival – write your own version of the novel Eat Pray Love
Take note of this date in your travel schedule if you intend to attend the writers festival held in Ubud every year in October. This festival gathers speakers and writers from all over the world and offers a program filled with literary workshops, book launches, youth programs, community, and art highlights. During this year 2019, the theme is Karma. Delve into the very relevant subject of actions and consequences. Join the festival held this year from October 23- October 27 in the various venues around Ubud.
12 – Volunteer for a charity
When we travel, the schedule can be so hectic that finding time to give back to the local community for hosting us is simply not on the agenda. You can donate your time, experience, or money to help those who are in need. Mother Theresa said- in our lives, we may not do great things all the time, but we can do small things with a great heart. Here is a list of NGOs with different causes that you may want to help out :
– Yayasan widya sari supports underprivileged Balinese children.
– Bali regreens composting and seeding bamboo development, controlling irrigation and empowering the local community and farmers
– The Bali children project helps children escape poverty through education
– Yayasan gelombang udara segar aims to clean up Bali’s natural environment that has been heavily polluted by tourism and lack of knowledge
– Bali pet crusaders is nonprofit sterilization for Bali street dogs
– BAWA Bali animal welfare association
– Fair Future Foundation – helps poor communities get access to free healthcare. It is also home to a “social warung” where you can taste delicious Balinese dishes in the heart of Ubud.
13 – Visit the home of Ketut Liyer featured in Eat Pray Love movie
One cannot underestimate the influence of a Hollywood movie. Hollywood blockbuster Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts put Ubud on the world map as the Mecca for new age spirituality. Although Ketut Liyer was played by Hadi Subiyanto,, it did not stop the pilgrimage of tourists to visit his house for wisdom. Ketut Liyer passed away in 2016. But, as tradition would have it, Ketut’s son continues his legacy with the revelations of universe intentions to path seekers.
Contrary to the concept of living-in-the-now mantra, Ketut Liyer little compound continues to receive a steady stream of tourists hoping to have a glimpse into their future. It’s even complete with a homestay where you could book online. Make a visit if you are curious, or simply just to have a Julia Roberts moment.
Ubud is a popular destination for artists, dancers, and musicians. Balinese are natural-born craftsmen. You can see that from its beautiful architecture such as the detailed teak depicting Balinese gods, intricate Buddha statues carved from volcanic stones, and beautiful silverworks with exquisite embellishments. The choices are endless if you want to pick a workshop to realize your artsy, creative side. Pull from the island’s amazing energy learn the art of silver making which dates more than a century old. Forget the souvenir t-shirts and bring home a beautiful piece of handmade jewelry for your loved ones.
15 – Plan your trip to coincide and observe Nyepi, the silent day
Nyepi day is part of Bali’s new year celebration that completely differs from how most cultures celebrate the new year. It is truly a humbling experience. When the whole island falls into silence, and everyone stays home, with all commercial and street activities coming to a halt. Folklore has it that the new year monster is out on the roads, and everyone must avoid him to escape misfortune. It’s interesting to note how this is similar to the Chinese New Year. Compared to the soft-spoken Balinese, the Chinese are more explicitly battling this monster with colorful lion and dragon dances accompanied by loud gongs and drums intending to scare the monster away.
On a spiritual level, Nyepi day is an excellent way for us to manage stillness. Find the peace within and settle our wild minds once we remove external stimulants and senses. Put that in your travel diary, Nyepi 2020 falls on 25th March.
Ubud is home to a large group of vegetarians and vegans who are practicing yogis or yoga teachers undergoing training. Naturally, many vegan and organic cafes have sprouted over the years, offering healthy concoctions of juices, tonics, salads, and superfoods. There are a few well-known ones like Down to Earth, Bali Buda, Alchemy, Soma, and Sari Organik. If you feel like some Sunday marketing pasar experience, head for the pasar pasaran art market at Hubud, the hip co-working space for digital nomads and entrepreneurs in Ubud. For those coffee lovers, do not miss this coffee workshop nestled in the heart of Ubud, Latte Art, Coffee Classes & more!
17 – Join the Ubud contact dance jam and connect with the energy there
After a few days in Ubud, as you begin to go with its flow. There seems to be an undercurrent of hidden energy waiting to be tapped beneath its ground. One way to take the energy is with contact jam dance. Contact jam dance is a physical expression of total surrender. It aesthetically non-judgemental because there is no fixed dance routine that you need to learn. Let your body melt into the rhythm and vibrations of the music, allowing your inner child to be playful. At the end of the session, besides a good workout, you feel liberated from the confinements of your own mind and step out of the class feeling a lot lighter. And if you are into serious immersion, there’s even a yearly Bali contact festival in April!
Join one of these classes at Taksu.
18- How about picking up the techniques of healing massage?
No one really leaves Bali without at least trying out one massage. If you enjoy the sensation of touch and want to pick up a healing art form, consider taking up a massage course. From one day workshops to comprehensive courses, choose from traditional Balinese massage to intuitive healing like the touch essence developed by Ellen Watson. These classes will equip you with the techniques and know-how of working with the body and allow you to help others in promoting deep relaxation and a sense of well-being.
While in Ubud, be sure to pamper yourself with an indulgent massage. Surround yourself with the beauty of the Ayung River Valley and relax your mind as you experience a one of a kind mango body scrub and tension-releasing massage. Do not miss this treetop massage overlooking the Ayung River in Ubud.
This experience is one of a kind that brings you to the heart of Balinese culture. Visit the meditation chambers where priests would fast and meditate for weeks. Guided by a Brahman, tour the ancient tombs of Kings and Queens. Receive blessings and learn to express gratitude in one of the most peaceful places in Bali. The Brahman is a member of the highest Hindu caste, that of the priesthood. Learn from the Brahman the ancient Hindu wisdom used to protect families and homes or places of business. Want to see what the Brahman can see for you? The Brahman will work with you to prepare your intentions and help you realize what you want to achieve. This unique insight will help you to understand what guides the Balinese people and gives them the structure to the culture that we love so much.
The day that smartphones came out with a decent camera turned every vacationer into a top-rated photographer. Not exactly. However, smartphones gave more people access to capture memories of their adventures on holiday. Come with your camera or just your phone and join a professional photographer and author as he shows you some of the most beautiful places to photograph in Bali. This half-day or full-day photography tour will take you to places that your camera will love. Learn ways to connect with your subject and feel the energy and light that surrounds you.
So, when are you planning to visit Ubud? We hope that this article will help you plan your trip to this creative little town that we all fell in love with! We believe that no other place in the world offers such artsy and creative things to do. Make Ubud a great escape from the busy Bali, & other bustling cities of Asia. It is ideal just for a weekend, or even one or two weeks. Do you have any other suggestions for cool things to do in Ubud? Please drop us a note 🙂
By Ivee Lo