Ubud had been on my list of places to go for a few years now. Everytime you hear about Ubud, you hear of all the yoga, health food cafes and zen like ambience. It sounded right up my alley! I was a little surprised when I got there as the main city is quite similar to the other areas in bali – lots of traffic, noise, dusty streets, street vendors selling all the same clothing and jewellery. I didn’t mind that though, I like the excitement of the busy areas and I love renting a scooter and exploring the place.
However, there are lots of areas around Ubud centre which are really serene and filled with health retreats and spas. Some people go to Ubud, check into one of these resorts and stay in that area for the trip and that way it would be a very mellow experience. So if that the holiday you are looking for, I would recommend staying out near Dragonfly Village in the midst of all the rice fields.
I did a bit of everything and some of the best parts I have reviewed below!
My favourite place of all however, came about quite randomly! I was stuck at an ATM that would not let me get cash out. I asked the guy in front if he knew of any banks and got chatting and it turns out he owns villas and hotels in the area. We rested one of these villas and it was insane! We got lucky as the place was quite that night, usually there are 2 villas with a shared pool, but we had the whole place to ourselves. Turns out this was actually cheaper than a room in both hotels too which was crazy! Next time I’m back I will undoubtedly stay here again, so lucky to have discovered this place!
Ketut, the villa manager, was the nicest guy. He used to be a chef and offered a chef service in the villa for $10 each. So we bought a bottle of wine and sat down for a massive feast! We asked Ketut to join us, as there was so much food and had an amazing insight into the Balinese way of life from him. We had soup, dragonfruit smoothies, mie goreng, tuna satay with peanut sauce, sautéed water spinach, sweet and spicy fried tempeh. I could not recommend this enough. I can’t believe we found such luxury for such a bargain price!
This is a vegan raw food café made with all fresh and local seasonal ingredients. They do loads of tonics and juices and have an extensive food menu. We had the moussaka which was absolutely amazing. Then tried the pizza, which has a dehydrated seed base crust topped with cashew cream, pesto and avocado. It tasted so good, you forget you are even being healthy!
So happy to have stumbled across this gem! They specialised in Italian food but made from fresh local ingredients and it was divine. We had the Prawns in garlic and chilli oil with crusty bread and some arancini balls to start which were amazing. Then for main course I had some wild mushroom ravioli which was all made in house and so flavoursome.
Again, another one we stumbled across. This one is a bit pricey (for bali). It is French dining but with local influence. It was $70 for a 7 course tasting menu which sounded amazing. We opted for the tapas menu and ordered savoury cornettos to start. Fois gras cornettos and mushroom and parmesan cream cornettos. These were divine, all the ingredients rolled in filo pastry to an ice cream cone shape. Then for the main, we had the ‘1000 vegetables’ tasting platter and trio of seafood tasting platter. Amazing sampling dishes where you get to try a bit of everything which I love!
Garden café is just above yoga barn and has a great nutritious Balinese menu. Most dishes come with black or red rice, they do fresh herbal teas and tonics and have a raw dessert bar. I came here after yoga a few times for a fresh coconut or fresh herbal tea (they don’t use teabags, but instead brew hot water with lemongrass, ginger and turmeric-yum) and raw brownie.
This place is a real hub of activity! The yoga barn itself is quite big as they offer yoga retreats and teacher training. The classes are only $13 for 1.5 hours and take place upstairs in a massive barn and it is all open and a really lovely atmosphere. They also do a free evening class most nights, where their yoga teacher students get a chance to practise! After yoga you can go upstairs to the garden café for a bite to eat or a drink and then above this again there is a spa which offers massage treatments along with healers and ayurvedic practitioners.
Yoga House is located by dragonfly village overlooking the rice paddy fields. It takes place upstairs in an open house and the view is spectacular.
We were picked up from our hotel at 2.30am got a bus to Mt. Batur. At the base we got some tea and a fried banana. Then it was a 2 hour hike to the top in the dark using flashlights. It was a steep hike but so worth it when you get up there. The views were incredible and we watched the sun rise from above the clouds. There were also little geezers around the mountain with volcanic steam coming out and that was pretty cool. We were promised eggs steamed from the volcanic mountain, which in reality turned out to be a lunchbox each with a cold hard boiled egg and dried bread! On the way down we stopped by the temple and saw all the monkeys. They are so friendly and would jump right onto your shoulders or head!
This spa has amazing packages. I did the full body scrub, flower bath & Balinese massage. Its so relaxing and they bring you some herbal teas, biscuits and fresh local bananas while your in the bath which was so nice. You feel so refreshed afterwards!
While staying in Junjungan, I had a massage lying by the infinity pool overlooking the Balinese countryside. They call in freelance therapists and it was one of the best massages I have ever gotten! I took Komangs’ card and she came to the Villa we stayed in a few days later for another massage before leaving and it was heaven. She can come anywhere you are in Ubud and is also slightly cheaper than the spas, so I highly recommend giving her a call next time you are in Ubud!
Komang Nilawianti 081 338696162 email@example.com
Other Useful Tips
When you arrive in Denpasar, it can be a bit hectic with all the drivers that surround you trying to get business. The prices are all jacked up and it can be a bit overwhelming. There is a great driver called Ali that a friend recommended to me and he was great! Just email him and let him know what flight you are coming in on and he will be waiting for you with your name sign ready to go. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do use a driver/taxi make sure the meter is on or you have agreed on a fixed price before getting in. If you agree on a fixed price, make sure you clarify that’s the total amount for all passengers as sometimes they will try to scam you by saying they meant the agreed amount per passenger once you are already at your destination.
The cash comes out first and then the card! If its usually the other way around for you, this can be confusing and so many people leave their cards in ATMs.