Bali is an entrancing and magical island. Touched by a culture seeped in reverence and a growing spiritual community, many contemplate relocating to Bali. The town of Ubud, with its verdantly green rice paddies, active yoga scene, and plethora of mouth watering cuisine is particularly magnetic. To live in Ubud may sound like the makings of a distant fairytale, but people do it all the time! With this guide to living like an expat, we are taking things to do in Ubud a step further. Warning: this article may leave you with an irresistible urge to abandon your current life and become an Ubudian!
1 – Be Inspired with Weekend Brunch and Live Music at Soma
Ubud is full of eclectic and sublime places to write poetry, dream, or engage in thought provoking conversation. In Cafe Soma fresh coconuts abound, faces exude ecstasy over spiced raw chocolate, and Ubudians gather to create, sing, and celebrate life together. In a garden atmosphere of hanging lanterns and lush plants, the mystical resonance of a hang drum softly accompanies harmonising acapella voices, interspersed with the gentle sound of water trickling through scattered fountains. There might be a guitar, a cello, or any manner of musical creation as all are encouraged to join. Spoken word echoes through the air with words like ‘serenity’, ‘gratitude’, ‘surrender’, ‘balance’, ‘allow’, and ‘fly’…all common to the Ubudian’s daily vocabulary.
Soma Cafe – Daily from 7:30am – 10pm, and till 11pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
2- Indulge at the Russian Sauna Bali Dacha
Bali Dacha is a true oasis hidden in the jungle, and undoubtedly the most unique sauna on planet Earth. The sauna is healing and hot, accentuated by the Russian tradition of whisking a bundle of wet eucalyptus leaves through the steamy air. If you are feeling brave, you can even get ‘whipped’ by the leaves, a practice that is said to enliven circulation. Then it is only a few steps away to a curved cool pool of fresh river water, where one can float blissfully and gaze up at silhouetted palm trees in the moonlight. With relaxed muscles, head to the fire pit beneath the stars, sip warm tea of fruit and spice in a elevated bamboo platform, or enjoy the lounge music emanating from a warm house of stone and wood where one can have a nourishing meal, smoke a hookah, or simply sit back in one of the comfy chairs and ask yourself, is this all real?
Sunday 5pm – 11pm
3 – Enjoy a Cinematic Experience Like No Other at Paradisio
Paradise and Friday nights movies are not two concepts generally combined, but Paradisio has turned them into one in the same. As “the first organic vegetarian cinema”, Paradisio brings you ecologically and spiritually conscious films in comfy, reclining chairs with some of the best food in Ubud! Sinking into the plush cushions, you might mistake it for your home sofa, except that you can raise your hand at any time and order a variety of vegetarian delights with a Mediterranean flair.
Paradisio Daily 7am – 10pm
4 – Dip into Sayan River
As a tropical and equatorial island, days in Bali can be stiflingly hot, and a dip in the famed Sayan river is both purifying and refreshing. From the public access point near Samadhi Villas, make your way down the steps into an enchanted wonderland of lush jungle that evokes the words ‘Shangri La’. You might begin with a spring water shower or make an offering at the temple. Some like to take a dip au naturel, just don’t mind the river rafters, for if anything you will accentuate their tour!
5 – Delve into raw food scene
Raw food is a growing movement globally, and especially in Ubud. Several cafes such as Alchemy, Clear Cafe, and Earth Cafe offer raw sections of their menus and the new cafe Fresh at Tasku is mostly raw and incredibly delicious. The Seeds of Life is the only dedicated living foods restaurant in Ubud, where the food is mouthwateringly scrumptious and organically sourced through local farmers. Committed to helping us deepen our connection to ourselves, thrive in a healthy lifestyle, and consume foods vibrating with life force, Seeds of Life also offers Taoist Chinese tonics, a Raw Food Chef Certification, Raw Food and Yoga Retreats, Menu Consultation, Catering, Life Coaching and deep healing using Holographic Kinetics.
The Seeds of Life Facebook Daily 9am – 9pm
Alchemy Facebook Daily 7am – 9pm
Clear Cafe Facebook – Daily 8am – 11pm
Fresh at Taksu Website Daily 9am – 10pm
6 – Discover Yourself through Body, Breath, and Sound
Many come to live in Bali for spiritual growth, healing, and personal development. While as a visitor you may dabble in a yoga class here or there, Ubudians dive head first into immersive trainings and emerge on the other side as yoga teachers, breath work facilitators, tantric practitioners, and sound healers. To peruse the array of workshops, trainings, and classes available check out Yoga Barn, Intuitive Flow, Radiantly Alive, and Taksu Yoga.
