Ubud, Bali is an incredible place to explore. From massive waterfalls to vegan cafes, Ubud has something for everyone. Read below to discover tips and tricks to enjoy this area to the fullest.
Day One: Chasing Waterfalls
What to Pack: Swimsuit, Towel, GoPro, Camera, Tripod, Large Memory card, drone, water shoes (not necessary), extra dry clothing.
Nungnung Waterfall: this waterfall is a HIKE. There are 400 stairs leading to the falls and you will feel it in your knees going down and your muscles going up. There is a small fee for drivers to park and also 10,000 IDR per person to enter. There is a ton of spray from the massive falls, so if you’re planning on flying a drone here… don’t. I hiked it in gladiator sandals and was fine, so footwear isn’t an issue. There are many scenic spots to stop and overlook the falls and one spot to get snacks and drinks. The water around the falls isn’t too deep, but it’s incredibly refreshing to get a quick dip in after the hike down. The entire path is paved. Plan for at least 1 hour here at this stop.
Gitgit Waterfall: Our favorite waterfall, by far. It is very possible to do this hike on your own but it is advised to do it with a guide. I felt that it was worth it to have the guide. We paid the guide 100,000 IDR each and he showed us all the different trees and plants that grew in the area. The lemongrass and cloves were my favorite smells. He showed and allowed Trevor to taste a tiny chili growing across a bridge. The entire trail was paved and easy to hike.
After we hiked to the first fall (which was very pretty but too dangerous to swim in) we went to the Twin Falls. It was BEAUTIFUL, there were very few people there AND you could swim in it. We jumped from the sides, then our guide showed us how to scale the cliffs behind the falls and jump through them. This made the whole hike worth it, despite the shitty part. The shitty part was that some of the village people have their little girls follow you around begging for money and don’t take “no thank you” for an answer. They literally follow you down the trail a little ways. Despite that, it was still wonderful and I highly recommend it.
Munduk Waterfall: This waterfall had the shortest hike of the three and we stopped here for the shortest amount of time ( Around 30 minutes total). It’s incredibly beautiful, but there is no depth to swim in so you just had to feel the cool spray. Be careful as you trudge down the trail because the path is shared with motorbikes. If you wanted to fly a drone, this is the perfect place. There is a shack nearby with toilets in it.
Your day was probably pretty long with lots of driving, so you’ll make it back well after dark. Check out some of Ubud’s killer cafes to wind down after a long day of exploring.
You might also enjoy: How to Dress for Better Travel Photos
Day Two: Touristy Things in Ubud, Bali
Tegallalang Rice Terraces: Make sure to make it here as early as possible to avoid the tour buses. It’s far more beautiful to visit as the sun is coming up and sending its rays through the luscious green palm leaves. Bonus plus: It isn’t nearly as hot in the mornings. The rice terraces are one of the most popular things to do in Ubud, and for good reason. This is something that should not be missed. Funny enough, there was no fee to enter when we went. I do believe some random guy set up his own unofficial ticket area as we were leaving. If you get there early enough, he probably won’t be there. The best photos can be taken during the golden hour, as the mist starts to rise off to the terraces. I loved this place so much that it will be getting its own blog post.
Luwak Coffee Plantation: Our driver recommended this after we visited the rice terraces, and I’m so glad he did! We got to see where the infamous Luwak coffee was made. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a type of coffee made after a mongoose-like critter eats the coffee beans and poops them out. I won’t spoil the rest because it’s fascinating to learn about in person. We got assigned a personal tour guide who pointed out the different trees, plants, herbs, roots, and animals around the small plantation. Additionally, we got to do a free coffee/tea sampling session in an awesome shaded open-air bungalow atop a huge hill with rolling jungle views. We paid 10,000 IDR per cup of Luwak coffee, but it was optional. The other 8 teas and coffees you taste are free! It was really, really, really good Luwak coffee and I recommend getting some! Entrance to the plantation is free.
Tirta Empul Temple: This was the only temple we visited on our trip here and it was gorgeous. There were people bathing all over. You had to wear a sarong (available for a donation) and women had to have their hair tied back when they entered the temple area. Rubber bands were provided. People were getting into the water fully clothed to become healed and blessed by the natural spring water. You could watch (from afar) people from a traditional ceremony being blessed (?) by a priest who threw rice and holy water on them once they had bathed. We paid 20000 IDR each to enter the temple.
Monkey Forest: I could sit here and play with monkeys for days in Bali. They were one of my favorite things about the area. Visiting Monkey Forest seemed like a tourist trap at first, but it was a wonderful experience and not too crowded. You can easily buy bananas and have them climb all over you. I don’t advise bringing a lot of stuff into the park because the monkeys like to grab loose items and run off with them. Be sure to have your camera ready when you want to have them climb on you because they are not very patient. Bananas cost 50000 IDR and entrance was 20000 IDR.
Go to sleep EARLY, you’re going to need it for the 0130 wake up.
Day 3: Chasing Sunrise
Hike Mt Batur for Sunrise: I’m eventually going to write an entire post on this, because I did this entire thing incorrectly. To do this hike you’ll wake up at 0130, be picked up by your driver at 0200, then make the hour drive to the parking lot where you will be united with your guide. I will not recommend the tour company we used for the following reasons:
- Our driver for the hike was TERRIBLE. We thought we were going to die the whole way there and back.
- The price increased THREE times the night before.
- We were charged for our coffee that was “included” in the tour.
- Our guide disappeared halfway through our trip while we were waiting for sunrise.
- We did not get to go to the top of the volcano, by the time we realized we were going down the mountain we were already halfway down.
Aside from those setbacks, it was another bucket list item. We hiked for about an hour and a half up the rocky terrain to Mt. Batur. We waited for close to an hour and watched the sun sleepily peek up from the horizon. It was incredible. The hike is challenging, but not too difficult. I definitely suggest wearing hiking shoes for it. I wore cheetah print Vans and was struggling. There are tons of chances to buy waters and you can stop to rest at any time. There’s a pretty large chance that it will be too cloudy to even see the sun rise, but the hike alone is worth it!
Sleep: After the hours of strenuous hiking and super early wakeup, you’re going to want to plan to nap once you make it back to where you’re staying. We got back around 10 am, and slept until 3:00 pm.
Massages: Head into downtown Ubud for some incredible massages! I suggest getting the Duo massage- it isn’t a couples massage! You have two people massaging you at the same time. I don’t think I could ever go back to a single masseuse again!
Explore the streets of Ubud, Bali: The day and night life is incredible here! Get your fix of Macarons at Caramel, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan hit up Kismet! Both of these places were delicious. Additionally, I tried a thing called Charcoal ice cream at a random gelato shop on the main road! It was exquisite!