Ubud (pronounced "Ew-bood") is one of Bali's most popular tourist destinations. Think of it as the "anti-Kuta": Ubud's elevated, inland location in Central Bali puts it far out of reach of hard-partying surfer dudes, while its heritage as a town for artists attracts visitors seeking to experience Bali's rich culture first-hand.
Blame the lush, green countryside, carpeted with rice fields and sectioned by numerous rivers: the vibe in Ubud is more relaxed and conducive to introspection, creeping commercialization be damned. The modern world is catching up to Ubud, no doubt: there's a Starbucks down the street from the Royal Palace, after all. But Ubud hasn't surrendered completely, and the town's temples, art museums, traditional performances, and quiet bed-and-breakfasts continue to march to the beat of a different gamelan.
Transportation to and from Ubud
Ubud is about 13 miles from Bali's capital Denpasar. The trip from South Bali is short; you can make it to Ubud from Kuta in under an hour, give or take 30 minutes depending on the traffic.
A number of tourist bus services the Kuta-Ubud circuit. Perama Shuttle runs one of the most popular services, costing about IDR 50,000 for a one-way, less-than-one-hour bus trip from their office in Jl. Legian, Kuta (Google Maps) to their Ubud office (Google Maps).
If you wish to retain the services of a driver for the duration of your stay, you can charter a hired car-and-driver package for about US$35-50 per day (this includes gas and the payment for the driver).
- Road trippin': For more about getting around the island, read our article on Transportation in Bali.
Ubud's central location makes it an ideal jump-off point to reach Bali's wilder areas north and east. Venture an hour's drive north, and you'll find your way to Kintamani, home to the active volcano Mount Batur and some of Bali's best scenery. Drive east to East Bali , home to Bali's finest diving spots and the magnificent Gunung Agung and the Pura Besakih temple on its slopes.
- Get an eyeful: Read our article on Places to See in East Bali.
Getting Around Ubud
Most of Ubud's dining, shopping, and sightseeing can be done in an area roughly defined by three roads - Jalan Raya Ubud at the north and most uphill end of a tall rectangle whose sides are defined by Jalan Monkey Forest (on the west side) and Jalan Hanoman (on the east side).
Ubud's town center can be found at the intersection of Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Raya Ubud, where you'll find the royal palace, Ibu Oka, the art market, and the tourist center.
Walk about fifteen minutes south down Jalan Monkey Forest, and you'll find yourself in the street's namesake, the Sacred Monkey Forest in the village of Padangtegal. The Forest's sacred structures and the surrounding forest shelter a boisterous community of macaques. If you continue walking down Jalan Monkey Forest, it curves east until it intersects with Jalan Hanoman, forming the lower extreme of the rectangle.
Many other attractions and accommodations are located in the surrounding countryside, which will require actual transportation to reach.
- Taxis: There are no metered taxis operating within Ubud, but you'll find vans for hire stationed around town, calling out "Taxi, taxi!" to tourists; prices for these "taxis" are negotiable, but will cost between IDR 20,000-50,000, more if you want them to wait for you for a return trip.
- Ojek: these motorcycle taxis will give you a ride (you'll have to ride pillion behind the driver) for about half the amount that taxis charge.
- Bicycle rental: check with your Ubud hotel about bike rentals if you want to get around on two wheels. More information here: Bicycle Rentals in Bali.
Ubud Hotels, Villas and Homestays
As one of Bali's most frequented tourist spots, Ubud features a good range of accommodations for all budgets and persuasions.
Covering the higher end of the budget range, you'll find plenty of villa accommodations in the countryside surrounding Ubud. Most of them are some distance away from the town center, but many also provide free shuttle services to guests who want to frequent the town center when they're not luxuriating in their villa's private pool.
- Stay awhile: More information on the area's more expensive retreats here: Ubud, Bali Hotels and Villas.
Backpackers don't have to feel shut out of Ubud; the area features a good number of budget accommodations, some with premium features like swimming pools and air conditioning.
- Bed and backpack: More on Ubud's lower end accommodations here: Budget Hotels & Homestays in Ubud, Bali.
Insider tip from Hanny Kusumawati, head of Raconteur at Maverick, a Jakarta-based PR firm: "My recommendation is to get a hotel near the Tjampuhan area. The location is very strategic, so that you can walk to several nearby destinations. You can climb down to Tjampuhan river in the morning, take pictures, dip your toes in the water, and look at some local women about to go to the market."
- Wherever I lay my head: For other accommodations around Bali, check out our list of Bali Hotels and Resorts.
Money, Banks & Money Changers in Ubud
Money is not hard to come by in Ubud. Jalan Raya Ubud is lined with banks, ATMs and money changers - here are a few banks with attached ATMs that you can find on the main stretch.
- Bank Central Asia (BCA)
Jalan Raya, Ubud
8°30'32.17"S, 115°16'7.35"E (Google Maps)
Tel: +62 361 975 958
- Bank Permata
Jl. Raya Ubud Kedewatan Ubud
8°30'28.15"S, 115°16'16.47"E (Google Maps)
Tel: +62 361 978 048
- Bank International Indonesia
Jl Raya Ubud
8°30'32.20"S 115°16'6.62"'E (Google Maps)
Tel: +62 361 976595
If you plan to change your money at a money changer in Ubud, remember to bring your crispest $50 and $100 bills. Ragged or dirty bills get you a lower exchange rate.
- For more information on handling the money changers on the island, read this article: Money and Money Changers in Bali.
Things to Do Around Ubud
Ubud appeals to travelers with a more transcendental bent, and the area's attractions oblige with a proliferation of art galleries, cultural performances, religious retreats, and art-related shopping. These seekers have only increased with the release of Eat, Pray, Love (both the book and the movie); amazingly, Ubud has managed to keep up with demand without becoming too commercialized. (That's your guide's opinion, though many old-timers might disagree.)
- More about activities in Ubud here: 10 Things to Do in Ubud, Bali.
For more information on Ubud's art museums and other diversions, proceed to Part 2: Ubud Shopping, Dining, and Sightseeing.