1- Homemade beauty workshop: Explore nature’s recipe to youthfulness.
The rich volcanic soils of Bali have produced a colourful variety of fresh tropical fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs. Some of the most potent lotions and potions are made from plants and we learn during this workshop about their properties and benefits. The morning rooster, the emerald green rice fields, fragrance of tropical incense of Bali often reminds us to get connected with nature in a more authentic way.
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.
2- Balinese batik painting: bring home an Indonesian masterpiece
Batik is the traditional fabric of Indonesia, and it is almost impossible to visit this country without bringing home a piece of this beautiful wearable art form dating back to 1500 years.
If you are curious about this intricate art form or is about to do some batik shopping, you could visit a batik maker and learn to custom make one for yourself. Sarongs are such excellent gifts for both men and women, not only because of its unique prints but also for its so versatility.
3- Immerse into the art of meditation: the new age gateway to peace and balance
4- Learn to make a canang – the sacred Balinese offering
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 well 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 honouring this belief. Living in harmony with your surroundings is the basis of this gentle culture, the Balinese are peace-loving and contented people. To make the canang is a great mindfulness practise – 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.
5- Combine the contemporary & traditional during a unique & creative cooking class in Ubud
Mosaic is a popular restaurant and has certainly 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 roast 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 labour after the class.
6- Develop your musical spirit by learning the traditional Balinese instrument: gamelan
Gamelan is a form of Indonesian classical music, which is a percussion dominated musical ensemble using materials like bronze, iron, bamboo, or wooden bars. Balinese gamelan has its characteristics which include more metallophones and xylophones than gongs; hence they produces tones that sound brighter and more energetic.
Learning to play the gamelan is probably the most direct immersion you can get yourself into this traditional music form. 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
8- Wander around the colourful traditional Balinese markets of Ubud
As a traveller, one of the best ways to understand the culture of the locals is to visit their traditional markets. Ubud market is certainly an explosion of sights, smells and senses, where you can buy anything from local fruits, vegetables to village chickens to paintings, ceramic bowls, ukulele, and sarongs. What is important in all local markets flooded with tourist is your ability to bargain and get a reasonable deal.
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. And by walking through the small village you will arrive to a yoga studio in the rice fields, quaint homestays, small painters galleries, Balinese homes, roaming roosters and ducks. After approximately 20 minutes walk you will find Sari Organik with the rolling rice field views and wonderfully prepared organic fare to greet you. One of the best scenery in Ubud!
10- Have a meal at a magical retreat perched above the Ayung ravines
Como Shambhala Estate is perched atop the ravines of sacred river Ayung and is situated at Payagan, approximately 20 minutes from Ubud centre. During the magical hours of dusk and dawn, this place will simply take your breath away, as you marvel at the exquisite beauty of the Ayung Valley before your eyes. 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….
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, for the 11th year. 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 arts highlights. During this year 2015, it will be held on October 28 – November 1 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 people for hosting us is simply not in our 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 is supporting 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 natural environment that has been heavily polluted by tourism and lack of education
– Bali pet crusaders is a non profit sterilisation for Bali street dogs
– BAWA Bali animal welfare association
– Fair Future Foundation – helps the poor people to have a free healthcare. It is also home 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 has put Ubud on the world map as the Mecca for new age spirituality. The grand master Ketut Liyer, however, had passed way some months back and his son to continues his legacy with the revelations of universe intentions to path seekers. Juxtapose to the concept of living-in-the-now mantra, Ketut liyer little compound is now receiving steady streams of tourist hoping to have a glimpse to their future. Its 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.
14 -Hand make a unique piece of silver jewelry for your loved one
Ubud is a popular destination for artists, dancers and musicians. Balinese are natural born craftsmen, and you can see that from its beautiful architecture, the detailed teak depicting Balinese gods, intricate Buddha statues carved from volcanic stones, beautiful silver works with exquisite embellish. You are spoilt for choices if you want to pick a creative workshop and on this island of amazing energy you want to express yourself in one of these artistic workshops. Learn the art of silver making which dates more than a century old and bring home a beautiful piece of handmade jewellery for your loved ones.
15 – Plan your trip to coincide and observe Nyepi, the silent day
Nyepi day is Bali new year’s celebration that completely different to how we are used to celebrating our 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 in the streets, and everyone must avoid him in order 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 colourful lion and dragon dance 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, search the peace within, and see how our monkey mind settle once we are stripped of external stimulants and senses. Put that in your travel dairy , nyepi 2016 falls on 9th March .
16- Visit Ubud organic cafes and weekend market
Ubud is home to a large group of vegetarians and vegans who are practising 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 is 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 albeit traffic jams and street touts, there seem to be an undercurrent of hidden energy waiting to be tapped beneath its ground. Contact jam dance is a physical expression of total surrender. It aesthetically non-judgemental because there isn’t a 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 at you somewhat 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 detailed courses chose 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 sense of well-being.
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 places in the world offer such choices of artsy and creative things to do and it makes it a great escape from the busy Bali, & other busy cities of Asia. It is ideal just for a weekend, or even one or two weeks. Do you have any other suggestions of cool things to do in Ubud? Please drop us a note 🙂
By Ivee Lo