Ubud is located in Bali’s central highlands and is considered to be the artistic and cultural capital of the island. Ubud is a flourishing crafts center and is only an hour’s drive from the popular tourist areas on Bali’s south coast. Ubud is still home, to this day, to one of Bali’s remaining royal families. The Ubud area is surrounded by rainforest as well as terraced rice paddies. The district also boasts of several Hindu shrines and temples. Ubud is still home, to this day, to one of Bali’s remaining royal families. Some of the ancient holy sites in Ubud include the Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave with its intricate carvings and Gunung Kawi which is famous for its rock-cut shrines. The Royal Palace, Monkey Forest, and various artists studios are all highlights of a visit to this charming Balinese town.
There are a number of yoga centers, healing centers, galleries, and organic restaurants. The art museums, the Neka and Agung Rai, among others, display traditional as well as contemporary work done by not only local but also expatriate artists. Performances of traditional Balinese dance are often held in the courtyard of the Royal Palace. Macaques can be seen playing among the vines and Hindu monuments that are there within the Monkey Forest. The craft villages are located in the southern part of the town. The village Mas is renowned for wood carvings, while Batubulan is known for stone carvings, and Celuk is famous for jewelry.
The Monkey Forest in Ubud is one of Bali’s most famous attractions. It’s inhabited by the grey colored long-tailed macaques. This monkey forest is perhaps more famous than others because of its location, community-based management practices, and ease of access. It is located on the periphery of the center of Ubud and is supervised by the people of the Padangtegal village. It is also known by the name Sacred Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, and officially as Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana. The Monkey Forest in Ubud, one of the best places for scientific research and spiritual and cultural traditions, has many temples that are consecrated by the people from villages deep within the forest area.
The traditional cooperative irrigational system known as Subak, which is centuries-old, has resulted in the creation one of South Asia’s most beautiful terraced landscapes. The rice terraces are about ten minutes’ drive away to the north of the Ubud town center in the cool upland area called Tegallalang. This place is known for its scenic beauty. People travelling to the north relax at this place, take photographs and buy souvenirs from stalls lining the ledge. Another nearby place of tourist interest nearby is the quaint Pakudui village. This is the place to go to if you are looking for a variety of extraordinary ornamental woodwork and carvings. The majestic Garuda is the most popular among the carved mythical figures.
The most impressive archaeological site in the island is the Goa Gajah or the Elephant Cave. It is located to the south of the village of Bedulu. This region is famous for historical sites. The temple complex lies within six kilometers to the south of Ubud central and about an hour’s drive away to the northeast of Denpasar, the provincial capital. As you go down a few steps, you will see a relic-filled courtyard. At the central 11th century cave, you can see carvings on the rock walls and a site for meditation. On the periphery, there is a Hindu temple with a remarkable bathing pool with fountains.
The Ubud Royal family’s palace Puri Saren Agung is just a few minutes away from the Art Market. It is a very prominent landmark as it is at the intersection of the Jalan Raya Ubud main road. The palace in Ubud was built in the time of Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel from 1800 to 1823. It was well maintained by his successors. An Ubud tour is incomplete without visiting the royal palace. It has preserved the Balinese architecture very well. Among Balinese arts lovers, the palace’s charming garden setting is the best location for viewing evening dance performances.
If you are a trekking enthusiast, then you must try out the Campuhan Ridge Walk. The free and easy Ubud nature trek allows you to escape from the hustle and bustle of the main streets in Ubud and you enjoy the cool fresh air. It also offers probably one of the gorgeous hillside views in the region. The nature trek starts from the picturesque Gunung Lebah Temple.
The art market in Ubud referred to by local people by the name ‘Pasar Seni Ubud’, lies opposite to the Royal Ubud Palace. It is kept open on all days of the week. You get to buy beautiful silk scarves, hand-woven bags, lightweight shirts, baskets or hats, kites, statues, and a number of other goods made by hand. Most of the things found in the Art Market are made by the people in the neighboring villages such as Pengosekan, Tegallalang, Peliatan, and Payangan. It is the best shopping place for souvenirs and Balinese handicrafts.
In Ubud, the Blanco Renaissance Museum is considered as an unofficial landmark. This was the house- and studio of late Don Antonio Blanco, a flashy Philippine-born maestro. The museum is located on top of a hill that overlooks the lush Campuhan valley. The museum houses paintings, illustrated poetry, and collages along with Don’s favourite lithographic artworks of nude Balinese women. If you are lucky, the family members of the artist’s family will host you and take you on a guided tour of the studio and private residence. The thought-provoking works of the artist, the lush garden settings, and the fine restaurant in his wife’s name will all contribute to making your visit to Ubud a memorable one.