Yoga Barn Website Daily 6am – 9pm
Intuitive Flow Website Daily 7am -6pm
Radiantly Alive Website 7am – 8pm
7 – Experience Local Music
Local musicians in Ubud effortlessly embody the jungles of Java, bringing exotic sounds into being, often imbued with lyrics of social activism. Favourites include The Barefoot Warriors (a trio of electric violin, hang drum, and an array of bamboo flutes), and Rizal Abdulahadi who manages to play the guitar and didgeridoo simultaneously, is accompanied by Algimiro Cesarino on the soulful cello. He has even invented his own instruments called the Rasendriya Guitar and the Tritangtu Lap Bamboo Guitar!
8- Make New Friends at Bamboo Spirit
Located half way up stairs that could very well lead to heaven, Bamboo Spirit is a loving and welcoming community treasure. Run by a Balinese woman and an Italian man, every Sunday a humble kitchen delivers vegan Balinese creations such as coconut tempeh, pumpkin curry, and eggplant lemongrass sambal. Check out the modest organic market, dine at the community table, or head upstairs to surround yourself with fresh breeze and mandalas. Depending on availability, Bamboo Spirit also sells healthy and homemade products like gomasio with spirulina, miso paste, coconut yoghurt, and raw chocolate. The venue is also home to a variety of events such as full moon kirtan, a men’s healing circle, film screenings, and an array of workshops.
Bamboo Spirit Facebook Sundays 10am – 5pm and special events as noted
9- Learn Bahasa Indonesia: Become a real Expat in Ubud
The Balinese are a humble and kind people, and nothing deepens your immersion like learning the local language. Although every Balinese speaks the language of his mother island, Bahasa Indonesia the national language of Indonesia, is most commonly spoken on the streets. Locals are incredibly appreciative of your attempts and fluency in Bhasa allows for many otherwise unattainable treasures to be uncovered. Many locals are willing to trade English lessons for Bahasa, but to get started, check out our Bhasa Indonesia dictionary for travellers.
10 – Pamper Yourself with a “Spa Day”
Why limit yourself to a one hour massage when you can spend a whole day in healing heaven, soaking in tub of flower petals, getting a facial, basking in the feeling of hot batu stones on key energy points, or having your nails recreated? Taksu offers an array of mind altering massages, spa services and healing modalities in a serene atmosphere, and stand apart in their use of pure essential oils, filtered water, biodegradable soap, and organic cotton sheets. Cantika spa offers two locations, one in Penestanan and the other nestled in the rice paddies. The spa is based on plant medicines derived from the ancient art of listening to the Earth. You can even join a workshop and learn to make your own natural beauty products here.
Taksu Website Daily 8am – 10 pm
Cantika Spa Website Daily 10am – 7pm
11- Join Hubud and Become a Digital Nomad
All this decadence, opulence, and play requires some balance in income generating work. Many expat entrepreneurs support themselves by working online and in community co-working spaces like Hubud, you may find yourself flanked by a graphic designer on one side and a website developer on the other. A synergistic hub of community support to turn your start up dreams to reality, Hubud offers services like high speed internet, an office printer, a private Skype booth, an air conditioned meeting room, and networking events.
Hubud Daily 24 hours
12 – Don’t Forget to Stop and Smell the Roses
As a tropical island near the equator, Bali is filled with colourful flowers. The Balinese put these vibrant petals to the best of use from filling bathtubs, to adorning food and decorating sidewalks with messages of artistic inspiration. Head to the market for bags full of colour and try your hand at making your own flower mandala. If you are still eager to develop your artistic side in a place where life itself is artistry, check out 18 Artsy Things to Do in Ubud to Wake up your Creativity!
Many flock to Ubud as seekers and emerge somehow transformed, and always in a personal way as if the island knows just what you need. One visitor hoping to become an Ubudian remarked, “I lost myself and came here hoping to find myself again. My plan is to “Eat, Pray, Love and repeat”. It is certainly a place where you can make a lifestyle out of eating, praying, and loving all day long, only to awake and do it all over again. Come to Bali once as a visitor and you are likely to get hooked. Special places on the Earth seem to extend an umbilical cord into our core, and once connected, you will always been drawn to return. Ubud is most certainly one of those places, you have been warned!
by Joia Holman