Ah i wish i was just coming back from Ubud telling you all about my recent adventures.. but hey na. Nonetheless i got to live there for a month, did my yoga teacher training and simply traveled around few times. Some of my yogis asked me tips for their travel to this dreamy place and i found it would be nice to share here with you too ! Enjoy and let me know any good place/tip you may have yourself !
Relax and dream in that little hotel: Aria Villa (website)
I discovered this place after a lengthy search on the www. I loved its modern look while still being nestled in some jungle. Also, i am a big interior design fan and just from the pics you could tell they put lots of efforts into this. It opened the year i got there (2014) and has only 8 villas. Each of them have a private pool overlooking the valley. It is superb though not tacky or bling bling.
I loved my stay there with my two other girlfriends. They have many nice attentions, like the welcome shoulder massage, or the daily homemade ice cream delivered to your door ! I love getting mine in the pool ;). They would also give you with your breakie a pair of binoculars to watch the surrounding birds... Those little things make the difference.
Their breakfast also is absolute yummy-ness (see the pic below to check by yourself :) ). Again delivered in your villa. Food is locally bought and organic for most of it. It is well prepared and offers both western and balinese options. I wanted to try every dishes !
I love that concept of the villa, cause you actually don't get the feeling of being in a hotel. It is like having your own villa with the perk of a boutique hotel service !
Price: 155-185EUR/night for 2 pax
Get robbed by a Monkey...
Ok i was not super excited by this little excursion in the Monkey Forest... the idea of using monkeys to attract tourist is not something i particularly like. Nonetheless, those monkeys are free to go around and are by no mean locked into some cages. The local authorities even say it is 'an important spot for research and conservation programs.' So here you go..
You feel simply they are totally used to be surrounded by tourists (maybe too used to it !). So they actually love chasing you ! Ha ha i guess what goes around, comes around ! Men being chased by monkeys ! Honestly some monkeys are harmless and don't give much attention to the ongoing circus. But some others are not here to make friends ! They would fearlessly jump on you to steal whatever you may have in your hairs (watch the sunglasses) or food in your hands (in our case the monkey got our guide book). Honestly if it is fun for the first 2 minutes it can turn into nightmare: we watch one woman get her purse stolen, taken high up in the trees by some monkey not willing to give her anything back. You can imagine the pain it can be if your passport, wallet, phone is in your bag...
Beyond the monkeys, there is around, some beautiful indonesian stone carved bridge, pounds, and temples. It has a bit of Tomb Raider feeling to it.. Except the hundreds of tourists you will meet there. Go early !
It is an "experience" you could go for if you're a monkey lover and have some adventurous blood.
Play the adventurer in the "jungle"
Simple yet very efficient, walk ! That's just what i love the most: wander and end up somewhere you did not expect to be. Maybe get a tour guide or a local if you're running out of time and don't want to spend hours your feet in the mud. But otherwise, head west of the city center, take a path in the paddy field and wander !
We encountered much "authentic" and beautiful landscapes that the one you can have in the city center, that has been completely filled with shops, restaurants and tourists attractions.
Listen and Watch a kecak show
This is a must! Though it is very touristic, it is beautiful to watch. It gathers hundreds of men chanting and swaying to the beat together around fire. There is a whole story of some mischievous monkey behind it but i have to say it was too complicated for me to follow ! Anyhow you don't need to understand, you simply watch and listen. It ends with a trance dance that is quite beautiful in the night.
Do a bit of shopping
I would highly recommend you to step into one of those shops selling local wooden arts. I found mine at Bali Art Family near the Monkey forest i loved where i bought a Balinese mask i still have in my home sweet home in Paris (see pic below). Other shops also sell those wicker baskets painted in beautiful colors that easily blends in some of our westerner interiors ;) .
I also found some wonderful candles in metal box (see pic) that smell beautifully well and oils to cover ourselves with ! My favorite of all i could not find anywhere but in Bali is the one from Cantika, with the Cempaka fragrance (see pic). To die for ! You can find this in small shops around town.
You will also find some great essential oil and body sprays at Blue Stone Botanicals.
Finally if you want to find some great yogi accessories (singing bowls, books, beads, etc.) i would highly recommend you to head to Namaste shop.
Eat plenty of organic, healthy, exotic food
If you want to buy some healthy snack or food souvenirs (i love this concept !) i would recommend two places:
- Bali Buda : the yogi grocery of Ubud that has been around for so long ! You will find both fresh tempeh ( soybean in a cake, a bit like tofu), veggies and nuts, chips, chocolate. They also have some cosmetics. All natural, organic, and delicious ! One souvenir to get, their tote bag ! :)
- Kou Cuisine for its sea salt and jams cooked up using the best of Bali's fruits, all in stylish packaging.
For lunches/dinner they are so many options to list ! On top of my head those come first:
- Alchemy Bali: the temple of organic food you can take away some delicious salads and juices.
- The Elephant: it used to be my canteen while i was doing my teacher training ! I love that place that is located a bit outside the bustling city center. Lots of locals go here.
- Yellow Flower Cafe: simple, easy cafe on a little road. Best to observe the sunset. Near my favorite masseur !
- Sari Organik
- Juice Ja Cafe
- Down to Earth cafe
- Clear Cafe
Get a massage
I wished i wrote down the exact address of this precious place but i am sure it is possible to find it again. It is located on the west side of Ubud and if you ever wander up until the Yellow Flower cafe it is located 5 minutes walk away from it. It is one little shop where a masseur does on appointment massage of your choice. He was so so good ! Locals go there and i understand why ! It is far away from the hustle of the city and some tourists traps you could find. Ask Yellow Flower cafe waiters, hopefully they'll be able to point out to you the place. Heaven to be found there !
Do Yoga... duh of course !
The Shala Bali: my yogi heaven ! This is where i did my teacher training. They organize all year long some yoga retreats (1 week or so) that could be a great excuse for you to plan a trip in Bali. You should send them an email in advance to know what yoga event they are organizing. This place truly is beautiful, with its own little cafe/restaurant you can simply stop by. It is in the middle of the rice fields and is very quiet. LOVE IT.
I found this video of the place below. It represents in my opinion very well how the place looks and feels like !
Yoga Barn: it is THE yoga place in Ubud. I would recommend you to go not only for its great teachers, but also for its architecture and their cafe. This place is a must visit if not a must try if you are a yogi.
Radiantly Alive: i have not been taking a class here though i have heard from trustworthy sources that it has great classes. I love their yoga space too !
Rent a scooter or bike to wander around
I was scared first to ride a scooter around when you see how little road signs and road rules there are ... nonetheless renting a scooter really helps you feel like a local and discover new places. Depending on where your hotel is , rent either a scooter or a bike for the day or the week. Ridiculously cheap too!
Last but not least i created a map with all the places i mentioned above.